SASKATOON – The twelve plaintiffs in Saskatoon’s malicious prosecution trial have scored a victory, and one of those plaintiffs, Richard Klassen, says he finally feels vindicated.
The judge says Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga, police officer Brian Dueck and child therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys maliciously prosecuted the plaintiffs. The judge dismissed the claims against a fourth defendant, Crown prosecutor Sonja Hansen. The judge also dismissed Miazga’s and Hansen’s counterclaim against Klassen for defamation.
Thirteen people were originally arrested in 1991 and 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.
Richard Klassen says it has been a long road culminating in one ruling — a ruling, he says, that was the scariest moment of his life. He says he did not know whether his name would finally be cleared of the child molestor label. Klassen says he was overcome with emotion as he looked over the 189-page ruling.
“For the last 25 mintues I’ve been more in tears than anything and I have been since reading it. And it is the strongest judgement I’ve ever read or heard in my life and I now hope that there will be more accountability.”
Klassen says he wants a full public inquiry into the case and he also wants the law changed to make malicious prosecution a criminal offence.
Klassen and the other plaintiffs sued for in excess of $10 million; however, Tuesday’s ruling did not determine how much the plaintiffs will be awarded.
Klassen says the trial and the work of representing himself has taken a personal toll. He carried on with it even though he is sick with prostate cancer. He also had trouble sleeping, so he turned to higher and higher doses of sleeping pills.
“I’ll have to go to a dryout centre somewhere I guess and get off the medications and start looking after my health.”
Klassen says despite the toll, walking away from this lawsuit was never an option.
“If you’re branded a child molester, this is one of the sickest things that one could be branded. But I wanted to clear my name. So I never left it alone.”