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Rogue Platoon?

Editorial: November 2004

Identifying the rotten apples in Saskatoon Police Service and why we need a full public inquiry into our whole justice system

Detox centre sod turning

Senger and Hartwig fired for withholding information. Dueck found to have maliciously prosecuted 19 people but he is on medical leave collecting his $104K salary!

What we know for sure -- and what Sabo seems to be afraid of.

Rogue Platoon

The Saskatoon Police Department, like most others is organized into platoons (like the military.) An officer who joins is assigned to a platoon and remains with that platoon for the rest of his (now his/her) career.

In 1990 - Dueck and Hartgarden were on Platoon A and in 1993 they switched to Platoon C and became a team which included Hoover, Hoos, Chartier and was led by Big (bigger than Dueck) John MacDonald. There are others whose names escape me as I write, but who will know who they are.

I am not certain whatever platoon shifting was going on at that time. I do know for sure that Dueck and Hartgarden both made the shift because that came out in evidence at the Klassen/Kvello civil trial.

It is possible that Police Chiefs Owen McGuire and Dave Scott were kept out of the loop. It is possible they were trusting Dueck, Wiks and Hartgarden as good sources of information.

The Saskatoon Police Service was run by these people. It was during this time that Neil Stonechild went missing and that the preliminary hearings for Ross, Ross and White and the Klassens and Kvellos were held.

The preliminary hearings were secret courts run by Matt Miazga who was directed by the Prosecutor's office in Regina. Ellen Gunn, who testified that she remembered nothing, was there for a while, having taken over from Serge Kjawa. She did didn't last long and is now a judge. Is she as blank as a judge as she was as director of public prosecutions? God rest our souls!

The Prosecutor's office, once taken over by Quinney, with protege Miazga in Saskatoon and several wannabe legal crooks in other jurisdictions throughout the province (look at Tisdale-Melfort, for instance) used the court to seal documents and run secret trials.

Social Services

We know that Saskatchewan Social Services was also getting in on the action. Part of their action was the therapy sessions with children to coach them to make false allegations against adults. In the late 80s and early 90s both police and social workers -- civil servants in general -- had contracts where they could log in many hours of overtime and we know that many did. Money was flowing freely so dishonest "professionals" were able to legally steal. They were all handsomely paid for the hours they spent interviewing children, placing them in temporary folster homes and attending seminars on how to target potential victims (unsuspecting people who were vulnerable to false charges.)

Who would have thought they would have made such a monumental mistake as to place Michael Ross and his twin sisters, who they absolutely KNEW were sexually/emotionally/mentally disturbed kids into the home of Dale and Anita Klassen? It required a mistake of this dimension to begin the unravelling.

There is lots more to say about Social Services and it will eventually be said. They were not forced to testify at the Klassen Kvello civil trial so many of their ugly secrets remain intact. We do know for sure that enough evidence was presented before Judge George Baynton for him to find her malicious. She and Matthew Miazga are appealing this finding and the government is paying their legal costs.

The Justice Department

Does Justice Minister Frank Quennell really think it is in his interests to promote this ongoing cover-up? Did Eric Cline really think so? Did Chris Axworthy? Did Bob Mitchell? Did Roy Romanow? Does Lorne Calvert? Are they all so stupid that they unwittingly participated -- and are participating still -- in this cover-up of malicious acts which has cast a shadow over the entire province?

Again, just who knew what and how much they knew will be revealed in the fullness of time.

So how do I know this stuff?

I became interested in this story in 1993. Richard Klassen wanted a writer and I was happy to oblige. I helped with the writing of affidavits and other things. At this time the Star Phoenix was subserviant to the publication orders which extended to every single aspect of this case, including Richard Klassen's name. Richard had already managed to get the civil claim filed when I came on board. We concentrated on matters that were not directly related to the court proceeding. Where were the Ross children we wondered and eventually we found out. What else was Dueck up to?

