Perry has now spent 105 days in jail – for stepping up to the plate to protect children, and then daring to say he has lost faith in the justice system. This is the institutional response to allegations of childhood sexual abuse.
Hearings resume at 1300 hours (1 pm) this afternoon, Monday 02 June 2008. Constable Rene Desrosier will return to resume his examination in chief.
I am hoping today brings some clarity to Desrosier’s testimony to date re police investigations into sex abuse allegations against Marcel Lalonde, a Cornwall Roman Catholic school teacher and convicted molester.
To put this debacle into some perspective
11 March 1996: First charges laid against Father Charles MacDonald (David Silmser went to Cornwall Police in December 1992)
18 December 1996: Perry Dunlop delivered a raft of files to Julian Fantino, then Chief of the London Police Service, now head of the Ontario Provincial Police.
08 April 1997: Perry delivered the same raft of documents to the office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Solicitor General, Ontario Civilian Commission on Policing Services.
August 1997: the OPP Project Truth probe was launched.
Here’s what I have been able to sort out from Constable Rene Desrosier’s testimony to date.
(1) In October 1996 a victim with the moniker C-68 told Constable Rene Desrosier he, C-68, had been molested in the late 1960s by Roman Catholic school teacher Marcel Lalonde during camping trips. Lalonde taught at Bishop Macdonnell school in Cornwall. The camp site was apparently out of CPS jurisdiction.
(2) Desrosier asked if C-68 had ever been abused by Lalonde within Cornwall. Laolonde had apparently once told the boy to drop his underwear:
I asked him also if anything had happened to him in the City of Cornwall, to which he had provided some information of one incident where he was asked by his teacher to lower his underwear, but then his brother was — had been by and nothing else happened. His brother and him stayed overnight from what his information was.
And there was no disclosure as to an actual criminal offence having occurred at that time.
Desrosier concluded no criminal offence had been committed within Cornwall. Why he thought Lalonde wanted the child to drop his underwear I have no idea.
Desrosier conducted no checks within CPS for prior records. Had he done so at the time he would have found that Lalonde had been investigated by the police department in the late 1980s.
Derosier turned the case over to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
(3) In January 1997, as a result of the OPP investigation into C-68’s allegations Marcel Lalonde, was charged in January 1997.
(4) Sometime in January 1997 the OPP directed other allegations against Lalonde back to Sgt. Brian Snyder with the CPS. Included were allegations by C-8. (C-8 had pervious contact with Perry Dunlop. There was quite a to do raised by CPS over Perry’s disclosure re C-8 to them.) While the OPP tunred over some of the files it apparently retained and continued to investigate the allegations of two other Lalonde victims.
Desrosier testified he knew of none of this. He did not know Lalonde had been charged on the C-68 allegations, nor did he know a fellow CPS officer (Snyder) was investigating allegations against Lalonde.
(5) Sometime in January 1997 Cst. Desrosier was contacted by a victim identified with the moniker C-45. C-45 alleged he and his brother had both been sexually abused as boys by Lalonde.
(6) For several weeks in early 1997 Desrosier and Snyder were presumably unaware that each was independently investigating sex abuse allegations against Marcel Lalonde.
(7) Desrosier interviewed C-45’s brother. As they went to the interview the brother indicated he had also been sexually abused by Father Charles MacDonald. Desrosier told him they would just deal with the Lalonde allegations.
MR. DESROSIERS: My recollection of that is that on our way from the reception area at the Service to the back of the building where the interview room was that we were using at that time on the first floor, and he had – – we were talking on the way and he had made comments that — I said we were going to be talking about Marcel Lalonde. And he says, “Yeah, and Father Charles.”
I said, “Well, fine, but today with me right here in this interview room, we are going to speak today to the concerns about Marcel Lalonde” and that later, after the fact, myself, some other officer or another police agency would be looking into that matter for him.
Desrosier was aware at the time that the OPP was investigating sex abuse allegations against Father Charlie. He made no note anywhere that C-45’s brother had mentioned allegations against Father MacDonald, nor did he notify the OPP or direct the victim to them.
The absence of any mention in Snyder’s notes of the victim’s reference to allegations against the priest became problematic during preliminary hearings. Those who have sat in a courtroom when a victim is accused of lying under similar circumstances know what that means for the victim. It is not pleasant.
Desrosier explained that he did not let the victim include his allegations against Charlie because he, Snyder, likes to keep his complaints separate. He testified he did tell one of his superiors about this, either Snyder or Sgt. Luc Brunet. There is apparently no reference of such in his notes.
In this instance Desrosier permitted the victim to reference sex abuse allegations against persons other than Lalonde. Asked why, Desrosier explained that it was because the other allegations arose after the intereview was started!
