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Klassen/Kvello civil action

A self-represented litigant's major accomplishment

injusticebusters thank all the journalists who got on board to help make this the story of the century. This trial represents a culmination of the 5½ years we have been on the Internet and the 5 years before where we tried to get the story to the public.

Lawyer attacks police officer's investigation

Brian Dueck

A veteran police officer faced criticism in court for his conduct regarding what may have been the biggest and most unusual case of his career.

Supt. Brian Dueck of the Saskatoon Police Service spent another day on the stand Thursday defending his investigation into sexual abuse allegations that resulted in the arrests of 16 people in 1991. The allegations, which included bizarre abuse of a satanic and ritualistic nature, turned out to be false and now 12 people are suing justice officials for $10M in damages in a malicious prosecution lawsuit.

Robert Borden, the lawyer for 11 of the plaintiffs, questioned the choices Dueck made after his lengthy investigation into allegations made by siblings Michael, Michelle and Kathy Ross wrapped up and more than 70 counts of sexual assault, incest and gross indecency charges had been laid.

"The role of a police officer is to do a proper investigation and determine the truth," Borden said in his cross-examination.

Borden said part of a police officer's duty is to include evidence that may rule out a suspect and show that they didn't commit the alleged offences.

Sonja Hansen

But Dueck failed to give prosecutors Matthew Miazga and Sonja Hansen (right) information that may have cast doubt on some of the allegations made by the Ross children, Borden suggested.

Borden said Dueck failed to let prosecutors know about interviews done on the children of Cheryl and Louis Dupuis sometime after the 1991 arrests. The Dupuis' children had been babysat by some of the people accused of abuse. In the interviews Dueck conducted, the children state unequivocally that nothing inappropriate happened to them while in the company of the accused.

Dueck said he didn't think the interviews were significant. "It doesn't mean nothing happened and No. 2 it doesn't mean something didn't happen to other children," he told Borden.

Michael Ross, a foster child in the home of Anita and Dale Klassen, had disclosed allegations of abuse involving other foster children and many members of the Klassen family.

Borden also wanted to know why Dueck didn't conduct an interview with the Dupuis. The couple had been neighbours and friends of some of the plaintiffs for several years and they, Borden said, could attest to their character.

Dueck said he got some background information from the Dupuis couple but didn't think it was necessary to formally interview them.

Borden also felt that Dueck had failed to make available information that would have helped the accused defend themselves against the allegations.

Some of Dueck's information about the foster children and the suspects came from what was then called the department of social services. Dueck testified that social services is generally not very forthcoming about sharing records because of the sensitive nature of the information.

But Dueck did not make provisions for the defence to access some of the same records. When Borden asked him why, Dueck said that it was the prosecutor's job to do that, not his.

Dueck testified he had never handled a case that had satanic and ritualistic elements, although he had attended three seminars on the topic. Dueck said the case was so big that he requested help from other officers and tried to get rid of his other cases in order to concentrate solely on the Ross allegations.

Richard Klassen, a plaintiff who is representing himself, also cross-examined Dueck Thursday about the inconsistencies in his lengthy investigation.

Klassen went over one of Dueck's written reports that discussed a videotaped interview with Michael Ross. According to the report, the boy alleged Richard Klassen had abused him in the home of Klassen's sister, Pam. But the actual transcript of the interview indicates Michael Ross repeatedly denied the abuse happened in that house. Dueck said he wasn't sure why that denial didn't seem to be in his report.

During his cross-examination, Klassen went through other discrepancies in documents related to his own arrest and the arrest of other family members.

Klassen also pointed out that the Ross children never mentioned the various tattoos on his arms when they talked about the sexual abuse, which Klassen felt was out of character since the Ross children were very descriptive about details of the abuse.

"I would find it hard to believe that any child being sexually assaulted would worry about where tattoos are," Dueck replied, raising his voice slightly.

As he has been throughout his testimony and cross-examination, Dueck seemed calm and was emotionless except for brief displays of mild frustration.

Dueck continued to decline to speak to reporters. He said at the beginning of the trial that he did not want to try the case in the media.

