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CAS Stonewalls Criminal Trial
September 21, 2005 permalink
If you have had any dealings with Children's Aid, or have been following the issues in this webpage, you know the difficulty of getting information from Children's Aid. They claim immunity from the Freedom of Information Act, and hide behind cop-outs such as "protecting the child from emotional harm". In a murder case involving a dead child, none of their excuses apply, but Children's Aid sticks by its habit of revealing nothing. Will they let their contractors go free by refusing to disclose their files? This could become an important case.
Judge halts trial until aid files are found
For weeks, the court has heard quibbling about who has the slain boy's documents
By CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD, Wednesday, September 21, 2005
An Ontario Superior Court judge temporarily halted the Jeffrey Baldwin murder case yesterday amid ongoing delays in ensuring the little boy's entire file at the Toronto Catholic Children's Aid Society is in the hands of trial lawyers.
"This can't continue," a frustrated Judge David Watt snapped at one point. "It's going to stop now; it's going to be clarified now before we take one more step."
With that, he ordered James Maloney, lawyer for the CCAS, to notify prosecutor Lorna Spencer by tomorrow that the whole file has been located, or return to court Friday to explain why not.
Once that is done, CCAS child-care worker Margarita Quintana is to review its contents, with the trial itself on hold until Sept. 29.
Ms. Quintana was the family's worker when Jeffrey and three of his siblings were handed over to the very grandparents -- Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman -- who are now on trial for first-degree murder in the little boy's Nov. 30, 2002, death.
The four children were taken from their mother, the grandparents' daughter Yvonne Kidman, in a series of three separate family court proceedings over the course of several years.
The Catholic Children's Aid didn't object to the grandparents' gaining legal custody of the youngsters.
Neither did anyone ever check the agency's own files, which contained clear documentation that Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman were manifestly unfit to be acting as caregivers for vulnerable youngsters -- both were criminally convicted child abusers.
Ms. Quintana will be called as a witness here, and Ms. Spencer and defence lawyers for the grandparents want to know before they begin to question her what records she personally prepared or relied upon in making decisions about the children's placement.
Jeffrey died a few weeks shy of his sixth birthday of septic shock complicated by pneumonia, but expert witnesses have testified that the central contributing factor in his death was what one of them termed a gross "nutritional insult."
The boy had been starved over months and perhaps even years, and at death weighed less than he had when he was a healthy, chubby toddler of 12 or 13 months, and stood only 37 inches tall.
He was deemed officially both wasted and stunted, terms that respectively refer to the impact of chronic starvation upon body weight and height, and Judge Watt has also heard that the little boy and one of his sisters, just a year older, lived in a locked, frigid and feces-smeared room in the grandparents' east-end house.
For weeks now, Mr. Maloney for the CCAS, Keith Geurts for Ms. Quintana and Crown prosecutors have been quibbling about which agency documents have been handed over and which, if any, are missing.
It was unclear -- and Judge Watt yesterday pointed no finger of blame -- whether the delay was due to simple miscommunication or something else.
What was apparent, however, is that the judge has lost his stomach for further wrangling.
He also urged Mr. Geurts to have Ms. Quintana agree to an interview with prosecutors, saying, "Although I can't compel her to be interviewed, it would be a prudent course for her to follow."
On the advice of her lawyer, Ms. Quintana has declined repeated requests from Toronto Police and prosecutors to be questioned about the case.
It is likely that she, like other workers at the Catholic Children's Aid, remains alert to a recent high-profile case involving one of their colleagues, Angie Martin.
She was the worker in the Jordan Heikamp case -- the infant starved to death in a native women's shelter in Toronto before the unseeing eyes of a plethora of helping professionals and under the ostensible supervision of Ms. Martin -- and along with the baby's teenaged mother, Renee Heikamp, was charged criminally in Jordan's death.
The charges against both women were dismissed after a preliminary hearing.
But both testified at length and to enormous publicity at a coroner's inquest examining Jordan's death in the spring of 2001 -- just 18 months before firefighters and paramedics responded to the 911 call about Jeffrey.
Ms. Bottineau, now 53, was convicted on June 10, 1970, of assaulting her own baby daughter, Eva. Then a teen mother, Ms. Bottineau was sentenced to a year of probation. Though the five-month-old infant died of pneumonia, an autopsy revealed she had also suffered tiny fractures of the shoulders, elbows and wrists - now recognized as classic signposts of child abuse.
Mr. Kidman, also now 53, was convicted on Dec. 29, 1978, of two counts of assault causing bodily harm in connection with assaults upon two of Ms. Bottineau's children, then aged 5 and 6, from a former relationship. He was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $150 on each charge.
The two children were later made Crown wards and subsequently adopted.
Shortly after Jeffrey's death, CCAS executive director Mary McConnville acknowledged that the agency had failed to check its own files and that, had someone done so, the revealing information about Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman was there to be found.
Ms. McConnville said at the time that the agency had no policy for staff to check files in cases called "kinship care," in which relatives step forward to seek custody of youngsters whose own parents are deemed unfit, such as Ms. Bottineau did when daughter Yvonne saw first one, then two others and finally a fourth child taken from her.
There is such a policy now.
If the role of the agency and its worker are somewhat peripheral to the criminal trial - it is Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman who are charged after all - the publicity around the details of how they came to gain legal custody of four youngsters might increase pressure upon the Ontario coroner's office to call an inquest into Jeffrey's death after the trial is over.
That decision hasn't yet been made, deputy coroner Dr. Jim Cairns told The Globe and Mail yesterday.
Jeffrey died of the complications of starvation almost three years ago; baby Jordan died of starvation in 1997; three years before that, another tiny charge of the agency was making headlines.
That was baby Sara Podniewicz, who died gasping for breath, her lungs filled with pneumonia, in her car seat at the age of six months and 10 days.
She had 24 broken bones at the hands of her crack-addled parents and yet at their trial - both were convicted of second-degree murder - a CCAS worker and another the agency had contracted to monitor the home were questioned at length about the jarringly cheerful notes they had made documenting Sara's alleged progress.
Source: Globe and Mail
Convicted Murderer Freed
September 21, 2005 permalink
Bill Mullins-Johnson, who was convicted of homicide on the testimony of the discredited Dr Charles Smith, is now free. Widespread attention to this story may help alleviate the moral panic surrounding child abuse.
Mullins-Johnson granted bail after 12 years in prison
Bill Mullins-Johnson has been granted bail after 12 years in prison while the federal justice minister determines if he was wrongfully convicted.
The 35-year-old man was convicted in 1994 of sodomizing and strangling his four-year-old niece. No forensic evidence linked him to the crime, yet he was convicted based on testimony from two pathologists.
Two experts now say that the girl was not sexually abused, and in fact died of natural causes.
Wednesday, a freed and emotional Mullins-Johnson said the past 12-years have been nothing but hell for him and his family. He said the '94 trial wasn't justice, it was an injustice and his family has been torn apart by it. He added he's looking forward to exonerating himself.
- RELATED STORY: Group says murder convict isinnocent, calls for release
Family members put up $125,000 in bail money.
The 35-year-old Sault Ste. Marie man said he loved his niece and that his heart went out to her parents. "I appreciate what the parents of my niece have gone thorough -- they lost a little girl in all this," he said.
Justice Minister Irwin Cotler must now decide whether to order a new trial or send the case back to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Politicians Squabble over Dead Girl
September 21, 2005 permalink
Sherry Charlie was a ward of child protectors in British Columbia, and died in their care. In this case as well, the child protectors attempt to blame the contractors for their failure.
THE TIMES COLONIST
Tot's death probe sparks new inquiry
Children's ministry under fire for avoiding spotlight in investigation of Sherry Charlie case
Lindsay Kines and Jeff Rud, Times Colonist
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
B.C.'s Children and Family Development Minister Stan Hagen announced an inquiry Tuesday into why his ministry altered its investigation into the death of 19-month-old Sherry Charlie.
In a move quickly dismissed by the NDP as another coverup, Hagen said the inquiry won't re-open the original investigation or examine the ministry's role in Sherry's care.
Instead, Hagen asked Attorney General Wally Oppal to appoint Child and Youth Officer Jane Morley to investigate. She will look at why the original review's terms of reference were changed to focus on the aboriginal agency involved, rather than the ministry. Morley will also examine the time it took to release the report, a censored version of which was first issued earlier this summer. Finally, she will study the ministry's policy regarding internal investigations.
The report is due Dec. 1.
NDP children's critic Adrian Dix predicted a whitewash, because the government didn't instruct Morley to ask questions that were deliberately ignored by the original probe.
Dix said Morley's review won't look at the role that ministry budget cuts, staff reductions, and a massive reorganization played in Sherry's death.
"This is an investigation to tell us a very limited number of things, to tell us who said what to whom in the Ministry of Children and Families," Dix said. "But the failure of the child protection system is what they continue to cover up with this investigation.''
Sherry died at Port Alberni in 2002 after being placed with her uncle under a kith and kin arrangement, in which children are given to relatives rather than taken into foster care. Sherry's uncle killed her a few weeks after she was placed in his home by the Nuu-chah-nulth child protection agency, Usma.
The ministry's investigation uncovered failings, including the fact that a criminal record check was never completed on the uncle, who had a history of violent offences. The review also found problems with information sharing between the aboriginal agency and the ministry. Agency social workers weren't trained to do kith-and-kin agreements, and the ministry provided only partial background information.
But, in response to NDP questions this week, Hagen confirmed that early in the investigation, senior officials in his ministry changed the terms of reference to block the probe from looking at the ministry's role in Sherry's care.
Hagen produced two documents Tuesday showing that in a letter dated Sept. 26, 2002, David Young, director of child protection responsible for aboriginal agencies, states that the review of Sherry's death will examine five areas, including whether the ministry's response met established standards. The recipient of the letter is blanked out.
In a subsequent letter dated Nov. 6, Young drops any mention of the ministry's response, and says the review will look at four areas.
Source: Times Colonist
Addendum: The death of nineteen-month-old Sherry Charlie in British Columbia has provoked a political scandal. We will not be posting every development in the story, but a reader forwarded the following three articles giving most of the facts of her unnecessary death.
Sherry's mom warned agency not to place daughter with her aunt
NANAIMO -- She has watched her late daughter's sweet young face splashed across newspapers and shown on the evening news; seen her name used to argue about child protection policy and to make political points.
But all Julie Frank can think about is that she will never hold her daughter again. And about just how senseless her death was.
Frank is the mother of Sherry Charlie, the toddler who was beaten to death in September 2002, just weeks after she was apprehended by Nuu-chah-nulth child protection agency Usma and placed in what was supposed to be a safe environment.
"I just want to make sure that they never do this to anybody else again,'' Frank said this week. "I just want to make sure that they're going to take proper procedures for future children who are going to be in care and who are supposed to be protected.''
When Julie Frank talks about "they" she means the provincial government and Usma, which placed Sherry and her older brother, Jamie, in the home of her aunt.
That placement resulted in Sherry being killed by the aunt's common-law partner, Ryan Dexter George, now serving a 10-year sentence for beating the youngster when she wouldn't stop crying. Frank remains deeply angry with Usma and says the agency is now keeping her from regaining custody of her son.
"I just feel like they were hypocrites, by taking my kids from me because they said I was an unfit mother,'' said Frank, her soft brown eyes welling with tears and her voice breaking as she related her story across a coffee shop table. "To put them in a home like that and to have it cost my daughter her life . . . .
"They're trying to cover up their tracks and they're trying to make me look like I'm the really bad person. I've never, ever been treated fairly by these people and that's why I want to be heard.''
Under B.C.'s Child, Family and Community Service Act, children can be removed from their family and placed with relatives, a foster family or in specialized residential resources if there is reason to believe they are being abused, neglected, or in need of protection.
Julie Frank, who had Sherry when she was 19, doesn't believe there was ever enough reason for her children to be apprehended. She said Usma acted after a baby-sitting mix-up resulted in somebody witnessing Sherry being left unattended near the water's edge and after another witness misinterpreted her reaction to a temper tantrum by Jamie.
That issue aside, Julie Frank said she warned Usma not to place the children in the home with George.
Contrary to the ministry case review of Sherry's death and to statements made by minister Stan Hagen in the legislature, Frank said she did not approve of the placement.
"It was my mom and the whole family that made that decision for me that [the children] were going to go to Claudette [her aunt] and Ryan's,'' Frank said. "And I said: 'No I don't want my kids there, especially my daughter. My son's old enough to tell me when somebody's hurting him but my daughter's not.'
"I already knew that [George] had an anger problem. I said 'No, I don't want them there.' ''
Shawn Atleo, co-chairman of the Nuu-chah-nulth tribal council, said Tuesday that Usma likely wouldn't be able to specifically respond to Frank's comments. "We would be then wanting to have a conversation about a single case and the interaction of social workers with an individual,'' Atleo said. "That's the kind of business that is between the agency and the family.''
Atleo referred such questions to an Usma spokeswoman who did not return a call Tuesday.
But in a news release last week, the tribal council said: "We remain confident in our agency and staff who have dealt with more than 5,000 reports in 18 years. All our staff engaged in child protection have university degrees, specific and ongoing training, are delegated by MCFD [the Ministry of Children and Family Development] and act under experienced supervision, following the same legislation that applies to all children and families in B.C.''
Frank said she was told by Usma that it was either place the children in her aunt's home or see them go to total strangers. "I didn't want my kids going through that,'' she said. "They already knew Claudette and her kids . . . You know, I had no say . . . I felt outnumbered by my family."
Even though she subsequently visited her aunt's house, sometimes staying overnight, Frank said she continued to have concerns about the home.
On Sept. 4 she was called to her mother's residence in Port Alberni because of a family emergency. When she got there, an uncle told her something had happened to Sherry. "He didn't tell me until we got to the hospital that my daughter had died on the way there,'' she said.
That same day, Frank said she was told that her then-three-year-old son was responsible for Sherry's fall down a flight of stairs.
Frank didn't believe the accusations and said she again pushed Usma to remove her boy from the home. That didn't happen until five months later.
Now six years old, her son has since lived in the home of Matthew Lucas, Frank's maternal uncle. She feels Usma has unreasonably thwarted her attempts to regain custody.
"I feel I am treated unfairly because of what happened to my daughter,'' she said. "And I don't feel I should be paying for it or my son. I just wish I had a second chance to be a mom.''
Frank admitted to falling into alcohol abuse after the death of her daughter but said it wasn't a factor in the initial apprehension of her children.
"That's when it really hit me is when my daughter passed away,'' she said. "I didn't know how to deal with it." Frank said she's since been through two stints in alcohol treatment centres in Tofino and Vancouver as well as relapse prevention, parenting and anger-management classes. She's been sober now for six months, she said.
She alleged Usma has been uncooperative, even cutting back her visitation rights as her daughter's death receives more media play. She said she once got full weekend visits, but now has just 3 1/2 hours every two weeks.
Frank said she does not support a request this week that her daughter's name and image no longer be used in the legislature and the media. "If it's going to keep other children [from the same fate,] that's fine with me.''
The request was made at a meeting in Port Alberni Monday attended by Nuu-chah-nulth leaders, social workers from Usma, "family members," Hagen and NDP leader Carole James. Hagen and James emerged from the meeting saying they would stop using Sherry's name in the legislature.
The politicians were told Nuu-chah-nulth custom calls for everybody to "put away" the name of a deceased person.
More questions than answers
Mother wonders why son was left in killer's house; Opposition critic presents list of 50 queries
For five months after toddler Sherry Charlie was beaten to death by a caregiver in 2002, the girl's older brother was left in the same home and even blamed for his sister's death.
The children's mother and Opposition NDP want to know how the provincial government and the Nuu-chah-nulth child protection agency that placed them could let that happen.
That is among a list of "50 unanswered questions" surrounding Charlie's death presented by NDP childcare critic Adrian Dix on Wednesday. Dix has sent a copy of those questions to the members of a panel appointed by government this week to study the province's handling of child death reviews.
In an interview with the Times Colonist last week, the children's' mother, Julie Frank, was critical of the fact Jamie Charlie, her son, was left in the home for five months after Sherry had been beaten to death by Ryan Dexter George. The boy, then just three years old, was left in a dangerous situation, she said.
"I really don't know what to say about why they left my son there. I really don't,'' Frank said, shaking her head.
According to both Frank and the director's review of the case, Jamie Charlie was also initially blamed for his sister's death by George, who said the boy pushed Sherry down a flight of stairs.
His mother said she never believed the allegations but that the boy was subsequently subjected to months of counselling in Nanaimo and Victoria as a result.
"They allowed my son to be blamed,'' Frank said last week. "They had him going through counselling and therapy because they said he was an abusive child who couldn't be trusted around other children . . .
"They took [George's] word for it and they blamed my son.''
One of Dix's questions also addresses this issue: "Why did the ministry allow the brother to suffer for four months under the continuing lie that he had killed his sister?"
Dix said Wednesday he sent copies of his questions to Child and Youth Officer Jane Morley, ombudsman Howard Kushner and Chief Coroner Terry Smith, each of whom is reviewing government's handling of the Sherry Charlie case.
He has also sent a copy to Judge Thomas Gove, who has been named to a government panel along with Morely and Smith to review the province's reporting of child deaths.
"There has sadly been a pattern of coverup over three years in this case which has led to the six inquiries/reviews [done or being done on Sherry's case.] All of you are playing a role in one or several of these inquiries,'' Dix wrote in a letter to the panel members.
Another question raised by Dix is how the ministry and Usma, the Nuu-chah-nulth child protection agency, could allow Frank's children to be place in the home of an Usma worker. Claudette Lucas, Julia's aunt, had been working at Usma for about a year before the children were placed in the home she shared with George.
"Were there any concerns raised by the ministry about conflict of interest?'' Dix asked.
Children and Family Development Minister Stan Hagen said this week he didn't know if there was a ministerial guideline prohibiting such a situation.
"I'm actually having the staff check into that right now . . I don't know what the policy is but I've asked for a report on it,'' Hagen said.
The Sherry Charlie Tragedy
Charlie tragedy a recurring child-care nightmare
VICTORIA (CP) - Sherry Charlie could have been the poster child for a government program that places vulnerable aboriginal children with aboriginal families, but her death more than three years ago has become a recurring nightmare for B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell's Liberal government.
The brutal death of the 19-month-old girl who was placed in the home of a relative with a criminal record for violence has Campbell's Liberals facing questions about mismanagement and what role budget cuts played in the tragedy.
Sherry's death has also sparked controversy among aboriginals who find themselves questioning the part played by local bodies.
In September 2002, less than one month after Sherry was sent to live in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, she was dead, the victim of a beating by an uncle.
Ryan Dexter George, 32, was on probation for spousal assault and had a previous record for robbery with violence and arson when Sherry and her brother were placed in the home.
He originally told police Sherry died after her brother pushed her down the stairs. He later admitted to kicking her and slamming her head into the floor because she wouldn't stop crying.
George pleaded guilty to manslaughter in October 2004 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
George had a history of violence, but a full record of his criminal past was not available to Usma, the aboriginal family agency that placed Sherry in the home where she died.
Usma is administered by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which represents 14 First Nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Six reviews into the government's handling of Sherry's case are underway or completed, including investigations by the ombudsman, coroner, government-appointed child and youth officer and the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Judge Thomas Gove is the latest expert to probe the state of child protection in British Columbia.
Gove was personally recruited by Campbell to become part of a panel that will file a report by the end of this year. Gove's 1995 report into the death of five-year-old Matthew Vaudreuil led to the creation of a separate Children's Ministry in British Columbia.
The Opposition New Democrats accused the government of attempting to cover up the role budget cuts may have played in the circumstances leading to Sherry's death.
The NDP called on the government to reappoint an independent children's commissioner to investigate all child deaths in British Columbia.
The Liberals cut the children's commissioner in 2002, citing a review that found too much duplication between the office, the B.C. Coroner's Service, the child and youth advocate and the ombudsman.
"Now the government is ordering yet another review of a review," said Adrian Dix, NDP children's critic, after Campbell announced Gove's participation.
"This is a government in desperate political trouble on this question. They're acknowledging the failure of their policy over four years, but this isn't good enough yet. They've got to restore the children's commissioner and restore the cuts they made to child protection."
Campbell said the government acknowledges it made mistakes when it comes to child protection, which is why it is reviewing policies.
"We're not trying to protect government. We're trying to protect kids," he said. "As we learn more, we may change the way we do things. It is important to note that we won't ever run a flawless system.
"We do have to look at ways to make sure we get closer and closer to assuring that things like what happened to the child in Port Alberni never happen."
An aboriginal family expert who hails from Sherry's home village on Vancouver Island said her death sends a message of hope and pain to the two levels of government who ultimately failed to protect her: aboriginal and the Liberals.
Sherry is tiny, but her death is huge, said Marlene Atleo, an education professor at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
"She teaches the system," says Atleo. "It has taught the system what they need to pay attention to, unfortunately. It's illuminated the faults in the system."
Atleo is from the isolated west coast island village of Ahousaht, population about 900 people. It is accessible only by boat or floatplane from the tourism community of Tofino.
Sherry lived in Ahousaht, a one-time prosperous fishing and logging village, but now a community struggling with suicide and unemployment.
Atleo is also the mother of Shawn Atleo, a tribal spokesman who recently delivered a message on behalf of the Nuu-chah-nulth chiefs and elders, who said the constant mention of Sherry's name and publication of her photograph breaks cultural practices of silence surrounding grieving.
The tribal council summoned Stan Hagen, children's minister, and NDP Leader Carole James to a closed meeting at a Port Alberni longhouse last month and requested Sherry's name no longer be mentioned in connection with the case.
The politicians agreed, but James said the NDP will continue to ask questions about Sherry's case without using her name.
Sherry's mother, Julie Frank, who was not invited to the meeting, said she warned Usma not to place Sherry and her son in the home where she died, but nobody listened.
Frank said she wants her daughter's name used in public if it protects other children from Sherry's fate.
"People have customs just like western societies do," said Marlene Atleo. "Every family has their own way of dealing with it, but if it keeps getting torn open then it's pretty hard to allow those processes to be worked through. They need to be worked through in the fabric of the community."
Chief Judith Sayers of the Hupacasath First Nation near Port Alberni said island aboriginals have a tradition of mourning that involves keeping silent about the deceased person for at least one year.
It includes putting away photos and other memorabilia that could bring back memories of the person, she said.
Sayers said the aboriginals are looking for answers in Sherry's case themselves and the request for silence has nothing to do with preventing investigations.
"We certainly aren't trying to hide," she said.
Even though Sherry died more than three years ago, the actual year of silence hasn't really started, said Atleo.
"They haven't had their year of putting it away yet," she said. "The investigations are ongoing in the community. She hasn't been allowed to be laid to rest."
Margaret Anderson, an expert on the customs of B.C.'s north coast aboriginals, said the grieving process among the Tsimshian aboriginals in the Prince Rupert area involves silence for about one year.
She said she doubts the island's Nuu-chah-nulth aboriginals object to the media pursuing aspects of Sherry's death, but they are seeking respect for their traditions.
"They've gone to the trouble to try to educate people that there is a cultural taboo there," said Anderson, of the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George.
Marlene Atleo said the Nuu-chah-nulth want to examine larger issues surrounding Sherry's death while still respecting her as an individual.
"I don't think they're saying don't talk about Sherry because we want to put it under the carpet," she said. "They're saying we need to look at the bigger picture of what's happening here. What's screwed us up so badly."
Sherry's death is a horror for her family, but it's also a loss for the aboriginal community as a whole, Marlene Atleo said.
"It's like seeing the tree and not seeing the forest," she said. "Sherry is a really really unfortunate victim of a (devolving governing) process where there isn't enough money and there isn't enough communication."
The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which has been running many of its health services since 1988, will view Sherry's death as a detour on its path to eventual self government, she said.
"The tragedy is if we don't learn from mistakes."
More Secrecy for Finck/VandenElsen
September 21, 2005 permalink
Interview with Ron Newcome
September 20, 2005 permalink
An interview with a former Alaska caseworker Ron Newcome giving a candid view of child protection from the inside.
Children's agency is grim, says an insider
NEWCOME: Retired state worker calls on flawed office to be dismantled.
Ron Newcome lasted 26 years in a tough and thankless state job: protecting kids from abuse and neglect.
He started with the Division of Family and Youth Services (now the Office of Children's Services) in 1975 in Kodiak, moved to Anchorage, and quit a couple of times, once to commercial fish and another time to run a glass business. In 1989, he started anew with the agency in Seward, where he stayed until he retired in March. He spent his entire career as a front line child protection worker and also licensed foster homes, child care centers and adult care facilities.
His experiences provide a rare glimpse into an agency that often is hidden from the public. Some of his views are extreme. He unleashed harsh criticism about the management of OCS and DFYS. He says the whole operation should be dismantled and started fresh. He talked openly about drinking.
Newcome, 55, is married with two grown stepdaughters. He and his wife are renovating a house in Seward, where they also run a cleaning business.
Newcome sat down recently with Daily News reporter Lisa Demer. The interview was edited for length and clarity.
Q. Why Seward?
A. While I was working in Anchorage, I got sober. And when I came back to that job sober, I realized I couldn't do it. ... So that's when I left the agency in Anchorage and was gone for two years. And then when I went back to the job with two years of sobriety in Seward I realized there was some fresh excitement to the job.
For me, Seward was a very manageable assignment. It was a small town. ... So I found the job satisfying because it was rarely any situation that one or two phone calls couldn't give me all the information I needed. It was not like Anchorage where something happened and you had no idea what that was or who these people were. ... many of the cases in Seward were multi-generation cases.
Q. Let's go back a minute to what you were saying about your background. ... When you were drinking, were you drinking on the job?
A. Oh yes. Everyone was.
Q. Everyone was?
A. Drinking and/or drugging
Q. When was that?
A. ... I was visiting Juneau (in 1975). I just saw (the sign for) Department of Health and Social Services. And I wondered what the job situation was up here, and I walked into an office where I was immediately led into the director's office. My interview consisted of a question of was I afraid of flying in small planes. I was hired for Kodiak. ...
Q. What was your background to do this work?
A. I had two years in a community mental health center doing a broad range of mental health services. And two years at a residential treatment center for disturbed kids. I had absolutely no background in child welfare, child protection.
Q. Why was it when you went back sober you felt like you couldn't do the work?
A. ... The inescapable frustrations of the bureaucracy and the flaws of the agency together with the stresses built into the job potentiate in Anchorage in lethal ways.
Q. So you are not saying the families were harder to deal with ... You are saying it was the agency that was.
A. In 26 years of doing this job all over Southcentral Alaska I have never felt unmanageable stress from the clients I deal with. That's the business. The unmanageable stress comes from the agency.
Q. The perception at least is that there is great stress on OCS workers. ... If they make the wrong decision, it has such serious consequences.
A. Well that's because the individual workers have all of the responsibility and none of the authority.
My wife and I run a commercial janitorial service in Seward and when we go away on a vacation or when we're otherwise unavailable we give service employees who have been with us for two to three months more petty cash authorization and more on-the-spot decision-making authority than any master's level social worker in the OCS system.
Q. What was the most frustrating thing to you?
A. ...The job of a child protection social worker became documenting activities that were reimbursable for federal funds. ... If I were commissar of everything, I would shut the entire agency down. I would take the money and use it immediately for increased law enforcement presence. ... I would let law enforcement deal with (child abuse) as either being a crime or not. And I would encourage people to have lots of community dialog about what each community needed to do about the remainder of the problem. Because we cannot fix the existing system. It's too bureaucratically entrenched.
Q. We've all heard the criticisms, from opposite ends of the spectrum, that OCS rips children away from parents when they could be safe at home or that it leaves children in homes where it is dangerous. ... Do you think either of those touch against the truth?
A. I think both do. I think that making that determination of whether to allow a child to remain in a home is a complicated final choice based on the processing of a lot of information. And more often than not, children have to be removed because the individual worker doesn't have the resources at his or her disposal to preserve the child in the family. There are of course situations in which any panel of reasonable women and men would instantly determine the child needs to be removed. Those aren't the problem cases. ... This job is not something that requires much more than common sense and good decision-making skills. ...
Q. Describe some of the main reasons you would see kids coming into custody.
A. There are of course a percentage of cases of extremely damaged people who have had children and are clueless as to any other way of dealing with those children than the way they themselves were dealt with and that's usually a neglectful and abusive path.
Q. What's actually happening in that home?
A. I think there's still a large number of people out there who feel that spare the rod, spoil the child needs to come back as a popular approach to child rearing. I think there's a large number of people out there who exert a kind of authority and control in their home that is completely unrealistic given the realities of early 21st century society. I think that we live in a culture of societally approved substance abuse. ... So a lot of kids are being raised by parents who are pretty zoned out.
Q. You mentioned that there is a high acceptance of spanking. Certainly that's not against the law. At what point is spanking something the state even needs to be looking at. ... Is anything that leaves a mark a reason for the state to intervene?
A. In and of itself, it provides certainly a basis for an investigation. Whether or not it is a parent who just had enough and used for probably the first or second time physical discipline and used more than was necessary is of course different than the kid who can rattle off the number of swats for each violation that he commits. Didn't pick up room, five. Didn't do homework, 10.
... But you know, physical abuse is a very small percentage of the cases. They are the high profile cases. They are the dramatic cases. They are what everybody loves to talk about. But they are not what floods the offices of children's services. Much more typical is the chronic neglect situation. ... Substance abuse is almost always a factor. ... Life is exceptionally hard for single parents. We give a lot of lip service to the value in society we place on families. But we really do very little to support families. One of the most glaring examples is child care, particularly for the single working parent. There's a real tendency for social workers to get to be middle class busybodies and to get involved with sort of ideal circumstances. ... I think the most difficult line to draw is the neglect line, not the physical abuse line. I think most people know physical abuse when they see it.
Q. With neglect, where do you see the line ... ?
A. ... My line was could the state offer them anything better. ...
Q. Would that mean did you know of a good foster family, do you have one lined up with room?
A. Sure. Or are there resources. You'd have single parents with multiple kids who are trying to go to school or trying to get some career advancement and they'd get these eager beaver social workers who'd give them these case plans that have them going to parenting classes when they don't have transportation, that have them paying for mental health or diagnostic service when they don't have health insurance. I mean you are putting additional pressures on a family. ...
Q. Why don't you summarize this case that has been kind of weighing on you?
A. This one's a classic. It was a single male Caucasian parent. The ... physical abuser was a substance-addicted (alcohol) Native female ... who was the natural mother. ... Ultimately the drugs just got to dad and dad couldn't handle it. ... He committed like his second or third felony and he had to abandon the child. (He described a situation in which a child's mother was physically abusive and his father a drug addict who was on the lam and then incarcerated. The child ended up in foster care out of state with a former Alaska couple.)
They just stepped up to the plate. They took this young man in the home. ... This kid that I used to describe as a 4-year-old who could roll a joint with one hand on a screaming motorcycle suddenly is going to tennis camp, band camp, a time share condo across from Carnegie Hall for classical concerts. ...
Q. This turned out to be a success story?
A. Well, yeah on that level. ... When the issue comes up to reconnect this Native child with his huge Native family -- I mean he has hundreds of relatives -- the courts ordered that visit. Every 6-month case plan recommended that visit, and somehow Southcentral regional management managed to always find other economic priorities. ...
Q. How many years did it take to finally get this child to Alaska (to visit his biological family)?
Q. How many of the cases involved sexual abuse?
A. ... When we are talking about sexual abuse we are really talking about a range of human behavior. ... We need to distinguish between the chronic habitual pedophile and the seductive 17 ½-year-old and a stepparent. ... There's a very, very unpopular approach to sexual abuse that works, with children remaining in the families. Anybody who would even mention that in most treatment circles would be crucified.
Q. Do you think that makes sense?
A. I think in some families it does ... You have complicated multi-dynamic family systems that are malfunctioning that result in inappropriate sexual behavior between members of that family that's going to require highly skilled, long-term, difficult, comprehensive fixing.
... What happens (now) is that we create all of this chaos. I used to call it hitting the pulse button on the food processor. We wreak absolute havoc in people's lives and then we offer them nothing. ...
Q. Why speak out now?
A. You get to the end of this much time and you try to make some sense of it. ...
Daily News reporter Lisa Demer can be reached at email@example.com and 257-4390.
Source: Anchorage Daily News
Note: Social workers, and former social workers, are a valuable source of information about child protection, when they speak candidly, as in this interview. The Anchorage Daily News article on the internet linked to another article in the same paper interviewing Tammy Sandoval, recently appointed to lead Alaska's child protection system. It included the exchange:
Q. We hear so often two things: that the state rips away children who could be safely left at home and also that it leaves children in homes where there really is a danger. Which one of those do you feel like is the greater problem?
A. To answer that question would assume that I think that there is a problem.
There is nothing useful to be learned in this kind of interview.
September 20, 2005 permalink
Today Andy Srougi of Fathers for Justice climbed the Jacques-Cartier bridge in Montreal, stopping traffic. Other F4J demonstrations occurred in a half-dozen other Canadian cities.
Two charged for bridge stunt
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
LONGUEUIL, Que. -- Two men were charged with mischief on Tuesday after a major Montreal bridge was closed for 12 hours in a stunt aimed at pushing for more rights for fathers in custody cases.
The Jacques Cartier Bridge was closed Monday, forcing thousands of angry motorists to use other bridges to get to work and back home in communities across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal.
Andy Srougi, 39, also faces conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in addition to two mischief charges.
Stephane Dube was charged with two counts of mischief and breaking conditions.
The men are part of a group called Fathers-4-Justice and want an inquiry into the way fathers are treated in family law.
A man atop the bridge unfurled a banner that said, Papa t'aime (Daddy Loves You).
Similar protests took place on the same bridge last May and on a Vancouver construction site a few weeks ago.
A bail hearing will be held for Srougi and Dube on Thursday in Longueuil on Montreal's south shore.
Source: Montreal Gazette
Brantford Charity Helps Needy Family
September 17, 2005 permalink
Here is a first person report from a family helped by the benevolence of the Children's Aid Society. It is in the father's words, subject only to a few editing changes to clarify grammar.
I am writing to you because our family here in Brantford is fed up with the local SS group -- I mean the Children's Aid Society of Brantford. For 12 years off and on they have harassed us every time we tried to get our children the help recommended by schools. The CAS comes in and interferes with any progress we have worked on with the children. My wife Diane has done a tremendous job of getting the children the help they needed but the last two years have been the worst from the CAS.
In December 2003 my son attacked me and was trying to get something out of the silverware drawer. I stopped him but he punched me a couple of times before I could turn to him. I was arrested for assault that night and told I could not go home.
While I was living with my parents I took groceries paid the rent and utilities and helped my wife out as best as I could while being under a court order not to go home. Then my son took his rage out on our oldest daughter and severely injured her and threatened my wife Diane. Diane had several times gone to the Attorney General to get the charges dropped but they refused.
I found a new place to live with our daughters because there was not enough room at my parents'. My mother helped Nancy with her injuries and I had to go to court. My lawyer forced me to plead guilty for something I did not do and CAS put me on the registry for child assault.
Diane and I were left with no choice but to have our son Henry removed from the house because he was like a time bomb and we could not trust him any more for his actions. Diane and I had tried for years to get him help but we were interfered with by the CAS every time we made headway with him.
So now this new witch hunt. In January 2005 the CAS got involved with our oldest daughter Nancy. She was skipping school at BCI and my wife Diane found out about it half way though her school year. We grounded her for it and I went to work. Then Diane called me at work saying that Nancy had run away from home. Diane called the police. We did not know that when you call the police on a runaway the CAS is automatically involved. So when we got Nancy back home Mike Kasurak the CAS worker said that there were no safety issues at the home and he was going to close the case but told me that I should spend more time with the girls.
The following month Maria our youngest daughter did not return from school and Diane and I got worried that something had happened to her. I was just going up to the school when the phone rang and it was the CAS worker Mike Kasurak saying that he had Maria and he would be over with her in 15 minutes. An hour went by and Mike Kasurak finally showed up with 2 Brantford Police officers and said we did something bad to Maria. Diane and I had no idea what he was talking about and we were told we could not have our daughters returned home. Diane and I finally found out that I was accused of sexually touching our daughter Maria at Christmas time which I could not figure out because Maria is a little chatter box. If that happened she would have told someone in our family. Also, there were 17 witnesses that night.
Then Diane and I found out that during an interview with Mike Kasurak at BCI Nancy had her top unzipped by Mike Kasurak so he could see the tattoo on her breast. We told CAS but they ignored it.
So now to date our family is 20 thousand dollars in debt from this witch hunt and we still can not have Maria back from CAS. Diane and I have got Nancy cleaned up from the drug abuse and the hell she went through in foster care. They have taken Mike Kasurak off our case and put Danilla Turco in charge but the lies on court documents and the witch hunt continues.
