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September 2003: Klassen/Kvello civil action

A self-represented litigant's major accomplishment

When the trial ended, I posted the "read-ins" from the exams of Dueck and Bunko-Ruys. I hope before the Appeal Court hears the defendants' appeal (which should be heard some time late this fall) to have Miazga's read-ins published. As of March, 2005, no appeal date

Injusticebusters' daily reports from the courthouse

Rick Klassen

September 8 - Morning report: Queen's Bench Justice George Baynton, presiding judge in the Klassen Kvello civil claim made it clear that this case must be tried in court and not in the media. After an hour of preliminary settling in, Richard Klassen called his first two witnesses. His niece Jenny and his daughter Krystal, who were 14 and 8 when their parents were charged both testified. Although both had been named as abusers in the original list of people the Ross children alleged assaulted them, neither was ever interviewed in connection with this case. Nor were they removed from the custody of their parents, all of whom were also charged. Under cross-examination by Don McKillop and David Gerrand, they told the court that they were never charged nor had they been asked to testify in any court.

Afternoon: Plaintiff Pam Klassen took the stand. Examined first by Robert Borden and Richard Klassen, she described her years fostering many children, including one she had taken permanent custody of after his parents said they did not want him. This child was left with her right up to the day she was charged, July 10, 1991, even though her other foster children had been removed by Social Services following a visit from Saskatoon Police Corporal Brian Dueck who had, in late April or early May 1991 forewarned her about the forthcoming charges against members of her family. Her brothers and their families had moved to Edmonton to pursue legitimate employment. When Dueck spoke to Pam, she testified that he said "Your brothers can run but they can't hide." She said he also told her that he "knew that she had been sexually molested by her father." Pam said that she denied that at the time and she denies it today.

On cross-examination, Don McKillop asked Pam about the "deal", "plea bargain," or arrangement that was made in 1992 whereby her father pled guilty to four charges of sexual assault against the three Ross children and one other child in exchange for a stay of the charges against the rest of his family. On re-exam, Robert Borden brought onto the record that Pam nor any other members of the family nor counsel were not party to any meetings, discussions where such a deal was made. He also brought into the record that Ross Ross and White had already been ordered to stand trial.

September 9: Robert Borden called a male person, a plaintiff whose identity remains protected. He testified that he knew little about the charges even at the time he was charged. He was made aware that the charges were serious and that he could go to jail for a long time. Charges against him and his sister were stayed. He was still embarrassed about the experience of being labelled as a sex offender.

Anita Klassen took the stand in the morning and Ed Holgate led the questioning. Holgate himself seemed somewhat unsure of the chronology and location of events from the time Anita was questioned in Red Deer July 25 until the arrest on July 10 and the subsequent release in Saskatoon six days later. After the lunch break, the 50 minute videotape of Dueck's interrogation of Anita was shown to the court. This is the tape which I first viewed ten years ago and which sealed my commitment to make sure this story got told. My perception was that the tape was evidence of torture and that Dueck was disingenuous in his questioning. This tape and others were made with full confidence that no member of the public or judge would ever see them. Copies of the tapes were given to Chris Axworthy who turned them over to RCMP. Along with the infamous "Thompson papers" they were part of the original disclosure packages which the accused did not see until after the charges against them were stayed in 1992.

September 10: Counsel for Dueck and Robert Borden agree that the last witness from the previous day would be recalled for further cross-examination about yesterday's testimony. Both defence counsel complain about leading questions from the plaintiff's side. Richard Klassen calls Michelle Ross to the stand. It is established that until the age of five, Michelle, her twin sister and older brother lived with their deaf parents in a situation where they were generally neglected. At five, they moved to the foster home of Dale and Anita Klassen, a home where they felt safe. Michael was removed in 1989 and a short time later, Michelle and her sister were moved to to the Thompson home in Warman where Michael had already settled in. Shortly after moving in, Michelle, her siblings and the Thompson family went to Nino's Pizza restaurant on 22nd St. in Saskatoon. Michelle expressed that she missed Dale and Anita. Lyle Thompson piled everyone in the van and drove to 222 St. Paul's Place, the home of Dale and Anita Klassen, and parked the van. He told them to "get out" if they wanted to go and live with Dale and Anita. They remained in the van and after that they did not bring up the names of Dale and Anita Klassen again until they began to make up their stories about sexual abuse.

The court was then shown a videotaped interview dated October 10, 1990. Carol Bunko-Ruys and Brian Dueck are with Michelle in the "soft room" at the Saskatoon Police Station. The interivew begins with Dueck referring to a previous interview with Michelle where she named Dale and Anita Klassen, John and Myrna Klassen and Richard and Kari Klassen as people who had abused her. He tells her he will ask about them later but for now, he wants to talk about her birth parents. Michelle is allowed to fetch some long knives and dolls from a toy box and proceeds to give childish demonstrations of dolls being cut and blood being drained from them. This video had gone on for about half an hour before court broke for lunch.

The video took up at 2 p.m. There were actually 3 videos, only one of which Michelle had seen before. Dueck and Bunko relentlessly pursued with her their lists of members of the Klassen Kvello family, inviting Michelle to help complete the list and giving her lots of clues. Even after Bunko-Ruys asked her to close her eyes and "think real hard" she was unable to come up with John and Myrna Klassen. As far as these disclosyre tapes show, she did not ever make any allegation against them although they each were charged with one count of sexual assault against her.

