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Foster Killer Excused
September 4, 2013 permalink
Police have located the killer of foster child Lee Bonneau. Since the accused is under age 12, he cannot be charged with a crime. His punishment is to be placed in the custody of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services.
The real killer is not mentioned in the story and will not be charged. That is the social worker who took Bonneau away from his real parents and placed him in foster care.
Suspected child killer apprehended
REGINA — A child who armed himself with a weapon and severely beat a six-year-old foster child, who ultimately died, is himself in the care of the Ministry of Social Services today.
“It is a tragedy nobody can be prepared for,” Sheldon Taypotat told a news conference Tuesday. He is chief of the Kahkewistahaw First Nation, where Lee Allan Bonneau — a visitor to the reserve — was killed by a boy who was a resident of that community.
RCMP and government officials confirmed at a news conference today that the boy who killed Bonneau was apprehended and placed under the jurisdiction of the Social Services almost immediately after the six-year-old was found wounded. Bonneau, who would have started Grade 2 today, died on Aug. 21 after suffering what the RCMP described as severe head trauma. Staff Sgt. Larry Brost, the acting officer in charge of major crimes, said investigators know a blunt force weapon was used and are confident they know who wielded it.
But because that child — officials wouldn’t confirm reports that he is 11 years old — is under the age of 12, he cannot face criminal charges under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. However, Andrea Brittin, an assistant deputy minister in the Social Services Ministry, said the boy is being assessed to determine a treatment plan.
“The child will be placed in a facility that is able to meet that child’s needs to ensure that he receives treatment, and he receives the supervision that he requires,” she said.
That boy was already on the radar of the police and social service agencies even before Bonneau’s death.
“Broadview police knew of this child,” Brost said, adding that a criminal investigation in May 2011 — about what he wouldn’t divulge — prompted the RCMP to refer the boy for social services assistance because of his young age.
Brittin confirmed the boy and his family, residents of the First Nation, had been receiving help from Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services.
Since Bonneau’s homicide, the boy has been removed from his home and community. Brittin said privacy laws prevent her from speaking specifically about where the boy has been placed except to say it is an “out-of-home placement.”
The government later issued an update indicating the apprehended boy is not in a foster home, but in a facility with 24-hour supervision. Professional staff will provide care and assessment and work with other professionals to determine an appropriate treatment plan.
For the first time since Bonneau’s death, a slightly clearer picture emerged of how he came to be on the First Nation.
Bonneau, a non-aboriginal child, had been placed in foster care with a family residing near Kahkewistahaw, but off-reserve. His caregiver was visiting on the First Nation and was at the First Nation’s Education and Sports Complex — where bingo was on that night. Bonneau was playing with some dogs outside the centre around 8:30 p.m. His caregiver reported him missing around 10 p.m. — and 20 minutes, later the critically wounded boy was found in an open field nearby.
Asked what drove one child to kill another, Brost said the investigation is still underway. “This is a unique case. We may never find that answer,” he added.
He said the two children were strangers to each other. “Children will be children, and they play together.”
But he said Bonneau’s death appears to be more akin to a deliberate act than accident. “It is a culpable homicide.” Brost said police have no reason to believe anyone else was involved in the killing other than the child implicated.
A spokesman for the Coroner’s Office said Tuesday that its own separate investigation is still underway. Only after that is completed will Chief Coroner Kent Stewart decide whether or not to call an inquest into Bonneau’s death.
Source: Regina Leader-Post
Christie Blatchford gives a clue when Lee was apprehended, but no idea why.
Christie Blatchford: Little scrutiny after six-year-old killed by another child
Counselling and support for everyone — yes, that’s the ticket.
The various families are being comforted and supported. So are members of the various communities affected. Even the child killer is going to get help.
Such is the very modern response to the homicide of a little boy named Lee Allan Bonneau, who died last month on a Saskatchewan reserve and whose death has been officially pronounced a murder, his killer another boy who is himself a child.
And, as was revealed Tuesday at a press conference in Regina, the same government ministry and same child-welfare agency that were respectively involved with the boys and their families before the death — not, it appears, to spectacular success — are still in charge.
The six-year-old boy was beaten to death on the evening of Aug. 21, his battered body found in a wooded area not far from the community centre on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation, located about 150 kilometres east of Regina.
Because Lee was in a foster home off the reserve, he was directly in the care of the social services ministry.