So we are now searching for advice on how to go about dealing with the situation of having our daughter Maria returned to us. The reason we are stating that she should be returned to us is because the conclusion of the police investigation was that there was no evidence that there should be charges against Maria's father Mike Lund. My wife Diane Lund is saying that she has gone through enough and is tired of fighting CAS when there is no reason because of the result of the police investigation. As well l have dealt with a few scares of my wife having two nervous break downs and an attempt to commit suicide.
So I wish that someone could help our family before our family has a final separation and we no longer are together as a one unit family, as we should be and were before CAS came into our lives twelve years ago. Also unless we can get rid of them we will always worry about what else they may come up with to tear our family apart. Mike Lund, Diane Lund, Henry Lund, Nancy Lund, and Maria Lund.
The Lund Family
Addendum: September 22, 2005. This story was posted in response to a request from the author for assistance in publicizing his case. Children's Aid has made no objection to Dufferin VOCA, but they have threatened the author with prosecution. They did not object to being tagged as "the local SS group", only the disclosure of the names of the family. To keep this family out of trouble we have changed the family names to pseudonyms and removed the author's street address. You can send him mail at the email address shown. The name of the social worker is as in the original request. Though we will not post the family name and address publicly, you can get them privately from Dufferin VOCA at our email address on our home page.
More Abuse of CAS Wards
September 16, 2005 permalink
Here is more news about how the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto cares for its wards.
September 16, 2005
'He always eats well'
Grandfather accused of starving boy to death portrayed Jeffrey as healthy to police, court hears
By SAM PAZZANO, COURTS BUREAU
Tiny Jeffrey Baldwin was locked up in his bedroom to prevent him from drinking toilet water in the middle of the night, court heard yesterday.
Jeffrey's grandfather Norman Kidman told detectives of the gruesome details of the 5-year-old boy's life in a videotaped statement that was played in court yesterday.
Kidman and his longtime common-law wife, Elva "Eve" Bottineau, are accused of starving Jeffrey to death, confining him in his urine-and-feces infested, frigid bedroom. Both 53-year-olds have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Jeffrey's Nov. 30, 2002 death.
The Catholic Children's Aid Society awarded custody to the couple in 1998.
Kidman portrayed Jeffrey to police as a healthy, but "borderline retarded" boy who always had a good appetite.
But Kidman admitted to police he had "no idea" how much Jeffrey weighed.
"He always eats well. A very good eater. Jeffrey is, always was, always was a good eater," Kidman said in the interview with police.
Jeffrey weighed 21 pounds when he died, or as much as the average 10-month-old baby, and court has heard his appearance shocked everyone who saw the stunted boy at hospital.
Kidman said Jeffrey wasn't sent to school because he wasn't yet toilet-trained and wouldn't have been accepted. Jeffrey's room was stripped of all furnishings and toys because he would smear them with feces, Kidman said.
Kidman said he and his wife stopped Jeffrey from banging his head off the floor.
"Was he a normal size?" Det. David Simpkins asked in the interview.
"No, Jeffrey was small. He was always small. He was always tiny," Kidman said.
Evidence presented earlier in the trial showed that Jeffrey, as an infant, was in the 97th percentile for height, or extremely tall for his age.
Jeffrey was "fine" and healthy the last time Kidman saw him naked two or three weeks before his death, court heard in the interview.
Medical evidence presented earlier in the trial concluded Jeffrey would have appeared as gaunt and emaciated in the last few months of his life as he had at death.
MOM SHOOK BOY
Kidman said his daughter Yvonne lost custody of Jeffrey and his sister after a welfare office worker spotted the mom shaking one of the kids. Yvonne lost an earlier baby for leaving her in the house while she was fighting in the street, court heard.
Jeffrey was never physically abused, only "smacked" for misbehaving sometimes, Kidman told police.
Jeffrey had blunt force trauma injuries on his head, court has heard.
Source: Toronto Sun
Universal Child Tracking
September 15, 2005 permalink
Holland is introducing a file to track every child. Fragmentary evidence suggests this may already be happening in Canada, but without any public announcement. Big sister is watching.
Yahoo! News / The Associated Press
Dutch to Open Electronic Files on Children
Tue Sep 13, 6:36 PM ET
The Dutch government plans to open an electronic file on every child at birth as a tool to spot and protect the troubled kids of the future.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2007, all citizens will be tracked from cradle to grave in a single database — including health, education, family and police records — the health ministry said Tuesday.
As a privacy safeguard, no single person or agency will be able to access all contents of a file. But organizations can raise "red flags" in the dossier to caution other agencies about problems, ministry spokesman Jan Brouwer said.
The intention is to protect troubled children, Brouwer said. Until now, schools and police have been unable to communicate with each other about truancy records and criminality, which are often linked.
"Child protection services will say, 'Hey, there's a warning flag from the police. There's another one from school. There's another one from the doctor," Brouwer said. "Something must be going on and it's time to call the parents in for a meeting."
Every child will get a Citizens Service Number, making it easier to keep track of children with problems even when their families move, said Secretary of Health Clemence Ross.
"Safety, guidance, education and supervision are incredibly important for the development of children," Ross said.
All Dutch births are currently registered with local authorities.
Source: Yahoo news
Adoptive Children Caged
September 14, 2005 permalink
We have an extensive comment on this story following its end. It comes from the website of the CBC, though because of a strike, maybe not from the normal CBC sources. The original is marked also "Canadian Press".
'Caged' kids from Ohio home well-dressed, well-fed, well-behaved: neighbours
01:35 AM EDT Sep 14
WAKEMAN, Ohio (AP) - Eleven children removed from an Ohio house where authorities said some of them slept in homemade cages are polite, well-behaved, well-dressed and appear to have been well-fed, neighbours and authorities said Tuesday.
Their adoptive parents, Michael Gravelle, 56, and Sharen Gravelle, 57, denied in a custody hearing Monday they abused or neglected the children, aged one to 14, who have conditions that include autism and fetal alcohol syndrome.
No charges had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon and messages left with the couple's lawyer were not immediately returned.
The Gravelles said a psychiatrist recommended they make the children sleep in the cages, Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler told the Norwalk Reflector newspaper. The parents said the children, including some who had mental disorders, needed to be protected from each other, a search warrant on file at Norwalk Municipal Court stated.
Leffler refused comment Tuesday at his office.
Neighbours said they often saw or heard the children playing and the family yard was littered with toys - plastic cars, tricycles, slides and an overturned skateboard near a wooden ramp. Seven bicycles were piled in a storage shed.
"Those kids were dressed better than some of the kids who live in Cleveland," said Jim Power, who lives across the street.
"They behaved like any other kids when they were outside playing."
At night, authorities said, eight of the children were confined in one-metre-tall wooden cages stacked in bedrooms on the second floor. The cages were painted in bright, primary colours, with some rigged with alarms that would send a signal to the downstairs when a cage door was opened. One cage had a dresser in front of it, county sheriff's Lieut. Randy Sommers said Tuesday.
"The sheriff and I stood there for a few minutes and just kind of stared at what we were seeing," Sommers said.
"We were speechless."
No one answered the Gravelles' door Tuesday and the grey, four-bedroom house was dark. A pig, roosters and other animals shared the yard outside Wakeman, a community of about 1,000 people, 80 kilometres west of Cleveland.
The children have been placed with four foster families and were doing well, said Erich Dumbeck, director of the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services.
"We're still trying to figure out what happened in that home," Dumbeck said.
"We don't have any indication at this point that there was any abuse."
Sommers said a social worker investigating a complaint contacted authorities. Dumbeck would not discuss the complaint.
The search warrant said the cages had mats and the house smelled of urine. One boy said he slept in a cage for three years, Sommers said. A baby slept in a small bed and two girls used mattresses
Deputies said they were called to the home last year when a 12-year-old boy was upset and ran away for several hours. He was found not far away.
Although the family has lived in Huron County for 10 years, the children were adopted through other counties and states, Dumbeck said. He said his agency was trying to determine how the adoptions were completed.
"I don't believe there were any caseworkers checking in with this family," he said.
Reviews are ordered only when there is a complaint.
One of the children, a boy born with HIV, was adopted as an infant in 2001 through the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, the agency's director Jim McCafferty said. The Gravelles received a subsidy of at least $500 a month to care for him.
The private agencies who reviewed the couple's home life before the adoption gave them "glowing reports," McCafferty said.
Leah Hunter, who lives two houses away, said she often saw the children walking down the road.
"They looked OK. They hardly ever wore shoes but I'm a country girl and for me that's normal," she said.
This may simply be a case of bad adoptive parents. But based on past experience, it could be an indication of other problems far deeper in the social services system than foster parents.
On October 10, 2003 Bruce Jackson, 19-year-old adopted son of Raymond and Vanessa Jackson, was found foraging for food in a neighbor's trash near his home in Collingswood New Jersey. Once the matter came to the attention of police, the appalling facts of the case came to light. Bruce, age 19, looked to the police like a seven-year-old. He stood four feet tall and weighed 45 pounds. The family had seven children, three girls and four boys. One of the girls was a foster child about to be adopted, the others were all adopted. While the girls appeared normal the boys were all emaciated. They were:
|Michael||9 years||23 pounds|
|Tyrone||10 years||28 pounds|
|Keith||14 years||40 pounds|
|Bruce||19 years||45 pounds|
The parents made the lame excuse that the boys suffered from eating disorders, though they had no explanation for why there was an epidemic in their family.
The police, the press, the local child protectors, the state prosecutor and the US Congress went to work on the case. The seven children were instantly removed from the Jackson home and placed in foster care. Newspaper stories appeared daily with shocking new revelations. Caseworkers had visited the home 38 times in two years without noticing the malnourishment. The family had kept the children in isolation by homeschooling. Bruce had bad teeth and remained hospitalized. Bruce, and possibly the other boys as well, had lost weight since his adoption in 1999. In foster care the children were fed properly and began to gain weight. The Jacksons had received a subsidy of $28,000 a year to care for the children.
But even at the outset, some things about the case did not add up. The initial reports described the family as homeschoolers, one of the bugaboos of the social services system. And there was the pastor, Harry Thomas. He had seen the family up close, and had only praise for the parental love given to the entire family. He stated his praise in the press, and in congressional hearings held shortly after the scandal broke.
The mystery unraveled a year later with the publication of an in-depth story by David France in New York Magazine. There is a rare eating disorder called rumination. Sufferers regurgitate their food and chew it again. Eating the same meal more than once is less nutritious than eating a new meal, leading to malnutrition. The regular presence of stomach acid in the mouth causes rotting of the teeth.
Remediating rumination requires expensive treatment. New Jersey DYFS decided not to provide the treatment, but to dump four of their cases on the Jacksons. The family was not sophisticated enough, or wealthy enough, to seek the required treatment, and the boys languished. When the scandal finally broke, the Jacksons became the scapegoats.
Now we have another case, this time in Ohio, of many adopted children all exposed to inexplicable abuse. This could be a case of genuine abuse in foster/adoptive homes. Depending on what numbers you look at, abuse in foster homes is three to ten times more prevalent than in natural families. But the neighbors say it was a happy family, and aside from cages, installed at the urging of a psychiatrist, everything seemed normal. The psychiatrist's advice makes some sense, because in foster care the main risk of child abuse is not foster parents, but other children.
So is this a malevolent family of child-abusers? Or a naïve family that follows doctor's orders uncritically? Or even a family being set up to take the blame for a scandal? We will be watching news reports for answers.
Annette M Hall has assembled a multi-media account of the case of Sharen and Mike Gravelle.
Addendum: The scapegoats are released after serving two years in jail.
Sharen Gravelle released from jail
After serving nearly two years in prison, Sharen Gravelle is free — and Michael Gravelle will be out soon, too.
The estranged pair convicted of child endangering and child abuse have served their scheduled sentences, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.
Sharen Gravelle, 62, was admitted to prison April 7, 2009, and released Wednesday from the Northeast Pre-Release Center in Cleveland.
Michael Gravelle, 62, was admitted April 6, 2009, and is scheduled to be released Monday from the Hocking Correctional Facility in Nelsonville.
Both will be on parole for the next three years.
Their releases mark the end of a criminal case that dragged on for more than five years, starting in 2005 when social workers removed the adopted and foster children from their home after an investigation.
The Gravelles kept some of the special needs children in alarmed enclosures and used cruel and unorthodox ways to discipline them, according to court records.
Sharen Gravelle testified that she and her husband built the enclosed beds to protect the children, so they didn't wander during the night.
Huron County Court of Common Pleas Judge Earl McGimpsey sentenced the Gravelles to two years in prison in 2007, after a jury convicted them on four felony charges of child endangering, two misdemeanor charges of child endangering and five misdemeanor charges of child abuse.
They were both acquitted on 17 other charges, according to court records. Their sentences were postponed during a series of appeals, but they ultimately lost.
Huron County prosecutor Russ Leffler said the judge apparently felt the Gravelles were "basically good people," but he disagrees.
"They should have gotten a lot longer (sentences)," Leffler said. "Some of the children are doing well, some not as well."
The Gravelles' attorney, Kenneth D. Myers, did not return a call seeking comment.
The children ranged from 1 to 14 years old when they were taken from the Gravelles' home near Wakeman.
At least two of the children are now suing the Gravelles. They're also seeking compensation from Hamilton County, Adopt America Network, their social workers and Fairhaven Counseling.
Last March, Huron County awarded a $1.2 million settlement to be split among the 11 children, depending on their needs and the severity of the abuse they suffered.
Source: Sandusky Register
Call for Release of Falsely Convicted
September 13, 2005 permalink
Every moral panic breeds its own brand of experts supporting its excesses. Here is another article on the work of Dr Charles Smith, who has found so many cases of child homicide that his opinion is now suspect.
Group says murder convict is innocent, calls for release
The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted said Tuesday that Canada has another wrongful conviction case - a man was convicted of raping and killing a four year old Ontario girl in June 1993, but it now seems that the girl died of natural causes.
The group wants Bill Mullins-Johnson to be let out of prison on bail while Ottawa decides how to deal with what they said is the latest name on a long list of miscarriages of justice.
James Lockyer, director of the association, said: "Once again we have a man who's spent a lot of time in jail -- 12 and-a-half years in his case -- not just for a crime he didn't commit, but for a crime that never happened."
Mullins-Johnson of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was convicted of first-degree murder in 1994 for sodomizing and strangling his four-year-old niece Valin Johnson in June 1993.
The conviction was based on what his backers call a "rush to judgment" by pathologists, who testified Valin had been chronically sexually abused and strangled or smothered. Their findings were backed up by Dr. Charles Smith, a Toronto pathologist whose conclusions in dozens of child deaths are currently under review.
Smith -- who until recently was with Toronto Sick Kids hospital -- told Mullins-Johnson's 1994 trial there was clear evidence Valin was killed while being anally raped, something no one who did the actual autopsy had detected. There was no semen or other DNA evidence to support that finding.
Now, Dr. Michael Pollanen, a top pathologist with Ontario's coroner's office, and a British expert, have both concluded Valin was not abused, sodomized nor strangled, they believe she died of natural causes.
Lockyer wants federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler to quash the conviction and order a new trial or, at the very least, refer it back to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
On Tuesday in Toronto, Lockyer said Canada needs an independent tribunal to review claims of wrongful convictions such as one set up in the U.K. eight years ago. It has already found more than 50 murder convictions were unjustified.
Lockyer said: "All we have now is a sort of a piecemeal examination of a case here and case there primarily brought forward by our organization. It's just not good enough."
Doctor Smith Resigns
September 12, 2005 permalink
In June we reported on the case of pathologist Dr Charles Smith who seemed to treat every death of a child as a homicide. He left his position at the Hospital for Sick Children in July, but the resignation was undisclosed until now.
Embattled pathologist no longer at Sick Kids
Dr. Charles Smith, a pediatric forensic pathologist whose work is being reviewed by the coroner's office, has resigned from his post at the Hospital for Sick Children.
Once considered Ontario's leading expert on pediatric forensics, Dr. Smith has been surrounded by controversy in recent years.
In 2003, he was removed from the five-person team that conducts autopsies for the coroner's office after judges and medical authorities criticized his methods and conclusions. He continued to work as a pathologist at the hospital, earning a salary of $290,000 last year. But earlier this year officials discovered that evidence crucial to criminal cases had gone missing in his office.
A hospital spokeswoman gave no reason for his departure, but said he resigned in July. No announcement was made.
In June, Chief Coroner Barry McLellan launched a review into 40 homicide and suspicious-death cases handled by Dr. Smith since 1991. It was to be conducted by a panel of independent experts and was expected to examine whether Dr. Smith's autopsies and consultation reports in a number of sensitive cases were reliable. At the time, Dr. McLellan said the review was necessary to maintain public confidence in the coroner's office.
The review was sparked by an internal audit into the keeping of evidence and tissue slides in the specialized forensic pathology unit at the Hospital for Sick Children. That audit of the 70 cases handled by the unit since it opened in 1991 uncovered a few instances in which microscope slides and tissue samples had been misplaced.
In 2002, a senior Crown official asked Ontario prosecutors to look at their files to find cases where the credibility or reliability of Dr. Smith was called into question. They identified 25 such cases.
Lawyers from the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted have been calling for a public inquiry into Dr. Smith's work. In June, Cindy Wasser of AIDWYC said, "He's not just any doctor. He's a forensic pathologist who gives evidence in homicides, the most serious offence in the Criminal Code. People's lives were involved, not to mention the grief of losing a baby, a child, an infant . . . none of those people have closure."
In 1998, three-year-old Tyrell Salmon died in Toronto. As a result of Dr. Smith's conclusions, Maureen Laidley, the girlfriend of Tyrell's father, was charged with murder. The charge was later withdrawn after three other pathologists said the bump on the child's head was caused by a fall against a coffee table.
In the case of Amber S., a local coroner concluded that the 16-month-old girl died from a fall. Dr. Smith ordered that her body be exhumed and came to the conclusion that her 12-year-old babysitter had killed the girl by shaking. She was charged with the crime. But when it went to trial, 18 other pathologists questioned Dr. Smith's methods. The babysitter was acquitted and the judge suggested that Dr. Smith had tunnel vision.
Source: Globe and Mail
Adoption Disclosre is Back
September 12, 2005 permalink
The Ontario adoption disclosure law, bill 183, abandoned by the government in the spring, is back under consideration. The disclosure veto for birth parents is gone. The following article gives the legislative facts, along with a case in which adoption disclosure could have been helpful in restoring a family sooner.
Adoption changes would open door to the past
But unwanted revelations could destroy lives, say privacy advocates
Michelle Edmunds was 1½years old when she was taken from her home in Toronto and placed in foster care. But she never stopped thinking about her mother -- what she was like, the colour of her eyes, and why she had given her baby up for adoption. They finally reunited when Ms. Edmunds was 34.
Ms. Edmunds, now 42, said the happiest day of her life was when she received family photographs in the mail from her mother in 1996. Her younger brother, John James, had the same red hair and freckles and looked like her twin. The photo of her grandmother as a young woman bore an uncanny resemblance to Ms. Edmunds -- they had the same eyes and mouth.
"I could actually look at those pictures and see myself," she said.
The photos helped Ms. Edmunds fill in some of the missing pieces about her past. She began searching for her birth mother in 1975. But she does not understand why it took 21 years before she had enough information to track down her mother, who had moved to Edmonton. She also met four of her brothers and sisters and is still searching for her father.
"It's my identity. How could anybody have the right to withhold that from me? "
Ms. Edmunds decided to share her story with The Globe and Mail after the proposal of legislation in Ontario that would lift the veil of secrecy on adoption records. Hearings resume Wednesday.
Ms. Edmunds, who is single and works as a counsellor helping immigrants find jobs, is on one side of a battle, sparked by the government's efforts to bring greater openness to a process that has long been confidential.
On the other side are privacy advocates who say the government has gone too far by proposing to retroactively expose the identities of birth parents who expected decisions they made to remain private.
Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian is leading the campaign defending the rights the birth mothers who now fear exposure because they have never told even their families about having a child they gave up for adoption.
"I feel like I have no other choice," Ms. Cavoukian said. "I feel that it's my job, because there's no one else to express this view."
Under the current law, in place since 1927, adoption records are sealed. The only way for birth parents and adopted children to reunite is for both to register with the government to have identifying details revealed. Even then, a match can take as long as three years.
The proposed legislation, known as Bill 183, would allow individuals at age 18 access to their birth records, which contain their original name and information about their birth mother. Parents would have access to birth records and adoption orders once the child turns 19.
Ms. Cavoukian is urging the government to amend the bill to give birth parents and adoptees who want their identities protected an automatic disclosure veto for adoptions that occurred before the proposed rules take effect.
She's received hundreds of letters, many from elderly birth mothers who fear revelations about their past would destroy their families.
"I made the hardest decision of my life 20 years ago alone with no family knowledge of my pregnancy or adoption," says one letter. "These proposed changes could completely upset my life as it stands today."
Ms. Cavoukian said the goal of greater openness of adoption records can be achieved without trampling on the rights of these individuals and potentially destroying their lives. She has the support of every one of Canada's federal and provincial privacy commissioners and the provincial Progressive Conservatives.
Tory MPP Norm Sterling called on the government last week to withdraw Bill 183 and draft a new piece of legislation to improve access to adoption records without revoking the privacy rights of birth mothers and adoptees.
Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Community and Social Services, said there would be little point in changing the legislation if it is not retroactive. The government has amended the bill to allow adopted persons who had been victims of abuse by their birth parents to maintain their privacy and to allow others who want privacy to appear before a tribunal where they would argue that disclosure would cause significant harm.
Ms. Edmunds said her thirst for information never went away. "It wasn't a choice. It was a physical need, a craving."
At 10, she was adopted into the family that included three older children, where she had been in foster care since the age of 2. But that did not end her craving for information about her birth mother.
"Telling an adopted child that you love them does not override that physical need to know your roots," she said. "What adopted kids want to hear is who they look like, what's your mother's name, when's her birthday."
She remembers going through the telephone directory when she was 10, looking for a listing for her mother. She didn't find it.
When she was 13, her adopted family took her to the Children's Aid Society in Toronto, and asked them to give her some information about her background.
She got a document titled Non-identifying information on child prior to adoption. It had basic information about her background: she was born in Chicago on Sept. 28, 1962, began walking at nine months and had her tonsils removed at 3. It also noted a doctor observed in 1964 that she never smiled.
She spent the next 20 years feeling confused and thinking she could be related to everybody. On one occasion, she approached a haggard-looking woman in a bar -- she knew her birth mother was an alcoholic -- and asked if she had a daughter named Michelle.
In 1995, Ms. Edmunds returned to the Children's Aid Society and found out more about her family. Her mother was raised in an orphanage in Nova Scotia and she had eight brothers and sisters. One brother died in infancy and five other siblings were adopted or became wards of the Crown.
She also found out that one of her older sisters, Colette, had been searching for her for 17 years. She met her and another sister, Mimi -- in New York where they live -- and the three have become close. "We became the sisters we should have been all along," Ms. Edmunds said.
The following year, Ms. Edmunds tracked down her mother at an address in Edmonton with the help of a friend who overheard her phoning across the country. She spoke to her mom for the first time on the telephone on Mother's Day in 1996 and went to visit in September.
She said her mom was only 62 at the time, but looked like 92. Her mother told her she had tried to find her many times but that no one would give her any information.
Ms. Edmunds was struck by one overwhelming emotion. "l lost her for 34 years and then had her for eight months. I never really cried because I didn't know her well enough."
The reunion was bittersweet. Her mother died two months later of pneumonia.
Source: Globe and Mail
Instructions for Foster Parents
September 12, 2005 permalink
We have posted a section of the manual for foster parents titled The Child in the Foster Home. The dull prose provides authority for some our statements about Children's Aid.
We have previously suggested that when a child such as Jeffrey Baldwin is harmed in foster care, the social worker is the one primarily responsible, not the foster parent. The manual strongly supports this conclusion. In 31 items, all but seven require the foster parent to defer to the social worker, the agency (Children's Aid) or the child's doctor. The foster parent has discretion only over food, clothing and transportation.
The manual forbids nursery school for foster children except in special cases, though CAS compels natural parents to send their children there.
Protection from Family Law
September 11, 2005 permalink
An article in the Western Standard, Dads on the Run shows the ultimate result of destruction of family life by the courts. It is not a better life for children. Though the article does not mention it, the real reason for the recent campaign against "identity theft" may not be to guard against credit card fraud, but to track down people who have started life under a new identity.
Dads on the Run
You've lost your wife, your kids, your house, and any money you earn goes to your ex. Your only hope may be the highly secretive organization that is helping hundreds of divorced Canadian dads flee the country and start a new life
In January, Gordon, a B.C. divorced dad, was desperately e-mailing men's groups for help. Having lost his job more than a year ago, he had nevertheless been ordered by a judge in December to pay $22,000 in annual child support for his three kids--kids he hadn't seen in 24 months. He was out of money, out of resources and was becoming depressed and suicidal. Then he received a strange e-mail. "We know what you are going through," it read. "Many of your Canadian and American comrades/brothers/friends are taking asylum to start a new life away from the oppression of their governments. To save their lives. Do you want to join them?"
Unsure of what to do, Gordon (not his real name) replied with an e-mail requesting more information. What followed must have seemed like a spy novel come to life: Gordon was told to go to a public library and e-mail the details of his situation, using s-mail, a highly-encrypted e-mail service, that could not be monitored by the FBI or RCMP. He was to use a woman's name as his moniker. "I will then give you another s-mail address and will never use this one again," the source, who called himself Sandy, explained.
Sandy identified himself as a men's rights activist. He confided in Gordon that he had been through a messy divorce of his own: his ex-wife had accused him of sexually abusing their children. And though she eventually admitted all the allegations were made up, the 11 years of court battles that Sandy had fought to clear his name had cost him over a million dollars, leaving him destitute, and inspiring him to help other dads who were facing prosecution and ruin in bitter divorces--by helping them escape.
Sandy instructed Gordon to erase all references to their communication on his home computer and then clean his hard drive. "After that please comm [communicate] only from public libraries. Now, if you want to go any further, send me a new email address, NOT IN YOUR NAME!!! We will set a time and I will give you a phone number. Get a calling card from a convenience store, pay cash. You will use that to call me from a payphone to a payphone." He also prepared Gordon for the major life change he would have to make to extricate himself from his legal troubles. "Start selling and pawning everything you can w/out tipping your hand," Sandy wrote. "Do you have construction skills, a craft or trade that is saleable on the cash market?" Then he told Gordon to "pack as if you are taking a sudden vacation," and gave him the sort of instructions one might need if he were on the lam from the law, or trying to escape persecution in some oppressive country:
PACK LIGHT - CLOTHES, TOOLS OF YOUR TRADE, AND MINIMAL FISHING & CAMPING GEAR. PAY CASH ON THE ROAD. GO TO SMALL STORES W/OUT CAMERAS IF YOU CAN FIND THEM. TAKE EXTRA FUEL SO THAT YOU GET 5-600 MI BEFORE STOPPING TO FUEL. DELETE THIS MESSAGE AND ALL OTHER CORRESPONDENCE W/ME AND OTHERS. COMMIT ADDRESSES TO MEMORY.
In fact, Gordon would be on the lam from the law. And the organization that Sandy represented, the Planetary Alliance for Fathers in Exile, believes that dads just like Gordon all over North America are being persecuted by an oppressive regime--the family court system. According to their website, PAFE is dedicated to helping fathers escape and obtain new identities and jobs in Europe. The way PAFE explains it, divorced dads are at war with a system they cannot hope to defeat. The website claims that 100,000 men are annually forced to leave the U.S. alone due to the "feminist fraud" that has tainted the justice system against men. "This exodus is proof that America is living in a war zone with or without Iraq," the PAFE site reads. "There are dead, dying, wounded and missing among its ranks each day. The number of men forced into illegal and treasonous debtor's prisons in America stands at around a quarter of a million. There are still men paying into this diseased system, so that they can see their children and 'be safe' month to month
. . . [N]o father in his right mind should go along and support this fraud. Fathers have 3 choices--take their kids into hiding overseas, stay and show civil disobedience, or go overseas alone to start a new life. All else is slavedom or death."
In his first Canadian interview ever, the man who heads up PAFE, "Jean Kelly," admits that even his own name is a pseudonym. A decade ago he was a New York City emergency room physician, when a friend of his, a Canadian doctor, approached him to help him find a way to reduce the suicide rates among divorced fathers, and to help his associates who found themselves unable to continue with their careers because they were consumed by custody, access and child-tax issues. Kelly happened to hear about a policy begun by the French government, seeking highly educated immigrants as part of its competitiveness policy. He immediately realized that the opportunity represented a way out for thousands of men who thought they had none.
Today, Jean Kelly says he has four nationalities, and goes by two different names, and he and the colleagues he has helped are all in hiding. Over the past five years, he says, his organization, headquartered in Nice, France, has helped 4,700 divorced fathers from several countries to escape what they consider to be "illegal and inhumane" custody and access laws, by moving to Europe and changing their identities. Nearly 100,000 men, Kelly says, have fled from Great Britain and 137,000 from Australia. So far, he claims 1,000 Canadian men have gone into exile.
"My former Canadian wife took my two daughters to her mother, claiming sexual misconduct," says one father, who chooses to call himself "Lee" rather than reveal his identity for this story. Lee fled Canada and was able to find work, through the assistance of PAFE, in the information technology industry, with a major multinational corporation in Japan. He could not stay in Canada. "I had 17 witnesses in court stating they never saw anything unusual in my behaviour towards my daughters. It was no use," Lee says. "The Toronto judge gave her custody, and myself supervised access. If I ever was to have [another] family I would be greatly disadvantaged both financially and socially with the burden of the decision of the judge. I chose to cut all ties to my past and start anew."
Some of the men PAFE helps are hiding from convictions that would see them go to jail if they were ever tracked down. But many others simply see no future in Canada, where they believe they will never be treated fairly. "Mainly, though," says Kelly, "they love children, they love to have a relationship, and hardly any new wife is going to put up with having to pay tax to the ex. Especially those who are highly educated professional women, because their income, as well as their husband's, is going to be taken into consideration in the [support] equation."
Kelly says that once they are overseas, the men find work all across the European Union. And the opportunities are tremendous for men who have skills: "We've got scientific institutions, high-speed railways, a space agency," says Kelly. "We've got the biggest passenger plane in the world. We take anyone who's got experience and education. For those without, we provide work in the building industry, farming and transportation." PAFE says that officials in the French and Spanish governments are actively helping the group to make it easier for skilled workers to start a new life. "We take the skilled and highly educated gladly--engineers, high-tech computer skills, scientists--but we are also doing a lot of humanitarian work, preventing people from going to jail." Among his clients, he says, "a large number have PhDs--the 'who's who' among scientists and engineers." Men who aren't highly skilled often work in the underground economy and pay no taxes. "We help anyone who wants to have a life again and use their potential to the fullest," Kelly says.
In addition to helping what he sees as a persecuted group, Kelly is paid to bring fathers over by the companies that want to hire them--like a headhunter. For the father on the run, the services are free. All he must do is get himself overseas. "Everything is arranged. We can even provide an assortment of East European women from whom to choose a new wife--those that don't suffer the illusion of feminist indoctrination dished out by Hollywood about leaving marriages for imagined greener pastures," Kelly adds.
Fleeing one's home naturally means leaving behind children. But the majority of fathers are non-custodial parents who have no access to their kids anyway. "Too many fathers don't see their kids because there were sexual allegations made against them by these women in order to get cash and custody," says Kelly. "They are not classified as missing people, but have to be crossed off the child support computers because they've been out of the system for two years. They are known to be overseas because, upon leaving the country, the information from their passport is fed into the computer."
One father who identifies himself simply as "David," who fled Canada several years back, writes in an e-mail to the Western Standard about the decision to leave his children behind: "I figured that, despite the heartache of leaving the kids, either I don't see them from jail, or I don't see them from the U.K. So I chose to not see them from the U.K." David, who works in the computer industry, says that his child support had been calculated by the Justice Department based on a salary he was earning during the nineties' dot-com boom. When his salary fell, along with the fortunes of the computer sector, he was no longer able to keep up with payments. David insists that he continues to pay support according to Canadian government guidelines, but he now uses his actual salary in the formula. "However that's not good enough for the government," he writes. "I still probably won't be able to return to Canada due to the arrest warrant which has been issued, although I can't be extradited for a non-criminal offence. I try to speak with my children on the phone each week, but it's not the same."
Edward Kruk, a social work professor at UBC and author of the book, Divorce and Disengagement: Patterns of Fatherhood Within and Beyond Marriage , confirms that, in his studies of "disengaged non-custodial fathers," he has interviewed fathers living in Canada and Britain. And, he says, in his experience, their decision to leave their families, their careers and their country behind is typically made only when there appears to be no hope for them to escape their desperate situation. "When parents cannot agree on a parenting plan and the court must decide, 85 per cent [of decisions] result in sole maternal custody, 10 per cent in sole paternal custody, and the other five in a variety of arrangements including split custody," such as splitting the kids up between the parents, says Kruk. But shared parenting--or joint physical custody--is virtually non-existent in Canada. That's despite the fact that the body of study "indicates that on every single adjustment measure, children fare better in joint custody than sole," Kruk adds.
The judicial system's structural barriers, the mechanisms and institutions that polarize parties, and the feeling that many men have of being seen strictly as someone to be harassed for financial support rather than someone to provide social and psychological support for their families--all that, combined with the pain of being unable to see their children, can be overwhelming. Many divorced fathers, Kruk says, find they get little support through the mental health system where they are considered "deadbeat" or violent and irresponsible--both as marital partners and parents. "A lot of stereotypes dominate the field," Kruk acknowledges. "It's rare to find much sympathy in my own field [of social work]. Most programs are geared to toward mothers and children, as though children's needs were identical to mothers, but there is almost nothing for fathers. For all these reasons, many fathers just disappear."
When the father is reduced to the status of visitor, the relationship becomes constrained and artificial, particularly for fathers who were previously very close to their kids. "They soon find they have very little influence and aren't really able to parent, so they take on an avuncular, rather than a parental, role," Kruk says. "The stereotype is that they don't care, but the reality is that fathers have made every effort to establish meaningful parental relationships and are thwarted." In his own study, Kruk found those fathers who are most attached and involved with their children's care, and who want to share parenting, are the ones most at risk of losing access over time, because the courts often view their attempts to gain more access as harassing their former wives. Child Custody and Domestic Violence: A Call for Safety and Accountability, a 2003 training book for family court judges, by London, Ont., psychologist Peter Jaffe, actually warns judges to be suspect of fathers looking to increase access: "Many batterers pursue visitation as a way of getting access to their ex-partners," writes Jaffe. "They may seek custody to engage in prolonged litigation during which their legal counsel and the court process mirrors the dynamics of the abusive relationship." In the past, studies showed that over 50 per cent of non-custodial divorced fathers gradually lose all contact with their children, notes Kruk. At that point, it's not hard to see why some dads begin to consider a fresh start altogether.
While PAFE exists precisely to help fathers escape what it considers unjust custody and support arrangements, the ideal, says Jean Kelly, would be for dads to be able to stay home, near their children, and be treated fairly by the courts. "If Canada wants a healthy society it should not bow to minority interest groups," he says, referring to the feminist activists he says have upended the justice system, turning it against men. "Individuals anywhere will escape from laws which are unfair and damaging to themselves and society."
The societal damage isn't all that hard to see: hundreds, perhaps thousands, of skilled and educated men fleeing Canada for life is something any economist would easily recognize as an undesirable policy outcome. Kelly estimates that in a typical case, a single exiled father could cost Canada $2 million in lost skills and foregone future income. And there is the immeasurable cost that comes from such a large number of children growing up without a father in their life.
But Kelly speculates that, in many cases, politicians are unlikely to worry about those sorts of things: "Feminist governments are happy they [the dads] are overseas because they are not the ones who are going to vote for them." For those Canadians, however, who are uncomfortable with the idea of so many fathers being driven out of Canada, the answer is to demand a fairer divorce system. There should be a requirement for joint physical custody in all but the most extreme cases, with the financial responsibility for the kids falling to both parents, rather than aggressively going after the father's income alone. "That gives incentive to the fathers, saves the kids and saves on taxes," says Kelly. "Fathers would be working and contributing." More importantly, they could remain in their old lives, in contact with their loved ones. For, while lawmakers here may largely see them as financial sponsors, and governments abroad see them as a way to attain badly needed skills and labour, in the end these men on the run are, above all, somebody's dad.
Source: Western Standard
CAS Escapes Responsibility
September 9, 2005 permalink
Jeffrey Baldwin was a ward of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto. He died by starvation at the hands of his foster parents.
The prosecutor alleges that the foster parents abused the child to keep their foster payments, a habit they share with Children's Aid societies. As is customary in these cases, the contractors are on trial, the agency responsible for the child is not. The following report is from the National Post.
Boy, 5, was starved to death
Weighed 22 pounds: Grandparents accused of treating him 'like a dog'
Five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin was locked in his room, treated like a "dog" and kept alive for the foster-care money he generated, the Crown alleged yesterday at the murder trial of the dead boy's grandparents.
