Scientology in Canada

Law Enforcement Review Board

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LAW ENFORCEMENT REVIEW BOARD                              No. 029-95
IN THE MATTER OF the Police Act, C.P-12.01,
Stats. Alta., 1988 and the Regulations.
AND IN THE MATTER OF the Appeal of Ms.
E. McCoy concerning a complaint against
Inspector J. Cessford (Ret.), Detective Bonetto
(No. 487) and Detective Findlay (No. 1140) of the
Edmonton Police Service.
The appellant filed a complaint on March 15, 1991, concerning the
conduct of Inspector Cessford and Detectives Bonetto and Findlay,
regarding events of March 14, 1991. The complaint was supplemented
with further materials by a letter from P. Michalshyn, dated
September 10, 1991.
On March 17, 1991, a response was provided by Deputy Chief J.F.
Henderson, advising that the complainant's "inquiries" had been
reviewed and that the police involvement had been satisfactory.
This response was unlawful in that it failed to satisfy the
requirements of Section 47(5)(c) of the *Police Act*. It was
furthermore improper to have classified the complaints of the
appellant as inquiries.
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On September 10, 1991, a letter was forwarded to the Chief of
Police by Mr. Michalshyn, advising that an appeal would be made
to this Board. On November 12, 1991, the Chief of Police responded
to Mr. Michalshyn and advised that the original investigation had
been suspended as the matter had been thought to be, "informally
resolved". It was suggested that an appeal to this Board be held in
abeyance. Counsel for the appellant agreed to holding back on the
appeal by letter dated November 20, 1991.
Almost one year then passed before the Chief of Police next dealt
with the matter through correspondence. On November 3, 1992, a
letter was forwarded to Mr. Renouf (counsel for the appellant),
advising that the complaints were unfounded. The response contained
only the following terse content concerning the investigation and
"In reviewing the information, facts and evidence gathered, and
considering the circumstances surrounding the incident, I have
concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove any
disciplinary misconduct.
I have classified the complaint as "NOT SUSTAINED".
The appellant, on November 25, 1992, filed an appeal to this Board.
The grounds mentioned in the Notice were as follows:
1. That the Respondent erred in law in failing to advise the
Appellant pursuant to Section 47(5)(c) of the *ACT* of the grounds
on which the disposition of the complaint was made;
2. That the Respondent erred in law under Subsection 45(2) and
45(3) of the *Act* in failing to conduct, or designate a police
officer to conduct a hearing into the matter which was the subject
of the complaint;
3. That the Respondent erred in law in misconstruing the test
applicable to investigating and responding to a complaint pursuant
to the provisions of the *Act* by determining that the complaint
could be sustained only if there was sufficient evidence to prove
disciplinary misconduct whereas the *Act*
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requires the Chief to conduct a hearing into the matter where the
Chief is of the opinion that the action of the police officer may
constitute a contravention of the regulations;
4. That the Chief erred in law in holding that the complaint was
not sustained as there was ample evidence to support misconduct on
behalf of one or more police officers, or at the very least made
the subject of a hearing pursuant to Section 47 of the *Act*.
By way of relief it was recommended that the Board direct the
laying of disciplinary charges; or that the Board direct a
disciplinary hearing; or that the matter be re-investigated.
The appellant's original complaints were directed at the treatment
of M.G. (age 10), and D.G. (age 9), at Edmonton Police
Headquarters, on March 14, 1991. In a general context, it was
alleged that the children had been improperly dealt with. In
particular, it was complained that;
(a) The children had been subjected to approximately six hours of
questioning, and that three hours of this questioning was
objectionable interrogation.
(b) That the children had been detained without the permission of
their mother and separated from their mother, absent her consent.
(c) That the children were locked into rooms or a room.
(d) That the children were present at times when their mother was
called a liar.
(e) That the children were intimidated and verbally abused.
(f) That the children were told they would be placed with Social
Services and that their mother would be jailed.
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(g) That the persons responsible for the mistreatment and abuse of
the children were Inspector Cessford and Detectives Bonetto and
Donald Hughes
Detective Hughes testified that in 1992, he was assigned to the
Internal Affairs Section of the Edmonton Police Service and had
received instructions to investigate the appellant's complaints. As
a consequence, he spoke with several persons including the officers
subject of the complaint. In addition, he reviewed a video tape
that had been taken of the children during their time at the police
station. In due course, his report went to the officer in charge of
Internal Affairs; Inspector Prather.
Detective Hughes also gave evidence concerning the room in which
the children were interviewed. The room, known as the "soft room",
was at that time, equipped with chairs, a table, and lamps. It was
also designed to permit video-taping in a surreptitious context.
According to Detective Hughes, there were no policies and
procedures in place, that he was aware of, concerning the
interviewing of children.
It was also given in evidence that Mrs. G. was interviewed by
Detective Hughes during his investigation. Mrs. G. directed her
complaints at Inspector Cessford and Detective Findlay, however,
Detective Bonetto was excluded from her allegations of complaint.
Mrs. G. was interviewed on or about April 19, 1992.
Reed Leary
Mr. Leary testified that in 1991, he was a corporal in the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police, stationed in Edmonton. During that time,
he was assigned to the Intelligence Unit and
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was engaged in investigations concerning cult and religion
motivated crimes. During March of 1991, he was working with
Detective Montgomery, of the Edmonton Police Service, on matters
of mutual concern.
The investigation concerning the (G.) children became of interest
to Corporal Leary and Detective Montgomery as it related to members
of the Church of Scientology. The conduct of several persons in the
Church were of interest to the police and research had been carried
out in that regard. The (G.) family had involvement in the Church
prior to March of 1991, and their Church connection was known by
Corporal Leary. Mrs. G. and her children had met with Corporal
Leary prior to March 14, 1991.
Corporal Leary testified that he received a call from Mrs. G. on
March 14, 1991. Mrs. G. stated that she was at City cells and
Corporal Leary was requested to attend. In response, Corporal Leary
and Detective Montgomery attended at the police station sometime
during the afternoon.
On arrival, some discussion took place with Inspector Cessford and
the investigating officers, Detectives Bonetto and Findlay. Mrs. G.
and her children were observed. The children appeared, "agitated,
nervous and fidgeting". Mrs. G. was, "upset and crying". An offer
was made by Corporal Leary to assist the investigation, however,
the offer was rejected.
It was explained by Corporal Leary and Detective Montgomery that
investigations in the Scientology context could easily, "get out
of hand", and that they felt their experience would be an asset.
Inspector Cessford, however, appeared annoyed that they were
present and declined any form of support. Inspector Cessford
offered that he had dealt with Mrs. G. before and that she (Mrs.
G.) and the children were being untruthful.
Inspector Cessford appealed to be frustrated by the (G.) matter and
Corporal Leary offered that, "we were written out of it"; by way of
reference to the investigation. Corporal Leary considered this
approach, "uncommon", as help is seldom rejected. It was
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unusual in that Corporal Leary and Detective Montgomery had
considerable experience concerning investigations of this nature.
Kenneth Montgomery
Detective Montgomery gave evidence that in March, 1991, he was
working Joint Forces Intelligence with Corporal Leary of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police. Part of their investigations concerned
conduct of members of the Church of Scientology. Mrs. G. and her
children were in some fashion involved with the Church of
Scientology during this time.
