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 $10 million 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.
But Dueck failed to give prosecutors Matthew Miazga and Sonja Hansen 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.