SASKATOON – The city’s police chief publicly apologized today to 12 people wrongfully accused of ritualistically abusing three young foster children more than a decade ago.
Russell Sabo also said he is enlisting the services of a Saskatoon law firm to determine if there were any violations by investigators under the Saskatchewan Police Act.
“My sympathy goes to each and every person that was wrongfully charged,” Sabo said.
“I extend my apologies to them for any part that the Saskatoon police service played in this case.”
Last week, a judge ruled that investigators had been malicious in their pursuit of a case against 12 members of the Klassen family.
The ruling applied to three of the lead investigators: Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck, who was a corporal when the case broke; therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys and Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga.
Sabo said Dueck started a paid medical leave on Monday. He will not be working while the review is done. Sabo would not provide details about Dueck’s health.
The Klassens were charged in 1991 with abusing the children – a brother and his younger twin sisters – in bizarre and demonic ways.
The children said they were forced to eat eyeballs, drink blood, participate in orgies and watch newborn babies get skinned and buried while in the family’s care.
Saskatoon police called it the “scandal of the century” at the time, but most of the cases never made it to trial.
By 1993 most of the charges were stayed to avoid further “trauma” to the children. But, as the years passed, the children came forward publicly and recanted their accusations.
The boy, who had been abusive to his sisters himself and was removed from the family’s care, said he had made up the allegations because he was frustrated with the move.
The siblings were reunited a short time after the boy’s stories began to surface and he forced his sisters to back him up.
Until Justice George Baynton’s ruling last week, no one official had ever acknowledged the family’s innocence. Sabo’s apology is the first they have received.
Baynton called the case a “travesty of justice.”
“It is almost beyond belief that none of those involved in the prosecution of the plaintiffs stood back, so to speak, and asked themselves if any of this made any sense and whether it could reasonably be true,” Baynton wrote in his 196-page decision.
The Saskatchewan government has yet to respond to the ruling other than to say it is being reviewed.