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Mom Arrested for Defending Family
August 31, 2008 permalink
A Michigan woman tried to protect her family from a CPS worker with her fist. She is in jail charged with a felony. The original website for the story contains a long list of comments, mostly favorable to the mother/teacher.
Benton Harbor teacher arrested for assault
BARODA — A Benton Harbor teacher is facing charges for assaulting a social worker.
Officers arrested 31-year-old Carlye Anne Bushen Monday night at her home on Third Street in Baroda.
A Child Protective Services worker was investigating a previous assault at the home. An officer was also there to help.
That officer says Bushen charged the CPS worker with a closed fist and he had to stop her.
Bushen now faces felony charges and up to two years in prison.
Source: WSBT-TV 2 South Bend Indiana
Spiderman Strikes Toronto
August 30, 2008 permalink
On Wednesday Spiderman (Darcy Nogueira) climbed a crane at Bayview Village in Toronto. He climbed down after one hour. Spiderman and non-climber Kris Titus were arrested at the scene. Spiderman got out on bail the next day, Kris was held until Friday. A supporter described bail restrictions:
Kris is not to leave Ontario and notify local police if she changes jobs as a homemaker. Crown / Judge was under impression Kris was paid from F4J. Only non communication with Darcy who was on crane was put in order.
This is the second time this month the police have arrested a non-climber. They may be trying to cripple F4J by silencing its spokesmen not with criminal convictions (hard to get from a jury) but with bail restrictions.
You can listen to the audio of the CTV report (mp3, 1.6 megabytes) and expand a picture, press release and press article below.
Press release - Non Violent Direct Action in progress
Contact: Kris Titus
Phone: 1-888-345-2262 ext. 704
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, August 27, 2008
Spiderman takes to the skies to support M483. Despite recent arrests, F4J Everyday Superheroes will continue to fight for equal parenting rights..
Spiderman climbs again!
Bayview Avenue SE of Bayview Village Mall, E of Sheppard Avenue, Toronto
If you're thinking for every one they take down, there seems to be another there to take his/her place, you're absolutely right.
F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada is prepared to continue their campaign to keep their issue front and centre in politicians minds.
The need for equal parenting is seen in every aspect of our society, and the need is great and immediate.
In Toronto, a known Liberal stronghold for the past 10 years since the For the Sake of the Children report was released and Compas polls showed an 80% support rate for 'shared' parenting, the pressure may be intense.
"We want to know once and for all where the Liberals stand on equal parenting." The group claims that Stephane Dion was recently able to dodge these very important questions at a public event with Garth Turner in Oakville, thanks to some empty promises by a Turner staffer.
"This type of tuck tail and run tactic by politicians, any politician, is unacceptable and will be countered with what we do best, public exposure."
This action by F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada marks the 4th high level action across the country in August, just a precursor and promise of the groups commitment, despite extreme police pressure, to continue their pressure tactics in a non-violent, direct manner.
The group recently had Batman and Robin pay a special tribute visit atop the Saskatchewan Legislature buildings.
"The Duo were able to escape unscathed and we hope the same is true for Spiderman today. We hope the police understand why we're here and know we are doing what we have to do for the sake of our children."
Contact: Kris Titus, National Coordinator, On Site 1-888-345-2262 ext. 704
PHOTO OPS: Spiderman with 30' banner Fathers 4 Justice support M483
LOCATION: Crane kiddie corner to Chapter's Bayview Village Parking lot South side.
TIME: Ongoing - began at approx. 6 am August 27, 2008
CONTACT: Nationally, Kris Titus 1-888-F4J Canada ( 1-888-345-2262 ) ext. 704
National Action website: www.f4jcanada.com
Source: email from F4J Canada
Spidey nabbed for crazy stunt
Look out! Here comes the Spider-Man.
And he's appearing in a Toronto courtroom today.
Darcy Nogueira, 34, the man behind this Spidey's mask, was arrested by Toronto Police yesterday after he scaled a 60-metre crane on a North York construction site.
Nogueira and Kristin Titus, 35, are charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, common nuisance, mischief over $5,000 and mischief interfering with property.
The Brampton man tried to hang a 9-metre banner reading "Fathers 4 Justice Support M483" from the crane on Rean Dr. near Sheppard and Bayview Aves., police said.
Bill M483 is a private member's bill that would amend the Divorce Act to emphasize the equality of parents.
Police stopped work at the site due to safety concerns until the man came down.
Source: Toronto Sun
F4J to Visit Orangeville
August 29, 2008 permalink
A Fathers-4-Justice Canada tour will reach Orangeville on September 2.
Orangeville Citizen, August 28, 2008
'Superheroes' for parental justice
Next Tuesday morning, Fathers 4 Justice Canada and its Everyday Superheros Team will be in Orangeville to promote and support a federal private member's bill by Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott that calls for changes to the Federal Divorce Act (bill M483).
It is part of a day-long blitz of several Ontario municipalities calling for equal rights for both parents in divorce and separation proceedings.
The Team and the Purple F4J Barney Mobile will be proceeding east along Broadway starting at John Street and ending up at the Orangeville Town Hall. All Equal Parenting supporters are asked to join them at Broadway and John at 7:50 a.m.
Children and adults will receive bracelets promoting truth, justice and equality, temporary tattoos with a message about M483 and the opportunity to have their picture taken with some of our now famous Everyday Superheroes and the F4J Barney Mobile. Preaddressed/ postage paid postcards will be available for all who want to support bill M483 and equal parenting.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Getting Away with Murder
August 29, 2008 permalink
The press has discovered that four children died in Arkansas foster care this year, but DHS refuses to provide details, shielding themselves behind a law protecting the confidentiality of children. In any other situation a person concealing evidence of a death would be charged as an accessory after the fact, but not a bureaucrat. Even at that, Arkansas is ahead of Ontario, where we have nothing better than statistical estimates of the number of children dying in foster care.
Our list of foster deaths includes only one in Arkansas during the last year. Keyundra Smith, 22 months old, died in Eudora Arkansas on May 28, 2008, attributed to the dubious shaken baby syndrome. Foster mom Eleisha Sykes has been accused.
Law lets DHS stall
John C. Williams, Updated: 8/28/2008
Four children assigned to foster parents by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) have died in recent months — a shocking number for a state that hasn't had a foster-child death since 2003.
The number came to light thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request to the agency from the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF).
But DHS has refused to release information about the nature of the deaths except to say that two of them are under investigation as maltreatment cases. Even after the State Police made an arrest in one of those cases on Aug. 11, DHS declined to comment further, citing a statute that prevents disclosure of ongoing department investigations.
Which raises the questions: When is DHS justified in withholding information about foster-child deaths? What sort of information should it be able to conceal? Is the public's need to know about the circumstances of the deaths outweighed by DHS's need to complete an investigation before putting details out in the open?
The Times asked DHS for basic information about the deaths: names if available, location and — most importantly — circumstances of death. What caused each child to die? What distinguishes a case that apparently involves child maltreatment from one that doesn't?
DHS said it can answer none of these questions. It cited state statute 12-12-506, which says, “Information on a pending [child maltreatment] investigation is confidential and may be disclosed only as provided in this section” — a section that does not include reporters or the general public.
Past court rulings have drawn a line between information that can be considered part of an investigation and that which must be public record. In “Hengel v. City of Pine Bluff” (1991) the state Supreme Court ruled that the Freedom of Information Act doesn't exempt contents of police reports — which generally contain the type of information that the Times wants to know — from disclosure to the public.
Lawyers for DHS have denied that the case is precedent for its own child maltreatment investigations. Though the results of investigations may be revealed if they are determined to be true, the law makes it illegal to disclose unsubstantiated accusations of child abuse. DHS lawyers argue that any information released about an allegation under investigation may violate that provision.
Though it would be an uphill battle, said Rick Peltz, a professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Bowen School of Law who has written on the FOIA, the nondisclosure law might be challenged in court by arguing that information about child maltreatment cases analogous to that contained in a police report should be publicly available. But Peltz doesn't think the law as currently written allows even basic information to come to light.
“It seems to me that one thing we could have improved on was allowing the release of information,” Peltz said. “I don't like it, but I think the DHS position holds up.”
Advocates for foster children have expressed frustration at being unable to discover the cause of the deaths.
Jennifer Ferguson, deputy director of the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said that, while AACF doesn't deal with individual cases, it believes specific details about the deaths should be made available as quickly as possible.
“We feel it's very important for them to finish the investigation timely, because we think it speaks to some overall issues in the system,” Ferguson said.
Dia Sawyer, a Jonesboro-based advocate for foster children and member of the federally funded Arkansas Area VIII Adoption Coalition, is more skeptical of DHS' motives in not discussing the foster-child deaths. She said she felt DHS' refusal to provide information suggests that the agency is covering something up.
Source: Arkansas Times
Policy Change in Texas
August 29, 2008 permalink
A lawsuit resulting from the seizure of children from Gary and Melissa Gates in 2000 has produced purported policy change in Texas. Now children will get a court hearing before child removal, except in emergencies. We are skeptical, because that has been the policy all along. Social workers nullified the policy by always checking the emergency box on the form. Will this announcement really change things?
New policies make it harder for CPS to remove kids
Fort Bend parents' lawsuit led to changes calling for court orders before state pulls alleged victims from homes in abuse cases
By JANET ELLIOTT, Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau, Aug. 27, 2008, 4:16AM
AUSTIN — Texas child abuse investigators are being advised to seek court orders before removing children from their home in all but the most dangerous situations, one of several major policy changes demanded by a federal appeals court.
The new standards, lauded by parental rights advocates and decried by prosecutors, arose out of a ruling late last month by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in a long-running lawsuit against the state filed by a Fort Bend County couple and their 13 children.
The court found that state and local officials who removed the children during a child abuse investigation may have acted improperly but were protected by government immunity.
But the court set out new legal requirements for child abuse investigations in the three states covered by its jurisdiction — Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
"The decision will require us to make some extremely difficult decisions," said Carey Cockerell, commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in an "urgent legal advisory" sent Friday to all Child Protective Services personnel.
The memo, obtained by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News, said the new policies must be followed to protect staff from being sued for monetary damages if children are removed in violation of the new policies.
In the majority of cases, the department removes based on immediate danger and then goes to court the next business day to ask a judge for an order to remove the child.
Under the new standard, the state must obtain parental consent or a court order prior to removal "unless life or limb is in immediate jeopardy or sexual abuse is about to occur," the memo states.
Additionally, investigators now must weigh factors for each child living in a home before removing any of them based on allegations of abuse involving another child. The standard practice of removing all children in a household when abuse was suspected on any single child was the basis for removing more than 400 children from a West Texas polygamist group in April.
The Texas Supreme Court in late May held that removing all the children was not justified based on allegations that a few underage girls were married to older men.
Another key change discussed in the memo involves when CPS can take a child from school to a neutral location such as a Children's Advocacy Center for an interview. The new policy requires parental consent, a court order or the belief that the child has been abused and probably will suffer further abuse upon his or her return home at the end of the day.
Prosecutors and child advocates are worried that children will be left in dangerous situations, while parental rights groups are applauding the changes.
Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said he believes the department's new policies are an overreaction to the ruling and will leave children unprotected.
"What we didn't need to do was raise the white flag in a memo to every CPS worker to simply protect CPS rather than protect children," he said.
He said it will be more difficult to prosecute child abusers if child victims can't be questioned separately from their abusers.
"You have to have a safe place apart from the family to successfully interview a child and find out what happened," Bradley said.
Gary Gates, the Fort Bend County man whose lawsuit prompted the revisions, said the changes will protect families from having their constitutional rights violated.
"The whole reason we started the litigation was because we felt there were wrongs in the system," said Gates, an apartment building owner and founder of the Texas Center for Family Rights.
Thomas Sanders, the Sugar Land attorney who represents the Gates family, said the lawsuit was never about winning monetary damages from the state.
"He was looking for policy change," Sanders said.
Richard Wexler, executive director of the Virginia-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, said it's not that difficult to get a court order for removal.
He said the new policies will give investigators "a chance to stop and think whether there is something that can be done that is less traumatic to the child" than removing them from their home.
The Gates family claimed state and local officials violated their rights when their children were removed from their home during a child abuse investigation.
The investigation began in 2000 after a 10-year-old son arrived at school with a plastic baggie containing empty fig bar wrappers pinned to his shirt. According to the court opinion, Gates was punishing the boy who had an eating disorder that caused him to steal and gorge on food.
When school officials called CPS, the boy was taken to a Child Advocacy Center for a videotaped interview. After other siblings told of unusual discipline, all were removed in a "jail wagon" that evening.
Gary and Melissa Gates said they never abused their children and a court ordered them returned home a few days later. The state dropped its investigation seven months later.
The federal appeals court said it is important to involve the state courts as neutral magistrates in decisions whether to remove children as early in the process as possible.
"In that way, the government may ensure that everyone's interests are considered, and the least amount of harm will come to the children the government seeks to protect, as well as their parents," said the opinion by Judge Edward Prado.
