01 November 2007: Commissioner Julian Fantino Transcript 01 November 2007
Commissioner Julian Fantino, commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), testified at the Cornwall Public Inquiry Thursday 01 November 2007.
The issue here is the decision by Perry Dunlop and/or his lawyer Charles Bourgeois to contact Julian Fantino, then chief of the London Ontario police regarding allegations of a paedophile ring and cover-up and death threats against the Dunlop family.
Fantino had been in the news for his work with Project Guardian, an investigation into child pornography and sexual abuse/”sexual exploitation” of young boys in London.
Perry Dunlop had likewise been in the news regarding the erupting Cornwall sex abuse scandal and cover-up.
To put Fantino’s testimony into context I’ll start with a December 1996 letter and move on from there.
18 December 1996 letter to Fantino
On 18 December 1996 letter Perry Dunlop’s lawyer Charles Bourgeois penned a letter to Julian Fantino.
It is now more than three years since Perry turned David Silmser’s victim statement over to the CAS. The Dunlops have recently learned there was a hit out on their family. They have also amassed some extremely serious allegations of criminal sexual activity involving children and, no doubt at least in part due to the dismal investigation into sex abuse allegations against Father Charles MacDonald, have little or no faith in the Cornwall police or OPP.
Some excerpts of the letter:
“Further to our telephone conversation on Monday, December 16th, I am sending you the following materials for your consideration. There is a copy of a tape recorded witness statement. Also included is a binder with particulars relevant to this case….
“On such short notice, at this particular time of the year, my client and I sincerely appreciate the considerable time, effort and commitment you will be affording this case.
“During our investigation and preparation of the Dunlop civil suit it was discovered that serious criminal acts were committed and may well be continuing. We have gained knowledge of covert plans to cover up and impede police investigations as well as a planned hit on the Dunlop family. We have great concern for the safety of the Dunlop family and the safety of the children in the community. ”
“We would greatly appreciate your opinions and directions concerning this matter and await your reply on Monday, January 6th, 1997.
“The writer will be away from Friday December 20 until Sunday,January 5, 1997. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this issue please feel free to contact my clients at their residence or you can call the writer in New Brunswick…”
The tone of the letter seems to imply that Fantino had verbally agreed to put some time in to the matter and give some direction. And there is no doubt that concern is expressed regarding the death threats.
On 25 February 1997, while at the Ottawa courthouse for Father Charles MacDonald’s preliminary hearings, Perry called Fantino.
According to Perry’s willstate,
He [Fantino] advised me at this time that no police agency had taken the case yet. He was very courteous and informative about the subject of high profile pedophiles. He told me to keep to the high road in this case.
Helen Dunlop interview
On 18 March 1997, three months after the letter and accompanying files had been sent to Fantino, Helen contacted the OPP to lodge a complaint about the death threats. She met with Detective Inspector Pat Hall and Constable Steve Seguin.
Three days later there seems to have been another interview with the same officers. The following excerpt of that 21 March 1997 Helen Dunlop interview was read into the record (misspelling of Fantino’s name in the original):
On about the 18 December ’96, we Purolated all the material, including Leroux’ statement and all others done up until that point, to Fantino. Our lawyer had prior conversations with Fantano, who stated he would review the material, give an opinion and tell you where to go with it. We were still concerned about the death threats. Mr. Fantino was concerned about them. Mr.Fantino got back to us in mid-January 1997 but didn’t give us any opinion, but said he was going to discuss it with some other important police officials. We never found out what the outcome of the meeting was. We put in several telephone calls to find out. Our lawyer also put in calls to find out what was happening. We never received an answer from Julian Fantino.
Remember now that this was interview conducted three months after Bourgeois’ initial contact with Fantino, and two months after Helen told the OPP that Fantino called and said he would speak to some high ranking officers and get back to them.
There is I suppose a possibility here that Helen’s recollection of the Fantino contact was actually the January call at the courthouse. On the other hand there cold have been two Fantino contacts.
Either way, three months have passed and nothing seems to have been done. And the death threats are still very much on the Dunlop’s minds.
In March, Helen was concerned enough to head in to the OPP to lodge a formal death threat complaint.
With all of this in mind, look at Commissioner Julian Fantino’s testimony.
Commissioner Julian Fantino testimony
Charles Bourgeois called Fantino 16 December 2006.
According to Fantino, Bourgeois was insistent that Fantino get involved and review a bunch of documents. Fantino said he told Bourgeois that the matter was out of his jurisdiction and that he should go to the Cornwall police or a special division within the OPP. Fantino also said he told Bourgeois he was not going to investigate, was in no position to help out, and was in no position to “infuse” himself into an investigation which, according to Fantino, was already under way.
Bourgeois, according to Fantino,
didn’t listen to anything:…. he was not listening. He was just intent on having the material forwarded and I told him that I had enough on my plate that I wasn’t undertaking to do anything with the material. But a few days later, it arrived. He was totally dismissive of my comments and advice to him.
The package of documents arrived 19 December 2007.
Asked his reaction, Fantino replied:
I was very disappointed that the writer being a legally trained person would not exercise a modicum of common sense and have these matters brought to the appropriate authorities such as I advised him to do.