The other boy — the killer — is also under the age of 12 and thus the age of criminal responsibility, and can’t be charged.
The governing legislation is the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act, which contemplates charges against only those young people who are 12 and older, but under 18.
The killer — and according to RCMP Staff-Sergeant Larry Brost, there is “no other person responsible” for Lee’s death other “than this child” — also can’t be identified subject to confidentiality provisions of the YCJA and the Saskatchewan Child and Family Services Act.
The boy was, as the saying goes, “known to police,” Staff Sgt. Brost said, through “school, community involvement and police matters.”
Lee and his killer, Staff Sgt. Brost said, didn’t know one another.
At the time of the murder, the boy was, assistant deputy social services minister Andrea Brittin said, “receiving services from Yorkton Tribal Child and Family Services, along with his family.”
Precluded from being able to disclose specific details, Ms. Brittin couldn’t say what those “services” provided to the other boy were, or why Lee had been taken from his parents and placed in a foster home.
Yorkton is one of 17 First Nation agencies in the province that provide child-care services to children and families who live on reserves.
The night Lee was assaulted, his foster mother was inside the community centre, playing bingo.
He was last seen about 8:30 p.m., playing outside the hall with some dogs.
Reported missing about 90 minutes later, the little boy was found about 10:20 p.m. He died of his injuries in hospital.
Curiously, Ms. Brittin said, in cases where a child under 12 commits an act (such as murder) which if he were 12 or older would be a criminal offence, “that child is deemed to be in need of protection.”
Thus, he has been apprehended by the ministry, and Ms. Brittin said the government and the Yorkton agency will make decisions jointly “to ensure he receives the treatment he requires” and that “the community is safe.”
It isn’t known when Lee was removed from his parents’ care — neither one returned messages Tuesday — or why.
But Mary Jo Herman, who was Lee’s school bus driver when the family lived in the village of Odessa, suspects it may have been in the spring of 2012.
Lee was then in kindergarten at Vibank Regional School in Vibank, about 13 kilometres from Odessa.
As a kindergarten student, Lee went to school only every other day, Ms. Herman told Postmedia in a phone interview. His mother would always be with him at the bus stop, she said, and sometimes his dad too.
Then suddenly, sometime that spring, Lee just stopped going to school. “He never finished kindergarten,” she said. “He didn’t finish out the year.”
Aboriginal youngsters are disproportionately represented in the province’s child-welfare systems, and according to the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth, more of them die and suffer serious injuries while in care.
“Of the 32 child-death and 25 critical-injury files closed in 2012, we can confirm that 56% and 84% respectively involved an aboriginal child or youth.”
The Advocate added, “we suspect that the percentage of deaths involving aboriginal young people may be significantly higher” even than reported.
Bobbi Alexson, a young man from the small reserve who looked for Lee the night he was reported missing, has started a petition to get peacekeepers on Kahkewistahaw.
In Facebook messages he posted on Aug. 23 and Aug. 24, he described the “terrible home” the reserve is for children.
“I thought about leaving this reserve because of the parties, the drug dealers, the drunk drivers,” he said, but stopped because he is reluctant to leave his grandmother and children “in an environment that has lost [its] ways. I don’t feel safe on my reserve, my home, and I know damn well you don’t, either.”
There was no such blunt talk at the press conference in Regina, rather platitudes about “this tragedy,” the need for healing and prayers, and much citing of confidentiality rules.
As all that counselling may aid those involved, confidentiality may offer agency and government comfort, but does little to bring about scrutiny.
Same as it ever was, to borrow from an old Talking Heads’ song.
Source: National Post
Addendum: Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth, Bob Pringle released a report on the death. It suppressed the name of Lee Allan Bonneau, but the press figured it out. A second enclosed article expresses skepticism of the conclusions.
SK children's advocate wants systems held accountable in boy's death
Report looks at death of 6-year-old Lee Bonneau
They’re meant to keep children in foster care safe, but a long awaited report into the killing of one child at the hands of another finds policies and procedures were ignored, overlooked or completely out of reach.
Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth has finished looking over the death of a child in 2013. On Wednesday afternoon, Bob Pringle presented a report to the Speaker of the Saskatchewan Legislature after a special investigation into “two young boys…whose paths crossed tragically on August 21, 2013,” as referred to in the report. It identifies how supports for each child weren’t properly provided; some policies and procedures set out by the Ministry of Social Services weren’t followed leaving the boys, and their families, vulnerable.