On March 14, 1991, Detective Montgomery attended at police
headquarters with Corporal Leary. Mrs. G. was present with her
children. The condition of the children was not remembered,
however, Mrs. G. was upset and crying. Assistance was offered to
Inspector Cessford, however, it was declined. Detective Montgomery
observed that such a rejection was not an uncommon response.
Detective Montgomery also gave evidence that he advised Inspector
Cessford that members of the Church of Scientology could be very
threatening. The G.'s had been subjected to various intimidations.
M.G. was known to Detective Montgomery as a child who had been,
"indoctrinated since birth". She was accordingly capable of
deceitful practices and manipulations, difficult to detect. In
general, Detective Montgomery described some members of the Church
as dangerous individuals as their credibility in the police context
was low. An alibi offered by most members of Scientology would be
of little weight in Detective Montgomery's estimation.
Alfred Rediger
Dr. Rediger testified before the Board as an accepted expert in
psychology and child sexual abuse.
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Dr. Rediger prepared a report concerning his opinion of the police
interviews on March 14, 1991, with M.G. and D.G. The report
(Exhibit 6) was assembled after a review and study of the
video-tape (Exhibit 3) made on March 14, 1991, of the (G.)
interviews. Neither the children or Mrs. G. were personally
interviewed to obtain follow-up confirmations as to consequences
of the interview technique and procedures.
The following are extracts from Dr. Rediger's report:
Interview (page 5)
In the initial interview, 1:16 P.M. on March 14, the detective
makes statements to M. such as "I'll go to the end of the earth
to help...I don't take sides...let me be your have
to believe I want to help." However, he also stated "your brother
told us it isn't true your brother lying to us?...did your
mother receive some phone calls this morning?" Accordingly, there
is no indication that the officer was attempting to enter the
child's reality. Rather, the establishment of trust was undermined
by misleading affirmations of helpfulness and objectivity,
accusations of untruthfulness and gathering of statements which
would be used later in confronting the mother.
In the major series of interviews, with two additional officers
present, there is no attempt at all to establish rapport. The
interview begins with an introductory statement that "our boss
will talk to you." The senior officer advises that the allegations
have not been corroborated. The mother is addressed in a
confrontational style which includes the following statements.
"I don't know how manipulative you can be...I'm not the first
person to accuse you...who are you trying to kid?" At this point
the mother becomes tearful. A strongly confrontational interchange
occurs with the mother concerning the nature of telephone calls
received that morning. At one point the officer states "I'll talk,
not you." He later adds "I've had enough of this nonsense with all
these false allegations...we're not getting the truth." At this
point the officer states to the children "you're not fooling
anyone with the act you're putting on."
Up to this point the children have not been addressed and have
had no opportunity to speak. The confrontation with the mother and
the characterization of family members as manipulative, lying and
deliberately misleading are clearly counterproductive to the goal
of eliciting the children's information. Instead of focusing on
the children's ability to provide information the officers display
an egocentric bias. For example, the senior officer states "I want
the truth - I've wasted too many man-hours in this investigation."
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In the interviews under review there is no clarification of the
rules of conduct. Throughout the interviews the officer's tone of
voice, threats and direct statements indicate anger toward the
children and their mother, e.g. "If you think there was trouble
last time you won't believe how much trouble you'll have this
time." "You two need a friend. If you want someone on your side
tell the truth and I'll call off the troops." "I can read you like
a book - you can't bluff anymore - it's over." "You're not leaving
until we find out. You're getting in more and more trouble as we
go along." "I'm getting a little mad now."
In his first comments directed specifically at the children, the
officer states "we're not getting the had best tell
me the truth...why did you give us this wrong story and falsely
accuse're not fooling anyone with the act you're
putting on." Shortly thereafter he adds "I can't believe anything
you say." The children's concept of truthfulness is never
The free narrative step does not appear in any of the interviews
which I reviewed. Instead of encouraging the children to elaborate
their own version of events, the officers were openly accusatory,
disbelieving and threatening. The interview remained focused on
specific details related to the alleged abduction. Toward the end
of the major series of interviews the contamination resulting from
the officer's intervention is clearly illustrated. The detective
speaking to D., went on for some time in the following vein. This
will be presented in court, a judge will ask "did you lie about
this? This man may go to jail for nothing because you guys lied. I
want nothing to do with you guys any more. You caused me a lot of
pain worrying about you - then it s a lot of BS. In a few minutes
I'll make a phone call, then I'm gone I will come back and take
you away, "Did it happen?" D.: "What?" Detective: "Never mind
what." D.: "Yes!" Detective: "Why do you lie?" D.: "I don't know."
On several occasions M. referred to other instances of abuse than
those connected with the abduction allegation. No opportunity for
a free narrative was provided. On one occasion when M. was asked
if the church official had touched her she replied "yes." The
senior officer asked "How long ago, a long time ago?" M. answered
"About that." The officer immediately focused back on the previous
days events. Later in the series of interviews the detective asked
M. "Where you assaulted?" She replied "Yes, two times, in the park
and in the house." The detective replied "You're lying to me
again. How can I believe you? It might have happened at the house
but I don't want to run this by a prosecutor." M. stated "He
touched my breast." The detective replied "Why does your whole
family lie? Your mother lied, you lied, D. lied."
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Summary and Conclusion
In view of the literature on investigation of child sexual abuse
allegations and in view of the goals specified in the interview
protocol developed by John Yuille, the interviews of M. and D.
must be considered the antithesis of appropriate practice.
Although information about the other aspects of the investigation
is extremely fragmented, it is clear that these children were
interviewed without the involvement of a child protection worker
or legal counsel. During substantial periods the children's mother
was present. However, the antagonistic approach by the
interviewers toward the mother did nothing to provide the children
with an atmosphere of safety and support. The interview process
was clearly under the direction of the senior officer who was not
a member of the sexual abuse unit. The officer's comments also
indicate some degree of rivalry with other detectives who had been
involved in the matter. Accordingly, it is evident that there is a
lack of coordination in the overall structure of the investigation
and adequate safeguards for the well being of the children are
Rather than minimizing the children's trauma, the interview
process was clearly traumatic to the children. This is
demonstrated in M.'s recurrent tearfullness and D.'s somewhat
repressed hostility. The children were traumatized by repeatedly
being told that they were not believed, being threatened, being
intimidated, being accused of malicious wrong doing and being
subjected to the denigration of their mother in their presence.
Examples of these trauma are contained in the following
statements, "We'll never believe you again...If you don't tell
the truth, I get madder and madder as we go...make up your mind
or they will put you away (put you in a foster home you and M.)
...l will call Social Services and you'll never go home again...
you're willing to go to jail if we find out it's not true?...
you're lying, I can tell by looking at you...we will get a
polygraph - find out if you're telling the truth... (to mother)
who are you trying to kid? ...I'll talk, not you."