Norman Kidman and Elva Bottineau, both 53, are charged with first-degree murder in the November, 2002, death of their grandchild, who weighed less than 10 kilograms (22 pounds) when he died. The couple are also charged with the unlawful confinement of Jeffrey and his then-six-year-old sister.
The Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto placed Jeffrey in the care of his grandparents in 1998 because of allegations of abuse. The children's aid organization did not check its own files at that time, and was unaware Mr. Kidman and Ms. Bottineau had prior convictions for assaulting children.
Crown attorney Bev Richards outlined a series of horrific details about Jeffrey's physical condition as she began the prosecution's case before Judge David Watt. The Superior Court judge previously ruled in favour of a defence request and is presiding over the case without a jury.
Emergency personnel who responded to a 911 call placed by Ms. Bottineau on Nov. 30, 2002, found Jeffrey's lifeless body on a kitchen counter, wrapped in a towel, in the east-end home.
An autopsy determined the young boy was 93 centimetres tall and weighed 9.68 kilograms when he died, just six weeks before his sixth birthday. Prior medical records indicated he weighed slightly more than that when he was just a year old.
The cause of death was found to be "chronic, severe malnutrition," Ms. Richards said. The boy had "acute bacterial bronchial pneumonia," and probably went into septic shock in the hours before his death. Jeffrey had abrasions on his body and "caked-on" collections of bacteria on his skin that were estimated to be one millimetre thick, she said.
Six adults and six children lived in the Woodfield Road home owned by Mr. Kidman and Ms. Bottineau. Jeffrey and one of his sisters lived in a bedroom with a "hook lock" on the exterior door frame. The bedroom reeked of urine and feces to the point the "smell was right in your clothing," even after someone left the room, Ms. Richards said.
A 24-year-old daughter of the couple (not Jeffrey's mother) lived in the home with her boyfriend, James Mills. The prosecution said yesterday Mr. Mills will testify that Jeffrey was singled out, and he looked like "skin and bones" and was "treated like a dog." The boy was so thirsty he would sometimes lick water out of the toilet, Mr. Mills told police.
Mr. Mills has also claimed Ms. Bottineau explained that if she sought help for Jeffrey and his sister it would "ruin" her foster-care cheque. "Those two kids are $600 to me a month," Mr. Mills said he was told. He reportedly did not go to the authorities because he was afraid of being ordered to move out.
Mr. Kidman and Ms. Bottineau, who have been in custody since March, 2003, both pleaded not guilty yesterday.
Ms. Bottineau was previously convicted in 1970 of assault causing bodily harm in the death of her five-month-old daughter, and was sentenced to a year's probation. Mr. Kidman was convicted of assaulting two of Ms. Bottineau's children in 1978, and received two years' probation.
This information was contained in the files of the Catholic Children's Aid Society when the couple won custody of Jeffrey. A senior official in the organization told the National Post in 2003 that it was "astonished" at the failure to check its records, and it would correct a "significant flaw" in its policies.
The trial continues today with testimony from a senior pediatric specialist at the Hospital for Sick Children.
Ellis in Court
September 7, 2005 permalink
In August we reported that CAS denied membership to an applicant. We now have the reasons from the Children's Aid Society of Waterloo Region, denying membership to Patricia Ellis. They are: her husband Aneurin Ellis is of bad character owing to his legal wrangles with Children's Aid and his attempts to alert the public to CAS policies, and consequently they deem it unlikely that Patricia will support the goals of the society.
Do you think taxpayers unhappy with policies should have a voice in how their taxes are spent? Children's Aid doesn't.
The Children's Aid Society of Waterloo Region has denied membership to a mother on grounds that her husband is not of good character, and his views are not in accord with the goals of the society. This policy, necessary for private advocacy groups to avoid diluting their membership, now applies to spending of public funds as well.
The Children's Aid Society of Waterloo Region, spends $38 million per year of tax money. The members elect the directors, who in turn hire the management, which makes the operational decisions and policies. The membership policies deny critics a voice in spending.
CAS pretends to be a private charity, but that pretense is a sham. Charitable contributions are only $210 per year.
Addendum: On September 7 the court hearing resulted in a finding of contempt. As nearly as we can decode the judge's handwriting, the outcome is:
Mr Ellis is found in contempt. Order to go (illegible) he is to send a written unambiguous + unreserved retraction + apology to Mssrs Chalk, Ringrose + Boles by sending them the correspondence at their workplace + to notify the Children's Aid + Waterloo Regional Police Services within 15 days
Failure to do will result in a jail term of 30 days. (illegible sentence). Costs fixed at 3000.00 + GST.
/signed/ FEDAK, J.
In two legal actions, the Children's Aid Society has gouged ten thousand dollars out of this family. The result can only make conditions worse for the children they purport to protect.
Batman and Robin Return!
September 3, 2005 permalink
According to Fathers-4-Justice, Batman and Robin scaled a crane this morning in Vancouver British Columbia.
Addendum: The climbers were Batman (Robert Robinson) and Robin (Chris Coderre). The event planned for 24 hours ended in ten hours because of high winds. The next day The Incredible Hulk (Kevin Christiaens) climbed to the top of the New Westminster Supreme Court. The police seem to have had a tip-off, and detained standbys Batman and Robin. The event ended in three hours with the descent of the Hulk, and all were free to go.
Here is TV coverage of the event (wmv format).
Police Arrest Weidner, Mace Mother and Daughter
September 1, 2005 permalink
Here is a full story on the macing and capture of Emily Lake. The US~Observer does not reach the journalistic standards of a daily newspaper, but the mainstream press has totally ignored this story.
Police Without Warrant
Mace Mother and Daughter
On August l0, 2005, l4 armed police officers in 11 police cars descended on the home of political activist Roger Weidner and his 95-year-old mother Frances Weidner who has lived in the family home at 3526 S.E. Franklin St. Portland, Oregon since l937.
Without search warrant or arrest warrant the officers stormed the Weidner property. When Sgt. Brown was asked by Roger Weidner to produce a search warrant he refused and instead, with the assistance of another officer, forcibly arrested Weidner and began searching his house with a snarling police dog. The object of their warrantless search was Lynnae Lake and her 9-year-old daughter Emily.
In September l999, Lynnae Lake, because of the abandonment of her family by her husband and business reversals, had sought public assistance for her and her 3 children, then 16, 13 and 4 and thereby without her knowledge entered the children into the Michigan DHS services data base.
Six months later, at the beginning of the school year, CPS demanded that Lynnae bring her children to the courthouse for a meeting to discuss their welfare. Upon arrival at the courthouse and without warning, her children were immediately taken into state custody. At a sham hearing where the outcome was a forgone conclusion, Lynnae exposed the perjury of the “caseworker” on the record. The judge ignored the undisputed evidence of perjury and her children were gone.
During the next 19 months both the children and Lynnae lived a nightmare of foster care hell. During this time the children were moved repeatedly and abused and neglected. The oldest child Mary was given the rights of an adult and encouraged by a state paid counselor and caseworker to enter into a sexual relationship and to live with a man. In December 2000, the state told the oldest daughter she was emancipated and she could live with whomever she wished.
The children were returned, not by DHS but by the divorce courts in Sept 2001, much to the anger of Midland DHS caseworker Dan Rogalny and supervisor Shelly Marner. Both children returned with serious physical and emotional problems. Emily, the youngest daughter, returned with a total fear of being without her mother and in total fear of foster care and the police.
In December 2003, a conspiracy developed between caseworker Dan Rogalny and the oldest daughter Mary to shift custody of Laura and Emily from Lynnae to Mary. Mary was promised money and custody of both children by the state. As part of the conspiracy a false report of physical abuse was prepared by her oldest daughter who was now married and living in her own new home. The middle daughter was illegally detained, questioned and threatened.
In March 2004, after many threats of jail and foster care for the children, Lynnae finally got CPS to admit they had no case to investigate. Immediately a campaign to include the middle daughter Laura, now 17, was started. She was contacted in secret by caseworker Dan Rogalny and her older sister through the private Christian school she attended by phone, email and instant message with promises of car, apartment, freedom and a job if she would purger herself and say Lynnae abused her. As part of the conspiracy a plan was concocted that would only allow DHS to come to the school and move Laura and Emily to their sister Mary’s house on the last day of school. The caseworker stressed that the middle child herself would have to make the call if she wanted her little sister to also go with her.
This was in retaliation for Lynnae exposing their fraud, perjury and falsification of documents and the fact that Dan Rogalny, back in 1999, had already decided that these children and their mother would not be together – ever.
On the last day of school Lynnae received a call that CPS was there. Seeing her middle daughter behind locked doors crying hysterically and unable to get to her she took Emily and fled.
In 2005, Lynnae and Emily began living as a caretaker for 95-year-old Frances Weidner, in the family home she shares with her son Roger Weidner, l998, Oregon Reform Party candidate for Governor.
Shortly after noon on August 10, 2005, Lynnae and Emily told Roger Weidner that there were police outside the house. Weidner observed Portland Police officer Sgt. Brown walking up the driveway and met him at the back door. Brown asked, “where is the girl?” Weidner asked the name of the person Brown was looking for and also asked to see the Search Warrant before the officers could enter the house legally. Brown said he didn’t need a warrant and grabbed Weidner’s hand through his pocket when Weidner reached for his wallet. With the aid of another officer Weidner was forcibly arrested and handcuffed and placed in the hot back seat of the police car while 14 police officers, without either an arrest warrant, search warrant or other valid process, with their dog, went through his house. The police banged on the bathroom door where 95-year-old Frances Weidner was taking a bath. They then started yelling “you better come out” or we are going to sic the dog on them and the “dog will bite.” All the time Lynnae and a terrified Emily were hiding in the basement shower.
The police then kicked the bathroom door in and pepper sprayed the mother and daughter twice. Lynnae was forcibly pulled from the shower and thrown to the ground where three officers tackled and sat on her. While this was going on Emily was crying hysterically saying: “please don’t hurt my Mom! I love my Mom! My Mom has never hurt me!” When Emily was brought out of the house she was crying hysterically and the cops were pouring water into her eyes because she had pepper spray in them. All this was done by these Gestapo thugs supposedly in the best interest of the child.
Lynnae was taken to a police car and driven off. Emily was placed in a separate police car and driven off. Once at the jail, Lynnae was manhandled by several officers; while being double shackled. At one time at least 5 officers had Lynnae where they were stepping on her bare feet, two officers held her by her arms, two officers in front and back pulled her hair out by the roots and an officer had her around the throat. One officer screamed “how would you like if I pulled your F***king hair out of your scalp.” To this she yelled back, “Do it.”
All during this time Lynnae was not ever charged with any crime nor were her rights read to her. They even sent in a psychiatrist to attempt to question her.
24 hours later she was told she could post bail of $500 or talk to the judge at an arraignment and get let out on personal recognizance and that she was being charged with custodial interference. She was now allowed to place phone calls to attempt to arrange the $500, but was lied to and told she could only have a local person post a money order or cash.
Less than 1/2 hour later she was told there was no complaint and that she would be released. As she made the phone call to ask for money and tell of her release she learned from Nancy Luckhurst, Founder of the Foundation for Children’s Rights in Sheridan, MI that there was an emergency shelter hearing being held for Emily and that she had gotten a phone call from Emily. Not surprisingly, the shelter hearing happened, yet mom was not served notice of any hearing or allowed to attend.
If not for the supporters of Roger Weidner, Susan Detlefsen of TV show Mother Interrupted, Will Gaston of A Voice for Children, and others, Emily would have been whisked back to MI with none the wiser as there was already a MI DHS “representative” waiting for her at the airport. Not one of the court actors even attempted to have the mother brought into court – they all knew what the script said anyway, this hearing was just for show.
Another hearing was scheduled for Wed 8/17/05. Back in jail when the news of the blocked hearing became known all of a sudden Lynnae was now under arrest on a fugitive warrant. Papers were now produced for Lynnae to sign, which she did not do. So she was held another night, officially strip-searched and placed in the jail.
On the morning of 8/12/05, all of a sudden the “fugitive warrant” had disappeared as fast as it appeared. Release is once again in sight within a few hours. Prior to release she is told she must now see medical personnel. Thinking she was finally going to have someone look and take pictures of her injuries as promised, she agreed. Another psychiatrist was brought in. But a few hours later Lynnae was released without further incident.
Upon getting home at 4:15 PM she contacted her “court appointed” attorney to find out that she was unavailable until the following Monday and no further information about the case could be obtained at that time. At 5:05 on a Friday afternoon when all courts and county offices were closed Lynnae was told by the legal assistant of her “court appointed” attorney Lissa Kaufman that the Wednesday hearing had now been changed to Monday 8/15/05; that her attorney could not meet with her prior to the hearing and that Emily would be sent back to MI following the hearing.
Just before Monday’s hearing several events took place to try and prevent Lynnae from attending, from a false promise of being able to visit with her daughter, to the court clerk and prosecutor saying there was no hearing. Monday’s hearing was also contrived and pre-determined with the judge calling in by phone. The courtroom held about 20 supporters. The child’s attorney, from Juvenile Rights Project lied and stated her client wanted a judge to decide where she went. When confronted by Lynnae, on the record she suddenly had nothing to say.
For 20 minutes Lynnae challenged each and every one of the public employees for not doing their job; for not being properly noticed; for the illegal arrest and invasion of the house; the violence of the attack on her and her daughter and for holding sham proceedings with a predetermined outcome in a Kangaroo court. Mrs. Frances Weidner also spoke on the violence of the attack and ascertained the non-abuse of Emily and the loving bond mother and daughter had. She also stated that she herself had volunteered for child protective services in getting help for abused children and that this child was not abused.
The judge stated the pick up order faxed to her by Midland MI was expired by 2 months and court would now be adjourned to Wednesday 8/17/05, so that the matter of the expired order could be looked into.
A visit with Emily was demanded and granted. At that visit Emily appeared extremely ill, her face swollen and red, a sore throat and eyes that could barely remain open. She proceeded to tell her mother that she had been forced to promise not to tell certain things and exactly what they were. She told how she was repeatedly being bribed and forced to look at documents that stated she was going back to MI. She begged repeatedly to come home. She was extremely agitated because they only had one hour and young girl could not take her eyes off the clock, commenting over and over in fear at how fast the time was going. She complained that the pepper spray was still burning and bothering her, but was told she had to wait for it to go away. She could hardly stay off her mother’s lap.
On 8/17/05 Lynnae was met at the courthouse by caseworker JD Devros and told to have Emily’s belongings delivered. The court appointed attorney, Lissa Kaufman, said this is how the judge is going to rule and that the concurrent hearing between Midland, MI and Portland, OR were going to be held via phone.
Emily’s attorney Haxton stated she had nothing to say. Kaufman once again asked to quit and was subsequently fired by Lynnae. Lynnae also condemned and fired her MI court appointed attorney, John Wilson, as he was announced.
It was clear from the outset that nothing Kaufman, Lynnae or any of the supporters had to say or introduce into evidence mattered. Lynnae challenged and charged Haxton, Judge Waller and caseworker Devros, peppering them with questions they all refused to answer. All motions and petitions before the court were summarily dismissed as Judge Waller refused to hear any of them. Roger Weidner stood and told the judge that none of the state workers Lynnae was condemning in either Portland, OR or Midland, MI denied the truthfulness of her charges. The basic theme was “you have her, we want her, send her” and it was done.
Source: US Observer website
Abuse in Foster Care
August 31, 2005 permalink
In a published decision, judge John I Laskin of the Court of Appeal for Ontario describes the maltreatment of four Children's Aid Society wards by foster parent Richard Burke. Section B contains the narrative of the abuse.
Here is a local copy (pdf).
August 31, 2005 permalink
Today Dufferin VOCA posts a news article by Arizona state representative Laura Knaperek in the Arizona Republic. Following the article is some research and analysis showing that most foster care deaths are concealed from the press in both Arizona and Ontario.
Children Drugged by Force
August 28, 2005 permalink
The article Inside Incarnation gives more on the New York foster children used for drug experiments. Children who refused to take the pills were given sugical implants to make drugging easier. Justifiable for life-saving medicines, but dubious to get experimental data.
Addendum: Commentary by oncologist Dr Dolores A Sicheri:
I sat for 5 years on a University Ethics Committee. Children are a "protected group." Ethics committees frown on clinical research in "protected groups." There has to be good reasons and possible benefits. There has to be a responsible person weighing benefits vs. risks and giving informed consent. This person also has the responsibility to withdraw consent if the study drug proves too onerous or too toxic for the child. The service providers in this particular case failed to fulfil this obligation. This is the reason for the media uproar. Putting feeding tubes into these children to administer the drugs is simply outrageous.
This case will go on to become part of the NCI's repertoire of things not to do. All medical professionals doing research are obligated to take a course in medical ethics.
This case is analogous to the Meadowbrook Long Island case of the 1970's. There parents were coerced into enrolling their disabled children into a study of the natural history of hepatitis B in an institution. The only access into residential services for these parents was to allow their child to be given the live hepatitis B virus. They were allowed to bypass the wait list for their consent.
Donation to Children's Aid
August 27, 2005 permalink
Following is a press release in which a company endeavors to create corporate goodwill by donating to the Children's Aid Foundation. Some more feedback such as that below might convince them to use some other charity for that purpose.
August 27, 2005
Transamerica Life Canada
Subject: Drive For Life Golf Tournament
This letter is in response to your press release copied below. It contains the paragraph:
Transamerica will host 136 invited guests as they tee off at 10am in an effort to raise an additional $300,000 for the Children's Aid Foundation and The Jean Tweed Centre. The funds will go towards a Post-Secondary Education Endowment Fund, a new play area, and other programs to help children and at-risk mothers create a brighter future together.
Perhaps you are fooling us, but more likely the Children's Aid Foundation is fooling you. The Children's Aid Societies, supported by the Children's Aid Foundation, do not allow children and mothers to have any kind of a future together. They are in the business of separating children from their mothers, and permanently whenever practical. In the course of organizing opposition, I have accumulated the names of hundreds of mothers (and fathers) adversely affected with the actions of the Children's Aid Society because they have either lost their children, or been threatened with the loss of their children. There are also many foster care graduates, among whom none are pleased with the "care" they received while under-age. If you look into the matter, you will find it difficult or impossible to find a single parent or child happy with the "services" received from Children's Aid. You can read almost daily news of the atrocious conduct of this agency on my website listed below, or dozens of other websites created by victims of Children's Aid.
I suggest that your company can enhance its reputation by redirecting its charitable donations elsewhere.
Robert T McQuaid
Orangeville Ontario L9W 2Z2
Press release copied from the web at:
Attention News/Assignment/Photo Editors:
Transamerica Life Canada's Drive For Life Golf Tournament Tees Off August 30th
Tragically Hip founder Gord Downie to give live solo performance at Eagle's Nest
TORONTO, Aug. 26 /CNW/ - A major charitable commitment is driving Transamerica Life Canada's annual Drive For Life Golf Tournament. The tournament, which will feature an intimate live performance by Juno award-winning singer Gord Downie, will be held Tuesday, August 30th at the Eagle's Nest Golf Club in Maple, Ontario. Now in its ninth year, the event has already raised over $2 million for Canadian charitable organizations.
Transamerica will host 136 invited guests as they tee off at 10am in an effort to raise an additional $300,000 for the Children's Aid Foundation and The Jean Tweed Centre. The funds will go towards a Post-Secondary Education Endowment Fund, a new play area, and other programs to help children and at-risk mothers create a brighter future together.
"Children who suffer abuse and neglect, and women who struggle with addiction and substance abuse are among the most vulnerable members of society. We're delighted that every dollar raised through Drive For Life will go directly towards helping make a positive difference in their lives," said David Boone, Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Services at Transamerica Life Canada.
"Transamerica is proud to be designated an Imagine Caring Company because of our long-term commitment to donating one per cent of annual pre-tax profits through our charitable giving program, in the spirit of hope," he added.
Previous Drive For Life tournaments have featured such prominent personalities as comedian Leslie Neilson, and Olympic speed-skating gold medalist Catriona LeMay Doan. "This year, we're honoured to have one of Canada's top musical talents lending support to our event," said Boone. "Mr. Downie will help us show others that it's possible to have a lot of fun, while also doing something valuable for the people of our community."
Photographers and media representatives are invited to Eagle's Nest Golf Club on August 30, 2005. The event begins at 10am and Gord Downie is scheduled to perform at 7:30pm, following dinner.
About Transamerica Life Canada
Transamerica Life Canada is a member of the AEGON Group, one of the world's largest insurers. AEGON N.V. and Transamerica Life Canada have consistently received strong financial ratings from Standard & Poor's and A.M. Best Company. In 2004, Transamerica Life Canada had more than $600 million in gross life insurance premium and recorded almost $9 billion in total assets under management.
As an Imagine Caring Company, Transamerica Life Canada donates one per cent of annual pre-tax profits to in the spirit of hope, our charitable giving program, which in the last seven years raised more than $5.6 million for worthy charities in the communities in which we do business.
About The Children's Aid Foundation
The Children's Aid Foundation, a national organization, is committed to improving the lives of abused and neglected children through Education, Enrichment and Prevention.
About The Jean Tweed Centre
The Jean Tweed Centre is a caring and innovative centre that addresses the treatment needs of women with substance use and gambling concerns and their families. Providing specialized services to more than 1500 women, The Jean Tweed Centre is the largest such centre in Ontario.
For further information: Stephanie Diodati, Communications Manager, Transamerica Life Canada, (416) 883-5418, firstname.lastname@example.org
Addendum: Here is another letter on the same topic dated August 28, 2005:
Hello Stephanie Diodati,
My name is John Dunn. I am a former Crown Ward who lived in foster care for sixteen years. During that time, I was moved through thirteen placements and suffered abuse in a couple of the homes, not to mention the psycological trauma of moving so much, being uprooted from several schools and friends my whole life, simply because of the way the child welfare system is structured.
I created a thirteen minute documentary of my life in foster care which takes you on a virtual subway ride through the foster homes I lived in, as a way to open the eyes of the public as to how many foster children end up living as a result of the secrecy and "confidentiality" offered them by the child welfare system, which in effect, keeps us hidden from the public, and from any attempts to truly advocate for us.
I know there are good cases that come from CAS's work, I can not deny it, but there are literally thousands of children who suffer in foster care from emotional, physical and sexual abuse, all hidden from the scrutiny of the public eye.
Please, if you wish to help children and their families, consider helping them before CAS becomes involved in their lives... most of your donation will end up paying for legal fees of a Society attempting to terminate access to children in care by their natural mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters...
Please listen to my story which aired across Canada on CBC by clicking the link below:
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Ontario Advisory Committee on Child and Youth Services
Dead Baby Scam
August 27, 2005 permalink
Earlier we reported on the use of the Dead Baby Scam in Canada. Here is a report from the BBC of the same racket in the Ukraine. In Canada, no one offers a mother €3000 for a baby. They simply sieze the baby without compensation, and say it is in the best interest of the child.
Ukraine baby theft claims probed
Harrowing reports of babies stolen at birth and human organ removal in an Ukrainian city are to be investigated by a top European political body.
The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly is sending a rapporteur to Kharkiv as Ukraine's prosecutors delve into the cases of three mothers.
"People are afraid to even give birth now," Kharkiv campaigner Tatyana Zakharova told the BBC News website.
The main hospital under scrutiny has dismissed accusations against it.
Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace) rapporteur, is to visit Maternity Hospital No 6 after her arrival on Monday and will meet local parents, Ms Zakharova and Ukrainian officials.
Her trip will also take her to the capital, Kiev, amid reports that babies may have been snatched at birth in other Ukrainian cities.
The alleged baby thefts go back to the autumn of 2002 but the case achieved wider publicity last year after MPs from across Europe tabled a motion at the Pace, which brings together 46 countries.
Underlining real concern over baby-trafficking from Eastern Europe, they pointed to newspaper adverts in Moldova encouraging single mothers there to sell a child for 3,000 euros.
"There has been no concrete follow-up in these three [Kharkiv] cases," Agnes Nollinger, who is accompanying Ms Vermot-Mangold, told the BBC News website on Friday.
Prosecutors are still investigating the three cases, nearly three years after Svetlana Puzikova arrived in labour at the maternity hospital in the early hours of a November morning.
She was in her 40th week and her family were waiting to visit the new mother and child later in the day.
Only the midwife and one other woman who was not introduced to her were at hand for the birth, Tatyana Zakharova of the National Ukrainian Federation of Multiple-child Families (NUFMF) told the BBC.
The last she saw of her baby was it being passed to the stranger. After that, 20 kilos lighter after her delivery, she and her family were told it had died at birth.
According to the NUFMF, doctors' records indicated the birth of a healthy child was to be expected.
No birth or death certificates were issued as an "abortion" had occurred, and the family was told that the remains of Svetlana's baby had been consigned to a communal grave with 27 other foetuses as "bio waste".
When the family demanded an inquest, this grave was reopened the following year in the thaw of the harsh Ukrainian winter.
Inside, the NUFMF reports, were 30 sets of remains, not 28, and Svetlana's baby could not be identified among them.
In late December 2002, Lena Zakharova (no relation to Tatyana) should have given birth to her first baby at Maternity Hospital No 6. It, too, was declared dead.
A third mother, Tatyana Dormidontova, gave birth at a maternity ward of another Kharkiv hospital in her 32nd week of pregnancy in July 2001.
Her baby was declared dead but the body was reportedly that of a much bigger baby. The mother herself died soon after birth.
All three women, according to Tatyana Zakharova, were first-time mums and each was in excellent health.
This factor leads her to suspect the babies may have been stolen for illegal adoption or, even worse, for the use of their organs.
There are reports that the babies' parents - or in Dormidontova's case the grandparents - were asked to sign blank pieces of paper. In their confused and fraught state they did not refuse.
The remains in the grave had allegedly had their organs and brains removed.
"They were like gutted rabbits," Tatyana Zakharova told the BBC.
Larissa Nazarenko, head of Maternity Hospital No 6, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency that "not a single fact" had been proven.
The Council of Europe team will be in Ukraine until Thursday to compile a report that will then be handed to the Parliamentary Assembly.
Earn Money from Foster Kids
August 26, 2005 permalink
This Reuters press release is too sick for comment.
LOS ANGELES, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Providence Service Corp. (PRSC.O: Quote, Profile, Research), which provides social services under government contract, on Monday said it has acquired for $8.4 million foster care service providers Maple Star Nevada and Maple Services LLC.
The deal gives Providence inroads into two new states, Colorado and Oregon, and broadens existing business in Nevada into foster care services, the company said.
Maple Star Nevada provides therapeutic foster care services in several Nevada locations and for-profit Maple Services LLC provides management services to Oregon and Colorado not-for-profit providers of foster care services.
The acquisition is effective Aug. 1.
Providence said the deal is expected to add about $5.5 million to its annual revenue and raised its 2005 revenue outlook to $137 million from $135 million.
The acquisition is also expected raise earnings by about 2 cents per share in 2006, but, because of debt service costs, it is not expected to affect projected 2005 earnings per share of 99 cents, the company said.
Source: Reuters website
Surveillance of F4J
August 25, 2005 permalink
We noted that in May Fathers for Justice (F4J) had conducted too many stunts to count. Since then there has been almost nothing, but not for lack of effort.
Conducting coordinated events across Canada requires communication, and all communication with homes of F4J leaders is now intercepted by the police. Police have already disrupted a planned F4J demonstration.
Ministry Stonewalls FOI Request
August 22, 2005 permalink
John Dunn made a request to the Ontario government for information collected during the review of the CFSA. The principal part of his request was:
As a result of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services' (the ministry) mandatory five year review of the Child and Family Services Act, the Minister, Dr. Marie Bountrogianni created a report titled "Report on the 2005 review of the Child and Family Services Act" which was published in March of 2005. This report stated that over 90 submissions were made to the ministry with recommendations regarding the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) and related matters.
I would like to request a single copy of each of the 90 submissions the Minister referred to in her report ...
Here is the reply from the ministry:
collapseMinistry of Community and Social Services Ministry of Children and Youth ServicesMinistère des Services sociaux et communautaires Ministère des Services à l'enfance et à la jeunesseFreedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Unit Communications and Marketing Branch 6th Floor, Hepburn Block 80 Grosvenor Street Toronto, Ontario M7A 1E6 Telephone: (416) 327-4545 Fax: (416) 326-2567
August 16, 2005
Mr. John Dunn
Foster Care Council of Canada
503-1218 Meadowlands Drive East
Ottawa ON K2E 6K1
Re: Request Number CYS2005/0036
Dear Mr. Dunn,
I am writing to you about your access request made under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Your request was received on June 24, 2005. In your request you are interested in receiving copies of the submissions received from the ministry pertaining to the review of the Child and Family Services Act.
As you will know from the report itself, which is available on the ministry's website, 72 responses came from individuals and 24 submissions were from advocacy groups, professional organizations and service provider associations.
Access is denied to the records received from individuals under s.21(2)(f) as the personal information is highly sensitive. The definitions section of FIPPA, says that personal information includes "correspondence sent to an institution by the individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence".
The information provided by the individuals is considered to be highly sensitive and the individuals included:
- parents who had experience with children's aid societies and with adoption
- individuals who had been or are currently in the care of a children's aid society
- individuals who have been adopted
- mothers who have relinquished children for adoption
- grandparents caring for their grandchildren
- lawyers who have represented parents and/or children
- people affected by adoption
- people affected by domestic violence
I am pleased to provide you with the attached list of associations, including: addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers and e-mail addresses. The submissions have not been provided, because the area responsible for them recently moved and is still in the process of establishing their new offices. The responsible area will continue to search for the submissions.
In the meantime, you may wish to contact the organizations directly to receive a copy of their submissions.
You may request that this decision be reviewed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner can be reached at:
Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
Suite 1400, 2 Bloor Street East
Toronto ON M4W 1A8
If you decide to appeal a decision to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, please provide the Commissioner's office with:
- The request number assigned to the request
- A copy of this decision letter, and
- A copy of the original request you sent to this institution
Appeals to the Commissioner must also be accompanied by the appropriate fee. Fees vary according to the nature of the request being appealed. If the person appealing has made a request for access to a general record under subsection 24(1) FIPPA, the fee is $25.00.
You have 30 days from the receipt of this letter to request a review from the Commissioner.
If you have any questions, you can contact me at the telephone number on the first page of this letter. Please use the Request Number assigned to your request in any further correspondence
Mary Lou Daniels
The letter was followed by a table giving the name of each organization and full contact information. Only the names are reproduced here.
- Ontario Association of Social Workers
- Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth
- Family Services of Halliburton County
- Second Chance for Kids
- Children and Youth Advisory Committee; Family & Children's Services Niagara
- Adoption Council of Ontario
- Advisory Committee for Child and Youth Services
- Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses
- Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children
- Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
- Adoption Support Kinship
- Office of the Child and Family Services Advocacy
- LoveCry, The Street Kids Organisation
- Foster Parents Society of Ontario
- Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents
- Citizens Commission on Human Rights
- Probation Officers Association of Ontario
- Legal Aid Ontario
It is difficult to believe, as the ministry claims, that letters sent for the purpose of correcting legislation are of a private or confidential nature. Last year, we posted three of the submissions to the ministry, none of them mentioning the name of a single CAS client. Is the ministry using this as an excuse for concealing letters with information about atrocities committed in the name of child protection?
And here is what John Dunn reported August 22:
Well folks, something interesting has turned up. I made a FIPPA request last month which turned out pretty good and is in the works.
Then I did some other inquiries by phone as to how I would learn from the Ministry how a CAS's Policy and Procedure Manual is approved by a Ministry.
I found out that a CAS submits their policy and procedure manual to the Ministry for approval. (probably the local Regional Office for each CAS) I then phoned, just to get an answer (helps me brain storm as I obtain more and more information from each call) and asked how I would obtain a copy of the most recently approved Ottawa CAS policy and procedures manual from the Ministry using a FIPPA request and who I would talk to regarding this book.
Well, here we go... talk about Government double talk and a feeble attempt to make the request seem complicated enough to make a person want to give up.
I got a call from
Program Supervisor - COMMUNITY SERVICES 1
10 Rideau St
Ottawa, ON K1N 9J1
today and she seemed to have been told to shut my request down fast.
She said that she was told that I should have included it in my previous FIPPA request and that because I did not, I would not be able to obtain it.
After talking as if she knew nothing of my request other than what "someone" told her... which she claims was that she was only told to tell me that I had to put what I asked for in the previous FIPPA request and that I could not get it because I did not.
CAS Wants Critic in Jail
August 21, 2005 permalink
CAS is moving this Wednesday to jail Aneurin Ellis for publicly criticizing Children's Aid. We have posted some of the court documents in the case.
In the summer of 2002 Aneurin and Patricia Ellis had a fight in which she made accusations against her husband to the police. By the time he went to the police, she had recanted the allegations, but the police charged him anyway. The charges were withdrawn months later but CAS intervened while the matter was pending, and has been in the family for three years. During that time CAS got a default order to take the kids after the family told them they had to go to Aneurin's dying mother, the children have been taken away twice, and CAS coached their then four-year-old daughter to say on video tape that dad held his hand in her vagina (She could not pronounce vagina correctly in the early part of the tape). The family can no longer afford a lawyer, and Mr Ellis handles the court matters by himself. He has distributed letters opposing CAS before, and Peter Ringrose, Executive Director of CAS, has sued him in a civil action, also getting a judgment by default.
Addendum: In court on August 24, the case was postponed for two weeks to September 7, 2005 to allow Mr Ellis to get legal advice.
August 19, 2005 permalink
Once again, be on the lookout for a mother caring for her own kids, this time in the Montreal area. The pictures are not available on the web.
Mom, grandma snatch kids
Police investigating kidnapping; No Amber Alert necessary, authorities say, because children not believed to be in danger
Two children were kidnapped by their mother and grandmother during what was supposed to be an arranged family visit at a youth protection office.
The Montreal police released photos of the children, 8-year-old Amalia Jean Baptiste and her 5-year-old brother, Moise, several hours after the children were abducted Wednesday afternoon.
The children's 38-year-old mother lost custody of her son and daughter last year and the youngsters were placed with foster parents. Their mother had not been heard from since January.
Wednesday, foster parents brought the children to a youth protection office on Henri Bourassa Blvd. E. in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough for a supervised visit with the children's 67-year-old grandmother.
"The grandmother and mother were waiting outside as the foster parents arrived for the supervised visit," said Jocelyne Boudreault, a spokesperson for the Centre Jeunesse de Montreal. "It all happened in a matter of minutes. It appeared to be planned because they had a taxi waiting nearby. The mother threatened the foster parents and gave them the impression she was armed."
The grandmother and mother tried to jump into a waiting taxi with the children but a foster parent told the driver what was happening. The driver refused to move and the mother, grandmother and two children left on foot.
Boudreault said both women had the right to supervised visits but that the mother had not requested to see her children since she disappeared.
The grandmother made regular supervised visits to the children, Boudreault said. "But until (Wednesday) the grandmother had given us no sign she would be an accomplice in the kidnapping of the children. What we hope now is that they are doing well and that they will give us some news."
Montreal police Constable Benoit Couture said the police are treating the case as a kidnapping. But the police would not release the identity of either the mother or the grandmother for reasons that Couture would not explain.
He said the police would have released the women's names if the case merited issuing an Amber Alert, the child-abduction response system where information is diffused to the media immediately.
Couture said one criterion for using the alert is when investigators believe a child's life is in danger.
"That is not the case this time," he said.
Both children are black, slightly over 3 feet tall and thin.
Moise has brown eyes and short black curly hair. He was wearing a dark green shirt and dark green pants.
Amalia has brown eyes and short, curly black hair with braids. She was wearing pink pants and a pink shirt.
The police are asking anyone who sees the children to call 911. Anyone with information concerning this case can contact the Montreal police at (514) 280-0128.
Source: Montreal Gazette
August 14, 2005 permalink
Lynnae Lake, the mother arrested on Oregon with her daughter Emily, has been under attack by child protectors before in Michigan. According to Nancy Luckhurst, complaints originated from her two older daughters when they became teenagers. Leonard Henderson suggests a chemical company initiated complaints to escape a tort suit. In any case, Michigan had Emily in custody for a time, and the mother and daughter, now nine, eventually fled to Oregon where Lynnae Lake lived under the name Anne White. While in hiding, Lynnae made a then-anonymous video of her flight from child protectors.
I have been privileged to spend a couple of afternoons with Lynnae and Emily Lake. I found Lynnae (the mom) to be highly intelligent with impressive knowledge and experience with the technical aspects of electronics. I was impressed with her uncompromising insistence on truth, accuracy and high moral and ethical standards. Emily Lake (the daughter), like most homeschoolers was very well-spoken, polite, and quiet, exuded a high intellect. She was terrified at the possibility of ending back in CPS' talons based on her previous terrible experiences in foster care. Unfortunately, her fear of abusive treatment by the authorities continues to be prophetic. - Leonard Henderson
Expand for the full Henderson report.
