Winnipeg Free Press
28/04/2010 7:00 PM |
By: Allison Jones, THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO – Ontario’s highest court has dismissed the appeals of a former Cornwall, Ont., police officer who refused to testify at a public inquiry largely of his own making, calling his claims “spurious.”
Perry Dunlop led a crusade for years in Cornwall, Ont., to root out pedophiles and his work sparked calls for a public inquiry.
The Cornwall inquiry’s official mandate was to examine institutional responses to historical claims of sexual abuse, but many were looking to the report, released in December, to once and for all debunk rumours of a pedophile ring. Commissioner G. Normand Glaude declined to do so in his more than 1600-page report.
Dunlop, now living in Duncan, B.C., was called in September 2007 to testify at the inquiry. While he did appear several times, he refused to answer any questions.
He was found guilty of civil contempt in November 2007 and sentenced to six months. Dunlop was then found guilty of criminal contempt in March 2008 and sentenced to a further 30 days in jail.
Dunlop called the seven months he served in jail for contempt “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The Court of Appeal for Ontario, in dismissing Dunlop’s criminal and civil appeals, said “given the serious nature of the contempt,” there is no basis to interfere with the sentences, which Dunlop has long since served.
The findings of contempt are fully supported by the record, wrote the three-judge panel, who considered Dunlop’s appeal in writing, instead of with oral arguments.
“In his notices of appeal the appellant makes vague allegations about denial of his charter rights,” the judges wrote.
“The record, however, shows that the appellant was given numerous opportunities to obtain counsel, make submissions and purge his contempt. His other claims, for example, that he was unlawfully arrested and denied his right to fundamental justice are spurious.”
Dunlop failed to appear at the Appeal Court in Toronto in January, when his appeal was scheduled to be heard orally, and so it proceeded in writing.
Dunlop has long maintained high-profile local officials were operating a pedophile ring in Cornwall and that there was a conspiracy by the government and the justice system to cover it up.
His quest has earned him a loyal band of followers, but also much criticism. His refusal to hand over to the provincial police information he gleaned in his unsanctioned, off-hours investigation has been blamed for the failed prosecutions of several alleged child abusers.
Dunlop began his pursuit in good faith, Glaude wrote in his report, but his distrust of public institutions eventually overwhelmed what was a genuine desire to help children.