The confrontational style of these interviews served to minimize
the amount of information obtained from the children. Because of
the intrusiveness of the officers, the information was highly
contaminated. It is impossible to determine whether all of the
children's retractions were genuine. For example, at one point
M. stated that nothing had happened in the park but later she
adamantly reaffirmed her allegation that Mr. A.B. had molested
her there. Because of the focus on discrediting the abduction
allegation, it would appear probable that valid allegations
concerning other incidents of abuse were obscured beyond
recognition or belief. It is quite reasonable to hypothesize that
the children did concoct a false allegation out of frustration
over not being believed by their father or protected by other
church staff with regard to repeated incidents of abuse. It is
certain that this interview failed to adequately explore these
possibilities leaving an open question as to whether M., in
particular, has been sexually victimized.
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Because of the lack of child welfare involvement, the child
protection investigation, which is mandated by law, was not
undertaken within the scope of this intervention. Further, any
subsequent investigation would be seriously compromised by the
tactics utilized in these interviews. It is extremely probable
that the children's allegations do represent real trauma in
their lives. This investigation did not in any way rule out the
possibility of sexual abuse. In addition, the children would
be subject to severe emotional abuse if they were being coerced
into making such allegations by their mother. Children under
twelve years of age are considered to be of "tender" years and
their behavioral dysfunctions are considered as symptomatic of
trauma rather than as deliberate and culpable anti-social actions.
This perspective was not acknowledged by any of the officers
With regard to the criminal investigation, it is also evident
that the children's retractions were obtained under duress. If the
same tactics had been utilized in eliciting allegations against a
suspect, there is no doubt that the children's statements would be
discredited by the court.
It is my conclusion that these interviews do not constitute an
investigative process but represent a coercive effort by the
police to discredit child witnesses because a) some of the
statements were unsubstantiated and b) the police officers, for
reasons of their own, had a deep bias against the children's
credibility. The confrontational tactics of the officers are
highly inappropriate for use with children and, indeed, would be
difficult for an adult to withstand. In view of the existence
of an investigative protocol which the Edmonton City Police sex
crimes unit has endorsed and the availability of effective and
much less intrusive interview techniques, I must conclude that
these interviews were highly improper and represent, at best, a
lack of skill and training as well as a lack of awareness with
regard to child development and child sexual abuse dynamics.
Dr. Rediger also testified that the children were placed under
extreme stress by the tactics used during the interviews. The
result was emotional break-down on numerous occasions by both
children, resulting in tears, confusion and hostility. No respect
whatsoever was shown towards the children and measures were used
to demonstrate their complete loss of control. The police in
conducting the interviews, were extremely harsh and neglectful
of the children's needs. The process was officer centered in the
context of police needs.
In Dr. Rediger's opinion, it was impossible to come away from the
interview with any reasonable assurance whether the children's
allegations were false or true. Retractions made by the children
could not be considered sound as the police process obliterated a
reasonable basis
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for assessment. The shaming and badgering of the children made it
impossible to interpret the children's true reality.
On cross examination, Dr. Rediger acknowledged that he was unaware
of the complete history leading up to the police interviews on
March 14, 1991. He also conceded that he was unaware of several of
the allegations made by the G. children concerning prior sexual
assaults. It was also acknowledged by Dr. Rediger that he was
unfamiliar with the contents or nature of police interviews with
the children prior to March 14, 1991. It was furthermore the case
that Dr. Rediger was not knowledgeable that the police had been
provided reasonably solid alibi's for some individual's who had
allegedly assaulted, or abducted, the children prior to March 14,
However, Dr. Rediger maintained that the existence of the
investigation background known by the police did not remove the
obligation to conduct proper child interviews. An angry, and
abusive response by police to false allegations from children was
an inappropriate and unprofessional reaction. If the allegations
from the children were considered false by the police, that
circumstance underscored the need for skillful intervention, not
coercion and antagonism. A child social worker should have been
involved to help mediate and assist in determining what was truly
occurring in the lives of the children. A helpful and not punitive
approach was appropriate considering that young children, and not
adults, were involved.
Fabio Bonetto
Detective Bonetto gave evidence that he was a twenty-six year
member of the Edmonton Police Service. By 1991, he had
approximately seven years experience with the Sex Crimes Unit.
According to Detective Bonetto, he had investigated hundreds
of cases of sexual assault over the years. Detective Bonetto
was unaware of any protocol concerning child sexual assault
investigations. A collection of "papers" was understood to be
available for police personnel interested in the study of sexual
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Detective Bonetto was aware that various study documents were now
available in the Child Abuse Unit. He had no knowledge, however,
of several exhibits filed on the appeal, providing guidance and
guidelines for investigation of child sexual abuse matters. A
police service video-tape (Exhibit 29) on child abuse victims had
not been reviewed by Detective Bonetto until the day before his
evidence to the Board. Most of the study documents were entirely
new to Detective Bonetto and had never been circulated to his
Detective Bonetto testified that he first became involved with
the G.'s in March of 1991. However, a call had been received in
February, 1991, from Mr. G. Boldt, of Social Services, concerning
allegations made by M.G. against a member of the Church of
An interview was eventually conducted with M.G. on March 1, 1991,
at the Father Leo Green School. A teacher-advocate, Lucille
Shallet, G. Boldt, and Detective Bonetto were present. An
allegation was made by M.G. at that time, of sexual abuse at the
hands of a member of the Church of Scientology. As a consequence
of these discussions, a further interview as conducted with M.G.
at police headquarters on the same date.
On March 5, 1991, Detective Bonetto met with M.G.'s younger brother
D.G., also at the Father Leo Green School. An interview was
conducted and D.G. gave an account of earlier matters which tended
to support the allegations of M.G. Detective Bonetto next attended
at the Church of Scientology on March 6, 1991, for an interview
with A.B.
On March 7, 1991, A.B. attended at police headquarters. The
allegations made by M.G. were made known to A.B. The allegations
were denied. A.B. was permitted to contact his legal counsel. A.B.
then left the police station at approximately 2:20 p.m.
At approximately 4:29 p.m., on the same date, a call was received
from D.G. On police attendance it was alleged that M.G. had, just
prior to police attendance, been assaulted by A.B., who had also
attempted to abduct her into a motor vehicle. D.G. provided that
he was a witness to all these events.
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On March 8, 1991, Detective Bonetto and Detective Findlay attended
at the home of A.B. A.B. was then arrested for sexual assault,
unlawful confinement, and sexual interference. A.B. was
subsequently transferred to police headquarters and placed in
cells; bailed out the next day on a cash basis. A four count
information laid against A.B., on March 8, 1991, was dismissed
on April 15, 1991; the Crown calling no evidence.
On March 13, 1991, a further call was received by the police,
alleging a further abduction. On investigation, it was alleged that
M.G. and D.G. had been violently forced into a motor vehicle by two
males and a female, who then fled from the area. The children were
located approximately two hours later at a restaurant some distance
away from the alleged place of abduction.
The children were then interviewed and M.G. positively identified
two abductors as known members of the Church of Scientology. M.G.
was certain in her identification as she had been introduced to
the abductors on a prior occasion.
According to Detective Bonetto, he believed the allegations made
concerning the events of March 13, 1991, as well as the prior
complaints of sexual assault and attempted abduction. As a result,
he located one of the persons (D.H.) alleged to have participated
in the abduction and arrested her for Unlawful Confinement. D.H.
was then transported to police headquarters for questioning.