Hiding place becomes scorched earth
The Lynnae and Emily Lake story
On August 10, 2005 a mother and daughter violently taken into custody by at least seven Portland Oregon cops with no warrant. The mother, Lynnae Lake did not resist arrest, but the cops beat the daylights out of her. The cops were reminded of their Constitutional responsibility in making an arrest, and replied "We don't need a warrant and we don't have to give her her rights".
The daughter, 9 year old Emily Lake, tried to protect her mother and was pepper sprayed TWICE.
Which leads one to wonder if the cops even knew why they were on the call.
The "authorities" are pretending that this is a "child abuse" case. Other than the egregious abuse of Emily by the "Child Protectors" when they had her in custody in the past, this case is about PROPERTY, land and home.
The way I understand it-
In Michigan, there is a lovely piece of land situated close to a lovely river in a lovely valley. This lovely scene is located about 5 miles downstream from a chemical plant. The chemical plant had destroyed the river and poisoned the land. Lynnae Lake had sought redress from the chemical company's damage to her property value.
In short order, a "child abuse" allegation surfaces. There is no quicker way to make your political troubles "go away" than a child abuse allegation against a parent. The CPS agency will go after the parent with malicious disregard for fact, truth or the Constitutional protections afforded to CRIMINALS. This is after all, a CIVIL case.
The accused instantly finds their credibility, honor, and social standing destroyed. Shortly, the accused will lose their job and their financial ability to defend themselves. There is nothing to "win". With the weight of the entire system arrayed against them, and no remaining credibility, the only choice for some people is to FLEE.
The Underground Railroad.
Yes, just like the Underground Railroad for the slaves in the middle 1800's, there is an underground railroad today. It is called "FamTrak". It is only for PROVABLY INNOCENT parents and their children. The operation of "FamTrak" has been severely curtailed over the past 4 years due to America's rapid slide into being a Surveillance State due to the "War against Terror". "Political correctness" dictates that the government is NOT looking specifically for (profiling) middle eastern men between 15 and 50 years old. In order to be "fair", Everybody's movements and travels are surveilled.
Lynnae and Emily Lake were "FamTrak" travelers. They were being protected while advocates in Michigan were plowing through the political labyrinth of Michigan politics to expose this case for what it really is.
The Lake Family
I have been privileged to spend a couple of afternoons with Lynnae and Emily Lake. I found Lynnae (the mom) to be highly intelligent with impressive knowledge and experience with the technical aspects of electronics. I was impressed with her uncompromising insistence on truth, accuracy and high moral and ethical standards. Emily Lake (the daughter), like most homeschoolers was very well-spoken, polite, and quiet, exuded a high intellect. She was terrified at the possibility of ending back in CPS' talons based on her previous terrible experiences in foster care. Unfortunately, her fear of abusive treatment by the authorities continues to be prophetic.
Lynnae Lake has been released by Portland Police due to no warrant or pickup order existed. Emily Lake remains in Oregon CPS custody. The dependency or shelter hearing had been postponed to Wednesday, August 17 has now been mysteriously moved to Monday, August 15 which rather inconveniences the defense to 15 minutes to prepare to appear.
Advocates and activists all over the country are rallying to the Lake's defense.
Source: Leonard Henderson
Addendum: Susan Detlefsen reports on the legal status of Emily Lake:
- Tuesday, August 16, 2005 5:48 PM
- Emily Lake Extradition Hearing Wednesday August 17, 11 a.m.
The third shelter hearing to determine whether or not either Oregon or Michigan has a legitimate claim on 9 year old Emily, will take place tomorrow:
Emily Lake Hearing
August 17, 11 a.m.
1401 NE 68th (behind Glisan Fred Meyer), Portland, Oregon
The Michigan petition was expired when Emily was taken. Judge Waller is waiting to see whether or not Michigan CPS can have it renewed. If not, they may have to let Emily go.
Addendum: On August 17, Judge Waller ordered Emily Lake returned to Michigan. For a detailed report, refer to the blog by Susan Detlefsen. We have also created a combined report on the hearing by Susan Detlefsen, Pastor Randy Blair and Lynnae Lake aka Anne White.
August 13, 2005 permalink
CBS is planning a new TV show for this autumn called Close to Home. Each episode is about a dysfunctional family, and glorifies social workers and prosecutors while vilifying fathers. This link is to the promo for Close to Home, with seven minutes of sample video.
August 13, 2005 permalink
A lawyer comments on a change to the Child and Family Services Act providing for openness orders. Even a lawyer is mystified. She mentions the claim that most access orders are not now exercised, without pointing out the foot-dragging by Children's Aid to prevent access, and the humiliating conditions of supervised access.
Proposed adoption law raises many questions
Family Practice By Carole Curtis
for Law Times
The provincial government established a Child Welfare Secretariat in April 2004, and hired Bruce Rivers (then executive director of the Toronto Children's Aid Society, the largest CAS in Canada) to head up a law reform initiative. The initiative had many goals, but was intended, in part, to evaluate the changes made to the Child and Family Services Act in 2000, following the report of the panel of experts chaired by Justice Mary Jane Hatton. The Child Welfare Secretariat prepared a report with 40 recommendations, which was submitted to the government, but has not been made public.
Bill 210, Child and Family Services Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005, was introduced on June 6. The bill amends the act to (among other things) permit courts to make openness orders for Crown wards who are the subject of a plan for adoption.
The number of children in the care of children's aid societies in Ontario has gone from 10,000 to about 19,000 in the last five years (these statistics may be slightly out of date, but are not exaggerated).
In Ontario, there are roughly 9,000 children (called Crown wards) in the permanent care of a children's aid society. Seventy five per cent of them can't be adopted because their family has a court order for access. The government says that majority of those access orders are not used by the parents (i.e., the parents do not see the children). One of the problems in this area is the lack of reliable data about the children in the government's care.
Crown wards with access live in foster and group homes. On average, children in foster or group care are moved every two years. That means a child moves her belongings, leaves her friends, changes schools, lives in a new house, and lives with a new family, facing different rules and new expectations. No one doubts this kind of instability permeates and affects all aspects of the child's life and well-being.
Children's aid societies' budgets went from $500 million to $1.1 billion in less than five years in Ontario. How-ever, currently, children's aid societies are carrying about a $70-million deficit.
Although I have acted and continue to act for all sides of the child protection equation (parents, children, and children's aid societies), my observations on this bill are from the perspective of parents' counsel. I refer to the parents as "the parents" and not as the "biological parents" or the "birth parents" as has become fashionable in this area of practice.
These amendments are a little complicated, and not intuitive. If you work in this area, you will need to read the bill closely.
In the bill, openness is not access. It may mean contact, communication, a card or letter, information, knowledge and for the child, may result in a greater sense of identity.
Before an adoption, only a children's aid society may apply to a court for an openness order (s. 145.1). The test applied is the best interests of the child. The order can only be made on consent of everyone, including the possible adoptive parents. The court can only change or terminate the order before an adoption, based on a material change in circumstances, applying the best interests test, and the children's aid society must agree.
After an adoption, the court can also change an openness order (s. 153). However, the child cannot apply for this change, and the parents cannot apply without leave. Openness can also be the subject of an agreement.
This law reform initiative raises mostly questions. Initially, there is a concern that the focus of law reform not be at the end of the process (at the Crown wardship/adoption stage) when it is too late to help this family stay together. Why isn't the energy and money being put into the front end of the process, in keeping families that need help together?
What is the philosophy behind this initiative? What is intended by this initiative? And for whose benefit? Is there any empirical data about this? Is this meant to benefit the parents? Is it meant to free up more kids for adoption? Who is the client here? (i.e., whom does the government identify as the client?).
Don't tell me the child is the client: that has never been the case. Parents and their lawyers will tell you that the government has always seen the adoptive parents as the real client.
What results are intended or expected? Is this meant to reduce the number of kids in care at the early stages? Is this meant to reduce the number of kids in long-term foster care (Crown ward with access, in foster care)? Will there be applications to court to terminate those several thousand access orders that are now not being exercised, and replace them with openness orders?
What is the structure really intended to be? What sort of contact is envisaged? Remember that the word used is "openness," not access or contact. What rights accrue to these children during minority and at age 18 -- are there any different rights than now? Is the contact envisaged by the parents different from the contact envisaged by the adoptive parents?
Why does the government cling to the use of the term "adoption?" What about permanent placement? Adoption itself is not a panacea, particularly in an evolving multi-cultural society. Like fostering, adoption is a concept quite foreign to some cultures.
What will the court order look like? What will the "usual" terms be? Will any retroactive orders be permitted? Who are the parties to these orders?
What about enforceability? Who will these orders bind? Who are the parties to these orders? What, if any, is the continuing role for children's aid societies after adoption? Who will enforce these orders?
And finally, from the parent's perspective, what do parents think this means? Do they think it means access? Will parents think this a better solution? What is really being offered to parents here? Will this make settlement of Crown wardship cases easier?
There are many bad names one can call a woman in our society, but there is nothing as horrible to a woman as calling her a bad mother. This is really what these cases are about. Losing your child forever is the worst thing that could possibly happen to a parent. A Crown wardship case is the capital punishment of family law.
While there may be research which supports the validity of reform in this area, it has not been made available. It is a great skill that lawyers are taught, to take something nearly everyone thinks is a good idea and pick it apart until almost nobody thinks it is. There is much in this bill to consider.
Carole Curtis is a family law lawyer in a three-lawyer firm in Toronto. She can be reached at email@example.com
Source: Law Times
pointed out by John Dunn
August 12, 2005 permalink
The domain name systemvsbizzi.com, formerly used by Jessie McVicar to host his website critical of Children's Aid, has been removed from his control and placed on status registrar-hold. This shuts down his website.
A similar technique was used in October 2003 to shut down the AFRA website for two weeks.
Addendum: A new site with similar material, but not under direct control of Jesse McVicar, has appeared at www.systemvsbizzi.biz.
More Kids for CAS!
August 12, 2005 permalink
Today Ontario announced that booster seats for children will be mandatory starting September 1, 2005.
There are two secrets not in the press release:
Another Girl Maced / Protected
August 10, 2005 permalink
Here is a story you will not see anywhere in the press, not even in Oregon.
A shelter hearing for Emily Lake will be held tomorrow at 2:30 at the Multnomah County Juvenile Courthouse at 1401 NE 68th (behind the Glisan Fred Myer).
Emily and her mother "Anne" left their home back east some time ago to avoid being separated for a second time by CPS. Many of these families contact me because I have a cable show that exposes CPS fraud and abuse.
Some of you who will receive this will remember meeting Emily, a bright, charming 9 year old who reported being kidnapped by CPS and abused in foster care, then finally returned to her mother, only to be hunted again by CPS, beginning sometime a year ago or so. Rather than subject her daughter to being taken again by CPS, Anne did what hundreds of other mothers across the country have done: hide their children from CPS, who alleges to be "protecting" the same children who say CPS has hurt them in the past.
According to an eye witness report, Emily and Anne were violently apprehended by Portland Police (7 patrol cars with police dogs). Both Emily and the mother were maced, and the mother, trying to protect Emily from police, may have been beaten. Emily was heard screaming for her mother and violently protesting her "arrest" by Children's Protective Services and the Portland Police.
Please show your support for the family tomorrow by attending the shelter hearing tomorrow.
Addendum: Here is more on the case from Nancy Luckhurst:
August 10, 2005
Dear God in heaven have mercy on this angel child and her mother. We need to step forward and speak up for this mother. Emily's mother had given her my name and number to memorize and call in case of emergency at any time. She knew because of our advocacy there would be a friendly voice at the end of the phone. Never in my life have I ever heard such terror in the voice of a child. How do you remain calm to keep the child calm in at a time like this. Then her mother came to the phone and for a few short minutes we talked she was petrified. She knew they were there for her and Emily. She was so frightened for what she knew is going to happen to her daughter. She didn't make it easy on them I can tell you that. But let it be known that there will be a full investigation into this one. The wheels are already turning in the right places and Justice will be done. And people other than this mother pay for the lies perjury and false allegations.
Help Batman Outwit CAS!
August 9, 2005 permalink
Hilary Goldstein is asking for suggestions on how Batman can outwit Child Protective Services. Instructions for sending in your suggestions are on her page.
Group Home Fosters Hookers
August 9, 2005 permalink
The following article from the Chicago Sun-Times describes the recruitment of prostitutes. It has more stereotypes than fact, but the truly important fact is in the middle: the prostitutes were runaways from Aunt Martha's Group Home for Troubled Youth in Glenwood, which likely means Aunt Martha's Youth Service Center. The girls must have found the life of a prostitute preferable to being an inmate in a group home. According to the article, the US Congress is considering outlawing domestic trafficking, but is not considering cleaning up group homes.
U.S. kids coerced into prostitution
August 9, 2005
BY ANNIE SWEENEY Crime Reporter
Just teenagers, the two girls spent their nights walking up and down "the stroll" near 47th and Pulaski, waving at passing cars in hopes of finding work.
All the while, Victor Powell -- who allegedly had the girls tattooed with his pimp alias, "Mr. Cream" -- sat in his Cadillac, making sure his enterprise churned out its usual thousands of dollars a night, federal court documents indicate.
That was until October 2004, when Powell, 22, was arrested after one of the girls escaped his alleged iron grip and told her story to authorities.
Soon, Chicago's first federal prosecution of child trafficking and prostitution was launched.
Another Chicago-area resident, David Phillips, later was indicted under similar charges as Powell. He allegedly pimped a girl who was 14.
The cases against Powell and Phillips reflect the emerging concern that authorities have about U.S. citizens who are trafficked -- bought and sold on the street against their will.
In recent years, lawmakers and law enforcement have focused on human trafficking as an international crime -- women, for example, who are tricked into leaving Latvia to work as hookers in Germany.
But this year, for the first time, Congress is considering changes to anti-trafficking legislation that would recognize domestic trafficking. It would provide money to help victims recover and set up training for police.
Often, kids who find themselves lured into the trafficking trap are runaways or wards of the state.
"They are low-esteem children picked up at bus stops or malls, train stations or whatever," said FBI Special Agent Mark Wallschlaeger, a coordinator of the Child Prostitution section. "They are moved on. . . . Before they know it, they are doing things they wouldn't have imagined doing in all their lives."
'Almost a brainwashing'
Both Phillips and Powell glorified the pimp lifestyle, often posing with cash or girls, court documents show.
Powell had them watch videos called "Pimps Up Ho's Down" and "American Pimp" so they could learn the lifestyle. Phillips allegedly can be seen on a videotape saying, "Pimp some tonight. I need some Benjamins."
Powell allegedly brought the girls, one 16 and another 17, to "the stroll" -- along 47th Street between Western and Pulaski, and Pulaski between 47th and 59th -- every night between June and September 2004.
There, the girls would wave down cars, charging between $70 and $150, depending on the act they performed, the documents said.
Powell also allegedly took the girls to St. Louis to work at a hotel. During a trip to Arizona, one of them was arrested.
Powell allegedly chose the clothes the girls wore -- typically high heels and short skirts. He also allegedly beat and raped them.
"He kept all the money. He made them believe he was keeping the money for them. The girls were not free to leave. He kept them in horrible hotels. And moved them around. He paid for food and clothing," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton. "It's almost a brainwashing that takes place. It's a very complicated, horrible relationship."
Phillips' alleged victims, a 14-year-old and 16-year-old, were recruited after they ran away from Aunt Martha's Group Home for Troubled Youth in Glenwood, according to court records. They remained with him only for about three weeks, but during that time they were trafficked into Indiana.
Powell's attorney refused to comment, but Phillips' attorney denied the allegations.
"David Phillips did not take any children or adults over state lines, and there is no evidence that he did," said his attorney, Shannon Lynch.
Lynch said Phillips, a father, previously ran a limousine business and grew up in Chicago.
New law under review
People who have studied human trafficking say it's hard to know how many domestic victims are out there. A 2001 University of Pennsylvania study estimated there were as many as 325,000 children at risk of being caught up in commercial sex trades.
Chicago cops have come across kids who were trafficked in from other states. But exactly how many children have been forced into prostitution locally or over state lines is not clear.
Child prostitutes are as young as 11 and probably were sexually abused as young children. They don't get along with their parents or guardians, which makes having a pimp so attractive, said Faye, 17, a former child prostitute who spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times. The newspaper is withholding her last name to protect her safety.
The pimp will always make you feel better, Faye said, buying clothes and gifts and telling you what you want to hear. And he knows how to make you want him.
"If he said he didn't need me, I'd work harder," said Faye, who began prostituting at age 13 on the East Coast.
The FBI in Chicago began focusing on the problem of child prostitution two years ago after national federal law enforcement officials met with child advocacy groups. The discussion sparked more coordinated efforts to identify victims through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Chicago Public Schools, said Hamilton, of the U.S. attorney's office.
Legislation that Congress is considering not only would provide training for cops to better handle these specific human-trafficking cases, but it also would provide $5 million to build three rehabilitation centers around the country to house victims. Under existing law, no money is earmarked to help these victims, said Maureen Walsh, general counsel for the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which helped draft the bill.
The mentality of law enforcement is often still punitive, Walsh said.
"Child victims are still viewed [as] the blame-worthy party," Walsh said. "They are to blame for being on the streets as opposed to looking at them as being children sexually exploited by adults."
Children of the Night in Los Angeles, a comprehensive facility for victims of child prostitution, is one of the few places around the country dedicated to this problem, said the founder, Dr. Lois Lee.
Lee said children who suffer this kind of abuse should not be housed with other children in the juvenile justice system.
Because of their sexual abuse, they lack a lot of the aggression other children in the system have. This leaves them unable to take care of themselves against kids who are criminals.
Yet, the children pose a different threat altogether.
"They recruit for pimps,'' Lee said. "And they're sexually compulsive."
When Faye arrived in Los Angeles, she had one plan: See the Hollywood sign and get back to the East Coast and her pimp.
Today, Faye is about to leave for college at Cal State-Long Beach -- a success story at Children of the Night.
"If a 13-year-old girl is able to turn her life over, then anything is possible," she said. "Tell the girls the hardest part is to walk forward. It's the easiest to go back. Once you are able to move forward you are able to do so many things."
Meanwhile, both Powell and Phillips are awaiting trial. The FBI's Wallschlaeger is pursuing leads on other victims.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Class Action Notice
August 9, 2005 permalink
Some parents, including EkaterinaEthier, have received a copy of the court order in the Larcade class-action seeking redress for parents of handicapped children.
August 8, 2005 permalink
Remember those boasts by ministers promising more money to help disabled children? Here is the story of one real family with a disabled child, driven to penury by the demands of Children's Aid, and rejected in attempts to apply for relief.
Family with disabled children ejected from hearing
by Cecilia Nasmith, - Friday, August 05, 2005 @ 09:00
John Copeman, his wife Ann and three of their five children piled into their van yesterday to make the hot, expensive drive from Campbellford to the Ontario Disability Support Program tribunal hearing to ask for help.
It was no picnic, but they had waited a year for this hearing date.
Unfortunately, they came out with nothing, after their social assistance review board's social benefits tribunal hearing at the Best Western Cobourg Inn and Convention Centre was abruptly cancelled -- after Mr. Copeman was asked to take his autistic son out of the room.
Mr. Copeman showed up with the boy, he explained outside the hotel, because the funding they received for Billy's day care had been cut.
"We should have been receiving $400 a month maximum, because he is totally dependent upon us for washing, dressing -- we can't leave him alone," he said. "They cut that in half."
But then, even with money, it's hard to find a care giver because Billy is a typical size for a 12-year-old. Along with his habit of vocalizing, he can be physically difficult to handle or restrain.
The hearing was to be an independent, impartial review with the Copeman family, but Billy's noises seemed to put the tribunal off. She didn't even seem happy when the boy was out in the hall with his mother, and asked that he be taken from the building.
"I can't do that," Mr. Copeman said. "He's part of the problem we are here to resolve."
Then he was told that, if he did not get the boy out, he would in effect be the one making the decision -- which he saw as a threat.
"We're leaving here with nothing," he said. "I don't even know if I'll get a chance for another meeting -- we waited over a year for this one."
That's a long time to wait, when dealing with a safety issue as the family is doing. They had hoped to get money for a safe, modern furnace to replace the wood stove that poses a hazard to Billy and his family.
Sometimes his son doesn't sleep, Mr. Copeman said. He has been known to open the wood stove and add wood to the fire. Sometimes he tosses in plastic toys and sets off the smoke detector.
Along with the danger, wood heating is not very comfortable, he added. If one of the children has a medical appointment in Peterborough or Toronto, for instance, they have to come home to a cold house.
Mr. Copeman had been refused money to fix up his home because it wasn't up to a certain standard. In fact, he admits, the Children's Aid Society at one point gave them 48 hours to move.
"I remortgaged the house and fixed it up. I spent $50,000 to bring it up to ODSP standards, and they didn't fund any of that. We put in new windows, new door, new roof," he listed.
"We just couldn't afford a new furnace for $12,000, so we were appealing that decision. We come here, and this lady doesn't want us in the room.
"(Billy) goes swimming, he goes to school, nobody ever asks him to leave," he said, fighting back tears. "This is the first time my disabled son has been asked to leave a place."
Mr. Copeman even approached the owner of the Best Western to see if he had any kind of policy about disabled people.
"He said, `I have no beefs. We host groups and conventions all the time'," Mr. Copeman said.
"Dalton McGuinty promises hundreds of thousands of dollars for autistic children, and we got nothing. Just cutbacks, cutbacks, cutbacks."
And that includes money for their 10-year-old daughter with developmental difficulties, he added. Her funding has been cut back by $125 a month.
"We got an increase on the National Child Tax Disability Benefit," Mr. Copeman said. "Our baby bonus went up, and ODSP clawed that back."
After the family was ejected yesterday from the board room in which hearings were conducted, the door was closed. Mr. Copeman knocked in vain, and then the hotel owner went in to talk to the tribunal member. He came out with a message: the hearing would have to be rescheduled.
Having spent $35 on gas and $40 at McDonald's (with the prospect of possibly receiving back 18 cents per kilometre if this expense is approved), the discouraged Copeman family climbed into the hot van to go home.
"We have no specific policies about children being present, because we haven't felt it necessary to make any," said legal-unit manager Joanne Leatch of the social assistance review board's social benefits tribunal.
Though unable to comment on specifics, Ms. Leatch explained that the members who conduct hearings are trained in an ongoing way in the importance of conducting a hearing with sensitivity.
"We know appellants appealing before them are very vulnerable people," Ms. Leatch said.
"To back that up, we also have on our Web site a complaints procedure so that, if someone feels they haven't been treated properly, our chair felt it was important they have a place to go. They just write in to our chair, and it's taken from there."
FIA/DHS Opponent Sued
August 7, 2005 permalink
Pastor Randy Blair and his lawyer Janet M Frederick have for years opposed Michigan child protectors, who in response to criticism recently changed their name from Family Independence Agency (FIA) to Department of Human Services (DHS). Now a target of Mr Blair's criticism is suing him. The item in controversy appears to have been removed from the website. [ Pastor Blair points that this statement is incorrect, the website is unchanged ]. What is left of the Enemies of Children page urges readers not to harm those named, but to pray for them.
- Pastor Randy
- Saturday, August 06, 2005 10:52 PM
- PRESS RELEASE: Oakland County Attorney Sues Child Activist Organization
06 AUG 2005 - An Oakland County Attorney, Jeffrey S. Sherbow, of the Law Offices of Sherbow & Mitchell, P.C. in Pleasant Ridge, is suing Pastor Randy Blair, an activist and President of Michigan victims of CPS. Named also in the lawsuit as defendants are "all agents, members, board members, trustees, attorneys, employees, and those persons in active concert or participation with them."
Mr. Sherbow alleges that Blair and Michigan victims of CPS "used personal information about [him], listing his home as an address of an "enemy of children", and/or advocating that action be taken against him." This, allegedly, was on the www.michiganvictimsofcps.org website, which serves at the primary information center for Blair's activist group, which advocates on behalf of families who have been falsely accused of child abuse or neglect and children who are abused in state care.
He is seeking an excess of $25,000 in damages as a result of his "extreme mental anguish, mental concern and a loss of personal mental solicitude" and "extreme stress, anxiety, humiliation, inconvenience, and psychiatric disabilities." He alleges that "Wanted" posters of Judge Cheryl Matthews contained information that would incite violence on his person or home as a result of a concerted, organized effort by Michigan victims of CPS.
Pastor Blair, who had never even heard of the plaintiff before the 6th of August said, "This goes beyond the bounds of frivolity, and is nothing more than an attempt to silence the group's First Amendment Rights, and hinder our activism for the children and families of Michigan. Our, always nonviolent, activist efforts will remain unfettered by this trifling inconvenience. It is our sincere expectation that Judge Sosnick will throw this frivolous lawsuit out of his courtroom, and perhaps order the plaintiff to get back on his meds. Regardless, Sherbow certainly will be in our prayers."
An August 24th Hearing is scheduled at 8:30am before Judge Sosnick at the Oakland County Circuit Court. Blair will be represented by Janet M. Frederick, Esq., known for her staunch defense of falsely accused parents in several states, who is also a party in this lawsuit. Sherbow is represented by Elaine R. Carlis, of Sherbow & Mitchell.
Pastor Blair can be contacted at (248) 618-7937. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Randy Blair (248) 618-7937 Fax - (831) 855-9108
Director - Christ-Centered Family Rejuvenation Center - www.ccfrc.net
President - Michigan victims of CPS PAC - www.michiganvictimsofcps.org
J.A.I.L. Warden - Oakland County MI- www.jail4judges.org
Source: AFRA email
Jean has Adopted Daughter
August 6, 2005 permalink
In a Canadian echo of the US Supreme Court nomination, it turns out the six-year-old daughter of Governor-General designee Michaëlle Jean is adopted. Here is a sidebar from a Canada.com article.
Source: canada.com website
August 6, 2005 permalink
A mother is turned down for CAS membership. After her situation changes, satisfying the CAS conditions, she is rejected again without explanation.
Governor of Children and Youth
August 5, 2005 permalink
Canada's newly appointed Governor General Michaëlle Jean says that she will use her position to draw attention to children and young people. We quote just the two relevant paragraphs from the Globe and Mail.
Jean debuts with a combative, witty style
By MICHAEL DEN TANDT
Friday, August 5, 2005 Page A4
With a report from John Ibbitson
After a prepared speech delivered mostly in impeccable Radio-Canada French and partly in impeccable French-accented English, Ms. Jean said she intends to use the bully pulpit of Rideau Hall to focus attention on the plight of disadvantaged young people.
"I can tell you already that one of my concerns in my new job will be to consider the situation of children and youth in this country," Ms. Jean said. "As a journalist, even though this was not part of my work, I have always set time aside to meet with children in the schools, often in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and I've always taken the time to listen to those young people."
Source: Globe and Mail
found by Dolores Sicheri
August 4, 2005 permalink
US Supreme Court nominee John G Roberts has two adopted children. We may find out soon whether the adoptions are charity or baby theft. Here is the report by Matt Drudge.
XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX THU AUG 04, 2005 11:35:09 ET XXXXX
NY TIMES INVESTIGATES ADOPTION RECORDS OF SUPREME COURT NOMINEE'S CHILDREN
The NEW YORK TIMES is looking into the adoption records of the children of Supreme Court Nominee John G. Roberts, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
The TIMES has investigative reporter Glen Justice hot on the case to investigate the status of adoption records of Judge Roberts' two young children, Josie age 5 and Jack age 4, a top source reveals.
Judge Roberts and his wife Jane adopted the children when they each were infants.
Both children were adopted from Latin America.
A TIMES insider claims the look into the adoption papers are part of the paper's "standard background check."
Roberts' young son Jack delighted millions of Americans during his father's Supreme Court nomination announcement ceremony when he wouldn't stop dancing while the President and his father spoke to a national television audience.
Previously the WASHINGTON POST Style section had published a story criticizing the outfits Mrs. Roberts had them wear at the announcement ceremony.
One top Washington official with knowledge of the NEW YORK TIMES action declared: Trying to pry into the lives of the Roberts' family like this is despicable. Children's lives should be off limits. The TIMES is putting politics over fundamental decency."
One top Republican official when told of the situation was incredulous. "This can't possibly be true?"
Addendum: The New York Times ran an article Adoptions in Paraguay: Mothers Cry Theft in 1996 describing the techniques used to supply adoptive children to Americans.
Call to Moles
August 4, 2005 permalink
Here is a call to CAS moles from AFRA. We know you are watching, because you send the police promptly when you object.
- Wednesday, August 03, 2005 9:28 PM
- Medical neglect
My children were removed from my custody because the school called in a report that my son was extremely ill and I refused to take him to the hospital. I told them I called our pediatrician's office and described the symptoms and was told it was a virus going around and not to bring him in. My other son and I were suffering from the same symptoms.
The DCF worker removed both of my children. She had him taken to the hospital. He was released first thing the next morning with a clean bill of health. It has been 16 months and I have not gotten my children back. Also, no efforts to avoid removal were made, no services were offered. At my trial those details were not mentioned.
I guess there is nothing I can do about it. --Anna
What do you think I should tell Anna? Especially considering that she has it figured out already?? If we had a system that operated on truth and facts, there wouldn't be a justice problem, would there? Or would you rather just blow her off and assume that she isn't telling the truth? This is what we deal with every day with this incompetent and evil system. I don't want to hear from the choir. I want to hear from the smart-aleck CPS moles and pro-system operatives that visit this site to "scope out the enemy" and the politician's aides who were sent here to see if we are a bona-fide organization or a crazed bunch of radicals. The AFRA CEO wants to hear from YOU I will publish any and all replies in an "Advice to Anna" page.
Please forward widely.
Junior Justice fighters
August 2, 2005 permalink
The following incident occurred on July 28 in front of Queen's Park, as reported by Canada Court Watch.
Addendum: The children pictured are those of Aneurin and Patricia Ellis.
Comment on Finck/VandenElsen
August 2, 2005 permalink
Scott Stinson of the National Post comments on the case of Larry Finck and Carline VandenElsen, without naming them. He reports that the Elizabeth Fry Society has seen the number of its clients trying to get their children back from CAS rise from 5% to 35% in the last two years.
Time to Act on Adoption Disclosure
August 1, 2005 permalink
John Dunn has forwarded information on the controversy over the Adoption Disclosure bill.
Information & Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian has been busy this summer. In her latest promotion of a disclosure veto in Bill 183 she has published quotations from the letters, emails and phone calls she received opposing the bill. Click on "Submission to Minister Pupatello" to read the letter to Sandra Pupatello and on "attachments" to read the quotes.
In addition, Cavoukian published her "Fact Sheet on Adoption Disclosure" on June 29th (click on the above link, it's just below "Submission to Sandra Pupatello"). This "Fact Sheet" is extremely unbalanced, and often just plain wrong, in presenting the facts about adoption disclosure. For example, the IPC claims that adopted adults cannot get copies of their own adoption orders -- you all know that this is simply not true! COAR has prepared a rebuttal to the "Fact Sheet" titled "Misinformation from the Privacy Commissioner".
It is vital that we maintain the support of MPPs who support Bill 183. In particular, we need to ensure that Liberal MPPs remain committed to the bill as it is now - without a disclosure veto. We need all of their votes to get the bill passed!
Please write to your MPP at his or her constituency office. Here's the link to all MPP's contact information: olaap.ontla.on.ca/mpp/daIndex.do?locale=en. Look under "Current Members" and click the link that suits you to find the name and constituency email address of your MPP. Please remember that MPPs will not be at their Queen's Park offices in the summer - better to write them in their ridings.
If you can, it would be best if you could visit your MPP to talk to him or her personally. Personal contact works best.
It is very possible that many MPPs will have read the misinformation from the privacy commissioner. They may not understand the damage caused by disclosure vetoes and they may be succumbing to the propaganda from the privacy commissioner. We need to make them understand WHY we don't want a disclosure veto.
If Bill 183, which right now does NOT contain a disclosure veto (just a contact veto and a fine), comes to include a disclosure veto because of pressure from the commissioner, we will lose the most progressive bill ever introduced in Canada. The experience of other provinces demonstrates that disclosure vetoes, whether applied against birth parents or adopted adults, are very hurtful, punitive, prevent medical information from being transmitted, and are often confusing. If you are an adopted adult subject to a disclosure veto you will not be able to get your original birth certificate or to get any information on it, including the name(s) of your parents of birth and your name at birth. If you are a searching birth parent you will not be able to get your son's or daughter's name.
Content of Your Letter
Tell your MPP, respectfully, in as much detail as possible, your own personal reasons why you need to know this information. Heart-warming or heartbreaking is good. You could talk about the pain of not knowing essential information about your self, not knowing how your lost child has fared, your loss, or whatever is appropriate for you. Tell them what is is like not to know who you are or what has happened to your now-adult child. The urgent need for medical information, if you need it, is good. Please try to be as convincing as possible and this time, don't be brief.
Send us a Copy
Urgent: Please send us a separate copy of your letter so that WE can use it (without your name!) to counter the quotations from the privacy commissioner. Send your copy to either Karen at email@example.com or Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks friends. Here's hoping that by the end of October we will have tasted victory in Ontario.
- Michael Grand
- Karen Lynn
- Wendy Rowney
COAR Coordinating Committee
Bierly Children Stolen
August 1, 2005 permalink
Not all of our readers are Canadian. An American fan suggested the Bierly story as a good example of child protection gone awry.
Lisa Bierly had her children stolen in Utah. A child with medical needs was neglected in care, the mother was not allowed to give evidence to the court, the family lawyer did not bring out important points in defense, the lawyer for social services vilified the family. A functionary of the child protection system tried to use it as a source of a child for her own adoption. And even after acknowledging that the removal was unjustified, the state would not give the kids back. The children identified by the pseudonyms Michael and Katie appear in other sources as Jordan and Leigh. You can reach Lisa Bierly at lsbierly @ yahoo.com (but remove the spaces around the at sign).
One woman’s arduous custody battle wins child-welfare reforms, and nothing more.
It had been more than two years since the family had seen or heard from the boy, hereafter referred to as “Michael” due to privacy concerns, and Peter was unsure his brother would even recognize his voice. He dialed the number anyway and, by chance, Michael picked up.
“Peter?” Michael asked in disbelief.
“Yeah, it’s your brother,” Peter guaranteed.
What followed was a hasty, nerve-racking reunion. Between sobs on either end of the line, Peter confirmed that Michael was in good health and being a good boy, but he missed everyone and wanted to come home. Before hanging up, Michael, who recently turned 12, asked Peter to carry a simple message to their mother: “Tell mom I said thanks for trying.”
Few would fault Michael’s mother for not trying. But Lisa Bierly, a former debutante and daughter of a retired Pittsburgh banker, is showing wear for the four-and-a-half-year struggle to win back her two youngest children. The fiery mother of four’s distinctively thick eye makeup runs ever more frequently. Her doctor says wincing stomach pain probably indicates ulcers. And she could stand to lose a few pounds, she says, to ease the load on a nagging back injury, but time or zeal for exercise has been hard to come by.
It was September 2000 when Michael, a brittle diabetic, was taken into state custody due to his mother’s alleged medical neglect. Adding to the anguish was the removal of Michael’s now-6-year-old sister, “Katie,” as a so-called “sibling at risk” six days later. Since then, Bierly’s waking hours have been spent in dogged pursuit of bringing them back home. Standing in her way have been state agencies, including Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), which acknowledge both removals were fraught with mistakes, but ultimately blame Bierly for losing her children.
The word “mistakes,” however, doesn’t nearly quantify the tragicomedy of errors and bureaucratic dysfunction that presaged and perpetuated a harsh lesson in Kafkaesque futility. Bierly doesn’t shirk her part in exacerbating the nightmare. But she’s paid dearly for those missteps while the other offending players have gone as yet unanswerable.
A first-of-its-kind review of the case by the Legislative Auditor General’s office found that “procedural errors were made during the removals of each of the children and … we cannot definitely conclude that the removals were justified at that time.” There’s consensus that the first social worker assigned to the case strayed from accepted DCFS policies, and widespread agreement among child-welfare workers that one particularly relentless assistant attorney general seemingly worked against the family from the outset. Then there was the doctor who, before ever examining Michael, referred his mother to DCFS for medical neglect, then testified as the star witness against her fitness as a parent, and later tried to take the boy for her own.
Justice in the case has been almost poetic. For even as Bierly’s various protests have brought about changes to DCFS policies—changes that could easily have made the difference in her case—she’s yet to taste the fruit of those hard-won reforms. Consequently, semiweekly Sunday breakfasts with what family she has left invariably turn to dour reflections on two empty seats.“Grandpa Barry”
DCFS Child Protective Services (CPS) worker Barry Richards, “the stranger who called himself grandpa,” dropped into the Bierlys’ lives at a Midvale motel, where they were holed up contemplating a move back to Pennsylvania to be with Bierly’s ailing father. Her eldest, Tim, was the lone holdout. Looking back, the 23-year-old dead-ringer for actor Ethan Hawke wishes they’d just gone.
