This case represents 5½ years of work on the Internet and 5 years before that where we tried to get this story to the public. Court seals and publication bans rarely serve the public interest. In this case, dishonest police, prosecutors and social workers deceived many honest officials by keeping the case secret, trusting that their unethical conduct would never be revealed.
1991 was the year the Klassens and Kvellos and Ross Ross and White were charged.
Feb. 1987: Michael, Kathleen and Michelle Ross are placed in the home of Dale and Anita Klassen in Saskatoon. After returning home a visit with their deaf birth father, Don Ross, Anita finds blood in Michelle's panties. Saskatoon police (Marv Hanson) investigate and determine that Michael was the perpetrator. Nonetheless visits with birth parents are stopped by Social Services.
1988-89: In an unrelated set of circumstances Peter Klassen, father of Dale, is charged and pleads to sexual interference with a minor.
University Chaplain Colin Clay begins a hysterical campaign based on his assertion that the continent is riddled with a network of Satanic cults and organizes several conferences to which social workers and police are invited -- and attend, sponsored and paid by their employers, and receive educational credits to place on their CVs.
Summer, 1989: Saskatoon Foster parents Dale and Anita Klassen, after more than two years of trying to control Michael's unruly and sexualized behavior ask Social Services to remove him from their home.
Sept. 1989: Saskatoon Police Corporal Brian Dueck and Lyle and Marilyn Thompson meet Michael, Kathy and Michelle Ross at their school where they question them about possible sexual interference by Peter Klassen. Carol Bunko is assigned to their file.
Dec. 89: Michael is moved to the home of Lyle and Marilyn Thompson in Warman.
January-May, 1990: Michael is caught sexually assaulting a three-year old neighbour child named Gus and also makes "inappropriate" sexual advances to Thompson children. He sees Social workers, police and therapists and begins to name names of people it is suggested to him may have assaulted him.
May, 1990: Kathleen and Michelle are removed from the Klassen home and put in the Thompson home.
May-Oct, 1990: All three children are seen by police, doctors and social workers.
Oct.-Nov. 1990: Carol Bunko and Brian Dueck tape and coach the children to make accusations on videotape against 40 individuals. Partial transcript of the interview with Richard Klassen
July, 1991: Charges are laid against 16 people.
Throughout then next year The StarPhoenix publishes articles about Satanic cults and even provides a week-end supplement about how to tell if your child is being used by a cult. This plays into the fears of people in custodial battles, etc. Bill Peterson, a personal friend of Colin Clay, is editor at this time.
October-November 1991: Preliminary inquiry indicts Helen Ross, Don Ross and Don White (despite prosecutor Matt Miazga's suggestion to judge that the case is weak based on the children's stories falling apart on the witness stand and, in particular, Michael's bizarre behavior). The courtroom is closed. A publication ban is placed on the proceedings.
January, 1992: Miazga proceeds to conduct a preliminary inquiry which the indicts Klassens and Kvellos. This court is also closed and a publication ban is put in place. The accused are hidden behind office dividers. Judge Robert Findlay wears ordinary clothes because he has been told the children might be traumatized by the sight of his judicial robes. A trial date is set for one year hence.
July-August, 1992: Michael is assessed and stabilized on thorazine.
Oct. 29, - 92 into 1993: Ross Ross and White tried and convicted. Judge D.K. Macpherson places a sweeping publication ban on all material from the trial and seals the evidence and transcripts.
February, 1993: Charges against all but Peter Klassen are stayed. Peter Klassen makes a plea bargain and is sentenced to 4 years: 2 and one half for the Ross children and two years for a fourth child. Matthew Miazga tells the media that the charges have been stayed to prevent further traumatization of the children. The media refuses to give Richard Klassen any publicity, citing the publication bans as a reason.
September, 1993: John and Johanna Lucas are ordered arrested and charged by Brian Dueck on criminal libel charges. They are placed on undertakings which forbid them to speak about sexual assault.
January, 1993: Michael is removed from Thompson home, where he has been for 43 months, and placed at Ranch Ehrlo facility in Regina.
January 29, 1994: Klassens and Kvellos file civil claim 271.
