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Boy Arrested and Fostered over Rumor
July 27, 2012 permalink
When Niagara FACS got a third-hand story of sex between siblings, the older boy was arrested, charged with a crime and placed in foster care. The accused required a lesson on what sex was. The purported victim denies that a sexual act was committed.
Gossip destroys a family
This is a bizarre and scary story, about how one family has been destroyed - ripped apart by a snickered conversation between two children on a school bus.
Based on that unfounded hearsay, the school bus driver spoke to the school principal, the school called Family and Child Services who called the cops.
Because the story involves criminal charges against a 12-year-old boy, I can’t give you any real names - or even be specific about his home town.
I’ll call him Bobby Smith, a boy who was adopted soon after birth. Until recently, he lived in a small community in the Niagara region with his parents. I’ll call them John and Mary, and younger brother, who I’ll call Mike, 6.
Mary took the boys on a cruise for March Break. While they were away, her husband received a phone message from Family And Children Services Niagara that they needed to talk to them about the conversation between the two boys on the bus.
It was alleged the boys claimed Bobby had sexual relations with his younger brother.
John and Mary later discovered their exact words were: “Bobby sucks his brother. His brother sucks him back.”
It’s worth noting that Bobby, who has attention deficit disorder, doesn’t take that bus and has a different driver. Nor does he live anywhere near the two boys.
A worker from FACS Niagara talked to the two boys. Little brother Mike recalled a time when they’d been wrestling on the ground and touched each other’s privates - outside their clothing. Their father had intervened and given them a time-out and told them to stop rolling on the floor.
More seriously, though, Mike revealed that he HAD been assaulted but not by his brother. He said in an unrelated incident, the 13-year-old son of a babysitter, “stuck it in.”
The FACS worker decided to call in police.
The police officer spent another 45 minutes interviewing Mike, who steadfastly maintained that his brother hadn’t molested him, but that another boy had.
Shortly after, late one afternoon, the Smiths got a call from the Niagara Region police officer saying they were going to arrest Bobby at school the next day.
His parents asked why they’d do that in front of his peers - and said they’d bring him to the police station the next morning.
The officer balked, until John insisted that if they were going to arrest Bobby at school, he’d keep the child at home.
He is, after all, just a 12-year-old.
At the station, the officer asked Bobby a number of questions of a sexual nature: Did he know what sex was? Bobby admitted he didn’t
“That’s when you take your penis and put it in a woman’s vagina,” the cop told him.
Nothing like a crash sex-education course for the pre-teen set.
Bobby started to cry - and the cop told him, “Now I’m arresting you for sexually assaulting your brother,” - and handcuffed him.
That was just the start of the nightmare.
The family was stunned and devastated.
“I was caught like a deer in the headlights,” Mary told me.
Bobby was forced to move out of the family home - away from Mike. Bobby and his dad moved in with the children’s grandparents in Hamilton, thinking it would be a temporary measure.
FACS told them if they didn’t do that, Bobby would be put in a detention centre.
He hasn’t been home since.
When they could no longer stay in their grandparents’ basement, and when they failed to have his bail conditions lessened, the only option was for the family to sign a temporary care agreement, which put Bobby in a group home for six months. The visiting hours when Mary and John can see their son have been limited, and Bobby has limited access to other children.
At a pre-trial hearing last week, the judge suggested dropping the charges, suggesting the Smith family should get counselling instead. The Crown refused.
I was unable to get comment from the police and Family And child Services on this case specifically, but I did ask for guidelines that might relate to it.
In an email, I asked a spokesman for Niagara Regional Police if it’s normal for officers to arrest a 12-year-old at school.
“Each situation is different. While the arrest of a 12-year-old is never easy the Child Abuse Unit takes steps to minimize the impact on all parties involved while maintaining the need to protect others,” said constable Derek Watson.
As for questioning a child about sex, he had this to say: “When the police speak with child offenders, the Criminal Code and Youth Criminal Justice Act require that the child offender be spoken to in a manner to ensure they understand what is being said. Discussions of things of a sexual nature would have to occur in a sexual abuse investigation to seek out the truth.”
In response to my query on their policy on handcuffing children, Watson said it depended on the circumstances.
“Handcuffing is a use of force used to prevent a prisoner’s escape and for the member and prisoner’s safety. Their use is mandatory on all prisoners unless in the officer’s judgment the circumstances make it impossible or unnecessary (i.e. elderly, handicapped prisoners, persons requiring sign language to communicate, child.)
Family and Child Services Niagara spokesman Ann Godfrey said they bear the safety of children in mind at all times.
“Any time anyone expresses genuine concern about the safety of a child in the community, that is something we do need to look into,” she said.
“Every situation is different. Sometimes it’s a matter of interpretation.”
Crown Attorney Holly Nickel did not return my call.
Meanwhile, little Mike was molested - not by his brother, but allegedly by the babysitter’s son. That boy didn’t not go to a group home. He was allowed to go home to his family and is still on the streets of that small community, which scares and angers the Smiths.
Mary worries her six-year-old will bump into his molester.
“Our lives have been turned upside down since April,” Mary told me.
“My six-year-old year old was the victim here and continues to be the victim right along side my 12-year-old son.”
Suffer the little children? They certainly do in Niagara.
Source: Toronto Sun