Richards, a licensed clinical social worker and self-described “traumatologist,” was at the time a part-time caseworker with 13 months experience. Although he still conducts clinical assessments for the division, according to DCFS Salt Lake Valley Regional Director LaRay Brown, he’s since left CPS. During the course of what Bierly recalls as a 20-minute chat, Richards informed her of an anonymous medical neglect referral, then bid her goodbye, never to meet Michael until taking him into state custody two weeks later.
That lag, Richards later testified in court, was due to the “ongoing investigation, gathering a cumulative amount of concern and evidence from those witnesses I interviewed.” But Richards never mentioned that throughout his investigation—he was out of town at a conference, as later discovered by the Office of Child Protection Ombudsman (OCPO), which found lapses in Richards’ casework and concerns about his behavior.
Meanwhile, the case Richards set on the back burner was boiling over in the hands of Dr. Dana Hardin, then the new chief of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at the University of Utah Medical School and head of the Utah Diabetes Center.
Bierly was two-and-a-half-hours late for Michael’s first appointment with Hardin who, weeks earlier, had replaced Michael’s lifelong diabetes doctor. Hardin had left for the day but, when phoned by an attending nurse, instructed Bierly to stand by with Michael for her imminent return. When Bierly refused, she says Hardin ordered Michael hospitalized at once. Flabbergasted, Bierly says, she left with her son.
“I wanted a second opinion,” Bierly has always maintained. “It wasn’t that I knew more than the doctor, but I knew my child, and he was not sick.”
Adds Darryl Taylor, Bierly’s common-law husband and Katie’s father: “That was Lisa’s medical neglect: that she didn’t want her kid to go in the hospital with some lady that she doesn’t even know, some new doctor.”
Bierly skipped a follow-up, whereupon Hardin urged DCFS intervention.
Tim tried, but couldn’t console his brother when “Grandpa Barry” arrived to take him into custody. “I told [Michael] we’d get him back; do whatever we could,” recalls Tim, now a father to three daughters of his own.
With characteristic Bierly pluck Michael refused to go, leaving Tim to carry his sobbing brother, “the Love Bug,” to an idling car at the curb. Tim notes it was “the last time we were able to have freedom as a family.”
Richards drove off with the boy, later citing his “immediate” need of medical care in a shelter request form. But according to OCPO and the Legislative Auditor General, Richards never interviewed Michael, never had his medical condition assessed and offered the family no in-home preventive services before the removal, all of which DCFS policy calls for. And instead of racing the supposedly sickly child to a hospital, as DCFS policy also requires, records show Richards delivered Michael to a shelter where no one was so much as qualified to administer an insulin shot. He admonished staff to strictly follow Bierly’s written instructions for Michael’s care, “despite the fact that DCFS removed [Michael] based on allegations Ms. Bierly was not providing [him] with appropriate medical care,” OCPO pointed out.
In a phone call hours after Michael’s removal, Bierly says Richards confessed the removal was a “huge mistake,” one of many allegations he prefers not to address. Despite a signed and notarized confidentiality waiver from Bierly, which he insisted upon before he would discuss the case, Richards declined comment, citing concerns about his integrity and professional reputation.
It wasn’t until four days after Michael’s removal—when in the foster home of a registered nurse who voiced “intensifying” concerns that his condition was “worsening without [Bierly’s] attention,” Richards' case logs note—that he was admitted to Primary Children’s hospital at his mother’s request. Michael’s treating physician: Dr. Hardin.
Days later, Bierly was splitting time between court and the hospital when Richards returned to the motel to take Katie from her father, whom Bierly points out has never been accused of abuse or neglect. “Did he have the [guts] to admit his mistake?” Bierly asks. “No, he compounded the problem with [the assistant attorney general] by taking my daughter.”
Records show DCFS countenanced OCPO recommendations that Richards “receive specific training on the appropriate actions” that should be taken when children with chronic medical conditions are taken into custody, and a “plan of corrective action” to retrain him in “CPS policy, the ability to adequately assess risk and the ability to write clear and specific activity logs which accurately represent the action taken on the case.” OCPO ultimately concluded that a “more timely assessment and intervention may have precluded … removal” of both children.
That’s an understatement to former Republican state Rep. Matt Throckmorton, one of many to take more than a passing interest in the case. Of hundreds of allegedly bungled DCFS cases that Throckmorton says he has thoroughly investigated, the Bierly case is among a half-dozen where, “in my opinion, it’s just 110 percent clear the children never should have been removed.
“All she needed was one chance to clarify it without the state immediately yanking her kids,” he says, “a chance for a second medical opinion, at minimum.”
Throckmorton slated Bierly to share her story with a child-welfare oversight panel in 2002, but another case took up the allotted time, and he was never able to reconvene the panel. After the meeting, though, Throckmorton says Assistant Attorney General Paul Amann introduced himself and immediately volunteered, “Lisa is a liar.”
The e-mails began innocuously enough, Throckmorton says. Every few days, Amann would write, inquiring about the next hearing. But then the cables turned “bizarre,” “annoying,” “amazing,” “almost juvenile,” Throckmorton says. He forwarded one particularly “harassing” e-mail—questioning why a conservative lawmaker such as Throckmorton would take up for someone like Bierly—to Amann’s superiors, after which he says the pestering ceased.
Considering the stature of Amann’s office, Throckmorton says, “if he was willing to write that kind of e-mail to a state legislator, that supports the validity of the concerns that [Bierly] raised about how he treated her in court.”
Among fellow attorneys, Amann is known as a fierce courtroom adversary, among some DCFS workers as an overbearing bully, and to Bierly, the man who ensured she’d never get her children back. Technically, the attorney general’s office is supposed to provide legal advice to its client, DCFS, but those lines sometimes get blurred in practice.
“They said I have an authority problem,” laments Bierly. “[Amann] had an authority problem, as in he had this massive ego and everybody had to bow down in his presence.”
At a shelter hearing to decide if the removals were warranted, Amann set the lasting tone, painting a ghastly portrait of Bierly for 3rd District Juvenile Judge Olof Johansson. Relying on Richards’ testimony, along with letters of concern from Dr. Hardin, Amann depicted Michael as a boy on the cusp of death due to his mother’s neglect.
Richards’ testimony that Michael was hospitalized the day he was removed went unchallenged by Bierly’s court-appointed attorney, Russell Pietryga, who then argued semantics when Richards stressed the family’s “transient” motel accommodations as his reason for removing Katie. In fact, that decision may not have been Richards’ at all. His case logs state that Amann and the guardian ad litem, a state attorney assigned to represent Michael’s best interests, “obliged” Richards to seek Katie’s “immediate removal.”
Had anyone bothered to ask, Bierly ached to tell Johansson, the family was in a state of transition, not transience. What’s more, she and Taylor had inked a lease on a $1,200-per-month house the day before. But nobody asked, and neither Bierly nor four defense witnesses—Tim, Peter and two family friends—earlier sworn in were called to testify.
Richards’ description of Michael’s “perilous” condition went unchallenged, even though both the boy’s pediatrician and previous diabetes specialist indicated in earlier and subsequent correspondence that, although Bierly missed appointments, Michael was seen regularly, was well cared for and as much loved as any child.
Michael’s weight had plummeted to the fifth percentile on the growth curve for boys his age, Dr. Hardin’s correspondence stated, a possible indication his insulin was being insufficiently administered. But according to Hardin’s own tally of Michael’s weight at the time, he would have plotted safely in the 25th percentile on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts.
That Michael never went into crisis under his mother’s care, which records show he has done at least twice in foster placements, “proves that I knew what to do with [Michael’s] diabetes,” Bierly says. Hospital records indicate Michael’s blood-sugar levels were wildly erratic throughout his stay at Primary Children’s, and long after Hardin adjusted his insulin, supporting what Michael’s previous doctors had always known—his brittle diabetes was exceptionally difficult to control.
Even DCFS Director Richard Anderson seemed befuddled, later telling OCPO that Michael “did not appear to be doing much better in foster care than he was with Ms. Bierly.”
None of that factored into Amann’s resounding Law & Order-style courtroom monologue. Citing a letter from Dr. Hardin that she’d addressed to his office the day before, Amann pitted the boy against his mother.
“She’s talking specifically … about the mother,” Amann said, “how she was not appearing, and how she didn’t come to see the child, didn’t come to visit the child …”
“That is not true,” Bierly gulped, her voice registering a whisper on the court tapes.
“… And [Hardin] has statements in here that are quoted directly from the child,” Amann continued, more vehement with each cadence. “‘You won’t come back. You will never come back. I hate you. You never come back. … She lies. You lie, mom. You lie.’ A direct quote from the child.”
A glance at hospital visitation logs proves Bierly was by her son’s side for all or part of 61 hours during his eight days at Primary Children’s, despite scrambling to find ready shelter, keeping track of two teenage sons and gearing up for a court defense she’d never get to present. Far from a boy selectively observed bawling out his negligent mother, the logs show Michael was desperately homesick, and blamed the separation from his family on his diabetes.
Worse than muzzling her, “they never once listened to the cries of [Michael and Katie],” Bierly says. And while Katie couldn’t speak for herself, Bierly says the signs were plain enough. Nicknamed “Pretty” for her long, blond locks, Katie took to nervously pulling them out in foster care, and case logs show she “had been moved around so much” by early 2002, “it had a definite impact on her ability to bond.”
Michael’s futile attempts to return home, according to case files provided by Bierly’s one-time attorney Wayne Searle, included urinating on the bedroom floor at his foster home, beseeching his foster mother to forget his insulin and licking glucose strips to throw off his blood-sugar levels. In one of his last checkups with Hardin before she moved to Texas in June 2001, she noted he was deliberately skipping meals. Asked why, Michael answered: “First I get to go home, then I don’t.”
Pietryga objected to Amann’s theatrics, calling Hardin’s 11th-hour letter inadmissible hearsay. “If this child is saying this stuff … let’s put him on the stand,” Pietryga demanded. “I don’t have anyone to cross-examine on this.”
Johansson then cleared the court for a private meeting with the squabbling attorneys. When court reconvened, without a word to or from Bierly, Johansson ordered Michael to remain in foster care indefinitely, and Katie temporarily, until a “safety plan” and a psychological workup on Bierly had been completed.
“I was cut, dried and hung before ever walking into that courtroom,” Bierly maintains. It’s an understandable conclusion, given that hospital staff and DCFS seemed to know Michael’s fate in advance.
“Mom to be informed tomorrow that child won’t leave hospital with her,” Hardin scribbled in a log two days prior to the hearing. Richards was to inform Bierly of Johansson’s anticipated decision the day before the hearing, hospital logs show, the same day Hardin noted discussing “the court mandates” with Michael, “i.e. he is going to be [a] ward of [the] state.”
Conflict of Interest?
Bierly satisfied Johansson’s stipulations with respect to Katie, and she was returned home three days before a November 2000 adjudication hearing to determine if, in fact, Michael had been neglected. The downside was that Amann didn’t deliver discovery to Bierly’s attorney until two days before trial.
With so little time to examine the state’s evidence, Bierly showed up with nothing but a doctor’s note vouching for her fitness as a mother, expecting Pietryga to indulge her request for a continuance. He declined to submit the note, and convinced Bierly to take the stand. “‘Tell the judge that you know how to take care of your juvenile diabetic,’” Bierly recalls as the gist of Pietryga’s advice. “‘You’ll get your child back today.’”
“As stupid as I was, I went on the witness stand,” says Bierly, only to face off with Amann’s sole witness, Dr. Hardin. “Here’s a mother being charged with alleged medical neglect and she is opposite the chief of endocrinology at the diabetes clinic—now, who is the judge going to believe?”
More than that, Bierly has since learned that Hardin may not have been a disinterested third party. City Weekly has obtained a document from a confidential source indicating Hardin was actively attempting to adopt Michael in late 2002. Furthermore, two independent sources close to the case have confirmed, in notarized affidavits provided to City Weekly, firsthand knowledge that in 2003 DCFS placed Michael with Hardin for the purpose of potential adoption. The placement lasted for roughly six months beginning in March 2003, one source says. Both sources say Hardin personally disclosed that Michael lived with her for several months during 2003, but he was returned to Utah after having extreme difficulties assimilating with her family.
One source claims direct knowledge of Hardin taking Michael for at least one overnight visit to her home while she was his treating physician from October 2000 until she moved to Texas in June 2001.
Reached by phone, Hardin denied any contact with Michael after she left town. However, she said her family, especially her sons, took a personal liking to Michael. “They kind of buddied around, and … I visited him with my kids—mostly just my kids wanted to visit him while he was in foster care, and we did do that,” Hardin said.
After the alleged adoption effort fell through, Hardin acknowledges her family continued to send letters and greeting cards to Michael through DCFS. She initially denied that she considered adopting Michael, but later explained in a voice message why she “hesitated so much,” when asked.
“We talked about it a lot,” Hardin said. “And I still feel guilty about the fact that we did not even try. … Yes, I thought about the ethics of whether or not I could even think about it, and also concluded at that point that I would need to have completely separated my work life from him for quite some time if that were to be the case.”
DCFS won’t confirm or deny whether Michael was placed with Hardin, but agency administrator Adam Trupp parrots Hardin’s take on the ethics of it.
“If there’s a referent who then ends up managing to get a removal of a child, and then they get that child placed in their home as a foster-adoptive home, I can see a conflict there,” Trupp says. “But the farther away you get from that direct contact, the more I think it’s unlikely that there’s any sort of conflict.”
Trupp did a quick check of voluminous DCFS case logs, but turned up no record of Michael’s earlier purported visit to Hardin’s home, and can’t think of a reason why it would have been justified.
No kidding, says Tim Bierly, who learned of Michael’s move to Texas months ago. “I’m not about to ask why [Hardin] would want [Michael], or why anyone would want [Katie], because I know damn well why,” says Tim. “They’re funny, beautiful, smart; they’re my family.”
Even so, Tim can’t see the logic of DCFS allowing the placement, because it “pretty much proves that [Hardin] had some sort of a motive,” he says.
Johansson substantiated Hardin’s allegations of neglect, and continued Michael’s stay in foster care pending Bierly’s successful navigation of a “service plan.” No longer an issue of fitness—Bierly was officially unfit—Michael’s fate would now turn on his mother’s “compliance.” As ordered, Bierly submitted to regular counseling, passed her diabetes courses and maintained a residence, but one provision of the service plan would render all other efforts moot.
Katie, it seemed, was safe at home and in the clear. A December 2000 risk assessment signed by Bierly’s new caseworker—hereafter referred to as “K.L.” because she has since left the division and could not be contacted—concluded Katie was not a sibling at risk. And K.L.’s case logs show that a service plan for Katie was then terminated, “because of administration error, due to [Amann] telling caseworker that PSS [in-home protective] services were ordered when they weren’t.”
Amann contends K.L.’s cancellation of the service plan was in error. DCFS administrator Trupp can only fathom that at the time there was poor coordination “between the decision-making processes and evaluation processes within the division and the AG’s actions in court.” Nonetheless …
“Just so that all the cards are on the table,” Amann told Johansson at a January 2001 disposition hearing for Michael, “it is our intention to remove [Katie] from the mother’s custody.”
Amann went on to cite Bierly’s alleged failures to abide by Katie’s safety plan. Specifically: that she didn’t have a working phone, which records show she did; that she hadn’t maintained a residence, which records show she had; and that she slept at a friend’s house the night before the hearing, which is “none of Paul Amann’s damn business,” Bierly says.
Bierly repeatedly interrupted Amann, but was scolded by Johansson, who told her to wait her turn. But when Amann finished, Johansson chose not to get involved because the matter of Katie’s status was not officially before him. As to the initial decision to remove Katie, “Those are prerogatives and decisions that the attorney general’s office can make,” he said, before dismissing court. Despite Bierly’s frantic pleas to Amann, Katie, who had been waiting with Bierly’s friend in the court parking lot, was taken back into state custody.
That’s about when affairs between DCFS and Amann turned irreconcilably south. DCFS brass disagreed with Amann’s decision to remove, telling OCPO investigators “non-compliance is generally not a reason for taking custody of a child.” It was K.L.’s first unsupervised hearing, and she “thought that’s how the system worked.” K.L. was later pulled off the case due to concerns she was unsure “whether to follow [the] DCFS practice model,” or “directives” from Amann and the guardian ad litem, DCFS documents reveal. Furthermore, DCFS repeatedly requested Amann’s ouster, but he refused, and the attorney general’s office backed him.
Trupp calls Johansson’s deference to Amann an “abrogation of responsibility,” adding, “If we take a child in court, the court should assert jurisdiction to say, ‘Wait a minute, this child’s under my jurisdiction, not under the division’s, not under the AG’s.’”
Dating back to 1999, internal DCFS communications obtained from Searle indicate Amann regularly stepped on the division’s toes. Responding to a complaint lodged by one DCFS caseworker, David Carlson, Amann’s boss and then chief of the attorney general’s Child Protection Division, acknowledged others had complained that Amann “acts like it is his way or the highway. …They complain that he is rude and condescending.” But Carlson dismissed the rancor as a problem of “attitude and demeanor … as apposed [sic] to the substance of the disagreements.”
That very substance was at center stage when Amann ordered the removal of another supposed sibling at risk in March 2001, even though DCFS and law enforcement ruled the death of another child in the home an accident. “‘Your legal counsel is telling you to remove, what are you going to say about that?’” Amann was quoted telling the caseworker.
Amann’s casual references to an alleged child abuser as “(MO)Lester” rankled another DCFS employee. And one of Bierly’s caseworkers was “disturbed and angry” when Amann suggested the woman’s personal life was affecting her work. He also riffed on a typo Bierly made in a court pleading: “‘fencing with the same old windmills’ … may bode well for her ‘ruinification’ but it does not bode well for her ‘reunification.’”
Reached for comment during a recent business trip, Amann deferred to the authors of said communications. Generally speaking, he explained via e-mail, the “function of child protection attorneys is to call the legal shots.” But, he added: “Clients don’t always follow their attorney’s advice. I’m sure that Brian Nichols wasn’t following the advice of counsel when, during his [recent Atlanta] rape trial, he shot the judge and court reporter.”
As to Bierly’s claims that he held undue sway over her case, Amann responded: “Please don’t allow yourself to believe that I am the omniscient, all-powerful presence that Lisa portrays me as (or I will bring about your swift and unimaginably devastating demise!!! Ha ha ha ha ha. I’m kidding … C’mon.)”
That brand of humor was lost on DCFS, too.
“I don’t think we would come out in any way and stand up in defense of the AG’s office in what they did in that case,” says Trupp, adding that Amann’s actions amounted to a “seminal event” in Utah’s child-welfare system.
“If you are a prosecutor wanting to prosecute, and punish, and seek retribution, which there’s certainly a place for, then you shouldn’t be in this system,” Trupp says.
After the Bierly case, Amann was reassigned to the attorney general’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force. And paramount among systemwide changes since the case is a clear understanding between DCFS and the new Child Protection Division Chief Mark May. Trupp says May has assured DCFS that it can make its own “‘dumbass decisions,’” as long as they fall within the law.
Other changes include an increased focus on in-home preventive services; the need for a warrant before removing children, except in the most extreme circumstances; and changes to how the sibling at risk statute is applied.
Today, Trupp says, “we would not go into that kind of situation having just medical neglect, not linked to the other child, and no nexus between the parent’s behavior and a risk to the other child, and remove that child from the parent’s custody.”
Though Bierly acknowledges pride in helping effect changes to the system, “What does that do for me and my children?” she asks in frustration. While admitting some days are better than others, “every night when I close my eyes the nightmare is real again,” she says.
“Elian Gonzales-style removal at gunpoint”
Logs show Bierly had complied with her service plan after it was finalized in late January until mid-April. After some wrangling with Amann and the guardian ad litem, DCFS returned Katie home in late March.
Michael went into insulin shock earlier that month, 30 minutes after arriving for a supervised visit with Bierly. K.L. and the foster mother pinned the blame on Bierly, but the case files confirm Michael arrived with a dangerously low blood-sugar level. At any rate, records show Hardin readjusted Michael’s regular insulin dosage downward—as Bierly claims she had always lobbied—and began working with DCFS toward Michael’s first trial home placement. Bierly’s court-ordered therapist recommended the same. But hopes of Michael’s homecoming, and the reunion with Katie were short-lived.
Admittedly, the Bierly family had its share of domestic foibles—which were about to catch up with them.
Bierly and Taylor were convicted of shoplifting an $88 CD player days before Christmas 1999. Their explanations, while conceivable, are as easily unbelievable—each thought the other had paid for the device. And earlier that year police cited Bierly for simple assault; there again, an isolated accident, she says. Arguing with Taylor late one night, Bierly explains, she reached around to push him away but bonked him on the nose instead. “We’re not the Bradys,” she concedes. “We’ve made mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we should lose our children for the rest of our lives.”
Past due on a $300 fine and court-ordered diversion classes for the shoplifting conviction, a judge issued a $10,000 bench warrant for Bierly’s arrest in February. Making matters worse, in an unannounced home visit, Bierly’s caseworker spotted her entering the house with Taylor. And that was a problem.
Because of Bierly’s prior simple assault, Johansson had ordered no contact between Taylor and Katie until he came before the court. The order came at Michael’s adjudication hearing, after Katie had been returned home, and didn’t list “the father” by name, which Bierly and Taylor took to mean Michael’s biological father. Once the mandate became clear, though, it was as unfathomable as it was impossible to live by.
“There have never been any allegations against Darryl,” Bierly stresses. “They knew where he lived; why didn’t they send any court papers his way?”
Besides, to keep in step with the service plan, Bierly needed to maintain a stable residence. But between court, DCFS meetings, doctor’s appointments, diabetes training, therapy, visits with her children that needed to be scheduled five days in advance and “kicking against the pricks,” as one official put it, she hadn’t the wherewithal for a job. That left Taylor, and his construction wages, to pay rent on a home that was well beyond their means, but a move to more affordable digs would show instability, Bierly feared. Bierly says a call from the attorney general’s office to her father in Pennsylvania soured that relationship, not to mention a source of income when times were rough—and times were rough.
The facts remained: Bierly was in violation of a court order, and a looming arrest warrant didn’t portend a stable home environment. Court documents show she tried to clear up the warrant with a fine payment on May 4, 2001, but she says the court clerk told her she’d first have to see the judge, who was in regularly scheduled court hearings all day.
Fearing jail, Bierly dodged two critical juvenile court hearings: one on May 10 to consider a trial home placement for Michael, and another four days later to end Katie’s trial home placement.
The only thing to do then was wait. But a heads-up that Johansson ordered Katie back into custody sent Bierly skedaddling across the street to a girlfriend’s house for a nerve-calming gin and tonic. “It was the dumbest thing,” she says. “I knew what was coming down; I just didn’t know my whole family was going to get hurt in the process.”
DCFS called in Midvale police to effect the removal. In an internal e-mail, Amann later dubbed the fiasco “an Elian Gonzales-style removal at gunpoint.”
Through the door, Taylor was taken down and handcuffed. As the sounds of radio chatter and an apparent scuffle neared, Bierly ducked into a bedroom closet with Katie—a rash gesture, “but I just couldn’t lose my daughter again,” she says.
According to a police report, two officers converged on Bierly’s hiding place and, with guns drawn, ordered her out from under a mound of linens. The first officer commanded Bierly to “drop the child,” the report states, to which “I told them ‘No,’” she says. That’s when, according to the report, a second officer “applied a pressure point on her left shoulder and she released the child.”
As Bierly was being handcuffed, down the hall officers mixed it up with brothers Tim and Peter. The officer in charge of Katie released her to join the fray, and as Katie scampered outside after her mother, her brothers were pepper-sprayed, wrestled to the ground and cuffed. Both were charged with resisting arrest—Tim with assault on a police officer and Peter with obstructing justice—and released at the scene.
Bierly can’t help but bemoan her next 48 days in jail as excessive punishment for an $88 retail theft. “It probably cost me my kids,” she says.
All the same, DCFS hadn’t given up. Bierly’s inexperienced caseworker was replaced with a seasoned veteran, “L.H.” DCFS refused to sign on with a petition to terminate Bierly’s parental rights, which the guardian ad litem filed days after her arrest. Although Amann’s name wasn’t on the petition, DCFS knew he wasn’t an ally.
In an internal e-mail to DCFS Salt Lake Valley Regional Director LaRay Brown, L.H. said Amann and the guardian ad litem had “worked together … against the mother from the beginning. I am not stating [Bierly] isn’t hard to work with, she is, but … they DO NOT have the best interest of the children as their priority.”
On the hard-to-work-with score, Bierly’s petulance is scrupulously documented throughout the case files. She canceled appointments, demanded impromptu visits, alleged Michael and Katie were being harmed in state custody, huffed, screamed, cried, failed to return calls, even cherry-picked facts to make herself look better to the system. It’s the same as she ever was, and always will be when it comes to her children.
In her defense, Tim says where the system ran up against an insolent challenger, Bierly taught him the “stubbornness of never backing down, no matter how big you are … if you do me wrong.”
And many agree Bierly was done wrong, but she’s also an undeniable “pain in the ass,” according to her own lawyer. That shouldn’t detract from her undeniable strengths, Tim says, as “a wonderful mother, and a wonderful friend.”
To that end, a one-time prospective adoptive father for Michael and Katie, David Reoch, says that contrary to the horrible picture of a broken home described to him by DCFS, Michael voiced “only fond thoughts of his home life prior to being in DCFS custody.” Michael lived with Reoch for nearly a year, with Katie later joining them for about six months, but the adoptions fell through when Reoch fell ill in mid-2002.
“Nobody knows us,” Peter adds, gravely. “We have so much love for these children, and there was never a time [Michael and Katie] weren’t provided for.”
As far as medical neglect, Tim says, caring for Michael’s diabetes became a way of life the day he was diagnosed at 11 months old. Using an orange to simulate the insulin injections, Tim says Bierly began training the rest of the family in earnest. “‘Now practice!’” he recalls his mother’s command. “And she qualified us all.”
While L.H. stuck with Bierly during and after her jail stint—at one point vowing to reunify the family in spite of Amann, Bierly says—by the September 2001 termination trial, she too had defected into the termination camp.
Even after the trial had gotten under way, however, DCFS Salt Lake Valley Regional Director Brown was dubious. “For me the most disturbing issue is that [Michael and Katie] may lose their mother, not because she cannot parent but she is not in compliance,” she vented in an internal e-mail to the attorney general’s office. “I am not sure this is how the system should work.”
At a last-ditch mediation session in September 2001, DCFS agreed to joint-therapy sessions with Bierly, Katie and Michael, with the goal being reunification. Amann and the guardian ad litem objected, and Johansson torpedoed the plan at a subsequent hearing.
The proceedings to terminate Bierly and Taylor’s parental rights dragged well into 2002, with Johansson rendering a tentative verdict in July, and the final order to terminate following in August.
Bierly filed a complaint against Amann with the Utah State Bar in 2001, which was dismissed two years later. Upon termination of her parental rights, she appealed and was rebuffed by the Utah Court of Appeals and Utah Supreme Court. The Utah Judicial Conduct Commission recently declined to take action against Johansson on a complaint from Bierly.
The Death Penalty
Views on how, why and whether Bierly and Taylor should have lost their children are as disparate as they were throughout the case.
From DCFS, Trupp offers that his view of what was safe and appropriate in the case is “entirely different” from Amann’s view. But the bottom line is there was a service plan, and Johansson found Bierly hadn’t satisfied it. Unfortunately, he says, “In the juvenile court system, you can come in on a misdemeanor, essentially, and wind up with the death penalty.”
The system’s undefined standard for what a fit parent looks like, Trupp continues, makes it particularly difficult for those like Bierly—poor, disorganized, stubborn—to achieve an idealized standard.
Though there’s nothing more DCFS can do, given that Katie and Michael have been adopted, “I don’t see Lisa ever giving up and, frankly, I would never stop either,” says Trupp.
Amann isn’t nearly as sentimental as Trupp, or at all receptive to Bierly’s self-ascribed role as victim. “Lisa is like a siren,” he reflected. “She’s like the siren that cried ‘wolf,’ if I may mix metaphors. She’s very forceful. She works hard to make her voice heard, and the story she presents is compelling. Unfortunately for her, it’s not factual.
“I don’t hold any animosity for Lisa. What I have for her is pity. She had God’s greatest gift and she lost it.”
In her own analysis, Bierly was the unwitting participant, and her family the unfortunate victims of a clash of wills. “There was a power struggle here,” she insists. “The AG didn’t care what DCFS wanted, the [guardian ad litem] was doing whatever the AG said, the doctor wanted my child, and then you have the judge who didn’t give a s—t about anything.”
Would she have done anything differently? Absolutely. But she can’t think what. “I was so busy jumping through so many hoops I didn’t know whether I was coming or going,” Bierly says. “Everybody was telling me I would get my kids back, and then before I know it, I’m at a termination trial fighting for my life.
“But if my case is an example of what was wrong with the system, and it obviously was because they’ve gone and changed all the applicable laws, then why shouldn’t they right the wrong?”
That’s exactly what Bierly hopes will come of a tentatively scheduled sit-down with DCFS, the attorney general’s office and a representative of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s office. But unless the outcome includes reunification with her children, Bierly vows, “I’m going to be fighting this thing until the day I die.”
Source: Salt Lake City Weekly
recovered from internet archive
DCF Arrest in Connecticut
July 30, 2005 permalink
In an indication of decreasing respect, another social worker was arrested this time in Connecticut. If tradition is followed, there will be no real penalty.
DCF Supervisor Arrested, Suspended
A Department of Children and Families social worker is accused of fabricating evidence and tampering with a witness in a child endangerment case in Hartford earlier this year.
Valerie M. Miles, a social work supervisor in DCF's Hartford office, turned herself in and was arrested about 2 p.m. Thursday. She was released on $10,000 bail pending an appearance in Superior Court scheduled for Aug. 11 in Hartford.
Hartford police were not releasing any further details and DCF officials were reluctant to comment on the matter.
It was unclear Thursday whether the charges related to one of Miles' child abuse and neglect investigations at work or to an incident in her personal life.
Miles, 48, lives at 53 Dogwoood Road, Plainville.
Hartford police said the charges were based on an incident involving the risk of injury to a child at 296 Hudson St. in Hartford on May 27. Miles was charged with two counts of fabricating physical evidence and one count of witness tampering.
Miles was placed on paid administrative leave on July 7, said DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt. State records show her current salary is about $103,000 a year. Miles has worked at DCF for 16 years.
"We're cooperating with police," Kleeblatt said. "This is under investigation and we will take appropriate disciplinary action as warranted up to and including termination."
"Allegations of this nature are extremely troubling and we are going to take them very seriously," Kleeblatt said.
Miles could not be reached for comment Thursday. She is represented by West Hartford attorney Leon M. Rosenblatt. He also was reluctant to discuss the details of the case.
"It is in fact true that she surrendered to a warrant today," Rosenblatt said. "Beyond that, stay tuned."
Source: Hartford Courant
CAS Defies Law
July 29, 2005 permalink
We reproduce below an article on a foster parent published July 18, 2005 in the Ottawa Citizen. Like most press articles on the subject, it is a puff piece. What makes this one unusual is that it includes the actual names of the persons involved.
John Dunn found the address of the foster home and a satellite image from the article. (The more intrusive discoveries are omitted on the web version of the letter). The article, prepared with the cooperation of Children's Aid, and later posted to the OACAS website, contravenes the Child and Family Services Act which contains the provision:
45(8) No person shall publish or make public information that has the effect of identifying a child who is a witness at or a participant in a hearing or the subject of a proceeding, or the child's parent or foster parent or a member of the child's family.
All foster children are the subject of a child protection proceeding. The law against publishing the names of persons applies only to articles in derogation of Children's Aid.
He builds the future -- one child at a time
For six years now, Brad Hammond, a father and day-care provider, has been giving foster children a stable, caring place to stay, Jenni Lee Campbell writes
At an age when many of his contemporaries are clinging to the last vestiges of bachelorhood and still consider pizza and beer to be major food groups, 28-year-old Brad Hammond is in a completely different ballpark. If you want to get technical, he's in a tee-ball field, actually. And he knows his food groups inside out.
The softspoken, funny young man is a modern-day Super Dad, a father and daycare provider who, for the last six years, has also been spreading the love to foster children in need of a stable, caring place to stay while their family issues are worked out by the Children's Aid Society.
People like Mr. Hammond play a crucial role in the community, says Jacquie Woodward, director of Child and Youth in Care Services at the CAS. The need for foster homes in Ottawa is the highest it has been in years.
"All the literature indicates that for every child that comes into care, ideally you would like to have three families to choose from," says Mrs. Woodward, in order to match a child's issues with the capacity of foster parents.
The CAS currently has between 250 and 260 foster families for their 880 children in care. Almost 300 of those children are currently in the foster care system.
Mr. Hammond and his wife, Nada Jean, who works for NAV Canada, have fostered 15 children so far, often taking in groups of siblings and children with serious behavioural issues.
"Most of the time they come to us with the clothes on their back," says Mr. Hammond of the children they've fostered.
The first thing he and Ms. Jean do is take them shopping for new clothes and school supplies, and let them choose a bedset for their room to make them feel at home.
When nine-year-old Julien arrived at the Hammond's three years ago, he had little vocabulary, no social skills, and was unable to dress himself.
Today, he's a bright, energetic and athletic boy who enjoys going to school and doing taekwondo.
Giving children like Julien a sense of pride and self-confidence is something Mr. Hammond takes very seriously. Where he used to have his school work ripped up at home, Julien's brightly-coloured artwork is displayed prominently on the fridge at the Hammonds. His progress is incredible, says Mr. Hammond.
Equal treatment is one of the cornerstones of how Mr. Hammond and Ms. Jean treat their children, regardless of how long they've been part of the family.
At Christmas, everyone gets the same number of presents (Mr. Hammond, the main Christmas shopper, can never resist going well over the per-child allowance they get from the agency for gifts).
"A lot of kids never had birthdays or Christmases, and we're able to give them back some of their innocence and childhood," Mr. Hammond says.
Mr. Hammond, who studied sociology at Carleton University and has worked with developmentally delayed adults, has always felt at home in the role of caregiver. When he and Ms. Jean met each other, Ms. Jean's daughter, Ashley, was a toddler and she wasn't interested in beating around the bush with some guy who wasn't going to stick around.
"One of the first questions I asked him was, 'Do you want to have kids?'" Ms. Jean says.
"He told me he wanted twelve!"
Mr. Hammond may have been joking a bit, but he and Ms. Jean are getting close.
It wasn't long after that conversation that they decided they both wanted to be foster parents.
The CAS accepts applications from anyone over the age of 18 who is interested in fostering, and there are different levels of care -- people who can't commit to full time fostering are encouraged to apply to fill relief or weekend positions. Foster care workers then conduct a 9-to-12-week home study to determine the appropriateness and safety of the home.
Pre-service training is given to prospective foster parents, says Mrs. Woodward, "to help them deal with separation and loss, behavior management, and to understand their relationship with the birth parents."
Even experienced foster parents like Mr. Hammond and Ms. Jean receive ongoing in-service training around practical things like safety, CPR, and dealing with children who have been abused.
Once they were approved as foster parents, they started taking children in and haven't stopped. Then came Brandon, 2, who the Hammonds conceived through in-vitro fertilization.
When Mr. Hammond lost his job due to cutbacks six months after Brandon was born, it could have thrown the family into a crisis. Instead, it seemed like everything fell neatly into place.
One of their friends had just lost their daycare provider, and Mr. Hammond decided to take over. He now cares for toddlers Owen and Kaia, and will be taking in another child soon, bringing the total of children he looks after to eight.
"There's a stigma about men running daycares," Mr. Hammond says ruefully. He's still angry at police chief Vince Bevan, who publically said several months ago that he would never leave a child with a male babysitter.
"His reasoning was that men have a predisposition to be sexual predators," Mr. Hammond explains. "I was mortified."
Despite the bad press, Mr. Hammond has plenty of admirers. His daycare dads joke that they should take lessons from him, and women dig his fun, gentle way with children.
"I get asked if I'm married all the time!" Mr. Hammond says, and he and Ms. Jean laugh.
The Hammonds have already outgrown two houses in just a few years. Their new four-bedroom near the airport is spacious and has a great backyard, complete with toddler pools, two sandboxes and a playstructure.
An important part of caring for children who are going through uncertain periods in their lives is stability and structure. Mr. Hammond is well aware of this, and his routines reflect it.
After school, the older children play outside or in the basement playroom. Mr. Hammond calls them one at a time into the kitchen, where he looks over their agendas and gives them a hand with their homework.
After everyone's done, it's free time, but Mr. Hammond doesn't allow TV or videogames on school days, so that means dress-up, arts and crafts, puzzles, or sports.
"There's absolutely nothing like getting down on the floor and playing with your kids," Mr. Hammond says.
Every night at dinner the family does "Good Thing/Bad Thing," where each person gets to tell everyone about the high and low of their day.
