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Defamatory Libel

So charge us!

inJusticebusters believe we should all be held accountable for our words and actions. We have both been charged with and acquitted of criminal defamation against Sgt. Brian Dueck. We were acquitted because the words we said were true. But think again! John and Johanna Lucas were convicted and did jail time for saying the same things that we were acquitted for. It is picky to argue about the actual words which were used.

The courts made clear there was no misunderstanding. "Sgt. Dueck, if you admit it, you can get help for your touching problem," a sign which I had some difficulty defending at the time, seems particularly appropriate today.

The salacity of the stories he got his child witnesses to concoct, with help from Carol Bunko-Ruys and Marilyn Thompson suggest they grew large in the mind of a man who just couldn't wait to get home to touch himself.

Carol Bunko, the social worker/therapist advised Dale and Anita Klassen to encourage 8-year-old Michael Ross to masturbate when they appealed for help in parenting this kid who liked to dress up in women's negligeés and touch the private parts of adults seems also to have a touching problem. The kids were all told, as a mantra, it is all right to "touch" yourselves but not other people.

Marilyn Thompson, the hopelessly inept special needs care-giver faithfully wrote down pages of preposterous stories about whose penis got put in whose orifice, or who was forced to put whose penis or digit in whose vagina -- and delivered them to Dueck.

Once this group completed their pornographic videotapes in the newly constructed "soft room" (soft porn room?) at the Saskatoon Police Station, they took it to the prosecutors who traipsed off to Regina to discuss the strategy for prosecuting the adults who were unlucky enough to own the names of the characters in Dueck's fantasy. They decided to proceed: one has to wonder if they kept one hand in their pockets as they made the decision!

Since this website was launched in July, 1998, many public officials have threatened to have us charged again with criminal defamation. No charges have been laid. As we have watched the proliferation of criminal and civil defamation cases, we have observed that when a person has money, they get taken to civil court while impoverished activists like us are criminally charged. There seems to be little consistency in the outcome of these cases.

Defamation cases are made more difficult because of gag orders. Rarely if ever is there a good reason for a judge to issue a gag order. What the public perceives as orders issued to protect children from public humiliation are, in fact, devices used by soft-minded and ruthlessly ambitious justice officials to cover their own asses.

We will continue to ignore such gag orders and look forward to defending ourselves in open court. All the cases which we have publicized are, to the best of our knowledge, true. Whenever we are provided with evidence that what we say is inaccurate in any way, we make every effort to correct it.

Group turfed by Web site provider finds new home

original injusticebusters logo

A determined group of self-described "injustice busters" is testing the limits of the law and its ability to control cross-border communication on the Internet.

A day after being thrown off of SaskTel's Sympatico service for posting material which may break court-imposed publication bans and libel laws in Canada, the group has found a new home on the Web through an American-based Web site provider.

"Injustice Busters" level accusations against a Saskatoon police officer [Brian Dueck] over his handling of a sexual abuse investigation in the early 1990s.

They also identify a youth [Michael Ross] who was between 10 and 14 years old at the time of the investigation and accuse him of terrible sex crimes.

The youth's identity was kept secret by several publication bans. According to Crown lawyers, the Young Offenders Act may also protect the youth's identity.

SaskTel shut down the Web site Monday, but by Wednesday the site and its allegations reappeared in a shortened version through a New York-based company, Geocities.

A Geocities spokesperson reached in New York said the site is also getting special attention from his company.

"If this page violates content guidelines, it will be removed. We've sent it off to our alert department to be checked," Ed Gyurko said.

Authorities have been monitoring the site's content for more than two weeks and Justice Department officials Wednesday followed the site to its new location.

"We're looking at it. Again it's the whole Internet law thing. I think it's going to require a fair amount of research for us and it may fall into the realm of international law," said Justice spokesperson Debi McEwen.

Testing the law and freedom of speech is nothing new to Sheila Steele, one of the site's organizers. She was acquitted on rare charges of defamatory libel for a poster and picket campaign against the police officer in the early 1990s.

"Nobody knows how this is all going to shake down, but I think this is about the right of people to get a free discussion going. Some of this conventional wisdom has to be shaken up a bit," Steele said.

Jim Russell, a Saskatoon lawyer who specializes in information law, said the Internet is only beginning to pose a range of challenges to courts and law enforcement officials.

