Tag Archives: Bathhouse Raid

In Hot Water: The Raid

Terry Haldane, Stephen Lock & the 2002 Goliath’s Bathhouse Raid

At around 2:30 PM on a Thursday, Calgary Police Service officers invaded one of our community’s safe havens, Goliath’s Bathhouse. This surprise raid occurred on December 12, 2002. While not uncommon in the 80s, a bathhouse raid in the early aughts seemed quite anachronistic. In this series of blog posts, we will delve into the history of the Goliath’s raid. Along the way, we will explore injustice, changing queer culture and our complicated relationship with the police, past and present.

Part I: The Raid

On that Thursday afternoon, Terry Haldane was sitting in his room at Goliath’s when he heard a bang that sounded like a gunshot as police busted in the door and 25-30 officers entered the premises. In short order, he and the other guests were told to get dressed and were brought upstairs to the Texas Lounge for processing. The accused were held in the lounge for four hours while CPS officials tested the bathhouse with Luminol, a chemical fluorescence test for bodily fluids.

Initially thinking the police were looking for drugs or someone wanted for a major crime, Terry asked a detective what was going on. They were told they were being charged with being a found-in of a common bawdy house (brothel) under the Criminal Code of Canada. The twelve other guests – most of them married – were charged with the same. Meanwhile, the owners of Goliath’s were charged with being keepers of a common bawdy house.

Gay bathhouses typically do not function as brothels: patrons typically pay an entry or membership fee for admittance to the facilities and then are free to have sex with other patrons, except in designated spaces such as a jacuzzi or public areas like a lobby or TV room. Ordinarily, nobody gets paid to have sex, and thus no prostitution occurs, but anyone suspected of receiving money or drugs for sex is swiftly ejected from the premises by staff.

According to Terry and Stephen, the trigger for the raid was an anonymous complaint left on a police department’s answering machine. Apparently, the man who left the complaint claimed that he had been prostituting down at Goliath’s and that he had been sexually assaulted there. The complaint was taken to the Crown, and a judge issued warrants for the surveillance and raid of the bathhouse. Terry and Stephen felt these claims in the complaint were unsubstantiated. Unfortunately, the man who made the complaint died in a motorcycle accident the day before he was set to testify.

So why would a police service decide to raid a bathhouse 20 years after the controversial raids in other cities, based on relatively scant evidence? There are a few hypotheses, but Terry and Stephen suspect that a big part of it was that Calgary had just gotten a new Chief Crown Prosecutor that wanted to make a name for himself. Not long before, an adult bookstore had been shuttered on 1st St SW, where there were peepshows and porn booths. They speculate that Goliath’s made another easy target to “clean up the city,” not expecting anyone to fight back in court.

Community outrage over the raid was chronicled in Calgary’s Outlooks Magazine as illustrated by this cheeky cover in the month following the raid.

Terry was taken to the police station and asked to give a statement. He was told that if he made a statement against the owners, the charges against him would go away. He refused, saying that the bathhouse had been licensed and properly health inspected for years; he’d been a regular at the bathhouse and never saw an exchange of money or anything of the sort. Having refused, he was given a court date in January to make his plea and contacted his lawyer. The Crown prosecutor also offered him a plea deal at this time—dropping all charges—if he agreed to take the Alternative Measures Program: a three-day rehabilitation program designed for Johns busted for attempting to purchase sex. While the other twelve arrested gentlemen took this bargain, Terry refused because he simply wasn’t buying sex down there and had done nothing illegal.

Terry contacted his long-time partner, Stephen Lock, about what had happened. They and a few other found-ins met to figure out what to do next. They were afraid of the ramifications for their marriages, relationships with their children, jobs, and because of their religious affiliations. They were justifiably worried: the raid was covered in several media outlets, including The Gatekeeper, Global, CTV, CBC, Xtra West and Xtra Toronto. Their names were published despite the request of the Crown prosecutor to have a publication ban. The judge refused the ban, reasoning that names are published in other prostitution-related cases, and he didn’t believe this case should be any different.

Next week: Part 2.

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Hello 2022!

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Calgary Gay History Project. Phew, it feels like we have done a lot, but we couldn’t have done it without ongoing community support and encouragement—thank you!

The Project is powered by volunteers who do this research off the side of their desks. Consequently, I’m happy to introduce a new research volunteer, Sheldon Cannon, who is exploring the history of the Goliath’s Bathhouse raid in Calgary.

Globe and Mail photo, Dec. 18, 2002, captioned: “The door to Goliath’s Sauna has a sign saying closed, since the bathhouse was raided by Calgary police late last week. The gay community is outraged by the charges filed against 13 men. Source: Ted Jacobs/Calgary Herald”

The raid is also having an anniversary—it’s been 20 years—and Sheldon will be writing a series of blog posts to explore the raid’s impact on the city’s queer history. In addition to archival research, Sheldon is interviewing people who were present during the raid and community members who have memories of the event to share. Covid-willing, we hope to have a public presentation about the raid sometime this year.

Sheldon Cannon

Sheldon is a medical student with a background in science and an interest in history, politics, and anthropology. Raised in rural Saskatchewan and having completed his BSc in Physiology at the University of Alberta, he is a prairie boy through and through. Having dipped his toe into history as a teenager on his local museum board, it was a workshop with Edmonton’s premiere queer historian Darrin Hagen that got him interested in gay history specifically. He discovered the Calgary Gay History Project through their video on Everett Klippert after finding out Everett was born in Sheldon’s hometown. Sheldon’s project on the 2002 Goliath’s Bathhouse raid seeks to explore our community’s ever-changing relationship with police and how physical spaces (or lack thereof) impact gay life. Outside of history, Sheldon also assists in medical research and endeavours to develop his artistic side as a beginner dancer and acrobat.

Welcome, Sheldon!

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