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Foster Parent of the Year
February 5, 2010 permalink
Foster dad Garry Prokopishin is the cream of the crop, a director for the Calgary & District Foster Parents Association once honored as “Foster Parent of the Year”. Yesterday he was charged with a long list of sex-crimes against his wards. Details in the story suggest that for twenty years he kept teenaged foster boys in his home to satisfy his unnatural lust. Now if he is the best foster parent ...
Foster dad facing sex charges
By NADIA MOHARIB, QMI Agency
CALGARY -- Police accuse a Calgary man once named “Foster Parent of the Year” with numerous sex-related offences spanning several years.
As the disturbing allegations were revealed Thursday, those who know the 51-year-old long-time foster parent say they cannot believe the man they know as a pillar of the community could be guilty of engaging in sex acts with underage boys.
Garry Prokopishin, a director for the Calgary & District Foster Parents Association, is charged with luring a child via a data device, three counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain sex from a person under age 18 and sexual contact with a youth by a person in authority.
Police allege he offered cash in exchange for sex acts.
They also said they found evidence of inappropriate cell phone camera images.
The charges stem from an investigation started by child abuse detectives last summer after an agency, who they would not disclose, contacted them with concerns about the foster home in Beddington where Prokopishin and his wife took in high-risk youth, police spokesman Kevin Brookwell said.
“These are kids who have had some trouble with the law and issues with substance abuse they were working through,” Brookwell said.
Prokopishin was the primary care-giver for his three alleged victims, police said.
Police tracked down 13 of 55 foster children, all boys ranging from age 14 to 17, who lived in the home over the past 20 years as part of the investigation.
They still want to track down the other individuals fostered in the home over the years.
“Our investigators have literally travelled from one end of the country to the other to try to talk to these kids,” Brookwell said.
“There is the potential there could be other victims.”
The alleged offences happened between January 2006 and April of 2008.
The operation was shut down immediately after the investigation began.
Children and Youth Services Minister Yvonne Fritz learned of the charges Thursday and ordered an investigation into the case, spokesman Trevor Coulombe said.
“She wants to know what occurred from A to Z and wants the report in her hands as soon as possible,” he said.
Joanne Atkinson, general manager at a Royal Canadian Legion branch where Prokopishin worked in the dining room for the past 20 years, said she is shocked by the charges.
“I would find it hard to believe,” she said.
“Garry is a nice man.”
While many fellow foster parents are also incredulous there could be any merit to the allegations, Brookwell said the investigation was exhaustive, involving interviews with youth fostered in the home, friends and associates to garner “corroborating evidence” before charges were laid.
Prokopishin is out on $800 bail.
— with files from Bill Kaufmann and Kevin Martin
Another newspaper, the Calgary Herald, supplied a photo of Garry Prokopishin.
Addendum: Lawyer Robert P Lee, who has spent years suing on behalf of abused Alberta foster children, comments on the arrest.
Critic says foster care system chronically dysfunctional
By NADIA MOHARIB, Calgary Sun, Last Updated: 5th February 2010, 6:30pm
On the heels sex-related charges against a Calgary foster parent, other victims of abuse in such care say they’re outraged problems within the system are never addressed.
Edmonton lawyer Robert Lee represents about 300 people abused in foster care and for the past seven years has had a class action suit against the Alberta government seeking compensation for the victims.
Disturbed by sex-abuse charges this week laid against a longtime foster parent Garry Prokopishin for alleged incidents with three male youth in his care, Lee said he’s also disappointed to hear provincial authorities once again vowing to deal with chronic issues within the system.
He said the system struggles with “well-meaning welfare workers trying to do their best with kids,” but hampered by heavy workloads.
And while the top issue is abuse — with countless cases where children’s complaints are not believed — it is followed by neglect, where they simply fall through cracks in the system, said Lee.
“There have been numerous reviews of the child welfare system over the last thirty years and unfortunately, those recommendations are not implemented,” he said.
This week, Calgarian Prokopishin, was charged with offering teens in his care money in exchange for sexual acts.
Police said the 51-year-old and his wife cared for 55 male youth over 20 years at their Beddington home.
Investigators interviewed 13 out of 55 former foster children before charging Prokopishin with luring a child by cellphone, three counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain sex from a person under 18 years of age and sexual contact with a youth by a person in authority.
Newly-minted Children and Youth Services Minister Yvonne Fritz announced a review of that case on Thursday, the same day police went public with the charges.
Friday, she stressed the review is not of the “entire foster-care system,” but rather the Calgary case to see whether policies and procedures were followed.
“It is focusing on this particular situation,” she said.
“It is an internal review and if changes are necessary I will make those changes immediately.”
Fritz also defended the foster-care system.
“We have very strong foster-care and very stringent screening process,” she said.
There are about 4,600 youth in foster care in Alberta.
The bulk have been abused or neglected and end up in care when guardians are unable or unwilling to look after them.
Source: Calgary Sun
Addendum: More charges.
