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Probe clears RCMPBut alleged abuse victims'
« on: October 11, 2007, 09:52:21 AM »
 October 11, 2007

Probe clears RCMPBut alleged abuse victims' lawyer sees silver lining in Kingsclear findings

Edmonton lawyer Casey O'Byrne had one thing to say about the findings of a probe into allegations that the RCMP covered up for a senior cop accused of sexually abusing boys at a New Brunswick reform school: "It's huge."

While the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP cleared the cops who investigated now-retired Staff Sgt. Clifford McCann of any conspiracy, O'Byrne, the lawyer for four alleged victims who now live in Edmonton, hopes the commission's report will finally lead to a new investigation and criminal charges against McCann.

He's buoyed by the commission's conclusions that the investigation into McCann was slipshod, note-taking was sloppy and that the cops' supervisors virtually ignored the case until it became a public issue.

No charges were ever laid against McCann, who has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

"One of my clients told me that when he wakes up each day, the first thing he thinks of is (the case)," said O'Byrne, whose clients were in their mid-teens when they lived at the notorious Kingsclear Youth Training Centre and are now in their 30s. "They've all had just horrible lives. It's like taking a pane of glass, breaking it and then trying to put it all back together."

His clients are suing the federal solicitor general, RCMP, Kingsclear and McCann.

Kingsclear, a home for delinquent and homeless boys that was shut down in 1998, was where guard Karl Toft admitted to preying on hundreds of boys over 35 years. In 1992, Toft pleaded guilty to 34 charges and served 13 years in jail. He now lives in Edmonton.

Sexual-abuse complaints began surfacing in the mid-1980s and according to the report, the Mounties had nearly 50 names on their potential suspect list, but after 15 years and several investigations only three were ever charged. The only other man to be convicted was maintenance man Hector Duguay, who served five months in 1993.

In all, 11 alleged victims filed complaints about RCMP's handling of Kingsclear with the commission, which spent $3 million and three years on the probe, the longest in the police watchdog's history.

One of the investigating officers' blunders, according to the report, was giving McCann preferential treatment when they interviewed him. In 1992, McCann was formally interviewed in his own office and in 1998 cops questioned him in his home with his wife present.

Among the commission's recommendations is the call for the RCMP to get an outside agency to investigate criminal allegations against fellow Mounties.

However, commission chairman Paul Kennedy said yesterday the force isn't interested in the idea so he's calling for the government to enshrine it in law.