Brian Dueck

On August 25 and 26, 1994, we took our questions to the street. We used the fact that the David Milgaard case had been examined by an Alberta judge who said that there had been no wrongdoing by the Saskatchewan Justice Department or the Saskatoon Police. We were outraged. We organized two demonstrations: the first day we went to the Provincial Court House and the second day we went to Court of Queen's Bench and then over to the police station. Most people carried signs "David Milgaard deserves better." Richard and I and Richard's nephew Rob carried signs which accused Brian Dueck and Carol Bunko-Ruys of responsibility for the continued rapes against Michelle and Kathy Ross by their brother Michael.

Richard, Rob and I were arrested and charged with defamatory libel. (This story has been thoroughly told on the website since we went online in 1998.) Rob was still 16 and so he was charged under the Young Offenders' Act. Eventually his charges just vaporized, I'm not entirely sure how they "went away."

At the time of our arrest, Platoon C was on duty. Sgt. Hartgarden came out of the police station with video equipment to document the arrests. I was charged with assaulting two of the burly cops who grabbed me as I was trying to give my car keys to my then 15 year old son. We were held for 30 hours.

Richard and I went to a Preliminary Inquiry at which we were ordered to trial. We appealed on a writ or certiorary and Judge David Wright (who would, ten years later conduct the inquiry into the freezing death of Neil Stonechild) quashed the charges against me but let Richard's indictment stand. That was during the summer of 1995. For the next three years, Richard Klassen operated under a gag order that was personally crafted by Brian Dueck.

Back to the Saskatoon Police

It was during this time that John and Johanna Lucas were on trial for -- you guessed it -- defaming Dueck. I attended a few of these proceedings and an ever-present duo in the courtroom were Dueck and John MacDonald.

Meanwhile, Richard and Rob Klassen were continually harrassed on the street. We know now that Dueck had been to Prince Albert to get a statement from convicted murderer Beryl Stonechild claiming that Richard had sexually abused him when they were both children. At the time, MacDonald and Dueck went after Richard and detained him at 11.30 one night Rob and Rick were driving in "the stroll" the 20th Street area which was and still is a fertile area for bad cops to make bad busts -- and were stopped by 3 cops. Rob had long hair and was sitting in the passenger seat and Richard was driving. The cops gave, as their cause for stopping the vehicle, that they were in "a bad neighbourhood" and they thought Rob was a prostitute Richard had picked up. Shortly after being stopped, the vehicle was blocked off by 3 cars, one of them driven Dueck. In the meantime, Rob had phoned me and told me I should get down there with a videocamera. Rob also had a camera. By the time I got there, Rick was in custody. Rob was taping the events and as I pulled up, Rob got into my car. Dueck came to Rob's side of the car and told him to "turn that goddamn thing off or I'll wrap it around your head."

Rob and I went back to my house to figure out what we could or should do. An hour later, there was a knock at my door. Richard was there, having phoned lawyer Reg Parker who advised the police to either charge Richard or let him go. MacDonald let him go but told him to come down to the police station the next day to answer to charges that he had molested Beryl Stonechild and a witness statement from Richard's cousin Greg which backed up this charge.

The next day Rick went into the police station with Parker. MacDonald denied telling Richard that Greg had made a statement against him and said that Greg had, in fact, made a statement which backed up Rick. Rick was not given a copy of the statement.

The rotten platoon

Dan Wiks and Brian Dueck

Members of Platoon C were all over us. The Crown prosecutor on Richard's defamation case was Inez Cardinal. At one point Richard was so ground down from police harrassment -- and the fact that he was denied certain civil liberties while the defamation indictment was hanging over his head -- that he offered to plead guilty. This offer was turned down scornfully.

Richard went to trial in October, 1996. He subpoenaed the Ross children as his witnesses. He selected a jury. The Crown presented a case which did not address all the elements of the case. Richard asked for a directed verdict of not guilty and received it. Case over? Not quite.

As an aside, I will mention to anyone who is interested in such things that lawyers will often say that a writ of certiorari is extremely rare and that directed verdicts are even rarer. Both were received in this defamation case.

At the end of November, 1996, the Crown appealed Richard Klassen's acquittal.

There is no doubt that this order came from the office of Richard Quinney in Regina.

