Ex-officer's refusal to testify shocks Cornwall sex abuse hearing
'I have no faith in the Ontario justice system'
CORNWALL . When Perry Dunlop and his wife, Helen, walked into an inquiry room Monday, they received a standing ovation from members of the public gallery.
Two hours later, Mr. Dunlop was dismissed and told to think overnight about his refusal to testify at the probe intothe official response to allegations of sexual abuse of children in the city.
When he took the stand, the former Cornwall police constable asked inquiry Commissioner Normand Glaude whether he could read a statement.
He said he'd "been lied to and forced to be here today."
He said he'd had to leave his children, home and business in British Columbia and that he feared for his own life and those of his family members.
"I have no faith in the Ontario justice system," he continued. And after 14 years of testifying, time and time again, about his investigation of the alleged pedophile ring, "I have nothing more to say."
Peter Engelmann, lead commission counsel, pointed out that many people had attended the inquiry because they thought it was important.
He noted that Mr. Dunlop's name had been mentioned by people who testified about meeting with him during his attempts to uncover the ring.
Some comments were good, Mr. Engelmann said; others not so good.
However, despite being encouraged to tell his side of the story, Mr. Dunlop repeated that he had nothing to say, then asked for a break.
It was the second brief adjournment in what was to have been the first day of a week's testimony by Mr. and Mrs. Dunlop.
When her husband first took the stand, Mrs. Dunlop stood in front of the public gallery "to show support" for her husband.
Several spectators also stood in a show of solidarity.
Judge Glaude declared a five-minute recess to give those who wished to stand the time to move to the side of the room.
Mrs.Dunlop again took her central position, refusing to join about 20 supporters because, she said, she wanted to see her husband.
She finally moved to the side, outside the line of sight of the gallery, yet in a position where she could see Mr. Dunlop.
As the inquiry resumed, Mr. Engelmann asked Mr. Dunlop whether he had read two e-mails regarding his trip to Cornwall.
In them, he was told the inquiry would restrict his testimony to this week, and he could return to B.C. on Friday. The messages requested a meeting in B.C. to discuss his testimony and offered him legal counsel during the discussions.
The meeting did not take place and the second e-mail asked him to meet with inquiry lawyers last Sunday, the day after his arrival in Ottawa.
Asked whether he knew the contents of the e-mails, Mr. Dunlop twice responded, "I have nothing to say at this time." He refused to give his date of birth or say where he went to high school.
When he had no comment when asked whether he was familiar with contempt of court, or whether he wanted a lawyer to explain the circumstances, Mr. Dunlop was asked to leave the stand, but stay in the room.
Mrs. Dunlop was called to the stand, but refused to sit. When asked by Mr. Engelmann whether she had seen thee-mails, she replied, "yes." When asked whether she'd read them, the answer was the same. When asked whether she'd contacted the commission, she replied "No."
"I have no faith in this commission, or its mandate," she declared.
She called the proposed meetings to discuss her husband's testimony an attempt to "twist the facts."
After 14 years in which the couple had been jerked around, bullied and lied to, she said, "this ends here, today."
Judge Glaude tried to persuade the couple to tell him what happened. Mrs.Dunlop asked where they should start - perhaps with what she termed a coverup by senior Cornwall police officers.
During an increasingly rancorous dialogue, she questioned whether the judge could render a just decision since he is a sitting judge, paid by Ontario's Attorney General. Mr. Dunlop has claimed that high-ranking clergy, politicians, police, lawyers and prosecutors, parole officers and others employed by the Ministry of the Attorney General were involved in the pedophile ring.
In 1992, a former altar boy complained of being assaulted more than two decades earlier by a Cornwall priest and probation officer. He dropped his charges after receiving a cash settlement from the diocese.
However, Mr. Dunlop, then a constable on the drug squad, went to the Children's Aid Society with the allegation and went public.
Fellow officers treated him as a renegade. To many others in Cornwall, he was a hero for breaking the story.
Investigations by Cornwall police and Ontario Provincial Police went nowhere, but more complainants were made and stories emerged about abuses by prominent members of the community, dating back to the 1950s and '60s.
In1997, the OPP began its Project Truth probe, which resulted in more than 115 charges against 15 people. However, investigators concluded there was no pedophile ring.
In 2000, Mr. Dunlop left the force and moved to B.C. Eventually, the frustrated judge recalled Mr. Dunlop to stand with his wife. The judge told them that while the system might not be perfect, he intended to get to the truth. The couple was advised to think about their refusal to testify and offered the services of a lawyer.
Mr. Engelmann told reporters it was premature to say whether the province's Divisional Court would be asked to declare the couple in contempt, or to speculate about any penalties.
The inquiry is to resume this morning.
The judicial inquiry probing the institutional response to reports of systemic child sexual abuse in the Cornwall area began in early 2006 and is expected to continue into next year. Judge Glaude has said he hopes his findings will help bring closure to a community seriously divided by years of controversy over allegations that powerful institutions within the community, including the Roman Catholic Church
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