The 1988 report by Margaret Graham-Woloshyn indicates there were problems with the Ross children long before Dueck got involved. The Thompson papers show us, in retrospect, how the Ross children were moved from a safe home and put into an unsafe one. Chris Axworthy was defeated in his attempts to bury this case. Connect the dots to see how Saskatoon Sgt. Elias abused his office to cover Dueck's lies. The StarPhoenix editorial from February, 2003 indicates changing public perception. Pretrial arguments begin on May 1, 2003. The month of September has been set aside for the trial.
Peter Klassen: the man who served four years for crimes he didn't commit. Indeed, they were crimes that never happened!
Now that all three Ross children have come forward to admit that Peter Klassen never touched them, it is time for the Saskatchewan government to do right by the man who served ever day of a four year sentence to save the face of malicious prosecutors
inJusticebusters Sheila Steele wrote the following during June, 1996 and sent it to the National Parole Board, the Human Rights Commission, and the main media in Canada. There was not a single reply. Peter was released in February, 1997. In February, 1999, one of the child witnesses, Michael, swore an affidavit in which he said the following:
"…None of the facts alleging sexual misconduct, sexual abuse or sexual assault against any of the Klassens or Kvellos were or are true…"
On May 21, 1996, Peter Klassen was denied parole, although he has served three years and four months of his four year sentence for sex crimes against the Ross children. Peter has been "gated" as a "dangerous sexual offender."
"Gating" is slang for denying parole to criminals who are considered a danger to society, violent and likely to hurt or kill. Peter is a gentle 61 year old man who has been told by those inside the system that the reason he has been gated is because he refuses to admit his guilt, reenact his crimes and take aversion therapy. Peter maintains his innocence and so he will serve his full term in a medium security institution while Colin Thatcher, who also maintains his innocence (for the murder of his ex-wife) has been moved to a minimum security institution and with full expectation of parole when he becomes eligible.
Why are these two prisoners being treated so differently? Are sex crimes considered to be more serious than murder? Is it because Thatcher is from an influential family while Klassen is descended from Mexican Mennonites who traditionally avoid calling any kind of attention to themselves? These are both reasonable answers but there is a third to be considered.
Right after the Saskatchewan justice system's mishandling of the David Milgaard affair was found to be entirely proper by an independent Alberta judicial review, it found itself embroiled in the much publicized Martensville case where nine people were charged with sex crimes against children and only Travis Sterling --- who also maintains his innocence -- was convicted. The "Foster Parent Scandal" of which Peter Klassen is a part, happened just before Martensville and his conviction, along with Sterling's, are the only items it can cite to protect its claim that it did nothing wrong when it rounded up dozens of Saskatchewan people, alleged they were part of Satanic cults, was forced to stay charges for lack of evidence and acquit most after running months of trials and preliminary hearings. The Saskatchewan justice system has a huge stake in this matter because it is being sued for $10M. One of these lawsuits has been launched by eight members of Peter Klassen's immediate family who had the charges stayed against them when Peter was talked into pleading guilty in exchange for the stays.
Peter Klassen was an easy fall-guy. He came to Canada when he was sixteen years old and although he could read and write both Spanish and German, he remained illiterate in English. This limited him to menial jobs, but eventually he was able to get steady and lucrative work as a painter and decorator, a trade he excelled at and in which he trained his four sons. As his sons grew up, they worked with Peter and eventually moved out, three of them raising families of their own. He lived with his wife, Marie, who during adolescence had become disabled by a horse accident and required a walker or a wheel-chair to get around, and his daughter Pam. While Peter and his sons painted homes and offices in Saskatoon, Marie and Pam fostered small children. The Department of Social Services sent many of their worst cases to Pam and Marie. Marie was particularly good with high-risk alcohol and drug-dependant infants. Pam eventually applied to adopt a visually impaired child she had cared for from infancy, and had almost completed the process in 1988. Suddenly their lives were pulled apart.
