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'Scandal of the century' - Chronology

The story as told by Rick Klassen (one of the 16) to Sheila Steele

Klassen used the following as the basis for a letter to the Saskatoon Police complaints investigator, April 19, 1994

1 On a Friday in March or April of 1991, while living in Red Deer, Alberta, I was contacted by telephone by Cpl. Brian Dueck. He asked if I would voluntarily come to Saskatoon to be interviewed by the police because allegations of sexual abuse had been made against me by Michael, Michelle and Kathy Ross. He said he would arrange the interview for a week-end so that it would not interfere with my work. I fully expected him to contact me within ten days to two weeks.

2 On the Friday of the telephone call I drove to Saskatoon and arranged legal counsel with Darrell LaBache of LaBache, Albright and Co. I met with him on Sunday. He advised me to tell Dueck, when and if he called back, that if I was being arrested, to go ahead and do that, but that there would be no need to come and get me, I would come in voluntarily. He also advised me to give no statement.

3 I next heard from Cpl. Dueck when he arrived at my door in Red Deer on June 25, 1991, at 3.15 p.m. He told me I was being detained for the purpose of questioning and I was not being put under arrest, that I would be questioned at the Red Deer police station and would immediately be brought home. Even though I had spoken to Darrel LaBache two months earlier, I agreed to go with Sgt. Dueck I was in shock and believed I was under arrest. I also knew myself to be innocent and consented to a forty-five minute interview. Throughout the interview I requested legal counsel but these requests were ignored or sidestepped.

4 A large part of the interview consisted of Cpl. Dueck making allegations against my father. After the interview, Dueck took me home. This was the last time I ever spoke to him or saw him regarding this case.

5 (a) On July 10, 1991, I was arrested under an interprovincial RCMP warrant and detained for six days. Eleven other people were arrested at exactly the same time.

(b) I was remanded by a Justice of the Peace until July 16 at which time I was transferred to Saskatoon, appeared before a magistrate and was released on $250 cash bail with the stipulation that I have no further contact with my mother, my father, my sister and my sister-in-law's sister and her husband who all reside in Saskatoon. (We had no further contact with them until December 2, 1991 when we all had a meeting with our lawyer. This restriction remained in place until the end of January, 1992). During this entire time I still thought that there had been a terrible misunderstanding, that the police had given me true information, and that it was only a matter of time until the truth came out and I would be exonerated. Because of my lack of formal education, I tended to ignore some of the doubts I was forming about the competency of professionals who were dealing with me and my family.

(c) I knew that Dale and Anita had had Michael removed from their foster care in December, 1989 because he had been sexually brutalizing Kathy and Michelle and other children in the neighbourhood and at school. I also knew that he was a little liar.

6 At the preliminary hearing which began Dec. 2, 1991 and continued until January, 1992 I heard more information which added to my suspicions. I learned that as far back as February 1987, The MacNeill Clinic and the police had known that Michael had attempted to insert a butter knife and liquid soap into Kathy's vagina, that in September, 1987 Michael had again been found by the police to have placed objects in Kathy's vagina, that Michael had pushed Kathy in front of a moving car, that he had set a car on fire using gasoline, that he had, on several occasions, been sent home from school for sexually attacking other children, and Dale and Anita had demanded Michael be removed from their home after they found him with a knife in his hand by their newborn. We were scheduled to go to trial February 15, 1992. In preparation for this we had given up our houses for the end of January, packed our belongings in U-hauls, paid deposits on accommodation in Saskatoon and were prepared to leave. The day we were set to move, January 26, we received a call from Darrel LeBache informing us that all our charges were going to be stayed and that we were to cancel our moving plans.

7 On February 8, 1992 the charges against me were stayed and I began collecting any material I could find about the case. I wanted to know more about how these events which had ruined my life had come about. I travelled between Saskatoon and Red Deer, placing great strain on my financial resources and family life.

8 On March 29, 1993 Judge D.K. MacPherson ordered all evidence pertaining to this case permanently sealed.

9 June, 1993, I learned of the existance of videotapes and other disclosure materials wile still living in in Red Deer. I obtained my own copies of the tapes, transcripts and reports from Darryl LaBach who gave them to me after I signed a paper absolving him of any damage which might be done by giving me the disclosure material.

10 In September, 1993, I moved my family from Red Deer to Saskatoon so I could be closer to the sources of information I needed and take part in whatever actions seemed necessary to unravel this case.