Don McKillop, who is representing the other people named in the lawsuit, is expected to call his first witness today.

Klassen confronts officer on stand

After 13 years, Richard Klassen is finally able to confront the man who turned his world upside down.

Today, Klassen continues his cross-examination of Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck, the man he is suing for malicious prosecution.

Dueck, then a corporal, led an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by siblings Michael, Michelle and Kathy Ross that resulted in the 1991 arrests of Klassen and many of his family members in what was known as the "scandal of the century."

The charges of sexual abuse were later stayed and the Ross children eventually admitted they lied about the allegations. In fact, Michael Ross had been abusing his sisters during that time.

Carol Bunko-Ruys

"It's been excruciating," Klassen said of the intervening years.

Klassen and 11 others are now suing Dueck, as well as therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys (right) and prosecutors Matthew Miazga and Sonja Hansen, for $10M in damages. Klassen, who has a Grade 7 education, has been representing himself throughout the lawsuit because he felt he would do the best job.

"Who knows the case as well as someone who lives it," he said outside of court.

On Wednesday, Klassen grilled Dueck about the details of his approximately year-and-a-half long investigation.

Klassen questioned the police officer about arrest warrants, Dueck's notes and a chart that connected all of the complainants and the accused, in order to establish that Dueck's investigation relied heavily upon Michael Ross's disclosures about the abuse that he and other foster children allegedly suffered. In some cases, members of the Klassen family were charged with sexually abusing children because Michael Ross said the abuse had happened even though there was no corroborating disclosure directly from the other children.

Dueck stated that although he never doubted that the Ross children had been abused, at some point in his investigation he began to disbelieve the Ross's bizarre allegations of ritual abuse, such as the stories of killing babies and drinking the blood of animals and children.

However, he still included the allegations of ritual abuse in his April 1991 police report, even though he didn't believe the stories were true.

"I put it in because it had been disclosed," said Dueck when Klassen asked him why.

Matthew Miazga

"But you didn't write in that you didn't believe it," said Klassen, to which Dueck simply replied, "well, sorry."

Dueck said he didn't remember whether or not he told prosecutors Matt Miazga (right) and Sonja Hansen that he didn't believe the more bizarre allegations.

Even as late as July 10, 1991, the day members of the extended Klassen family were arrested and charged with over 70 counts of incest, gross indecency and sexual assault, a report prepared by a social worker detailed the ritual abuse allegations without any indication that the lead investigator suspected they might be false.

"Is there any writing, anywhere, that you indicate through all of your documents, that you didn't believe the children's allegations of ritual abuse?" Klassen asked at one point on Wednesday.

"I don't believe so, no," was Dueck's answer.

Klassen brought up a transcript from a previous court appearance that seem to suggest Dueck may have indeed been talking to Bunko-Ruys outside the therapist's office while Michael Ross supposedly assaulted his sisters inside, although Dueck has testified he was not there at the time of the incident.

Klassen questioned Dueck at length about his interview techniques for both suspects and complainants.

Court has heard that Dueck continued to question some members of the Klassen family even after they asked for a lawyer, a police practice Dueck said was standard at the time.

When asked if he ever asked leading questions when interviewing a child about possible abuse, Dueck said he tries to avoid influencing a child by asking leading questions, but it sometimes happens.

Klassen asked him if Michael Ross seemed eager to disclose information without prompting.

"He wasn't the hardest interview I ever had; he wasn't the easiest," Dueck said of Michael Ross.

Klassen has spent years preparing to question Dueck, but the day didn't go as smoothly as he would have hoped.

On a couple of occasions, Justice George Baynton stopped to offer advice to Klassen and once asked Klassen to slow down and think more carefully about the questions he wanted to ask. "It's difficult for me to understand and for the witness," Baynton said.

Klassen was also battling a flu and at times found it difficult to speak.

"It hit me last night, the sickness and the excitement," Klassen said in an interview.

Still, the former suspect was grateful for the opportunity to have his questions answered.