Source: The Houston Chronicle
Don't Write About CPS
August 29, 2008 permalink
Ft Worth columnist Dave Lieber had an argument with his son that he felt he did not handle well. He made it the subject of one of his columns, copied below. The result two weeks later was his arrest on a felony charge. Lesson? It is dangerous to even write about child protection.
Posted on Fri, Aug. 15, 2008
The Watchdog: How parents can learn from serious mistakes
By DAVE LIEBER, firstname.lastname@example.org
In this job, I talk to people about the difference between right and wrong and how to handle troubling matters.
While I learn about the matters and try to help others, I also learn about myself. I’m a human being and I make mistakes, too.
Some are stupid. Some are serious.
The other day, I made a stupid and quite serious mistake that I want to share with you.
As a parent, I understand — as do most parents — how our children can say and do things that cause us to react in an emotional way. In our household, we call it "pushing buttons." My 11-year-old son pushed mine pretty hard.
We went out to breakfast the other morning at a restaurant. As soon as he had finished eating, he demanded that we leave. But I wasn’t done. I asked him to please be patient. He refused. I told him, not asked him, to wait. Same response from him. This went on and on and on.
I sent him to another table. I tried to ignore him. But my buttons were pushed. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I stormed out of the restaurant and told him to walk the few blocks home.
I got in the car and drove off.
I was gone for several minutes, long enough to calm down. I doubled back to the restaurant to pick him up. By then, two police cars and a small crowd were gathered outside.
A caring patron had called the police.
My son had given his statement. He explained what he had done. The officer asked if any blows were exchanged. None were.
The police officer gave me a stern lecture about being a responsible parent. He said that it doesn’t take more than a few minutes for something to happen to an unsupervised child. He said, "As a journalist, you know this."
My son apologized to me, and I apologized to him. The officer asked if we were OK to go home. Properly chastened, we were.
My wife rushed home early from work. She gathered us in a family huddle and sternly but tenderly began by saying, "I don’t know what the heck you two were thinking."
My thoughts are many. For one, back in the 1960s, if my parents had told me to "walk home by yourself" when I misbehaved, no one would have thought twice.
But what flew years ago doesn’t fly today. I could have exposed my son to grave danger. I do know that. But in the moment of anger, I didn’t think clearly.
Words of advice
A few hours later, I called The Parenting Center in Fort Worth. The nonprofit center has shown families in Tarrant County how to succeed through classes, counseling and home case management for more than 30 years.
"I can relate," said Pat Borgfeldt, the education program manager, after I told her what happened. "Don’t feel alone. We get calls like this all the time.
"Some parents are willing to talk about the mistakes they make, and they recognize those mistakes. There are very few people who parent perfectly. We’ve all had those days where we don’t like what we did. But learning from our mistakes is so important."
I asked what to do when, not if, we get in a standoff again.
She said that in a power struggle with a child, a parent should never take it personally. A parent must quickly brainstorm possible solutions and choose the best one. Children watch how we handle ourselves, and they learn from that.
"Conflict and anger are good signs," she said. "It’s a natural part of a relationship. It’s not bad to be angry. It’s what you do with that anger that you need to take a look at."
How do I do that? I asked.
"Take a step back. Calm yourself. It’s those moments when we’re so stressed and frustrated that we say things that we can’t take back. Once they’re out there, they are always out there. Learning good communications skills is so important for parents."
Taking that step back, I now am grateful to the other adults at the restaurant who took responsibility for the care of my son — and acted more adult than I did. I am grateful to the police officers who handled the situation with care and responsibility.
I hope my son and I learned from the experience. We both have to calm down and learn to love and live with each other better.
The Watchdog column appears Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Dave Lieber, 817-685-3830
Source: Fort Worth, Star-Telegram.com
Posted on Wed, Aug. 27, 2008
S-T Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber arrested
By ALEX BRANCH, email@example.com
Star-Telegram Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber was arrested Tuesday on probable-cause warrants for child abandonment, a Watauga police spokeswoman said.
Lieber, 51, surrendered at the Tarrant County Jail on Tuesday morning, authorities said.
He was released on $4,000 bail.
His arrest stems from an Aug. 13 incident in which Lieber left his 11-year-old son at a Watauga McDonald’s restaurant after the two argued, said Detective Tiffany Ward, a Watauga police spokeswoman.
He was arrested on two warrants, one for child abandonment with intent to return and the other for child abandonment/endangering a child, she said. Both are felonies.
Police will refer the case to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, which will determine whether to file charges.
On the advice of his attorney, Lieber declined to comment Tuesday.
Police went to the McDonald’s on the morning of Aug. 13 after a customer called 911 and reported an argument between a child and an adult, Ward said. The adult had left the child in the parking lot.
"Apparently, the child was attempting to get into the car as Mr. Lieber had exited the parking lot," Ward said.
While police were interviewing witnesses, Lieber returned to the restaurant, she said. Lieber and his son were allowed to leave, but the case was forwarded to the Watauga police criminal investigation division.
The police report did not indicate how long the child was left at the restaurant, Ward said.
Lieber wrote about the incident in an Aug. 15 column. He said he was gone for "several minutes" before he returned to the restaurant to get his son. He said he regretted his actions.
"I made a stupid and quite serious mistake," Lieber wrote.
Star-Telegram Executive Editor Jim Witt said Lieber will be suspended from writing the column while the case moves through the judicial system. "Then we’ll have to see what the result is before we make any further decisions concerning this," Witt said.
ALEX BRANCH, 817-390-7689
Source: Fort Worth, Star-Telegram.com
Note: Starting at age 7, your editor walked alone 2.7 km to school every day, and the same distance home.
Batman and Robin in Saskatchewan
August 25, 2008 permalink
Yesterday Batman and Robin climbed on top of the legislative building of Saskatchewan, remaining on top for about an hour. You can link to a photo, or the press release at the F4J Canada website. The press release alludes to the case of Rick Fredrickson, whose son Liam was given away for adoption by his mother without the father's consent.
Helpful CAS Workers
August 21, 2008 permalink
Durham Region is publishing a series on children's aid by Jillian Follert. While purporting to tell the truth, it is actually propaganda for social services. It contains the howler:
DCAS executive director Wanda Secord says there is the misconception that the society can swoop in and take children from their homes on a whim or that taking children from their parents is the primary objective -- neither of which is true, she stresses.
In truth, no one would pay any attention to these semi-literate misfits unless they had the power to call the police to take children on whim.
Part 1: A knock at the door
Durham CAS answers 8,000 calls a year, Tue Aug 19, 2008, By Jillian Follert
DURHAM -- When Christina heard the knock on her door one sticky August morning in 2006, she thought it was her neighbour returning the hair dryer she had lent her a few hours earlier.
“Or else I never would have answered it,” she said.
The single mother -- who was 26 at the time -- had been anticipating a visit from the Durham Children’s Aid Society (DCAS), after another neighbour in her subsidized south Oshawa apartment building threatened to report Christina’s drug use.
“I was hoping they wouldn’t come for a few days, so I would have time to get everything out of my system,” she says, looking sheepish as she reflects back on that day.
She admits now that her “recreational” use of pot, cocaine and ketamine had spiralled from Friday and Saturday nights to an everyday occurrence.
The visitor that morning was a child protection worker from DCAS.
“When I opened the door my heart was beating so hard, I thought this is it, they’re going to take my kid,” Christina said. “I thought I might never see him again.”
It’s a fear shared by many parents encoutering DCAS for the first time.
DCAS executive director Wanda Secord says there is the misconception that the society can swoop in and take children from their homes on a whim or that taking children from their parents is the primary objective -- neither of which is true, she stresses.
When the phone rings at the DCAS office in Oshawa, it sets off a long, complex process that can take many directions -- from quick advice over the phone to a child swiftly being placed in emergency foster care.
Most cases fall somewhere in the middle.
Matthew Sweet has worked at DCAS for the past four years as a child protection worker and says he likes the job because he can see the positive changes he helps make in people’s lives.
His intake team is one of seven that operate on rotating shifts, either answering calls that come in or being the first responders who go out to assess situations.
He said calls pour in from myriad sources: teachers and principals, neighbours, doctors, relatives, children and sometimes parents themselves looking for support.
Callers are allowed to remain anonymous, because studies show people list fear of retribution as a reason for not reporting suspected abuse.
A survey conducted in Durham Region in 2007 showed 85 per cent of people were aware of the legal duty to report known or suspected child abuse but only 54 per cent said they would report suspected abuse without concrete proof and 60 per cent said they would have difficulty reporting someone they knew.
The survey results indicated the leading reason for not reporting was fear of retribution, while others included not knowing where to call and a belief that the situation is “not my business.”
But many people do call.
Every year, the society fields about 8,000 calls, roughly half of which result in investigations.
In 2006-07, DCAS opened 4,004 new child-protection investigations and had 1,257 children in care.
An estimated 90 per cent of calls fall into six main categories: physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, adult conflict and domestic violence, inadequate supervision and caregiver problems such as drug use.
When a worker answers the phone, he immediately begins collecting information, seeking as many details as possible.
A thick manual called an “eligibility spectrum” guides the process and each call is coded to determine its priority, and discussed with a supervisor to determine the next steps.
For example, life-threatening emergencies are referred to 911. A report of physical abuse by the child’s primary caregiver demands the fastest CAS response time -- a worker is sent out within 12 hours.
Non-emergencies, like parents who are fighting a lot, must be followed up within a week.
And in many cases, a worker doesn’t head out to the home at all. She might give advice over the phone or refer the caller to partner agencies in the community.
“When we do visit a family, there is usually a lot of shock and anxiety,” Mr. Sweet said. “Parents think we’re there to snatch their kids, which might be because they know someone that’s happened to or because of what they see in the media. That’s not what we’re trying to do. If at all possible, we want to keep kids in their homes.”
When he arrives at a home, Mr. Sweet said he starts by speaking to the parents, then interviews the children separately if they are deemed old enough to understand the situation and provide credible information.
If there is no problem, the file is simply closed.
If CAS keeps the file, there are several directions it can take.
The first course of action is a “service contract” -- a list of terms the parents or caregivers agree to, such as a promise to seek counselling or not to fight in front of the kids.
Contracts are usually drawn up for a six-month period, after which time the situation is re-evaluated.
If the family is going to be working with DCAS for more than a month, the file is handed off to a family services worker.
“Even in serious cases, we can try to keep the kids in the home with a service contract as long as we feel the parents are on board,” Mr. Sweet said.
If the parents aren’t receptive to change, there is still the opportunity for the children to stay in the home with a supervision order from the courts -- a more formal, binding version of a service contract.
In cases where the parents aren’t co-operative and there are immediate concerns about the children’s safety, DCAS looks for relatives or friends of the family the children can stay with until things are resolved.
“Only as a last resort do we apprehend,” Mr. Sweet said, using the legal term for taking children into custody.
Mr. Sweet said he has encountered many disturbing situations over the years, but has been particularly struck by the fact that many calls are not what people think of when they think of child abuse.
“It’s not always about kids being hit,” he said. “Emotional abuse can be the most difficult to prove, and it can be the most damaging. Sometimes parents don’t even know they’re doing it.”
Mr. Sweet points to one case where the parents were constantly fighting and yelling at each other. There was no physical violence and the kids weren’t directly involved -- but they were affected.
“It was very clear the kids were struggling emotionally,” he said. “Something like that can impact their self-esteem and cause a lot of anxiety.”
Looking back now, Christina says the knock on her door was a blessing in disguise, because she didn’t realize her drug use was actually a form of child abuse and neglect.
“I was feeding my kid Kool-Aid -- instead of real juice -- and hot dogs every day, because I was spending money on myself and partying. I wasn’t being the kind of mom he should have,” she said.
It also made her re-evaluate how she had changed as a person.
For most of her life, Christina lived on an upscale suburban street in Ajax with a warm family she is still close to today. She got decent grades in high school, worked part-time as a waitress and had started classes at Centennial College with dreams of becoming an advertising executive.
But everything changed when she unexpectedly got pregnant at 19, just two months into her first college semester.
“I had been dating the guy for, like, a month,” she said. “He wasn’t really going to drop everything and be a dad.”
She said not having the baby “wasn’t an option,” and soldiered through the stigma of teenage pregnancy.
She dropped out of school after her son Jacob was born and attempted to work part-time, but found it too overwhelming.
When she applied for social assistance and moved into the subsidized apartment building with its dimly lit hallways and peeling linoleum, she thought it would be temporary.
“I started falling into the lifestyle here,” she said. “It’s all single moms on welfare. No one works, everyone just sits around all day. People are drinking at like 10 in the morning, in the middle of the week.”
It took time for Christina to accept help from DCAS -- she initially denied using drugs and refused to sign a service contract -- a decision that led to her son being sent to live with relatives.
“I felt like (the worker) was looking down on me, thinking here’s this dirty young mom living in south Oshawa,” she said. “I know I was doing bad stuff but I’m not a bad person or a bad mom and I felt like this guy thought I was dirt. He talked to me like I was stupid and judged me because I’m poor.”