11 As I worked my way through the volumes of material, I realized that Cpl. Dueck (in fact he was promoted to the rank of Sgt. at some time during this period) was not as he had presented himself to me when he interviewed me in Red Deer. Indeed, I believed that he had broken the law, both in letter and in spirit. While he claimed to have the interests of the Ross children at heart, and was claiming to be tracking down their abusers, he had allowed Michael's sexual tyranny of Kathy and Michelle to continue after he was aware that it was going on. He claimed the children's testimony about me was damaging when in fact it was not. In the videotaped interview by Dueck of my sister-in-law Anita, he told her that nine children alleged she had abused them, disregarded her requests for legal counsel and cruelly used personal and sensitive information about her own past against her. Furthermore, in the interviews he and Carol Bunko-Rhys conducted with Michael, he repeatedly tells Michael that he believes everything Michael tells him, encourages him in what anyone with common sense could see were falsehoods, and trivializes his wildly deranged and antisocial behavior as a "touching problem." The documents clearly show that Brian Dueck was well aware that Michael was abusing his sisters and did nothing to remove him from his victims. Furthermore, Bunko-Ruys and Dueck conspired to move Kathy and Michelle from a safe situation to a dangerous one. They took the twin girls, Michael's sexual "toys," from Dale and Anita's where they were safe, and moved them to the Thompson house so Michael could rape, torture, sodomize and teach them the lies Dueck said they all must tell.

12 Furthermore, through reading Marilyn Thompson's notes, and the transcripts, it became clear to me that Kathy Ross was in need of help and protection from her brother Michael who was now 14 years old. Marilyn Thompson, as far back as the fall of 1990 writes in her notes, " . . . Michael came to Michelle's room for sex, and they went to get Kathy. Real quiet. I guess they put things in Kathy's mouth, held her, then made her suck his penis, and he put his penis in her vagina, . . . tied her arms to the bed. . ." A full year later, Carol Bunko-Rhys writes in a report, "Michael continues to make progress . . .[but] experiences periods of regression which include sexually abusing his sisters . . .writer remains concerned with their ability to stop victimizing each other." Perhaps they were not concerned enough! All three children were still in the Thompson home and Kathy was clearly still at risk. I felt action was called for.

13 On September 18, 1993 I began by picketing the MacNeill Clinic with a sign asking that state-sponsored sex offenses be stopped.

14 On September 20 , 1993 I wrote to City Council bringing to their attention that I felt myself to be a victim of malicious prosecution on the part of the police. Next, we picketed the provincial Courthouse where our preliminary hearing had been held and carried our signs to the police station. Meanwhile, Kathy Ross continued to live in the same home with her brother Michael.

15 On September 22, 1993, my wife Kari and I picketed in front of Queen's Bench Courthouse. The Sheriff came and told us that we were to appear before Judge Wimmer on possible charges of contempt. Judge Wimmer then told us to appear before him in two days to face possible charges of contempt. On September 24, I appeared before Judge Wimmer. I spoke to the Court and presented a written answer to allegations of contempt of court. No charges were laid.

17 On October 6, 1993, City Council replied to my letter that they had referred my information to the Police Commission for further action. To this date, there has been no action that I know of. Meanwhile, Kathy continued to be living in the same home with her brother Michael.

18 In November, 1993, I went to the police station with at least one thousand pages of evidence. The officer at the front desk refused even to look at any of the material and asked us to leave.

19 In November, 1993. I wrote a letter to the RCMP in Warmen asking them to remove Michael from the Thompson home (for the protection of Kathy) or I would make facts about his history available to the community of Warmen. Michael was indeed removed within ten days as I had asked. I made some effort to find out where he was and was told that he was on a ranch somewhere.

20 I began faxing this material to lawyers, judges and anyone within the legal community who was in a position to do something about this situation.

21 In April, 1993, I attended a meeting of the Special Committee on Sexual Abuse of Children, an organization which was established in 1985 and which determines the protocol for handling sexual abuse cases. I received a copy of their 1991 handbook. The handbook defines sexual abuse as "any exploitation of a child, whether consensual of not, for the sexual gratification of a person who is clearly taking advantage of a significantly younger child." It further quotes Section 12(3) of the Child and Family Services Act, Province of Saskatchewan under the heading, DUTY to Report: "Every person having information that a child is in need of protection shall report the information to an officer (Child Protection Officer of the Department of Social Services) OR peace officer (Police officer)". Throughout the document , the safety of children is cited as the overriding concern. Six years ago, when Michael was nine years old, he was already known to be highly sexualized and dangerous. Six years ago, it was known that he was sexually exploiting his younger sisters. According to their own protocol, the overriding concern should have been to get treatment for Michael and safety for Kathy and Michelle. Instead, the professionals in charge chose to allow the situation to deteriorate to the point where Michelle joined Kathy in victimizing Kathy while all took notes and repeatedly interrogated the children in order to prepare a vicious prosecution of adults who either had only the best interests of these children at heart or were only peripherally involved with the children.

22 For the past year or so, as I have tried to get to the bottom of this case I have seen my father jailed and nine other members of my family and their children impoverished. I have dealt with the falling away of acquaintances who are rightfully suspicious of people charged with sex crimes. I have sought legal redress. Along with other members of my family I have launched a civil suit. Throughout the process I have been careful and respectful with the information in my hands and the people with whom I am in contact. I have verified my facts. I have respected the judiciary system even when faced with the moral dilemma of weighing the public's right to know against a judge's order that evidence be sealed.

23 If I am wrong in any of this, I understand I could face a charge of criminal libel. However, if I am right, I believe my questions should be answered and the persons responsible should be called to account.

