TORONTO — A man sent to jail for a crime notorious sex killer Paul Bernardo later confessed to has filed a $1.1-million lawsuit, claiming his wrongful conviction destroyed his reputation and ended his marriage.
Anthony Hanemaayer, 42, is suing police, the Attorney General for Ontario and his former lawyer, citing negligence on the part of the lawyer and police.
Hanemaayer was convicted in 1989 for break and enter and assault with intent to rape a 15-year-old girl in her Scarborough, Ont., home. The mother of the victim chased off the attacker.
In 2008 the Ontario Court of Appeal wiped Hanemaayer’s record clean, calling the conviction “profoundly regrettable” and a “miscarriage of justice.”
“He’s had to live with, and to some extent continues to live with, the label of being a convicted sex offender, even though he’s innocent,” Hanemaayer’s lawyer, David Robins, said in an interview from Windsor, Ont.
Hanemaayer is “stuck with the stigma,” and has endured humiliation, psychological trauma and the loss of his reputation, he added.
While Hanemaayer lived with the conviction for decades, the statement of claim alleges authorities knew Hanemaayer was innocent for years.
The allegations have not been proven in court and the named parties are yet to file statements of defence.
In 2005, about 15 years after Hanemaayer was released on parole, Bernardo confessed to the attack, first to his own counsel and one year later to Det. Brad Hoover and Det.-Const. Darlene Coulis, the suit alleges.
Paul Bernardo was convicted of the murder of schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. He is serving an indefinite prison sentence after being declared a dangerous offender.
After Bernardo’s 2006 jailhouse confession police interviewed Hanemaayer, but did not tell him about Bernardo, the suit alleges. He only found out after lawyers working on another case came across the documents.
Hanemaayer declared his innocence to officers during that 2006 interview.
A report by the officers written after the meeting concluded that “Paul Bernardo is the person responsible for committing this offence,” the suit alleges.
The lawsuit also claims the report was given to the Crown Attorney’s office, but the information was never disclosed to Hanemaayer.
The police “rushed to judgment,” the suit alleges, using an eye-witness account from the victim’s mother, and her own suspicions that the perpetrator may have worked at a nearby construction site.
At the time Hanemaayer’s lawyer, Gerry Samulovitch, urged him to plead guilty to spare a six-year sentence. Hanemaayer did and was sentenced to two years less a day and spent 16 months in jail.
Earlier this year the Ontario government denied Hanemaayer compensation, saying such payouts only apply to “rare, unusual cases.”
Hanemaayer, who now lives in Harriston, Ont., still faces daily challenges, his lawyer said.
“He’s having difficulty securing employment. He’s doing his best to overcome the difficulties he has faced as a result of his wrongful conviction,” said Robins.