Peter Dalglish, the Order of Canada recipient accused of assaulting children in Nepal, says he was himself assaulted as a child, according to court records seen by The Globe and Mail.
Mr. Dalglish, who was arrested in April and is now being held in a Nepalese prison, also told police he then abused teenagers as an adult, according to the dossier, which contains statements and police notes. In a video-taped confession, Mr. Dalglish described it as a kind of revenge, one of the police officers who questioned him told The Globe.
But although the court records shed new light on the evidence against Mr. Dalglish, they also illuminate substantial inconsistencies in the case against him. The most important of those is his confession, which he later repudiated before a judge during a months-long trial that is still going on.
Police found Mr. Dalglish with two boys when they arrested him at a remote mountainside home he maintained outside Kathmandu. Those boys provided graphic allegations of sexual contact with Mr. Dalglish. The court documents also include a detailed account of sexual assault by Mr. Dalglish against a third person. In another major inconsistency, however, that person subsequently withdrew his allegation.
Mr. Dalglish, a globe-trotting advocate for children who held multiple United Nations posts, himself denied wrongdoing in an interview with The Globe from a Kathmandu detention cell earlier this year. The case against him is not founded on “proper factual evidence,” said Rahul Chapagain, Mr. Dalglish’s defence lawyer. It amounts to “accusing a person and then harassing them,” he said.
But the two boys found in Mr. Dalglish’s home at the time of his arrest have stood by their testimony, said Kabit Katwal, deputy superintendent of Nepal Police.
“We are pretty sure that the case will not fail,” he said in an interview. “The evidence is there, the confession is there, the victims clearly told the story of how they became victimized. So everything is crystal clear.”
The court records show that, five days after his arrest, Mr. Dalglish described being beaten and sexually abused for years by a teacher, beginning at the age of 11. “I later abused other children between the ages of 16 and 18,” he said, according to a Nepali-language transcript.
“He was a victim and had some sense of revenge once he became an adult. He abused children,” Mr. Katwal said.
But Mr. Dalglish later denied that admission before a judge. “I have never, ever abused anyone sexually,” he said, according to a document in the court records. He blamed the documentation of his earlier confession on a translation error.
Mr. Katwal was among those who questioned Mr. Dalglish, in conversations conducted in English and video-recorded, he said. Mr. Katwal also spoke in English during a detailed interview with The Globe. “You see, we can easily communicate in English. There is no problem,” Mr. Katwal said. A translator rendered Mr. Dalglish’s comments into Nepali, he said.
Mr. Dalglish is currently being held in Dhulikhel Jail, on the outskirts of Kathmandu. He was transferred there after a court denied him bail this summer, citing him as a potential flight risk. He has now been held in custody for nearly half a year, and police expect his trial to last for another month or two. But “he has not complained about his situation,” said Mr. Chapagain, his lawyer.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Dalglish delivered aid to famine-struck Ethiopia, worked with the children of murdered parents in Guatemala, evacuated children from war-torn Sudan, taught sex workers’ children in India, responded to the Ebola crisis in Liberia, founded an organization that helped street kids around the world and oversaw skills training in Afghanistan. He often paid school fees for poor children, took them on international trips and invited them to his home.
His trial is being conducted as Nepalese authorities have arrested a series of men on pedophilia-related charges this year, including a Dutch doctor and two French nationals.
One of the key issues for the Nepalese courts is assessing the reliability of evidence presented. The records seen by The Globe, for example, include a detailed account from a Nepalese man who described events that took place beginning 13 years ago.
That man, now 25, attended a Buddhist school where Mr. Dalglish occasionally taught leadership classes. The Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School says it later banned Mr. Dalglish from its premises, citing discomfort with his conduct around children.
But at the time, Mr. Dalglish invited children to his home for sleepovers, and “used to give us a guitar, piano, bags, school books and other stuff,” the man said in a statement to police. “Peter used to make us naked and bathed us separately,” the statement says. “He then applied oil on our body and after going to sleep he used to come and touch us.“
In court, however, the man offered a very different account. “Peter hasn’t abused me sexually,” he said, according to trial records seen by The Globe. “We used to bathe on our own. Peter did not bathe us or apply oil to us. We used to put oil on ourselves.”
Mr. Dalglish’s lawyer said the inconsistency was also linguistic, saying the man is a member of the Tamang minority who is a poor Nepali speaker. Police and the Shree Mangal school said the man speaks and reads Nepali.
Police evidence against Mr. Dalglish also includes the testimony of the two children in his house at the time of his arrest, as well as what a police document calls 50 “naked photos of children from different countries.“
One of the boys in that house alleged Mr. Dalglish had sexually abused him for four years. That victim said “Peter used to buy him food, give money, buy him clothes and tell him often that [Dalglish] would take him to Bangkok for tours and provide him a job in a five-star hotel when he grew up,” according to the statement in the court record, which includes graphic details of genital touching and oral sex.
The police statement notes that Mr. Dalglish denied those allegations.
His lawyer, too, questioned their reliability. The boys, aged 12 and 14 when Mr. Dalglish was arrested, gave conflicting accounts of the alleged assaults against them, Mr. Chapagain said.
And some of the photos of naked children had been published decades ago by Mr. Dalglish in his book, The Courage of Children. The photos are not sexual in nature, but include children in the slums of Bombay and “African children in their natural state,” Mr. Chapagain said.
He added: ”This case seems to be hastily brought forward to the court without any actual evidence of a crime being committed by the person who they are alleging did a crime.”