On questioning by the police, D.H. advised that she was not in
the City of Edmonton during the alleged abduction. An alibi was
provided and witness names to the alibi were given. D.H. was then
released. The alibi was subsequently checked out and found to be
On March 14, 1991, a line-up was conducted at police headquarters
involving D.H. The line-up persons were reviewed by D.G. who
provided that none of the persons observed were involved in the
abduction. D.H. was subsequently sent on her way without charges.
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In regard to the allegations concerning A.B., on March 7, 1991,
Detective Bonetto received a call from A.B.'s legal counsel, Mr. J.
Brimacombe. Mr. Brimacombe apparently advised that A.B. was in his
office on March 7, 1991, at the approximate time that the alleged
attempted abduction of M.G. had occurred. A desk calendar was
subsequently provided that suggested the presence of A.B. at Mr.
Brimacombe's office within a short time of the alleged incident
concerning M.G.
As a consequence of the solid alibi for D.H., and the persuasive
alibi for A.B., Detective Bonetto came to the conclusion that the
police had been deceived by M.G. and D.G. As a consequence of these
developments, it was considered necessary to re-interview the
children to, "get the truth".
On the morning of March 14, 1991, Detective Bonetto called Mrs. G.
and "requested" that a further interview be held with the children.
According to Detective Bonetto, "we wanted to get to the bottom of
it". Detective Bonetto testified that by this time he was satisfied
the children were lying concerning the allegations of March 7 and
March 13, 1991. The purpose of the interviews was, "to confirm that
they had lied".
At approximately noon, the children and Mrs. G. were picked up from
their residence. Mrs. G. raised no objection to attending at the
police station nor did the children. Both children appeared in good
physical condition when picked up at their residence.
The children and Mrs. G. were then transported to police
headquarters. Eventually, the party attended at the "soft room"
to do the interview. The purpose of using this locale was to make
the children "comfortable"; the room being furnished with living
room type furniture and not furnishings common to some interview
facilities. The plan was that Detective Bonetto would question D.G.
and Detective Findlay would question M.G. Inspector Cessford, the
officer in charge of the Major Crimes Section, had been alerted
prior to the interview of the developments in the police
investigations. Inspector Cessford was present during portions
of the interviews on March 14, 1991, and participated in some
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Prior to the start of the interviews, the children and Mrs. G. were
taken for lunch in the police headquarters building. Inspector
Cessford and the two detectives had considered that the children
had been lying and that it was necessary to get to the, "bottom of
it". It was the common view that the whole family needed help. No
social worker, however, had been contacted to attend on March 14,
1991, and none was present during the interviews with Mrs. G. and
the children that afternoon. Detective Bonetto at one time after
the events of March 14, 1991, recollected that Mr. Boldt was
present, however, that recollection was later considered in error;
Mr. Boldt may have been present on a subsequent occasion. According
to Detective Bonetto, the conclusion reached at the end of the
interviews was that the, "kids were lying". It was suggested that
the family obtain help through Social Services. Counselling was
According to Detective Bonetto, he had not received any training
concerning interviews with children from the Edmonton Police
Service prior to March 14, 1991. The interview on that date was
not what Detective Bonetto understood as a "disclosure interview",
which was designed to obtain original information of unlawful
conduct. This interview was to sort out the allegations made by
the children and to obtain the true events.
After the interviews Detective Bonetto understood that the children
were returned to their residence by uniform officers. According to
Detective Bonetto, he was advised that the children had been ill
after the interviews but was uncertain if this information was
correct. It was denied by Detective Bonetto that the door was
locked to the soft room while the children were inside; the door
could not be locked from the outside. It was also maintained that
the children and their mother were free to leave at any time.
Detective Bonetto had no recollection that Mrs. G. ever requested
that the interviews be stopped.
Detective Bonetto also testified that the police were intent on
obtaining a written retraction from M.G. concerning her
allegations. A written complaint had been made therefore, a
written withdrawal was important to obtain. It was conceded that
the interviews were stressful and traumatic for the children and
that the interviewers were also emotional. It was denied,
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however, that the police were angry. Detective Bonetto also denied
that his declaration to the children that, "we are going to put you
away", was a threat. Nor was there any impropriety in stating to
the nine year old, "you are not going to go home at all".
Detective Bonetto also testified that in 1991, the Sex Crimes Unit
handled all allegations of sexual abuse, including those involving
children. Since that time, a new Edmonton Police Service unit has
been established; the Child Abuse Section. No training, however,
had been provided to Detective Bonetto by 1991, concerning the
interview of children; nor was in-service education made available
in that regard.
Douglas Cessford
Inspector Cessford gave evidence of twenty-six years of service
with the Edmonton Police Service. At the time of giving evidence,
Inspector Cessford was no longer a member of the Edmonton Police
Service, having resigned in the fall of 1994, to take up police
duties in British Columbia.
Inspector Cessford testified that he first met Mrs G. in 1987. At
that time, she made complaints of sexual assault which later proved
unfounded. The complainant eventually conceded that the allegation
was concocted. It was determined, however, that no charge would be
laid as Mrs. G. had a prior conviction for Public Mischief arising
from false allegations. According to Inspector Cessford, Mrs. G.
was, even at that time, using her children to advance fabricated
On March 9, 1991, Inspector Cessford received a call from Mr.
Brimacombe whom he considered very reliable. An alibi was provided
at that time for A.B., concerning allegations of M.G. as to events
on March 7, 1991. Mr. Brimacombe eventually met with Inspector
Cessford and Detective Bonetto and provided a calendar supportive
of the position concerning A.B. Mr. Brimacombe requested a police
investigation to determine the true events.
- 17 -
The next event concerned the arrest of D.H. and the determination
that D.H. ha a reliable alibi for the events of March 13, 1991.
This circumstance was of considerable concern as persons were being
arrested on the basis of allegations from the children. The media
had become interested and stories had appeared in the newspapers
concerning the arrest of A.B. It was considered vital that the
police get to, "the bottom of it". Inspector Cessford accordingly
instructed the investigating officers to sort the matter out.
Inspector Cessford was concerned not just as to the arrests but
generally for the family as well. The G. family was considered
dysfunctional and in need of assistance. The family was accordingly
brought in on March 14, 1991, to determine the true events.
A line-up was conducted with D.H., however, the boy, D.G., failed
to identify her. The line-up occurred at approximately 1:00 p.m.
and provided more confirmation that the two children were lying.
According to Inspector Cessford, he participated in the interviews
on and off.
In one conversation with Mrs. G., it was claimed by her that
threatening phone calls had been received from the Church of
Scientology on the morning of March 14, 1991. However, a check of
the monitoring device previously placed on the G.'s phone indicated
no calls had come in that morning. Mrs. G. later on indicated that
the calls were only hang-ups; this being contrary to her earlier
assertion that specific threatening calls had been received.
Eventually, Inspector Cessford was advised by the detectives that
they were not making progress with the interviews. As a result,
Inspector Cessford entered the soft room and talked with the family
as a group. The children were then told that they might be "taken
from the mother". This was asserted by Inspector Cessford as he
considered that Mrs. G. was abusing her children and that the
children required help. According to Inspector Cessford, the
discussions began and continued as a "confrontational" interview.
