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Putman has No Regrets

September 20, 2012 permalink

Gary Putman has no regrets for his failure to report the rape of one of his wards. Putman says when the victim, MA, came into the care of his agency, he did not read her file to learn her prior history of sexual abuse, and when the rapes came to his attention, he did not advise the girl to go to the police. MA's later history of depression, anorexia, anxiety and a suicide attempt shows that foster care did produce a good outcome for her.

On Facebook, Pat Niagara asks how many other unreported crimes are in Mr Putman's past? Neil Haskett suggests the shredders will be working overtime to clear the records. If Gary Putman was a normal person, he would be facing charges for failure to protect.



‘No regrets’ for not reporting sex with foster child

Situations like that are never ‘consensual’: judge

Gary Putman
Retired. Gary Putman, former executive director of the Dufferin Children’s Aid Society, says he doesn’t regret not informing police of a sexual relationship between Robert Horsburgh and his foster daughter in 1981.
Banner file photo

When Robert Horsburgh confessed to having sex with his foster daughter more than 30 years ago, then-Dufferin Children’s Aid Society (CAS) executive director Gary Putman saw no reason to inform police.

In those days, reporting illicit sex wasn’t something CAS workers did, Putman told The Banner.

“I have no regrets in what I did. I did exactly what would have been expected in that time, given that situation,” Putman said.

Although Horsburgh, who grew up in foster homes, had committed illicit sexual intercourse with a foster daughter — a criminal offence that was repealed in 1988 — Putman said CAS had yet to establish protocols to work jointly with police.

“In 1981, we as a child protection agency, we didn’t really, believe it or not, concern ourselves much about the law in terms of criminal cases,” Putman said.

“It would have been my understanding then, at any rate, a crime had not really been committed.”

Following a guilty plea, Horsburgh was sentenced to 12 months in prison, as well as 12 to 15 months probation, on Monday (Sept. 17). He also faces a DNA order, a 10-year firearm ban and will be added to the sex offender registry.

Horsburgh’s victim, who can only be identified as MA due to a court-ordered publication ban, became a ward of Dufferin CAS in February of 1975, following a sexual assault by her stepfather.

By November, MA had moved into Horsburgh’s Orangeville home, along with his wife Elsie and three children.

Horsburgh, a board member of Dufferin CAS, and his wife had provided a foster home for a number of children.

“When she came to the Horsburgh family, it was the first time for her to experience a healthy family and a first time for her to be happy,” Justice Meredith Donohue said while handing down sentencing earlier this week.

About a month after moving in, Horsburgh “French kissed” his foster daughter during a Christmas party at their home.

“I remember singing Silent Night. That song is a trigger for me now,” MA told the court in her victim impact statement. “I have never been able to enjoy a Christmas Eve service ever since.”

Horsburgh acknowledged the kiss was wrong and promised it would never happen again. He broke that promise days later, on New Year’s Eve. In the living room of their home, Horsburgh fondled his foster daughter’s breasts.

“The offender was in a position of trust by the CAS and society,” Donohue said. “He was in the place of a father who was to protect MA from such behaviour rather than commit such actions.”

The sexual encounters continued to escalate. By June 1976, Horsburgh was having “full intercourse” with his victim.

“This was not an isolated incident. The offender continued the abusive relationship more than weekly for over a year,” Donohue said. “The crime involves a gross breach of trust.”

When MA informed Putman of the abuse in 1981, he initiated a CAS investigation. Horsburgh, who also volunteered as a Cub Scout leader, hockey coach and Army Cadets leader, confessed to his actions. He was registered with the child abuse registry and removed as a foster parent with Dufferin CAS.

“We collectively all agreed the home would be closed to fostering,” Putman, who retired in 2007 after 29 years with the agency, said. “He, at the time, was a member of our board of directors. He indicated he would resign and he did.”

Putman, the namesake behind Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS) Gary Putman Award, said according to memory and CAS records, MA did not mention any sexual contact that occurred before she was 16-years-old.

“My recollection of the intent of her meeting with me was to share with me the experiences with Bob, so the agency would not place children in that home anymore,” Putman said.

Although youth remain wards of CAS until age 18, MA was the age of consent during her sexual encounters with Horsburgh and reported the abuse to Dufferin CAS, now known as DCAFS, years later.

Putman said he likely did not recommend to MA that she call police.

“I had really left it to her to choose if she goes to police,” Putman said. “I probably wouldn’t have thought at the time it was something she would go to the police with.”

He added he was unaware of her previous history of sexual abuse. MA became a ward of CAS three years before Putman joined the organization.

“Certainly, when she came to see me, I didn’t grab a file and read a file to get all that background,” Putman said. “It was a casual kind of ‘Can I come in and talk to you’ request.”

As well, the discussion with MA led Putman to believe the relationship was consensual.

“She wasn’t overly distraught in telling me the story,” Putman said.

Donohue disagrees MA welcomed the relationship with Horsburgh.

“The offender starting sexual intercourse with his foster daughter could never be considered consensual or permitted in the eyes of the law,” she stated.

Following the CAS investigation, Elsie Horsburgh wrote MA a letter explaining the family never wanted to see her again.

“I felt as though five people had died that night,” MA said.

Weeks later, MA attempted suicide with an overdose of medication.

After years of battling depression, anorexia and anxiety, MA contacted the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to seek assistance with medical expenses.

“The flashbacks became so severe I became psychotic and I had to be medicated,” MA said.

However, the absence of a police report meant her application was rejected. In 2010, MA reported the abuse to the Orangeville Police Service.

Det. Const. James Giovannetti, with the help of Crown Attorney Lowell Hunking, discovered the now-defunct illicit sex with foster daughter law, after about a week of examining former versions of the criminal code.

“It doesn’t matter if it was 10 or 15 or 30 years ago. If the offence happens then, that’s what we prosecute under,” Giovannetti said. “There is no statute of limitations.”

Police also investigated possible charges against Putman for failing to report the abuse, but found no violations of the criminal code.

“Just because there is not a legal obligation, doesn’t mean there isn’t a moral one,” Giovannetti said.

By the late 1980s, CAS had “clear protocols” for joint investigations with police.

Working with the criminal justice system, CAS has learned the notion of abusing a position of authority, Putman explained.

“That wasn’t so clear in 1981,” he said. “Child protection agencies really only concerned themselves with what we could actually do, that is protect children.”

DCAFS human resource manager Jennifer Moore added the Ministry of Children and Youth Services has established “stringent” standards for foster parent recruitment, training and selection.

“We are required to (complete) vulnerable sector screening checks, police checks and character reference check for each adult in a potential foster home,” Moore said.

“Certainly since the 70s, the child welfare field has evolved.”

DCAFS also plans to “take a closer look” at the events leading to Horsburgh’s arrest.

“Right now, our biggest concern is that young people know they can come forward if they have concerns about an abuse or neglectful situation,” Moore said. “Whether that’s in a foster home or their own home.”

Source: Orangeville Banner

I Am Your CAS - Gary Putman
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