Four years ago, I published part of the transcription of one of the tapes. Richard Klassen continued to examine Michelle after the tapes were shown. She is determined to set the record straight and her testimony will continue tomorrow morning

September 11: Michelle Ross's testimony continued. She was asked about the discussions she had with Marilyn Thompson where Thompson took notes. Her testimony will continue tomorrow after she has had an opportunity to review the original copies of these notes to determine if these are notes that Thompson took at the time she spoke with Michelle.

After the morning break, John Klassen took the stand and testified to the details of his the weeks leading up to his arrest in Red Deer, July 10, 1991 until the staying of the charges in February, 1993. He told the court that during the 5 nights they stayed in remand in Red Deer, they were treated well. When they arrived in Saskatoon, they were held in police cells without beds before appearing in court the next day and ordered released. Dueck's lawyer challenged whether he had actually spent a night in Saskatoon and then said there must have been a bed in his cell. "If there had been a bed, I would have slept on it," Klassen told him. Don McKillop cross-examined regarding John Klassen's knowledge of the plea bargain arrangement with Peter Klassen. John Klassen also testified that in a metting with counsel Daryl LaBache he had been told that the Crown would like at least one person to plead guilty to at least one charge. His brothers Dale and Richard were also present at this meeting and they said absolutely not.

This afternoon, the court heard from Sheila Verwey, the social worker in Red Deer who was asked to be part of a branch of the department which was put on alert by Saskatchewan Social Services in April, 1991. She was told that Richard, Dale and John Klassen and their wives were suspected of abusing foster children and almost certainly abused their own children. They were told to take no action. A month later, Red Deer contacted Saskatoon to find out what was happening and they were told that Corporal Dueck was having difficulty finding a prosecutor to take the case. Her testimony will continue Friday.

September 12: Sheila Verwey concluded her testimony. The file she kept on the apprehension and subsequent examinations of Richard and Kari Klassen's children was placed in evidence. Verwey testified she had no concerns about the children being returned to their parents. Again, in 1997 she examined the three children after Saskatchewan Social Services expressed concern that Peter Klassen, who had been released after serving four years in prison, might be having unsupervised access to the children. She testified that she examined the children and found them to be healthy and that they did not see their grandfather under unsupervised circumstances.

She elaborated on her previous testimony about Brian Dueck's visit to Red Deer and his meeting with RCMP members and social workers there. She said she was unpersuaded by his remarks to the groups and remained unpersuaded after reading a sheaf of approximately 20 pages he left for them to read. She also commented on a protocol, shared by Saskatchewan and Alberta which states that children disclosing sexual abuse should be believed. She said that part of the protocol arose in the mid 80s to address the fact that many real abuse victims were not taken seriously when they made a complaint. She went on to say that listening to the child would be a beginning step towards investigating the complaint and such complaint was always investigated.

Michelle Ross concluded her testimony after reviewing the Thompson papers which were then tendered as evidence.

September 15: The 1990 videotaped interviews of eleven year old Michael Ross are being entered into evidence. Dueck's lawyer asked if the court would receive the transcripts rather than watch the videos. Klassen argued and the judge agreed it was important to see the demeanor of the people on the tapes. Before lunch break we wqatched about two hours of tapes and this afternoon we will watch the rest.

During the afternoon, we watched the rest of the videos. They have not yet been officially tendered as evidence, but will be first thing in the morning. We can expect to find excerpts on various large media websites.

September 16: Rick Taylor, who had been the arresting RCMP officer in Red Deer in 1991 testified. He is now an inspector in Port Alberni, B.C. Shortly after he arrived in town, he was interviewed by both lawyers for the defence. He failed to remember the meeting which Sheila Verway had testified to. His memory of events was compromised. He testified only to the notes he had taken at the time and the official report which had been filed.

Kathleen Ross took the stand and the court watched videotaped interviews from October, 1990.

September 17: There was a lot of buzz in the corridors regarding the anticipated testimony of prosecutor Terry Hinz who has been subpoened by plaintiff Richard Klassen. Dueck's lawyer was still insisting that any a taped interview he held with Mr. Hinz before the examinations for discoveries constituted "work product" and should not be allowed into court. Mr. Hinz was quite ready to hand the transcript to Mr. Klassen. Mr. Klassen was going to make preliminary motions to have the judge tell Mr. Hinz what he had previously said in court: that Mr. Hinz was free to waive privilege on the transcript of the interview. David Gerrand then handed the transcript over to Richard Klassen.

When court convened, the videotaped interviews of 8 year old Kathleen Ross were played until 12.30. At 2 Kathy testimony was interrupted to hear plaintiff witness Justice Ellen Gunn. She arrived accomponied by lawyer Aaron Fox, who is also representing Cst. Larry Hartwig at the Stonechild Inquiry.

She testified that she held the position of Director of Public Prosecutions in 1992. She had only two notes on her diary from that time referring to Saskatoon prosecutors regarding the trials emerbing from the allegations of the Ross children. She had no memory of any discussions. She stated she also attended a district prosecutors' conference around the same date as one of the phone calls. Through cross examination, she stated that it was more or less up to individual crown prosecutors to seek advice from head office regarding important cases. She said she had not ever seen a file on Ross Ross & White or Klassen/Kvello.

It was really hard to tell if she really had no memory (Alzheimers' perhaps) or if she was following instructions from her lawyer. Either way, there is a problem. If her memory is intact, and she had so little input into such a major file, one must ask what on earth do directors of public prosecutions do? As a citizsen, I would have assumed that a director had some supervisory role over the district offices. Even if a district office has not contacted the director, one would think that from time to time the director would call the office to see how things were going. And surely such a call would have prompted something like, "Well we have a very large preliminary hearing coming up, with three hyper-active child witnesses who have told very bizarre stories but as long as we can get the judge to agree to take off his robe and give us permission to put up screens so the kids can't see the accused, we'll have it under control."