"It's ironic, because in 1991 I was on the couch and he was asking me questions. And he's on the stand and I'm asking him questions."

Officer testifies he believed children's abuse stories

SASKATOON - A police officer being sued for malicious prosecution testified Tuesday he believed three children when they made bizarre allegations of ritual child sex abuse - allegations that later turned out to be false.

Saskatoon police Supterindentent Brian Dueck investigated the claims made by siblings Michael, Michelle and Kathy Ross while they were in foster care in the late 1980s. The bulk of the charges against Richard Klassen and others ended up being stayed and now Mr. Klassen and several other plaintiffs are suing Supt. Dueck and three other justice officials.

The Ross siblings, now in their 20s, have admitted that Michael was actually the one abusing his sisters and that they had made up the horrific allegations, which included the murder of animals and babies, and graphic descriptions of sex parties involving adults and children.

As adults, the three former foster children have said they wanted to go public with their accounts and did not seek a publication ban at this hearing. On the eve of their trial in 1993, Mr. Klassen's father, Peter, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault in exchange for charges being stayed against the rest of the family.

Supt. Dueck told the court that he had carefully analysed all the evidence and concluded the Ross children were telling the truth.

Supt. Dueck also said he was also following a widely recognized protocol to always believe children are being honest when they disclose information about sexual abuse.

He said that during his investigation, he was given notes made by Marilyn Thompson, who was a foster parent to the Ross children after they were removed from the foster home of Dale and Anita Klassen.

Ms. Thompson noted in earlier testimony that the children appeared to be lying at times and described inconsistencies in the children's allegations. But Supt. Dueck said Tuesday he didn't see the discrepancies as significant because children often forget details and remember them later.

During a full day of testimony, Supt. Dueck described a "huge" workload of complicated cases and little training for the sensitive interviews he did with children who may have been sexually abused.

He said he had asked his supervisor for assistance but none came.

Supt. Dueck denied earlier testimony that he was talking to therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys in the hall outside her office while Michael Ross abused his sister in the office. Ms. Bunko-Ruys is among those being sued for malicious prosecution.

Supt. Dueck also denied former Crown prosecutor Terry Hinz's earlier testimony that Supt. Dueck had sought him out for advice on the file specifically because the two had already worked on a case in which a Klassen family member had been charged and convicted of sexual abuse. Supt. Dueck said he never worked on that case.

Officer believed kids abused, court hears

The police officer being sued for malicious prosecution took the stand in his own defence on Tuesday.

Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck told Court of Queen's Bench he believed the children making allegations of sexual abuse were telling the truth when he investigated the case that led to sexual abuse charges against Richard Klassen and others in 1991.

The bulk of those charges were later stayed, and now Klassen and 11 other plaintiffs are suing Dueck and three other justice officials for $10 million.

Then-corporal Dueck investigated allegations of sexual abuse made by siblings Michael, Michelle and Kathy Ross, who were in foster care during the late 1980s.

The Ross's, now in their 20s, testified during the trial that Michael Ross was actually the one abusing his sisters and they had made up the horrific allegations, that included the murder of animals and babies, and graphic descriptions of sex parties involving adults and children.

Dueck told the court that after carefully analysing all the evidence, he believed the Ross children were telling the truth.

"I believed that these children had been sexually abused and I believed that they had named the people who abused them," Dueck said in response to questions from his lawyer David Gerrand.

Dueck said he was also following a widely recognized protocol to always believe children are being honest when they disclose information about sexual abuse.

Dueck testified that while investigating allegations made by the Ross children, he had been given notes made by Marilyn Thompson, who was a foster parent to the Ross children after they were removed from the foster home of Dale and Anita Klassen.

Thompson noted in earlier testimony that the children appeared to be lying at times and described inconsistencies in the children's allegations of abuse.

But Dueck said Tuesday he didn't see the discrepancies as significant because children often forget details and remember them later.

"I didn't find it terribly significant that they couldn't remember everything when they talked to me or that they might remember another detail that they hadn't told Marilyn Thompson," Dueck said.