Mr. Hammond says his job starts at 6 a.m., and doesn't end until he goes to sleep. Even then, there are fevers to treat and nightmares to soothe.
"They (the foster children) carry a lot of baggage with them," Mr. Hammond says. "But it's the most amazing feeling in the world going to bed, knowing that regardless of the day's challenges, they've made progress or even are just safe in your house."
And his kids might one day accuse him of being a workaholic, but it's doubtful that his devotion to his job will leave them feeling scarred or unloved. Just several months ago, at the behest of Ashley and one of his foster children, Mr. Hammond entered a radio station's 'Drag Your Dad to Duff' contest, allowing them to doll him up in all their best finery. He choked on the Hillary trivia, but they forgave him.
One of Mr. Hammond's and Ms. Jean's latest foster kids is a sweet, pretty and thoughtful girl. She comes home from school every day with a new fact for Mr. Hammond, and often surprises him with her grasp of concepts and ideas that seem well beyond her age.
"It's beyond rewarding," Mr. Hammond says, smiling at her. "The kids teach us about life and love."
To find out more about fostering, attend the Children's Aid Society's monthly information session, the last Thursday of every month, or visit www.fosteradoptwinningkids.com
- "John Dunn" <email@example.com>
- Your Memo
- Fri, 5 Aug 2005 10:33:05 -0400
Good Morning, Mr. Dunn:
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.
Without commenting on the validity of your allegation, I wish to advise that this information has been removed from the OACAS website.
Marvin M. Bernstein, B.A., LL.B., LL.M.
Director of Policy Development and Legal Support
Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
75 Front St. East, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5E 1V9
Telephone: (416) 366-8115 Ext. 241
Fax: (416) 366-8317
8-Year-Old Charged For Sexual Conduct With Sitter
July 28, 2005 permalink
A fourteen-year-old baby-sitter dared an eight-year-old boy to touch her breast. When he did so, he was charged with committing a lewd act with a minor.
8-Year-Old Charged For Sexual Conduct With Sitter
Jul 28, 2005 10:38 pm US/Mountain, (KUTV) SALT LAKE CITY, Utah
A mother is upset after a 14-year-old babysitter engaged in sexual conduct with her eight-year-old boy, and the eight-year-old was charged with lewd conduct.
Prosecutors have since dropped the charges against the boy, but his mother is still concerned.
The sexual conduct occurred during a game of "truth or dare" while the boy was being watched by the babysitter.
Prosecutors say that, while the babysitter initiated the contact, the young boy was a willing participant.
"She dared my son to touch her breasts," says Michelle Grosbeck, the boy's mother.
After hiring the teenager to baby sit, Grosbeck got the feeling something was wrong.
"It was just that sense that something wasn't quite right with this 14-year-old girl," she said. She asked her son what had happened. "He just came right out as if nothing was awry, and just started talking about what had happened."
Grosbeck went to police and child protection workers, and the case went to the district attorney, after which her son, age eight, had been charged with an act of lewdness with a minor.
Grosbeck says the Salt Lake County District Attorney told her both the child and teenager were equal participants. But Mrs. Grosbeck didn't believe that.
"My son is eight, he's a little boy. He does not have the ability to participate on the same level as a fourteen-year-old," she said.
Although the charges against her son were dropped, she is concerned that the same thing could happen to other victims of sexual abuse.
"I don't want parents to be afraid to go to the state agencies that are supposed to be protecting our children when things like this happen, out of fear that their children are going to be charged
The district attorney's office confirmed the charges had been made, and that they had been dropped. Other than that, they wouldn't comment. The Division of Child and Family Services also declined to comment.
The original webpage includes an option to play the TV news report in Macromedia Flash form.
Controlled News Conference
July 28, 2005 permalink
As is customary in these situations, taking money from parents and giving it to social service agencies was characterized as beneficial to children. Among the more worrisome measures are one to provide universal screen of newborns. Screening for pathologies is beneficial, but the same screening can be used to justify removing children from their parents. From the release:
First screening of consenting mothers and their newborns at the hospital is followed by a phone call within 48 hours of discharge from the hospital.
CAS now gets consent from parents by threatening to take away their children in the alternative. Will they now do that to all mothers? Another mandatory screen will occur at 18 months of age.
Karol Karolak attempted to attend the news conference as a reporter for Canada Court Watch. Since his native language is Polish, we have slightly edited his comments for grammar and spelling.
Today I went to a press conference held by Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers at the Rose Avenue Day Care Centre in Rose Avenue Junior Public School. I grew up in a communist country and remember well the manipulation of media by the state and the feeding out of politically correct information. But even the communists took care of appearances and handed out press releases after event took place. Today's event was a time warp as I got the press release at the door before press conference started and it revealed what had been said before they actually said it. It seemed as if I was listening to tape recorders disguised as people.
It was like in good old commie days. A man in a dark suit at the door was checking who gets in, to prevent provocateurs from spoiling the show.
He spotted me immediately and asked me if I was from the press. I told him yes.
I got in with flyers in my hand, a few minutes later the man in the dark suit was back at me with a piece of paper asking me to sign in. I signed my name and wrote CourtWatch for the news organization. Another ten minutes and the man in black was back asking me what kind of news organization CourtWatch is, as he had never heard of it. I told him that it is internet based. Then he moved on to the main subject on his agenda -- getting me out of this conference -- and asked me to step outside of the room. We walked out and in a hallway I gave him few sets of flyers. A woman joined us and I gave her a few sets of flyers as well and told her that it is not my intention to rain on their parade but if they are not going to stop child trafficking by Giesbrecht and his buddies, next time I just might start asking the Minister some very inconvenient questions and embarrass them publicly.
The man in black walked me out of the building and we continued our conversation on a school playground. He assured me that my flyers will be delivered to the proper people.
This was a time warp. I remember in communist Poland having an almost identical encounter with the Polish Secret Service when I was walked out of the "pre election" meeting for asking a very innocent question about the electoral process. That encounter was the beginning of my eventually quite thick file with Polish Secret Police.
Karol Karolak P. Eng.
CPS Snatches Wife
July 26, 2005 permalink
Washington lawyer Gary A Preble recounts his experience in saving a girl wanted by child protectors, so much that the child protectors and the judiciary were willing to subvert the law to do so.
July 25, 2005
Please indulge me in hearing today's war story. It is an example of why aggressive dependency attorneys can make a difference and why court-appointed attorneys need to love liberty and sometimes need to take a more aggressive and/or creative approach (and that it doesn't hurt at times to involve an out-of-town attorney).
I am in Olympia, Washington. Mom contacted me the day after court because she and her 16-year-old dependent daughter had both been found in contempt by the juvenile Court Commissioner (a non-elected judicial officer employed by the elected judges) by separate orders. Mom's order said she would go go to jail in 12 days (today) if she had not made steps to undo what she had done, and she wanted to know what could be done to fight the orders. The court and my client are 7 hours away from my office.
What had happened was this: Mom and daughter, who was a dependent child pursuant to a CPS case and living in foster care, had almost completely unrestricted contact (including shopping across the state line in Idaho). Two weeks ago today, they went to Idaho, daughter driving her own car and taking Mom as a passenger. They met daughter's boyfriend who had turned 18 that day; his mother was also there. Mom consented to daughter's marriage and they were married that day under Idaho law. They honeymooned in Washington (by very strange coincidence staying at the same motel my wife and I had stayed 3 days earlier on a trip across state).
The next day there was a scheduled court hearing and the Commissioner became upset that her authority had been circumvented. So, on her own "motion" and without any opportunity for a response to be prepared, she found Mom and daughter in contempt. She had no basis in the contempt law to find contempt, but apparently her irritation at the circumstances got the better of her. She also ordered the daughter back into foster care and ordered no contact between the mother and daughter.
My initial feeling was that there was also no longer any juvenile court jurisdiction because the minor had been emancipated by the marriage. After researching the matter, I found that case law does in fact recognize emancipation by marriage, that the Idaho marriage is entitled to full faith and credit under the US Constitution, and that the Commissioner was completely without grounds to find either Mom or the daughter in contempt. (In other words, piqued that the daughter and mother had circumvented the court's authority, the Commissioner proceeded to circumvent not only Washington statutes but the US Constitution.)
I associated with court-appointed counsel and filed a Motion to Revise (a statutory procedure that allows a commissioner's decision to be heard fresh by an elected judge of Superior Court), submitting 8 pages of research showing from both Idaho statutes and Washington law that the child had been emancipated by marriage, that the court was without jurisdiction, that the mother couldn't withdraw her consent if she wanted to, and that the Commissioner had no lawful basis to find contempt. I also filed a request for stay with the Superior Court at 8:30 this morning, not knowing how the Commissioner would rule at 9:00 and hoping to keep my client out of jail. (The court was too far and travel too costly on short notice, so local counsel presented the motion for stay to the ex parte judge.) The Judge wouldn't sign the stay, saying he would want to look at it further before ruling.
Meanwhile, the parties and other attorneys were in Juvenile Court at 9:00, armed with my legal arguments set out in the Motion to Revise. While I haven't yet spoken to the attorneys, their arguments to the court apparently succeeded. Mom faxed me the three orders entered today:
- "Based upon motion of mother's counsel to vacate contempt ... and argument of counsel ... IT IS ORDERED THAT [the order] holding mother in contempt is hereby vacated and dismissed with prejudice."
- The daughter's contempt was also vacated and dismissed. with prejudice.
- And the third order said: "[A] motion to dismiss--which was being readdressed after further consideration ... IT IS ORDERED THAT the dependency is hereby dismissed based on the child's emancipation by marriage."
While case law indicates the Commissioner technically has no jurisdiction once the Motion to Revise is filed, and while her having entered today's orders under such circumstances suggests perhaps a tendency to not feel constrained by the law and procedures, who am I to complain if the Commissioner wants to essentially commandeer the Motion to Revise, treat it as a motion for reconsideration, and give us everything we wanted? But there is no question it would not have happened without the Motion to Revise.
And best wishes and congratulations to the once again happy bride and groom--after having endured the violation of their civil rights by government employees for what should have been some of the happiest two weeks of their marriage.
Life in a Group Home
July 21, 2005 permalink
In reporting on a rape, the Ottawa Sun gives a picture of life inside a group home that is not what you see in the warm cuddly brochures from social services. These homes for teenagers are really prisons.
Rape no surprise to staff
'Outbursts' common at group home
IT WAS only a matter of a time before a staff member was attacked and seriously injured at a Kanata group home, former and current employees said yesterday.
Several employees, who asked their names not be used due to confidentiality agreements they're required to sign, said there is often only one worker to deal with as many as four troubled youth in the home.
It's where an adult female employee was struck over the head with a bottle, tied up and raped last Friday. A 15-year-old boy has been charged with aggravated sexual assault, forcible confinement and assault with a weapon among other charges. He cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
"The kids have outbursts, which were pretty regularly," said one former employee. "Yelling, screaming, punching holes in the wall, which is not uncommon in a group home."
The employee said staff are alone with teens and kids up to the age of 17, including overnight and during the day. It's only during the evening hours that there are two employees.
'HITTING AND BITING'
Four youths live in the house where the assault occurred.
"Staff were assaulted. It was hitting and biting but never anything to this kind of degree," the employee said, adding she worried about her and her co-workers' safety.
According to employees, there are on-call supervisors and staff have access to a panic pager.
A staff meeting has been called for later this week at homes for both Youth Continuum, where the assault occurred, and the Brindle Agency, which manages several other Kanata group homes. It's expected scheduling and policies will be discussed during the meeting.
The owner of the group homes, Phil Brindle, declined to comment yesterday on the sex assault and what steps are being taken to prevent future attacks.
Ottawa police said they have completed their investigation and indicated there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the group home.
Officials for both the Children's Aid Society, which sends youth to the home, and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which licenses group homes, would not comment on whether an investigation was under way.
Neither agency would provide the Sun with details about what guidelines privately run group homes are expected to follow, instead referring the question to the other.
The CAS says the group home is provided a daily amount for each at-risk youth it takes in.
Youth "that are in group homes ... would have behavioural issues stemming from mental health or historical abuse," said CAS spokeswoman France Clost.
A former resident of the house, who knows the accused, said it wasn't unusual for there to be trouble in the group home.
"It depends on the night," said the 17-year-old, who spent nearly two years in the house where the sex assault occurred. He admitted there was occasional "pushing and shoving" of staff, but said it was rare that a resident would throw punches or resort to other violence.
Source: Ottawa Sun
Foster Child Drug Trials
July 20, 2005 permalink
The New York Times has published a defense of the drug trials in which foster children were used as test subjects. The Times faults critics for publishing stories lacking real names of victims, without mentioning that publication of names of foster children is in many places forbidden by law. The article does not deal with the central problem, that children were enrolled not through informed consent, but by force of arms.
Since the New York Times hides behind an electronic wall, our links are to:
Local copy, in case the link expires.
Foster Child Becomes Mother
July 17, 2005 permalink
Today we post over two hours of audio by a woman who shares her experiences with Children's Aid both as a foster child and later as a mother.
First Come, First Served!
July 15, 2005 permalink
The increase in the number of babies taken by force of arms has made it possible for couples to start adopting again.
Adoption list to reopen: Names of couples seeking to adopt infant being taken
The Observer (Sarnia), Monday, July 11, 2005, By George Mathewson
Today brings a ray of hope for childless couples hoping to adopt a baby in Sarnia-Lambton.
After a seven-year freeze, the local Children's Aid Society is again accepting the names of 25 couples eager for a child aged two or under.
Officials expect to be inundated with applications.
"We've had a large response in the past and we expect that will happen again," said Stephen Doig, director of services.
As of today, the infant waiting list has reopened for two months. It marks the first time new names will be added since 1998.
The number of couples seeking an infant has long exceeded the number of babies available.
In fact, only once in the past two decades has the society accepted new applications, and that was to add 25 couples to the list in 1998.
"There are a lot of children available for adoption, but they're not always infants," Doig said.
Seventeen children of all ages were adopted through the agency last year, and 25 children the year before.
To be eligible for the infant list, couples must be residents of Lambton County, childless, able to provide documentation confirming they are medically infertile, and prepared to accept a baby within two to eight years.
Couples who have one child and can provide the necessary documentation are also eligible for registration.
Those who meet the criteria should call 336-0068, ext. 260. A recorded message will advise what information is required.
The agency will then forward an application form, which must be returned no later than Sept. 9. Twenty-five couples will be randomly selected by lottery from the eligible candidates and added to the waiting list before it is indefinitely closed again.
Source: Forwarded pdf file from FPinfomart.
Parents Still Have to Give Up Kids
July 15, 2005 permalink
Remember Marie Bountrogianni's promise to end the practice of requiring parents to surrender custody to get treatment for kids? It is still going on. Gordon Floyd claims once again that more funding could solve the problem.
The ultimate act of a mother's love: Kim Drexler Loved Her Child So Much, She Gave Her Up
Kim Drexler says she's scared to death her troubled daughter's next act of self-mutilation could be her last.
The Sarnia woman says she is being forced to give up custody of her 14-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, and make her a ward of the court in order to get her into more programming to address her mental health problems.
"Katie cuts herself up and no one can say what causes her behaviour", mom say,. "Her one arm, she has nothing left of it, it's all scars".
The Children's Aid Society has been involved with the Drexlers for months. Drexler said there isn't a lot of help left out there. If Kaitlyn were older, she's been told there'd be more resources available.
"One of the biggest issues I have with this whole thing is why did we have to give her up to get her help?" Drexler wonders.
"They tell me that and I might not have a child to help by the time she reaches 16".
Kaitlyn's been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, other conduct disorders and learning disabilities. She's been on mood stabilizers since she was 10.
Kaitlyn has been in foster homes, group homes, and the community girl's home. Every time her daughter gets placed in open custody, she bolts.
"She's even tried to escape from the courthouse".
Kaitlyn has been in counselling, hospitalized, has been prone to violence and drug use and has had recurring issues with skipping classes since Grade 4.
When she was in Grade 5, after kids began to notice Kaitlyn couldn't read, Drexler says her daughter "tried to jump out of a window and stab herself.
"She's always been a handful", Drexler adds, "since she was about six years old".
She's been verbally abusive and physically abusive to her family, including mom and dad.
"I've heard it all, bitch, slut", Drexler says.
There have also been issues involving her other sons, ages 12 and 9.
"My youngest is scared of her. He thinks we can't protect him. I can't tell you how that makes me feel", she says, tears running down her cheek. "It's been really hard on us. I've done so much crying".
The turmoil has taken its toll on the family. Drexler says she's been hospitalized for stress-related illnesses and had to step down as a supervisor at work.
"Even though we've been having all these troubles, she's still my baby", Drexler says. "I've had a lot of guilt because I've been forced to choose between my kids".
The saddest part is this isn't an isolated story, says Gordon Floyd, CEO of Children's Mental Health Ontario, an association made up of all the youth mental health treatment centres across the province.
He says there isn't enough provincial funding, resulting in only a handful of kids getting the proper treatment they need.
"It really is a serious problem", says Floyd, who spoke recently at a St. Clair Child and Youth Services event.
He says there is only enough treatment capacity in the province to handle 150,00 kids a year, which is less than a quarter of the kids requiring treatment.
"The demand for services is going up and coupled with reduced capacity, this is the result".
And, because there is a shortage of services, the kids deemed most in crisis would be at the top of the list. For a parent to give up custody, that would certainly move the child up the chain, Floyd says.
It's situations like this that drew the ire of the province's ombudsman, André Marin.
In a 44-page report last month, he called the system "unjust, oppressive and unfair".
More than 100 Ontario families have already had to give up their children to get help and as many as 15 other families will soon be forced to confront the wrenching decision, the report stated.
"This is one of the toughest reports I've ever seen", Floyd says. "It says what's going on isn't just wrong, it's immoral".
But according to changes to the Child and Family Services Act and directions from the Ministry, no one has to surrender services to access services, says the Children Aid Society's Stephen Doig.
"There is free treatment available", he says.
But, there are waiting lists that can top five months, Doig says, and children do sometimes fall through the cracks.
"We could always use additional programming, especially residential treatment beds for children with long-standing mental health issues".
In other words, children like Kaitlyn Drexler.
It's been a long-standing issue locally, Doig says, as all of the beds are reserved for assessments, not for long-term care.
For now, the Drexler family will continue to struggle along, hoping Kaitlyn gets the help she needs before it's too late.
"My biggest fear is she is either going to end up dead or gone for good", her mom says.
Source: Photocopies forwarded by two readers.
Los Angeles Police Kill Toddler
July 14, 2005 permalink
Police in Los Angeles killed a nineteen-month-old girl Suzie Peña in a standoff with the girl's father. Autopsy results mentioned in later news reports show that it was a police bullet that killed the girl. This kind of story is the inevitable result of high levels of police intervention in family life.
Toddler who was used as shield by dad is killed in shootout
LOS ANGELES -- A toddler girl was shot and killed when her intoxicated father used her as a shield during a fiery gun battle with police after a standoff that lasted three hours, authorities said.
Police Chief William Bratton said Monday his officers were well within department policy when they shot car wash owner Jose Raul Pena on Sunday. Pena also was killed; an officer shot in the shoulder was expected to recover.
"You aren't going to stand there with somebody shooting at you," Bratton said. "The person responsible for any loss of life ... was the individual who held his child out as a shield and continued to shoot."
The 19-month-old child's mother, Lorena Lopez, said she pleaded with officers to hold their fire.
"He had problems with depression, his business was not doing well," Lopez told KNBC-TV. "I told them that he needed help, he needs a psychologist, but please don't shoot. They didn't understand, and the police fired, like, 300 shots."
Mayor: Cops 'were doing their jobs'
Autopsies will determine whether the bullet that killed the toddler was fired by police or her father. Police spokesman Kevin Maiberger said 11 officers fired during the standoff, but it was not known how many shots they took.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the officers were only trying to protect themselves and the public.
"My heart is out to a grieving mother who's lost her child. My heart is also out to those officers who put their lives on the line," Villaraigosa said. "Not a one of them went into that situation with the intent to hurt anyone. They were doing their jobs."
The standoff started when officers were called to an intersection where Pena was behaving erratically and aggressively. He fired at the officers, and police called in a SWAT team and tried to talk to the man.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Addendum: From the Los Angeles Times:
Addendum: You will be pleased to learn that the cops did nothing wrong in killing Suzie:
Officers cleared in shooting of toddler used as human shield
LOS ANGELES -- An investigation has cleared the Los Angeles police officers involved in the accidental shooting of a toddler being used as a human shield.
The 19-month-old girl was killed during a shootout last year between police and her father. It came at the end of a long standoff.
LA's district attorney looked into the case and is deciding not to bring charges against the eleven officers involved. Prosecutors believe the SWAT team members were trying to defend themselves and others when they mistakenly killed the girl.
Officials have said traces of cocaine were found in the child, and that the father had also used illegal drugs.
The girl's mother is taking steps to sue the city.
Brantford Woman Harassed by CAS
July 13, 2005 permalink
The woman Brantford Police and Children's Aid think is responsible for the tape posted to this site on June 4 has been hiding for a month. Today, unaware that all quasi-police agencies in Canada use caller-id technology, she called Bruce Burbank, Director of Family Services for the Children's Aid Society of Brant, and left a message on his answering machine.
In less than an hour a CAS caseworker Christine was at the door. No one answered, so she left a card in the mailbox. In only a few minutes more a gas and hydro vehicle arrived and cut off gas service to the house. While it may seem far-fetched to make a connection, we have had a report unrelated to this case in which CAS workers arrived with hydro so that they could seize kids as soon as the power was disconnected (on grounds of lack of running water). We will keep you informed of developments.
No Retrial for VandenElsen
July 13, 2005 permalink
Before the Halifax standoff, Carline VandenElsen was acquitted by a jury on charges of kidnaping her own triplets and taking them to Mexico. The crown has now abandoned efforts to try her a second time on the same charges. It is unlikely that the concerns of Craig Merkley, cited by the crown, have much to do with the decision, since in other areas of family law, the courts show no sensitivity to fathers. More likely, the crown would have to face now twelve-year-old witnesses saying that they love their mother. Unfavorable press coverage was another problem - there is a large amount of coverage in Nova Scotia (though not in Ontario) and a half-dozen websites dealing with the case.
André Lefebvre, who was present at the hearing, posted a copy of the crown's motion on his newsblog.
More on Murdered Foster Child
July 12, 2005 permalink
Earlier we copied an article on the murder of foster child Braxton Wooden in Missouri. Since that time, the police have investigated by interviewing the 14-year-old son of the foster family. Police interviewed him while he changed his story, eventually finding that the killing was an accident. The teenager will remain confined as punishment until age 17. In this kind of case, the question remains, did the police use their interrogation skills to bring the truth from a reluctant witness? Or did they browbeat the boy until he told them the story they wanted to hear? Several facts have now come out that contradict the story constructed by the police. Press coverage in Missouri has been essential in uncovering the truth in this case. When an incident of this kind occurs in Canada, there is no press willing to investigate. Even in Missouri, there is no chance the social worker who had legal authority over Braxton will be held accountable for negligence contributing to the death of her ward. Here is the latest from the Joplin Globe.
Rush to judgment?
Coroner, court, prosecutor learn of statements after their decisions were made
Jeff Lehr, Globe Staff Writer, 7/10/05
Braxton Wooden's mother says she believes he was murdered.
She believes the 14-year-old son of foster parents Mark and Treva Gordon intentionally shot her 8-year-old son in the head with a .38-caliber handgun he knew full well was loaded during a game of cops and robbers June 2 in the Alba couple's foster home.
Brandie McLean, Braxton's mother, wrote in a letter provided recently to the Globe: "I am very disappointed that the police didn't know the whole story about what happened to Braxton when the Gordons' son went to court."
She believes the findings of two investigators with the Missouri Department of Social Services indicate the Gordons' son should have been adjudicated in Jasper County Juvenile Court on a murder allegation instead of involuntary manslaughter.
McLean wrote: "It's a shame that the state did a better job of finding out what really happened than the Alba policemen. I wish the court would have had the state report instead of the city report."
Actually, the juvenile court adjudicated the Gordon boy and committed him to the custody of the Division of Youth Services until he is 17 based on a juvenile officer's report to the court, not the JasCo Metropolitan Police Department's reports on the shooting as McLean's letter mistakenly notes.
The juvenile officer's report cited the "end story" the Gordon boy told investigators the night of June 4 after changing his story about what had happened several times.
The "truth" he'd finally told them was that he'd found the gun and some ammunition for it in a boot in the family's garage back about May 2004, shortly after the Gordons had moved to their home at 104 S. Smith St. in Alba. He told them that he had loaded it with a single bullet at that time and put it back in the boot, and forgot about it, and that he didn't remember the gun was loaded when he had put it to Braxton's head and pulled the trigger on June 2.
What calls that "end story" into question are the reports of an investigator with the State Technical Assistance Team of the DSS and a state child-abuse hot-line investigator. Those reports - not made public until June 28 - revealed that other foster children in the Gordons' home told DSS investigators that the Gordon boy had chased them around the house with one or more of three handguns in the Gordons' home on prior occasions. They said they'd seen him in possession of bullets, and that one of them had seen him load and unload the gun repeatedly on a prior occasion.
But, by the time that information surfaced, the Jasper County coroner had already ruled the death an accidental shooting, the juvenile court had adjudicated and committed the Gordon boy for involuntary manslaughter and the Jasper County prosecutor had decided not to charge the foster parents for keeping unsecured guns in their home.
The Globe's review of all public records related to the shooting has found that neither the JasCo police's nor the Jasper County Sheriff's Department's reports on the shooting reflect any awareness of what the other foster children told the state's investigators. There is no indication that police or sheriff's detectives ever interviewed the other foster children.
The coroner made his ruling on June 6. The juvenile court adjudicated the case June 14. And Jasper County Prosecutor Dean Dankelson made the decision not to charge the Gordons and declared the criminal side of the investigation closed on June 17.
The coroner, juvenile court and prosecutor acknowledged to the Globe this past week that they were not aware of what the other foster children told investigators when they made those decisions.
Coroner Jerry Neil said he based his ruling on preliminary autopsy findings and a discussion he'd had with Detective Ron Thomas of the Sheriff's Department, which assisted JasCo police in the investigation. Thomas had told him the morning of June 6 that he and juvenile officer Ritchie Torrez were "comfortable" with calling it an accidental shooting based on the "end story" of the Gordon boy obtained on June 4, Neil said.
"Why not make the ruling based on the information I had?" Neil said this past week.
He said he did not know if the information about the other foster children's accounts had even come out when he made the ruling. In fact, the state investigators' interviews of the other foster children did not take place until the afternoon of June 6, hours after Thomas had talked to Neil.
Neil acknowledged that he "might have held off a few more days if anyone held any additional information" about the incident. But, he said, to date, no one from DSS, the prosecutor's office or either criminal investigative agency involved has expressed any concern to him regarding his ruling.
He said he first learned of the other foster children's accounts in the June 29 edition of the Globe. But he said he does not know that the information would have made a difference in his ruling.
"Foster children have gone through so much, they don't have a lot of credibility with me," Neil said. "They can get confused and fabricate a good story."
He acknowledged that the foster children's accounts do seem to suggest that the Gordon boy "may have known the gun was loaded." But knowing the gun was loaded and having an intent to kill are two different things, he said. He said proving that intent without a confession could be difficult.
The Gordon boy had told investigators during his "end story" that he had played with the gun three times previously since loading it more than a year ago and the gun had not gone off.
Neil said the Gordon boy "seemed remorseful" to investigators and "without strong motive."
"There's certain things in life we're never going to know," Neil said, "such as where's Jimmy Hoffa?"
Joe Hensley, attorney for the Jasper County Juvenile Office, also acknowledged that the juvenile court was not aware of the other foster children's accounts when the court adjudicated the Gordon boy. Hensley said no petition was ever presented to the juvenile court alleging murder, contrary to some information to that effect in the STAT investigator's report.
Hensley said it probably would have made little difference if the court had known about the other foster children's accounts.
Hensley said child witnesses' accounts are "always problematic" and he would take any siblings' statements "with a grain of salt."
Three of the six foster children placed with the Gordons at the time of the shooting were McLean's three oldest children. Her two youngest children were placed in another foster home when all five were removed from her care last September after her 2-year-old son, Chandler, got out on a roof of their Webb City home while she was sleeping.
The two children who told state investigators about prior occasions when the Gordon boy had the gun or guns out were not Braxton's siblings.
Hensley said that, without a motive, it is difficult to establish intent on the part of the Gordon boy.
"I can prove negligence," he said. "That's not difficult. When it comes to intent, that's more difficult because we don't have a motive in this case."
He said from all reports the juvenile office received, the Gordon boy and Braxton Wooden got along. In fact, all the foster children in the home got along with the Gordon boy, he said.
Hensley said the case also posed some evidentiary problems. Gunshot residue tests showed trace amounts of gunpowder residue on the Gordon boy's hands and a larger amount on Braxton's hands, a finding that in some ways supported the Gordon boy's initial story that Braxton had shot himself.
"That kind of threw us a bit," Hensley said.
But, he said, even if investigators could have proved murder, the allegation in juvenile court would have produced the exact same result, committal to DYS until the boy is 17, unless the court would have certified the boy for trial as an adult.
Capt. Jerry Gilbert of the Jasper County Sheriff's Department said on Friday that Detective Thomas was not present during the portions of the state investigators' interviews of the other foster children when they spoke of prior occasions when the Gordon boy had a gun or guns out.
That is why no mention of other children's accounts is part of the Sheriff's Department reports, Gilbert said.
Included in the sheriff's reports obtained by the Globe are the results of a computerized voice-stress analysis test conducted on the Gordon boy with his and his parents' permission on the day of the shooting.
A cold reading of the test determined that the boy had shown clear stress on just one of four relevant questions asked him. The four relevant questions were: "Did you take the gun out of your father's closet?" "Did you put ammunition in the gun?" "Did Braxton shoot himself with the gun?" and "Did you shoot Braxton with the gun?"
The Gordon boy had answered "no" to three of the questions. He answered "yes" to "Did Braxton shoot himself with the gun?"
The one he had shown clear stress on was: "Did you put ammunition in the gun?"
The reliability of CVSAs is an issue in law-enforcement investigations. The fact that the boy later changed his story with respect to his responses to all four questions reflects on the results of this particular test.
Dankelson acknowledged this week that he'd made the decision not to charge the foster parents based on the reports of the JasCo police. He had met with then-police Chief Clifton Boyer prior to making that decision on June 17.
Dankelson made that acknowledgment in response to the first question of a set of three written questions presented to him by the Globe in light of the state investigators' findings.
Dankelson's response to questions asking if he was aware of the foster children's accounts at the time of his decision and if there was any other evidence he'd been presented that outweighed the foster children's accounts in making that decision by stating that he'd scheduled a meeting of the Child Fatality Review Panel for Wednesday of this coming week.
He wrote that he would be in a better position after that meeting "to determine if there exists more information to be able to answer" the Globe's other two questions.
Boyer retired the day he met with Dankelson to discuss possibly charging the Gordons. According to Dankelson, Boyer did not feel they should be charged.
The Globe has been unable to reach Boyer since that time. He has not returned repeated calls to his cellular telephone number.
Gilbert told the Globe on Friday that there are problems with charging the Gordons.
"I don't think there's a state law the parents violated as to the keeping of weapons in their home," Gilbert said.
He said if they were to be charged with child endangerment for not having guns and ammunition secured, local law enforcement would be put in the position of having to charge parents every time they go into a home and find both children and unsecured guns present.
"You have thousands and thousands of homes across the state of Missouri that have children and weapons in them," Gilbert said.
He said law enforcement "really can't take a stance on that."
McLean told the Globe this past week that she has been prohibited by the Children's Division of DSS from asking her other two children who were placed in the Gordons' home about the presence of guns there during her weekly visits with them at the Children's Division offices in Joplin.
DSS records show that the juvenile court had not been apprised of Braxton Wooden's placement with the Gordons at the time of the shooting.
Braxton and two of her other children had been placed with the Gordons following the toddler-on-the-roof incident last September. In January, they went to live with McLean's mother, Linda McLean, in Kansas with the court's approval.
Because the children proved too much for their grandmother to handle, she'd gradually returned each of them to the Gordons' foster care. Braxton was the last one she returned. The plan with Braxton's family support team at the Children's Division had been for Braxton to remain with the grandmother through the end of school and then be returned to the Gordons.
School ended for the boy on May 25. The grandmother then dropped him off at the Gordons on May 27 before the court had been apprised of the change in placement. Records indicate that the grandmother and foster parents had apprised Braxton's caseworker, Mickie Morgan, of the boy's return to the Gordons' care. The records further indicate Morgan was waiting until a family-support meeting on June 2, the day of the shooting, to inform the court of the grandmother's return of the child to foster care.
DSS records on Braxton also indicate that a decision had been made to switch McLean's children from a reunification track to an adoption track. The Gordons' licensing of their home was to be changed from foster home to an adoptive home.
Brandie McLean told the Globe she was not aware of that plan change. She still wants her children back. She recently acquired a home to live in and is attempting to comply with other DSS requirements for reunification with her children, she said. She said the publicity about her case has made her search for steady employment difficult. She said employers are reluctant to hire her.
Her letter to the Globe concludes: "I know I've made many mistakes as a parent, but it breaks my heart to know that my kids were taken from me because the state said that I neglected them, but were put in a house where they were neglected and Braxton was killed."
Repeated attempts by the Globe to afford the Gordons an opportunity to comment have been unsuccessful. A listed phone number for the couple is no longer a working number.
Source: Joplin Globe
Jack Stratton Needs Help
July 12, 2005 permalink
Jack and Kathy Stratton had ten of their children taken by North Carolina on January 30, 2001. This is an interracial homeschooling couple, and the children did well on achievement tests. In 2004 Jack Stratton was a candidate for the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, the body having oversight over the child protectors, and got nine percent of the vote required for election. Among the lowlights of his case, he was sentenced to jail for speaking publicly about his family, he suffered a heart attack during one of the court hearings on his case, and what is left of his family has had to take refuge outside of the reach of the North Carolina police.
Now he appeals for support in the form a mailing list entries. You can help in this important case by forwarding your email address to him. His email address is:
July 11, 2005
I feel we are very close to accomplishing our mission of getting our children back. I have been working here underground for months.
It may be that the child stealers now realize that their elaborate four and a half year scheme against us is not going the way they planned and that they are in serious trouble. Naturally this puts my freedom and probably my life in jeopardy. If I suddenly disappear, I want people to know about it.
In addition, my wife and two oldest sons are currently in exile in another state after jack-booted thugs from the Mecklenburg County law enforcement / gestapo arm of the DSS began to threaten my wife in my absence.
I need to compile a large email list across the United States so as to make hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of people aware of what we are about to do here in Charlotte.
I would also like the information posted to as many websites as possible.
If you or anyone you know has a large email list and would be willing to post our information, please let me know.
July 11, 2005 permalink
The Orangeville Banner, cannot directly criticize social services. But here is an article from their Canada Day editorial page.
Do parents need instruction manual?
Karen MARTIN-ROBBINS, Great EXPECTATIONS
I was flipping through the TV channels the other day (looking for Dragon Tales or Poko) when I came across one of the latest reality shows -- Supernanny.
The show is one of several that gives viewers a voyeuristic look into the homes of dysfunctional families.
Each episode you meet a family whose children have outrageous behavioural problems -- like a child that spits at his mom and tells her he "hates her".
Then the parenting expert -- Supernanny, in this case -- swoops in and in about 20 minutes saves the family from itself.
As someone that is not a fan of reality TV, I have to admit the show is addictive.
It is fun to revel in other people's problems and sit smugly back and say, "My kids will never do that".
But that is exactly the problem with shows like this.
It feeds into the idea that parents cannot possibly cope without an expert.
At one point during this particular show, the mom says, "I am so grateful to Supernanny. I feel like I finally have an instruction manual for my kids".
Do parents really need an instruction manual to raise their children?
I certainly believe that it is difficult to raise children in isolation.
I have a cousin that is living away from family and friends with her husband and six-month-old son. The family is having some problems.
They have no one to relieve them from their parenting duties. No one to ask, "Does this poop look normal?".
As a mom of two rambunctious twins, I am grateful for my family and friends whom I can vet stuff with.
I can ask them, "How did you get your kids to sleep through the night?".
Or my favourite these days, "Did your children refuse to eat anything but Cheerios?".
But I also believe that my parenting skills will develop from me being a loving parent.
And besides, haven't people been raising kids for, well, forever?
We have a tendency to criticize parents.
We like to gossip about our friend's kid that "should be on Ritalin". It makes us feel better about oruselves.
Which is probably why shows like Supernanny exist.
But when the day comes that my kids tell me they hate me, as they most certainly will, I plan to turn to the best expert of all -- me.
More Babies for CAS
July 9, 2005 permalink
This article suggests using post-partum depression as a pretext for screening all mothers (and babies) upon giving birth. Note that in social worker jargon, "support" means persons giving orders. Dr Dolores A Sicheri found the article.