The above was written before April 16, 1994. Since that time, the following events have occurred. It was revised for accuracy on December 8, 2000.

24 In August, 1994, local activist Sheila Steele, who was also fighting narcotics charges [pot], had taken up the cause and had postered and widely distributed a handbill entitled "Call for a Public Inquiry." My 16 year old nephew, John Robert (Rob) Klassen came to Saskatoon to live with me.

25 On August 23 and 24, 1994, a group of eleven people, including me, Rob Klassen and Sheila Steele picketed the Courthouses, provincial government building and police station to protest the whitewashing of the Saskatchewan Justice Department in the David Milgaard case. The three of us carried signs directed at Sgt. Brian Dueck and social worker Carol Bunko-Ruys. On August 24, while picketing in front of the Saskatoon police station, the three of us were arrested and each charged with four counts of defamatory libel.

26 Throughout the fall of 1994, the three of us were continually and relentlessly harassed by members of Sgt. Dueck's platoon. There were blatant attempts to tie Rob and me in with Steele's narcotics charges. There was also (and still may be) an effort to charge me with having sexually assaulted, when I was ten, a now convicted murderer who had once been fostered by my grandmother. (see the Beryl Stonechild story.)

28 In February, 1995, Steele and I had a preliminary hearing and were each ordered to stand trial on one charge of defamatory libel against Sgt. Brian Dueck. During the hearing, Sgt. Dueck acknowledged that Michael R was one of the most violent youths he had encountered as a policeman on the Youth Squad, and that he was aware of Michael's assaults on Kathy, including one with a knife. He claimed that there was nothing he could do about it.

29 In July, 1995, the charge against Steele was dropped by writ of certiorari and the charges against Rob Klassen were stayed. (John Robert Klassen's sign was identical in every way to Richard Klassen's. Sheila Steele's sign was arguably stronger in its indictment of Sgt. Brian Dueck insofar as it called for him to be arrested and charged for more crimes than helping and/or taking part in the rape, sodomy and torture of an eight year old girl.)

30 A trial date was set for October 21, 1996.

31 I went to trial by jury on that date. Representing myself, I subpoenaed all the witnesses I would need to prove that I had not defamed Sgt. Dueck: that what I said was true and that I had always believed it to be true. Greg Walen, the lawyer for the Department of Social Services, the R. children and Sgt. Dueck intervened on behalf of the Minister of Social Services to quash the subpoenas. He was unsuccessful. However, my acquittal was won by a directed verdict after the Crown finished its presentation so I did not get an opportunity to call my witnesses. We have since learned that Michael, Michelle and Kathy were asked if they would go to trial again, but they were led to believe it would be another trial like the last ones where they would be expected to tell lies. They have told us that if they had known the nature of the trial and had been allowed to testify, they would have told the truth.

32 Days before the expiration of thirty days, the RCMP delivered to me the Crown appeal of my acquittal. No grounds were given. I began faxing the Crown in January 1997. I tried to contact them many times to get information so I could defend myself against their appeal. Finally I arranged to get them into Court in October . The events from then until the Crown's abandonment of their appeal are stated in the following document which I filed with the Appeal Court.

November 17, 1997

Mr. Chief Justice Bayda, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Regina, Saskatchewan

Dear Mr. Justice Bayda:

. . . This case has had an enormous negative impact on my life, which I will demonstrate in the course of this document. The Crown has been relentless in pursuing this case in game fashion and wants yet another kick at the can. In fairness, I would ask for another hearing so I can show that the appeal game should be declared finished.

This document combines the following purposes: as an application to the Court, a factum, a brief of law and, indeed, notes for a judicial inquiry. Among your duties as Chief Justice for Saskatchewan, I understand you oversee proceedings and weed out wrongdoing and malice. Therefore everything which follows is within your jurisdiction. . . .

Application

1. Whereas it has not been demonstrated that the Crown has ever been heard on the matter of being granted leave to appeal my acquittal and

2. It is up to the Crown to produce reasons why it should be granted such leave and

3. The Crown's appeal must rely on judicial error and in twelve months has failed to show any, and

4. The Crown has stated in court that it is awaiting a forthcoming Supreme Court decision, which would be new evidence, and which it should not be allowed to do

5. And whereas this case is riddled with errors and irregularities which have not been properly dealt with at the time they occurred but have instead been bumped up to higher Courts

6. And whereas I have borne the full burden of hardship and costs for such errors

I apply to the Court for the following remedies:

1. Rescind the November 12 decision to dismiss my application.

2. Quash the Crown's appeal

3. Award me costs

4. Convene a Judicial Inquiry into this whole case.

5. In the event that Your Lordship does not see fit to grant me the above, order me a new trial.

While I think that the first four remedies would most properly address the concerns of this application, the fifth would please me the most. My original trial was hijacked by the Crown and now my acquittal has been held hostage by the "appeal." Short of a full public inquiry which brings to light the many instances of Crown misconduct in this now notorious case, I had intended that my trial would serve the public record. (This letter to Mr. Justice Bayda continues > > > Scandal 2)