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Putting a face on the victims of malice

Editorial, January 2004

These are the photos taken by the Saskatoon Police identification unit on July, 16 after the six Red Deer Klassens had spent six days in remand and were then transported by police van to Saskatoon.

Those living in Saskatoon were photographed and finger-printed in Saskatoon and then released.

When Richard Klassen and I launched this site in 1998, five years after the civil claim had been laid, he and his wife Kari were the only members of the falsely accused group who were prepared to go public. It was not "comfortable" but they did it as a first step to getting their names cleared.

Richard Klassen Kari Klassen

Rick and Kari Klassen.

Richard and Kari had demonstrated with picket signs and handed out leaflets. They received some local publicity in 1993. The media was not allowed to use their names, though. And as Judge Baynton's 189 page decision so clearly shows, there were so many aspects to the case that, combined with the sealing of the evidence, reporters threw up their hands in frustration. In 1995, Dave Roberts from the Globe and Mail did a large piece, accompanied by a hand-drawn illustration, which put Saskatoon on the map as a place where people were being falsely charged. Four years later, Dan Zakreski who was a Senior Reporter for the StarPhoenix also did feature which occupied the entire front page as well as a special section. He used pseudenyms to get around the publication ban.

By this time, two of the three Ross children had recanted their testimony. The feature was well-researched and hard-hitting. A week after it had been out, I called Dan to see what the response had been. He replied that it was more or less a dull thud -- not a single person wrote to the editor. No one approached him to congratulate him for the ambitious piece. It was clear that the public was not interested in faceless pseudenyms.

Dale KlassenAnita Klassen

Dale and Anita Klassen.

The website was breaking the publication bans, insofar as we published Richard Klassen's name and the names of the children (Michelle and Michael had no problem with that, and because her name was out there, Kathy was able to eventually re-unite with them. Social Services had moved Kathy to B.C. and when she asked Social worker Diane Ens about Michelle and Michael, she was told that Michael might be dead and that Michelle was working as a hooker.)

It has been mentioned in the media that Michelle and Kathy have also sued the government. This is true.

From Judge Baynton's Decision

". . . As indicated previously, the arrests of the plaintiffs and the apprehension of their children were orchestrated by Dueck and Social Services well in advance of the planned charges and arrests and long before Dueck travelled to Red Deer, Alberta to interview the plaintiffs who lived there. It was only because the plaintiffs and their children who resided in Red Deer were outside the jurisdiction of Saskatchewan Social Services, that the assistance of Alberta Family Services personnel in Red Deer had to be secured. The six plaintiffs who lived in Red Deer were arrested on July 10, 1991.

"The trauma associated with the arrest of Richard and Kari Klassen from their homes was accentuated by the stress of seeing their children apprehended from them by Alberta Family Services. It was also an emotional experience for Dale Klassen when he was arrested at his home and his three children were taken from him. Anita Klassen was arrested at her place of employment. John and Myrna Klassen were arrested at their home after their children had left for an outing with friends. During the time these three couples were remanded in custody in Red Deer for six days, the wives were held together and the husbands were held together. The three couples were all returned to Saskatoon where they spent another night in custody before being released on bail. They then had to find a means of getting back home to reconnect with their children who had been placed into foster care.

"Some of the six Red Deer plaintiffs testified that they were well treated while in custody in Red Deer but were given a much "cooler" reception by the police in Saskatoon by being treated with contempt and being placed for the night in a cold cell without a bunk.

"The remaining six Saskatoon plaintiffs, Pamela Sharpe, Marie Klassen and the four Kvellos, were also arrested on July 10, 1991. They too suffered the humiliation and trauma of being arrested. Marie Klassen had to be taken to the police station in her wheelchair. She is now deceased and the desire that she carried to her grave was that she and her sons and daughters-in-law would be exonerated of the criminal charges in the eyes of the public. Dennis Kvello is also now deceased. The proceedings affected him so deeply that he had his company switch him from his position as a residential electrician to one as a commercial electrician so that he could avoid coming in contact with any children. He was no longer able to touch his own children and lost the desire to have sexual relations with his wife, circumstances that continued until his death."

Marie KlassenPam Klassen

Marie Klassen Rick's mother and Pam Shetterly Rick's older sister)

Richard Klassen and Pam Shetterly (Richard's older sister) have both told the media that their mother's last wish was to have them continue the fight to clear their name.

I also heard her express that wish.

Yesterday on the John Gormley show, Pamela phoned in to describe how, when Dueck took her on the elevator to be processed, that he pointed to the word "hell" which was scratched into the elevator door and told her that was where she was going. Since that time he has tried to make good on that threat. Pamela was a foster mother who had looked after many drug-addicted babies for Social Services. She adopted one of them.

After the arrests Pamela's adopted child was taken from her and she went through a series of psychiatric "disorders" which required long periods of hospitalization. When she found out Mikey would not be returned to her, she attempted suicide, was hospitalized and a hysterectomy was performed on her. She was doubly devastated by learning that she would not be able to have children through either adoption or natural means. Her weight fell to less than a hundred pounds.