- 18 -
It was denied by Inspector Cessford that Detectives Leary and
Montgomery were spoken of despairingly to Mrs. G. It was
acknowledged, however, that the group was advised that Social
Services might take custody of the children. This assertion was
no more than what Inspector Cessford believed to be possible in
the circumstances. According to Inspector Cessford, the "primary
object" was to get help for the children and get to the "bottom"
of matters.
After some time, the mother indicated that the children conceded
that they did not get into the car on March 13, 1991; it was merely
that threats had been made towards them. D.G. eventually advised
that threats alone had been made. These concessions were made early
on in the interviews and the matter was then turned over to the
Inspector Cessford also testified that he believed that M.G. may
have given an accurate account of events alleged to have occurred
in November, 1990, concerning A.B. However, the other incidents
in March, 1991, were "crying wolf" allegations which tended to
discredit all of the allegations. Several discussions were
eventually had with the Crown and it was determined that
prosecutions would not proceed on any of the allegations. It had
been offered by M.G. during the interviews that she had given the
March story concerning A.B. as she wanted to get A.B. in trouble.
It was also indicated by M.G. that she wanted to get the Church
to stop, "harassing us".
After the events of March 14, 1991, further complaints continued to
arise from Mrs. G. In all, some twenty-six complaints were tendered
ranging from sexual assaults to shootings at the G. residence.
Eventually, twenty-four hour surveillance was placed on the G.
family. A large complement of police officers were required to
support this manner of operation. The whole affair had by then
attracted increased media attention and high profile reporting
in the print context.
Eventually a complaint came in from Mrs. G. in April, when
surveillance was operating on the G. residence. The allegation
concerned the conduct of two men forcibly inserting
- 19 -
firearms into vaginas. These allegations were proved to be outright
fabrications as the surveillance team had followed the G. family and
no such event had occurred.
On May 8, 1991, a meeting was had by the police with Mrs. G. All
twenty-six allegations were then conceded to be fabrications. It
was insisted that the family obtain professional help. That event
brought the police involvement to an end. Some time later, Mrs. G.
attended the police station and apologised for her conduct. The
appellant (Ms. McCoy) by that time, had become involved, but Mrs.
G. was no longer interested in the concerns raised by the
appellant. In the end result, Mrs. G. agreed there would be no
more complaints. She also agreed that she would obtain counselling;
the police agreed not to lay Mischief charges.
On cross examination, Inspector Cessford testified that he had
not received any specific training regarding the interviewing of
children. He had, however, attended various crime investigation
courses over the years. It was also provided that the decision not
to prosecute was made by the Crown, not the police. The events of
November, 1990, concerning A.B. continued to be a police concern
even after the allegations of March, 1991, were discredited.
According to Inspector Cessford, the atmosphere during the
interviews on March 14, 1991, was one of police frustration and
some anger. The children were tearful at times and angry at others;
the whole event was described as traumatic for the children as were
the lives in general for these young persons. The interviews were
not designed to minimize trauma but to get to the bottom of the
allegations. Inspector Cessford was unaware at the time of any
service protocol concerning the interviewing of child witnesses,
and he was not sure if a Social Services person was present on
March 14, 1991.
Inspector Cessford further testified that the soft room at that
time, could be locked. He was uncertain who had the key on March
14, 1991, but believed it to be Detective Bonetto. Inspector
Cessford agreed that the interview had "unfortunately" turned
"confrontational" with the police. It was conceded that he
(Inspector Cessford) had, "forced it to go that way". The truth
was needed and it was needed to, "force them" to give the true
events. It was agreed,
- 20 -
however, that the results were not effective. It had been hoped to,
"shake the truth out of them", by the interview measures that were
used. It was also conceded that some of the comments made to the
children could be perceived as "threats"; these observations,
however, were just as much promises as anything else, as Social
Services intervention was a clear possibility. It was agreed that
the experience was traumatic and that the, "whole process was hard
on these children".
John Findlay
Detective Findlay testified of fifteen years service with the
Edmonton Police Service. In June of 1991, he was promoted to
detective rank and was acting in that capacity prior to June.
During the events of concern, he had been assigned to the Sex
Crimes Unit on a temporary basis. That assignment had begun
approximately March 1, 1991. At that time, Sex Crimes investigated
sexual offence allegations concerning both adults and children.
Matters concerning children were organized under a separate Child
Abuse Unit subsequent to March 1, 1991.
Detective Findlay testified as to the arrest of A.B. much the same
as Detective Bonetto. A.B. was transported to police headquarters,
charged, and then placed in cells. According to Detective Findlay,
he had no dealings with Mr. Brimacombe.
On March 13, 1991, Detective Findlay interviewed M.G. at police
headquarters in the soft room. M.G. gave an account of abduction by
three persons near 119 Avenue and 91 Street, Edmonton. The female
person was positively identified as D.H., a person known to M.G.
from the Church of Scientology. A male person, D.S., also known to
M.G., was involved as a party to the abduction. The third person
was an unknown male. The interview of M.G. took approximately
forty-five minutes to complete. Detective Bonetto interviewed D.G.
As a consequence of the allegations (considered credible at that
time), D.H. was arrested and brought in for questioning. An alibi
was provided by D.H, which, when checked on the morning of March
14, 1991, appeared supported by independent witnesses. It was
decided in consequence that the children would be re-interviewed
to, "get the truth".
- 21 -
The children and Mrs. G. were accordingly picked up at
approximately 11:30 a.m., on March 14, 1991. No reluctance or
objection was offered in regard to attendance with the police. No
person was arrested and no indication of illness was displayed by
Mrs. G., or the children. At approximately 5:00 p.m., the interview
with the children concluded and they were provided transportation
to their residence.
At approximately 1:00 p.m., after lunch, a line-up was conducted
concerning D.H. D.G., however, failed to identify D.H., although
she was in the line-up group. The children were then separated.
Detective Bonetto "took" D.G., and Detective Findlay "took" M.G.
The first portions of the interview were rot recorded and were "low
key". They continued for approximately one half hour; M.G. stuck to
her story concerning the abduction.
Inspector Cessford was eventually contacted and brought into
the process as he was an, "experienced interviewer" and had some
background with the family. According to Detective Findlay, he was
not "angry" during the interviews; he was simply attempting to,
"get the truth". As far as Detective Findlay recalled, a social
worker was not present. Once written recantations were obtained
from the children, the interviews ceased.
On reviewing the video-tape (Exhibit 3 at 53:46), Detective Findlay
agreed that it appeared at one time in the interview that he
entered the soft room and placed something in his pocket. It was
not denied that this may well have been a key to an exterior door
lock for the soft room and that M.G. may have been locked into
the room. In this regard, Detective Findlay testified that he
"accepted" that the door had been locked and that M.G. had in
fact been locked in at times during the interviews.
Detective Findlay also agreed that he had raised the prospect to
the children that they might go to "jail". This was offered even
though Detective Findlay was aware that nine and ten year olds may
not be incarcerated. The comments were made, however, to obtain a
"retraction", and to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation.
- 22 -
Video-Tape and Transcripts (Exhibits 3, 9)
The video-tape of the interviews of M.G., D.G., and Mrs. G., on
March 14, 1991, include the following content:
(a) An interview between Detective Findlay and M.G. commencing at
13:10 hrs. Various discussions occur between M.G. and Detective
Findlay. M.G. is not visibly distraught during this portion of
the interview which continues off and on for some time.
