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Prince Edward CAS Sued
April 8, 2013 permalink
Five former foster children are suing their foster parents and the Prince Edward County Children's Aid Society over harm they suffered in foster care. Two of the defendant foster parents are now sitting in jail.
Ex-foster children suing CAS, former foster parents 0
The civil suits total $14 million ($2.8 million per plaintiff). Of the four former foster parents being sued, two are now serving prison terms for sexual abuse of children placed in their care. A third convicted predator's case is now before the Ontario Court of Appeal.
The claims were filed March 28 by Belleville lawyer John Bonn, on the behalf of the five female plaintiffs, now in their late teens and early 20s. All complainants listed claim that “PECCAS is liable for the abuse that each of them suffered while in the care of PECCAS.”
The society is now part of the newly-amalgamated Highland Shores Children's Aid Society, which also spans the societies of Hastings and Northumberland Counties.
“PECCAS is responsible in fact and in law for its own negligence and breaches of its statutory and fiduciary duties as well as for the negligence and breaches of duty committed by its servants, agents and employees,” states the claim, a copy of which was obtained by The Intelligencer.
One statement of claim states, “PECCAS caused (the plaintiffs) permanent and extensive injuries and losses” ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to inability to trust, impairment of mental health, nightmares of abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
“They (plaintiffs) have incurred medical expenses and will continue to require therapy and medical attention,” the claim adds.
Anything may be alleged in a statement of claim. None of the suit's claims have been proven in court.
Only initials were used to identify the complainants in the suits filed in a Picton court, as many of their names were banned from publication during the criminal proceedings.
Each plaintiff is claiming $350,000 for pain and suffering, in addition to $1 million each for loss of future earnings and another $1 million for punitive damages. They seek $100,000 in future care costs, plus $100,000 for special damages and $250,000 for aggravated damages.
A publication ban levied in criminal court prevents the naming of a 72-year-old man convicted last summer of abusing two girls, now in their late teens, at his Bloomfield home. The girls were ages 9 and 10 at the time. The man is now appealing his conviction and nine-year sentence.
He was convicted for two counts each of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and invitation to sexual touching. He and his wife are listed as John Doe and Jane Doe on the claim.
“The conduct of the Does was harsh, vindictive and reprehensible,” the suit claims.
In relation to the Does, the plaintiffs' claim blames PECCAS for a series of alleged failures, including failing to investigate the Does upon complaints from both girls and “failure to advise the proper authorities, including the police, of occurrences of abuse” of the plaintiffs.
Improper monitoring and failure to warn potential victims and failure to conduct reference checks with respect to the Does are some of the other alleged failures PECCAS faces in the claim.
The other two former foster parents named are Walter Joseph Holm, 46, and his wife, Janet Holm, 49.
They pleaded guilty to several charges, including possession of child pornography, sexual assault and invitation to sexual touching and were sentenced in November 2011 to four- and three-year prison terms respectively.
Three of the five plaintiffs, now ages 21, 23, and 19, are linked to the Holms.
Justice Geoff Griffin blasted them for turning their home into a "sexual cult" while fostering 25 teenagers over the course of nine years.
Each of the three complainants linked to the Holms filed a plethora of allegations against PECCAS and the Holms, including claims the Holms “breached their judiciary and statutory duties through their commission of acts of abuse, and/or omission to prevent their commission of acts by permitting such abuse to occur and failing to provide each of the plaintiffs with proper ongoing care.”
The three plaintiffs further imply that PECCAS is “vicariously liable for the actions” of the Holms.
“PECCAS created or enhanced the risk of harm to each of the plaintiffs by materially empowering the Holms and by placing each of the plaintiffs under the control of the Holms,” states the claim.
“PECCAS was systematically negligent in failing to have in place management and operation procedures that would reasonably have prevented the abuse,” reads the claim. “They failed to properly investigate or take the appropriate action against the Holms upon receiving complaints regarding the abuse by the Holms.”
PECAS has received notice of the suit but the three former foster parents (the 72-year-old on bail with strict conditions and both imprisoned Holms) have yet to be served, sources said.
No defendants have filed statements of defence.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Thanks to the efforts of Curtis Kingston here are the statements of claim. The abuse allegations start on page 7 and page 8.
The documents show, in the case of John Doe, allegations that he engaged in mutual masturbation and oral sex with the girls, and involuntary intercourse with one of the them. The allegation against Mrs Doe is that she ignored the abuse and failed to assist.
The documents further show the Holm family to be highly open about sexuality. The family shared among themselves, and their foster children, alcohol, porn movies, discussions of sexual matters and pictures of the parents engaged in sexual acts. One girl got a gift of a book showing sexual positions. At Christmas the girls got gifts of vibrators, lingerie and sex oils. The sexuality went well over the line when Joe made a girl sleep in his bunk, when he fondled a girl's breasts, asked for oral sex, then forced her to engage in oral sex. Janet encouraged a girl to engage in sex with a boyfriend while the other kids were watching.
These summaries are from one side only, giving no consideration to the defense.