But the reality of living without her son was a sobering experience that pushed her to eventually get counselling and rehab at Pinewood Centre.
Today, she has been drug-free for 10 months and is planning to kick cigarettes, too.
Her son is scheduled to be back in her care full time this fall, just in time to start Grade 3.
Editor’s note: This series marks the first time local media have been allowed inside Durham CAS offices to meet staff and talk about how they do their jobs.
The names of parents and children involved with Durham CAS have been changed for this story, to prevent the children from being identified.
This is part one in a four part series about the Durham Childrens Aid Society and the families it serves. The series continues next Friday, Aug. 22 with Part 2: In the system, Friday Aug, 29 with Part 3: Home away from home and Friday Sept. 5 with Part 4: Fighting back.
Source: DurhamRegion.com (consolidates several regional newspapers)
Part 2: In the system
Mon Aug 25, 2008, By Jillian Follert
Editor's note: This series marks the first time local media have been allowed inside Durham CAS offices to meet staff and talk about how they do their jobs.
The names of parents and children involved with Durham CAS have been changed for this story, to prevent the children from being identified.
DURHAM -- For 10 months, Heather lived waiting for the phone calls.
Once a week, the Durham Children's Aid Society (DCAS) would call and from that moment, she would have 24 hours to get to a clinic on King Street in Oshawa and submit to a drug test.
"It was scary for them to have that much control over my life and to know that they had the power to come in any time and take my kids," the 28-year-old said. "But it was what I had to do.".
Random drug screening was just one of the items on a service contract she signed with DCAS last year. The contracts are the first step CAS workers take in an attempt to help parents or caregivers get back on track. They might include promises to seek counselling and rehab, submit to drug tests or stop negative behaviour like yelling or name calling.
Heather's dealings with DCAS started when she was involved in a domestic dispute while her son, who was less than a year old at the time, was in the house.
"I wasn't a bad parent but I was mixed up with the wrong guy and the wrong friends and drugs," she said. "I had a bad attitude and I wasn't in the right frame of mind to be a parent."
Her kids stayed with friends and relatives while she pulled things together and today, Heather has her son, now 1 1/2, and nine-year-old daughter back in her care and has been clean for seven months, thanks to a rigourous plan set out by her DCAS workers.
But it wasn't all smooth sailing.
Heather said she liked some of the workers assigned to her case, including her current long-term case worker, but found others to be intimidating and judgmental.
"Some of them looked down on me; they made me feel little," she said.
And Heather was overwhelmed by the process, saying she didn't know what her rights were and that no one volunteered that information until she finally broke down and got a lawyer.
"The second I got a lawyer, it seemed like CAS backed off with a lot of their threats and I felt more confident," she said. "I found out things I didn't know. Like, I didn't know I could talk to a lawyer about my service contract before I signed it."
Things are better these days. Heather has moved into her own place, changed her friends and is getting along well with her family services worker, who helps by bringing her food vouchers and clothes for the kids.
It's the kind of relationship Rebecca Owen tries to have with her clients.
As a family services worker with DCAS, she takes over files from intake workers after about 30 days and works with families long-term, providing support, referrals and a watchful eye.
She typically has between 19 and 22 families on her plate at one time, visiting each a minimum of once a month and more often if needed.
During those visits she might check that the terms of existing service contracts are being met, draw up new contracts, refer clients to services in the community and just generally take stock of life in the home.
Files stay open anywhere from a month or two, to several years for complex issues like mental illness or addictions.
"These aren't bad people, they're usually just average families going through a difficult time and need support," said Ms. Owen, who has worked in the field for eight years and at DCAS for three. "We don't just go in looking for what might be wrong. We identify the strengths the parents and families have and customize our service to reflect that."
And while DCAS staff like Ms. Owen typically encounter a family after the crisis of the first intervention has passed, the relationship with clients can still be rocky -- a fact Ms. Owen attributes mainly to negatives stereotypes of the society.
"The second you hear 'Children's Aid Society,' the family is judged as child abusers and the agency is judged as baby snatchers," she said. "It's hard to fight that belief. But as workers, we try to be ambassadors and just keep communicating the fact we're here to help and support families."
Ms. Owen also stresses workers like herself and her colleagues in intake don't make decisions on a whim. They are constantly consulting with supervisors and the entire agency is mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services and works under the guidelines of the Child and Family Services Act.
"There are a million checks and balances," she said.
Even with all these assurances, Heather is still of two minds when it comes to her feelings on DCAS.
She wishes her rights were more clearly explained, that anonymous calls (see sidebar) were scrapped and that some workers were more compassionate. But overall, she is glad the society came into her life.
"This experience has taught me to look at my priorities and put my kids first," she said. "For that reason, I'd say it was positive overall."
This is Part 2 in a four-part series about the Durham Children's Aid Society and the families it serves. The series continues next Friday, Aug. 29, with Part 3: Home away from home and concludes Friday, Sept. 5, with Part 4: Fighting back.
Source: DurhamRegion.com (consolidates several regional newspapers)
Part 3: Home away from home
August 28, 2008
DURHAM -- For many empty-nesters, the silence and extra space left behind when adult children leave home are things to savour.
But June and Ashwin Parmer didn't feel that way after their four kids grew up and moved on.
"We couldn't have imagined how strange it would be when the place was empty," Ms. Parmer said. "You work hard all your life to have this home. What good is it to be dusting all these empty rooms that no one's using? It's not a home without children in it."â?¨ So eight years ago, the Clarington couple took the plunge and applied to the Durham Children's Aid Society (DCAS) to become foster parents.
They went through initial training that covered things like first aid and CPR, nutrition and behaviour management, and they're still taking classes and workshops today.
The Parmers started fostering gradually, taking in just one child at a time to provide relief care for other foster parents on weekends.
Up to four children between the ages of three and 12 can now be cared for at one time, in their home with its backyard swing set, children's bedrooms and playroom stocked with toys and art supplies.
Some stay for days and weeks, others for years.
No matter the length of their stay, foster kids in the Parmer home are immediately folded into the household routine, which means family dinners, set bedtimes, limited television and church on Sundays -- if the children and their parents are OK with it.
DCAS makes an effort to match children with a foster family that reflects their cultural and religious values, but if that's not possible, children aren't forced to participate in anything that makes them uncomfortable.
When children first arrive at their door, the Parmers are careful to offer smiles and plenty of personal space -- no hugs or personal questions. The kids call the couple by their first names, to make sure there is no implication of parental roles being taken over.
Mr. Parmer said the most important thing foster parents can do is provide stability, reassurance and a listening ear.
"Self-esteem is a big thing," he said. "Kids come to us for various reasons. We just try to accept them for who they are and make them feel good about their strengths,"
DCAS has about 900 children in the foster system, with 260 families in Durham Region providing care.
Children are taken into foster care through two avenues -- voluntary agreements, which can last no longer than 12 months and can be terminated by the parents or CAS at any time -- and court orders.
Court-ordered foster care includes temporary care during the adjournment of a child protection hearing, society wardship, which lasts up to 24 months and sees parents retain access rights, and Crown wardship, in which the child is made a permanent ward of the Crown and a CAS has the rights and responsibilities of a parent until the child is 18.
While in foster care, children generally maintain regular contact with their biological parents through phone calls, visits at the DCAS office or visits home.
"We often wonder if the parents feel threatened by us," Ms. Parmer mused. "Because there's no need to. We aren't out to take their kids from them. We want to give them some space so they can fix things and be a family again."
But some parents do fear or resent the foster caregivers their children are sent to stay with, and no matter how welcoming a foster home is, there is still the concern that children are still being sent to live with strangers.
"I didn't really know what it would be like, but I don't like living with them," said 12-year-old Megan, an Oshawa girl who was sent to live with a foster family this past spring. "They're not very nice. They don't let me eat enough because they say I'm an emotional eater, and I feel left out because all the other kids in their family are older and they don't want to do anything with me."
She landed in the foster home after her mother, Connie, called DCAS looking for help.
The pair just moved to Oshawa this year, and Connie said she didn't know where to turn when her daughter started acting out.
"She was smoking, lying, running away from home, things like that," Connie said. "I'm a single mom, I'm usually not home from work until 7 or 8 at night, and I was having a hard time dealing with everything. I called CAS to see if I could get a worker assigned to help us get some resources and counselling."
Connie said DCAS asked her to sign a six-month service contract, which she did, but feels things went off the rails when the agency then recommended her daughter go into foster care temporarily -- a condition Megan says she agreed to without fully understanding what it would be like.
"I was doing track and field at school and the principal came out and said my worker was here to see me," she recalls. "They said they were taking me away to a foster family, and that I couldn't even go home to get my stuff first."â?¨ Megan said she was upset she had to switch schools for a month and a half, because her foster family lives in another municipality, and was also surprised that the family took her to their Pentecostal church, when she is a practising Catholic.
Connie will be back in court in September to attempt to regain full custody of her daughter, and said that day can't come soon enough.
"My daughter already has emotional issues and this is just making her more confused and upset," she said. "I only called CAS because it says on their website they will help parents and be an advocate for them to get into programs. I didn't know that asking for help could end up like this."
This is Part 3 in a four-part series about the Durham Children's Aid Society and the families it serves. The series continues next Friday, Sept. 5, with Part 4: Fighting back.
Note: Thanks to a generous reader we know that the print article, but not the web version, included a picture of the featured foster parents.
Source: DurhamRegion.com (consolidates several regional newspapers)
Happy Birthday MSBP
August 21, 2008 permalink
This month is the thirtyfirst anniversary of the publication of an article in the Lancet by Roy Meadow initiating Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Using this theory thousands of blameless parents have been deprived of their children. Perhaps the low point of Dr Meadow's career was the conviction of Sally Clark for homicide in the crib deaths of two of her babies. She was later exonerated by the courts but died without recovering from her conviction. Barbara Bryan suggests that the Lancet should apologize for starting this mayhem.
We scanned a copy of Meadow's article Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: The hinterland of child abuse.
Release Date: August 13, 2008
: Lancet owes Munchausen by Proxy dis-membered families an abject apology
Still ignoring pleas for provable facts validating Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSP) in its publication of “Hinterlands of Child Abuse” by UK’s attention-seeking knighted doctor Roy Meadow, Lancet lets the 31st anniversary (Aug. 13) of his life-altering article slither into another year.
First, slowly read and then read each word again at http://web.tiscali.it/humanrights/articles/meadow77.html. Repeated readings show how overloading an article with apparent detail numbs the brightest and best into believing Roy Meadow’s home-wrecking writing must be true.
Take a deep breath and begin compiling answers to the most basic of a journal’s queries: who, what, when, where, how and why? Other than Roy Meadow himself and two real or imagined families there is no factual or traceable information.
How many journals have been party to as much myth and mayhem as has been tight-lipped and unrepentant Lancet? The once renowned medical journal gave unearned legs to the theory (not a disease, disorder or diagnosis) of MSP.
Clearly, no one at Lancet asked pre-publication questions. Rarely has anyone able to expose the myth of MSP done so since, although no one has challenged assertions of MSP’s scientific baselessness either.
Who Really Named MSP?
Oh, and check whonamedit.com to learn who actually did coin the MSP name a year before Meadow used it and, to this day, accepts the perverse plaudits.
From which other source with Lancet’s stature would the world accept such a noxious notion: that mothers tell tall tales about non-existent, exaggerated or induced illness in their children to bask in the favor of those magnificent doctors?
What other editors have let slide an author’s brazen admission that he saltloaded a sick infant whose chloride levels, when the alleged baby was ill and serially admitted for emergency care, were far too high?
Are there editorial boards which, more than three decades later, resolutely refuse to address, correct, apologize for an imaginative article that has done as much monumental damage as “Hinterlands” around the globe?
Was it not a clue that Roy Meadow’s admits his notes were shredded?
Is there no interest in the UK press and elsewhere that during Roy Meadow’s hours of need under professional scrutiny not a single one of the doctors, hospitals, nurses, lab techs or even surviving family members mentioned in “Hinterlands” appeared in person to verify what Lancet printed 31 years ago?
An apology from Lancet will not reconstitute families whose vanished children had genuine illnesses and many of whose mothers have died early deaths because of notations of MSP in their own medical records.
Time to Denounce the Notion
Lancet’s finally doing the right thing decades later—like the occasional apology for slavery, mistreatment of natives, scandal of sterilizations and such—will not fix an incredible wrong.
It will, however, appropriately expose the attention-seeking, self-styled so-called expert purveyors of the imaginative MSP label that they, prosecutors, the press and the public have exploited and enjoyed.
If MSP was never more than an excuse to silence those pesky (read that: lying and homicidal) mothers of ill children, if Roy’s unfair revenge against the fair sex was to make Lancet complicit in helping him project his own malignant attention-seeking on them, then no professional or wannabe since Lancet’s “Hinterlands” publication has claim to any moral ground.
Designating someone as an “expert” on MSP, as cruel courts worldwide persist in doing, only fuels the fires of fiction that Lancet set into motion 31 years ago.