"Most laws which affect private action are national and assume there are borders," Russell said. "The problem with the Internet is jurisdiction. Courts in one jurisdiction have no authority to make decisions which affect other jurisdictions."

Russell said all national laws still apply on the Internet. Many cases involving child pornography have been cracked cross-border, he pointed out.

But when it comes to matters of copyright infringement, advertising law, property rights, libel and other civil litigation, legal procedures become fuzzy and expensive.

"If someone in California is using my trademark or is libelling me on the Internet, do I have to go to California to seek relief? Can a local court assume jurisdiction? These are issues that haven't been worked out here yet," Russell said.

"Going to California to fight it out is very expensive and impractical in most cases."

According to Russell, courts in the United States have been quicker to assume jurisdiction on material available in the U.S. but originating outside the country.

But, he said, laws are based on culture and some cultures may have laws banning material which is acceptable in other places.

"Nudity and other things we find fairly acceptable may break Iranian laws," he said.

And closer to home, Russell said the U.S. has much looser libel laws. Sweeping bans preventing publication of evidence and identities are much less common in U.S. courts.

In 1994 and 1995, grisly details of the Paul Bernardo murder case were available in Canada from the U.S. on the Internet despite strict publication bans.

Eventually the Canadian legal system may have to accept a more American way of doing things, Russell said.

"Our cultures are going to continue growing closer together and the more permissive culture will continue to push things. Probably the more aggressive culture will dominate the passive one."

Report of the Inquiry into the Canadian Federal Prison for Women in Kingston Ontario (1996)

Eight years ago, (1993) the StarPhoenix ran this article

Couple want public to hear truth in sexual abuse case

The courts have no right to stop people from telling the truth, and "we're going to keep telling the truth, no matter whether they put us in jail or not," say a wife and husband arrested Wednesday for picketing in front of the Queen's Bench Courthouse.

"We were doing nothing illegal," the man said while he and his wife were being held under guard in the Queen's Bench Courthouse, shortly before he appeared in front of Justice Ross Wimmer.

"I don't want to break the law… All they had to do was give us a written order and we'd have left peacefully", the man told reporters

The two were arrested on Wimmer's orders and have been commanded to reappear in front of him Friday to answer to possible contempt charges.

The two were first arrested in August 1991 and charged with a variety of sexual offences involving three foster children. Eleven others in their family were also charged.

The testimony of those children led to the conviction of their natural mother and father and their mother's boyfriend on abuse charges this year. The boyfriend was given a three year sentence, and the mother and father each six, although all three are now free on bail pending appeal.

As part of that investigation, police also arrested the husband and wife and eleven other relatives, after children made allegations against them. The three children had been in care of foster parents -- two of the 13 -- for three years after being taken by Social Services from their parents.

All 13 pleaded not guilty to the charges, but ultimately the family's father pleaded guilty to assault charges and was given a four-year jail sentence, which he is now serving. After that plea, the Crown stayed charges against all the others.

Since that time, some of those charged have spoken out about what happened to them.

The husband and wife maintain their innocence, and said the children's stories were so bizarre -- of babies being killed, drinking blood, having sex with bats and gorillas -- that no judge should have believed them.

The two say they now have proof that the court was not told all of the evidence, and have called for a judicial inquiry into their charges, "but we're not being allowed to tell our story."

Portions of the first trial against the parents were ordered held in-camera, and since then their testimony has been ordered sealed, which means there is no way anyone can know what evidence the children have against them.

After the StarPhoenix applied for transcripts from an earlier preliminary hearing which resulted in their parents being committed for trial, Queen's Bench Chief Justice D.K. MacPherson ordered the transcripts be kept secret.

He informed the newspaper: "In my view, those child complainants and other young persons who testified at the preliminary fall within the classsification of innocent persons, and I am satisfied that publication of their testimony, either now or in the future,could cause them great and undeserved embarrassment and anguish.

But the wife and husband say they want the information out. "Then people could see how bizarre this stuff really is."

"Why weren't we consulted when he (MacPherson) ordered their testimony sealed. Don't we have rights, too? Shouldn't somebody have asked us what we wanted?" the couple said in an earlier interview with the StarPhoenix.

"We're innocent and we want the world to know that."