The Provincial Justice Department and Richard Quinney's corrupt leadership

While the evidence from the Ross, Ross and White trials and the Klassen/Kvello preliminary inquiry was under seal, Richard Quinney gave an interview to the Star Phoenix where he defended his actions and made his famous statement that the Klassens and Kvellos shold be happy with the stay of proceedings they had received: a stay is as good as an acquittal.

He continued to back up his protegé Matthew Miazga who had proclaimed in 1993, at the time of the stays, that the trials were not going forward because the children were too traumatized to testify. Quinney was himself following in the footsteps of his mentor, Serge "the arrogant" Kjawa who had blown off critics of the David Milgaard proceedings by telling us "the justice system is more important than one person." This authoritarian philosophy is now deeply embedded in the whole of Saskatchewan Justice.

When Richard Klassen and I went online with injusticebusters in 1998, we vowed to be for that system the nightmare they had created for themselves. And we are doing it still.

Richard Klassen is no longer speaking about the civil claim: Judge Baynton's decision says what he wanted said.

I am still speaking about it loudly and vociferously. None of what we had to say was heard by former justice ministers Robert Mitchell, John Nilson, Chris Axworthy or Eric Cline: in fact they all participated in trying to dismiss us as kooks. We wonder if Frank Quennell has what it takes to look seriously at this mess and clean it up. There can be no doubt that there are many many people who have been falsely accused and wrongfully convicted by the justice system he now heads.

If Quennell continues to listen to those who were groomed and trained under the Quinney years, he will commit the same folly as Saskatoon police chiefs who listened to Dueck, Wiks and the gang from Platoon C. How does the saying go? If you lie with dogs you get fleas? Enough fleabites can wreck your career if not kill you.

Quinney died, but he was alive long enough to submit to Richard Klassen's examinations for discovery in the civil trial. He did not have any change of heart but remained arrogant until the end, compounded by irritability from the illnesses that were killing him. If I believed in such things I wold be sure he is rotting in hell. As it is, Judge Baynton dropped his estate from the civil claim against it after noting that Quinney had been negligent.

Back to Richard Klassen's defamatory libel acquittal

The Crown, on directions from Regina, appealed Judge Peter Dielschneider's directed acquittal at the end of November, 1996. They did not give any reasons for the appeal. The only legitimate grounds are judicial error. As far as we could tell, there were none. They steadfastly kept the appeal on file, using as their excuse that they were awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on John and Johanna Lucas, who had been convicted and whose case had made it to the top court with Clayton Ruby acting as counsel.

Finally, on April 1 1998, the Supreme Court ruled. The decision was against the Lucases: the defamatory libel conviction had stood. Since this decision went the Crown's way, you would think they would have been eager to pursue their appeal against Richard Klassen. They didn't. They dropped it. Why?

Why did the Saskatchewan Crown drop its appeal against Richard Klassen's acquittal

The answer is simple. They did not want the publicity and they did not want scrutiny. There were secrets to hide in this case. They could not simply overturn the acquttal; they would have to order a new trial. And Richard had already arranged to have the Ross children testify at trial. If he was given another trial, this would give him another kick at the can and another opportunity to get into the public record the matters which were still safely under court seal.

They decided instead to make a concerted effort to kill the civil claim. Since Ed Holgate was the lawyer on file and since he had done nothing to move the file forward, they expected this to be an easy matter.

It almost worked. The claim had been sitting there for six years and there had been no examinations for discovery. Finally the defendants asked for discovery and Richard Klassen, who had moved to Manitoba after being virtually ridden out of Saskatchewan on a rail, came back to be discovered by Dueck's lawyer, David Gerrand in January, 2001.

However, in the meantime we had managed to interest CBC's The Fifth Estate in our story and they had produced a program, "The Scandal of the Century," which had been aired November 29. Up until the moment it aired, we had been afraid the CBC would give in to the pressures and threats they were receiving from the Saskatchewan government. Their lawyer, Dan Henry and CBC administrators decided to do the right thing and defied the threats. For the first time, Richard Klassen's name had been broadcast/printed in public in connection with this case. The fact that we had two of the Ross children on side did not harm the ratings. It was rivetting television and the following summer it cleaned up on all major broadcast awards, including one co-sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association.