After-birth support may prevent postpartum depression
Providing professional support specifically tailored to a woman after she brings home her new baby may be the best way to prevent postpartum depression, research suggests.
An analysis of 15 international studies by the University of Toronto shows strategies before birth, including pre-natal classes targeting postpartum depression, appear to be ineffective in preventing the disorder.
"Mothers are busy and they often do not attend these pre-natal classes, so they weren't receiving a sufficient dosage of the intervention," researcher Cindy-Lee Dennis of the faculty of nursing said this week.
What she did find is that support provided by a health professional — for instance, a public health nurse or midwife — may be able to prevent postpartum depression if it is geared to the individual woman and based on her specific needs.
That could mean a mom who is having marital difficulties after the birth of her baby being referred for family counselling or a low-income mother getting steered towards financial assistance, Dennis said.
More than one in 10 women experience depression after giving birth, ranging from mild baby blues to a severe form of the illness that in rare cases can include psychosis.
But most women are reluctant to seek help, Dennis said. "There's a stigma attached to being depressed in the postpartum period because it's supposed to be a happy time."
The reason pre-natal measures don't seem to work is because it's virtually impossible to predict which women will develop postpartum depression, although those at greatest risk are women of low socioeconomic status, those with relationship difficulties, a past history of psychiatric problems or pre-natal depression and anxiety.
Dennis. advises new moms be assessed by a health professional during the first four weeks after birth and referred for treatment if needed.
Source: Toronto Star
Michigan Girl Drugged by Force
July 7, 2005 permalink
A Michigan television station, WILX Lansing/Jackson, did two reports on a five-year-old girl, Mary Schneider, afflicted with an auto-immune disease. When her parents, Andy and Jamie Schneider, decided not to use a prescribed drug because of side-effects, Michigan DHS gave her two drugs by force. DHS quickly retreated once the parents intervened in court, and all record of ordering the treatment has disappeared.
This is not the usual kind of family that DHS can push around. Clients sue child protectors regularly, and the suits end as soon as the agencies plead their legal immunity. This family can afford the best in legal representation, and may come up with a legal theory that works to reduce the intrusiveness of child protectors. A successful theory might even spread across the border into Canada.
The following news summary from WILX and email from Nancy Luckhurst describe the situation.
Fight Finished Over Mary's Medicine
Heath Care For Child Dispute
Mary was diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis last year. A U of M specialist prescribed prednisone and methotrexate. Once Mary's parents learned of the potential side-effects of methotrexate, they consulted other doctors and took her off the drug.
The Department of Human Services was informed and obtained a court order forcing Mary into the hospital. On June 25, Mary was given a dosage of methotrexate, and three dosages of prednisone without her parents permission.
At a court hearing June 30, no one would admit to giving the order to administer those drugs.
A court order, dated June 24 gave the DHS authority to consent to interim medical treatment for the girl.
The family believes the Clinton County Court overstepped it's bounds by issuing both the order to send Mary to the hospital - because they say she was in no imminent danger... and the order giving DHS medical authority.
Both orders have now been dismissed. Mary is now under the supervision of another specialist from Kalamazoo.
Schneider family attorney Antoinette Frazho says the hospital staff acted appropriately, only administering drugs when they were under court order to do so.
I e-mailed WILX and asked them to please give my phone number to the Schneiders and let them know the Foundation would be interested in talking to them and that we felt they should get in touch with Sheen as well as their Rep and make arrangements to testify before the House Standing committee.
Well about an hour later I got a phone call from a man by the name of Russ Winchel. Mr Winchel is a Private Detective who works for the Schneiders high powered attorneys. He and I had a wonderful conversation. It seems it didn't take these attorneys long or him long to figure out DHS has a serious problem with controling workers. And that the Schneiders are not the only people who have been run over by DHS. And that DHS likes to screw with the good loving families and leave the ones who actually do abuse their kids alone because they are afraid to go in and mess with the real abusers.
Are you getting the picture yet? He would like some other really good Michgan cases to look at. So I told him I think we can accomodate him. He told me the Schneiders are ready to take this right to the wall against DHS. And they really really want to see Judge Lisa Sullivan standing on a street corner selling pencils for a living. They are pissed and don't plan to get over it. I don't know what the plan is but I am thinking we could be looking at another class action law suit that is going to be handled by some really big boys. They have made up their mind they are going to put an end to this kind of Government abuse. Oh and to let you know Russ said their case has completely gone away and they are no longer in any danger from DHS and they are no longer taking their child to U of M. They have a specialist in Kalamazoo who is now handling their daughters case. And it is true that they can find no one what so ever who authorized the procedure to be done on this child. Sure would hate to be the person who did it.
Anyone want to take odds on how that child's chart got changed? Cause the order to do the procedure had to be ordered by some Dr in that Hospital in order for it to get done. It is going to suck to be U of M and Sparrow Hospital as I see it. And I am not thinking Marianne Udow is going to have some sleepless nights along the way too. But hey no one wanted to listen to little ole us did they?????????
So guys I need some cases besides the ones I have personaly. Please put your cases together if you want them presented and send them to me or Randy matters not which one of us but WE must be able to confirm your case before turning it over to the Detective. And you must be able to gel it down to a 3 page synopsis with a few pages of documentation to prove it. So get your poop in a group kids we are going to get this job done.
Anne Enters CAS
July 6, 2005 permalink
Here is a report from a participant in yesterday's event in which Anne was compelled to return to CAS.
There were 15 people in front of Simcoe CAS. Anne was delivered by Rev Dorian Baxter before nine AM.
Anne, once there, pulled out her tape recorder and told them that she is going to record them. Dorian Baxter talked to CAS -- they were there in force and promised to place Anne in a foster home where foster parents have two kids of their own and two foster kids. She will be allowed at any time to call her dad and others. CAS promised to expedite their "investigation" of allegations against Anne's father and that was it.
We distributed lots of flyers, I guess local TV took some video, around 10:30 we went downtown and distributed more flyers, met for lunch at 12 and went home.
Secret Training for Judges
July 6, 2005 permalink
Family law critics have long claimed that Canadian family law judges receive secret training. Now there is indirect confirmation. An American critic has obtained a copy of the "California Judges Benchguide". Interspersed between recitations of the law are a number of notes called "JUDICIAL TIP". These advise judges on, among other things, how to make findings that will get the state the most funding from the federal government. In Canada, do judges make findings on the basis of the facts, or on the requirement to get the most funding?
The manual, dated 2003 and 2004, was copied photographically, so it is 45 megabytes, too big for this website. Commentary, and links to the manual, are at The Sociology Center by James Roger Brown.
Bountrogianni Promise Broken
July 4, 2005 permalink
When Marie Bountrogianni promised to return custody of severely disabled children to their parents, we speculated on ways the promise might not be kept. Here is one we never suspected: a cabinet shuffle excuses the minister.
The Globe and Mail
Ontario minister's departure leaves disabled in limbo
Parents fear treatment crisis will continue
By KAREN HOWLETT, Monday, July 4, 2005
Ontario MPP Marie Bountrogianni is taking on a new role in Premier Dalton McGuinty's cabinet, leaving a long-standing crisis involving severely disabled children in the province far from resolved and raising concerns among families about further delays.
Ms. Bountrogianni was transferred to Intergovernmental Affairs from Children and Youth Services last week as part of the Premier's cabinet shuffle.
As Minister of Children and Youth Services, she had promised to begin restoring legal custody to families forced to relinquish guardianship over a severely disabled child to get access to treatment. She made the pledge after Ontario Ombudsman André Marin accused the government of turning a blind eye to the problem.
Anne Larcade, whose son has brain damage and a degenerative neurological condition, has seen several ministers come and go during the five years that she has struggled to find treatment for Alexandre. She said she is worried that Ms. Bountrogianni's departure will delay any resolution and lead to another round of empty "we're-working-on-it" promises.
"It's unfortunate because I think she was coming around to wanting to do the right thing," said Ms. Larcade, whose son is in a group home in Huntsville.
Ms. Bountrogianni's successor is Mary Anne Chambers. While the change in ministers might buy the government more time to deal with the problem, it is not going to stop the Ombudsman from pursuing the matter, said a government official. "I think they understand very clearly that André Marin is not a pushover."
Ms. Bountrogianni rolled out her action plan last month after Mr. Marin called the government's failure to address the crisis "unjust, oppressive and unfair."
The problem dates back to the late 1990s when the Progressive Conservative government abandoned legislation designed to provide a safety net for severely disabled children.
The government stopped entering into special-needs agreements with families, forcing them to give up custody of a child to get treatment or manage on their own.
Ms. Bountrogianni's office has identified 83 families that had to relinquish custody of a severely disabled child on either a temporary or permanent basis. So far, 35 families that entered into temporary agreements with a Children's Aid Society have had legal custody reinstated, spokesman Andrew Weir said.
Some of the families do not want to get back custody of a child, he said. But the process will not be as straightforward for the 34 families that do. These are the families whose child has either been taken into temporary care through a court order or been made a permanent Crown ward.
Mr. Weir said the government is working with the Children's Aid Society to go to court to unwind custody agreements for the remaining families.
Cindy Cameron of London, Ont., is one of the parents who has regained custody. She and her husband have signed an agreement with a community youth services group that pays for their son Jesse's treatment in a group home.
Ms. Cameron said she and her husband are relieved that they no longer face the spectre of permanently relinquishing custody of Jesse, something they feared would give them much less say in decisions involving him.
But Linda Limon, mother of a severely autistic son, said it is not just a matter of restoring legal custody to parents. Her son Andrew is in a government treatment centre in London, near the family's home. But the centre has no room for him after the end of August, and she has no idea what will happen.
Douglas Elliott, a lawyer representing a group of families suing the government over its treatment of disabled children, said many of the community agencies that are entering into agreements with the families are inadequately funded. If the government really wanted to solve the problem, he said, it would make special-needs agreements and settle the lawsuit.
Anne to Enter Children's Aid
July 3, 2005 permalink
The following announcement from Canada Court Watch details plans for Anne on Tuesday, July 5. All supporters are invited to attend.
On Thursday June 30, 2005, the Archbishop Dorian A. Baxter attempted to enter the court at Collingwood, Ontario presided by Madame Justice Olah of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The 13-year-old teen who was the subject of the hearing by the CAS requested in writing that Court Watch support her and her father by being present in the court.
Tragically, as a response, extra armed officers of the Collingwood, Ontario detachment of the OPP were brought in to the court to block Archbishop Baxter's attempt to enter the court. Officers physically locked the courtroom doors at the order of Justice Olah blocking all movement in or out of the court. This was a tragic day in the administration of Justice and the Rule of Law in Canada.
Further information about this story is posted on the Canada Court Website at http://www.canadacourtwatch.com as well as a picture of Archbishop Baxter distributing flyers in support of the teen.
We will be looking for persons willing to support the teen on Tuesday morning in Barrie, Ontario as she turns herself over to the CAS to save her family. Archbishop Baxter will personally escort the girl into the CAS offices at 9:00 am and then give an announcement to those present. He will be holding Justice Olah personally responsible for what happens to this girl after that day. Supporters are welcome to join us for the event. We will be meeting at the Rock and Roll Diner in Barrie (just north of highway 400) between 7:30 and 8:00 am Tuesday morning for coffee. Flyers about the CAS will be distributed at the same time as the girl surrenders herself.
A day at the near by public beach will be planned for the day for supporters to gather and meet. Bring a picnic lunch. Kids are welcomed.
If you would like to give your support to this teen who is fighting the injustice of the family courts then plan to be in Barrie Tuesday morning. If you wish to speak to someone in person, then send us an e mail to firstname.lastname@example.org giving us your contact number.
Remember, all it takes for evil to triumph over good is for good people to do nothing.
Source: Canada Court Watch
The Rock N Roll Diner, phone 705-721-0223, is at the Kozlov Centre, 400 Bayfield Street, Barrie Ontario, 900 meters northwest of Highway 400. The Children's Aid Society of Simcoe County is at 60 Bell Farm Road Unit 7, Barrie Ontario L4M 5G6. Refer to the mapquest map below for directions.
Anne's Father in Contempt
June 29, 2005 permalink
At a hearing today in Collingwood Ontario Anne's father was held in contempt of court. He has until 9 am Tuesday July 5, 2005 to deliver Anne to the Children's Aid Society, or he will be committed to jail indefinitely and fined one thousand dollars per day.
Finck and VendenElsen Sentenced
June 29, 2005 permalink
Today Larry Finck was sentenced to 4 1/2 years, Carline VandenElsen to 3 1/2 years for the Halifax standoff. The higher sentence for Finck is curious, since the jury found that Carline fired the gun.
June 29, 2005 permalink
Today Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty reorganized the cabinet, removing Marie Bountrogianni as Minister of Children and Youth Services and replacing her with Mary Anne Chambers. Refer to Premier McGuinty Fine Tunes His Cabinet At Mid-Term for details.
June 28, 2005 permalink
Tonight the Canadian Parliament enacted same-sex marriage throughout Canada, increasing the number of families eligible to receive babies after seizure from natural parents. This measure also enlarges the political constituency supporting the removal of children from parents.
Hearing for Finck and VandenElsen
June 28, 2005 permalink
Today in Halifax there was a sentencing hearing for Larry Finck and Carline VandenElsen. MacLean's Magazine joins the ranks of journals that believe it is proper to incarcerate people while concealing their names.
Attorney General Asked to Open Court
June 28, 2005 permalink
Bomb-proofing for CAS
June 28, 2005 permalink
When clients are unhappy with your "services", do you reform the services or enhance security to protect yourself from their anger? Here is the answer.
CAS moves to boost security: Large boulders block access to glass wall
The Windsor Star, Tuesday 28 June 2005, Craig Pearson
The Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society is boosting its look along with its security.
The society on Monday began building a large stone garden that will enhance the appearance of the north grounds and help prevent vehicles from approaching the glass wall facing the Detroit River.
"From a risk-management point of view, we wanted to add something to the front that would increase safety for everyone using the building," said CAS spokeswoman Lindsay Hulkonen. "It's a security issue."
Early on Oct. 26 last year, when the building was nearly empty, former CAS worker Jim Malone lit two 20-pound propane tanks and smashed his fiery truck into the building's north facade.
The collision and resulting fire caused almost $1 million in damages and many employees were forced to find other quarters. Malone died three days later from burns at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.
The local CAS is still not fully back to normal since the crash, because not all workers have returned to the first floor where most of the damage was caused.
But restoration of 78 planes of glass was completed last week, and when the landscaping is finished -- within two to three weeks -- Hulkonen said the child-welfare agency expects all employees will return.
The rock garden will cost $25,000 to $30,000 and will include local plants as well as rocks from a local quarry.
Hulkonen said the cost of the outdoor renovation has been covered by donations.
Note: Our indirect source omitted a picture. We will add it as soon as possible.
More Money for Child Protection
June 27, 2005 permalink
The Ontario Government has announced more money for severe special needs (handicaped) children. Near the end it says that 35 families in this category have had their parental rights restored. This part at least sounds like good news, though not a single name has come up publicly or privately. Once attention moves away from this issue, the additional funds will only increase the baby bounty.
McGuinty Government Helping More Children With Severe Special Needs
Part Of Long-Term Plan To Improve Services For Special Needs Children And Youth
QUEEN'S PARK, June 27 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is committing an additional $10 million to help more children and youth with severe special needs receive services faster, Children and Youth Services Minister Marie Bountrogianni announced today.
"This measure is another step in our long-term plan to improve and expand services for families of special needs children across the province," Bountrogianni said. "We're working hard on many fronts to build a co-ordinated system that supports families long before their situations become critical, and that provides relief to those families that do reach an acute stage."
The government is providing an additional $10 million to respond to the needs of families in crisis and provide specialized supports where they are needed most. The extra funding comes on top of more than $100 million in new investments that have begun to make a difference for children and youth with special needs across the province. This includes building children's treatment centres in parts of the province that didn't have one and providing more services locally through more than 200 new and expanded community mental health programs.
"We are acting on the advice of community planning teams across the province that have first-hand knowledge of services for special needs children and families," said Bountrogianni. "The money will help provide a combination of residential treatment and other specialized supports for children and youth who urgently require care."
Community planning teams made up of special needs service providers, parents and other stakeholders were established by the ministry in April to recommend strategies to expand and improve services so more children and youth can get help in their home communities. The government is also conducting a review of the residential service system across all sectors to determine what specific measures are needed to improve that system for children, youth and families across the province.
"We have to integrate and collaborate across many sectors in order to improve services for children with special needs," said John Flannery, Executive Director of Surrey Place Centre, which participated in the ministry's community planning team for Toronto. "These planning teams pulled together government, parents, educators, health professionals and others to address both immediate service pressures and wider system improvements which will have longer-term impacts for families."
The increased funding also builds on the government's recent actions to help parents who had relinquished custody of their children with special needs to children's aid societies. Under the government's direction, children's aid societies and other community agencies have worked with those parents over the past month to help them regain custody of their children without disruption to the specialized services and care their children receive. To date, 35 families have had their parental custody restored.
"We know that increased spending alone is not the solution," Bountrogianni said. "That's why we are moving forward with our plans to fundamentally improve the current system so that special needs services are more accessible, better co-ordinated and centred on the needs of children and their families."
Disponible en français
Anne's Father in Collingwood Court
June 27, 2005 permalink
Anne's father, whose hearing for contempt on June 20 in Barrie was disrupted by Canada Court Watch, will be in court again in Collingwood on June 30. Canada Court Watch plans more activity in this case, and all supporters of Anne are invited to participate. The court house is at 49 Huron Street. We will keep you informed of further plans with an addendum to this note.
Addendum: An announcement from Canada Court Watch follows. For the event to be successful, participants must distribute flyers before court begins, so we suggest arriving at Collingwood at 8:30 am Thursday June 30. You can also look here for Anne's whole story.
We are looking for a number of volunteers who can help us to monitor the court and to distribute flyers this coming Thursday morning in Collingwood. Archbishop Baxter is scheduled to appear in the court. We will be getting together afterwards and lunch will be provided to all those who help. We are supporting the 13 year-old girl who has been in hiding from CAS for over 5 months.
This girl is standing up for justice and has sacrificed her personal life for the cause. Please show this girl that we support her by giving some of your time this Thursday to help get the message out to the people of Collingwood.
If you want to help then send a message to email@example.com
You can read some of this girl's letters on the court watch website at http://www.canadacourtwatch.com
Mona-Clare Orphaned, Gays Adopt
June 24, 2005 permalink
Carline VandenElsen and Larry Finck, convicted of crimes in the standoff with police apprehending their baby Mona-Clare, have lost legal rights to the baby. Defending their baby was the source of serious mental health concerns to the court. From the story:
Last summer, in Mr. Finck's criminal case, a psychiatrist at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth found that he suffers from chronic delusions of persecution and has serious psychotic illness along with a personality disorder.
A dictionary defines delusion as: A false belief held in spite of invalidating evidence. Mr Finck has lost two children by force of arms, without ever causing harm to either of them. He has validating evidence.
The next story from the Dundas Star News may give a clue to Mona-Clare's future. It is about a normal couple with no mental health problems.
First gay couple adopt son through CAS
By Peggy Chapman, News Staff, (Jun 24, 2005)
As Hamilton recognizes Gay Pride throughout the city this week, a local couple want to tell their story of adoption in hopes of letting other alternative families know that it's not as difficult as it's perceived to be.
Marcus and Wayne have been together for five years and married for the past two. The two men moved here from Toronto hoping to start a family. As gay men, they assumed their options were limited.
"Once we seriously started talking about adoption, we went to a private adoption agency where we received a great deal of education and support," said Marcus. "The problem is, private adoptions can be very complicated. The birth parents get most of the say in what happens, and can change their minds."
The couple went through the painful experience of losing a baby they expected to adopt.
"The mother was fine with the situation, and even let us in the hospital for the birth," said Wayne. "We had everything set up and bought the baby gear."
But the baby did not go home with the couple. For privacy reasons, they prefer not to discuss what happened.
"It was hard. We were really discouraged," said Marcus.
Just like many families who want to adopt, this couple had an ideal dream of bringing a newborn home, but what about the older children? Recent provincial figures show 9,000 Crown wards in Ontario (children without permanent families since their parents' rights have been removed).
Yet, Hamilton Mountain MPP and Minister of Children and Youth Services Marie Bountrogianni said that only 900, or 10 per cent, are placed for adoption in a given year.
The minister's recent initiative announced on June 6 is an effort to increase the opportunities for these 9,000 children and make it easier for them to move to a permanent family. Many of these children are currently in the system because of access orders - giving their parents the right to visit - precluding them from moving to adoption.
After years of heartache and private paths in search of adoption, Marcus and Wayne decided to call the Hamilton's Children's Aid Society, which eventually found them their son - something they just assumed would be very complicated.
"The perception out there is if you're gay it will be difficult to adopt, if not impossible," said Wayne. "We've proven that wrong. The process is intrusive, but not discriminatory. Our being gay wasn't an issue really. The CAS just wanted to know if we could support a child responsibly."
The couple see many alternative families adopting under just one name and keeping the homosexuality a secret, but they both wanted to be the legal parents to their child.
When asked if they had any advice to people wanting to adopt, Marcus said simply, "Take parental leave."
After years of trying to adopt, this couple feel the process they went through was "meant to be" and have only good things to say about the local CAS. Meeting at the family home, their son happily played in the backyard with the dog, as the dads were interviewed on the deck. Every so often the five-year-old boy would come up and ask either Papa (Wayne) a question, or he'd climb on Dad's (Marcus') lap to join in the conversation.
"We had and have, so much support. Unlike birth parents, adoptive parents and foster parents get added education and skills before the child ever gets home. That is a benefit."
Rachel Threlkeld, co-ordinator of Homes for Kids urges families of all backgrounds and makeups to consider fostering or adoption.
"The CAS is in desperate need of homes for children. We encourage single people, gays, lesbians and new Canadians from other culturally diverse backgrounds to contact us."
For information on adoption or foster parenting call 905-546-KIDS, or online at www.hamiltoncas.com.
Source: Dundas Star News
Police Hunt for Tape
June 23, 2005 permalink
Police and Children's Aid in Brantford are following a 21-year-old woman suspected of being the source of the recording recently deleted from Dufferin VOCA. Children's Aid has opened investigations into the families of two friends with whom she stayed near the time of the recording. In other parts of Ontario CAS has used its powers to suppress dissent, the same may be happening in Brant. The woman herself checked into a hospital with stress and was medicated. While groggy from the medication, she was induced to sign a document. After regaining her faculties, she was able to see, but not keep, a copy and found it to be a consent to disclose her medical records to Children's Aid. Today, a Brantford police officer found her. She was not arrested, but the officer tried to find out where the original tape was located so he could take it. It is not known what on the tape justifies this much effort at suppression.
Opening CAS Records Suggested
June 22, 2005 permalink
Ontario's Children's Aid Societies are not subject to the freedom of information law, and reject all requests for their documents. Parents cannot even request documents relating to their own children. Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian is suggesting expanding freedom of information to all crown-funded agencies including Children's Aid.
Wed. Jun. 22 2005 1:33 PM ET
Expand information laws, Ontario watchdog urges
TORONTO -- All Ontario organizations that are funded by taxpayer dollars should be included under the province's Freedom of Information laws.
That's what Ontario's privacy commissioner wants the province to do to improve accountability.
In her 2004 annual report, Ann Cavoukian says hundreds of organizations receive huge amounts of public dollars but aren't subject to laws that let the public request the release of certain information.
Cavoukian cites hospitals, Children's Aid societies and various community organizations as examples.
She says Ontario's FOI legislation was progressive when it was put in place in 1987, but now it has fallen behind.
Cavoukian says the province needs to extend its current legislation to cover these organizations.
"There are at least hundreds of organizations that are recipients of large transfer payments from governments that are not subject to these acts," she said.
"Therefore, the general records of these organizations are not subject to public review."
Last year, Ontario extended FOI laws to cover Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation, a move applauded by Cavoukian.
The province also gave the auditor the power to examine universities, colleges, hospitals and other publicly funded organizations.
Addendum: Here is a link to the full report.
Removal on Demand by Police
June 22, 2005 permalink
Brantford detective Dave Sinclair has been building a case for theft in the recording of Brant social workers accessible through this news page since June 4, 2005. While we disagree that any wrongdoing was involved, the contents of this recording are not vital enough to be worth a contest in the courts, and the link to the recording is now gone.
Police intend to harass the woman who made the recording, and since she is unable to afford her own lawyer, she is in severe peril.
Dufferin CAS Annual Meeting
June 21, 2005 permalink
Since changing the bylaws to make opposition impossible, the business part of the CAS annual meeting is uneventful. This year following the formal meeting, awards were presented to long-serving employees, and there was an art show by twenty boys and girls currently wards of Dufferin Children's Aid. Each child showed and described his creation, then announced his dream. Even in this closely controlled group of children, half of the expressed dreams involved reunification with their family, or life in a family of their own as adults. The room full of professional family destroyers applauded each of the children.
The CAS report includes a picture of the planned building at 655 Riddell Road. It appears to be large enough to replace all of the existing CAS buildings in Orangeville with room to spare. They have plans for your children.
VandenElsen out of Hospital
June 21, 2005 permalink
The following report of Carline VandenElsen's hospitalization confirms an earlier report from Connie Brauer.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005, The Halifax Herald Limited
VandenElsen taken to hospital
Carline VandenElsen is back in jail after spending a few hours in Dartmouth General Hospital on Sunday.
Ms. VandenElsen, who began a hunger strike in the Nova Scotia Correctional Facility on May 21 was treated for migraine headaches and severe vomiting, one of her friends said.
Source: Halifax Herald
Support for Anne
June 20, 2005 permalink
This morning a court hearing for Anne's father was scheduled for Barrie. Children's Aid was trying to get him held in contempt for failing to disclose Anne's whereabouts. Before the court time, ten associates of Canada Court Watch surrounded the courthouse and distributed flyers describing Anne's case. By the time the hearing started, there were flyers throughout the courthouse, and the judge knew about them. Upon seeing a reporter from Canada Court Watch in the courtroom as a media representative, the judge and lawyers retreated to chambers for an hour and a half. When the judge returned, she announced that the Canada Court Watch reporter could not attend without making a motion before the court. The judge did not allow the reporter to give any argument for the record, and he retreated when threatened by security staff. The hearing for Anne's father was postponed.
Outside the courthouse, the distribution of flyers continued. The public was not apathetic, a third of passers-by gave some positive indication of support. The only negative comment came from a Children's Aid worker. Many people described their own family's involvement with Children's Aid. One woman in a wheel chair identified herself as a former Children's Aid worker who retired 20 years ago, and is appalled at their current practice of family destruction -- she tried to keep families together. After the hearing, distribution of flyers continued in downtown Barrie
VandenElsen Reported Hospitalized
June 19, 2005 permalink
According to an email press release from Connie Brauer, Halifax hunger-striker Carline VandenElsen has been hospitalized. There are no reports from professional news sources on this matter. Connie Brauer's exact words, addressed to Nova Scotia's political leadership, are:
Carline VandenElsen is dying and it's your fault!
She has been taken to hospital!
CAS Mum on Finck and VandenElsen
June 17, 2005 permalink
Children's Aid of Halifax refused to answer questions on the case of Larry Finck and Carline VandenElsen at its annual meeting yesterday.
CAS nightmare in Hamilton
June 16, 2005 permalink
The following story of CAS mayhem in Hamilton was posted on June 14, 2005 to the AFRA website (link after article). Anyone seriously considering homeschooling children should first join the Home School Legal Defence Association, since they can offer quality protection against raids by CAS. In this case below, CAS has committed one of their common acts, stirring up animosity in a family that previously had worked out how to care for its own children. Eight policemen attending one unarmed parent beats our old record of five.
I would like to take this time to introduce myself. I am a single father with two children. My son is 11 years old and my granddaughter whom I have custody of is 6 years old. This nightmare is still going on and I want to bring it to light about the corruption in our CAS and the Police in our beautiful city ...
I have video and audio recordings of all the events that have taken place and I will upload a picture of what happened to my family.
On February 25, 2005 after I had been home schooling the children for six months a Hamilton CAS worker arrived at my door when my babysitter was there. The Hamilton Children's Aid worker left her business card and then left. She came back with 2 police officers and illegally entered my premises. There was another anonymous phone call that there was no hydro, no heat and no food. This was a lie. The children were on a sleepover for the weekend and I was moving to another address. The events leading up to the children's apprehension is a travesty and must be dealt with NOW.
On February 26, 2005 the next day, the after hours worker (did not get her name) arrived again with two police officers and demanded that the children are produced. They were still on a sleepover. I was moving. No longer was there an issue of no heat, no hydro or no food, it was safety concerns.
On March 4, 2005 I received a phone call from CAS. They asked if I would co-operate. The issue at hand at that time was the other address and I did not live there. I had moved and there was no reason for them to be involved if I was not there.
On March 8, 2005 8 police officers, and two CAS workers, arrived at the old house again. I did not live there. The police kicked in the door and the CAS workers walked throughout the house. When I arrived on the scene I entered the house through the back door and I went to the front door. I spoke with the police and ensured them that I did not live there and asked to see a copy of the warrant for them to kick down the door. They did not give me a copy at that time as they only had an original. The police officer did not hand me the copy he waved it in my face. I could not see who, what, why or how this was done. I told them I want to go to court and deal with this.
On March 9, 2005 I went down to the Family Court at 55 Main St. West and asked Duty Counsel how I could bring an action against Hamilton CAS and they said that I couldn't. I had to be given something in writing.
Having settled into the new apartment on March 11, 2005 the two children and went away for March Break for their yearly visit to their grandmothers house. They returned to my new address on March 17, 2005.
While reading through the court papers I found out that the CAS workers were at the other address on March 17th and March 21, 2005. Both times they came with the police and both times they left. I did not live there.
On March 24, 2005 at approximately 1pm, two CAS workers and 8 policemen showed up at our old house. We did not live there. They used the swat team to ram the door in with a long battering ram. They did extensive damage to the doorknob, the mail slot and the door panels. They finally got in and searched the whole house, with the CAS workers in tow. They went around the back of the house and then decided to look in both apartments next door. They tried to get into the lower apartment but did not knock. They just checked the doorknob and then left the area. They went into the basement saw that it was locked and proceeded upstairs to the second floor apartment. They knocked and as there was no answer they proceeded to break down the back door. I went to the back door to find out about the commotion and one police officer; a woman stated you are illiterate. You can't read or write. I don't know where that statement came from; it just came out of the blue. 6 swat team members and two CAS workers stood in the kitchen of the upper apartment. They did not go past the kitchen sink. The CAS workers were not concerned about the apartment that the children and I lived in. CAS calls it an attic. It is a 3-bedroom apartment. They just wanted the children. The children were sitting in the living room and the two swat team members asked how old they were and what their names were. They told my friend to leave the room but she did not. My friend stood in the doorway. The SWAT team member asked the children what school they go to. They replied that my friend here home schools them. The CAS said that is why they are here. The children are not getting the proper education. I stated that I was not served anything to begin with. The CAS proceeded to give me a 200- page document with court papers he should have gotten the previous time they broke down the door. They have again used false allegations and innuendos to disrupt a family, who has chosen to home school their children. That is their crime.
On March 24, 2005 I contacted the Hamilton Children's Aid office to ask if I could see the children. It was Easter weekend. CAS stated that I would have to take it up with the courts to see my children. They could not supervise me on the weekend.
On March 29, 2005 I spoke with CAS again. I asked if I could see the children again. She stated again I would have to take it up with the courts.
On March 30, 2005 I spoke with my daughter She stated to me in person that she had spoken to the CAS and that she had delivered Easter baskets to them on March 24, 2005. She stated that CAS will not work with us and we have pulled the last straw with her and she will not co-operate with us. My daughter stated to us that she would be at court to support us getting the children back.
On April 1, 2005 I attended court with my friend and saw my daughter at the courthouse. She would not support me in getting the children. She was putting in a plan of care to get both children. We would have to fight it out. She sat with CAS and they went into the courtroom together. She was added as a party as the youngest child's biological mother and four people were added as having visitation for the children. The biological mother and friend accompanying her and with a friend accompanying me. THIS WAS A COURT ORDER. Judge Genesee stated that she would be the head judge in these proceeding without prejudice. This meant that we could bring it before any judge before the next court date to get temporary custody of the children.
On April 1, 2005 after court was over I spoke with CAS in regards to my first visit. She stated Tuesday April 5, 2005 at 4:30pm.
On April 5, 2005 I called The CAS to verify the meeting at 4:30pm and they stated that I didn't call fast enough and that they gave the first visit to my daughter. We would have to wait until April 6, 2005 at 4:30pm.
On April 6, 2005 we arrived at the Children's Aid office at approximately 4:25pm. The children were not there for the visit. We waited over 1/2 an hour before the children arrived at 5:05pm. We saw the children and the first thing out of the youngest child's mouth was I am moving with my mommy and the boy is moving in with his brother. Throughout our hour and a half we talked with the kids and played with them. This was under the supervision of CAS and her assistant. Everything we said they wrote down. After about an hour the oldest boy stated that he had talked to his brother. I asked him how and he stated: THAT HE CAME WITH HIS SISTER ON THE VISIT LAST NIGHT. After the visit was over I asked the CAS worker how come the Children's Aid Society had disobeyed a court order. She said take it up with the courts. The court order says four people not 5 or 10.
The CAS' mission statement states that they must protect the autonomy, integrity and cultural diversity of the family. The ultimate goal is to reunite this family together.
Not once has the worker stated that she will come to visit me and discuss the Plan of Care that I presented to the Courts. The Children's Aid Society has stated in court that they will discuss and work with my daughter and her Plan of Care that is presented.
The CAS has deliberately torn apart this family and all we want from the Society is CO-OPERATION. CAS is biased in their opinions using the Police force to remove children from an address they did not live in, in Hamilton. The CAS worker and the Police force put the children at risk by taking them out of their new apartment and out the back door knowing there was a front entrance. They walked them through the yard, past the damage that the SWAT or tactical unit did to the door. That is psychological trauma that will remain in this children's mind forever.
And to suggest that they not go home where they have been raised for the past 4 years. They must go to two other family members that did not care before for the welfare of these children. As court papers prove these facts.
Source: AFRA yahoo group
Addendum: For later developments in this story, refer to Paige Margaret.
Report on Foster Guinea Pigs
June 16, 2005 permalink
A scandal beginning with outrage at the use of foster children as guinea pigs in medical experiments has now degraded to a government report suggesting failure to obtain sufficient information.
Feds: Some AIDS Drug Tests Violated Rules
By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer, June 16, 2005
WASHINGTON - The government has concluded at least some AIDS drug experiments involving foster children violated federal rules designed to ensure vulnerable youths were protected from the risks of medical research.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Human Research Protections concluded that Columbia University Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, where several foster children were enrolled in drug studies in the 1990s, failed to obtain and evaluate whether it had proper consent, information and safeguards for the foster kids.
"When some or all of the subjects (e.g., children) are likely to be vulnerable to coercion or undue influence, additional safeguards have been included in the HHS regulations to protect the rights and welfare of these subjects," the federal agency wrote the research hospital.
The hospital's "records demonstrate a failure ... to obtain sufficient information regarding such safeguards with respect to the enrollment of wards of the state or foster children," the agency concluded.
The Associated Press reported May 4 that federally funded researchers in New York, Illinois and several other states tested AIDS drugs on hundreds of foster children since the 1980s, often without providing the children with special advocates to protect their rights and interests.
Marilyn Castaldi, a spokeswoman for Columbia Presbyterian, did not immediately return calls Wednesday and Thursday seeking comment.
But the hospital acknowledged in correspondence with the government that it was "in the process of planning steps specifically to improve protections for children, and particularly foster children."
The hospital told the government it is increasing the resources to its Institutional Review Boards that monitor the safety of its experiments, improving training for researchers and creating a Web-based system that ensures necessary information for patient safety is collected.
The government cited Columbia Presbyterian in a letter dated May 23 with violating rules in at least four AIDS studies involving foster children, including:
- Failing to "obtain sufficient information regarding the selection of wards of the state and foster children as research subjects."
- Failing to "obtain sufficient information regarding the process for obtaining permission of parents or guardians for wards of the state or foster children."
- Failing to have enough information to ensure the selection of patients for the studies was "equitable."
Source: yahoo news
Dufferin CAS Annual Meeting Call
June 15, 2005 permalink
Here are directions to Monora Park. This is a public meeting, and non-members may attend peaceably as well, to support the families of Dufferin.
Diaper's Ink Leads Day Care To Suspect Child Abuse
June 14, 2005 permalink
Ink rubbing off a diaper provokes a child abuse investigation.
Diaper's Ink Leads Day Care To Suspect Child Abuse
School Reports Parents After Finding Marks On Girl's Private Parts
POSTED: 10:54 am CDT June 14, 2005, UPDATED: 3:39 pm CDT June 14, 2005
HOUSTON -- A Houston-area mother wants a popular diaper brand to recall its product after the ink used on the diaper made her daughter's day care think she was being abused by her parents, the Local 2 Troubleshooters reported Monday in an exclusive story.