Was there not any discussion with head office regarding the rather extraordinary measure of having the Ross Ross and White trial closed to the public and a sweeping ban placed on all the proceedings?

What about the decision to charge only nineteen of the people named by the Ross children? Who said, "We've got enough?" Who said we will look the other way and allow to run free among the public twenty one people we believe to have been abusing small children?

It would appear almost certain that by the time this case got to trial, enough professionals had viewed the videotaped evidence that there must have been someone among them who knew the allegations were false and that Michael was lying. Marilyn Thompson states in her notes

Kathy's examination continued.

Terry Hinz

September 18: In the morning, Kathy Ross's testimony and cross examination was concluded. She remained firm in her memory of having told both Marilyn Thompson and Carol Bunko Rhys that she had lied in court about six months after the trials were over. She said they told her not to worry about it, there was nothing she could do.

Jacquie Klassen, daughter of Dale and Anita testified that when she was seven and attending Howard Coad School, Dueck and a social worker had attended at her school and interviewed her in the principal's office to ask if she had been abused by her parents or her grandpa. After the interview, Dale took her to be examined by a doctor. A year later, when the children were apprehended on July 10, 1991 in Red Deer, she was again interviewed and forced to undergo another physical examination. She described how she fought because she did not want to be examined by a doctor again. She also remembered the incident at the hockey rink where Krystal was attacked by Michael.

Many were waiting for the testimony of Terry Hinz. This afternoon he did not disappoint. Dueck had fought ferociously to keep Hinz off the stand, claiming client/solicitor privilege.

He testified Brian Dueck first brought him the file a few months before the arrests were made. Dueck had brought the file to him because he had worked with Dueck on the conviction of Peter Klassen the previous year. Hinz testified that he reviewed the new file Dueck brought to him and because of the bizarre nature of the allegations he thought the testimony of the children would require further corroboration in order to obtain a conviction. When he told Dueck he should consider excavating the yard where the children said bodies were buried, Dueck told him there was no point: these "cultists" were experts at getting rid of bodies. Hinz suggested Dueck could check with neighbours to see if babies were missing and cross check with Vital Statistics. Dueck said there was no point in doing this because it was common knowledge among those who knew about these cults that they had "brood mares," that is, women who had babies for the sole purpose of human sacrifice.

Hinz further testified that there had not been a case like this in Saskatchewan before although there had been several in the United States. He said that there were people within both the prosecutorial staff and the judiciary who believed that children did not tell lies and were inclined to accept without corroboration allegations of Satanic rituals. When he began reading the file Dueck gave him, which he had taken home for the week-end, he said he thought he had been transported back into the seventeenth century at the time of the Salem witch hunts. He acknowledged that there was tremendous pressure from police and social services to take this case and the Martensville case. He said that if the file had been assigned to him, he would probably have taken it to preliminary inquiry. But even if it were to get past the preliminary judge, he would not have pursued it, particularly if it was unravelling.

Hinz said that all prosecutors are trained in the philosophy that the role of the prosecution is two-fold: to secure convictions against criminals and to ensure that accused persons have a fair trial.

David Gerrand, in his cross-examination challenged Hinz regarding his previous statements regarding the Peter Klassen case. He provided documents to show that Dueck's name did not appear on the occurance reports in that file. It appeared he was trying to impeach Hinz's credibility when he challenged the particular words Hinz had used to describe the file Dueck had given him to review twelve years ago. During the cross-examination, Hinz gave an extemporaneous speech about the philosophy and role of the prosecutor and a history of how pivotal cases have affected crown conduct.

In my view Terry Hinz is the first person from within the justice system to have made intelligent comment about the role of the crown in administrating justice in many years. He expressed, good naturedly but also seriously, that he was not sorry to be leaving the job after 25 years of service.

I would like to be able to report that the court room was full. It was not, although there were several more full rows of observers for this historical afternoon.

September 19: Dale Klassen recounted his days as a foster parent and described in detail the chaos after the Ross children joined his family in 1987. After the incident where Anita discovered blood in Michelle's panties in 1987, the police told him that of course he had been a suspect for having abused Michelle but the investigation had completely cleared him. Nonethtless he told Anita she had better keep a diary of all the events which went on regarding the Ross children, in case they were ever asked to testify in court. Many social workers were involved and Anita made sure the kids kept their many appointments. He testified that Carol Bunko-Ruys was one of the social workers involved and that he had picked Michael up from her offices at the Broadway theatre on at least one occasion. The children were also seeing social workers at MacNeil Clinic, he recalled.

His memory of events was vivid. The court watched the interrogation tape from Red Deer. It is conducted in the same room where his wife Anita was interviewed. The interview was conducted by Dueck while another officer stood at the door. There is a break in the tape while Dale leaves to speak with a legal aid lawyer who advises him not to talk. At the end of the brief interview, Dueck speaks to the other officer, "You can turn the camera off, Rick." This would possibly be Rick Taylor, the RCMP corporal who had served as Dueck's laison. (His failure to remember these events last week would suggest the blue wall of silence is still alive and well.)

Dale Klassen testified that at all times he was cooperative. After moving to Red Deer in July, 1990 he had received telephone calls from his mother and his sister Pam telling him that an investigation was in progress regarding possible sexual abuse of the Ross children. Dale advised them to calm down, that when a proper investigation was done they would see that nothing had happened and the investigation would be closed. Even when Dueck phoned him in April, he offered to drive to Saskatoon to be interviewed. He said that he was confident that when police reviewed the Social Services file, that would be the end of it. "I knew I was innocent," he said.