Dueck's testimony covered numerous issues and incidents that arose during the evidence presented by the plaintiffs in the first half of the trial. In a full day on the stand, he touched on interview techniques, previous testimony and his own training and caseload.

Dueck described a "huge" workload of complicated cases and little training for the sensitive interviews he did with children who may have been sexually abused.

A 32-year veteran on the Saskatoon Police Service with a Grade 12 education, Dueck underwent a standard in-house course that lasted about 11 weeks when he joined the service in 1971. The only training he received prior to his posting at the police service's youth division in 1989 was informal "on-the-job" training through consultations with guidance counsellors when he was a school liaison officer, he told court.

The Saskatchewan Police College in Regina occasionally had a course that dealt with how to investigate sexual abuse of children, but it was not offered when Dueck transferred to the youth division, he said.

While working in the youth division, Dueck attended three conferences held by outside agencies regarding satanic cults and the incidence of ritual sexual abuse of children.

Dueck said he usually had between five and 12 files, many of which were complicated and time-consuming. Dueck said he had asked his supervisor for assistance but none came.

Nearly all his work dealt with sexual and physical abuse of children. Dueck said a challenge was making sure the interviewer didn't influence what the children disclosed.

"It's really important that you not lead them, but you know it's inevitable -- there are times when you review a tape later (and) you catch yourself doing that," he said.

When interviewing suspects in a sexual abuse case, Dueck said he finds it more effective to take a "softer" approach than he does with suspects of other crimes.

Weeks ago, court saw a tape of Anita Klassen crying and repeatedly asking for a lawyer while being interviewed by Dueck. The interview continued for more than an hour.

On Tuesday, Dueck said that she had been advised that she had the right not to speak with him.

"As long as she was going to talk to me I was going to continue to interview her," he said.

Dueck denied earlier testimony that he was talking to therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys in the hall outside her office while Michael Ross abused his sister in the office. Bunko-Ruys is among those being sued for malicious prosecution.

"I was told sometime later that this allegation had been made that in fact something had happened in her office and that was the only news, or the only knowledge that I had of it."

Dueck also denied former Crown prosecutor Terry Hinz's earlier testimony that Dueck had sought him out for advice on the file specifically because the two had already worked on a case in which a Klassen family member had been charged and convicted of sexual abuse. Dueck said he never worked on that case.

Robert Borden, the lawyer for 11 plaintiffs, and self-representing Klassen are forbidden by Justice George Baynton to comment on any of the evidence presented by the defendants. They expect to cross-examine Dueck today.

Malicious prosecution suit in Sask foster sex case to proceed; 1 name dropped

SASKATOON (CP) - Richard Klassen and 11 others may finally get to confront in court those who tried to jail them over false accusations that they abused children in bizarre, sadistic ways.

Justice George Baynton ruled Monday that the malicious prosecution lawsuit being spearheaded by Klassen will go ahead against four of the five defendants. He dismissed a defence argument that the case should be tossed out because the plaintiffs had not proven malice.

Though there is no guarantee the defendants will now testify, there is a chance the 12 will get a chance to cross-examine those who they believe recklessly pursued a prosecution on nothing but the flimsiest of evidence.

"I'm really starting to believe in justice," Klassen said outside court.

"What happened to us did happen. It was real. Now we need to hear from them as to why it happened and I will be able to cross-examine them."

Lawyers for the defendants did not comment.

The 12 are suing after being charged in 1991 with ritualistically abusing foster kids by forcing them to eat eyeballs, drink blood, participate in orgies and watch newborn babies get skinned and buried.

The three foster children who made the accusations were pre-teens at the time but are now adults. They have publicly revealed they made up the stories and have not sought publication bans on their names.

The defendants in the case are the lead investigator - Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck who was a corporal when the case broke - a therapist, two Crown prosecutors and the estate of their former boss, Richard Quinney.

Baynton dismissed the claim against Quinney, the former head of public prosecutions for Saskatchewan Justice, who recently died.

But in written reasons for his decision, Baynton said that based on case law and his three-week review of the evidence, the other four "have failed to establish that the evidence is insufficient."