MS. SIMMS: Okay. So I know it’s your practice not to have two separate incidents described in the statement so can you tell us what happened here?
MR. DESROSIERS: The reason was is that we were already in an audio interview —
MS. SIMMS: M’hm.
MR. DESROSIERS: — and this information came up and I allowed him to continue what he said to say.
Desrosier was not aware that Barque had previously been investigated and charged by the OPP. Nor was he aware that Barque had pled guilty to a different charge. Nor was he aware that a fellow CPS Constable Heidi Sebalj had investigated allegations against Barque.
Desrosier did know that Seguin was dead.
Desrosier told one of his bosses about the allegations. He can not recall whom, and it is not mentioned in his notes, but he says it would have been either Seguin or Brunet.
Desrosier had detailed notes regarding C-45’s allegations against Barque. Nothing at all regarding C-45’s brother’s allegations against Charlie.
There was no evidence of any follow up on Desrosier’s behalf regarding C-45’s allegations against Barque.
On 03 October 1997 C-45 went to Project Truth with his sex abuse allegations against Barque and Seguin.
(9) While Desrosier was conducting his investigation of the Lalonde allegations, unbeknownst to him Snyder was also investigating Lalonde.
At some unknown date the pair realized they were both investigating Lalonde. At that point Snyder said they would carry on a joint investigation with himself as lead:
MR. DESROSIERS: …Sergeant Snyder had advised me to continue following up with my information that I had received and that he was going to be the lead and we would touch base with each other to find out where we are and continue on, if there’s other new information to follow.
(10) By 21 February 1997 the pair had obviously sorted things out. On that date Desrosier assisted Snyder in setting up for a videotaped interview of C-8. The statement was to be taken under oath. By the sound of things the taping session was botched in whole or in part:
MR. DESROSIERS: …I had not used the interview room with this new video, and I hit the wrong switch, I believe, or forgot to hit a certain switch that would have to be activated to pick up the volume in the room unbeknownst to me.
I hadn’t had any of the training. I wasn’t aware of that.
(11) Desrosier was aware that several victims said Lalonde had a collection of Polaroid porn pictures. In some instances the victims said they had been photographed. Snyder and the OPP would or should also have been aware of the allegations that Lalonde kept Polaroid pictures of young males.
Desrosier said he decided he would execute a search warrant, but first he took time to confirm Lalonde’s address and other information. He decided to execute the warrant on the same day he was going to arrest Lalonde. Desrosier testified that they would just show up at the house “because I felt we had that element of he didn’t know we were going to be coming.”
Desrosier claims it was he who obtained the search warrant. It must have been discussed with Snyder, and Snyder was certainly there when it was executed.
The puzzle here is that Snyder would certainly have known that Lalonde had already been charged by the OPP in January 1997. I believe one would reasonably assume that at the very least once he was charged Lalonde would have promptly relocated any damning porn. But not only that – Cornwall is a small community. Common sense says the longer Lalonde was under investigation by a variety of officers on allegations from a number of victims the greater the chance that Lalonde would either be tipped of or hear and instantly relocate any damning pictures.
But, Desrosier presumably knew nothing of the January charges. For over two months he methodically carried on with plans to execute a warrant which would presumably carry an element of surprise!
(12) Somewhere in here Snyder contacted David Silmser and told him it wouldn’t be fair if Lalonde was convicted and Dave didn’t come forward with his sexual abuse allegations against Lalonde until after the conviction. According to Snyder’s notes Dave was reluctant to deal with those allegations at that time:
MR. SNYDER: “I said that’s fine, but it would not appear to be fair to the justice system if Marcel Lalonde is convicted of sexual assault on other people and then Dave came forward.
After, I said tell him I would take as much time as he needs to make him comfortable.”
(13) On 29 April 1997 Marcel Lalonde was arrested by CPS officers. On the same day a search warrant of his home was executed. Five photo albums containing pictures of numerous clothed teens were seized. A number of pictures showed the teens with alcohol.
I’d say it was no surprise that there were no Polaroids of any nude boys. There were however five Polaroids of a nude male. Desrosier said the male was over age 18. The nude male was not identified. What happened to those five Polaroids I have no idea. I am assuming they were either destroyed or returned to Lalonde. But, in a community torn asunder by allegations of a paedophile ring/clan I would have thought there would be intense interest in identifying the unknown nude male, and failing that, to hang onto it until such time as it could be identified. Perhaps we will hear more on this today?
This is the stuff of keystone cops! Keystone cops investigating paedophiles. Keystone cops defending children from sexual predators.
I repeat two questions I have asked in the past: After the Project Truth probe was struck in mid 1997 who decided the Marcel Lalonde allegations didn’t fit the mandate? And why?
Enough for now,