(b) An interview commencing at 14:56 hours in the soft room.
Present at the start time are Inspector Cessford, Mrs. G., M.G.,
D.G., and the two investigating officers. The interviews go on
from the start time to approximately 16:30 hours. At times, the
mother is present but most often not, as Mrs. G. is escorted
out of the soft room prior to 15:24 hours. The children are
aggressively interviewed by the detectives, at times together,
at times alone. D.G. is removed at 15:34 hours by Detective
Bonetto for separate interviewing, elsewhere. At 16:03 hours,
D.G. is returned to the soft room. At that time, Detective
Bonetto instructs M.G. to call her brother D.G. a "liar". This
apparently arising from a signed statement made shortly before
by D.G., recanting some of the prior allegations.
At various times throughout the interviews, both children are
visibly in tears and emotionally distraught. Voices are raised at
various times by the children and the interviewers. At one point,
Inspector Cessford can be observed smoking in the soft room; the
female M.G. is reduced to coughing at various times, whether from
illness, stress, or otherwise. The children are provided soft
drinks or other beverages by the officers during the interview
(c) An interview commencing 13:03 hours on March 20, 1991, with
D.G. An interview commencing at 13:23 hours with M.G., concluding
at 13:44 hours. During these interviews various retractions are
made by both children as to the allegations of March 7, 1991. and
March 13, 1991. The interviews are not apparently traumatic and
no obvious emotional upset is noted.
- 23 -
With respect to the transcript of the video-tape, the following
are excerpts that the Board considers worthy of particular note. It
needs to be pointed out, however, that on numerous occasions during
the interviews the investigating officers speak to the children in
a benign and non-threatening manner, and offers to obtain help for
the children are not uncommon. The Board considers it essential
that the matter be looked at in the context of the whole and not
piecemeal, as an unconnected event. The following are taken from
the transcript, for the most part, in the order of occurrence:
Inspector Cessford
...Well, it's not going to work. And I want the truth from all
three of you before you leave this building today and I want this
thing resolved...Now I want the truth from the three of you before
you leave this building today (page 6).
...I'm going to leave this room for five minutes...And when I come
back in five minutes, I want them to tell me the truth. Whether it
be a lie of whatever it is, these two don't go to jail for their
lies, but I want the truth (page 12 - 13).
Detective Bonetto
...Would you like to go in a youth home? Would you like to be
separated from your family?...Well that's what's gonna happen...
We're gonna phone Social Services and ah, get you guys out of that
house. Cause you're not being looked after...They're gonna split
you guys up (page 24).
...You're gonna go to court and they're gonna put you away. Never
mind A.B. they're gonna put you away. They're gonna put you in a
foster home. And so is M (page 51).
...I should phone Social Services right now and you guys are not
gonna go home at all (page 52).
Detective Findlay
...You guys wanna go to jail? You wanna go to jail? You want your
mom to go to jail?
- 24 -
...You can sit there...we are not gonna quit until we get to the
bottom of it (page 26).
...And like I told you, you're not leaving here until we fund out,
so let's have it (page 29).
...(to M.G.) And you're willing to go to jail if it's fine...if
we find out that it's not true. You're ready to go to a young
offender home if we find out that you're lying in regards to this
(page 60).
...Just want you to understand if we find out you're lying, that's
where you're gonna go. And you won't be with your mom anymore.
M.G. (age ten, to Cessford)
...will you, will you take my mom away from us? (page 34).
Inspector Cessford
...I'm not taking your mom away from you (page 34).
Legal Context - Children
Police authorities have no lawful authority in regard to children
(persons under twelve years of age) unless specifically provided by
Statute or lawful Court Order. Children are exempt from arrest or
detention concerning criminal or quasi-criminal offences. Prior to
1984, the *Juvenile Delinquents Act*, and common law, authorized
police authorities to investigate and lay charges against children
as young as seven years of age. Section 12 of the *Criminal Code*
prohibited criminal convictions for those under age seven and
provided that those between age seven and fourteen years were only
responsible for criminal acts if competent (*see R.S.C., 1953 -
54, C. 51, S. 12 and 13*). With the proclamation of the *Young
Offenders Act* in 1984. the age at which police authorities had
jurisdiction to investigate minors for criminal acts was raised
to twelve years.
- 25 -
In the result a "child" (under twelve years) may not be arrested or
detained by a police officer for acts from which they are exempt.
This is not to suggest that police authorities are helpless to
stand by when, for example, an eleven year old commits an act which
would otherwise be criminal. In those circumstances, Provincial
Child Welfare legislation may provide authority for the police
to intervene (see, for example, *s. 4, Child Welfare Act, Stats.
Alta., C. C-8. 1 (1984); s. 10, Mental Health Act, Stats. Alta.
(1988), C, M-13.1*) and some reliance may be placed on Sections 25
and 27 of the *Criminal Code*, concerning the prevention of crime
(also see, *Police Act (1988), s. 38 (1)*).
When it is imperative that a "child" be taken into custody in such
circumstances, an obligation, however, arises to turn the child
over to a parent or child welfare authorities at the first
reasonable opportunity.
The lawful authority of the police is accordingly substantially
different where a "child" falsely makes a complaint of a criminal
act from that where the complaint comes from an adult. In the
latter instance, all of the powers and authority of the criminal
law are available to the police to review, investigate, detain,
arrest, and charge the false accuser. In the former there is no
authority available from the criminal law whatsoever.
With a child then, the police must gain their authority from other
legislation, a Court Order, or lawful permission of the child's
parent or guardian. If a child makes what appears to be a false
criminal accusation, and the parent or legal guardian refuses
permission for police authorities to complete further interviews,
there is no lawful authority (unless specifically obtained) for the
police to insist or force further interviews. A refusal to permit
police interviews, of course, would give the police substantial
cause not to proceed with charges arising from child allegations.
It is also the case that where consent is given by a parent or
legal guardian, with respect to police interview of a child, that
consent may be withdrawn at any time; and if a withdrawal is made,
police authorities must cease involvement with the child. Even if
consent is given, and never withdrawn, consent does not permit
children to be treated in an abusive or harmful manner by police
- 26 -
In this context, it is also thought useful to point out that a
"child" is entitled to protections set out in the *Charter of
Rights and Freedoms (see B. (R.) v Children's Aid Society (1995),
9 R.F.L. (4th) 157 (S.C.C.)*). If an unlawful search, arrest or
detention occurs in connection with a child, remedies may be
available for infringement of those rights. It follows then that
civil litigation may be sparked in circumstances where a child is
improperly dealt with by police authorities.
Factual Findings
The hearing of this appeal required the Board to reach conclusions
on several factual matters. In that regard, the Board is satisfied
that the following circumstances have been proven on a balance of
(1) That M.G. and D.G concocted false stories, if not entirely, to
a considerable extent, concerning the allegations of March 7, and
March 13, 1991. That the police, as a consequence of the false
allegations, initiated investigations and arrested persons.
(2) That Mrs. G., after March 14, 1991, engaged in a series of
false criminal accusations requiring the deployment of
considerable police resources.