The ordeal for Klassen and the others began in 1987, when Michael Ross and his younger twin sisters Michelle and Kathy, all under 10, were put into the foster home of Klassen's brother and sister-in-law.

Michael was abusive to his two sisters, both physically and sexually, and was eventually removed from the home.

In an effort to be reunited with his sisters at his new foster home, Michael told police about horrific, ritualistic abuse they had suffered at the Klassen home.

As investigators worked the case, the Ross kids were reunited and the sisters began to back up their brother's claims. Eventually the allegations included almost every adult the children had known and most of Klassen's extended family.

In 1991, police arrested 16 people, including the disabled birth parents of the three children and many members of the foster family. Police called it the "scandal of the century."

Court has heard that prosecutors at the time had doubts about the children's credibility but that Dueck approached more than one Crown to take the case.

Terry Hinz, a former prosecutor, told court he asked Dueck to track down the babies that were killed, but Dueck said it was the work of "brood mares" - women who breed children specifically to sacrifice them.

"It made me feel I was transported back into the 17th century reading about the Salem witchcraft complaints," Hinz testified.

In 1993, charges against 12 of the 16 were stayed by the Crown on the grounds it wanted to avoid further trauma to the children.

This prompted the lawsuit by Klassen, who has fought numerous attempts by the defendants over the years to dismiss the lawsuit.

Klassen is representing himself and many of those who had gathered to hear the ruling Monday burst into tears after it came down.

"My brother, he lived and breathed this case for 13 years and we are really proud of him," said Klassen's sister Pamela Shetterly, who is also a plaintiff in the case.

"He stood by. There was no rest. This is for us. This is justice."

Judge ponders request to drop Klassen lawsuit

The Klassen lawsuit trial has been delayed for three weeks while Justice George Baynton decides whether to grant the defendant's motion to dismiss the suit.

Baynton has just heard three days of arguments on the dismissal motion from both sides, and now must wade through thousands of pages of documents, various videotapes, and other material which has been submitted during the first four weeks of the trial.

"A lot depends on my decision," Baynton told court Friday afternoon.

"I hate to delay the trial for that length of time, but that's the earliest possible (date). I have to look at all of the evidence -- each little piece."

Members of the Klassen family and their relatives are suing justice officials for $10 million, alleging malicious prosecution.

These 12 people were among those charged with abusing three foster children -- Michael, Kathy, and Michelle Ross -- in Dale and Anita Klassen's foster home in the early 1990s.

In reality, it was Michael abusing his sisters during this period.

Their lawyers wrapped up their case against the defendants earlier this week.

Lawyers for the five defendants -- prosecutors Matthew Miazga, Richard Quinney, and Sonja Hansen, Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck, and therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys -- then filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit because of a lack of evidence.

Defence lawyers Don McKillop and David Gerrand argued Wednesday that the various officials were just doing their jobs and did not act maliciously.

But lawyer Robert Borden and self-represented plaintiff Richard Klassen argued there is plenty of evidence to suggest malice.

For example, according to court documents Dueck told officials in the early 1990s that Michael Ross had been "removed" from Dale and Anita Klassen's foster home, implying the Klassens had abused him.

In reality, Anita told social services to remove Michael because he was abusing his sisters, Richard Klassen said.

"Brian Dueck misled throughout his case in order to convince somebody that he had a case," Klassen said Friday.

Klassen and Borden pointed to the alleged lack of disclosure by the Crown in the early 1990s.

They cited various documents and videotapes which were apparently hidden from them, hindering their ability to prepare a complete case. Also, the evidence has revealed many officials knew Michael was abusing the girls the whole time, but did not separate the children, Klassen said.

This proves the plaintiffs' claim that officials knowingly kept the girls in an unsafe environment with Michael in order to keep the children's stories consistent, Klassen said.

If Baynton grants the motion to dismiss, the trial is over. If he rules against it, the defendants will present their case beginning Oct. 29.

A motion to dismiss is unique because it essentially forces both sides to treat it like a final argument. That forces the judge to review all of the evidence, even though he'll have to do that again in the event the trial continues.

