Saturday, February 14, 1998

Dianne Rinehart

p. B3.

City police probing 'improper disclosure' in Bennest porn case

The investigation was ordered after the former school principal was given a suspended sentence.

Vancouver police say they initiated an investigation into the possible "improper disclosure" of information during their probe of the pornography case against former Burnaby school principal William Bennest.

Constable Anne Drennan said the investigation was ordered by Chief Bruce Chambers -- not by Crown counsel or the attorney-general's office.

Drennan said Chambers acted after he learned the results of an investigation into whether the Crown acted correctly in choosing not to appeal Bennest's two-year suspended sentence for possession of pornographic material.

Other charges against Bennest, including sexual assault and making child pornography, were stayed earlier, after the Crown concluded there was no evidence to support them.

A report by Vancouver regional Crown counsel Austin Cullen, released Thursday, said: "The case was originally blown out of proportion by a misleading report from one investigator [not one of the principal investigators], indiscreet and inaccurate comments to the media by a police investigator ... and undue reliance on the unsupportable evidence of John Doe 2."

John Doe 2 was a 20-year-old male prostitute whose allegations could never be substantiated and were in fact contradicted by evidence.

Drennan repeated that at this time no specific person is being investigated. Instead, the investigation is focusing on the entire team of several dozen police officers.

Bennest was a teacher for 25 years and a principal at Clinton elementary school in Burnaby for the last 12 years before his arrest in September 1996.

He has a civil suit pending against the Burnaby school district for suspending without pay before his conviction.

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Created: March 21, 1998
Last modified: March 21, 1998

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