Today, on the John Gormley show, Diane Kvello spoke publicly and identified herself for the first time. She told the public how pleased she was with the judgment and spoke about how after everyone in her family was charged, she and her husband had stopped hugging their own children and that she was afraid to go out in public by herself, feeling that she needed a witness to her every move in case a false allegation was again made against her. Former neighbours of the Kvellos had testified at te civil trial. One testified that she and Diane had been best friends, but that after Dueck visited them and warned them "they would be safer" to not have any further contact with the Kvellos. In the meantime, Dennis died, at the age of 52, the last few years of his life compounded by stress. An electrician, he stopped doing residential jobs for fear he might encounter children, and worked only commercial jobs.

Diane KvelloDennis Kvello

Diane and Dennis Kvello

Judge Baynton clearly stated that there was no reasonable cause to think that any of these people had ever abused children at any time.

This is the human face of the malicious prosecution.

McKillop and Quennell today filed their premature appeal partly to deprive the plaintiffs of their day in court to testify to their damages.

For them, it is all about damage-control. As suggested in the Globe and Mail report, now that they know Richard Klassen is ill, they want to drag it on and hope that he will die before it reaches the Supreme Court of Canada. Or they hope he will make a mistake. So far, he has not made any mistakes as serious as getting the jurisdiction wrong!

It is incredible that the government of Saskatchewan has chosen to continue maliciously. The good part is that the worse they get, the stronger resistance gets. There is a whole generation being raised with this trial as a background, who are hearing about David Milgaard, and who are listening to the more interesting conversations occurring around their dinner tables on the farms, towns and cities.

And some of them are paying attention. A people's justice could come out of all this.

Shame, shame, triple shame!
Everyone knows Saskatchewan's name!

Donald McKillop

At 2 P.M. Thursday, as representatives from all Saskatoon media showed up for a press conference at the Saskatchewan legislature, expecting to hear a statement from Justice Minister Frank Quennell, they were greeted instead by Donald McKillop (right), the lawyer for two of his clients found to be malicious in the civil claim.

McKillop says he intends to appeal on behalf of his clients. He alluded to errors but could not point to anything specific.

Presumably, the only thing he can appeal is an order he and Dave Gerrand agreed to March 28, 2003.

Order (by Judge Mona Dovell, pretrial judge) . . .

2. In the event that a judgment is rendered that makes a finding of liability in the action against any of the Defendants, the appeal period with respect to such judgment shall be stayed pending agreement on damages and costs.

Issued at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, this 28th day of March, 2003

This was a stipulation insisted upon by Richard Klassen and one to which McKillop agreed and the judge ordered. Did McKillop give his assent to this because he was intending all along to appeal Judge Dovell's order should it become necessary? It would seem he is arrogant enough to think he is beyond the scope of a Queen's Bench judge.

Whatever McKillop or Quennell might be saying to reporters about going to the Appeal Court, this case is still before Judge Baynton and he has full jurisdiction over it.

They have already given notice of their intention to appeal, based on judicial error which they say requires clarification. The errors are presumably in the area of the learned judge's interpretation of recent rulings on malicious prosecution. This is almost funny. The judgment is about as clear as any judgment could be, laying out the state of the law in lucid language. The Saskatchewan government doesn't want clarification but would prefer to return to the obfuscation they have relied on for decades to run questionable propositions past Saskatchewan people. If people calling in to talk shows, or stopping us on the street, or e-mailing us are any indication, there are many Saskatchewan people who are catching on. They understand perfectly.

The plaintiffs will be moving to quash this appeal at the earliest possibility. In the Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon where it still resides. The jurisdiction is clear.

McKillop told reporters that there will be no apology. In fine, jovial form after his winter vacation, he told reporters that the self-serving appeal he filed today will not cost the taxpayers anything because he is on the government payroll.

Frank QuennellWhen Frank Quennell (right) took the microphone, he backed up McKillop, stated he had read the judgment, that he had personally worked with Matthew Miazga and that he challenged the judge's findings of malice. For a Queen's Council Lawyer, he certainly looked the roll of a bona fide brick in the prosecutorial wall of malice.

When an officer of the court acts for any purpose other than to further the cause of justice, he or she is acting with malice. In the United States, this is called color of law.

It is really quite simple, not complicated as these buttoned-down folks would like to implant in our minds.

The words issued by these two Queens' Council lawyers were predictable and in keeping with the manner in which the Saskatchewan Justice system has conducted itself since it first maliciously prosecuted David Milgaard. To borrow from another famous Saskatchewan trial: Deny, deny, deny. I forget what famous person said bullshit baffles brains.

As Robert Borden stated on the John Gormley show earlier this morning, there was malice throughout the case, particularly on the part of Matthew Miazga who had the court closed to everyone -- including Borden when the Ross children told their first set of lies at the preliminary hearing of their parents and Don White.

Both Quennell and McKillop said they would challenge Judge Baynton's test for malice. Shucks, they could even look it up in the dictionary!

Quennell also stated there would be no apology.

Meanwhile, people around the world are watching this case, and watching Saskatchewan. We had a proud moment, there. Those of us fighting for justice are still standing proudly, but once again, Saskatchewan is a place of shame.

With this kind of justice system, who is it that Lorne Calvert and his "Wide Open Saskatchewan" campaign hopes to attract to this province?