Intended fall guy sues RNC, officers in Sean Kelly case

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Disgraced cop Sean Kelly headed to jail as appeal denied for obscene phone call

A Bay of Islands man — who was accused by now-disgraced RNC Const. Sean Kelly of making the lewd phone calls that eventually convicted the officer himself — has launched a lawsuit.

The lawsuit against Kelly and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Sgt. Tim Buckle claims the pair intentionally set out to falsely incriminate the man, whose name is hidden by a publication ban.

In 2015, Kelly was convicted of both making indecent phone calls, and of misleading police by making false statements. A Corner Brook judge found that Kelly tried to pin the calls on a man he described as a potential informant.

In the statement of claim, lawyers for the plaintiff say Buckle warned Kelly of a police investigation into the phone calls, and told Kelly he had to "create an alibi by coming up with somebody that called … while using Kelly's police phone."

The lawsuit claims that was despite Buckle knowing that Kelly had told another officer he was the only person who had possession of his cell phone during the time in question.

According to the statement of claim, Kelly followed the advice and blamed the Bay of Islands man for the calls. That led to the plaintiff being detained, investigated and forced to testify in court.

"Kelly, intentionally and with malice, and knowing it to be contrary to his statutory duties and the law as a police officer … falsely and maliciously injured [the plaintiff]," the lawsuit reads.

'Marginalized and disadvantaged'

The lawsuit paints the Bay of Islands plaintiff as a "marginalized and disadvantaged young man."

It says that when Kelly testified at his trial, he was publicly attesting that the man was a "sexual deviant" and "engaged in a criminal conspiracy."

It further writes that Kelly testified the man was assaulted by a drug dealer in Corner Brook for "being a rat," and that led to the plaintiff being "ostracized by many of his friends and acquaintances."

The Bay of Islands man "had to stop visiting his usual places of social interaction, and had to move from Corner Brook to a more isolated community on the Bay of Islands." 

Claims in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.

Police force also named

The lawsuit also accuses the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and chiefs Bill Janes and Bob Johnston of "misfeasance."

It alleges Johnston and Janes knew of the conversation between Kelly and Buckle after Kelly made his statement — and therefore knew that a "likely innocent member of the general public" was accused of a crime. 

But, according to the suit, the RNC didn't take the proper steps to investigate Kelly, and allowed him to remain on duty with the police force for a number of months. 

The lawsuit says the Bay of Islands man's charter rights were violated by the police force when the RNC officers falsely incriminated him.

Buckle's response

Buckle's actions were investigated a number of times, and criminal charges have not been laid.

In March, Buckle threatened to file a lawsuit against the provincial government after another review of his actions in the Sean Kelly case was announced.

Buckle said in a statement that he was not attempting to interfere in the investigation into Kelly, and denied that he advised Kelly on what to do.

"My comments to Mr. Kelly, that he 'had to come up with somebody who made those calls" were not directional but rather a challenge to his assertion that he couldn't explain his actions," Buckle wrote.

"My subsequent involvement in this investigation identified an additional victim that had been harassed by Mr. Kelly and that evidence was used in the trial as "similar fact evidence" to aid in the conviction of Mr. Kelly."