Where is the judge with wisdom and brass balls (or the female equivalent) to stop the onslaught of innocents and parents or caretakers taken out because of a scientifically non-existent excuse (as in “fabricated” to “induce” a false allegation or “confession”)?
Legally whisking newborns from delivery rooms to pre-adoptive homes, as happens so often to benefit the takers and receivers, is the booty, bounty and shame of what Lancet wrought 31 years ago and must denounce.
National Child Abuse Defense & Resource Center
Source: web posting by Barbara Bryan
CPS is Camera-Shy
August 20, 2008 permalink
Fourteen-year-old Merrianne Jessop (named in other news stories) was ordered returned to foster care by judge Barbara Walther. When social workers found that the media was waiting to record the seizure of the girl, they backed off, threatening the family. They found a way to get the girl without media scrutiny.
This case illustrates two points:
Texas ducks media, takes custody of girl
CONVERSE, Texas — An agreement to hand off a teenage girl to Texas child protective services became a cat-and-mouse game with reporters and photographers Tuesday evening.
The girl initially was to be handed over by her mother, Barbara Jessop, to CPS workers at 7 p.m. at their home in Converse near San Antonio.
That plan was quickly changed by CPS and CASA representatives when they heard the media would be there to document the event, said FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop.
"Barbara was told that if the media was there and took photos, there would be consequences," Jessop said. "The government threatened her with retaliation against her family if the media was there."
Jessop said the threat included pursuing custody of Jessop's 11-year-old son, who the judge had just agreed should remain in his mother's custody.
When reporters and photographers arrived at Jessop's home shortly before the scheduled 7 p.m. hand-off, other FLDS women living nearby said the pair were already gone. None of the women, teenage girls and younger children said they saw the girl leave with her mother.
A message left with Barbara Jessop's attorney was not immediately returned.
"The last time the media exposed how CPS was treating the FLDS people, the government took away everyone's cell phones," said Willie Jessop. "This time, they threatened Barbara with taking away her son.
"None of this was justified the first time they did it and it's not justified now," he said.
CPS spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner was unaware of any threats. "If that's true, I haven't heard about it," she said. Meisner confirmed the girl was in state custody and was taken to a foster home.
Source: Deseret News
Addendum: A family friend made a video of the transfer, and the Salt Lake Tribune has viewed it. Here is their report.
FLDS mother recalls emotional separation when Texas took daughter
By Brooke Adams, The Salt Lake Tribune, Article Last Updated: 08/21/2008 08:45:12 PM MDT
Posted: 8:43 PM- SAN ANTONIO, Texas - When an FLDS mother called to tell her 14-year-old daughter a judge had ordered her back into state custody, the girl cried steadily over seven hours.
"Just me? Only me?" she asked her mother before dissolving into tears.
Barbara Jessop is breaking her silence to describe the traumatic Tuesday separation from her daughter. The teen - allegedly married to sect leader Warren S. Jeffs in 2006 - is the only FLDS child now in state care.
A videotape of her transfer in a state building parking lot shows the girl crying and holding her mother as Child Protective Services workers stand nearby.
Her family has become a focal point of child welfare and criminal investigations stemming from the spring raid on the Yearning For Zion Ranch, home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Two older brothers were among six FLDS men, including Jeffs, indicted last month on sexual assault and other charges.
Court documents detail alleged marriages involving other family daughters who were minors and ceremonies overseen by Merril Jessop, the girl's father and ranch overseer.
A state attorney successfully argued Tuesday that Barbara Jessop, 55, had failed to show she would protect the 14-year-old, citing in part allegations of past physical abuse and her refusal to answer basic questions in court - including giving her children's names.
The state's ongoing criminal investigation made her silence necessary, her attorney said.
Jessop says she stands by her decision to exert her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refusing to testify about her family.
"As a free American citizen I chose to partake of the rights of the Constitution under the Bill of Rights and remain silent," she said.
Jessop was in San Angelo for Tuesday's court hearing. She made the three-hour drive to the family's apartment in Converse with less than an hour to spare before her daughter was taken by CPS workers at 7 p.m.
The video, taken by a relative, shows the girl clinging to her mother, sobbing, in a vehicle parked outside a state building. Two CPS workers hovered beyond the open passenger door and a handful of Texas Rangers were nearby.
"Mother, mother, please don't let me go," she cried. "Mother, mother, don't let them take me. They're not nice."
The girl balked when a caseworker said she needed to get out of the vehicle.
"I'm not getting out until you tell my mother where I'm going," she said. And then: "How can I leave my mother? How long will this be?"
Her mother and sisters eventually hugged her goodbye inside the building as two brothers looked on.
"I told her to hang in there, the Lord will help her through it and we'll be praying for her," said brother Samuel, 17, who spent two months in state care at a boys' ranch this spring. "The thought of leaving her there with nobody she knew was about all I could handle."
His sister's return to foster care is more difficult to take, he said, because the first time the children "were together. She's not. She's by herself."
Tom Green District Judge Barbara Walther declined the state's request to also return the girl's 11-year-old brother to foster care.
On Wednesday, the boy said: "I would have went [into state care] for her."
CPS has said the girl was placed in an "individual foster home."
Since returning 440 children from the polygamous sect to their parents in June, the state has tacked in two directions - dropping cases involving 100 children while zeroing in on others.
In court this week, a CPS investigator and a child advocate described numerous failed attempts to meet with Barbara Jessop over the past several months.
The mother on Wednesday blamed confusion about the process, miscommunication and conflicting schedules. She said that after other mothers began receiving information about safety plans and required parenting classes, she unsuccessfully requested the same information.
"It was very difficult to get an answer on what I could do to get this resolved," she said.
When she learned in mid-July the state again wanted custody of the 14-year-old and her brother, she said it was "stunning."
"This was just like a shock out of nowhere," said Barbara Jessop, who shared the news with the children to make them aware they might be "taken away."
From that point on, her daughter was "more emotional and concerned always," Barbara Jessop said.
"She needed to know every second where mother was," said Millie, 26, her sister.
Added Nancy, another sister: "She said, 'They are thinking of taking me away from my mother.' She said, 'I cannot live without my mother.' "
Barbara Jessop was allowed a monitored telephone call Thursday with her daughter, who "couldn't talk through her crying. I told her we need to be strong and that we were doing all we could to turn it around and come get her," she said.
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Addendum: You can see parts of the video at an FLDS website.
August 20, 2008 permalink
Winnipeg police constable Kenneth Jack Anderson worked as a sideline for Child and Family Services (CFS) in Manitoba. According to charges, he took the opportunity to sexually exploit the boys in his care.
Winnipeg Free Press, Breaking News
City officer charged with sex assault
By: James Turner, Updated: August 19, 2008 at 08:04 PM CDT
A Winnipeg police constable, lauded for his work with inner-city aboriginal youth, has been charged with sexual assault, sexual exploitation and sexual interference involving two 11-year-old boys.
RCMP major crimes said after being contacted by the Winnipeg police this spring, they opened an investigation into an allegation of sexual abuse by the officer towards one of the boys that police said took place in 2006.
While in the process of investigating that allegation, another surfaced and was alleged to have occurred in the same year involving another 11-year-old, said RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Line Karpish.
Kenneth Jack Anderson was an employee of CFS for a short time -- believed to be months -- this spring, said Karpish.
Both incidents are alleged to have occurred in rural Manitoba. Police didn't specify where.
The constable, who lives in the town of Balmoral about 80 kilometres north of Winnipeg, was arrested and released July 10 on conditions he have no contact or communication with the alleged victims, nor contact with children under age 18.
Anderson, 47, was formally charged with two counts each of sex assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation Tuesday. It appears he is not being held in custody.
Karpish couldn't say which outlet of Child and Family Services he worked for.
"This is serious. This is a person in authority," Karpish said of the nature of the charges levelled against the officer.
No further details of the investigation into Anderson's conduct were made available. The identity of the victims is not being released.
Winnipeg police said Anderson has been placed on leave and his employment status is under review. He's due to make a court appearance in Teulon on Oct. 20.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
It's believed Anderson's most recent posting was as a community constable in the Centennial neighbourhood, where he was lauded by residents as a positive influence for the community's youth at a recent community forum at Rossbrook House.
In 2003, Anderson was presented with a certificate of distinction for youth justice policing from the federal government and the Canadian association of police chiefs for co-developing a cultural program for disadvantaged aboriginal boys in Winnipeg's inner city.
The goal of the Aboriginal Cultural Program for Boys is to decrease the risk of criminal involvement for high-risk children aged 7-17 through the promotion of their cultural awareness and identity, according to the department of justice.
Anderson was an active participant in the program, which involved sports-related activities and field trips to first nations ceremonies.
"When you grab onto something that you know is right... it points back to the youth, it's showing them a different way before we can't bring them back, before they end up in the jails," Anderson was quoted as saying at a ceremony honouring award recipients.
The constable also received a community service award in 2007 from aboriginal war veterans, according to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.
Because Anderson's career was enmeshed in the justice system, the government has hired an independent prosecutor to handle the case against him.
Veteran defence lawyer Robert Tapper has been retained as independent Crown counsel, a justice spokesperson said Tuesday.
Tapper was unavailable for comment.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
More on Anne's Family
August 19, 2008 permalink
Barbara Kay has written on the case of the family of the girl we call Anne, identified by initials JS in the CanLII court report.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Legal Aid Case: Many Questions, Few Answers
By Barbara Kay
What’s your taste in summer reading? Whodunnits? Famous battles? Horror stories? You can find them all wrapped up in one at the following website - in which Justice Craig Perkins of Ontario’s superior family court justifies the imposition of a publication ban on the case of M.S. vs C.S., now before the court of appeal.
This long document gives an approximate sense of the searing heat and negative energy that can be produced by two highly combative and determined people when love goes awry and parental rights are at issue.
As Justice Perkins describes the situation: “After more than four years of warfare between the parents, during which the children were dragged by both parents into the middle of their relationship issues, three of the parties’ four children have left the mother’s home for the father’s home and no longer speak to their mother... Fearing the father and the other three children will work to cause the loss of her relationship with the fourth child, the mother has not allowed that child to see the father or the other three children. The couple’s considerable assets, which would ordinarily be the children’s inheritance, have been spent on legal fees. Both parents are emotional wrecks and are psychologically unfit to work.”
That’s the tip of the iceberg. The sordid accusations and counter-accusations, the courtroom drama, the contradictory character assessments on both sides, and the constantly tested loyalties of the children make for a riveting, but dispiriting tale of family implosion.
I wasn’t planning to write about this case in itself. But then some rather unusual features of it came to my attention.
On grounds of legal errors, the father in the case, M.S., is appealing Judge Perkins’ order that he and his three older children refrain from any contact with his now-adolescent daughter until she is 18 years old.
C.S.’s then-lawyer was served with the appeal documents in March. She ostentatiously attempted to refuse service, but was obliged to accept. The following morning, another lawyer – she cannot be named according to the ban, so I will call her Ms Parachute - telephoned the lawyer of M.S., advising him that she would be representing C.S. for the appeal.
Almost immediately thereafter, C.S. was awarded a certificate for legal aid to fight the appeal.
That’s odd. Normally, Legal Aid prefers only to fund cases where serious constitutional issues are at stake where the Charter of Rights is involved, such as those arising during the course of Child Protection proceedings, while M.S. vs C.S. is a strictly private civil matter.
Moreover, Legal Aid is stingy: legal aid recipients – presumably at or near the poverty line - are usually awarded a certificate authorizing them for 19 hours’ worth of services up to the first pre-trial, with any further legal services to be approved by Legal Aid.
But M.S. vs C.S. will likely involve, minimally, 150 hours just to read through its 25,000 documents, let alone perfect the appeal. A member of the legal community familiar with the case “conservatively” estimates the taxpayers’ cost of the appeal at $60,000-$100,000.
And C.S. is not poor: Her present common law spouse makes $60,000 a year, while C.S. receives $57,600 in annual support, mostly spousal, of which $36,000 is un-taxed. (There is also an allegedly available family trust – denied by C.S. - of $100,000, which an upcoming probate search will (in)validate.)
But the fourth reason is where it gets really interesting. C.S.’s new lawyer, Ms Parachute, also happens to be a director of Legal Aid Ontario.
Many questions arise, the most obvious being: Why is a person with an income exceeding $100,000 a year receiving legal aid in the first place?
For another, isn’t it obvious that a director of Legal Aid advocating for someone receiving legal aid is in conflict of interest? She will be far too personally invested in the outcome of the case.
Finally, whether Ms Parachute was responsible or not for C.S. receiving her certificate, where is her professional judgment? Can she not see that the timing between her assumption of the case and the issuing of the certificate is a public optics scandal?
When the publication ban is lifted from this case, as is likely within a few months, Ms Parachute’s and C.S’s identity will be revealed. They would both be smart to do the right thing before – oh, let’s say before some nosy journalist who’s keeping abreast of events decides to “out” them at the first opportunity.
