PRINCE ALBERT, SASK. – Two young women who were at the centre of a child molestation case in Saskatoon 12 years ago are celebrating a legal victory by the foster family they once accused of assaulting them and exposing them to satanic rituals.
Twin sisters Michelle and Kathy Ross hope their own lawsuit against the government will have a greater chance of success in the wake of the Klassen family’s triumph in a long-running malicious prosecution suit this week.
“It certainly helps mine and Michelle’s lawsuit, but it also makes us happy that Richard Klassen and his family had won,” said Kathy Ross. “It’s kind of a victory for us in the sense that we did something for them to help their situation which we created in the first place.”
The girls were just eight years old when they wrongfully accused several members of the Klassen family of molesting them. At the time, the sisters were actually being molested by their older brother Michael, who was also in foster care.
They later recanted their stories and grew close to the Klassens.
On Tuesday, Richard Klassen and 11 other plaintiffs won a malicious prosecution case, after claiming authorities knew the children were lying in 1991.
Judge George Baynton said Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga, Supt. Brian Dueck and child therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys maliciously prosecuted 12 members of the family. The judge dismissed the claims against a fourth defendant, Crown prosecutor Sonja Hansen.
The monetary award in the case is still to be determined but Richard Klassen told CBC Newsworld that a $1.3 million per person payment for damages would be a good starting point.
Now the 21-year-old Ross sisters are seeking their own justice. They are suing for damages, claiming that police and social workers did little to protect them from their brother’s assaults while they were in provincial care.
They believe the Klassen win will help them.
“Me and her are almost at the end of our tunnel, and the Klassens have reached the end of theirs,” said Michelle Ross. “We’re almost at the end of ours. We’re just happy to deal with this and get on with our lives.”
For Michelle, getting on with her life starts with being released next month from the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert, Sask.
Then the sisters want to win their own children back. Michelle’s two young children are in foster care, and Kathy lost custody of her 17-month old son in July.