Sunday, February 15, 1998

Rob Gerein
Newsleader Staff

p. 1.

Police probe Bennest investigation

Crown says case was 'blown out of proportion' by inaccurate information

What's New:
Crown drops appeal of Bennest sentence

What's Next:
Investigation into how police handled the case

A senior prosecutor has chastised police investigators involved in the child pornography case against former Clinton elementary school principal William Bennest.

Vancouver regional Crown counsel Austin Cullen, who began a review of the case following a public outcry after five charges against Bennest were dropped, has concluded the Crown acted appropriately in its prosecution. The review was aided by special prosecutor Josiah Wood.

Cullen said the case against Bennest was exaggerated by one, or possibly two, police detectives who took part in the investigation, but who were not primary investigators.

A criminal investigation has been launched into the possible improper disclosure of information during the original investigation of Bennest.

p. 8.

Police probe Bennest investigation

"The case was originally blown out of proportion by a misleading report from one investigator, indiscreet and inaccurate comments to the media by a police investigator, and undue reliance on the unsupportable evidence of John Doe No. 2 (an alleged victim)," Cullen wrote in his review, released Thursday.

As a result, a Crown appeal of the suspended sentence handed Bennest after he pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography last October has been abandoned, Cullen said.

Bennest, 53, was charged in September 1996 with making and possessing child pornography as well as three other sex-related charges, after an investigation by Coordinated Law Enforcement Unit members and Vancouver police.

Burnaby RCMP were involved in a search of Clinton elementary at that time.

In September 1997, Bennest was charged with making obscene material "as a back-up charge in the event the making or possession of child pornography could not be proven," Cullen wrote.

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Created: February 25, 1998
Last modified: September 13, 1998

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