As Peter got older, painting became more demanding and he began to drink and because of his religious background, this was his guilty secret. Predictable family tensions arose when his wife and daughter became aware of his drinking. He sought refuge in the garage which was his workshop for intricate woodworking projects, usually toys for the foster children. In July, 1988, two neighbour girls who were sisters and came from a family with its own serious problems, accused him of having molested them. Peter denied he had done this but acknowledged he was so drunk he had no memory of the time during which the incident was alleged to have occurred. His family had little sympathy with him. He was kicked out of the house He went to a dry-out rehabilitation center where he successfully beat the booze and eventually pled guilty to having paid the girls some pocket change to see their private parts. He was sentenced to six months and was on parole, back living with his wife and daughter, when the charges which formed the basis of the "Foster Parent Scandal" were laid.
In July, 1989, twenty people were charged with having raped, sodomized, and engaged in wild sex orgies with bats, cats and dead babies with a trio of highly disturbed children who were for two and a half years fostered by Peter's son and daughter-in-law. The birth parents of the disturbed trio and the new husband of the birth mother were convicted of these crimes, and in 1995 the new husband was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Canada while the birth parents were awarded new trials which Saskatchewan Justice has announced it will not proceed to hold. At the time of the arrests, all foster children, including the boy Pam now considered her son, and in some cases, their own children, were taken from them. The child was never returned to Pam. In late 1990, long after the initial arrests, the police found one of the more than 200 children Marie had fostered, who, after many interviews, was prepared to say that Peter had given her pocket change to see her private parts. Her testimony is low key and she is embarrassed on the videotape. The Crown knew it could convince a jury.
The sixteen people, including Peter, Pam and Marie, had a preliminary hearing of their case in December, 1992. The Crown did some dazzling footwork, taking full advantage of personal estrangements within the family, the sweeping no-contact clause which was imposed at the time of their arrests, Peter's prior conviction, and his unfortunate choice of a defense lawyer who had recently been to a conference where he was told it was entirely ethical to plead a client guilty even when that client maintains his innocence. Peter reluctantly agreed to plead guilty, under pressure from family members and his counsel, on the understanding the Crown would ask for two years and charges against the other fifteen people would be stayed. The Judge did not accept the plea bargain and sentenced Peter to four years, although she stated that she was treating this as a first-time offense.
What had actually happened did not become clear until several months later when members of Peter Klassen's family, who were now in a position to compare notes, received the thousands of pages of transcripts and videotapes from all the trials and preliminary hearings. It took them months to sift through this material. It became clear that the Crown had already stamped the necessary papers to stay the charges on all 16, including Peter, days before the initiation of the plea bargain. By the time they realized this, the 90 day limit within which it is necessary to launch an appeal had elapsed. Nonetheless, they were able to persuade the Saskatchewan Court of Appeals to hold a hearing to determine whether this time lapse could be waived on the basis of new evidence. On May 25, 1994, the hearing was held. Peter lost. His counsel said it was a case that could win at the Supreme Court but the family was broke. A disappointed Peter Klassen kissed good-bye the people he had thought he was saving by pleading guilty to a crime he hadn't done, and went back to the penitentiary to wait it out until he was eligible for parole.
In the meantime, Pam became an anorexic bulemic and rapidly lost over 200 pounds after seeing one of the children call her a "fat pig" in the disclosure tapes.
In January, 1995, Marie was diagnosed as having terminal cancer. Peter applied for, was denied, applied again and was eventually granted the right to be moved to Saskatoon so that he could be closer to her. He was moved to Saskatchewan Psychiatric Center in Saskatoon and was allowed one visit under guard with his wife at home. Callously, they said that that she could visit him. She managed one visit in late January and died in early Feb. Peter arrived to hold her hand as she died, but she was already in a coma.
Meanwhile, a social worker had come to the Psychiatric Centre and done an assessment which decreed that Peter was dangerous, violent and likely to kill or maim! After Marie's funeral, Peter returned to the penitentiary, his odds for getting parole considerably narrowed. Following her mother's death, Pam, who had already attempted suicide several times, swallowed several utensils, including a paring knife. She has since had two more serious utensil-swallowing incidents and, miraculously, is still alive, although her life bears no resemblance to what it was before the charges.
In March, 1996, Peter's mother in Manitoba, who had stubbornly vowed she would live to see her son free, succumbed to cancer.
In June, 1995, Peter was again denied parole. In May, 1996, just before the annual parole review hearing, he was officially classified as dangerous, and, predictably, when the review came up, his application was denied.
Peter has never been dangerous to anybody but himself. Even then, his bout with alcoholism was short-lived. His life was his family, with whom he lived, loved and worked. He has lost all of that. He was energetic and creative and he continues to be so in prison, although he has periods of sadness which he pours out to his son on the telephone. He has been a model prisoner and will be released in February, 1997.
