Martensville: Truth or Justice?


When a child-abuse scandal is uncovered at an unlicenced daycare in small-town Saskatchewan, it polarizes the community. Frann Harris, a rookie court reporter assigned to the trial the longest in Saskatchewan history starts to wonder if the scope of the alleged crimes is dwarfed by something even more startling: a botched police investigation and inappropriate courtroom procedures.

Harris’ narrative alternates between the stories of child sexual abuse and whimsical recollections of her own childhood, using the odd touch of humour. Because the unfamiliar courtroom jargon sounds like a foreign language to her and to most readers, she translates it into plain English, and simplifies and demystifies elaborate and stylized courtroom procedures.

Harris takes the reader into the courtroom, recreating the trial in all its complexities: the painful allegations of the children and their parents; the daily parry-and-thrust of lawyers trying to discredit both the police investigation and the testimony of the victims; and the contradictory testimony of psychologists and medical experts. Harris also goes outside the courtroom, interviewing witnesses and eavesdropping on the conversations of the accused, the police, neighbours and journalists.

The verdicts in the Martensville case were and still are hotly contested. We may never know what really happened at the daycare, but in Martensville: Truth or Justice? The Story of the Martensville Daycare Trials, we can learn the intricacies of the investigation and the trial, and decide for ourselves whether justice was served.


"Harris' account is cool and clean. She gives us a clear view of how courts work, how journalists who cover the courts work, and how difficult it is to assess the evidence of the vulnerable among us."

Canoe (April, 1998)

"Harris reports rather than preaches. What her account demonstrates is the virtual breakdown of the criminal justice system in Canada, particularly when abuse of children is involved."

Winnipeg Free Press

About the Author

Frann Harris

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Frann Harris

Frann Harris grew up in Toronto, Ontario, and taught high school for five years before working at TVOntario and two educational publishing houses. For the past 15 years she has lived in the West, and edited two national magazines and written articles for more than two dozen magazines and newspapers. This is her first book.