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Malicious prosecution trial awaits verdict

CBC, Canada
Nov. 13, 2003 • Friday November 14, 2003

SASKATOON – It is now up to a judge to decide whether an early 1990s police investigation into alleged ritual satanic child abuse was overzealous. He hopes to have a ruling by Christmas.The lawsuit involves 12 people charged in a sensational child sex abuse case more than a decade ago. They are suing the investigating police officer along with two prosecutors and a child therapist.

Final arguments in the civil trial wrapped up Thursday morning.

In his closing arguments Wednesday, defence lawyer David Gerrand said the $10 million malicious prosecution case should be judged by the standards of 1990, not today, for what may appear illogical now should not be the test of what was unreasonable then.

Gerrand, representing Saskatoon Police Supt. Brian Dueck, calls the case “a difficult judgment call for a police officer” in an “extreme rare set of circumstances.”

Thirteen people in an extended family were charged with over 70 criminal offences. The charges involved foster children making wild allegations about bondage, bloodletting, mutilation and murder.

After 18 months, most of the charges were dismissed, with one person eventually convicted. But the 12 plaintiffs argue the case should never have gotten even that far.

In his final arguments, Robert Borden, who represents most of the plaintiffs, told court that prosecutors were desperate to salvage a bad case that was falling apart.

The defendants, including Dueck, a therapist and two Crown prosecutors, attempted to have the suit thrown out late last month after the plaintiffs had finished presenting evidence. They had argued there was not enough evidence to prove they acted with malice, but the judge disagreed.

Over the course of the six-week trial, autumn has turned to early winter. The large courtroom has been the scene of an intense drama as three former foster children recanted their allegations.

Close to three dozen other witnesses have testified. Hours of videotaped police interviews were played, and thousands of pages of documents were also entered as evidence.

The two prosecutors are countersuing one of the plaintiffs for defamation. Matt Miazga and Sonja Hansen say Richard Klassen libelled them in postering and letter campaigns. The two sides argued that part of the case Thursday morning.

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