Klassen settles suit with Dueck

The Star Phoenix/May 1, 2004
By Shannon Boklaschuk

The man at the centre of a high-profile malicious prosecution lawsuit has settled his claim against a Saskatoon city police officer.

At a press conference at his new west-side home on Friday afternoon, Richard Klassen told reporters that a "conclusion" has been reached with Supt. Brian Dueck.

"I can't discuss a settlement amount, but certainly it has been concluded satisfactorily to myself," said Klassen, who refused to disclose a dollar figure.

Although Klassen repeatedly said details of the settlement agreement are to remain confidential, he noted it "represents closure."

"As everyone knows, I'm self-represented. I've been working on this case for a long period of time," he said.

"I took it upon myself to see if I can conclude matters, and I think that defendant Dueck and counsel would like to see it end."

Klassen said he will immediately file documentation with the Court of Queen's Bench, stating all action between himself and Dueck has been "concluded."

"It's over for him and I, and it's done," Klassen said in an interview.

"I want him out of my mind."

Klassen said working on the settlement agreement was difficult for him, since he had to keep details from his wife, Kari, another plaintiff.

Kari Klassen told reporters that she only learned of the out-of-court settlement during Friday's media conference.

"I didn't know until now. I can't believe it. I'm so happy for him," she said, her voice breaking with emotion.

"I'm very proud of him, extremely proud. Everything that he has done, all the decisions he has made for this case, have worked out extremely well for everybody -- and they will continue to."

Richard Klassen's sister, Pamela Shetterly, said she had no idea her brother was going to settle his claim.

"I'm surprised," Shetterly said from her home in Outlook. "What are my feelings? I don't know. We all harbour different feelings toward what Dueck did."

Earlier this year, police Chief Russell Sabo apologized to the Klassen family and announced he hired a law firm to investigate the role Dueck played in their malicious prosecution.

"I have faith in the chief of police," Klassen told reporters.

Dueck is on medical leave. His lawyer could not be reached for comment Friday.

However, police spokesperson Insp. Lorne Constantinoff said the department is "happy" that an agreement has been reached.

"It's a good indication. It's a sign of moving forward."

Mayor Don Atchison also said he's pleased the two sides have come to a conclusion, but pointed out the city didn't participate in the negotiations.

"It was between Mr. Klassen, Supt. Dueck, his lawyer and the insurer," he said.

Atchison, who chairs the police commission, said the city is not on the hook for any more than a $50,000 insurance deductible, which has already been paid.

In late December, Court of Queen's Bench Justice George Baynton ruled that three officials -- Dueck, child therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys and Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga -- maliciously prosecuted Klassen and 11 other plaintiffs.

In 1991, Klassen and his family members were wrongly accused of sexually abusing three foster children.

The charges were eventually stayed against them, and they sued for malicious prosecution. Their lawsuit sought damages of more than $10 million.

A trial to determine damages is set for Sept. 13, although an agreement could be reached during a pre-trial settlement conference in June.

The provincial government has appealed Baynton's ruling, as has Dueck. Dueck on Friday abandoned his appeal pertaining to Klassen.

Klassen has not reached settlements with either Miazga or Bunko-Ruys.

Lawyer Robert Borden, who represents the other plaintiffs, said he hasn't been given "the particulars" of Klassen's settlement. He said none of the other 11 plaintiffs have sought out-of-court settlements.

Borden also said Richard Klassen's settlement doesn't affect his clients.

"We're very happy for Mr. Klassen that he's resolved that one issue, but certainly it has no impact on the amount of damages which the other plaintiffs will receive," he said.

For years, Klassen has worked to clear his family's name. Along the way, he has also dealt with other challenges, such as a recent prostate cancer diagnosis and an addiction to sleeping pills and other medication.

Filming will begin in a year on a two-hour, made-for-TV movie about his struggle for justice. But for now, Klassen plans to focus on "health issues," which he says he's "going to try and keep private.

"I do have a new physician, and I'm going to work on some health issues," he said Friday.

"So closure for me, as far as Dueck is concerned, it really does help."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.