Lawyer details evidence of malice

Police, prosecutors, and a therapist barrelled "full steam ahead" in a 1991 sexual assault case against 12 people despite glaring inconsistencies and a lack of evidence, court heard Thursday.

"We're not talking about being reckless. They knew what they were doing (to the 12 accused). That takes it beyond recklessness," said Robert Borden, the lawyer for the 12 people now suing officials $10 million for malicious prosecution.

"If malice cannot be proven in this case, malice cannot be proven at all."

Borden argued all day Thursday against a motion to dismiss the case by the defendants. He will continue today, as will self-represented plaintiff Richard Klassen.

Lawyers for the defendants, David Gerrand and Don McKillop, are trying to get the lawsuit dismissed. The motion was filed at the end of the plaintiff's case this week, and the defendants are claiming there's not enough evidence to continue the trial.

Gerrand and McKillop argued Wednesday that their clients were simply doing their job, and there is no evidence of malice.

The officials being sued are Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck, therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys, and prosecutors Matthew Miazga, Sonja Hansen, and Richard Quinney.

In the early 1990s, Richard Klassen, his wife Kari, and members of his extended family were charged with abusing Klassen's foster nieces and nephew -- Michael, Michelle, and Kathy Ross. Foster parents Anita and Dale Klassen were also among those charged.

On the eve of their trial in 1993, a plea bargain was reached. Klassen's father, Peter, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault and charges against the rest of them were stayed.

Borden argued Thursday that a reasonable person would not have pursued the case to such an extent.

"Tragically, it is about our legal system having gone awry," Borden said.

He told Justice George Baynton that he could "infer" malice based on the various elements of the case.

"It doesn't have to be handed to you on a silver platter," Borden said.

Borden noted Dueck's interview with Anita Klassen as evidence of malice. In the videotaped interview played in court this month, a shrieking and crying Klassen demands a lawyer three times but Dueck continues his interrogation alone with her for nearly an hour.

One of Borden's most serious allegations was that prosecutors and police hid documents from the people accused of these crimes. The documents are required to be disclosed by the Crown to the defence.

At one point, an animated Borden held up a small bundle of papers to show what one defence lawyer received in the early 1990s.

Borden then went to the evidence table in the middle of the courtroom and held up a two-foot thick pile of transcripts that he claimed were withheld.

"How about these? They're called transcripts," said Borden. "It's the Crown's obligation to give them. Those weren't turned over."

There were videotapes of other children Dueck interviewed in which they stated that the Klassens did not abuse them. These children can not be identified. These were not given to the Klassens and their lawyers until recently.

There was also an audiotape of another interview Dueck conducted in the early 1990s that was only turned over to Borden and the Klassens last Friday, he noted.

This information and other documents would have been "a virtual gold mine" in helping the accused prove their innocence 12 years ago, he said.

"There is a strong inference of malice," Borden said of the alleged lack of disclosure.

Baynton indicated he may need several days to review the evidence and make a decision. He could dismiss the case altogether, or rule that it must continue.

Judge asked to dismiss suit: No evidence of malicious intent: lawyers

The Klassen malicious prosecution lawsuit has reached a "critical juncture," Justice George Baynton said Wednesday afternoon after lawyers for the defendants argued to have the case thrown out.

Lawyers David Gerrand and Don McKillop introduced a motion to dismiss the $10-million lawsuit, saying the police, prosecutors and a therapist they represent were simply doing their jobs.

"What we do have is an absolute lack of evidence" that officials acted maliciously, said McKillop.

After the plaintiffs make their arguments today, a lengthy delay may be needed for Baynton to read through the mountains of paper which have accumulated on the evidence table at Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench.

"I will have to look at all the evidence. I can't see any way around taking several days to rule on these matters," Baynton said.

For the first three weeks of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs have laid out their case against therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys, then-Saskatoon police corporal Brian Dueck, and prosecutors Matthew Miazga, Sonja Hansen and Richard Quinney.