His testimony regarding the arrests and the turmoil of family life corroborated the testimony of previous witnesses. He said that after they returned to Red Deer after the preliminary hearing, Anita had a breakdown and had to be hospitalized.

When it came to the time when his father agreed to plead guilty, he said that he knew his father was innocent of the charges regarding the Ross children but that he and his brothers agreed that the fourth child complainant might have told the truth. Her allegation consisted of something to do with videos and had no suggestion of Satanic ritual abuse. Nor did she make any allegations against any other members of the Klassen family.

On cross-examination, defence lawyers pointed to testimony given by Richard Klassen during examinations for discovery in January, 1992. After this exam, the other Klassen family members had agreed to accept Richard's exam as serving for the rest of them. Richard's account of how much the brothers had discussed with their father prior his plea bargain differed slightly from what Dale had recounted on the witness stand this morning. Neither account included any discussion with lawyers regarding a straightforward arrangement stating that if Peter pled guilty, the rest of his family would have their charges staid.

A photograph of the scars on Dale Klassen's right leg, the result of a serious accident in 1983, was put into evidence.

Louis Dupuis had lived two doors down from the Kvellos from 1983 to 1989. They had become close friends and Diane Kvello often babysat his children who were also friends with her children. The two families continued to get together to play cards after the Dupuis family moved to another part of Saskatoon. On July 11, 1991, when Mr. Dupuis saw the StarPhoenix story about the "Scandal of the Century," he immediately recognized his former neighbours among the unnamed accused. His first impulse was the safety of his daughters who had spent many hours in the Kvello house.

Mr. Dupuis called the police station and was stonewalled. He wanted to confirm the identity of his unnamed neighbours and also to ask the police why had had not been warned. The police confirmed the identity and eventually Brian Dueck went to Mr. Dupuis' place of business to talk to him. Mr. Dupuis was not reassured concerning the welfare of his daughters. He continued to call the police station and finally, in late September, Dueck arranged to take the Dupuis children into the soft room to examine them regarding their contact with the Kvellos.

Mr. Dupuis testified that the families "were in and out of each others' houses" and met friends and relatives of the Kvellos, including Dale and Anita. He recalled the Ross children and testified that it was difficult for adults to visit or play cards when the kids were around. "They needed a lot of attention," he said.

Before watching the videos, which Mr. Dupuis had not seen before, he described his state of mind leading up to the taping. His concern was for his daughters and he wanted complete assurance that they had not been touched in any way. Dueck assured him that he was a professional interviewer and would conduct them properly. Mr. Dupuis dexcribed how as he watched Dueck and his daughters, one by one, through the one way glass, he became more and more angry. By the time I left the police station, he was furious. "So much for professional sophisticated technique," Mr. Dupuis said.

The court then watched the tapes. Dueck asked each of the girls, aged 7, 9 and 11, if she could identify her ear and her nose and his ear and his nose. He then asked "Now is there any part of your body that other people are not supposed to touch?" Each child agreed. Dueck then asked what names they used for these parts of their bodies. The girls were clearly embarrassed, but gave him his answers after a bit of prodding. Dueck then led them to remember and name their former babysitters, and then asked if anyone had touched them in their private parts. The girls were clear and unhesitatingly answered no to each question of this type. He then told them that "if you remember anything later on, you know, sometimes kids forget . . ." to be sure and tell their parents.

He then told the girls' parents that while he was pretty sure they had not been molested, it could be good to cut off ties with the Kvellos, "just to be on the safe side," Dupuis testified.

These are events which occurred between the laying of the charges in July and the preliminary hearing in December, 1991. The Dupuis tapes are evidence that Dueck had investigated close neighbours of the plaintiffs in this case and gained information which would tend to support their innocence. An important part of the plaintiffs' case is that the defendants had in their possession material which would cause any reasonable person to believe in the case against the accused. Proper disclosure is also at issue.

Don McKillop, who represents the government employees and Carol Bunko-Ruys had no questions for Mr. Dupuis.

Evidence is mounting that the investigation was very selective in this case and that there was a lot of exculpatory evidence which was not disclosed to the accused. In the Martensville case, where a huge investigation was launched including luma light searches for blood, arial mapping of the grid roads around Martensville, and midnight stake-outs leading nowhere, all of which came out at trial, this case was run on a shoestring. Dueck and his partner were on vacation time when they went to Red Deer to interview the Klassen families.

The Stonechild Inquiry, which moves this week to the Sheraton Cavalier, is hearing police witnesses who have selective recall of the events of thirteen years ago. The Klassen civil matter has also heard from a few witnesses with selective memory loss. Do these people and their lawyers really think they are bamboozling the judges? Do they skip the part of the oath, the second phrase which states "the whole truth" as though an oath sworn on the Bible is also to be selectively interpreted? This should be an interesting week at both hearings.

September 23: In the American ritual abuse cases which were winding down around the same time Saskatchewan decided to get into this area, there was always a doctor who was an expert who would testify that he had examined children and found their physical condition to be "consistent with possible sexual abuse." There is a sameness to their testimony. Dr. Joel Yelland is Saskatoon's family physician and in his testimony this morning, he testified to two sets of examinations of the Ross children: one in May, 1990 and one in June, 1991. Both these examinations were conducted after the children had moved into the home of Marilyn Thompson and before the charges were laid. The reports of these examinations, which had been sent to Liz Newton, the children's Social Services' caseworker, were part of discovery material received by the plaintiffs in January, 1992. Dr. Yelland had no records himself. He said it was routine to destroy them after six years.

