Backgrounder (Appendix C to CJC complaint)

[This backgrounder is Appendix C to a complaint filed with the Canadian Judicial Council regarding the conduct of Justices James Chadwick and Colin McKinnon at the Project Truth sex abuse trial of Cornwall lawyer and Church canon lawyer Jacques Leduc ]


Appendix C to MacEachern letter of 09 April 2001


1. Charges against Jacques Leduc were laid through the OPP probe known as Project Truth. Project Truth was launched in August 1997 to investigate the persistent allegations of then Constable Perry Dunlop (Cornwall Police) regarding a cover-up and existence of a paedophile ring in Cornwall.

2. The stated mandate of Project Truth is as follows:

This investigation is being conducted into paedophile activity both historic and ongoing in the Cornwall, Ontario area. The alleged suspects are prominent and respected citizens of Cornwall, and include lawyers, Catholic priests, a Catholic bishop, teachers, probation officers, businessmen, a former Chief of Police and the present Crown attorney. The alleged offences occurred and are occurring both in the City of Cornwall and the outlying area.

In addition, it is alleged the suspects were able to terminate investigations and prosecutions against them by abusing their positions of trust within the community. It is alleged the Crown Attorney, the Diocese of Cornwall, and the Cornwall Police Service conspired to obstruct justice in these matters.

3. The allegations of cover-up and a paedophile ring in Cornwall arose after Constable Dunlop discovered, in late September 1993, that his police force (Cornwall Police Service), then headed by one Chief Claude Shaver, had terminated an investigation into sex abuse allegations against a local Roman Catholic priest (Father Charles MacDonald) and a local probation officer (Ken Seguin). The victim, a former altar boy, took his complaint to the Cornwall Police Service 09 December 1992.

Ten months prior to that date, the victim had approached officials of the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese seeking an apology. After realizing that no apology was forthcoming, the victim turned to the police.

4. The former altar boy alleges that he settled with the diocese only after he was advised by Cornwall Police Service that no charges would be laid against Father MacDonald. The former altar boy further alleges that he believed the financial settlement was a form of acknowledgment of the priest’s guilt.

5. Jacques Leduc, the defendant in the Leduc trial, is both a lawyer and a canon lawyer. As legal counsel to the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, Mr. Leduc was present during diocesan discussions with the former altar boy. As legal counsel to the diocese, Mr. Leduc was actively involved in arranging the settlement with the alleged victim. As legal counsel for the diocese, Mr. Leduc translated documents used by the diocese for similar settlements. As legal counsel for the diocese, Mr. Leduc worked on the settlement with Malcolm MacDonald, a former Q.C. and lawyer for the suspect paedophile, Father Charles MacDonald.

6. The victim was paid $32,000 in hush money by the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall. The paperwork accompanying the agreement was dated 02 September 1993.

7. Malcolm MacDonald was later charged and found guilty of obstruction of justice for his role in the illegal deal. He received an absolute discharge. That same Malcolm MacDonald was later charged with two counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency. He died before trial.

8. On 23 September 1993 Constable Dunlop inadvertently happened on the victim statement of the former altar boy.

9. Shortly after he saw the victim statement Dunlop was advised that the victim had settled with the diocese. Because of his concern for the safety of the children in Cornwall, Constable Dunlop fulfilled his legal obligations according to the Ontario Child and Family Services Act by contacting and then disclosing the victim statement to the Children’s Aid Society (CAS).

10. Despite initial denials by the Diocese to the contrary, it was eventually learned that the victim had been required to sign a gag order. The victim was also required to present a prepared statement to the Cornwall Police Service advising police “to close your file and stop further proceedings.”

11. In March 1996, five years after the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall was advised of the sex abuse allegations against Father Charles MacDonald, and nearly four years after those same allegations were taken to the Cornwall Police Service, Father Charles MacDonald was charged with seven counts of indecent assault against three former altar boys. Father MacDonald now faces multiple charges by a number of alleged victims. He has yet to go to trial.

12. It is known that Chief Shaver, Ken Seguin, Father Charles MacDonald, Malcolm MacDonald and Bishop Eugene Larocque (Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall) were friends and met on a social basis. It is also reported that, in the late summer or early Fall of 1993 a group met at the summer residence of Malcolm MacDonald to discuss the termination of the criminal sex abuse investigation of Father Charles MacDonald and Ken Seguin. Among those allegedly present at the gathering were Father Charles MacDonald, Ken Seguin, Bishop Eugene Larocque, Malcolm MacDonald, Chief Claude Shaver and Jacques Leduc.

13. Shortly after this meeting, Ken Seguin committed suicide and Chief Claude Shaver announced his early retirement effective January 1994.

14. In January 1994 Dunlop came under serious scrutiny by his own police force for disclosing the victim statement to the CAS.

Colin McKinnon Q.C., — then an Ottawa lawyer, now Justice Colin McKinnon — advised that legal action be taken against Const. Dunlop.

15. Dunlop was charged with discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act. On 23 September 1994 a Board of Inquiry was held in Ottawa. Const. Dunlop was exonerated. On the advice of Colin McKinnon, the decision was appealed. The appeal was dismissed with costs.

16. After his early retirement Chief Claude Shaver retained Colin McKinnon as legal counsel.

17. In a two-page letter to the Seaway News (14 October 1994) Colin McKinnon threatened legal action because, according to McKinnon, a paragraph in the publication’s 03 October 1994 edition was libellous and implied “that Claude Shaver is a person of bad character who participated in ‘sweeping under the rug’ sexual abuse allegations.” According to McKinnon, the libel was exacerbated by the fact that the defamatory words “are in fact the words of Carson Chisholm who happens to be the brother-in-law of Const. Perry Dunlop. . . .a person presently facing a public inquiry for misconduct contrary to the Police Services Act.” Another letter signed by Colin McKinnon (18 October 1994) accused Carson Chisholm with defaming Claude Shaver and threatened legal action.

18. By 1996 Dunlop had become known as a sympathetic and understanding point of contact for male victims of sexual abuse.

Dunlop and his wife Helen became a source of strength for these troubled souls. Through these many contacts Dunlop came to believe and charge that there was a cover-up involving a “clan” of paedophiles operating in Cornwall.

19. Project Truth was launched in the summer of 1997. The probe was a response solely to Dunlop’s persistent allegations of a cover-up involving a paedophile clan operating in Cornwall.

20. In 1998, Jacques Leduc was charged with twelve counts of sexual assault. More charges were added at a later date.

21. In 1999, Malcolm MacDonald was charged three counts of sexual assault.

22. To date over 800 witnesses have been interviewed by Project Truth. In total there are 68 suspects, 15 men charged and 26 suspects dead. It is my understanding that the files of the remaining 27 suspects are in the offices of the Crown Attorney. Apart from the Project Truth probe, at least six other Cornwall men have been charged with sexual assault against young males.

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