Source: blog entry by Barbara Kay
August 19, 2008 permalink
A woman using screen name Cassie J got more than she bargained for when she adopted thirteen-year-old Lacey.
My 13 year old adopted daughter is having a baby
I adopted Lacey through a "big sister" program 4 months ago, when she was 13 years old. In the past few weeks I noticed her belly had been getting bigger so I confronted her on it. It turns out she was pregnant. She had not told anyone about this, therefore I was not notified at the time of the adoption. Lacey is insistent on having and keeping the baby, saying this is her only blood family left. I'm not sure what to do. Can I be mad at her? Can I insist on putting the baby up for adoption, can I send Lacey back? (not that I want to) I cannot have a baby in my house right now, as I am finally at a place in my life where I am very happy. I work full time, have my daughter Lacey, and I don't think I'm financially able to support a second child at this time. I just don't know what to do! Someone please help me!
I talked to her about [how] this "miracle" came about, and she would not give me a straight answer. I know she came from a not-so-good foster family and I have a strong feeling this may not have been her choice. Should this affect what I do, knowing that she did not just "climb into bed with someone"
Source: Yahoo answers
August 17, 2008 permalink
A romance between two teenagers resulted in the birth of a baby, a pattern thousands of years old. Past generations often handled it by inducing Boy and Girl to marry. Not today. It seems Girl was four years older than Boy, making her a rapist under Ohio law. And Girl's punishment for her crime? She gets $50 a month from Boy's allowance. Alienation resulting from legal intervention ensures that the baby will not grow up with mom and dad.
Boy's parents sue to get his baby from mom, 21
Saturday, August 16, 2008 3:12 AM, By Mary Beth Lane, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
LANCASTER, Ohio --- A Pickerington couple and their son are fighting for custody of a baby born to a Lancaster woman charged with having unlawful sex with the boy, who was 15 at the time of conception.
A paternity test shows that the teen is the father of the baby born April 7 to Jane C. Crane, who was 19 when she became pregnant. Now, a judge has ordered him to pay $50 a month in child support and set visitation at seven hours a week.
Crane, meanwhile, faces criminal charges. A Fairfield County grand jury indicted her last month on two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a fourth-degree felony. Conviction carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a requirement to register as a sex offender for 25 years.
Crane is living with the baby and her family in Lancaster.
The boy's parents say they can provide a better upbringing for the baby than Crane can. Her household includes her stepfather, David L. Jacobs, who was convicted of domestic violence last year for hitting, choking and pointing a gun at Crane's 17-year-old sister and was placed on two years' probation, court records show.
"We don't want to have our granddaughter abused by these people," the boy's father said. "We are trying to do the right thing.
"The child support was the icing on the cake. I couldn't believe that our son has to pay child support to his abuser."
The Dispatch does not identify victims of sexual abuse.
Crane is scheduled for a pretrial conference before Common Pleas Judge Richard E. Berens on Aug. 21. A hearing and a status conference in the custody dispute are scheduled for next month before Domestic Relations Judge Kathy S. Mowry.
Crane, now 21, is not a suitable custodial parent in part because she may have committed a felony by having sexual intercourse with a minor younger than 16, the boy's parents argue in court papers seeking custody.
Crane declined to comment. She is free on a $5,000 recognizance bond pending trial. Her attorney, Sandra Davis, did not return calls. Lawyer Jennifer Strunk, the court-appointed guardian ad litem representing the baby's interests, said through a spokesman that she could not comment.
That a 19-year-old woman had sex with a 15-year-old boy might seem like no big deal to some, but it is a serious charge, said Assistant Prosecutor Julia Dillon.
It makes no difference that it is an adult female charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor boy rather than the more common instance of an adult male charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor girl.
"It is an age and maturity issue, not a gender issue," Dillon said. "He's a young boy coming into his own, being taken advantage of by an adult."
There could yet be a plea agreement. "I have made what I consider to be a reasonable offer, but I have not received a response," she said.
The incident has had lasting affects on the boy, now 16, his mother said.
"He has nightmares, he is stressed out," she said. "He is a father, even though it was a crime for him to be a father. His life is changed forever."
Crane got to know the family while she worked at a local movie theater with the boy's older sister. When Crane said that her stepfather was abusive, his family allowed her to move in with them.
The boy's sister later bought her own home and Crane moved in with her. It was there last summer that Crane had sex with their son at least twice, his parents said.
Source: Columbus Dispatdh
Drug Kickbacks in Texas
August 17, 2008 permalink
A Dallas newspaper has unraveled the financial connections between drug companies and psychiatrists. Because payments are not directly linked to psychotropic drug prescription, doctors claim they are not kickbacks, yet they can get income from drug companies rivaling that from patients.
What is the difference between Texas and Ontario? Better journalism.
Some Texas foster kids' doctors have drug firm ties
AUSTIN – One in three Texas foster children has been diagnosed with mental illness and prescribed mind-altering drugs, including some that the federal government has not approved for juveniles, state records show.
Many of these drugs are prescribed by doctors who have a financial stake in pharmaceutical companies' success, a Dallas Morning News investigation has found. Dozens of physicians who treat children in state custody supplement their salaries with tens of thousands of dollars in consulting and speakers' fees, and they use drug company grants to fund their research projects.
Accepting this money is not illegal, nor is it frowned upon in most medical circles. Many of the state's leading medical experts receive income or grants from drug companies, money that has funded groundbreaking scientific advances. And financial ties between doctors and pharmaceutical firms are frequently self-reported by physicians on their Web sites, conference programs and journal articles.
But while the psychiatric drugs given to foster children cost millions of taxpayer dollars a year, it's hard to know how much the doctors prescribing them are making from pharmaceutical companies. Texas, like most states, does not require disclosure.
The most prominent researchers can easily make $15,000 a year from each drug company they consult for, plus fees for speaking engagements that top $1,500 an event, according to financial disclosure forms some researchers are required to file because they work for state universities. Research grants often exceed $100,000, these records show.
Texas health officials say the overwhelming majority of these doctors have dedicated their careers to improving the mental health of foster kids, who have far higher rates of mental illness than the average child. They sacrifice time that could be spent on private-insurance patients, for whom doctors say they are paid more.
And officials say there are strict and effective rules to ensure that doctors' relationships with drug companies don't affect their prescriptions, including a ban on enrolling foster children in most clinical trials and guidelines on which drugs they should prescribe. A new health management policy was implemented this year to help oversee children's doctors' appointments, medication and health records – all of which state officials say will continue to curb unnecessary prescriptions.
Concerns about how much children in state custody are medicated continue, though. Some advocates have reported cases of multiple drugs being prescribed by doctors who weren't psychiatrists or pediatricians, and who spent less than 10 minutes examining their young patients. Foster care providers, who, until recently, had poor access to children's full medical records, are often the ones seeking the treatment for troubled children.
A brother lost
Wellbutrin for depression. Trazodone for insomnia. Paxil for anxiety. And Adderall for hyperactivity. That was teenager Kristie Garcia's daily regimen in 2001, months after white CPS vans pulled up to take her and her five siblings away from their suicidal father.
Days after she arrived at a campus that housed dozens of foster kids, Ms. Garcia received a routine psychiatric evaluation. Homesick, angry and miserable, she answered hundreds of questions from doctors whose names she no longer recalls – then swallowed every pill her care providers gave her.
At first, she slept all the time. When the exhaustion and constant fogginess gave way to strange voices in her head, Ms. Garcia said, she asked staff to take her off the drugs. They said no and told her if she refused them, she would be banned from swimming or watching movies.
As soon as she turned 16, Ms. Garcia got out of foster care and took herself off of the drugs. But her relief was short-lived. In late 2005, she learned that her little brother was dead – the result, autopsy reports show, of either suffocation or a heart attack while being restrained in foster care.
Toxicology reports show that Christening "Mikie" Garcia had four drugs in his bloodstream: an attention deficit medicine, an antidepressant, a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic not federally approved for use in children. The drugs did not appear to reach toxic levels.
Authorities deemed the 12-year-old's death accidental, and the employee who restrained him was not charged with a crime.
"He didn't need any meds. He was the kind of kid who if someone had just threatened to call his mother, he probably would've stopped what he was doing," Ms. Garcia said, kneeling in a Kerrville cemetery to pull fistfuls of weeds from Mikie's grave. "I understand drugs for high blood pressure, for diabetes. But I know Mikie and I didn't need emotional stabilizers to live our lives."
No strings attached?
Many pharmaceutical companies fund studies and conferences with no strings attached, meaning they don't have control over outcomes or content. And drug companies don't pay doctors by the number of prescriptions they write – evidence, physicians say, that they aren't improperly influenced in the treatment of their patients.
Researchers say that doctors with the best reputations are the most sought out by major pharmaceutical firms.
"The people who are most respected are the ones who talk to drug companies, who become consultants for multiple companies, because their opinion is really valued," said Dr. Lawrence Ginsberg, whose Houston clinic has prescribed psychiatric drugs to nearly 2,000 foster children since 2002, according to state Medicaid records.
Dr. Ginsberg, an expert whose work has been published in various top medical journals, has consulted for nearly 20 pharmaceutical firms throughout his career.
"We prescribe the medication that works best for the patient irrespective of our relationship with a drug company," he said. "If a physician talks to all the companies and prescribes for all the companies, then no company has an edge."
States that require doctors who write prescriptions to foster children to report their financial arrangements have found evidence that their work can be affected.
In Minnesota, more than a third of the state's psychiatrists were found to take money from drug companies. A review of that state's data by The New York Times last year found that psychiatrists who received at least $5,000 from drug companies that make new antipsychotic drugs wrote three times more prescriptions to children than doctors who didn't receive the funding.
In Vermont, drug companies gave more to psychiatrists in 2007 than to doctors in any other field. Eleven psychiatrists received an average $57,000 each. Other national studies have shown that researchers who are on pharmaceutical company payrolls are more likely to report positive findings when reviewing those drugs.
Although such entanglements are common in the medical industry, they are increasingly raising concerns about improper influence.
This summer, The New York Times reported that three prominent Harvard University researchers responsible for discovering bipolar disorder in children – and for treating it with psychiatric drugs – were found to have failed to report a combined $3.2 million in income from drug companies to their university. Between 1994 and 2003, the number of children diagnosed with bipolar depression increased 40-fold, and the sales of the drugs used to treat it doubled.
Now an influential senator is asking that the American Psychiatric Association reveal its own financing. In 2006, the drug industry made up 30 percent of the association's $62.5 million in funding. Many mental health associations have also acknowledged accepting large sums from drug companies.
Collaborations between researchers and pharmaceutical firms are essential to the development of groundbreaking treatments and are painstakingly monitored to remove even the appearance of improper influence, said Ken Johnson, the senior vice president for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the advocacy group for the country's drug research and technology companies.
Mr. Johnson said in a written statement that clinical trials and research grants are designed and implemented with the oversight of the Food and Drug Administration and independent review boards "in order to ensure that the data procured is as reliable and accurate as possible."
"Clinical research is a critical element in the development of revolutionary medicines that help patients live longer, healthier lives," Mr. Johnson said.
Gwen Olsen, a drug industry watchdog, says drug companies are often holding the strings. She said she spent 15 years as a pharmaceutical sales rep trying to influence psychiatrists by minimizing drug side effects, sidestepping safety questions, and using marketing materials doctored to water down negative studies.
"You could take statistics and bar charts and make them look pretty much how you wanted them to," Ms. Olsen says in a video interview linked from her Web site, www.gwenolsen.com. "I saw firsthand several circumstances where my minimization of side effects or misinforming a physician had actually resulted in the patient being damaged and/or killed."
Ms. Olsen, who could not be reached for comment, came forward after her 20-year-old niece who had been taking Paxil committed suicide, according to published reports – first attempting to hang herself from a ceiling fan, then setting herself on fire.
How it works
All children entering Texas' foster care system get a routine health screening, and any who show symptoms of mental illness receive psychiatric evaluations. Until this year, the doctors who performed those exams were chosen by individual foster parents, caseworkers or the directors of residential treatment providers – the only stipulation being that they accepted patients on Medicaid.
Child-welfare watchdogs say these doctors, many of whom were in private practice or affiliated with private mental hospitals, operated for years with little oversight. Short on time and swamped with patients, some rarely spent more than a few minutes with their foster patients, they said, and relied on drugs instead of more time-consuming behavioral therapy.
Often, children missed doctors' appointments and doses of medicine – the result of poor record-keeping as they were shuttled between foster families and facilities.
In April, the state implemented a new health care system for foster children, one that makes appointments and selects doctors for them using a standardized list. Under the new program, any children with diagnoses other than minor depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder must be seen by a child psychiatrist. The system also keeps track of all the children's medical records, creating a "continuity of care."
Despite the heightened regulations, however, many of the doctors on the list are the same as were seeing many foster children before.
Texas health officials acknowledge past problems with foster children being overmedicated. A scathing 2004 report by the state comptroller found hundreds of foster kids as young as 3 were being given psychiatric drugs; one older child had 14 prescriptions for 11 different medications, at a monthly cost of more than $1,000.