(3) That on March 14, 1991, the police conducted interviews with
M.G. and D.G., absent the presence of a child social worker or
member of the Department of Social Services.
(4) That in January, 1988, Lyle Langer was a signatory, on behalf
of the Edmonton Police Service, to a protocol concerning child
sexual abuse investigations. The protocol provides agreement that
police officers investigating allegations of child sexual abuse
should have training with respect to those matters. It also
provided that the police should conduct "joint investigations",
having, wherever possible, a Child Welfare official present
(Exhibit - 5).
- 27 -
(5) That on March 14, 1991, Mrs. G. and her children voluntarily
attended at police headquarters in response to a police request
for interviews with D.G. and M.G.
(6) That on March 14, 1991, the attendance of M.G. and D.G., which
began on the basis of consent, became a detention against the
consent of Mrs. G. and against the will of the children, M.G. and
(7) That whatever consent had been obtained from Mrs. G. and her
children as to their presence on March 14, 1991, was over-ridden
by various declarations from the police that the children would
not be leaving the police station until such time as the police
permitted them to leave.
(8) That M.G. was locked in the soft room at various times during
the course of the interviews.
(9) That the children, M.G. and D.G., were threatened with
separation from their mother; separation from each other;
incarceration in jail; and placement in foster homes or youth
detention facilities. That the police officers involved in those
assertions were fully aware on making those assertions that a
"child" is not subject to jail or detention in youth detention
(10) That Detectives Bonetto and Findlay used harsh, threatening,
and oppressive interview methods with D.G. and M.G. on March 14,
1991, and that Inspector Cessford constructively authorized the
Detectives to use such methods.
(11) That a protocol dated July 8, 1994, has been adopted by the
Edmonton Police Service concerning Child Abuse Investigations
(Exhibit 28).
(12) That an instructional video-tape has been produced for review
on the subject of child abuse. The current version (Exhibit 29)
was prepared on March 1, 1995. The first version was produced in
October, 1991.
(13) That since 1993, various members of the Child Abuse Unit (of
the Edmonton Police Service) have attended courses on techniques
in child abuse investigations.
- 28 -
Police Act (1988)
According to Section 47(5)(c)(iii) of the *Police Act*, the Chief
of Police is obligated to provide the complainant with "grounds"
as to the disposition of a complaint. The letter of the Chief of
Police in the present matter (of November 3, 1992) is unlawful in
that "grounds" are not provided to the appellant. It is the Board's
observation in this regard that disposition letters from the Chief
of Police in Edmonton have, in the past, been more often than not
in violation of the lawful requirement and the Board is persuaded
(and has been for some time) that this practice must cease. In this
regard, the Board considers it appropriate to refer this matter to
the attention of the Edmonton Police Commission as that body has
initial review authority under Section 41(3)(e) of the *Act*.
The Police Commission is requested to review this practice with
the Chief of Police as soon as possible. It may be useful in this
regard if the Commission were to observe the practice of other
police services in this Province. The Calgary Police Service,
in particular, takes an approach which is comprehensive and
informative. If the Board continues to find that Section 47(5)
letters are being issued in violation of the law, steps will to
be taken to obtain compliance.
It is also thought appropriate to observe in this regard that
the Board views the conduct of not providing grounds (apart from
the obligatory legal context) as a short sighted and destructive
practice for those charged with complaints responsibility. The
impression that is likely to be gathered from a two line response,
dismissing a complaint, is that no investigation has occurred of
any substance and that the citizen is being given the "brush-off".
Even if the reality is much the opposite, that perception will
likely prevail, unless the citizen is able to observe that each
of their complaints had been reviewed, analyzed, and met.
The damage occasioned by the failure to provide grounds, or
rationale, has been recognized by various police writers:
- 29 -
Typically, no indication is given that any attention whatsoever
has been paid to the specific complaint. This project found many
complainants over the years, who genuinely believed that nothing
is done with complaints. They believe that the police department
simply waits for a few weeks before it issues a form letter, a
blanket statement absolving itself of culpability.
As Paul Chevigny notes, the amorphous final letter is neither
specific enough to satisfy the individual complainant nor
believable enough to legitimize the process in the eyes of
external observers. The report which is sent to the complainant
should instead evaluate the evidence and show how the internal
police conclusion was reached (*see, D W. Perez, Common Sense
About Police Review (1994), Temple Press, p. 114; also see,
Recommendation 257(b), Policing in British Columbia Report
(1994), The Recommendations, p. 37).
(1) Organizational Responsibilities
In Amery and Law Enforcement Review Board (No. 007-93), this Board
provided that organizational or administrative factors should be
addressed for correction prior to consideration of individual
responsibility in discipline matters. The Board will accordingly
now turn to what are considered organizational concerns.
In the present matter the Board is persuaded that all of the
officers involved in the investigation were without benefit of
training concerning child witness interview techniques. It was not
simply a matter of lack of outside conference or course study;
there was apparently no internal or in-service training of a
systematic nature. While it is understandable that out of service
training may not be financially possible in these times of
restraint, on-going in-service education remains a necessity for
most specialized areas of police work. In this regard, the Board
is satisfied that the Edmonton Police Service failed, in 1991,
to ensure that those engaged in child abuse investigations had
adequate instruction as to child-witness interview techniques.
- 30 -
The protocol signed in 1988 (Exhibit 5) was apparently not adopted
as service "policy" and would seem to have received narrow
distribution within the service. That Detective Bonetto would have
had no knowledge as to its existence is testimony to the extent of
its publication and use.
In the above regard, the Board is persuaded that productive steps
have been taken to remedy the deficiencies of 1991. A Child Abuse
Unit is now responsible for matters concerning child sexual assault
and other child related offences. A protocol is in place. The
officers assigned to these duties are apparently receiving
specialized training and on-going in-service education. The Board
is accordingly satisfied that a reference in this regard to the
Police Commission is not required. The circumstances of this
matter, however, serves to demonstrate that a high degree of skill
is required concerning the productive interview of children.
On-going training is essential if officers are to be expected to
handle the complexities that can arise in these matters. If there
is any doubt in this regard, one need only review the decision in
*R. v T.S. (May 2, 1995, Sask. C.A. - Unreported)*. *T.S.* is one
of recent Court decisions arising from the child witness interview
methods used by police in these cases has apparently (in-part)
led to a complete disintegration of one of the municipal police
services involved. It would also appear likely that the civil
litigation pending in these matters will continue into the next
decade. In any event, it is considered to be the responsibility
of the Edmonton Police Commission to see that suitable policies
are continued in this regard.
However, the Board is not satisfied that knowledge of the legal
context, mentioned earlier in this decision, has been dealt with
to a satisfactory extent; if at all. There is an absence of
information in the current materials and policies (Exhibit 30)
which clarify to service members the limits of police authority
in the context of a "child" Section 5 of the *Provincial Young
Offenders Act* is noted but little guidance is provided to an
officer as to the boundaries previously outlined. The Board
considers this lack of information something of a deficiency which
calls for Police Commission review. Although circumstances of the
type now under consideration are far from the norm, the general
context could easily arise again. This issue is accordingly
referred to the Edmonton Police Commission for eventual discussion
with the Chief of Police.