Dueck, through his lawyer David Gerrand, next went after Richard Klassen for allegedly breaking the rules of court by publishing prohibited material on the internet. Holgate did not believe us when we told him we had done no such thing. We had scrupulously published only material which we already knew without having to discover anything from them. Gerrand hayked a pile of printouts from the website into the court room and gave them to the judge. Richard could have easily shown them page by page that none of this was in violation of the rules of court, but because he had counsel he was not allowed to speak on his own behalf. Holgate did his best to lose the case but the judge ruled that Richard would remain in the lawsuit and made a point of saying he had no intention of doing anything about the internet.

Then Gerrand summoned Richard to Saskatoon to be discovered. This may have been when Holgate gave him the frozen chicken papers, which I discuss below.

I saw Richard Klassen shortly after an afternoon of discovery and he was shattered. Gerrand had gone after him with all blades flashing, a proper character assassination. Maybe not Kill Bill but certainly Kick Rick. You weren't worth anything before you filed this claim and you aren't worth anything now. You and your whole family are basically white trash. Because of the amazing response the Fifth Estate program had received, Richard was not quite so ready to accept abuse from a Saskatchewan lawyer. He was personally hurt but he knew he had many people standing by him who wanted him to continue. And so he did.

Lawyers. Yuk.

Holgate had been handling the file on contingency and he hoped to get off cheap, without going to discovery, without doing any work. He had failed to go to Regina to get material which the government defendants and Dueck had listed they could examine. Sorry. He went to Regina once and told Richard that there was really nothing there. At some time he had been given a package of papers containing notes taken by the Ross childrens' foster parents but he had been told that these items were not to be shown to his clients. Or something scary like that. He didn't show them to his clients and he put them in his freezer. And forgot about them. He alleges. Holgate moved out of the office in his home and in with Robert Borden who had taken over Reg Parker's offices on the seventh floor of the Bessborough Hotel.

Borden had been the lawyer chosen by Diane and Dennis Kvello when the original sex charges had been paid in 1991. He had spoken out about the case after the charges were stayed and suffered reprisals from the law society for going public. This was covered in the Fifth Estate Program. Borden wanted to get in on the civil claim and he was let in, as co-counsel with Holgate. Borden began communicating with Richard who was in Manitoba. Borden promised to send Richard a computer so they could communicate better. He kept saying that the computer was on the bus. I'm not sure if it ever did arrive but if it did, it was too late.

Oh my. Richard finally received the frozen chicken papers and he was pissed!

Richard Klassen and his family moved back to Saskatchewan, bringing with them another ally they had recruited in Manitoba. Angela Geworsky showed herself to be energetic, smart and hard-nosed. We all set out to get the lawsuit on the road. The first order of business was getting the defendants into a room with a stenographer to be discovered.

That character assassin, Dueck's lawyer, David Gerrand, was partly right. Richard did not have money. At least he did not have the kind of money you need to order documents and set up examinations for discovery. Richard threw himself on the mercy of his father-in-law, a Saskatchewan farmer who ponied up the cash.

After he accused us of lying, and for a few other reasons, Richard fired Holgate and took over the case. He conducted the discoveries and got on the record the evidence he needed to win the civil suit.

After the discovery exams were concluded, Richard had some time on his hands. He was so obsessed with the case that he could not really take a regular job. He had a lot of energy and needed to do something. He and Ang set up an office on Third Avenue where they gave people advice. Ang began distributing material which was already in the public domain in front of the court house. Richard started schmoozing with downtown lawyers.

One hot week in June

A police agent came seeking advice and Richard either did or did not show him information about the case. John Popowich settled his civil claim for being falsely charged in the Martensville case for $1.2M. His lawyer, Geoff Dufour courted Richard Klassen promising to get him as good a deal as he got for Popowich. As far as the other plaintiffs? A car and a pizza is all Dufour could promise them. Each or split among them? He didn't say.