The two say they're still labelled as child abusers and child molesters, even though nothing has ever been proven against them.--McCONACHIE, September 23, 1993

Martensville Redux, Globe and Mail, June 1995

GeoCities Downs Spy Site

The free webhosting service GeoCities has shut down a former British spy's site. What secrets was he about to reveal?

How far can the influence of British intelligence reach? Today it reached half way around the world to shut down a California-based website that allegedly revealed the identities of Her Majesty's secret agents.

Richard Tomlinson used to be an agent for the British government. Ousted in 1995, Tomlinson was then imprisoned in 1997 for violating a British official secrets act. After his release, he reportedly ended up in Switzerland, where he started a website claiming global illegal acts by British intelligence.

The site was taken down at the end of April; Swiss authorities say Tomlinson had threatened to publish British secrets online, and they had to shut him down to prevent that.

Last week, Tomlinson put up a new site through the free Web-hosting service GeoCities. This time, he allegedly said he was going to release sensitive details about where British intelligence offices are located. That new site has now been suspended.

Bruce Zanca, the vice president of communications at GeoCities, says that it was simply a matter of policy. "People [complete] a questionnaire and agree to no illegal activities and no hate speech. It was brought to our attention that there were content violations; we put the site under suspension."

He added, "We're careful in protecting privacy for our users, so I can't get into details, but it fell under the general content restrictions."

Next steps? "[Tomlinson] is free to [dispute the shut down] and if so, we'll start a dialog with him. If the site is brought into compliance, we'll put the website back up."

Internet site draws criminal libel charges

Case will set precedent: Breeder puts bite on dog fancier over Web comments

OTTAWA - For the first time in Canada, somebody has been charged with criminal libel for statements made on an Internet Web site.

In a case that will set a legal precedent, Gregory Barrett, 45, of Gloucester, Ont., near Ottawa, has been charged with criminally defamatory libel for statements he made about Darla Lofranco of Acton, Ont., west of Toronto, on his Web site.

Ms. Lofranco sold Mr. Barrett two Kuvasz dogs in the early 1990s. One of those dogs was put down due to health problems, the other was returned to Ms. Lofranco.

Since returning the second dog, Mr. Barrett has sued Ms. Lofranco -- a 25-year breeder of Kuvasz dogs that have been rated number one in Canada -- three times. Each time, the judge has dismissed the suit and told Mr. Barrett to pay Ms. Lofranco's court costs.

Last year, Mr. Barrett started a Web site partly devoted to the dog breed he dearly loves and partly devoted to warning people about the "depraved" practices of Kuvasz breeders -- particularly Ms. Lofranco.

In February, Ms. Lofranco complained to Mr. Barrett's Internet service provider, Magma Communications Ltd., of Nepean, Ont., that what he was doing was nothing more than a character assassination. Magma agreed and deleted the offending words from the site.

Convinced what he was doing was best for the dogs and potential buyers of the rare livestock- protecting breed, Mr. Barrett bought the services of a company in El Salvador to run his Web site.

"Everything I've done, I've done because I love these dogs," Mr. Barrett said on Monday. "It all comes down to money for these breeders. Not what's best for people. Not what's best for these beautiful animals."

After getting Mr. Barrett's lawsuits dismissed and getting his Internet service provider to change his Web site, Ms. Lofranco thought the matter was closed. But the site reappeared about two months ago.

"I had to do something," she said on Monday. "This man has hurt me, my family, my business. He made my life very difficult for a long time and greatly affected my business."

What she did was get a copy of the Criminal Code, amass what Mr. Barrett had written about her, and went to the courthouse and police station in Guelph, Ont., where she presented the package to authorities -- making sure to point out the section under which she thought he should be charged.

Court officials and the police agreed, and Mr. Barrett was charged.

He made his first appearance in a Guelph courtroom on Friday, when he was ordered to return on July 2 for his next appearance.

If found guilty of the charge, Mr. Barrett faces up to two years in jail.

Libel expert Rick Deardon, a lawyer with Gowling Strathy and Henderson in Ottawa, said many people are under the impression you can say anything you want on the Internet without repercussions.

"This simply isn't the case," he said. "I think more and more cases like this will pop up over the next while until people realize they can't just write anything they want with the intent of hurting people."