Investigator told city of 46 possible victims of sexual predator on Saint John force

·3 min read
David Perry, who headed the sexual assault squad for the Toronto police before opening his own investigation firm, told CBC News in 2013 that he had no ties to Saint John and could conduct an unbiased investigation into allegations against police officer Kenneth Estabrooks. (CBC - image credit)
David Perry, who headed the sexual assault squad for the Toronto police before opening his own investigation firm, told CBC News in 2013 that he had no ties to Saint John and could conduct an unbiased investigation into allegations against police officer Kenneth Estabrooks. (CBC - image credit)

A private investigator who was hired by the City of Saint John in 2012 to find people who may have been sexually abused by former Saint John police officer Kenneth Estabrooks did not testify Wednesday as to why his investigation stopped.

David Perry had been called to give evidence by video link from an unrelated assignment in Mexico City. He was a witness for the plaintiffs who are trying to make the case that the City of Saint John is liable for the harm caused by Estabrooks between 1953 and 1983.

Five men ranging in age from 58 to 66 have now described to the court how Estabrooks preyed upon them when they were children.

Each one said that Estabrooks got them alone, commanded them or coerced them to get into his police car, drove them to secluded places such as Tin Can Beach, and sexually assaulted them.

Only one witness can be identified, the representative plaintiff Bobby Hayes. The identities of all other class action members are protected by a publication ban.

CBC
CBC

A fifth witness, who testified Wednesday, said Estabrooks assaulted him as many as 40 times. He said he was eight years old when the abuse started and 12 when it stopped.

Lawyers for the city had no questions for him.

Perry was the next and last witness for the plaintiffs, but lawyers for the city objected to most of the questions put to him by lawyer Adam Tanel.

"Who hired [Perry] and what he was hired to do has nothing to do with what is before the court," said defendants' lawyer Donald Keenan.

Perry was not being examined as an expert, noted Keenan. He also said that Perry should not be allowed to give any hearsay evidence or opinion.

CBC
CBC

Justice William Grant did allow Perry to give some answers.

"How many individuals alleged directly to you that they had been sexually assaulted by Kenneth Estabrooks," asked Tanel.

Perry said in his last written report to the city in 2013, that number was 46.

The judge acknowledged that Perry's investigation had been partial. However, why the investigation came to an end, was not explained in court on Wednesday.

List was growing in 2013

Perry said he had no conflict when he was hired in 2012 because he had no connections to the city or the Saint John police force.

Before starting his own business, Investigative Solutions Network, Perry said, he worked for the Toronto police for 28 years and had headed up their sexual assault squad.

He said he signed a contract with the City of Saint John and reported to Pat Woods, who was then the city manager. He said he also reported to Stephanie Walsh in the human resources department, and Jacqueline Hamilton, former commissioner of strategic services for Saint John.

Perry also gave updates to the media at news conferences that were held at city hall.

CBC
CBC

At one of those news conferences, Mel Norton, the mayor of Saint John at the time, said the city's main priority was "those who were affected."

"Reaching out, hearing their stories and offering them free confidential counselling services that will hopefully provide them a chance at a more peaceful future," Norton said in October 2013.

In 2013, Perry said he was looking at more than 260 possible victims.

On Wednesday, Tanel tried to question him about how many leads he had been following. Tanel also asked how many people Perry had interviewed in total. Keenan objected to both questions, and the judge did not allow them.

While the plaintiffs only called six witnesses this week, they have said other testimony has been submitted in document form.

That includes evidence given at the class-action certification hearing in 2017.

The trial resumes in the Court of Queen's Bench on Monday.

Lawyer Michael Brenton, who is also representing the city, said he'll start with an opening statement, then call two witnesses.

He said one of those witnesses is Curt Griffiths, a professor in the school of criminology at Simon Fraser University in B.C.

Brenton said he'll also call Robert Bruce, the current chief of the Saint John police.

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