TORONTO – A former police officer serving a jail sentence for refusing to testify at a public inquiry he helped spark is appealing his contempt conviction, but still has no plans to give evidence at the sex-abuse probe.
Perry Dunlop, who had previously represented himself, has engaged prominent Ottawa counsel Lawrence Greenspon to handle the appeal, which he initially filed himself as an inmate. Dunlop’s personal challenge of his civil contempt conviction, which was spoken to in a Kingston, Ont., courtroom two weeks ago, has now been converted into what’s called a solicitor’s appeal under Greenspon.
“There is an appeal pending,” Greenspon said in an interview.
The lawyer, who has just taken on the case, said he was still delving into the file and had few further details about the nature of the appeal.
“I haven’t really gotten into the full background of it yet.”
Dunlop, 46, was convicted of both civil and criminal contempt of court in March after he ignored an order from the inquiry in Cornwall, Ont., to testify and then defied a court order that he do so.
He said he had no faith in the public inquiry or the justice system.
“This whole thing should be thrown out,” Dunlop’s wife, Helen, said from their home in Duncan, B.C.
“They’re punishing Perry because he won’t acquiesce to the powers that be. We won’t be part of the cover-up.”
The long-running judicial inquiry is probing how the police and other public institutions responded to allegations of systemic sexual abuse, dating back decades, in the eastern Ontario city.
Dunlop was a police officer in Cornwall in 1993 when he began probing, on his own time, an alleged pedophile ring that supposedly involved senior civic officials, clergymen, police and others. A provincial police probe that followed resulted in just one conviction and found no evidence of a ring.
The Dunlops remain steadfast in their belief that the ring was real and that they’re the victims of a far-reaching conspiracy to conceal the truth.
In March, Dunlop was sentenced to six months on the civil contempt charge. He faces further jail time when his civil sentence expires in September and he’s then sentenced for the criminal contempt.
The commission has also given Dunlop notice that they may make several adverse findings against him, largely based on his off-hours investigation, in its final report.
Dunlop’s lawyer said no decision has been made as to whether he will now testify, something which could end his current incarceration on the civil conviction and mitigate his punishment on the criminal one.
“It’s too early to say,” Greenspon said. “There’s no indication one way or the other at this point.”
But Dunlop’s wife was adamant he won’t be testifying.
“He will not be part of the sham that is the inquiry that is costing taxpayers millions of dollars which is leaving children still at risk,” she said of the probe which has, so far, reportedly cost upwards of $30 million.
“They will never leave us alone. Never. They want Perry punished continually, and possibly for ever.”
The commission, which pursued the contempt citation, said it would still very much like to hear from him.
“When you’re doing a public inquiry, you always want the best evidence,” said lead inquiry lawyer Peter Engelmann.
“It would be much better for the public and for the recommendations that we have to make . . . just to have this matter aired before the inquiry and get it out there.”
As a former police officer, Dunlop remains in segregation at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, although he may seek release pending the appeal hearing.
“That’s certainly something that we’ll be looking at,” Greenspon said. “It’s certainly not easy for him. It’s a very challenging situation for him. It’s tough.”
The police investigation, dubbed Project Truth, laid some 115 charges against 15 men.
Of the men charged, only a bus driver was convicted.
Four died before their cases came to trial, four were acquitted, four had the charges against them withdrawn, and two had the charges against them stayed over delays.