The Martenville sex scandals are an infamous case of wrongfully conviction, wrongful prosecutions and falsely laid criminal charges. The ordeal began in 1992 when a mother in Martenville Saskatchewan alleged that her child had been sexually assaulted by another local woman who ran a babysitting service and day care centre.
As the police investigated, further incidents were alleged by multiple complainants. Ultimately the investigation would lead to more than twelve people facing criminal charges. Among the people facing criminal charges in relation to the investigation, were five police officers from three different police forces.
The investigation culminated with the laying of over one hundred criminal charges against various accused. The allegations were that numerous people in the Martenville community had been involved with running a Satanic cult called The Brotherhood of The Ram. It was alleged that The Brotherhood of The Ram practiced ritualized sexual abuse of numerous children at a “Devil Church”. There were multiple allegations of sexual assault involving multiple child complainants. Among the falsely accused were Ron Sterling, Linda Sterling, Travis Sterling, Richard Klassen and Kari Klassen. During the trials of the accused many witnesses gave testimony that was later found to be perjury. The son of the day care owners, Travis Sterling was tried and found guilty of molestation. He did not appeal his conviction, however it is widely believed that his conviction was wrongful.
Following Travis’s conviction, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police task force took over the investigation. The task force ultimately found that the original investigation was motivated by “emotional hysteria” that lead to falsely laid criminal charges. As well, the RCMP task force found that the interviews of the child complainants were found to be significantly mishandled. The original police interviews were found have had questions that were leading. As well, the children were praised for giving incriminating answers.
In 2003, two of the falsely accused sued for wrongful prosecution. In 2004, Ron and Linda Sterling received a settlement. The Sterlings praised their lawyer Geoff Dufour, for assisting them to win a $1.35 million out-of-court settlement with the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon and Martensville police.
“We never would have gotten anything at all if it wasn’t for him,” Ron Sterling stated in a news release. Justice Minister Frank Quennell ordered the Government of Saskatchewan to pay $925,000, the Saskatoon police to pay $175,000 and the Martensville police to pay $250,000 to settle the case.
In a statement, the Sterlings spoke of their lawyer, Dufour saying he “is the only lawyer in Saskatchewan who has obtained any settlements for any of the accused in the whole Martensville affair. We owe Mr. Dufour a great debt of gratitude. He worked tirelessly on our behalf against five lawyers who defended the lawsuit as hard as they could — and he won. There are very few lawyers in Saskatchewan who are as talented or as honourable as he. We would like to have seen him paid a lot more. He deserves more. We will always be indebted to him,”