British Columbia·CBC Investigates

B.C. Court of Appeal told Claire Reeves was not a doctor of psychology as she claimed

The credentials of a so-called expert witness who testified in a major B.C. child abuse case have been called into question — and her professional views have been labelled 'bizarre.'

Child abuse expert had 'illegitimate credentials,' and her testimony 'should be disqualified,' says lawyer

Claire Reeves testified in a major B.C. child abuse case in 2012

The credentials of a so-called expert witness who testified in a major B.C. child abuse case have been called into question — and her professional views have been labelled "bizarre."

CBC News has learned Claire R. Reeves, 74, who calls herself a doctor of psychology, holds controversial views on the Catholic church, mind control and transgender individuals.

The father in the original 2012 family court hearing that heard Claire Reeve's expert testimony was labelled a child abuser. (CBC)

The B.C. Court of Appeal has been told her degrees were obtained from "diploma mills" — fake academic credentials bought for a fee.

The father in the original 2012 family court hearing — known only as "B.G." to protect his children's identity — was labelled a child abuser. He's now trying to launch an appeal in part because Reeves was allowed to give expert testimony in the case on behalf of the mother, "J.P." 

The case revolved around J.P.'s claims the province's Ministry of  Children and Family Development had ignored her suspicions that her husband, B.G., was sexually abusing their children.

Ministry workers had labelled J.P. mentally unstable, and awarded unsupervised access to the father.

The family court judge reviewing the case, Justice Paul Walker, ultimately ruled B.G. had indeed molested the children, based on months of evidence and the testimony of several expert witnesses — including Claire R. Reeves.

B.G. was never charged criminally.

'A fraudulent expert'

In launching his bid for appeal, B.G.'s lawyer, Morgan Camley, labelled Reeves "a fraudulent expert" who was "utterly unqualified."

Camley told the B.C. Court of Appeal that Reeves got her degrees from unaccredited companies posing as universities online, offering diplomas for a fee.

In documents filed in connection with the case, Camley also alleges Reeves's evidence given in 2012, "was unqualified, uninformed and based on junk science, (which) coloured the judge's approach to much of the evidence that was relied on in determining that B.G. sexually abused" his children, and that her views "could reasonably be described as bizarre."

Microchips and mind control

CBC News conducted its own independent investigation of Claire R. Reeves's views.

Online, she claims to have been instrumental in bringing in chemical castration for child molesters in California in 1996.

Her Facebook page as of Feb. 9 takes that even further, posing the question, "Why test on animals when we have prisons full of pedophiles?"

On a recent online talk show, Reeves alleged the Catholic church might have murdered a pedophile priest to stop him from talking.

She also suggested many transgender people will go on to commit suicide.

Reeves told the show moderator, "They're going to realize they're not gay. They're not transgender; they've already had the surgery. We're going to see suicides up the wazoo."

She also believes many people have had controlling microchips implanted in their brains — and have been given trigger words that could turn them into saboteurs.

"I believe people have been chipped, targeted individuals, and more of them than we can imagine," said Reeves, calling it, "Mind control. Because it really is mind control." 

Claire Reeves did not respond to CBC requests for an interview.

Lawyer 'disappointed'

The lawyer who used her as a witness in 2012 says he knew nothing about Reeve's views or her controversial credentials.

"If some of the allegations are true, we're terribly disappointed. And there was no way for us to know that. If we knew there were deficiencies with her credentials we certainly wouldn't have called her," says Jack Hittrich.  

But Hittrich also believes Reeves's testimony had little impact on Judge Walker's decision. 

"There were only three paragraphs in a 534 page decision ... where there's any reference to Claire Reeves. And in two of those, her evidence is buttressed by the testimony of other witnesses."

Lawyer Jack Hittrich says Reeves's testimony likley had little impact on Judge Walker's decision.

Legal experts say there has to be more vigorous screening of so-called "expert witnesses."

"The answer to the question how often this happens is we just don't know," says Emma Cunliffe, associate professor with the University of B.C.'s Faculty of Law.

"The problem is there is no single person who is charged with monitoring the claims being made by experts in Canadian courtrooms."

But Cunliffe agrees that Reeves's testimony might not have had a major impact on the original court decision.

"In this particular case, it seems likely the trial judge reached the decision based on other evidence, and therefore the fact that there was an expert about whom concerns have been raised should not cause us to be concerned about the outcome in this case," she said.

No date has been set for a decision on whether or not an appeal will be allowed.

Reeves herself claims to have been an expert witness in more than 50 cases in the U.S. and internationally.

If that's true, it's unknown how much weight her testimony was given — and how many people might have been affected.

About the Author

Eric Rankin

Investigative journalist

Eric Rankin is an award-winning CBC reporter. His honours include the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Local Reportage, the 2017 and 2015 RTDNA awards for Best In-depth/Investigative Reporting, and the 2009 Jack Webster award for Best News Reporting.