He could not recall when he had first met Brian Dueck.

The two sets of reports yielded some interesting information, nonetheless. Michelle told Dr. Yelland that her birth parents, members of the foster parent family and others had routinely put a knife into her vagina. Dr. Yelland's first report states that Michelle's hymen was intact and that she had superficial scarring; she had possibly been abused by fondling. Thirteen months later, he reports that Michelle's hymen is no longer intact and that she has scars and other signs consistent with having been sexually abused.

Dr. Yelland's first report on Michael states that Peter Klassen had sodomized him in 1987. His report of physical findings confirm the boy had excoriations (worn skin) and looseness of the rectum.

Two of the children told him they had been made to eat feces, urine and blood. One said an adult had peed a milky substance into her mouth. He read the reports matter of factly but claimed no memory of anything which could flesh out these reports. He said they were made by dictaphone immediately following examinations and transcribed by a secretary some days later. After he had been on the stand for an hour, it was not clear if he could yet step down as there were still some questions to be asked of him. He told the court he had 20 patients waiting for him. I immediately began some mental calculations: if that was $50 a patient, he was losing a thousand dollars. After the break, he was asked only a couple more questions and then allowed to return to his lucrative practice.

Susan Hardie, who in 1991 adopted the three children fostered by Diane and Dennis Kvello testified that she and her husband had begun the process of adopting the children when suddenly charges were laid against the Kvellos. Because the children had been apprehended from the Kvellos, the Hardies agreed to take the children right away rather then go through the normal procedure og gently integrating them into their home through overnight stays, week-end stays etc. as is normally done with adoptive children.

The children were already being seen by Judy Hjurtis and Susan continued to take them to their appointments. She took them to see Dr. Anne McKenna on Social Services' instruction within two weeks of the placement. There were concerns that the oldest child was on Ritalin and after the initial visit to McKenna which showed no conclusive evidence the children had ever been abused, she took them to her own family doctor. She was asked to take the children to the Saskatoon Police Station for examination in the soft room. There, she met Brian Dueck. The videotapes of the three children were shown. Two of the children "disclose" they had been touched once by Diane Kvello in a private part of the body. The child on Ritalin named several other people, none of whom are part of this action.

Ms. Hardie indicated that the therapy and soft room processes had been damaging to the whole family. She did not discuss any allegations with the children and left that to the professionals, she said. David Gerrand confronted her with a paper containing her own handwritting which mentions allegations of the older child against several people, including one of the Kvello children. She said that it could be notes she made during a telephone conversation with Judy Hjurtis. "How many more of these do you have," she asked. "There are probably lots more, all over my house." Gerrand told her he only had the one.

Cheryl Dupuis, the wife of Louis Dupuis who testified last Friday testified that while living two doors from the Kvellos, she and Diane Kvello became best friends. They had moved to Saskatoon from Edmonton in 1983 and knew no one. Diane had come over with a cake to welcome them into the neighbourhood. They saw each other every day. She also met Dale and Anita and visited their house "perhaps ten times." She was present when Anita had received a call from Social Services regarding her request to have Michael removed from the home. "I didn't hear the conversation but afterwards, Anita vented," she said, adding it was clear that the situation was intolerable and Anita was distraught about the slowness of Social Services to act on this request.

Ms. Dupuis also testified that she had occasion to observe Diane and Dennis as foster parents. When she first received the three children, the two youngest ones couldn't speak very well, she said, and their vocabulary increased remarkably under Diane's tutelage. After taking her daughters to the police station to be interviewed by Dueck, and subsequently being told to stay away from the Kvellos, she did not see them again. "My husband told them we were cutting off ties."

"I didn't understand why no one in the police talked to me if they were investigating the Kvellos," she said. "I knew them better than anyone. I could have told them anything they wanted to know."

When she stepped down from the stand, she and Diane Kvello hugged tearfully and left the court room.

The last witness of the day was Chief John Quinn from Prince Albert. He had been Brian Dueck's superior officer during the time of the Klassen investigation. The only note he had of the case was to have given approval for rental of a car and video camera to go to Red Deer to interview the suspects. He testified how police notebooks are used extensively by all officers in any investigation. "These become an invaluable tool if a one is ever called upon to testify in court," he said. On cross-examination by David Gerrand, he acknowledged there may be other ways for a police officer to keep a record of his activities.

Social Services was supposed to be present today to argue its case against making files available to the court. Ed Holgate, who had been dealing with Social Services' lawyer Judy Halyk regarding this matter told the court Ms. Halyk would not be available until Thursday afternoon. Judge Baynton made clear that she had better show up on Thursday and that any other changes should be made through him.

Richard Klassen, who was prepared to put forward his position today, had not been informed of the change, either.

September 22: Court was adjourned today because Judge Baynton had a prior commitment. Richard Klassen took advantage of his day off to check into provincial court to get disclosure regarding his August arrest for making too much noise in front of the police station. He had asked for disclosure of the tape the police had taken of the demonstration and display of signs. Provincial Judge Pat Carey had ordered this turned over to him a month ago. Today, he was told that "the prosecutors were busy going through the tape" and did not yet have his copy. The only information he could get was a print-out of information on the courthouse computer which states "3 counts under Sec. 300 of the Criminal Code of Canada."

This is, of course, the notorious defamation section of the code under which Sheila Steele and Richard Klassen were previously charged and acquitted.