Suddenly Richard was summoned to court in the seemingly endless pre-trial proceedings. This was Dueck and the government's last effort to kick Richard Klassen out of the lawsuit he had devoted eight years of his life to. The police agent told how Richard had disclosed confidential information to him. Then Saskatoon police who had been stalking Angela Geworksy produced a videotape of Richard dropping her off in front of the court house to distribute her material -- and lighting her cigarette before she left the car.

The tape was clearly doctored. Richard pointed out that they were presenting evidence which had nothing to do with the rules of court and a spliced tape to boot. The judge agreed.

That was the turning point. Dueck and the prosecutors' office had spent tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars attempting to discredit Richard Klassen and have him either jailed for criminal defamation or removed from the civil claim and they had failed. Richard wrote a pre-trial brief. A court date was set.

The only card they had left in their deck was to beat him down in the court room at the civil trial. That card would have had more punch if they had at least prepared for a trial. Instead they counted on spying intelligence which had informed them that Richard was sick. That information probably came from the Borden Holgate office.

They didn't.

. . .and the rest is history, as they say

Not only did the defendants' lawyers, Don McKillop and his sidekick for the government, David Gerrand and a sidekick for Dueck, not really prepare, neither did Holgate and Borden.

Richard was prepared. The pretrial brief became a map for the trial. One day went by. Two days. Three days. Borden followed Richard's notes but he really didn't know the case all that well. Holgate was allowed to examine one witness and he was so pitiful that he almost cleared the courtroom.

The judge relaxed and followed the case as Richard Klassen laid it out before the court. Richard did all the important examinations in chief and all the important cross-examinations. Near the end of the plaintiffs' proceedings, Dueck's lawyer, Gerrand brought to the attention of the court a tape which Dueck had "misplaced in a drawer" when he moved offices. (Was that when he was promoted from corporal to Sgt or when he moved up to Superintendant?) This was the tape of an interview with Beryl Stonechild from 1991. It was hard to hear and the transcription was full of "inaudibles" but it was clear evidence of Dueck's malice. We will never know if Dueck actually intended to present this pitiful offering as evidence that he had reasonable and probable cause to go after 20 people and destroy their lives.

So who are the rotten apples?

Dueck came to court every day. He was sometimes accompanied by Murray Zoorkan. Sometimes by Neil Wylie. Deputy Chief Wiks was busy over at the Stonechild Inquiry which was going on at the same time.

Think of this as the first chapter in an ongoing story.

Which you all can contribute to. In the tradition of injusticebusters we want only signed personal experiences or verifiable facts. It is lies which have built up a rotten and the truth which shall take them down. If any fruit remains untouched by the rot, we'll have ourselves an honest Saskatoon Police Service!

Will Quennell be able to clean up the festering sores begun by Quinney? That also remains to be seen.

The media - can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em

When we finally got the wonderful verdict, we were exhausted from waiting. Judge Baynton had promised to try and bring it down before Christmas. It didn't come until December 29. There was then a flurry of media such as we have never seen before. Richard Klassen became a bona fide star.

People scrambled for the rights to make the movie. Richard stipulated that the movie must be faithful to the facts and that it must be filmed in Saskatchewan.

I now hear that, as the people working on the script and the treatment get closer to production (i.e. funding) that some folding in is being recommended. Or whatever they call it. Borden is being presented as a heroic figure getting credit for most the work done by Richard, Angela and me.

It is not that we want credit or glory.

It is that we want the story truthfully told. Not one single lawyer contributed anything of value to this case. Most of the time lawyers were fighting us, talking us down, playing a treacherous, fearful game. Dan Henry as counsel for the CBC did a good job representing the interests of free speech and a free media.

This is not a story about a heroic lawyer helping his hapless client fight for justice.

This is a story about honest white trash taking the skills we had, sharing them, developing them, finding a way to get the truth to the public. We don't want to be made into heroes but we would like to be shown as the examples that we are: we demonstrated that with an incredible amount of effort and tenacity it is possible to shake the system. If others see that it can be done, and are prepared to do the work they need to do -- individually and collectively -- we can not only shake the system but change the world.

This Remembrance day, think of the victims of the injustice wars, too.--Sheila Steele, first written on the blog, Nov. 11, 2004