"The whole purpose of this investigation and identifying these findings and making recommendations is so that this doesn't happen again.... Mistakes were made, mistakes that were catastrophic...we all need to roll up our sleeves and make sure that it doesn't happen again but that will only happen if we fix all of the issues that went wrong here,” Pringle told the media.
Pringle outlines the cases of each child, who he refers to in the report as ‘Sam’ and ‘Derek.’
"It's a disaster. A child died and another life is changed forever."
While the report does not identify the children, the dates and cases are similar to those of Lee Bonneau and the young boy who allegedly killed him. The six-year-old was found fatally injured on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation on the evening of August 21, 2013. He died shortly after midnight with a boy under the age of 12 being taken into custody, believed to be responsible for the death. The case was set to be examined by the advocate for children and youth.
Bonneau, referred to as Sam in the report, was born in October 2006, an only child to his parents who lived in rural Saskatchewan. Before his birth, the Ministry of Social Services had been alerted about his mother’s mental state and a troubling relationship between his mother and father.
The first of a number of Parental Services Agreements was started when Bonneau was born, which is a voluntary agreement where the parents will work with the ministry in the best interest of the child.
When Bonneau started school in 2011, staff were able to identify his needs; he had issues with speech, learning delays and also exhibited inappropriate behavior. Bonneau started working with specialists while his mother had visits from a school social worker to help her to parent to his needs.
The school also reported concerns to the ministry of social services about physical harm to Bonneau. These concerns were never recorded in a file or followed up on.
Bonneau’s parents separated in September 2012 and Bonneau was put in his mother’s care. He would remain in her care despite several reports of physical harm to Bonneau. His mother was supposed to be getting parenting supports, however the ministry of social services told the child’s advocate that “they did not want to overwhelm Sam’s mother with too much information.” Her mental issues were also not addressed.
Bonneau was taken from his mother’s care when she told a social worker she felt suicidal. In June 2013, Bonneau was placed in the care of extended family. He would enter his first foster home in July where he would remain for about a month. His foster mother told the advocate that his needs were too complex for her, and she wasn’t given any information as to what those needs were.
Bonneau began staying with his final foster home on August 1. He thrived at the family’s farm and had visits from his parents on several occasions until his death.
The other boy in the report was referred to as Derek. Derek was born the youngest of six children in a home where, at times, one parent would be absent. While he was described as a “bright and joyful” child to the advocate, he exhibited concerning behavior that often prompted concerns from community members, school staff, the RCMP and social workers.
The Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services (YTCCFS) provided child welfare services for the area. It received its first report concerning Derek’s family in November 2008. Someone in the community was worried that the needs of the children in Derek’s family weren’t being met. An investigation into this concern wasn’t launched until three months later. Derek’s school contacted YTCCFS in March 2009 worried about his behavior, the school saying Derek’s behavior indicated that he may have experienced harm. The school would follow up with another letter in August and a third in October. The October letter was also sent to the RCMP as the school hadn’t gotten a response from YTCCFS.
While the school began to address Derek’s needs and how to best treat them, these were never communicated to YTCCFS. The report says “this fundamental lack of communication delayed important services for Derek.”
RCMP suspected Derek to be one of two boys responsible for an attack on a home and a dog in May 2011. The home had been broken into and a pregnant dog had been killed. Derek was only eight and a half at the time. The Mounties informed YTCCFS about what happened. The report found that the YTCCFS file about the report was never completed, and services required by law to anyone believed to have committed an act like this were never provided to Derek.
When Derek was 10 years old, he was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, part of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. He was also found to have mild cognitive and language delays.
In August 2012, Derek’s father was charged and convicted of assaulting the boy.
The RCMP continued reporting concerns to YTCCFS about Derek and his behavior, including inappropriate actions towards another boy in the community. The advocate’s report outlines how, at times, YTCCFS and the RCMP believed the other was working on Derek’s case without proper communication between the two.
In April 2013, a safety assessment by YTCCFS found Derek may be at risk of harming himself or other children.
Bonneau had gone with his foster mother to a recreation centre on the evening of August 21. His foster father was supposed to pick him up from the centre around 8:30 p.m. Shortly before that, Bonneau was given some money for the centre’s concession.
About 15 minutes had passed when Bonneau’s foster mother realized he was missing. She began looking for him and was joined by others in the search. An hour and a half later, they found Bonneau’s body. He was in a secluded area and had been seriously hurt.