One can speculate what the prosecutors may be looking at as they go through the tape which they claim to be five minutes long. Are they going to put a warrant for Klassen's arrest while he is defending himself in the civil matter? Are they waiting to see how the civil trial goes before deciding which charter violations to use in their reckless lashing back? Late in the afternoon, injusticebusters learned that the file is being handled in Regina which suggests federal involvement.

September 24: Richard Klassen, the plaintiff who has carried the full load of this lawsuit for almost ten years and is representing himself took the stand first thing this morning. Robert Borden examined him. His fatigue was beginning to show but he nonetheless established several more building blocks in the case he has so carefully prepared.

He recounted his early years as a miscreant youth who lived on the streets from the age of twelve, returning occasionally to see his mother but at odds, always, with his father and having little contact with his siblings. At age sixteen, he went to prison for five years, getting out only to find himself in trouble once more, returning briefly and finally, turning his life around when his daughter Krystal was born. Borden led him through the years from 1983 until 1991 when the family was charged. This concluded a slow but steady reconciliation with family members and a continual battle with alcohol.

The tape of Dueck's Red Deer interview was shown. For the first time, the court heard the name Hugh Beck, a.k.a. Hugh Stonechild, a former foster child of his grandmother, Marie Peters. Dueck appears to be confused about Stonechild's fostering history, questioning Richard as though they were raised in the same home. Richard sets him straight and Dueck still does not appear to "get it." Dueck proceeds to tell Klassen that Stonechild had presented himself at the Saskatoon Police Station the night before he died in a violent accident and alleged that Richard had sexually abused him when the two of them were young.

This is the first clue the court has heard regarding what could have been driving Dueck's investigation.

Klassen also testifies that in 1987, his sister Pam had told him two social workers had visited her in a park and warned her that she should keep her children away from her brother Rick because he was being investigated regarding allegations by one of the Stonechilds. Klassen testified that he immediately confronted Social Services and after meeting with them, received an apology. He accepted the apology, adding that he would like it in writing. He received "what I guess amounts to an apology" from Social Services' head Norma Rivard. He read the letter into the record and it was placed into evidence.

This is one of the items that Social Services has been fighting to keep out of court.

Klassen walks through the events leading to the preliminary hearing, including a meeting Daryl LaBach held with eleven accused in the Bessborough Hotel where he showed the family the videotaped testimony of the three Ross children and two children who were fostered by Pam. The court had previously seen the Ross children's tapes and today, we saw for the first time the taped interviews of the other two children.

Before viewing the first tape, Richard Klassen set the stage by creating a picture of the setting under which he had first viewed the tapes. The tapes were of markedly inferior quality to those the court viewed today and the eleven sat around an oval table and viewed them on a small moniter. "Everyone was keeping track of when their own name came up," Klassen said. It simply was not possible to absorb it all.

After viewing the tapes, most family members agreed that the testimony of the girl formerly fostered by Pam contained credible evidence against Peter Klassen and thought he should have separate counsel. There was also crediblle testimony about a jailhouse acquaintance of Richard's, Mike Stoopnikoff, who had offended against the girl.

Klassen testified that Stoopnikoff had rented a room from his parents because he and his wife had no room for him. After a while, Klassen testified, I thought the guy was weird and possibly dangerous. Klassen described searching Stoopnikoff's room and finding a handwritten autobiography in which the writer claimed to have killed his mother and a foster mother. Klassen said "We kicked him out immediately" and said he turned the papers over to the police. This would have been around 1983. Klassen stated that the autobiographical confessions turned out to be true but viewing the foster child's disclosure tape was the first time he learned of Stoopnikoff's offences against the foster child. Dueck and Judy Hjurtis were both present in this interview.

When the tape of the second foster child, younger brother of the first was played, it was clear from the beginning of the half-hour interview by Dueck alone with the child in the soft room that this was a carefully coached performance by a reluctant little boy. The boy expressed jealousy that his sister was getting counselling and got ice cream from the therapist. Under prodding, he named Grandpa Klassen and told Dueck that his Dad had told him about Grandpa Klassen's "touching" problem. The boy named several other people, after being told that "kids who have been touched" get to have therapists. Dueck suggested to the boy that he could have a male therapist if he wanted. "Could I get a hippie?" the boy responds.

Judge Baynton adjourned court at 4.20, immediately after the viewing of this tape.

September 25: Richard Klassen took the stand again this morning. He continued to testify regarding Dueck's pursual of Klassen regarding the allegations Dueck claimed had been made against him by Hugh and Beryl Stonechild. He narrowed the time frame somewhat, placing Dueck's interview with Beryl Stonechild as having happened while Beryl was on remand awaiting his sentencing for the double murder of his neighbours in Regina. The report from Dueck's file was placed into evidence but it has not yet been established that Dueck personally conducted the interview.

Klassen further testified regarding his participation in the infamous "deal" whereby his father pled guilty and charges were stayed on the rest of the defendants. He acknowledged that he had pressured his father to plead guilty regarding the allegations of the credible witness but never did he encourage him to plead guilty to the charges arising from the Ross children. "I didn't think he would." After a telephone call from Jay Watson, Richard testified his father clammed up. He was distraught and muttered something about being a "hero." He and his brother Dale drove Peter to Watson's office the next day. Jari Klassen accompanied Peter to the office, holding his arm because he was shaking madly and had taken several sedatives.

Dale and Richard then went to the Bessborough coffee shop where they ran into Robert Borden. They were tight-lipped and made him uncomfortable so he left. "Our lawyer had told us not to talk to him," Klassen testified.

Klassen described his reaction at his father's hearing where he learned the true nature of the deal. He went after Matt Miazga, following him into the hallway. Miazga told Daryl LaBach to "restrain his client." He was surprised again a week later when Peter was sentenced to fout years. "I had clearly been led to understand that he would be allowed to do provincial time (two years less a day) and serve it in Saskatoon so my mother could visit him."