May, 1994: Peter Klassen asks for leave to extend time limitation for presenting fresh evidence. This is denied.
Summer-fall, 1995: Ed Holgate, acting for the plaintiffs in 271-94 receives statements as to documents and "Dueck docs" (approx. 400 pages) which he does not show to plaintiffs. He and Reg Parker travel to Regina to look at the documents and returns to report "there is nothing there that we don't already have."
August 27, 1994: Richard Klassen, Sheila Steele and Robert Klassen are arrested and charged with criminal libel against Dueck. They are placed on undertakings which effectively gag them from writing, speaking or demonstrating.
March, 1995: Steele and Klassen indicted and ordered to stand trial.
April, 1995: Lucases convicted of criminal defamation.
July, 1995: Charges against Steele quashed by writ of certiori.
June 20, 1996: Ross, Ross and White convictions overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada.
November, 1996: Richard Klassen wins his defamation case by a directed jury verdict. The Crown appeals. The StarPhoenix publishes a garbled account which does not name Klassen but makes his identity clear to the people in Harris where he lives and could be construed as a guilty person acquitted by a legal loophole. Within a year, Klassen is driven out of town .
March, 1997: Peter Klassen is released from penitentiary and takes up residence in Harris with his daughter Pamela. The town steps up a smear campaign on Richard Klassen and his family.
April, 1997: Lucases convictions upheld by SCC. Crown stays criminal libel charges against Klassen.
March, 1999: Michelle Ross makes contact with Steele and Klassen through the internet site. Eventually Michael does, also.
November 29, 2000: fifth estate airs scandal of the century.
January-February. 2001: Kathleen Ross, who has been placed in a foster home in Vernon, B.C. makes contact with Steele and Klassen through the internet site after hearing about the repeat showing of fifth estate program. Kathleen and Michelle file a lawsuit.
January, 2001: Dueck's lawyer brings a motion to have Klassen removed from Q.B. 271-94 for having broken the rules of court by publishing discovery material on the internet. Klassen's lawyer, Holgate fails to put in an affidavit from Klassen denying this. Dueck's lawyer submits hundreds of pages printed from the internet which he claims contain discovery material. Klassen is fined $1240.
November, 2001: Klassen and Holgate part ways. Klassen acts for himself and begins to get discovery material from defendants' lawyers in Regina.
November, 2001: John Lucas files a lawsuit.
Dec. 2001: Michael Ross and Peter Klassen file lawsuits.
Dec. 17-20, 2001: Klassen gets Miazga file, Carol Bunko-Ruys file and a section of Ross, Ross and White trial transcript.
January 23, 2002: fifth estate does an update which includes statements from Kathy that she had recanted even before Michelle and Michael and reveals the contents of some of the new documents. Michael Ross and Peter Klassen lawsuit is dismissed.
January 28: Crown lawyer Don McKillop refuses to release any more documents. A hearing, initiated by Richard Klassen, is set for Feb. 14 at 10 a.m., Court of Queen's Bench, Saskatoon. Klassen gets some local publicity to get out the message that the so-called sealed material contains evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the police, crown and social workers. Klassen undertakes to keep discovery material secret and dissociates himself from the website.
Spring, 2002: John Lucas continues a postering campaign. A private eye hired by Dueck's lawyer attempts to entrap Richard Klassen into divulging discovery material.
Dueck fights to keep Terry Hinz' testimony out of the trial.
1991: Charges laid against Richard Klassen and his family based on deliberate false information of Brian Dueck (original news reports)
1993: Charges stayed against Richard Klassen and his family after lengthy preliminary inquiry and indictments (Richard Klassen's chronology as told to Sheila Steele that year)
1993: Within the taped and transcribed crown disclosure material, Richard Klassen finds out exactly how Dueck manufactured the case and further discovers that the Ross children were purposefully kept together before and after the proceedings. Michael had been raping his sisters for 43 months with full knowledge of the authorities. The Carol Bunko-Ruys reports and Marilyn Thompson's notes to Dueck were particularly damning. Klassen asks the police to arrest Dueck. In July, Klassen writes to Romanow with copies to Chris Axworthy, then a federal MP and top members of the Saskatchewan cabinet. He moves his family from Red Deer to Saskatoon.