But state health officials say that since 2005, they've made significant strides, reducing the share of kids taking psychiatric medicine from 38 percent to 32 percent. They've also whittled the number of 3-year-olds on mind-altering drugs by more than 25 percent and reduced the number of juveniles on five or more drugs by 20 percent, according to state data.
Prescriptions still common
Experts say the raw numbers are still high. In fiscal year 2007, nearly 15,000 of the 40,000 Texas children in state custody were prescribed at least one behavioral drug, costing the state $37.9 million.
It's hard to tell how this compares with the broader population; there are few national studies documenting the number of children on psychiatric drugs. In a 2006 analysis of more than 2 million patients served by Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefit manager, 4.3 percent of children under 19 were on an ADHD drug, and 2.4 percent were on an antidepressant. Less than 1 percent were taking antipsychotic drugs, which are considered the most powerful.
Of the top five drugs most often prescribed to Texas foster children in 2007, two psychotropic drugs – Risperdal and Seroquel – were not approved for use in juveniles. Risperdal, an antipsychotic, has since been approved.
Many adult drugs are commonly prescribed to juveniles without federal approval, and not just foster kids. But some that have been proved perfectly safe in adults have had dangerous effects on children, including hallucinations and suicidal tendencies that have led to so-called black box warnings on drug labels.
And even drugs approved for use in children, while effective in treating mental illness, can have serious side effects, including twitching and tremors, muscle stiffness, severe exhaustion and excessive weight gain. Some studies have found that placebos are as effective as certain psychiatric drugs at treating juvenile depression, raising questions about the usefulness of the drugs in the first place.
Despite doctors' relationships with drug companies, there's no evidence that clinical trials have ever been run on foster children in Texas. The most prominent case of experimentation on foster children occurred in New York City in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the city's child welfare administration enrolled hundreds of kids in AIDS drug trials.
The trials, which proved highly successful and dramatically reduced pediatric AIDS deaths, still sparked outrage years later over allegations that the children were enrolled without proper consent.
"It makes me wonder what real safeguards there are here to protect foster children in Texas from being involved in clinical trials," Jack Downey, president and CEO of the Children's Shelter of San Antonio, said of the Texas doctors' drug company relationships. "Whether any wrong is being done or not, there's certainly the perception" that doctors are benefiting from the foster care prescriptions.
Ties to companies
The News' review of the top-prescribing psychiatrists and clinics turned up many with financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies. Among these connections:
- An El Paso psychiatrist who prescribed psychiatric drugs to nearly 300 foster kids between 2002 and 2005 won nearly $150,000 in research funding from Pfizer and Eli Lilly, according to the Web site of the university he is affiliated with. He was also a guest lecturer for an AstraZeneca-sponsored conference at a California beach resort, according to the conference's brochure. He did not return repeated phone calls to his office.
- A Houston psychiatrist who prescribed psychiatric drugs to 490 foster children since 2002 has helped run ADHD, depression and schizophrenia clinical trials. His research facility has received funding from Eli Lilly, Glaxo SmithKline and Janssen, according to the facility's Web site. He did not return phone calls, and his assistant said he no longer works with foster children.
- A Houston doctor has given talks at Eli Lilly-funded events, held teleconferences for Eli Lilly sales representatives, and has pitched one of the company's drugs in speeches, according to her practice Web site. She has prescribed drugs to nearly 150 foster children. She did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Psychiatrists who work with foster children and for drug companies say one doesn't influence the other. Dr. Giancarlo Ferruzzi, a San Antonio psychiatrist who treats foster children and has consulted for at least five pharmaceutical firms, said professional relationships with drug companies have no effect on his prescribing patterns. And, he said, he frequently relies on drugs from companies he's never worked for; anything else "would be a dereliction of duty."
As a psychiatrist who treats children in foster care and also conducts clinical trials for new drugs, Dr. Carlos Guerra of Houston works with lots of pharmaceutical companies.
"But I don't sit there and think, 'Hey, a Concerta rep came in today,' " he said. "There is more data out for the newer drugs, which makes doctors more likely to use them. That's why it appears there's something unethical going on with the drug companies when there's not."
Fighting for her son
Mary Kitchens was in the next room when her autistic 8-year-old dropped a lighted candle onto her bed and was unable to communicate what he'd done. After the house burned and Ms. Kitchens depleted her other children's college funds to put Evan in a private psychiatric hospital, the state took custody of her son, telling Ms. Kitchens the second-grader was a danger to his family.
The piles of leftover drugs in Ms. Kitchens' carefully appointed Bandera home tell the rest of the story. Seroquel. Lithium. Depakote. Losartan. Trileptal. Risperdal. Concerta.
"You name it," Ms. Kitchens said wearily, her voice breaking with each drug's name. "He was given three times the amount given to adult patients. Each of these drugs was given to us by a child psychiatrist."
In foster care in a residential treatment center, Evan, who was not treated by doctors discussed in this report, grew progressively worse. He ballooned from a size 8 to a size 14 – a side effect of many psychiatric drugs. His eyes crossed, and he convulsed with tremors. He had nightmares and panic attacks and hallucinated that bats were chasing him.
Ms. Kitchens, horrified that she'd ever agreed to turn over her son, took out a loan and hired an experienced attorney. On her 40th birthday, she brought Evan home, carefully weaning him off all but one of the medications. Evan's behavior is far from perfect, Ms. Kitchens says, but he's safe and he's happy.
"He was supposed to be in state care, but nobody was looking after Evan but me," said Ms. Kitchens, watching the boy, now 12, wriggling on the kitchen floor with Puppy, his dachshund. "Now my kids don't take medications. I won't ever trust doctors again."
Are drugs needed?
Brett Ferguson, a Kerrville attorney who has represented the interests of foster children, said many in-custody diagnoses seem unwarranted. Almost every child he has represented has been placed on a psychiatric drug while in state care, Mr. Ferguson said, even for minor behavioral problems. Some were so drowsy with medication that they could hardly communicate, he said, and caseworkers refused his requests to reduce their dosages.
"The state takes a child that is upset, crying, yelling and screaming because they've just been taken from their families and, with all those symptoms, prescribes them medication," Mr. Ferguson said. "They think that if the child is unruly, it's easier to deal with them by medicating them than by counseling."
One former operator of a foster treatment center, who spoke only on condition of anonymity for fear of damaging his business relationship with the state, said that half of the children at his facility "could've done with less" psychiatric medication or none at all – and that many were already "zombies" by the time they arrived.
"It's a medical model. We didn't have any other options," said the operator, who acknowledged that sometimes doctors didn't even spend 10 minutes with a child before prescribing a drug. "I always questioned, 'If they didn't need them out there in the real world, why do they need them in here?' But I wasn't about to go against the doctor's orders."
Curbing this kind of overmedication has been a priority, said Darrell Azar, communications manager for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. So far in 2008, nearly 22 percent of all Texas foster children have been prescribed psychiatric drugs for more than 60 days, down from 26 percent in 2005.
The percentage is expected to keep dropping – the result of the new health management program and a review this fall of the state's drug procedures for children in foster care.
"We're a lot more confident today that children who don't need these medications aren't getting them," Mr. Azar said.
Source: The Dallas Morning News
Give CAS More Power!
August 15, 2008 permalink
The brouhaha following the death of Katelynn Sampson has led Ontario's attorney general Chris Bentley to conduct a review of child protection legislation. It is hard to imagine any outcome other than more power for children's aid societies. We will trust John Dunn to approach the attorney general to find out whether past CAS clients will be part of the review.
Ontario Attorney-General to review child protection laws
MARIA BABBAGE, The Canadian Press, August 15, 2008 at 5:47 AM EDT
A review of legislation aimed at protecting vulnerable children such as Katelynn Sampson is under way in the wake of the seven-year-old girl's death, Ontario Attorney-General Chris Bentley said yesterday.
"We are working very hard with the Ministry of Children and Youth to make sure that whatever needs to be done will be done, whatever changes need to be made will be made, whatever we need to strengthen will be done to make sure that our children - our most vulnerable - are protected," he said.
But Mr. Bentley wouldn't say what changes might be considered, and he declined to comment on the case, saying only that Katelynn's death was "tragic for all."
"We're taking a look at the legislation - what's in it, what could be in it," he said.
The circumstances surrounding Katelynn's death have outraged many since the girl's battered body was found by police Aug. 2 in her caregiver's apartment after someone in the home called 911. Katelynn had been staying with the couple with her mother's consent.
One officer said the injuries the girl suffered were the worst he had seen in 20 years of policing. Screams of anguish were heard outside a funeral home Monday after friends and loved ones saw the injuries to the child's body.
Opposition parties and the province's child advocate have been calling for an inquest into Katelynn's death and an overhaul of the Children's Law Reform Act.
NDP MPP Peter Kormos has raised questions about the decision to award custody of Katelynn to Donna Irving, who has been charged with second-degree murder along with her boyfriend Warren Johnson.
Court transcripts revealed that few questions were asked about Ms. Irving, who had a criminal record for drugs, prostitution and violence.
Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said Katelynn paid with her life for the system's shortcomings, and it's a "disgrace" the government hasn't yet started an investigation into what went wrong.
Mr. Bentley should order that any potential guardians be checked for a criminal record in custody cases where children are involved, Mr. Tory said this week.
Source: The Globe and Mail
Boy Killed by Social Services
August 15, 2008 permalink
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells the story of the death of a boy as a tragedy. Presenting the same facts chronologically makes it look like a murder by social services.
At age five, Jonathan King was diagnosed with ADHD, a piece of medical quackery used to justify intervention into the lives of normal children. We cannot tell from the article whether Jonathan's later misbehaviors were natural, or a reaction to psychotropic drugs administered for the ADHD. The parents could afford private schooling and were seduced by the sales pitch of the Alpine program. According to Alpine: “Here, they’re very nurtured. Our kids know that they’re safe here.” The actual treatment was the opposite. Jonathan went to Alpine three times. During his last stay he was placed in solitary confinement 19 times, half of the sessions under 25 minutes, but twice for seven hours. The boy complained to staff about his confinement, threatening suicide. They ignored his pleas. At age thirteen, he killed himself.
Eighth-grader’s suicide spurs lawsuit
Family says seclusion was unconstitutional and alternate school failed to protect student from harm.
Jonathan King told teachers at his north Georgia alternate public school that he couldn’t stand being locked within the four concrete walls of a small seclusion room.
In 2004, just weeks after threatening suicide, the 13-year-old eighth-grader hanged himself in the room, using a cord a teacher provided him to hold up his pants, court records show.
Now, four years later, as the Alpine Program in Gainesville starts its new school year, Jonathan’s parents are suing the program and the agency that oversees it. Don and Tina King of Murrayville, just outside Gainesville, say the treatment their son received at the school was unconstitutional and the school failed to protect him from self-harm. A north Georgia judge is expected to decide soon whether the King’s case should be dismissed or sent to a jury trial.
Alpine, which started its school year last week, serves each year about 200 northeast Georgia children ages 5 to 21 with severe behavioral or emotional disabilities.
The Kings initially sued Georgia’s Department of Education, as well as Alpine and the Pioneer Regional Education Service Agency, under which the program operates. But Hall County Chief Superior Court Judge C. Andrew Fuller dropped the case against the state in February, ruling that the Department of Education was not mandated to create seclusion-room regulation.
Alpine officials would not comment on the King lawsuit. Phil Hartley, Alpine’s lead attorney, said there is no law addressing the use of seclusion rooms in schools and that under Georgia law the school can’t be held accountable for Jonathan’s actions. Jonathan had threatened suicide several times and told teachers it was in jest, he said.
The school followed federal law and successfully carried out its policy of the room’s use, Hartley said during a recent hearing related to the case. The school uses seclusion rooms, found in some psychiatric and special-education facilities, to help students regain control if they become a physical danger.
Hartley also said there was no evidence that Alpine staff knew Jonathan was suicidal.
A last resort
The Kings agreed to send Jonathan, one of their two sons, to Alpine after his behavioral issues worsened during the sixth grade. They thought their son would get the attention he needed from Alpine’s curriculum.
Diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at age 5, Jonathan attended special classes from kindergarten until teachers suggested he be sent to Alpine. The school has small classrooms staffed by social workers and instructors.
Dennis Cormier, Alpine’s current director, said the program is “for students severe enough that they can’t handle any time in a regular school,” such as those who become physically aggressive. The program attempts to improve behavior and social skills, Cormier said.
“Here, they’re very nurtured. Our kids know that they’re safe here,” he said.
Students stay at Alpine for a few months or years before returning to a traditional school setting. The most problematic are sometimes re-admitted.
Jonathan was in and out of Alpine three times.
During his final two-month stay, he was put in a seclusion room 19 times, according to court documents.
Although half of those sessions were less than 25 minutes, he was twice put in a room for more than seven hours a day, records show.