The following exchange ensued when Fantino was asked if he told Bourgeois that he’d look through the information and give an opinion on it on 06 January 1997:
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: I believe when we were speaking on the telephone, I also indicated to him that I wouldn’t be around because of other pressing matters. And I believe we got into “When will you be back?” and that’s how the date came up, December — or I’m sorry, January the 6th. And he just assumed that that’s — I was going to do it all over the time I was away.
MR. DUMAIS: Okay. So that’s, is it fair to say that that’s sort of a date that you agreed on that you’d make contact again? Is that fair?
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: No, I think that was the date that I mentioned to him, that even if I could, I couldn’t because I wouldn’t be back until the 6th —
MR. DUMAIS: All right.
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: — and those kinds of issues. I never agreed, I never ever agreed that I would do anything with those materials.
Asked by Helen Daley (Citizens for Community Renewal why he did not send the apparently unsolicited materials back Fantino replied:
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: Well, because I felt that at the end of the day, I was stuck with it, if you will, through no choice.
MS. DALEY: Why did you feel that way, considering that there was really nothing you could do with it?
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: Well, it had arrived. It was logged into our system and whatever, and sending it back and forth would not have been, I guess, the thing to do.
Fantino denied knowing that the Dunlops and their lawyer turned to him because the Dunlops did not trust the Cornwall Police or the OPP. He admitted however knowing that the OPP had some involvement in the case. The latter admission gave rise to the following exchange with Dallas Lee (Victims Group):
MR. LEE: …isn’t it fair to presume that you would have known at that time that if there was no issue with the OPP, they wouldn’t be bothering you with this problem?
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: You’re asking me to read into the minds of the people that sent me the material.
MR. LEE: I’m asking you what you knew at the time.
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: I knew that the material was sent to me, contrary to my explicit directions to the sender.
MR. LEE: And did you know that part of the reason it was sent to you was because they had an issue where they felt they couldn’t trust the Cornwall Police or the OPP?
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: No, I did not.
Perry “rambles on”
Commissioner Fantino testified he recalled a telephone call he had from Perry:
…At a later time I received a call from Mr. Dunlop. As best as I can recall, he was at some kind of a court proceeding in Ottawa, and I don’t know what the case was or whatever, and he rambled on about his problems. I just told him to take the high road, wherever it was, to just tell the truth and take the high road.
Asked if there was any discussion about the disposition of Perry’s materials or what he done with them Fantino replied:
I don’t believe I got into that at all because, as I stated earlier, I really didn’t know where it belonged or who should have had it, and I wasn’t about to disclose where it went.
According to Fantino that was the only contact he had with the Dunlops or Bourgeois after he received the files. It seemed that he had no intent whatever of allaying their fears or concerns or of reassuring that the matter was being addressed.
Fantino retained the files until sometime in early February. It seems he had perhaps taken time off or been away over Christmas. He indicted that he read through the material when he had the chance.
In early February the material was turned over to Chief Superintendent Wayne Frechette who then headed up the Criminal Investigation Branch of the OPP.
Asked why he picked Frechette Fantino replied:
He’s a colleague, a friend, someone that I had dealings with on many, many cases, many representations on committees and so forth, and he was the contact I felt that I could comfortably deliver the material to and that he would receive it.
Fantino delivered the files to Frechette in a briefcase:
And I arranged to meet with him basically explaining why I needed to meet with him. And that did happen very early in February. And upon meeting with him, I surrendered all the material that I had received and that’s basically the end of it.
Apparently the briefcase has yet to be returned.
When he was asked if there was any follow-up with Frechette Fantino replied:
I used to meet with him. We were on committees together and I’m sure that we had some dialogue about it. I know that it was then passed on to investigators within the OPP, and that’s about it…
Justice Normand Glaude asked if Fantino doesn’t usually acknowledge receipt of correspondence. (This was in reference to the fact Fantino) apparently never acknowledged the Bourgeois letter and accompanying materials. That led to the following exchange:
THE COMMISSIONER: …would you not acknowledge receipt of something when people write to you?
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: Normally, yes, but in this circumstance, Mr. Commissioner, I felt I was being used.
THE COMMISSIONER: Yes.
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: And I felt that I didn’t really — there was a whole lot of discourtesy in him in forwarding that material. I gave advice. I gave good faith information to a lawyer, and I didn’t expect that I would be put in that position by him.
THE COMMISSIONER: Well, okay, but I would have thought maybe you would have sent him back a letter saying I don’t appreciate this and blah, blah, and this is what I’ve done.
COMMISSIONER FANTINO: Well, I suppose that would have been the thing to do over a period of time, but I did, as I stated earlier, time permitting, turn the material over to the Ontario Provincial Police and it was up to them, I thought, at that point in time, to indicate their receipt of it and what they were doing with it.
All quite amazing.
One final note.
Commission counsel indicated that Perry and/or Bourgeois delivered the materials to “other public offices” around the same time they were being delivered to Fantino. If this is reference to the delivery of documents to the Office of the Attorney General and Solicitor General it is inaccurate. Those documents were delivered nearly four months after the Fantino package. At that time there had been no contact from Fantino indicating any action had been taken or would be taken.
On 08 April 1997 – four months after the materials were sent to Fantino – Perry attempted to deliver the package of material to the Office of the Solicitor General and Corrections Services. The package was refused. Perry was directed to the Ontario Civilian Commission of Police Services. The materials were received and signed for.
On the same day the materials were delivered to the office of the Attorney General. The materials were received and signed for.
The materials were not delivered at or around the same time as the Fantino materials.