Former foster parent faces additional sex charges
CALGARY — Police have laid another sex assault charge against a former foster parent accused of abusing boys in his care.
Garry Dale Prokopishin, 52, is charged with obtaining sex from a person under 18 and sexual contact with a youth by person in authority after a sixth victim came forward.
In December 2010, police received information from a man who claimed he had been sexually abused while in a Calgary foster home.
It’s alleged that between Nov. 15, 2001 and Sept. 1, 2005, the then 14-year-old teen was repeatedly sexually assaulted while in the care of his foster parent. The assaults are alleged to have occurred at the Calgary home of the accused and at locations outside of the city, police said in a news release.
He’s the sixth victim to come forward.
The other five have alleged they were in their mid-teens when they were molested between 2004 and 2008.
Calgary police say they have not yet spoken with all 55 boys that lived in the home, although they note that the investigation is ongoing. Interviews have been conducted across Canada, police said.
Source: Calgary Herald
Addendum: June 2012, two more charges.
Charges against former Foster Parent of the Year hiked to five
Former Foster Parent of the Year Gary Prokopishin will face two extra accusers when he stands trial for molesting boys under his care, his lawyer said Friday.
Defence counsel Ian McKay told court the Crown has directly indicted his client on two additional charges of sexual contact with minors, bringing the total allegations against him to five. As a result, McKay told Justice Earl Wilson, he and Crown prosecutor Gord Haight will need an eight-day hearing instead of six.
McKay set Prokop-ishin’s new trial to commence March 4 before a Court of Queen’s Bench judge sitting without a jury.
Outside court, McKay said the additional allegations involve complainants who came forward earlier, but could not be subpoenaed for Prokopishin’s preliminary hearing.
“They were on the original (charging) information, but they couldn’t get them served for the preliminary,” the lawyer said.
Prokopishin, 53, was ordered to stand trial on three charges of sexual contact with a minor by a person in authority following a preliminary inquiry in October 2010.
He had faced 13 charges involving six different boys, but 10 of those were dismissed by a provincial court judge who found there was no evidence to support them.
Prokopishin was initially arrested in February 2010 and charged with luring a child via a data device, three counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain sex from a person under 18, and sexual contact with a youth by a person in authority. Police alleged at the time money was offered in exchange for sexual acts.
Source: Calgary Sun
Addendum: October 2014 convicted.
City man convicted of sexually assaulting four boys under his foster care
A man who was chosen along with his wife as the local Foster Family of the Year in 2007 now faces a lengthy prison sentence after sexually assaulting four foster boys under his care.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Hall on Thursday convicted Garry Dale Prokopishin, 56, of sexually touching the boys while in a position of trust between May 5, 1999, and Aug. 5, 2008. He also acquitted him of one charge and another count was earlier withdrawn by Crown prosecutor Gord Haight.
Hall said the complainants’ descriptions of ‘Guys’ Nights,’ in which the teenage boys were taken to different towns outside the city, put up in a hotel, bought drinks, dinner and clothes and paid for sex, was a key part of the evidence.
“The description of Guys’ Nights by the complainants further corroborate the sexual nature of the relationship between the participants and the accused, even though these events occurred after the complainants reached the age of majority (18),” wrote Hall in his decision.
One of the complainants testified that Prokopishin would usually pay him $20 after the event.
Hall said the complainants and others who lived in the home and provided similar fact evidence supported each others’ stories about what happened, and he accepted it for the most part, with no serious concern of collusion among them.
“The court is aware of the potential for collusion among the complainants,” said the judge. “They could all contact each other and many indicated that they have done so. Two of the complainants are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the accused and the government, and the others are aware of the lawsuit. There is at least a ‘whiff of profit,’
“Notwithstanding this possibility for collusion, the Crown has satisfied me that it has not occurred in this case. The evidence of any one witness is not tailored to fit that of others; indeed, there are inconsistencies between them that one would not expect if intentional collusion had transpired. Unintentional collusion as to the acts that occurred to each of them is simply not a realistic possibility.”
One complainant, now 26, testified he agreed to allow Prokopishin to perform sex acts on him when he was between 16 and 18 years old, generally for $20 each occasion, and he would use the money to feed his crack cocaine habit.
He told Haight the sex occurred regularly at the home, but also three or four times in hotels in Drumheller, Medicine Hat and Red Deer.
After he moved to Kitimat, B.C., in 2008, the complainant said Prokopishin phoned him and said other kids had come forward and reporters were flooding around his house. He said he then went to Kitimat RCMP and reported the incidents.”
“They gave us drugs, cigarettes and money. There was always food on the table. It was a very good home. I didn’t have an issue staying in the home,” he said of the Prokopishins.
Hall ordered a presentence report and a psychiatric report at the request of Haight and defence lawyer Ian McKay to be prepared for sentencing arguments on Dec. 19.
The judge ordered Prokopishin into custody following a brief discussion, and he will remain there until sentencing.
Source: Calgary Herald