On cross-examination by McKillop, Richard Klassen insisted that at no time had he pressured his father to plead guilty under the terms to which he had ended up pleading.. "I told him he should plead out to [the girl]. I knew he was innocent of the Rosses."

The cross-examination was interrupted in the afternoon for the argument regarding Social Services right to refuse to testify. The judge heard arguments from both sides and reserved judgment.

During the break, it was made known to the court that Daryl LaBach, the trial lawyer for the Klassens for the preliminary hearing and staying of the charges from 1991-1993 was ready to testify.

The afternoon ended with a debacle as Dueck's lawyer entered evidence that Richard Klassen had used a graphic from the CBC website to label a videotape. Gerrand tendered the tape, but not its contents. He then quizzed Klassen about "following" Dueck on the street with a scanner. Klassen answered that he was not following Dueck but certainly if Dueck's name came across, he appeared at the scene. He explained he was getting footage from the neighbourhood and had even sold some to a local TV station. When asked if he had a licence for the scanner, Klassen told him he didn't need one. He had bought it at Radio Shack. "I thought it was pretty cool." Gerrand abruptly ended the corr-examination by throwing his pen loudly onto the desk.

McKillop squandered his cross-examination time by entering transcripts which would have been routinely agreed to. There was some squabbling about the relevancy of certain documents. Klassen, when asked his position by the judge, said he was for letting all the evidence in.

The court adjourned without LaBach getting a chance to testify. He will return next week.

Klassen is still on the stand under cross-examination by McKillop. Perhaps he will come up with some questions over night.

September 26: It was an amazing end to an amazing week. Mr. Gerrand rose immediately to inform the court that he had just been informed twenty minutes earlier of the existance of a tape Superintendant Dueck had just found in his desk. It was an audio tape of his interview with Beryl Stonechild at Saskatchewan Penitentiary and Mr. Gerrand assured the court the tape was being transcribed and that the plaintiffs would be provided with a copy of the tape. Dueck was not in court all day (he has attended most sessions), no doubt staying behind to supervise transcription of the tape. Just after the mid-afternoon break, the officer who has been monitering the trial for Saskatooon Police Service arrived with a thick brown envelope. Gerrand went to the back of the courtroom and stayed there for a good long bit. He handed the material over to Richard Klassen. When court adjourned, Mr. Klassen put his wrists together and said to Gerrand, "Better get ready to handcuff your client." Mr. Gerrand retorted, "If you can't speak civilly Mr. Klassen, please don't speak to me."

But wait. There was lots to report in between these two eccentric offerings from Brian Dueck's lawyer.

Richard Klassen resumed his place on the witness stand. He corrected testimony from yesterday where he had stated John Lucas had been present with him during videotaping in the hood to state that he had not ever videotaped on the streets with John Lucas and that on the occasion about which he had been cross-examined he had been accompanied by his nephew Rob and Sheila Steele. (These events took place in early September, 1994 a week after the three of us had been arrested and criminally charged for defaming Dueck, charges which did not stick.) There was very little cross-examination except for a couple more questions about Richard Klassen's role in pressuring his father to plead out in 1993.)

Kari Klassen was the next witness. She testified to having accompanied Peter Klassen to his meeting with Jay Watson. She described the arrests in Red Deer from her perspective. All six of the Red Deer Klassens have now put testimony regarding that experience into the court record.

Richard Klassen told the court he was still negotiating with the Social Services' lawyer. The judge said that he knew what his decision was but "that you might not wish to hear it," addressing both sides.

Ron Schindell, who worked in youth services at the same time as Dueck testified that he had tried to find a file which disclosure material suggests should exist, regarding an interview by Schindell of Michael Ross. The file was no longer in Central Records.

Diane Kvello was sworn for the purposes of identifying tapes. The first was of Mikey Klassen, Pam's apprehended adopted son, who was interviewed by Dueck's partner, Jim Walker and Janet Matkowski. Matkowski, now deceased, is the most relentless interviewer we have yet seen. Mikey denies anything has happened to him. He is shy about discussing his private parts and becomes very giddy. Matkowski gives him a crash course on private parts with the assistance of the rag dolls. Matkowski names several people referring to conversations they have had on previous occasions. When asked to show where Grandpa Klassen has touched him, Mikey crawls under the table. Matkowski threatens several times to lift the table off of him and Jim Walker says, "I'll go out and turn the camera off and then we can talk later." Walker leaves the room but does not turn the camera off. Mikey continues to hide under the table and stays there while Matkowski continues to browbeat him.

After lunch, Jay Watson took the stand. His testimony corroborated what had been previously said regarding the so-called "deal" for Peter Klassen to plead guilty.

Next Dueck's videotaped interview with Dennis Kvello was played. This was a builder like the Anita Klassen interview. Dueck and Kvello are alone in a room, Dueck places a very thick file folder on the table. Kvello is uncomfortable and nervous. In a most blatant violation of rules, he discusses his interviews with the Red Deer Klassens, and assures Dennis that the weakest allegations are against him.

In this burst of candor, Dueck brags to Dennis Kvello about how he personally broke down Peter Klassen and got him to plead guilty in a previous case. This totally contradicts Gerrand's previous attempt to impeach Terry Hinz who claimed he had worked with Dueck on that very case. Gerrand had, at that time, suggested Mr. Hinz "must have been mistaken," showed him occurance reports and challenged him to find Dueck's name.