Bonneau was pronounced dead shortly after midnight before he could be airlifted for more medical help. A forensic pathologist would later find the cause of Bonneau’s death was blunt force trauma.
RCMP suspected Derek was responsible for Bonneau’s death and took him into custody that night. Because of his age, he will never be charged.
Pringle’s report provides 18 recommendations to the province.
"The bottom line is that these children didn't get the services they needed. Nor did their families and we can see that when that happens, catastrophic things occur," Pringle told the media. His recommendations outline developing poverty reduction strategies, stronger policies about family visit schedules and improvements needed for caseload size.
"If workloads aren't addressed, and workers are saying we didn't do this because they didn't have time, that's a non-compliance issue. If workers don't get the training some of them are saying they need, if the quality of supervision doesn't improve, if the oversight doesn't get better, if we don't start measuring the quality of casework, then bad things are going to happen."
Pringle is appalled by the services provided, and not provided, to both boys.
"The services provided to Derek were absolutely fundamentally unacceptable. The quality was just atrocious and that has to improve....in Sam's case as well, there were issues when he was one and then virtually no support to him until he was five and in school."
Pringle says improvements need to be seen on a number of levels throughout the province. Real change can only be made if things get better everywhere.
"When the Ministry of Social Services can tell me that they're meeting their case planning and case contact standards, and this agency can say the same thing, then they'll be in a better position to say that children are safe. But if they're not meeting their case planning and case contact standards, then they can't say that."
YTC raises doubt about Children's Advocate report
Pringle's report calls YTC's response to child's needs "inadequate"
The Yorkton Tribal Council (YTC) is expressing doubt about some aspects of an investigation into the murder of a six-year-old foster boy.
The Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth released a report Wednesday following his investigation into the death of Lee Bonneau. The young boy was murdered by a 10 year old on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation last August. That 10 year old was getting services from the Yorkton Tribal Council.
In Bob Pringle's report, he says the YTC’s response to concerns that were raised about the boy were “inadequate.” The report states the first documented contact between Derek’s family and the Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services was November 2008. The report goes on to say that various red flags were not properly followed up on including three separate reports from the school asking the agency for help, a diagnosis of FASD, and an incident where Derek was implicated in killing a pregnant dog.
The report states that the agency conducted a home visit on March 8, 2013.
“This was the first documented instance throughout the four and a half years of Agency involvement where Derek was actually spoken to by an Agency staff member,” states the report.
The director of the YTC Child and Family Services tried calling the accuracy of that into question Wednesday during a news conference.
“I’m going to have to check that out,” said Raymond Shingoose. “We have to look at the accuracy of that statement in his report.”
Shingoose said he is unsure whether the Advocate took into account other service providers who may have met with Derek. Pringle calls that “nonsense.”
“I reject that because we interviewed every staff member who was involved who had a role with this family,” said Pringle Thursday morning to guest host Murray Wood on John Gormley Live.
Pringle went on to say he shared the report with those he interviewed.
“We gave them the report three weeks ago,” said Pringle. “We gave them the report to check out the facts, to give us feedback, to correct something they felt might have been out of context or wrong.”
Pringle says he met with Shingoose, representatives of the YTC Youth and Child Services board, and representatives of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) last week. He says no one raised concerns with the report.
The Minister of Social Services June Draude said yesterday she accepted the report and accepted the findings.
“We had the blessing of the chief, we had the blessing of the organization to come in and do a review,” said Pringle. “Then when I go out to Yorkton a week ago, I’m told by the FSIN that, ‘You’re an outsider. You don’t have any jurisdiction here. And we don’t have to talk to you and we’re not going to accept your report.’”
Pringle wouldn’t say on-air who specifically said that to him in the meeting, however, Pringle did say he’s offered to meet with the groups to go over the report again.
News Talk Radio has put in a request to speak to the FSIN to get its response.
In a statement released earlier Thursday, Vice Chief Kim Jonathan highlighted that while improvements are needed in our child wellfare system, cultural and jurisdictional need to be respected. The statement went on to cite the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reference to the rights of self-determination, including the rights of Indigenous children.
In a statement Thursday from Draude, the minister affirmed that the Advocate's role in this case is appropriate and neccessary.
“Our government firmly believes that the role of the Advocate for Children and Youth extends to all children and youth in Saskatchewan, regardless of their location.”