1994: January: Klassen and his family lay a lawsuit against Dueck, Social Services and Saskatchewan prosecutors. (the lawsuit)
1994<: august: alberta inquiry into milgaard is published exonerating the saskatchewan justice dept. klassen and steele organize demonstrations at saskatoon courthouses and police station protesting cover-ups in both cases. dueck has klassen and arrested for defaming him on basis of signs which read dueck was responsible rape sodomy of an 8 year old girl. are placed court undertakings to not speak about this case or to participate a demonstration of any kind. (August 27, 1994 action).
1995: Charges against Steele are quashed and Klassen is ordered to proceed to trial. Steele posters about Dueck during the summer. The Globe and Mail runs a feature piece, Martensville Redux, which clealy shows Dueck's role in the scandal.
1996: Steele goes to jail on marijuana charges. Klassen wins a directed jury verdict on the libel charges. Western Report was the only media to write a serious piece on this. The StarPhoenix wrote a piece so confused and inflamatory that Klassen was persecuted in Harris, where he lived. Throughout this time, the StarPhoenix has reported the protests by referring to Steele by name and Klassen as "a man who's name cannot be released because it would reveal the identity of the victims."
1997: Crown appeals Klassen's acquittal and Steele gets out of jail. The conditions of Steele's parole state that she cannot poster, picket, attend or be anywhere close to a demonstration in the city of Saskatoon. Klassen remains under gag orders pending the appeal outcome. The Crown fails to provide Klassen with its grounds for appeal and after several visits to Regina, Klassen writes to the chief judge of the appeal court.
1998: Gag orders on both Steele and Klassen expire and they take the story to the internet. They defy the publication ban by releasing Michael's name. Within weeks Sympatico removes the site because of threats of litigation. It is clear from their correspondence that Dueck or functionaries in the government have ordered the website down. They move to a secure paid site in August, 1998. Most of the so-called litigational material which is on the site now was placed there in 1998. Richard Quinney and Brian Dueck, both defendants in the lawsuit, made public statements disparaging and taunting Richard Klassen.
1999: Michael and Michelle come forward and indicate their desire to speak publicly about their situations. See Police interference.
2000: Fifth Estate discovers the story and airs a one hour show, Nov. 29. Saskatchewan threatens to charge the CBC but backs down. Instead, they charge reporters Dan Zakreski of the StarPhoenix and Jo Lynn Sheane of CBC for breaking bans in unrelated stories.
Dec. 2000: Dueck sets about to re-establish a gag order through the lawsuit. (Fifth Estate)
2001: January: Dueck's lawyers win a judgment based on the judge's mistaken belief that Klassen had broken the rules of court by publishing discovery material. He retroactively categories the material on the website as discovery material because it was on a list provided to the plaintiffs in 1994 by the defendants. The government states publicly that it does not intend to proceed against the Fifth Estate but the judge's fiat gives Dueck the green light to proceed against all of us. The judge also orders Klassen to pay the costs of Dueck's court action. The StarPhoenix covers the story but still does not use names. (The judges's order | newspaper reports)
March, 2001: Scandal of the Century is part of a package of fifth estate programs given the Michener award by the Governor General.
August, 2001: Scandal of the Century wins Justicia award.
November, 2001: Scandal of the Century wins Gemini award
January, 2002: Hour-long update on fifth estate.
February, 2002: Richard Klassen goes to court and wins a motion that the other side put their documents in better order in the lawsuit. Their motion to dismiss the suit is denied.>
November, 2002: Despite several attempts to deceive the court by slipping in unethical motions, Don McKillop has failed to have Richard Klassen removed from the lawsuit. Ed Holgate remains on the file for several defendants . . . the court should dismiss him for incompetence and assign competent counsel.
PBS Frontline has a page highlighting many of the U.S. high profile cases involving children manipulated by adults to falsely accuse.
Sometime in 2002 or 2003:: We intend to force this scandal to conclusion. Help will be welcomed!
Update: Of course we went to court and won. There are links to the coverage on the sidebar.