REGINA (CP) – The dozen people who successfully sued investigators for malicious prosecution in a bizarre but unfounded sexual abuse scandal want the Saskatchewan government and police to apologize.
Lawyer Robert Borden said the 12 members of Richard Klassen’s family and extended family deserve official recognition that they have done nothing wrong in light of last week’s civil court ruling that found they were victims of malicious prosecution. “These people were wronged. These people were innocent. That is clear,” Borden said Monday.
“Surely these parties should have the courage to come forward and say that the judge was right.
“That is not an admission of liability. That is simply doing the right thing.”
Officials with both the Justice Department and Saskatoon police said they are reviewing the decision and will comment as early as the end of the week.
“There needs to be a decision on whether or not there needs to be an appeal,” said Justice spokeswoman Deb McEwen. “It’s not a final judgment.”
The Klassens were wrongfully charged based on accusations by three young foster children in 1991. The three claimed they were forced to eat eyeballs, drink blood and participate in orgies while in the care of the Saskatoon family.
Police called it the “scandal of the century” at the time, but in 1993 charges against most of the accused were stayed to avoid further “trauma” to the children.
In the years that followed, each of the children came forward to admit the stories had been made up, but officials never acknowledged publicly that the Klassens were innocent.
The Klassens filed a lawsuit and last week Queen’s Bench Justice George Baynton ruled that three of the four lead investigators – a Saskatoon police officer, a therapist and a Crown prosecutor – were malicious in their pursuit of the case.
Baynton called the situation a travesty of justice and said the real scandal was how the plaintiffs were treated.
The lawsuit claimed $10 million in damages, but Baynton did not rule on compensation. Borden said he hopes a figure can be negotiated out of court.
“What we are looking for first and foremost is an apology,” Borden said. “Until that is done, this leaves a black cloud over all of our clients.”
Richard Klassen, who represented himself in the lawsuit, echoed that sentiment.
“Compensation talks can come later,” Klassen said. “What we want is an immediate apology.
“It is the road to the beginning of a healing process.”