Wife of former Cornwall cop testifies at inquiry after husband refuses

Wednesday, 2:00 a.m.

Dunlop declines legal advice



CORNWALL, Ont. — For the second day in a row, a former city police officer refused to testify at an inquiry probing the institutional response to allegations of systemic sexual abuse in the Cornwall area.

“Are you prepared to answer my questions?” Peter Engelmann, lead commission counsel, asked Perry Dunlop on Tuesday. “No,” said Dunlop. “I’m not.”

At one point, Dunlop was asked if he intended to say anything and he reached towards a pocket inside his suit jacket and began to pull out a small piece of paper from which he’d read Monday while on the stand.

At that time, Dunlop said he had no faith in the inquiry, its mandate or the Ontario criminal justice system and had nothing further to say.

“Do you have anything to say other than what you said yesterday?” asked inquiry Commissioner Normand Glaude.

“I’ll stick with what I said yesterday,” Dunlop said.

Dunlop was then asked if he wanted some independent legal advice.


Engelmann then told Dunlop the inquiry could arrange to have the costs of legal counsel covered by the Attorney General, an offer which the former cop flatly refused.

“I don’t want a lawyer,” he said.

Engelmann said while he was disappointed to realize Dunlop had not changed his mind about testifying before the inquiry, he was prepared to put questions to Dunlop’s wife, Helen.

Helen Dunlop suggested she was prepared to answer questions in a limited fashion.

“(I will) as long as I don’t feel intimidated or bullied,” she said. “The moment I feel intimidated, bullied or harassed, I will stop speaking.”

She told the inquiry of the toll the past 14 years have taken on herself, her husband and their three daughters, beginning with the day she first heard the charges levelled against a man she once trusted to lead her family in their faith.

In September 1993, Perry handed her a piece of paper which contained allegations of sexual abuse against a city priest.

“He said, `I found something out today,”’ Helen said, “`and our lives are never going to be the same.”’

The document included allegations made by David Silmser against Rev. Charles MacDonald, a Catholic priest.

“It sickened me,” said Helen. “It scared me.”

“(MacDonald) was at my ... family parish and I had 40 to 50 nieces and nephews there at the church, and their friends,” she said. “There were boys there going into the altar boy program.”

MacDonald, who has adamantly denied all allegations against him, was charged in 1996 with a number of sexual assault crimes, but those charges were stayed in 2002 when a judge determined it had taken too long to bring the matter to trial.

She said she and her husband spent the next seven years living through dozens of victims disclosing allegations of abuse to them, Perry facing charges of misconduct under the Police Services Act of which he was ultimately exonerated and health issues which nearly destroyed their family.

Some of his fellow officers told him that, for his own good, he should stop looking into how the force had handled the allegations against MacDonald, she testified.

“Another officer approached him in the change room and said, `If I were you, I would take my revolver and blow my head off,”’ she recalled.

The inquiry continues.

“I lost my first house through legal advice,” said Dunlop.