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Foster Parent Honored, Arrested

January 7, 2011 permalink

What's the difference between a sex-criminal and a foster parent? In Welland Ontario, nothing. Award-winning foster parent Maurice Lavigueur has been arrested and charged with sexual assault, sexual exploitation and juvenile prostitution.



Foster dad charged with juvenile prostituion

WELLAND — A man once honoured by Family and Children's Services Niagara for his commitment to foster parenting has been charged by Niagara Regional Police with six sex-related offences involving minors.

Maurice Lavigueur, 52, was arrested and charged Thursday with two counts each of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and juvenile prostitution.

Police provided no information regarding the victim.

Lavigueur, and his wife Lynne, have been foster parents to nearly 90 children over the past 20 years in their Welland home, according to a Tribune story published in 2008.

Ann Godfrey, FACS' director of development and public relations, said Thursday's arrest was "shocking and disturbing and a very serious matter."

"We would co-operate jointly with police … we're looking for a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of this matter," she said.

While not being able to comment directly on whether there were foster children still in the home, she said when there are allegations of a serious matter regarding foster children, the children would be removed by FACS as a safety matter until an investigation is complete.

In 2008, the Lavigueur family was given a special certificate and a plaque for being outstanding foster parents.

At the time, Godfrey said, "I think with the Lavigueurs … they're just so consistent and reliable, but more than that, they just go beyond their role as foster parents."

Godfrey heard the Lavigueurs treated their foster kids like one big extended family: "they're very non-judgmental and easy-going, they handle problems that come their way and they even help mentor biological parents."

She'd also heard that kids who leave their home continue to keep in touch with the Lavigueurs even after they go on to start their own families.

Maurice Lavigueur remains in custody and is scheduled to appear at a bail hearing at the Robert S. K. Welch Courthouse, in St. Catharines Friday at 10 a.m.

Niagara Regional Police continue to investigate this matter and urge anyone with information to contact Det. Ken Wegelin of the sexual assault unit at 905-735-7811 ext. 5122.

Source: Welland Tribune

Addendum: There are more accusations.



Another alleged victim of foster dad steps forward

WELLAND -- Less than a week after Maurice Lavigueur was released on bail, police have arrested him again and laid additional sex-related charges against the one-time model foster parent.

The 52-year-old Welland man, whom Family and Children's Services Niagara honoured in 2008 for his commitment to foster parenting, was first arrested Jan. 6 and charged with two counts each of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and juvenile prostitution.

Since news of his original arrest was published, Niagara Regional Police spokesman Const. Nilan Dave said, another alleged victim has been identified, leading to additional single counts of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and juvenile prostitution being laid against Lavigueur.

"This second victim did see media coverage and came forward, contacted investigators," Dave said.

"We appreciate the coverage and obviously if there are any other victims, we encourage them to come forward."

He said people with any information regarding the case should contact Det. Ken Wegelin of the sexual assault unit at 905-735-7811, ext. 5122.

Lavigueur was released from custody on a $20,000 surety bond following a hearing Friday at the Robert S.K. Welch Courthouse in St. Catharines.

FACS spokeswoman Ann Godfrey said there "are many checks and balances in place" for foster parents.

"There are many steps and a very vigorous screening process when people make application. There's ongoing monitoring of the foster homes and also the children in the homes, and that's done separately and independently," she said.

She said foster parents are also assigned FACS workers who support them. Each of the children living within a foster home has a worker assigned to them, "who meets with them regularly and in private."

Godfrey said that level of oversight is mandated by Ministry of Children and Youth Services guidelines and legislation.

"So yeah, you do question how something likes this could happen with all those checks and balances in place. It's something we're looking at very closely and hopefully we'll be able to find out," she said.

"It's very distressing to contemplate that something like this might have happened while a child or young person is in our care."

Godfrey said FACS will work closely with police until the situation is resolved.

Lavigueur's next court appear-a nce will be on Feb. 25 in Welland.

Source: St Catharines Standard

Addendum: Retraction.