Perhaps there are too many careers at stake in the Saskatchewan Justice system to expect that anyone will confront the glaring questions raised by the "Foster Parent Scandal," or to admit they have wronged an illiterate painter. What were they thinking of when they agreed to trade the freedom of fifteen people for the incarceration of one if they believed these people had done the heinous and violent crimes they were indicted
Either they did these things or they didn't. If they did, the public has a right to be absolutely protected from them, for they are unspeakable monsters. If they did not, they all deserve to be free, including Peter.
And what about the real crime which was done to these children? Justice Vancise in his dissenting view, and seven judges of the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that within the trio of disturbed children, the eldest boy had raped and assaulted his sisters, and it does not take a Supreme Court Judge to conclude that the investigators in this case took full advantage of the warped imaginations of these children and their willingness to say anything to prolong adult attention to create a case and hide behind the notion, trendy at the time, that "Children don't lie."
The same boy who raped his sisters, tried to kill his Special Needs foster father, and made allegations against 40 people before the police stopped interviewing him -- they had time to interview only half of the list he had already helped them generate -- will turn 18 in November, 1997. He has not been charged with any crimes and his name has never been released.
The same policeman who took his lies and turned them into charges acknowledges that he is one of the most violent children he ever saw during his hears as on the Youth squad.
Meanwhile, Peter Klassen will continue to turn out leather belts for his daughter-in-law and knickknacks for other members of the family he remembers from before the charges were laid. Peter Klassen talks on the telephone to the one son who will accept his calls and seeks confirmation for the fantasy he has that the reason no one comes to visit him is they are all too busy leading the lives he remembers before the charges were laid. He has lost his mother, his wife, and effectively his daughter; some of his sons have developed severe problems with alcohol and gambling since the charges were stayed.
Sheila Steele, June 1996
It has recently come to our attention that Peter Klassen, while innocent of the charges for which he was convicted regarding the Ross children was possibly guilty of sexual misconduct regarding one childwitness who did not testify in any of the hearings. He was also guilty of a previous charge, rape of two minor girls, for which he was convicted and for which he served some time. The Saskatoon Police have always known this.
It would appear that he was, indeed, a "dirty old man." If Brian Dueck had not been so greedy for promotion, he could have easily put Peter away and possibly got him the treatment he needed. As a second time offender, he would certainly have been convicted and forced to take treatment. If he had been charged for the one crime that he did commit, sexual interference with a child who was fostered by his daughter, he would have been convicted and the rest of his family would have insisted he get treatment. He would have received two years, according to the judge who sentenced him.
By framing him on false molestation charges against the Ross children, and going after the rest of his family, Dueck committed not only a gross injustice against all the innocent family members but allowed a pedaphile to serve his four years and return to the community with the true story that he had been falsely convicted!
Dueck went fishing in muddy waters with no other intention than to catch as many people as possible in his net. How can the public feel served and protected by a police force which hands out sergeant's stripes to a cop who willfully and knowingly frames innocent people?
The children Dueck manipulated into naming innocent people (remember, there were 40 people on the original list!) failed to receive protection from the police, social services or the foster home in Warman where they were placed. Citizens of Warman were placed at risk.
This puts the administration of justice into disrepute!
This is just another one of Dueck's crimes, the most egregious of which remains his allowing Michael, from the ages of ten to fourteen, to have full access to his twin sisters, a year and a few months younger than him, to commit rape, sodomy and torture!
If you admit it, Dueck, you can still get help for your touching and not-so-touching problems!
This refers to a sign carried by Johanna Lucas which read "If you admit it Dueck, you can get help for your touching problem." This sign, along with other carried by Mrs. Lucas and her husband was the basis for a criminal defamation suit filed by Dueck against the Lucases, for which they were both convicted and served time. This sign was certainly intended to satirize Dueck's habit of referring to Michael's rape of his sisters as "a touching problem." The Lucases appealed their convictions to the Supreme Court which upheld the convictions. This was before Michael and Michelle Ross came forward and confirmed that Dueck had used them to manufacture evidence against innocent people. Michelle and Michael have done everything they can to assist those they told lies about in clearing their names. John Lucas has also filed a civil claim.