- 31 -
It is considered advisable to reference this matter in a context
broader than the confines of child sexual abuse. Police officers,
regardless of unit, may be obliged to deal with the interview of
children. All officers should be alert to the limits of their
authority. This information is considered by the Board to be as
much a help and protection for officers, as it is for others.
(2) Individual Responsibility
Mr. Royal, for the three officers subject of complaint, argued that
the situation the police found themselves in on March 14, 1991, was
unique and exceptional. Vigourous, firm, and insistent tactics were
called for under the circumstances. Two persons had suffered arrest
by virtue of the false allegations of D.G. and M.G. and the matter
amounted to a situation of some urgency. These exceptional
circumstances warranted "tough" questioning and the officers
throughout had acted in good faith. To a certain extent, the
officers were in a position of dilemma and were under obligation
to resolve the matter.
The Board finds some merit in almost all of the submissions made
by Mr. Royal; however, the characterization of the questioning as,
"vigorous", "insistent", and "firm" is considered inaccurate. The
Board is satisfied that the questioning was threatening, abusive,
and excessive. The Board is furthermore persuaded that the opinion
of Dr. Rediger better hits the mark as to the global
characterization of the police questioning.
The question then arising is whether or not such questioning was
warranted given the difficult circumstances faced by the police.
In this regard, the Board is not satisfied that such measures were
justified and it is thought unlikely that any events would present
themselves that would warrant the methods employed. Vigourous and
insistent questioning of children may be necessary in a variety of
circumstances, however, threats of jail and maternal separation are
considered by this Board to be abusive and harmful.
- 32 -
It is also the case that the Board considers such measures as next
to useless. It is common knowledge that when a child perceives a
threat to be of substance, the child may respond in any manner
thought useful to remove the perceived threat. In this regard,
threats to a child may obtain a sought after answer, however, the
response can hardly be considered reliable. In this regard, the
Board considered the opinion of Dr. Rediger to be most persuasive.
As previously noted, the Board is also satisfied that M.G. and D.G.
were detained by the respondent officers against their will and the
wishes of their mother, Mrs. G. In this regard it was considered
no coincidence that Mrs. G. contacted Corporal Leary and Detective
Montgomery for assistance, or that she was found in an upset and
emotionally disturbed condition on their arrival. The G.'s were
advised on several occasions that they would be remaining at police
headquarters until such time as the police were through with them.
They were not at all free to leave when they chose to do so and
were advised as much.
In regard to the verbal threats and abusive interview methods
employed, the Board finds that misconduct has occurred in the
context of Sections 5(2)(e)(iii), and 5(2)(e)(viii) of the
Regulation (356/90). The Board was not satisfied that the doctrine
of "good faith" was a viable position for the respondents, given
the excess that occurred; even granted the difficulties that
presented (see Johnson and Law Enforcement Review Board (No.
The Board will now turn to the matter of penalty concerning the
found misconduct To a great extent, the Board is satisfied that
Inspector Cessford is responsible for the course of action taken
on March 14, 1991. Inspector Cessford was turned to by the
investigating detectives for advice and direction. It was Inspector
Cessford who then set the tone and course of the following
interviews. By his own admission, Inspector Cessford was intent on
resolving the investigation. That end was obviously the paramount
objective, even if the means were hard-ball investigative tactics
with children.
- 33 -
Inspector Cessford is no longer a member of the Edmonton Police
Service and is accordingly not subject to discipline under the
Regulations (356/90) (see Rous and Law Enforcement Review Board
(No. 005-92)). The Board is accordingly unable to impose a
disciplinary sanction for the found misconduct. In this connection,
it is considered inappropriate to speculate what action the Board
would consider appropriate were Inspector Cessford a current member
of the Edmonton Police Service.
Notwithstanding the inability to impose a sanction on a person no
longer a police officer in Alberta, the Board does not consider
itself without authority to report on the misconduct of a police
officer who has left a service. In the present instance, the Board
accordingly gave consideration to reporting the misconduct of
Inspector Cessford to his current employer. That action, however,
has been decided against, all circumstances considered.
Although Inspector Cessford set the tone for the interviews,
Detectives Bonetto and Findlay are found to have misconducted
themselves in the threats used and interview tactics employed. It
is also the case that both officers participated in the unlawful
detention of D.G and M.G. With respect to penalty, the Board has
considered the organizational context concerning training; the
difficult circumstances that presented and: the influence of
Inspector Cessford. It is also the case that both officers were
intent on doing their jobs and not on causing harm or trauma to
the children. All things considered, both officers are issued an
OFFICIAL WARNING (s. 22(2) - Reg. 356/90). This decision will serve
as that warning and the Chief of Police is DIRECTED to attach this
decision (or a memo to the same effect) to the personnel files of
Detectives Bonetto and Findlay.
The appellant has sought costs against the respondent police
service for non-disclosure of documents during the course of this
appeal. The conduct of the Police Service in this regard has been
characterized as obstructionist, frivolous and vexatious. The Board,
however, is unwilling to characterize the lack of disclosure
occasioned in this matter in such a fashion.
- 34 -
It is correct to describe the conduct of the Edmonton Police
Service in regard to disclosure on this appeal as resistant and
unwilling. It needs to be remembered, however, that when this
matter first arose on appeal, a disclosure practice was unknown
and the Board had not issued a disclosure policy. Indeed, the
response of the Edmonton Police Service to disclosure in this appeal
prompted the Board to design a disclosure document that was issued
in August, 1993, (see Rhodes and Law Enforcement Review Board
(No. 026-93)). In this connection, the Board is satisfied that if
fingers are pointed in the context of poor disclosure practices,
the Board must identify its lack of policy, prior to 1993, as the
determinative factor. It is also worth noting in this regard, that
the anticipated *Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy
Act* (October, 1995) is expected to provide a comprehensive
frame-work for disclosure of law enforcement information. All
things considered, the application for costs is denied.
Exhibits and Transcripts
The Board has determined that it would be contrary to the best
interests of the Children concerned to permit any disclosure or
publication of the record or exhibits filed in this matter. Prior
to the conclusion of this appeal, requests were received for copies
of portions of the record and exhibits. Those requests were denied.
It is accordingly an ORDER of this Board that all Board records and
exhibits in this matter be sealed indefinitely. LEGAL BURDEN
The burden on the appellant, is to establish the allegations
of complaint by a preponderance of evidence, or by a fair and
reasonable preponderance of credible testimony (see *Re Camgoz
et al*. (1989), 74 Sask. R. 73 (Sask, C.A.); *Sheehan v Edmonton*
(1990), 103 A.R. 78 (Alta C.A.)). In considering all of the
evidence given at the appeal, including that which has been
previously outlined, the Board is satisfied that Ms. McCoy has
met the burden of proof which falls to the appellant.
- 35 -
The Board is satisfied for the reasons previously stated that the
decision of the Chief of Police cannot be affirmed.
P.J. Knoll, Q.C.
DATED at the City of Calgary
in the Province of Alberta,
this _24th_ day of _July_,
c.  K. Galloway,
Board Counsel
S. Renouf,
Counsel for the Appellant
P. Royal, Q.C.
Counsel for the Officers
M. Logar
Counsel for the Respondent

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Martin Hunt / / Sept 27 1997