Key witness stonewalls again at Cornwall sex-abuse inquiry

Former cop refuses to testify, but his wife takes the stand

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 | 6:07 PM ET

A former Cornwall police officer whose whistle-blowing sparked a controversial sexual-abuse investigation in the eastern Ontario community has refused for the second time in as many days to testify at the inquiry into the scandal.

Perry Dunlop was forced by a subpoena to come from his home in British Columbia to appear at the inquiry, but both Monday and Tuesday he refused to answer questions from the witness stand, even when he was offered independent legal advice.

Perry Dunlop refused to testify at the Cornwall Inquiry both on Monday and on Tuesday.Perry Dunlop refused to testify at the Cornwall Inquiry both on Monday and on Tuesday.

"I lost my first house through legal advice. I don't want legal advice," he responded. "I have nothing to say.

The inquiry, which opened in February 2006, has been examining the response of authorities in the 1990s to complaints that prominent members of the Cornwall community sexually abused dozens of children over decades starting in the 1950s.

Lead counsel Peter Engelmann said he thinks it's sad that Dunlop won't speak.

"I think it's very unfortunate that someone who was so involved at the beginning of this process, and someone who called for this inquiry and is one of the principal reasons for it doesn't think his evidence is important for us to hear."

Dunlop's wife, Helen Dunlop, who answered a number of questions at the hearing on Tuesday morning before her husband was called to the stand, agreed to testify that afternoon.

She described her husband as a man who loved his job, his community and his friendships with colleagues, but lost it all after he began his key role in the sexual-abuse investigation in 1993.

That September, Dunlop walked in on two police sergeants while they were discussing the Catholic Church's agreement to pay a former altar boy $32,000. In exchange, the victim was dropping an abuse complaint.

Against orders, Dunlop handed the original complaint to the Children's Aid Society, which pursued the case.

He was disciplined for speaking out, but his continued work eventually led to four police investigations and charges against 15 people.

Helen Dunlop broke down several times when she described the stress on her husband, his problems in collecting disability payments and the friends who encouraged him to drop the case.

On Monday, the inquiry commissioner, Justice Normand Glaude, gave the Dunlops a night to think about the fact that not testifying could result in being charged with contempt of court.

However, after Perry Dunlop's refusal to testify on Tuesday, the commission counsel said it was still too early to consider applying for such a charge.