Three found liable in malicious prosecution case

CBC News/December 30, 2003

Saskatoon -- Three of four defendants were found liable Tuesday in a $10-million malicious prosecution lawsuit launched by members of an extended foster family originally accused of ritualistic satanic sex abuse. In his 98-page decision, 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.

After hearing the judgment, Richard Klassen, one of the plaintiffs in the civil suit, said he felt vindicated by the decision.

"For the last 25 minutes I've been more in tears than anything," Klassen told CBC Newsworld.

"And it is the strongest judgment I've ever read or heard in my life, and I now hope that there will be more accountability."

Klassen said he wants a full public inquiry into the case and wants the law changed to make malicious prosecution a criminal offence.

The judge also dismissed Miazga's and Hansen's counterclaim against Klassen for defamation.

In 1991, 16 people were charged in what was called the "scandal of the century" when three children a boy and his twin sisters began to tell stories of abuse in their foster home.

Michael Ross and his younger twin sisters Michelle and Kathy, all under 10, said they had been forced to engage in sexual acts, drink blood, eat eyeballs and watch newborns be killed and buried.

One person pleaded guilty to sexual assault. Three others were convicted, but the Supreme Court of Canada later overturned the convictions.

The charges against the other 12 were stayed. The Crown said it wanted to protect the children from further publicity.

But the children have since publicly revealed they made up the stories.

The government has never acknowledged that the children recanted their allegations.

Two of the children recanted the claims of sexual abuse on national television two years ago in a CBC Fifth Estate program.

The Fifth Estate: Scandal of the Century

During the civil trial, Ross told court the only stories he told that were true were about his own father sexually abusing him and his own abuse of his younger sisters.

Ross said he embellished his abuse stories with false descriptions of satanic rituals in an effort to make the story more lurid and bizarre.

The defendants said they believed the charges were justified and were just doing their jobs.

The plaintiffs argued that the children's stories were inconsistent and evidence that Michael was abusing his sisters was ignored.

The court heard that Crown lawyers had doubts about the children's credibility.

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