The mother said her daughter's day care turned her and her husband into Child Protective Services after finding what they thought were bruises on the girl's private parts.
"I fell to pieces. I couldn't imagine what they thought when they saw something like that," Jennifer Brock told Local 2. "My heart break turned to anger and confusion."
The bruises turned out to be blue ink from the child's Huggies Pull-Up Diapers fading onto her skin. The designs on the inside of the diaper -- stars outlined in purple ink -- were the culprit.
CPS cleared the Brocks of the abuse allegations but they told Local 2 that they still want something done about the problem.
"Personally, I think they should, at the very least, go public about it. The most courteous thing they can do is recall the product," the mother said.
"Something like this could be used as fuel to have parental rights terminated. It could get ugly real quick," father Kevin Brock said.
In a statement e-mailed to Jennifer Brock, Huggies said, "We are so sorry that the color from the training pants transferred to your daughter's skin. The cause of this issue, while rare, is under investigation."
Huggies said it has no plans to recall the diapers and that they are working to remedy the manufacturing problem.
The child's day care issued an apology to the Brocks but said they did the right thing by notifying the authorities of the situation.
CPS officials said they e-mailed all of their investigators, alerting them to the problem with the diapers.
June 14, 2005 permalink
The following item was posted to the afterfostercare group today:
CBC is doing a story on kids in care. She is wondering why the number of kids in care has increased so dramatically in the last few years.
She is hoping to speak with a mother who has had her children removed by the CAS due to poverty or whatever - not a "voluntary" infant placement. I imagine that she will want to interview you on TV.
If this fits any of you, please call the reporter, Michelle (Chung - I think) directly at 416-205-5617. I have been interviewed by Michelle on two occassions and she was kind and respectful both times.
Foster Child and Mother Speaks.
June 13, 2005 permalink
Canada Court Watch has posted a short clip from the recent testimony of a young mother (mp3) who was abused in foster care and witnessed the physical abuse of other children by CAS workers while in foster care.
Pathologist Falsely Accuses Parents
June 13, 2005 permalink
We missed the significance of this article until a reader pointed out that many parents falsely accused of homicide through the efforts of Dr Charles Smith later lost their other children to Children's Aid. We have more comments at the end of this article from MacLean's.
June 7, 2005 - 17:40
Coroner orders review of Toronto pathologist accused of mishandling cases
TORONTO (CP) - The work of a forensic pathologist criticized for his handling of suspicious child deaths will be put under the microscope amid fears of wrongful convictions and allegations of bungled autopsies, Ontario's chief coroner announced Tuesday.The review will cover 40 cases in which Dr. Charles Smith did the autopsy or provided an expert opinion - all of the criminally suspicious cases he has handled at the laboratory in the world-renowned Hospital for Sick Children since 1991.
"This review will focus on whether the conclusions reached by Dr. Smith in his autopsy or consultation reports can be supported by information and materials available," said Dr. Barry McLellan.
"This will be a major undertaking."
The aim is to restore public confidence in the system, McLellan said.
Smith was once considered the province's leading expert on pediatric forensics.
However, judges and medical authorities have criticized his work and conclusions. Charges have collapsed in several criminal cases he handled.
Kirsten Kramar, a criminologist at the University of Winnipeg, said the planned review was "great news."
In 2000, Kramar was researching a book on infanticide at the Ontario's coroner's office when she stumbled on what she considered to be a striking pattern in Smith's conclusions in more than 25 baby deaths.
"In every single case, he determined there was foul play," Kramar said from Winnipeg.
"Smith in particular would always say that it was murder - someone had murdered this child and (his) authority carried a lot of weight in front of the courts."
In one notorious case, Smith concluded that a seven-year-old girl in Kingston, Ont., had been stabbed to death, while several other experts concluded she was mauled by a pit bull.
The Crown dropped the murder charge against the girl's mother, but not before she'd spent 3 1/2 years in jail. She launched a lawsuit against Smith and police.
"It's very, very important that his cases are looked at," said Kramar. "I've never seen anything like this in Canada."
McLellan said he didn't know how many criminal charges or convictions might have hinged on Smith's work.
Smith was not taking media calls Tuesday.
McLellan announced a sweeping audit of all forensic exhibits handled by the Sick Kids lab in March after material in one case handled by Smith could not be found.
Lawyers had wanted a tissue sample for an independent evaluation, believing it could exonerate William Mullins-Johnson of murdering his four-year-old niece Valin.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., man was convicted in 1994 at age 24 and has been in jail for the past 12 years.
Smith and four other specialists provided "consultation reports" and he was the only one to conclude Valin had been sexually assaulted at the time of death.
The missing tissue was found during the audit last week in an envelope on Smith's desk.
Smith still does pathology at Sick Kids but no longer works in the hospital's arm's-length pediatric forensic pathology unit, which serves the coroner's office.
Sick Kids spokeswoman Helen Simeon said Smith's work for the hospital was independently evaluated last month and found to be "up to the level that is expected."
The pending review by the coroner's office, whose motto is "We speak for the dead to protect the living," will likely have no impact on Smith's status with the hospital, Simeon said.
The controversy has prompted calls for a public inquiry but Attorney General Michael Bryant ruled that out - at least until after the coroner's review is done.
"I don't want to do anything to prejudge or interfere with his review," Bryant said.
McLellan said Smith has done no autopsies in criminally suspicious cases since 2001 or worked for his office since December 2003.
He also said the formal review may be done by a panel of independent pathologists.
"The major impetus here is that of public confidence and responding to the concerns that we're well aware of arising from some high profile cases," said McLellan.
He said he would announce specifics of the review in a few weeks but said the audit has reassured him that forensic exhibits are being properly stored and tracked.
Source: McLean's website
Notes and Comments: Dr Smith is under review in 40 cases. In press reports since the announcement of the review, these cases have been mentioned:
James Stewart in a book called Blind Eye describes the career of Dr Michael Swango, who has murdered dozens of patients over two decades in practice. The question dealt with in the book was, how can the medical establishment ignore such a person, instead of putting an end to his mayhem?
While the facts are not all in, this may be another case of a rogue doctor who harms people, not with intravenous poison, but with false accusations. With current attitudes toward child abuse, the rest of the world is too eager to believe a pathologist who reports every baby death as homicide.
Other professionals besides Dr Smith assist Children's Aid in taking children from their parents regardless of the facts. Children's Aid has a supply of psychiatrists they can rely on to give unfavorable reports on all families referred. And Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children houses the SCAN Clinic (Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect), whose mission is to separate children from their parents.
Anne's Father in Court
June 10, 2005 permalink
Here is the report as posted by Canada Court Watch:
(June 9, 2005) Court Watch has been informed that the Simcoe County Children's Aid Society from Ontario has filed a motion to have the loving father of a 13-year-old Barrie, Ontario girl, charged for contempt of court. After being forced out of her lovely executive home where she lived with her dad and two older brothers, because of allegations, the 13-year-old teenage girl was being threatened, coerced and isolated from her friends and family by York Region and Simcoe County CAS workers in an attempt to force the teen to go back to live with her abusive Barrie, Ontario, mother who had previously assaulted the girl and wanted custody of her daughter for herself. As as a result of threats and abuse by the CAS, the teen fled into hiding to protect herself from abuse by the unlicensed CAS workers involved. Typical of CAS strong arm tactics when they don't get their way, unlicensed and unregulated workers with the Simcoe CAS are now demanding that the father force his own teenage daughter out of hiding and to make her return back to the care and control of the CAS which the girl reported had abused her prior to her fleeing to safety or that the court order the father to be found in contempt. The girl only wants to return home to live with her father and her two older brothers. The court hearing is scheduled for 9:00 am on Monday June 20, 2005 at the Barrie, Ontario Court. The Simcoe County CAS is relying on evidence from one key CAS worker, Mr. Steven Rainey, who the Ontario College of Social Workers has already indicated in writing is not registered to practice as a social worker in the Province of Ontario. Legal experts reviewing the documents of this CAS "child protection worker" have indicated that this worker's sworn evidence is highly flawed, contradictory to other evidence and in the opinion of one legal researcher, "typical of the type of garbage put before the courts by these unlicensed and unregulated CAS workers." Court Watch has been advised that the parties involved are undertaking a comprehensive analysis of this worker's affidavits as well as other court documents for the purpose of ascertaining legal liability for the violation of the girl's rights and freedoms. Stay tuned to the Court Watch website for further developments in this case.
CAS Worker Assaulted
June 10, 2005 permalink
This is from the Ottawa Sun. There is no other news available so far.
Fri, June 10, 2005
CAS worker hurt in melee
By Sun Media
A Children's Aid Society worker was assaulted in a multi-generational melee at a home near Tartan Dr. and Jockvale Rd. at about 2:40 p.m. yesterday while trying to take custody of a girl.
The situation quickly turned bad with the girl's parents, grandparents and teen brother.
Police are still investigating. There's no word yet on whether any charges will be laid.
Source: Ottawa Sun
No Adoption Disclosure
June 9, 2005 permalink
Ontario's Adoption Disclosure bill is dead. It would have reduced the power of the social services system by allowing families to reunite without controls. The bill will be prorogued at the end of the spring legislative session. New legislation, if any, will have to be introduced anew at the next session.
Adoption Disclosure was defeated, apparently, with objections from women in old-age homes fearing disclosure of their secrets, along with the assistance of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party and its leader, John Tory. Grannies do not have the kind of political clout needed to defeat legislation -- only the social services system itself could do so. John Tory is now the defender of social services.
Here is a news item on the subject from the Ottawa Sun:
Thu, June 9, 2005
Adoption disclosure bill delayed
By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau
TORONTO -- A controversial adoption disclosure bill will be shelved until at least the fall, the victim of "jitters and game playing," NDP MPP Marilyn Churley says.
Churley said the Liberals are eager to see the House rise for the summer while the Tories are determined to filibuster the bill.
"It seems like the adoption bill is always jinxed by something," said Churley, who has tried repeatedly over the years to bring forward such legislation.
This latest bill would open up adoption records to birth parents and adoptees.
Tory House Leader and Leeds-Grenville MPP Bob Runciman said yesterday his party had reached a deal with the Liberal government to delay the bill, giving the government more time to consider the potential pitfalls of the legislation.
Source: Ottawa Sun
Addendum: To remove all doubt about John Tory, here is a quote from an email by John Tory to his supporters dated Friday June 17, 2005:
In contrast to the McGuinty Liberal record, I am very proud of the many accomplishments that our Caucus was able to achieve this session. These include: Convincing the Liberals that the flawed adoption legislation was not ready for passage due to its lack of adequate protection of privacy rights;
Police Threaten Website
June 8, 2005 permalink
This evening two officers of the Ontario Provincial Police visited the home of Robert T McQuaid to complain about the content of the Dufferin VOCA website. We will keep you informed of developments, if possible.
Addendum: The dispute outlined in the following email is now in the hands of lawyer Walter Fox.
June 8, 2005
I have just got off the phone with the O.P.P. officer who spoke with you. I would be more than happy to speak to your lawyer and please provide him with my name and contact information. It might help if they have a criminal law background.
My investigation has so far shown that this tape recording was stolen from Brantford C.A.S. The female that provided the recording to you, has indicated that it would be given to you personally.. It also violates section 45(8) of the Child and Family Services Act of Ontario. Your description of where and when the tape was made further implicates you in this investigation.
I see that your "Dufferin VOCA" website is also linked to the 'AFRA' site to which you are listed as a board of director.
Take this warning seriously and remove this recording and any links pertaining to it. You or your lawyer are free to call me for further details..
Det. Dave SINCLAIR
Brantford Police Service
(519) 756-0113 ext. 2273
Appeal to Prime Minister
June 8, 2005 permalink
We report here a complaint about CAS. Unlike most such complaints, it includes research to show the source of funding, and just what kind of people become the power brokers within Children's Aid. The comparison to the Gestapo misses the mark. The Third Reich organization most resembling Children's Aid was Lebensborn, which took Nordic appearing babies from families in occupied slavic countries and sent them to Germany to be raised as Aryans.
From: Aneurin Ellis
To: PRIME MINISTER MARTIN
Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2005 4:12 PM
Subject: Children's Gestapo
31 Inadale Court
Kitchener, Ontario N2M 2Z7
June 8th 2005
The Right Honourable Paul Martin P.M, M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2
Re: Children's Gestapo (FCSWR) of New Berlin (Kitchener)
Dear Prime Minister Martin,
I am writing this letter to ask for your intervention. I live with my family in Kitchener, Ontario. For more than two years now the Family and Children Services of the Waterloo Region has subjected us to criminal harassment. This organisation with the name sounding as if it is a government entity in reality is a criminal organisation very much like "La Cosa Nostra" also better known in United States as the Mafia. It is registered with the Canadian Government as a so-called charitable organisation under the name THE CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY OF THE REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF WATERLOO and has governing structure of a charitable organisation where an unknown number of members of this so called charity "elect" a board of directors. Last financial statement filed with Canada Revenue Agency for 2004 shows that despite almost 40 million dollars of the operating budget this organisation has collected only $210 in charitable donations. This $210 allows this organisation to maintain charitable status and completely avoid government scrutiny, and allows the government to completely avoid its fiduciary duties and responsibilities. This organisation under its concocted name carries out its activities pretending that it is a government organisation. It has powers vested to it by the provincial government exceeding those vested to the police, it operates in complete secrecy very much like German Gestapo during Second World War and when confronted with accusations of wrongdoing it hides behind $210 charitable donation and complete unaccountability afforded to real charities.
Registered Charity Information Return
The information displayed below has been manually entered by the CRA from the registered charity's Registered Charity Information Return. This information has not necessarily been verified for accuracy or completeness by the Charities Directorate.
Registered charities that notice problems with their online information should visit the amendment page for instructions on how to correct the information.
2004 Registered Charity Information Return for THE CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY OF THE REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF WATERLOO
- Total tax-receipted gifts $ 210
- Total gifts received from other registered charities
- Total specified gifts included in line 4510
- Total other gifts $ 190,669
- Revenue from federal government
- Revenue from provincial/territorial governments $ 37,786,135
- Revenue from municipal/regional governments
- Total revenue from government $ 37,786,135
- Interest and investment income
- Proceeds from disposition of assets:
- Rental income (land and buildings)
- Memberships, dues, and association fees (non tax-receipted)
- Total revenue from fundraising
- Total revenue from sale of goods and services (except to government)
- Other revenue $ 1,739,547
- Total revenue $ 39,716,561
Current management structure of Family and Children Services of the Waterloo Region is such it's president of the Board of Directors is Mr. Kevin Chalk, who is at the same time acting as Superintendent of Waterloo Regional Police Service and it seems that the Family and Children Services of the Waterloo Region is just an unaccountable extension of the local Police or "Super Secret Police" that can enter homes without a warrant and apprehend children as unjustified punishment, extortion, blackmail or simply way to terrorize citizenry. It can also be viewed that Waterloo Police Service is acting as an extension and a completely unaccountable criminal organization.
Mr. Kevin Chalk's official title is, Superintendent of the Community Mobilization Division, Region of Waterloo Police, this title when translated to the German language has direct historic parallels to the Nazi Gestapo.
The Executive Director of the Family and Children Services of the Waterloo Region is Mr. Peter Ringrose transplanted British Probation Officer from Nottingham.
Mr. Peter Ringrose is also acting as Chair of the Community Safety & Crime Prevention Council at the Municipal Government of Waterloo Region.
As anyone can see this concentration of power with one man having a background in the British correctional community, and the other a very strong connection in the law enforcement community, both of them in charge of a "very secretive charitable organization" with power to enter private residence without warrant and apprehend without court order create a situation that is unbearable, oppressive and conducive to corrupt and criminal abuse of power and authority of otherwise a legitimate and democratically elected government.
According to my knowledge, none of the two men were elected to their positions and none of them are accountable to any democratically elected government body.
This arrangement has lead to unchecked abuse of my family and countless other families in the region and I desperately plead for your intervention.
More Opposition to CAS / Canadian Tire
June 8, 2005 permalink
Canada Court Watch has found another parent writing to Canadian Tire (pdf) to request an end to their support of Children's Aid.
Child and Family Services Act Revised
June 6, 2005 permalink
Today the Ontario government began a media campaign promoting its changes to the Child and Family Services Act. This is the most consequential legislation relating to family law -- by comparison, the scuffles over the Ombudsman's report and the Adoption Disclosure Act were mere sideshows. Articles were placed in the newspapers and included media appearances by Marie Bountrogianni. In every medium, the new act is promoted as furthering adoption.
The text of the proposed law is not available on the Ontario Legislative Assembly website, so the press-release by the Minister of Children and Youth Services is the only available source. Part of it follows below. Translated out of social worker jargon, it looks pretty scary.
"Creating more legal options beyond traditional adoption". It is hard to see what this may be. Homosexual adoption? Adoption by single parents? Permanent placement in a group home? It is unlikely to be something better for children.
"Supporting families after an adoption". In social worker jargon, support means social workers issuing orders. So even after a child is adopted, he will remain under social worker control.
"A new funding framework for children's aid societies". In the past, the actual funding rules for Children's Aid Societies have been bureaucratic secrets. This is unlikely to change, so we will have no way to know whether the assertions in the press release are factual.
"Resolve more cases outside the courtroom through more collaborative solutions". Does this mean that parents will no longer have recourse to the courts to get their children back?
There is no suggestion anywhere that natural parents are part of the solution to foster care. The emphasis on expanding adoption means that the Ontario government has no intention of reducing the theft of children from parents. And there is no suggestion anywhere of repatriating children from foster care, even when the family infirmity justifying the child removal has been repaired.
McGuinty Government To Make Adoption Possible For More Children
New Legislation To Help More Children Find A Permanent Home
TORONTO, June 6 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government intends to introduce legislation today that would, if passed, reform the province's adoption system so that more children can find a safe, secure family to grow up in, Children and Youth Services Minister Marie Bountrogianni announced today.
"The current system is too rigid," said Bountrogianni. "We need to help more children find a permanent, caring home by making adoption more flexible for individual children and friendlier for parents."
There are approximately 9,000 children, who are considered Crown wards, in the care of Ontario's children's aid societies, but current legal and structural barriers make three-quarters of them ineligible for adoption. Proposed changes would make adoption more flexible and provide a wider range of options so that more children can be placed with a family on a permanent basis.
"Children move between foster homes and group homes an average of every two years," said Bountrogianni. "This kind of instability can affect a child's education, self-esteem and their ability to form meaningful relationships as they grow up. We want to help our children grow up in permanent, nurturing families."
The proposed changes are part of the government's plan to reform Ontario's child protection system so that more children and youth in the care of children's aid societies thrive in safe, stable, supportive homes. The plan includes:
- Making adoption more flexible for children by allowing more children to be adopted while keeping important ties to their birth family and community
- Creating more legal options beyond traditional adoption so children and youth can be placed in a permanent home
- Making the process consistent for adoptive parents by simplifying the application process, creating a province-wide registry to help match available children with prospective parents and supporting families after an adoption.
The government's plan also includes working with children's aid societies so they are better equipped to place children in permanent homes and are more effective in matching their level of response to the individual needs of each family. A new funding framework for children's aid societies will help them to be more accountable and sustainable so they will be there to protect children who need them in the future. The legislation would also help resolve more cases outside the courtroom through more collaborative solutions.
"Clearly, the government recognizes the monumental value that a permanent, caring family represents to a child who has been abused or neglected," said Pat Fenton, Executive Director of the Adoption Council of Ontario. "We are delighted to see it taking concrete steps today to help these vulnerable children."
"Instability affects every part of a child's life," said Bountrogianni. "These children and youth live in fear because they think no one loves them or wants to invest in them. These changes would help those children and youth know what it means to have a family."
[two backgrounders and a fact sheet follow in the original]
Source: press release
Addendum: An Act to Amend the Child and Family Services Act is now online.
The biggest, and most dangerous, change for families is in new section 20.2(1). It provides that the Executive Director of the Children's Aid Society can "consider" alternative dispute resolution. New section 223.1(1) provides for alternative dispute resolution to be defined by regulation. It is likely that the government intends some kind of administrative hearing before employees of Children's Aid. So now when your child is taken by Children's Aid, you will have no recourse outside of Children's Aid itself.
Section 61(8) provides for review in cases where a foster parent disputes the decision to remove a crown ward in his care for more than a year. The party adverse to the foster parent gets to appoint the person conducting the review.
Section 68 defines the internal complaints procedure. It will still exist, but the right of aggrieved persons to a copy of the procedure is eliminated. They can get only "information concerning the review procedure", those glossy pamphlets with lots of smiling faces and no substantive content. It also eliminated the right to internal review for matters dealt with by a court, so this paragraph may become moot in most cases.
There remains no legal recognition of the reality that natural parents provide better care for children than any substitute.
Social Workers Discuss Adoption Disclosure
June 4, 2005 permalink
Brant Children's Aid workers, forgetting that they were on record, candidly discussed the proposed Adoption Disclosure Law, and many other serious and frivolous topics.
This recording of a discussion by social workers (mp3) was made on the morning of June 2, 2005 at the Children's Aid Society of Brant, 14 Henry Street, Brantford Ontario. It was posted to the web by the American Family Rights Association. The first ten seconds is noise.
Addendum: The link to the recording was removed on June 22, 2005 to avoid litigation.
Foster Child Murdered
June 3, 2005 permalink
We get too many reports of American children dying in foster care to list here -- there wouldn't be any room left for Canadian news. This one is different. A mother whose sin was following doctor's orders got drowsy from the medication and allowed a child to wander. Her children went to foster care where one was apparently murdered. The mother faces felony child-endangerment charges, many years in prison and permanent loss of all of her children. In accord with tradition, the social workers responsible for the tragedy will receive no punishment.
The Joplin Globe
117 E. Fourth St.
Joplin, MO 64801
Gunshot kills boy in foster care
8-year-old left home alone with 14-year-old
By Jeff Lehr and Derek Spellman, Globe Staff Writers 6/3/05
ALBA, Mo. - The 8-year-old son of a woman whose children were taken from her when her toddler got out on the roof of their Webb City home last September was killed in a shooting Thursday morning inside a foster home where he had been placed by the state.
Police were not releasing the name of the shooting victim, but the Globe confirmed through other sources that the boy killed by a gunshot wound to the head was Braxton Wooden, the son of Brandie McLean, 28.
Authorities have not determined whether the shooting was accidental or self-inflicted, according to Clifton Boyer, chief of the JasCo Metropolitan Police Department. The shooting was reported at about 8:20 a.m. at a foster home at 104 S. Smith St. in Alba.
A 14-year-old was at the home at the time of the shooting but is not in custody. Boyer said investigators are assuming that the two boys were the only ones at the home during the shooting, but he said their investigation of the incident is continuing.
He did not identify the foster parents or offer any explanation concerning where they were at the time of the shooting.
While police would not identify either boy, McLean and her attorney confirmed that the shooting victim was her son, Braxton.
McLean was too upset Thursday night to speak to the Globe at length about what had happened. But she did briefly express her sorrow over Braxton's death and her instinctive anger with the state's child-welfare system that oversaw her children's placement in foster care.
"But it's not going to bring him back," she said of her anger. "Nothing ever will."
Her attorney, Judd McPherson, of Joplin, said his client obviously "feels like the system has completely failed her."
Braxton was the oldest of the five children removed from McLean's home after her 2-year-old son, Chandler, was spotted on a roof of their house at 123 E. Third St. in Webb City the morning of Sept. 20. Police found McLean and a 16-year-old female friend asleep in the living room of the home.
McLean has acknowledged that the situation was dangerous for her son. But she said she had been put on an anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel, by a doctor about a week before the incident to treat her depression and stress, and that the drug made her sleepy all the time.
She was charged with felony child endangerment, and the Children's Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services removed her children and placed them in foster care. She has been allowed weekly visits with them while her legal case has been pending. She also is facing two prior felony forgery counts.
McPherson said three of his clients' five children were placed in the Alba foster home. Chandler and a daughter, Keyaira, 3, also have been living there but were at a day-care center when the shooting took place, he said.
McPherson said he spent some time Thursday trying to learn what happened in the foster home. He said all the information he had received indicated that Braxton and the 14-year-old boy were home alone at the time of the shooting.
He said his client has been "dealing with the fact that her son was taken from her custody because the state alleged he was not safe with her there, and then was placed in a foster home that provided inadequate supervision and access to a weapon."
Neither the media relations coordinator for the state Children's Division nor John McGinnis, director of the department's Jasper County office, could be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
Jasper County Coroner Jerry Neil said an autopsy was scheduled for today. He said he could not yet rule on the cause of death, pending the results of the autopsy. JasCo Metro is leading the police investigation but will enlist the help of the Jasper County Sheriff's Department, Boyer said.
The victim's father, Braxton D. Wooden, 29, is serving time in the Missouri prison system for domestic assault and felony drug possession.
Brandie McLean's mother, Linda McLean, of Riverton, Kan., recently was cleared to have custody of Braxton, Keyaira and Chandler, and kept them for a period. But she eventually turned them back over to the state's foster-care system, according to McPherson and Brandie McLean's brother, Mark Prauser, of Mankato, Minn.
Prauser, who learned of Braxton's death from a family member, said his nephew had been placed in the foster home just within the past month, after his grandmother turned him back over to the state.
"There is something wrong with a system that charges one person with felony child endangerment for an accident where no one was hurt, and then turns around and places them in a home where they are shot and killed," Prauser said.
He said one of his sister's children now "has been taken care of so well of by the state that he is no longer with us." He said a home with guns in it, especially one where children have access to guns, "is not a safe place for foster children."
Prauser said he last spoke to his nephew several weeks ago. At the time, Braxton was enthusiastic about baseball and getting to visit Prauser in Minnesota, he said.
Prauser said he doesn't know who to blame most at this point for what happened to Braxton.
Boyer said the bullet struck the boy's right temple and exited through the rear part of his head. He was taken to St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin and then died while en route to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
McPherson said he took McLean's legal case Wednesday at her request, after she learned that a plea agreement she had accepted in April could lead to her never getting her children back.
The plea agreement she accepted while represented by a public defender called for her to plead guilty to all three felony charges she is facing, including the child-endangerment charge, in exchange for a promise that the prosecution would recommend that she not be sentenced to any more than four years in prison and would not oppose a recommendation that she be placed on probation if that is what a pre-sentence investigation determines.
McPherson said his client was "ill-advised" to make that plea.
McLean told the Globe that her Children's Division caseworker had told her that if she was convicted of child endangerment, it would not affect her eligibility to get her children back. She said she later learned that under a state law that went into effect this year, a conviction for felony child endangerment automatically terminates parents' right to custody of their children.
McPherson said the Legislature might change the law so that it is not as harsh as that with respect to convictions for child endangerment. He said McLean will be withdrawing her guilty plea, and that he intends to defend her against all three felony counts.
He compared his client's plight to the Dominic James foster-care death case. The 2-year-old Springfield boy died in August 2003 while in foster care.
"If this doesn't call for reform of the foster-care system, what does?" McPherson said.
Source: Joplin Globe
Addendum: Authorities intend to sweep this matter under the rug by making a teenager the scapegoat. Had it happened in a home with real parents, they would have been charged with some kind of a crime for negligently leaving guns where they could cause death. In the Braxton Wooden case, the parental rights were being exercised by a social worker, and she will not be charged.
Posted on Wed, Jun. 08, 2005
Teen charged in shooting death at southwest Missouri foster home
ALBA, Mo. - A 14-year-old boy has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of his parents' 8-year-old foster child.
A judge in Jasper County on Tuesday ordered the teenager to be held by juvenile authorities and charged with involuntary manslaughter until a juvenile court hearing next Tuesday. The closed hearing will be similar to a trial by judge in adult court, Joe Hensley, attorney for the Jasper County Juvenile Office said.
Hensley said the teen will be released if he is found not guilty. He could be ordered to undergo treatment if found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Braxton Wooden, 8, was shot in the head Thursday when he and the teenager were apparently alone at the family's Alba home, officials with the JasCo Metropolitan Police Department said.
Based on an autopsy and information from investigators, the Jasper County coroner ruled Monday that the shooting was an accident. Coroner Jerry Neil said Braxton died of a .38-caliber close range gunshot wound. He said that handgun and a .22-caliber Beretta handgun were confiscated at the scene.
The victim was the oldest child of Brandie McLean, of Webb City. Her five children were taken into Missouri Department of Social Services' custody after her 2-year-old child was seen on the roof of the family's home in September.
Police said they found McLean, 28, and a 16-year-old female friend asleep in the living room.
McLean, who was charged with child endangerment, said her medication had made her sleepy.
Her lawyer, Judd McPherson, of Joplin, said three of her children had been placed in the Alba foster home. The other two were at a day-care center at the time of the shooting, he said.
JasCo police Chief Clifton Boyer said Tuesday that authorities could not provide details in the case until later this week and the juvenile's name would not be released.
Information from: The Joplin Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com
Politicians Switch Sides
June 2, 2005 permalink
Dr Dolores Sicheri has written a letter to the Windsor Star on the current controversy over care for disabled children.
A little over 2 years ago, Mr. Dwight Duncan wanted Linda Taylor and myself to hold a press conference in the media room at Queens Park to tell our stories about the forced termination of parental rights for access to services. He wanted to embarrass the Progressive/Conservatives in the pre-election period. As we did not want to be political pawns, we declined the offer.
Dwight's party is now in power. It is continuing the policies of the PC government. It has done nothing to remedy the problem. Moreover, it has no honourable desire to fix the problem. The Liberals do not get it that the mothers of Ontario have come together publicly to say no more to the abuse of their families and parental rights. They are a formidable force to reckoned with.
These mothers are now demanding a "Royal Commission of Inquiry" into this practice. All these files must be opened and testimony taken from the families. A societal crime has been committed. Justice must be served. Canada cannot move forward on the world stage as a 21st century model for democracy and human rights unless the rights of its most vulnerable citizens and their parents are protected.
CAS Discourages Advocacy
June 1, 2005 permalink
Today the Ottawa Citizen publishes a letter from John Dunn suggesting that CAS discourages its clients from getting help from advocates. Based on our experience, Mr Dunn understates the problem. We have seen CAS respond to advocacy by calling for the family death penalty, crown-wardship.
June 1, 2005
Re: Many improvements at CAS, May 26.
Barbara MacKinnon, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, writes that it is "the community's responsibility as a whole to ensure the well-being" of its children. As a former foster child myself, and currently a child-welfare advocate who provides support and advocacy for clients of the Ottawa Children's Aid Society, I don't see the CAS acting this way.
I have seen the CAS actively advise clients not to use an advocate, and have also been told by staff within the agency that they have been told not to communicate with advocates. This type of conduct discourages people from getting involved in ensuring the well-being of children in the community.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
May 31, 2005 permalink
Yesterday the report of Ontario Ombudsman André Marin on disabled children was the prime topic of conversation in the Ontario Legislature. All of the questions on the topic came from the NDP. In Premier McGuinty's turn to speak, he echoed Mrs Bountrogianni's earlier boasts of increased funding for Children's Aid, funding that raises the baby bounty. Minister of Children and Youth Services Marie Bountrogianni said:
My ministry has directed the children's aid societies to begin calling the parents tomorrow. Where there are no protection issues, those parents who have temporary care agreements will have their parental rights restored without a change to the service for their children on or before this Friday.
The result of this warm sounding promise may be:
In any case, the issue being discussed is a trifle. Ontario has 18,000 foster children, of which 150 to 200 are covered by Mr Marin's report. No one has asked how many of the others were taken into custody without cause.
Bountrogianni May be Asked to Resign
May 30, 2005 permalink
The following press release, originating with the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) suggests that Minister of Children and Family Services Marie Bountrogianni should resign over failure to deliver promised services to the parents of disabled children.
NDP CAUCUS SERVICES
Attention News Editors:
Families in Ombudsman Ontario's Special Needs Report Visit Queen's Park Today, Demand Real Answers from Minister Bountrogianni
LONDON, ON, May 30 /CNW/ - Parents in the Ombudsman Ontario report, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" could call on the Minister and those in her ministry to resign today. They will sit in Queen's Park legislative gallery while specific questions are raised to the Minister of Child and Youth Services.
Linda Limon, one of the 'original seven' complainants in the Ombudsman's report and mother to Andrew, who is 8 and severely Autistic, expects meaningful answers from Minister Bountrogianni. Linda wants to ask, "When are you going to find Andrew a permanent placement? "It's not as simply as 'restoring custodial rights' and means nothing to us...Jim and I have custody of Andrew". Andrew is currently on an extension at a Ministry treatment facility in London (CPRI) until the end of August. Last week, he broke both of his permanent front teeth in half head-banding on the floor at CPRI.
All of the seven complainants in the Ombudsman's report have custody of their children, except one having been forced into societal wardship. For some, crown wardship will be a reality very soon. Some of the parents have expressed anger over the Minister's latest announcement to restore custodial rights to parents. "While we applaud the Ombudsman's recommendations, the Minister stating she'd be restoring custody does nothing to change Jesse's life 300KM from home. Nothing at all. We have custody but we do not have our son", Cyndi Cameron, mother to Jesse Cameron, 14, expressed.
The Minister's recent comments regarding 'moving very quickly' on this issue holds little weight with families who have waited years to access residential service. While the Minister continues to express a commitment to 'building capacity', some believe the Ministry is paralyzed with indecision. Five of the families were available for comment and jointly state that either the Minister - and those within her ministry, specifically, Deputy Minister Jessica Hill, Assistant Deputy Minister Cynthia Lees, and Regional Director, Peter Steckenreiter either "step up to the plate today or step down from their positions". They want the Minister to fulfill the Ombudsman's recommendations for their kids- commit to stating specific action plans today, in their presence.
Jennifer Bray, mother to Wesley, 12, insists that Bountrogianni act immediately to re-instate the legislation for special-needs agreements. "We can no longer go through this nightmare," Bray said.
The families have also expressed a concern regarding the general impression about their involvement in the class action law suit. None of these families state that they are currently involved in the Anne Larcade $500 million class action lawsuit. These parents express there needs to be a point of clarification that their families - who are currently facing Children's Aid Society (CAS) involvement and imminent custodial relinquishment to access residential services for their children with special needs, and who are without lawyers in this matter have put faith in the process of the Ombudsman and government - and are not involved in the class action suit. "Any reports to the contrary presently in the media - or from other involved citizens are just not true", mother Cynthia Cameron stated.
"We refuse to become involved with the CAS to access residential support for Andrew. Today, I am at Queen's Park demanding a definitive solution outside the CAS, for my son.
For the seven original complainant families - the Brays, Camerons, Grignards, Limons, McLarens, Nieblers, and Pynes - the time for the Minister to act specifically in their cases is now. "I would like to ask the Minister, how has that seventy-four million dollars she continues to refer to helped our families?", Limon questioned.
For further information: Parents available for comment at the following contact numbers are: Jennifer Bray, (519) 253-5160; Cyndi Cameron, (519) 474-4359 (home) or (519) 719-7867 (cell); Tina Grignard, (519) 631-5472 (home after 6 p.m.); Linda Limon, (519) 245-7087 (home after 7 p.m.) or (519) 719-7867 (cell).
Source: press release
PC's Oppose Adoption Disclosure
May 30, 2005 permalink
On May 17 John Tory (PC), leader of the opposition, suggested in a question to the Ontario Provincial Premier that opponents of the adoption disclosure law should get more time at the hearing. The bill has been referred to the eleven member Standing Committee on Social Policy with eight Liberals, two PC's and one NDP member. At an earlier committee vote, only Ted Chudleigh, PC/Halton, voted against the bill.
According to the following (partisan) spectator, the two PC members continue to obstruct the bill:
Monday, May 30, 2005
Many of you will have seen The Star today and the announcement that the Liberals are introducing a DV. It will only apply to parents who can demonstrate that adoptee access to information will cause them significant emotional or physical harm. I'm not crazy about it but it's better than no bill at all. The government is assuring us that it will not become a regular dv and that applicants will have to jump through some hoops to get it and that the adoptee can appeal. So it's not the end of the world.
The clause by clause hearing was more positive than I had anticipated. Sterling and Jackson were the PCs and were, predictably, annoying but so far none of their amendments have passed. As we anticipated, they did not finish today so we will be back there tomorrow. The PCs are calling for a dv and no retroactivity. Big surprise.
The Liberals are holding firm and I really have to mention Ernie Parsons who was amazing today. Many of you will remember that he was just awful at the committee hearings for Bill 77. But he has completely changed his mind and made the most wonderful eloquent speeches today in support of both mothers and adoptees needing to know. It really was amazing.
We are not out of the woods yet since the PCs may try to stall tomorrow and ensure that the clause by clause gets held over until next week which will delay third reading. Or they may try to filibuster at third reading. But tonight I am feeling more positive than I have in a while.
In this case, the Liberals are moving to reduce the power of social services over families, while the PC's are trying to keep the status quo.