Richard Klassen is representing himself, while Robert Borden and Ed Holgate are the lawyers for the other Klassens and their extended family members.

The 12 plaintiffs and others were charged in July of 1991 with sexually assaulting children Michael, Michelle and Kathy Ross. Anita and Dale Klassen had provided foster care for the Ross children in the late 1980s.

The charges against them were stayed when another member of the Klassen family pleaded guilty to four charges of sexual assault.

The children have since admitted in this trial that they fabricated the stories of abuse by these 12 people. It was Michael who was abusing his sisters during this period.

The Klassens and the others are claiming that the questioning of the children was selective, leading and intimidating.

They are claiming that the defendants did not have an honest belief in their guilt, but proceeded anyway.

The plaintiffs have now wrapped up their case.

McKillop and Gerrand attempted to refute those claims Wednesday while arguing for a dismissal of the charges.

Gerrand said his client, Dueck, "followed the steps . . . that were appropriate to take."

There was no evidence that another officer would have acted differently, Gerrand said.

He cited previous witnesses who said that child abuse investigations are often a judgment call.

Gerrand noted the protocol document designed for officials assessing child abuse complaints that existed in the 1990s in Saskatoon stated that children are to be assumed to be telling the truth.

There may have been bad decisions made in hindsight, but that's a long way from proving Dueck acted maliciously, Gerrand said.

"Dueck's judgment may have been poor. That's not the issue," Gerrand said.

As for the two 1991 videotaped interviews played in court this month where suspects ask Dueck for a lawyer but don't get one, Gerrand said they're irrelevant. The witnesses didn't confess, so that wasn't part of the case when charges were laid, Gerrand argued.

The other defendants were also acted properly throughout their handling of the case, said McKillop.

He said it wasn't until years later that the children admitted they were lying. And justice officials didn't make up the stories of abuse.

"Those stories weren't created by any of the defendants," McKillop said.

McKillop went through the evidence against his four clients individually. Quinney's role was "so limited, so sporadic, so peripheral" that there are no grounds to continue against him. Quinney is recently deceased.

As for Bunko-Ruys, who recommended the children be kept together despite evidence of Michael preying on the girls, McKillop said it was not her decision to move the children. She could recommend, but it was the Department of Social Services which decided.

Miazga and Hansen "openly wrestled" with the issues surrounding the case, and stayed various other charges at points when they became doubtful, he said.

McKillop cited witness Daryl Labach. Labach, who represented the Klassens at the criminal matter in the early 1990s, testified this week that the Crown did not hide any of the required documents in preparing his case.

He also referred to the testimony of prosecutor of Terry Hinz, who said he was impressed with the honesty of Miazga and Hansen.

Past hysteria created many innocent victims

Richard Klassen and all others who have been falsely accused of child sexual abuse deserve our apology. As the saying goes, "the only thing worse than being sexually abused is to be falsely accused of sexually abusing someone."

Unfortunately, we experienced a witch-hunt craze in the 1980s and '90s, in which many of us were duped. "Nobody makes up stories of child sexual abuse -- it must be true," we thought. "Children don't lie," we were told. Well, now we know better, but in the meantime, reputations are ruined and lives destroyed.

Repressed-memory hysteria also swept the self-help movement off its feet. Women (and some men), through therapy, were helped to discover memories of sexual abuse from decades before, which they had apparently "blocked out" all those years. Fathers, uncles, brothers were accused, even charged, with no evidence.

This type of therapy has now been discredited by mental health professionals worldwide. But the damage is done.

The public hysteria which we experienced deserves public attention and public awareness. There has been no "private lid" available for the accused.

Klassen's courage in speaking out is ground-breaking for the hundreds of thousands of documented reports of false sexual abuse charges across Canada and the U.S.

Will the mental health professionals and the justice system soon admit they, too, were the victims of this New Age witch hunt? And will the real facts please be made public?

Klassen case weak: documents

Saskatchewan's top Crown prosecutor told the public in 1993 that a massive sexual assault trial would not proceed because the three foster children were too "traumatized" to testify, even though he was aware of many other weaknesses in the case, court documents released Tuesday showed.