According to Howard “Sandy” Addis, director of the Pioneer education agency that oversees Alpine, procedures stated that seclusion rooms be used as therapy —- not punishment —- and as a last resort. Students also were not to be in the rooms for longer than 15 minutes without administrative approval, but no maximum limit had been implemented, Addis said.
Jonathan’s parents said they were aware a time-out technique would be used, but they said they did not know their son would be kept in a seclusion room for hours at a time.
“It was like a jail cell. That’s where the school system took my child’s life,” Don King, Jonathan’s father, said in an interview.
Tina King added: “If they would have told me they couldn’t calm him down in 15 minutes, I would’ve picked him up.”
Data, oversight limited
While there is data available on suicide in public schools, there is no specific data on suicides in seclusion rooms.
Officials for the Georgia Advocacy Office say Jonathan’s case points to this lack of data and oversight.
“This is not an isolated incident. In Georgia, we don’t have any particular rules about seclusion rooms and restraint,” said Ruby Moore, executive director of the Georgia Advocacy Office, one of 50 state offices providing advocacy for the disabled.
State officials said that during the past five years no formal complaints have been filed against Alpine; no complaints regarding seclusion rooms in Georgia schools have been documented either.
Alpine and 23 other programs like it exist in Georgia, serving 5,668 students as of 2007, according to the state Department of Education.
The state doesn’t regulate the programs because the education service agencies, including Pioneer, are regionally governed. The Pioneer agency, funded through state and federal dollars, oversees Alpine and other North Georgia education facilities.
Although unrelated to Jonathan’s case, the Department of Education’s State Advisory Panel for Special Education now is developing guidelines for student restraint and use of seclusion rooms for all local education agencies and state-operated programs, said Matt Cardoza, a spokesman for the Department of Education.
The Kings’ attorney, E. Wycliffe Orr, argues that Jonathan’s death could have been prevented had there been different seclusion room policies at Alpine.
“This reveals the great importance of this case by what it suggests and what it means for behaviorally disturbed children across the state,” he said.
Alpine officials have since required that staff constantly observe students in seclusion rooms. Although other rooms are used, the room where Jonathan committed suicide is no longer used for students, said Hartley, Alpine’s attorney.
It is used as a storage space.
AJC news researcher Nisa Asokan contributed to this story.
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
F4J Closes Highway
August 15, 2008 permalink
Batman, Fathers 4 Justice member Geoffrey Hibbert, closed a belt highway circling London for two hours. The extensiveness of the report shows that the British press is taking the issue seriously.
Fathers 4 Justice protester arrested after M25 stunt causes 15-mile traffic jam
A Fathers 4 Justice campaigner was arrested today after climbing down from a gantry over the M25.
Geoffrey Hibbert, dressed as Batman, brought Britain's busiest stretch of motorway to a standstill during rush hour.
Thousands of drivers, including holidaymakers on their way to Heathrow, were left stranded after police were forced to shut part of the M25 near the junction with the M4 for nearly two hours.
Tailbacks stretched for 15 miles after the computer engineer scaled a gantry on the London orbital motorway at 7am and unfurled a banner with pictures of his eight-year-old daughter.
Mr Hibbert was arrested on suspicion of causing danger to road users and putting articles on or over the road.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that the protest ended around 4pm when the man voluntarily came down.
He said: "The man came down of his own accord,
"He was arrested by officers at the scene on suspicion of causing danger to road users and putting articles on or over the road.
"He has been taken to a West London Police Station where he is being questioned by police.
"We do not know at this stage whether he came down because he was bored or cold."
A spokesman for the Highways Agency confirmed that all lanes of the M25 had now been reopened but that lengthy delays remained.
The 48-year-old says he has been barred from seeing her since his former partner left last August, despite lodging several court appeals.
He claimed to have received support from passing drivers for what was the first Fathers 4 Justice protest on a major road for four years.
But Sheila Rainger, deputy director of the RAC Foundation, said the stunt was misconceived.
She said: 'He is entitled to make his point, but by doing it this way he isn't hurting the government, he is hurting thousands of ordinary people who are trying to go about their business.
'Among those who were held up while trying to get to Heathrow must have been many fathers taking their children on holiday.'
Chris Connor, from Buckinghamshire, was caught in the chaos as he travelled from Fulham, West London, to Woking in Surrey.
He said: 'I was stationary for 25 minutes. People were walking around outside their cars on the motorway.'
Police reopened part of the motorway after but there were delays anti clockwise for most of the day.
Mr Hibbert, from Farnborough, Hants, said the protest was for his daughter.
He added: 'I cannot describe how not being able to see her makes me feel
'I hope that she sees it so that she knows that I want to see her. If I had taken her away I would be in prison for kidnap but my ex-partner can do it and it's fine. Where is the justice?'
'I've got lots of support from motorists passing on the other side. I have had both men and women shouting their support out the windows to me. Even children have given me a cheer.'
The grandmother of the child at the centre of the protest claims however that her family were not preventing the youngster from seeing her dad.
Jackie Pound said her daughter, 32-year-old Nicola Sharp, was upset that she was being accused of separating Mr Hibbert from his daughter.
Sharp said: "Nicola has never stopped the children from seeing their Dad,"
"It's completely untrue.
"She has actively tried to encourage Chyann to talk to him on the phone but the little girl doesn't want to.
"Last September he was on the phone and we tried to pass it to Chyann and she sat on her hands.
"Nicola has also kept his phone number and only a few days ago she told Chyann she still has the number if she wants to call her Daddy.
"She doesn't want to speak to him. This is 110 per cent Chyann's decision and nobody else's."
Mrs Pound said that her daughter, who has another son Ben, aged 15 years, was not shocked to see Mr Hibbert on the motorway gantry.
She said: "I had a phone call this morning telling me he was on the bridge.
"It wasn't a complete surprise."
Mr Hibbert has three other children from a previous relationship who he has access to.
His friend, Ron Reed, said: 'He's been driven to desperation, he's been through all the courts to get access to his daughter and it's cost him £27,000.
'He last saw her in August last year and he's only spoken to her once.
'The courts are so geared to the mother, the father gets no justice and that means the kids don't get justice.'
Fathers 4 Justice founder Matt O'Connor said the group had steered away from direct action which affects roads in the last four years to avoid disruption to the public.
He added: 'Having said that we like to do something slightly different and mix things up.
'A lot of fathers want to do their own thing and providing it is peaceful and non-violent direct action we will help them in any way.
'The public either love us or they hate us. There is an important message here. This is not a protest, it is an emergency.
'The government in this country do not seem prepared to grasp we are dealing with the serious issue of fathers not seeing their children and this becoming a fatherless country.'
Harriet Harman was forced out of her home in June after two Fathers 4 Justice campaigners dressed as comic book superheroes climbed onto her roof and refused to leave.
The deputy leader of the Labour Party and Minister for Women refused to meet the pair.
Source: The Daily Mail (UK)
Angelica Leslie's Dad in Jail
August 12, 2008 permalink
Why would a family with four children keep three of them and abandon one in a freezing parking garage? Chances are it did not happen that way. The extreme secrecy surrounding this case prevents the family from telling their side, and the dad has been kept in jail without bail, further ensuring his silence. We have a still-unconfirmed account of what really happened, and if true, it explains why children's aid and the prosecutors are trying so hard to keep the lid on. Once again, if you know anyone who can confirm the facts, please notify us at [ rtmq at fixcas.com ].
Court denies bail again
Posted By THE CANADIAN PRESS, Posted Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Just weeks before a man was charged with abandoning his baby daughter -- dubbed Angelica-Leslie -- in a frigid north end stairwell, he wrote police saying he was at his ``wit's end'' at his treatment and threatened to return to his homeland, court heard Monday.
The unemployed 30-year-old accused, who cannot be named because it could identify his children, failed in his second bid for bail on Monday.
Superior Court Justice Frank Marrocco denied his motion to quash a July 24 lower court detention order.
Marrocco said he was concerned by the man's letter, dated May 5, 2008, to Toronto police Det. Keith Moxley, that stated, ``I am making preparations to travel back to my home.''
The man wrote that he was ``frustrated and at my wit's end'' at his treatment by police, who were investigating him.
He asked police to ``please present documentation'' proving that he could not leave the country for a vacation, otherwise he would.
The man and his wife were arrested in Kitchener on May 21 and charged with failing to provide the necessities of life, assault and abandoning Angelica-Leslie.
She was found on Jan. 30 in a plaza parking lot.
They both deny being her parents.
In late June, the police laid additional charges against the couple, including assault and failing to provide the necessities of life.
The charges relate to the couple's three other children, all under age 6.
The wife was granted bail in June.
The man returns to court Aug. 25.
Article ID# 1152324
Source: The Chatham Daily News
August 12, 2008 permalink
Timothy and Elisha Cole decided to make up after their divorce and got married again. So what did the Batavia NY cops do? They arrested him for violating a restraining order in the divorce.
Groom Charged With Being Too Near Bride at Wedding
A Batavia man has been arrested for getting too close to his bride on their wedding day.
Police say Timothy Cole, 45, was ordered by a court not to be near his ex-wife Elisha.
The couple has a troubled past and divorced several years ago, but decided to get back together, Mrs. Cole said in an exclusive interview with 7 News. They were married last Friday.
At the wedding reception at the couple's Walnut Street home, police responded to a report of an argument between guests. That's when police realized Elisha had the order of protection. Timothy was immediately arrested and jailed.
He'll appear in Batavia City Court on Tuesday at 1 p.m.
Source: WKBW Buffalo
Who Watched Katelynn?
August 10, 2008 permalink
Kenn Richard, executive director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, says his agency was not involved in giving custody of Katelynn Sampson to Donna Irving, the woman accused of killing her.
But reading between the lines tells a different story. He refused to say whether he had monitored the girl, claiming confidentiality under the Child and Family Services Act. These confidentiality provisions have never in the past prevented children's aid societies from talking when they wanted to. Katelynn's mother says children's aid was involved with her daughter. So it looks like a case of CAS failure after all.
Native child services denies role in placing slain girl with accused
Director refuses to comment on whether agency oversaw care of seven-year-old
The executive director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto says his agency was not involved in the transfer of custody of Katelynn Sampson from her biological mother to the couple now accused in the seven-year-old girl's death.
However, Kenn Richard refused yesterday to say whether his staff had ever overseen the care of Katelynn by her mother, Bernice Sampson, or her subsequent guardian, Donna Irving, who, along with her boyfriend, Warren Johnson, is charged with second-degree murder.
"I can't [tell you]," Mr. Richard said outside the agency's College Street offices, citing a Child and Family Services Act section that forbids identification of people involved in child-welfare proceedings. "But had we gone [to the girl's home], we would have acted."
Katelynn was found dead last Sunday morning in a second-floor apartment that Ms. Irving shared with Mr. Johnson in the Queen Street-Lansdowne Avenue area in the city's west end. Police said the girl had been sleeping on a bedroom floor and that her body showed signs of repeated abuse.
Her mother has since said two child-welfare agencies, the Children's Aid Society of Toronto and Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, had been involved with the girl's care, but both agencies have refused to confirm or deny this.
Meanwhile, an autopsy has been conducted and tissue and toxicology tests on Katelynn's remains are continuing, although a cause of death has not yet been determined, said David Evans, Toronto's supervising coroner for investigations. A funeral service will be held on Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Ave.
Dr. Evans said it is too early to say whether Katelynn's death will be the subject of a coroner's inquest or examination by Ontario's Paediatric Death Review Committee, which operates under the auspices of the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario and reviews child deaths, including all those in which the child was receiving services from a child-welfare agency.
"We cannot do anything until the court proceedings are completed," he said, referring to the criminal counts against Ms. Irving and Mr. Johnson.
In 2007, the committee took in 76 reports of deaths in cases where children's aid societies were involved, four of which were deemed homicides.
As of March 31 of that year, the province's 53 children's aid societies had 26,260 ongoing child-protection cases on their books.
Source: The Globe and Mail
August 9, 2008 permalink
Canada Court Watch reports that group home residents have to put up with bedbugs and repeated insecticide sprays.
Toronto CAS group home infested with bedbugs!
(August 9, 2008) Court Watch has received inside information that a Toronto region group home has been infested with bed bugs on intermittent basis for over 18 months with the problem continuing as of today. It has been reported that the children in care are being bitten while they sleep. Children have had their personal belongings and clothing thrown out and are being forced to sleep on the floor without blankets. The residence has been sprayed numerous times but the bugs keep coming returning. Questions can also be raised as to how much pesticide have the children been exposed to in this CAS home after repeated spraying. If these conditions existed in a private home, CAS would likely apprehend children from parents, yet when these deplorable conditions exist within a taxpayer funded CAS facility, nothing is done. Children report being threatened with punishment by CAS workers if the children say anything to anyone about what they see going on in these homes. Sounds like this CAS facility should be closed down permanently!
Source: Canada Court Watch entry for August 9, 2008
Take Your Law and Shove it
August 9, 2008 permalink
Nichole Yegge was in the care of Las Vegas child protectors for four years. After she was found dead, DFS refused to comply with a state law requiring disclosure in the case of dead foster children. They said her death does not fall under the definition of a child abuse and neglect fatality. Oh really? Then why was she in their custody in the first place?
