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Who Watched Katelynn?
August 10, 2008 permalink
Kenn Richard, executive director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, says his agency was not involved in giving custody of Katelynn Sampson to Donna Irving, the woman accused of killing her.
But reading between the lines tells a different story. He refused to say whether he had monitored the girl, claiming confidentiality under the Child and Family Services Act. These confidentiality provisions have never in the past prevented children's aid societies from talking when they wanted to. Katelynn's mother says children's aid was involved with her daughter. So it looks like a case of CAS failure after all.
Native child services denies role in placing slain girl with accused
Director refuses to comment on whether agency oversaw care of seven-year-old
The executive director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto says his agency was not involved in the transfer of custody of Katelynn Sampson from her biological mother to the couple now accused in the seven-year-old girl's death.
However, Kenn Richard refused yesterday to say whether his staff had ever overseen the care of Katelynn by her mother, Bernice Sampson, or her subsequent guardian, Donna Irving, who, along with her boyfriend, Warren Johnson, is charged with second-degree murder.
"I can't [tell you]," Mr. Richard said outside the agency's College Street offices, citing a Child and Family Services Act section that forbids identification of people involved in child-welfare proceedings. "But had we gone [to the girl's home], we would have acted."
Katelynn was found dead last Sunday morning in a second-floor apartment that Ms. Irving shared with Mr. Johnson in the Queen Street-Lansdowne Avenue area in the city's west end. Police said the girl had been sleeping on a bedroom floor and that her body showed signs of repeated abuse.
Her mother has since said two child-welfare agencies, the Children's Aid Society of Toronto and Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, had been involved with the girl's care, but both agencies have refused to confirm or deny this.
Meanwhile, an autopsy has been conducted and tissue and toxicology tests on Katelynn's remains are continuing, although a cause of death has not yet been determined, said David Evans, Toronto's supervising coroner for investigations. A funeral service will be held on Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Ave.
Dr. Evans said it is too early to say whether Katelynn's death will be the subject of a coroner's inquest or examination by Ontario's Paediatric Death Review Committee, which operates under the auspices of the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario and reviews child deaths, including all those in which the child was receiving services from a child-welfare agency.
"We cannot do anything until the court proceedings are completed," he said, referring to the criminal counts against Ms. Irving and Mr. Johnson.
In 2007, the committee took in 76 reports of deaths in cases where children's aid societies were involved, four of which were deemed homicides.
As of March 31 of that year, the province's 53 children's aid societies had 26,260 ongoing child-protection cases on their books.
Source: The Globe and Mail