The Kvello interviews were not finished when court adjourned for the week-end.

September 29: The videotaped interview by Dueck of Dennis Kvello concluded followed by Diane Kvello's tape. Diane's tape went on until lunch break. Quotable Dueckisms:

  • Dennis: In my mind, I did not do anything."
  • Dueck: But what about in somebody else's mind?
  • Regarding the testimony of the male former foster-child "He has disclosed only against (two people) so far. He will remember more. He only just got into therapy."

Diane then testified to the way her three foster children were removed from her home. One was taken from school and the other two were apprehended by social workers who came with a van. They "stripped my house,," she testifying, explaining that not only the children's clothes but virtually everything else in their rooms, including knicknacks, books, photographs, items which could properly be considered to be "family" property were shoved into black bags and placed into a van. Diane Kvello testified she never saw any of these items again.

She learned about Dueck's caution to the Dupuis family when she went to their place of business to deliver baskets of crabapples from her tree, as she had done in other years. Louis Dupuis took her into the office and explained to her that his family would be severing connections with hers. She did not see Cheryl Dupuis, a friend she considered "closer than my sisters" until last week when Ms Dupuis testified in court. She had no idea that tapes had been made of the Dupuis children until Richard Klassen discovered their existance in discovery material and made their existance known to her.

Before she went to trial, the only evidence she knew of were the children's disclosure tapes and a three page statement from a neighbour who the crown did not put on the stand at the preliminary inquiry. "Except the tapes I had to look at were blurry -- you couldn't really make out the faces, she said. "Really, when I saw them in this court, it was like seeing them for the first time."

Social Services provided Richard Klassen with an affidavit from Norma Rivard attesting to her signature on a letter she had written to Richard Klassen in 1989 apologizing for the manner in which information had been released regarding his being under investigation for allegations of sexual abuse. In the letter, Rivard had stated the matter was closed as far as Social Services was concerned and it was her understanding the matter was closed.

The next witness was retired police officer Jim Walker who worked with Dueck in youth section and "for many years before that." Walker's demeanor bordered on hostile as he testified he did not keep any independent notes of the occasions when he assisted Dueck. "It was his case. It was a big file." So big, in fact, that the other two officers on Dueck's shift had to take up the slack in the department for a year and a half while he devoted himself exclusively to it, logging in lots of overtime. When he was subpoened, he was asked to bring material or files relating to the case. He brought nothing because he "had nothing."

The judge ordered into evidence the tape and transcript which Dueck's lawyer had disclosed Friday. Richard Klassen read some portions of the transcript into the record after the tape proved to be unlistenable. The transcipt is called "Statement of Beryl Stonechild, July 27, 1991." Time: 50.p.m. The interview is done by Dueck and conducted at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary.

In his documents provided during discovery, Dueck had stated that this interview had disclosed allegations of anal intercourse performed by Richard upon Beryl and Richard's cousin Greg. Klassen testified that the tape and its 52 page transcript contained no such disclosure.

From p. 11: . . .Dueck: Well cause I was saying to you before Beryl before we started the tape just let me say something okay. I told you about you know the age of the kids that I'm dealing with now that have talked about him (Richard Klassen) and very young kids and you understand that when they go to testify in court, what happens when younger kids testify right . . .

From p. 18: . . .Dueck: Do you also know do you also know in this particular case that none of the names are being released because of age. It would be the same with you. The names will never be published in the paper or on the media, are you aware of that? . . .

From p. 37: . . .Dueck: Beryl when we're talking now about Richard and you know how you're going to be able to have some the kids who disclosed about him, you know the younger kids and you're saying you know you're in a real turmoil about testifying of whatever, I understand that you're ah, appealing your ah, your ah sentence on, on this last conviction are you? That (inaudible) is there any way that it would, that it would ever look like ah, you know, if you left the court from that maybe that was the reason for it? Is that something that could work? . . .

From p. 39: . . Dueck: . . .I know that our prosecutor would well I'll ask him I mean, you, you've talked on the tape, you know I'll tell him what you told me , and see whether you know, I know the difficulty your that we're in and we appreciate that and we're not going to force something . . .

From p. 47: Dueck . . .the way to solidify the case would have been to have some adults. Not just 10, 11, 9 year old kids, but to have some adults testifying.

The plaintiffs case is scheduled to conclude tomorow. Court will start at 2 beginning with the read-ins (portions the examinations for discovery the plaintiffs wish to be made part of the record) and conclude with the testimony of Daryl LaBach at 7 p.m.

The defendants should begin their case Wednesday morning.

September 30: Richard Klassen closed his case with the understanding that Daryl LaBach would testify that evening. Court reconvened at 7 and LaBach, who is involved in a jury trial in North Battleford, testified. He recalled the events to the best of his knowledge and produced a note which he had made during the preliminary examination in January, 1992 which said Sonja Hansen had told Robert Borden that charges against all but Peter were going to be stayed (the charges were stayed in February, 1883). He testified that the only disclosure he had received were videotapes of the complainants, the Bunko-Ruys reports and some police informations. He did not know about the Thompson papers until the hearing was in session. He acknowledged, under cross-examination, that Mathew Miazga had informed him that he could have access to Social Services files. On re-exam, he stated that he did not take advantage of this because dealing with Social Service was always time-consuming and "a headache."

At the end of the evening, McKillop and Gerrand filed non-suit applications. These were written applications which asked for the court to end the claim in favour of the defendants because no evidence had been presented which, on balance of probabilities, could succeed for the plaintiffs. Included in the applications were tortes asking the court to make new law enhancing the immunity of police and government from prosecution for malice.

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