Saskatoon police chief apologizes for malicious prosecution

CBC News/January 7, 2004

Saskatoon -- Saskatoon's police chief has issued an apology to the 12 people who won a lawsuit for malicious prosecution last month.

The members of the extended foster family had launched the civil suit after they were falsely accused of drawing three foster children into satanic sex crimes more than a decade ago.

In late December, a judge ruled that Saskatoon police officer Brian Dueck was one of three people who acted maliciously against Richard Klassen and 11 of his relatives in 1991 when eight-year-old twin sisters and their older brother made some startling accusations against them.

The sisters later recanted, saying it was their brother who was molesting them and forcing them to deflect attention to the Klassen family by making up the accusations.

Police Chief Russell Sabo apologized on behalf of his force on Wednesday.

"The judgment in this case vindicates the plaintiffs for the criminal charges they faced," Sabo said at a news conference.

"Based on the information contained in the judgment, as the chief of police of the Saskatoon police service, my sympathy goes to each and every person that was wrongfully charged and I extend my apologies to them for any part that the Saskatoon police service played in this case."

He also told a news conference that he has appointed an independent lawyer to review the case and see if there have been violations of the Police Act.

Dueck is currently off the job on medical leave. Sabo said he will not return to active duty until the investigation ends.

Reached Wednesday, Richard Klassen said the chief's apology is a good start to the healing process. He still wants to hear an apology from Dueck himself, though.

Klassen also called on Sabo to expand the investigation to consider criminal charges against Dueck.

I know the evidence and I know the evidence that's on the table," said Klassen. "And he manipulated (it) in his reports. And I'll go so far as to say that, because we heard that in court. And that's a Criminal Code offence."

Sabo said criminal charges remain a possibility, depending on the result of the review.

"If we find anything, we will be bringing it to the attention of Saskatchewan Justice."

In his Dec. 30 ruling, Judge George Baynton also found a Crown prosecutor and a child therapist collaborated in the malicious prosecution of members of the Klassen family.

The family is asking for $10 million in damages.

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