This wrongly left the impression that the accused were all guilty, said plaintiff Richard Klassen in the document.

Richard Quinney, the former executive director of public prosecutions for Saskatchewan Justice, stated at the time the Crown "would have liked to have taken all of the charges to trial.

"It was not a happy solution from the Crown's perspective."

Quinney's estate and four other justice officials are now being sued for malicious prosecution by 12 of the people charged in 1991 with abusing the three Ross foster children.

All three have testified that they lied about the fantastic stories of human sacrifice, bestiality, and massive ritualistic orgies. It was actually the older brother, Michael, who was abusing his sisters during this period.

Quinney, recently deceased, was questioned last year as part of the lead-up to the lawsuit trial, which began earlier this month.

Hundreds of pages of documents were introduced in court Tuesday afternoon, containing many new details about the investigation and prosecution of the Klassens and their extended family.

The lawsuit, filed by 12 of those accused, seeks $10 million.

In the Quinney transcript, he discusses the controversial plea bargain that led to a stay of charges against everyone except Peter Klassen, who pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault.

Matthew Miazga, one of the prosecutors handling the case, noted that one of the girls, Michelle Ross, admitted during the case that she had lied about two of the accused.

Her sister, Kathy Ross was not credible, both he and co-prosecutor Sonja Hansen noted.

Kathy's "weak and sometimes incredible presentation to the court would lead to a disastrous acquittal if prosecutions . . . were pursued" against the two accused, Hansen wrote.

They recommended a stay of the charges. That means the case would be dropped, but could be reopened within a year if warranted.

In another letter Miazga wrote to Quinney, Miazga stated that the children have been traumatized by having to testify numerous times before, and that their therapist says it will harm them.

However, he states the children "have not been good witnesses" in the other proceedings and won't give good evidence in this trial.

There was medical evidence of abuse, but they "cannot corroborate the identity of the abusers," Miazga wrote.

Miazga also stated the psychological evidence points to abuse the children suffered earlier in life, before they ever met any of the accused.

Without any corroborating evidence, the chance of conviction is low, Miazga wrote.

The plea bargain was reached shortly after this in February of 1993.

Quinney wrote a letter to The StarPhoenix several months after the plea bargain was reached, in response to an article about the case.

Under questioning in court last year, Quinney said he "didn't want to stay the charges." He said he would have preferred to proceed against all of the accused in a trial.

The letter defends the Crown and the performance of the prosecutors. It states repeatedly that the Crown had sufficient evidence but the children were too traumatized to testify.

When asked how he knew prosecutors had done their job, Quinney said it was because Miazga and Hansen were experienced prosecutors.

Quinney admitted he did not leave the impression that the accused were innocent.

"I would say presume the Crown had done nothing wrong, not that they're innocent or guilty or anything else," Quinney stated.

Quinney also testified that he spoke to Ellen Gunn about the case in 1991. Quinney had taken over Gunn's position as executive director of public prosecutions when Gunn was named a judge in the Court of Queen's Bench that year.

Gunn testified earlier this month under questioning from Richard Klassen that she had "no memory" of the case or any conversations she had about it.

According to other documents released Tuesday, investigating officer Brian Dueck admits he read another officer's report doubting Michael's story.

Dueck also says he would likely be upset that another officer was assigned to his case, although he can't specifically recall.

Lawyer Daryl Labach, who represented some of the Klassen family members for a period of time, took the stand Tuesday evening.

Labach, who has practiced law since 1989, was asked about the documents he would have seen regarding the Klassen matter.

In an interview outside Court of Queen's Bench, plaintiff lawyer Robert Borden explained that "we were hoping to prove that the disclosure in this particular case was scant."

In court, Labach was also asked about Crown prosecutor Miazga and his approach to files.

Labach described Miazga as a strong "hard-nosed" prosecutor who is "good at what he does."

Labach also testified Miazga hasn't "jerked me around" on a file.

"I haven't had a bad experience with a prosecutor, and I've been doing this since 1989," he said.

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