May 24, 2024
RCMP called him a sex-trafficking ‘ringleader.’ He wants an apology and $100M | CBC News

RCMP called him a sex-trafficking ‘ringleader.’ He wants an apology and $100M | CBC News

Daegun Chun, accused by Quebec RCMP of being the mastermind of a Canada-wide human-smuggling network, is now suing the force and Quebec’s attorney general for $100 million after all charges against him were stayed.

Chun was arrested in Toronto in 2015, then flown to Montreal and paraded in front of TV cameras before a press conference alleging he was the head of a trafficking ring that forced as many as 500 women into prostitution in various Canadian cities.

The Quebec Crown prosecutor who brought the charges said at the time there was “overwhelming evidence” in the case.

But as The National Post first reported over the weekend, Chun’s case never went to trial.

After all the fanfare over Chun’s arrest, Crown prosecutors quietly stayed all charges against him in 2018.

“When they arrested me they have some big show. And when they finished the case, nobody said anything,” Chun told CBC News in an interview Tuesday.

“They wanted to save face. They don’t want to admit their mistake,” Chun said.

Charges stayed with no explanation

When he was arrested, Chun was running a private career college in Toronto. He and eight other co-defendants were said to be running the prostitution operation in Toronto and Montreal.

Chun has always denied the allegations. He has no previous criminal record. He admitted he knew two of the co-accused, but only as tenants in condos he was subletting.

He believes the RCMP mistakenly concluded the school he was running was a front for human smuggling.

Chun’s lawsuit alleges RCMP officers made many errors, including mistranslating statements from Korean witnesses, relying on questionable information from co-accused and extrapolating innocuous aspects of running a school in order to fashion him into a criminal mastermind.

Chun spent 32 months in detention in Montreal before being released on bail in 2017, a few months before his scheduled trial.

It was only when he showed up for the trial in Montreal in March 2018 — fully prepared to argue the case — that he learned Crown prosecutors had stayed all charges against him a few weeks earlier without informing him and without further explanation.

“To protect its own interests and those of the RCMP, the Crown did the only thing it could in the circumstance, order a stay of charges, thereby denying Mr. Chun his day in court and the opportunity to have a court make a finding of not guilty,” Chun’s lawsuit alleges.

He’s suing for $100 million, arguing the arrest essentially ruined his life.

“The RCMP’s shoddy handling of the Project Confidence investigation, and the self-congratulatory grandstanding that followed, irreparably damaged Mr. Chun’s professional and personal reputation by mistakenly branding him a major threat to civilized society,” the lawsuit alleges.

The RCMP responded to CBC News in an email.

“Unfortunately, we cannot comment because of the civil litigation currently on the way,” Sgt. Charles Poirier, spokesperson for the RCMP in Quebec, said.

Quebec’s Ministry of Justice did not respond to a request for comment.

RCMP tried and failed to have lawsuit tossed

Chun originally filed his lawsuit in 2019, but it has been delayed several times as both the RCMP and the Quebec attorney general have tried to have it tossed on procedural grounds.

Chun filed his initial statement of claim himself without the aid of a lawyer.

In a 2021 decision, Ontario Superior Court Judge Fred Myers concluded that the statement of claim was flawed and contained many legal errors, but he didn’t think that was reason enough to throw out the case.

“Given that the first statement of claim was drafted by non-lawyers and tells such a clear factual story, in my view, the plaintiffs ought to have one more chance to try to plead proper claims,” Myers said in the decision. 

“I am not much moved by the RCMP’s desire to get on with its life as opposed to Mr. Chun’s claim for recompense for the loss of his life as he knew it,” Myers said.

“Uncharitably viewed, the RCMP could be said to be grasping at technical straws to avoid having to account for its remarkable conduct,” Myers said.

 Chun has since hired a lawyer who’s filed a new statement of claim.

That lawyer, Marshall Reinhart, told CBC News the RCMP and the attorney general of Quebec are again trying to have the case thrown out, arguing among other things that the new statement of claim wasn’t filed within a court-ordered timeline.

Reinhart said Quebec was also arguing that the lawsuit should not be heard in Ontario since the original charges were filed in Quebec.

Those points will be argued at a hearing in Toronto in October.

Chun is back living there, doing volunteer work and receiving some financial support from his family.

He still struggles to get bank loans or employment because of the case, and to be fully welcomed back into the church community he was part of before.

“Nobody wants to talk to me even though the criminal case is stayed. They don’t trust me,” he said.

He wants cash compensation and an apology, but he also hopes his lawsuit might prevent something similar from happening to someone else.

“I hope my story contributes to more democracy in Canada, and that some systems change,” Chun said.

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