The legal profile of plaintiff lawyer John D Bonn is enclosed. He was a director of a children's aid society merged into the one he is suing.
John D. Bonn
- Civil Litigation
- Criminal Law
John advises clients in a variety of litigation matters including wrongful dismissal and other employment issues, personal injury actions, commercial disputes and criminal matters. He has appeared at all levels of court in Nova Scotia, as well as in the Ontario Court of Justice and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
- Dalhousie Law School, LL.B., 2000
- University of Western Ontario, B.A. 1990
Call To Bar
- Nova Scotia 2001
- Ontario 2004
- Law Society of Upper Canada
- Hastings County Law Association
- Criminal Lawyers Association
- Ontario Bar Association, East Region Council Representative (2012-present)
- Treasurer, Hastings County Law Association (2009 - present)
- Member of the Board of Directors, Quinte Children's Foundation (2008 - 2013)
- Member of the Board of Directors, Hastings Children’s Aid Society (2006 - 2010)
- Member of the Board of Directors, Belleville General Hospital Foundation (2006 - 2012)
- Past President of the Dartmouth North Progressive Conservative Constituency Association (2003 - 2004)
- Member of the City of Trenton Board of Parks Management and Recreation Committee (1993 - 1995)
- Past President of the Belleville Ducks Unlimited Dinner Committee (1993 - 1994)
- Past President of the Thunder Bay Ducks Unlimited Spring Dinner Committee (1997)
Source: O'Flynn Weese LLP
The Wellington Times on the same legal action.
Still no answers
They were horrific crimes—vulnerable children victimized and abused by the people entrusted to care for them. Put in harm’s way by a government agency and its officials whose job it was to protect them—to look after them.
Two foster parents are already in jail; another has been sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence pending appeal. Others are charged awaiting trial. The leadership and governance of the Children’s Aid Society of Prince Edward County have departed the agency.
Now some of the victims are fighting back—suing the Children’s Aid Society and the foster families for $14 million. Five plaintiffs, now young women, are seeking $2.8 million each in damages for abuse suffered at the hands of foster parents, while under the care of the Prince Edward County CAS.
Three of the plaintiffs lived for a time with Joe and Janet Holm. Justice Geoff Griffins described the foster home as operating under a cult-like atmosphere in which foster children were manipulated to benefit Joe and Janet Holm. The couple received four and three-year prison sentences respectively for a series of sexual crimes against the girls, who were teens at the time the abuse took place.
“What took place here is so outrageous that it boggles the mind,” said Griffin during sentencing, according to a report in the Intelligencer in November 2011. “This is so troubling that it becomes difficult to put into words how horrendous it is.”
He pointed an accusing finger at the Children’s Aid Society of Prince Edward for allowing this to happen. He found it hard to comprehend how someone at CAS was unaware of what was going on in the home—with the children they were responsible to care for.
“I hope the public demand an inquiry into what happened in that home,” said Justice Griffin.
But the worst was yet to be uncovered.
Another Bloomfield couple had been bringing foster children into their home for about a decade. Early on there were signs of trouble in the home. In 2005 one foster child accused the foster father of sexual crimes. The CAS removed foster children from the home. The police investigated. The Crown concluded that a conviction was an unlikely prospect and feared further traumatizing the child by requiring her to testify. The Crown elected not to press charges.
Then a terrible thing happened—life went back to normal. “Normal” at least, in this appalling home. Foster children were once again sent to live with this family with this predatory and manipulative man. The CAS knew this was a bad man—they had heard the words from the tiny victim. Yet they decided to send kids back to him.
It would take another five years for one of the girls to summon the strength to break away from the grips of this man, who was by then 71 years old. She had spent her entire teen years as a sexual slave to this monster—under the watch of the local CAS
The man was sentenced to nine years in prison last summer—but has been out since then, awaiting an appeal.
The correctional system will deal with these folks—perhaps not as harshly as some would deem appropriate—but they will be punished for their actions.
The victims are now beginning what will likely be a long process to seek some form of redress for the wrongs that have been done to them.
But what of the CAS—of the folks whose job it was to care and protect these children?
Foster children are among the most vulnerable people in our society. They are dependent on strangers for everything—food, clothing, shelter. They arrive in the system already damaged. Alone. Frightened. Hard.
It is the CAS’s job to ensure life isn’t made worse for these children.
So what happened here? How did the agency entrusted with their welfare fail so badly? How did it do so repeatedly? How did the CAS allow vulnerable children to live in these poisonous homes?
After several years of asking these questions—we are sadly no closer to answers.
The administrator is gone, and the agency has been swallowed by a larger regional agency. New administrators have apologized for what happened in Prince Edward County and have taken steps to enact more rigorous procedures to protect the children in their care.
But we still don’t know what happened. Were these isolated cases? Are there other crimes yet to be uncovered? Was it a systemic breakdown? An administrative one?
Are foster kids safe in our community?
Until we learn the answers to these questions— we will never know for sure.
Source: Wellington Times