Cases like this (there are lots in states with disclosure laws) show why having state agencies care for children cannot work. They ignore the laws not to their liking and cannot be made to comply, since judges cannot hand down rulings opposing the full power of the state. Children will continue to suffer, and state agencies will continue to thumb their nose at the law, until the system is reformed to leave most of the children now in state care in their families, with the few intractable cases left to private charity.
Nicole is a misspelling, all other news reports call her Nichole.
DFS Refuses Release of Murdered Teen's Records
Updated: Aug 8, 2008 03:49 AM
The I-Team has learned the Clark County Department of Family Services has refused to release information about its history with Nicole Yegge. The 17-year-old runaway's mutilated body was found in a shallow grave over the weekend.
State law requires the public release of information whenever a child known to the child welfare system dies.
During an interview with Eyewitness News last year, Yegge claimed she entered foster care at the age of 13.
DFS says it will not release her case history because her death does not fall under the definition of a child abuse and neglect fatality.
The state auditor reviewing all child deaths tells the I-Team he has requested Yegge's case file and will release the required information as soon as he receives it.
Source: KLAS TV Las Vegas
CPS Alters Records
August 9, 2008 permalink
On July 21, 2008 four-year-old Jahmaurae Allen was beaten to death in her home shortly after CPS investigated the family. California has a law requiring disclosure of the CPS files of children who die. So how did CPS comply with the law? They altered Jahmaurae's records.
The obvious purpose of the disclosure law is to allow the public to see the failures of CPS, and correct them through political and legislative processes. The alteration of records subverts the very purpose of the law, and facilitates the preventable deaths of future children.
sacbee.com - The online division of The Sacramento Bee
CPS documents altered in abuse case
By Marjie Lundstrom and Sam Stanton - firstname.lastname@example.org, Published 3:30 pm PDT Friday, August 8, 2008
In the 16 days between the time 4-year-old Jahmaurae Allen was beaten to death and Sacramento Child Protective Services publicly released portions of its records this week, the case file was altered to change the original finding in the case, The Bee has learned.
One early version of the report from the social worker, who began handling an allegation of abuse involving the 4-year-old on June 19, described the allegation as "unfounded," two sources who read the document told The Bee this week.
Another version obtained by The Bee described the allegation of abuse of the little boy as "inconclusive."
But the portions released by CPS to The Bee this week under a new public records law do not reflect either of those findings. Instead, those files indicate the allegations of abuse were "substantiated," a finding listed as being "effective 7/21/08" - the day Jahmaurae was beaten to death, allegedly by his mother's live-in boyfriend.
A top county official said today she was unaware of the varying case files until The Bee raised questions, and that an inquiry had begun.
"We're pulling computer records right now to find out what's happened," said Lynn Frank, director of the county's Health and Human Services department, which oversees CPS.
The existence of differing versions of the case file sparked outrage among children's advocates who work closely with the agency. Some had been instrumental in getting the new California law passed, which forces county child welfare agencies to open the files of children who die on their watch.
"This is unbelievable," said Robert Fellmeth, a law professor and director of the San Diego-based Children's Advocacy Institute, which backed the new disclosure law.
"If you don't take the kid (from the home), the only check you have is this - the record of what you did or did not do...," he said. "If you start playing with that and altering that, you undermine the only check these kids have on failure to protect."
Alarm over child welfare employees falsifying or backdating files has surfaced elsewhere.
Last week in Philadelphia, criminal charges were filed against two social workers involved in a case that led to the starvation death of a disabled 14-year-old girl. Workers there were accused by the grand jury of falsifying documents after her death to make it appear as though they had performed their jobs properly.
In New Jersey, a children's advocates group sued that state's child protection agency several years ago for allegedly ordering case files to be altered.
"If this is what happened (in Sacramento), whoever did it and whoever ordered it should be fired immediately," said Richard Wexler, executive director of the Virginia-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.
"It's dishonest," he said. "It's covering up the extent of whatever errors may have been, and that endangers the next child."
Jahmaurae's death has spawned a Sacramento County grand jury probe of CPS, and the agency itself said Tuesday it was planning to have an independent review of CPS conducted.
CPS has conceded that it should have done more to protect Jahmaurae before he was killed, and suspended the social worker in the case.
At the time, the agency said the social worker "worked in isolation and did not follow established department procedures, such as: required contact with reporting party; required contact with medical personnel; required contact with persons who may have knowledge of the family; and reviewing the case with the supervisor."
Sources familiar with the case say the social worker's entries and narrative about what happened were not accessible until after Jahmaurae was killed. It remains unclear who completed portions of the file.
CPS documents show the social worker evaluated the case after a doctor reported to the agency June 17 that Jahmaurae might be the victim of physical abuse. That doctor reported finding a painful swelling and bruise on the boy's chest the size of an adult fist.
CPS documents indicate the social worker tried to contact the boy and his mother on June 19, going to their Foothill Farms apartment. The worker went to the wrong apartment at first, the documents state, and when she found the right apartment no one was home. She left her card on the door and returned to make another attempt at contact June 21, the documents state, and left her card again.
She finally made contact when the mother called her June 23, according to an early version of the case file that was not released by CPS. The social worker went to see the family the next day, and Jahmaurae told her that the bruise on his chest had come from a fight with his 3-year-old brother. He "denied being hit by anyone else," it said.
At some point, the social worker filed a report that the allegation of abuse was "unfounded," sources said.
In CPS jargon, "unfounded" means the report is determined not to be true, according to agency literature.
But another report on the case obtained by The Bee - also not the one ultimately released by CPS - does not reflect that finding. Instead, that version reads:
"The allegation in regard to physical abuse was assessed by this reporter with a case disposition of inconclusive. This was evidenced by lack of disclosure from the minor that the mother's boyfriend had hit him. Also, the minor's sic were observed jumping off furniture and throwing things at each other."
"Inconclusive" means there isn't enough information to know either way, according to a CPS pamphlet.
However, the documents CPS eventually provided The Bee under the new disclosure law do not contain either the "unfounded" or "inconclusive" findings. Instead, those documents show the allegation of abuse was "substantiated" on the day Jahmaurae died.
Such a finding means "there is credible information to believe that child abuse or neglect did occur," CPS background materials show.
The documents CPS provided also differ from an earlier version of the case file in other ways.
An entire passage in the document provided by a source does not appear in the documents released by CPS, and the content does not appear to be the type of sensitive information that typically would be redacted.
That passage, dated June 23, 2008, discusses what happened when the social worker finally heard from Jahmaurae's mother:
"The mother stated she received my card off the door and called this reporter back. The mother stated she was afraid that this social worker was trying to take her children. The mother stated she is new here from the Bay Area. This social worker told her that I have to see her and the children and do an assessment and then we would talk further. This social worker told her not to be concerned about the article in The Bee Sunday CPS is supportive of families."
That was a reference to an investigative series on CPS that began appearing in The Bee that day.
William Grimm, a senior attorney at the Oakland-based National Center for Youth Law, said he was deeply disturbed by the "unfounded" report on Jahmaurae.
"If a physician sees a fist-sized bruise on a 4-year-old - the red flag automatically goes up," he said. "I just don't understand how any reasonable person could make a judgment other than 'substantiated' - period."
Jahmaurae was the seventh child to die since September whose family had contact with CPS, a streak that has caused concern among elected officials and children's advocates.
The suspect in the case is 26-year-old Jonathan Lamar Perry, a 6-foot-4-inch, 250-pound man who was in the apartment with Jahmaurae and the boy's 18-month-old sister. The children's mother was at the hospital late that night with her 3-year-old son seeking treatment for an illness.
Sheriff's investigators say Perry became angry at Jahmaurae and beat him to death, then called 911 and reported the child had had a seizure and was unconscious.
Perry is charged with murder and child endangerment in the case, and also faces charges for the alleged abuse of the 3-year-old. He is being held in the Sacramento County Jail and has yet to enter a plea.
Robert Wilson, executive director of Sacramento Child Advocates, said Friday he "would sure be interested to see how CPS explains" the different versions of the case file. His office, whose attorneys represent children in dependency court, received the same version from CPS that The Bee was given this week.
"This is yet another reason I think an outside investigative body should be looking at this to determine if records have, in fact, been altered," he said.
Fellmeth, a former prosecutor, said the California government code is "very, very broad" and makes it a criminal offense to alter a public record - even if that record won't be given to the public. "You're not supposed to be altering, period," he said.
The proper way to make changes in public documents is to "overlay, or add the correction - not subtract or erase or alter."
"You don't create a new reality," he said.
Source: The Sacramento Bee
F4J Strikes Twice
August 8, 2008 permalink
Two members of Fathers 4 Justice dressed as Plywood Man and Spider Man occupied the roof of NDP leader Jack Layton's office at 221 Broadview Avenue, Toronto. They call the NDP the No Dads Party. Plywood Man is Mark Bogan, we do not know who Spider Man is. On the same day, British Fathers 4 Justice member Tim Line occupied the roof of family court judge Matthew Thorpe.
The two Toronto superheroes were arrested along with F4J member Denis Van Decker. The three men will have a bail hearing tomorrow at the courthouse at 444 Yonge Street (corner of College) at 10am.
The East York-Riverdale Mirror
BEACH: Bizarre protest at Layton's constituency office
Superhero-clad men demonstrate atop NDP leader's roof
BY JOANNA LAVOIE, August 8, 2008 04:03 PM
A portion of Broadview Avenue near Dundas Street East was still closed as of 4:45 p.m. Friday afternoon as two men staged a protest atop Toronto-Danforth MP Jack Layton's constituency office.
The protesters, one of which was dressed as Plywood Man and the other clad in a red and blue Spider-Man superhero costume, were expressing their disapproval with what they perceive as Layton's opposition to divorced or separated dads having equal access to their kids.
The men also draped a banner across the top of the federal NDP leader's East Toronto Chinatown's office.
A spokesperson from the Fathers 4 Justice group, an organization that advocates for the rights of both parents to raise their children despite separation or divorce, was also on hand. The group is believed to be behind the protest.
Local police as well as the Emergency task Force, fire and EMS crews were all on the scene.
Source: The East York-Riverdale Mirror
Batman protest at judge's house
Father Tim Line has dressed as Batman and is staging a protest on the roof of a judge's home in Seend, near Devizes, this morning.
Mr Line, a former solidier, is upset that a court ruled he could not have regular access to his daughters aged 14, 13, and 11.
He was originally given access to the girls but last year they told a judge they no longer wanted contact with him.
He has joined the Fathers4Justice action group and this morning climbed on to the roof of the Seend home of leading judge Lord Justice Matthew Thorpe.
In the past his home has been a target for the group which campaigns for fathers to have more rights. Paint has been smeered on its walls and banners placed on its gates.
Source: This is Wiltshire
The press release from Fathers 4 Justice clarifies why Jack Layton was the target.
For Immediate Release
August 8, 2008
Plywood Man Comes in from the Cold to declare NDP = No Dads Party
At 6 am this morning Spiderman and Plywood Man occupied the roof of Jack Layton's Constituency office and hung a banner declaring the *NDP* to be the *No Dads Party*.
Plywood Man has vowed to stay on the building until his two sons are brought to see him and Jack Layton officially supports Equal Parenting Private Members Motion M483. The two superheroes are well stocked and ready to stay.
Plywood Man began his mission for equal parenting 6 years ago in Yellowknife, NWT. With no tall buildings to climb he began his simple but persistent protest for equal parenting with large pieces of painted plywood. His campaign drew overwhelming community support and led to the unanimous resolution passed on June 17, 2008 by the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories in support of Equal Parenting and a call to NDP MP, Denis Bevington to support Private Members Motion M483 for Equal Parenting.
To date Mr. Bevington has been unable to publicly support the bill because he has been oppressed by his party and in particular NDP leader Jack Layton.
"I believe that the NDP is the No Dads Party. They are oppressing Mr. Bevington as well as Fathers and Families across Canada" said Plywood man.
Kris Titus, National Director of F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada, calls on Mr. Layton and all elected officials to support M 483 with non partisan expedited reform to establish the equality of parents and to bring about real change to the Family Law Industry in Canada.
"The overwhelming majority of the Canadian public support Equal Parenting because it is common sense that children do better when raised by both parents. The Status Quo only serves to enrich Lawyers and impoverishes families financially and emotionally. The children are the real losers when one parent and their extended family are marginalized by biased family law courts" said Ms. Titus.
PHOTO OPS: Superheroes, Daily 1 pm Press Conference and 6 pm support protests
Videos on YouTube Search *F4JLayton *
LOCATION: 221 Broadview Avenue, Toronto
TIME: Ongoing – began at 6:00 am August 8, 2008
CONTACT: Nationally, Kris Titus 1-888-F4J Canada ( 1-888-345-2262 ) ext. 704
On Location, Denis Van Decker 1-888-345-2262 ext. 703
National Website: www.f4jcanada.ca
Action Website…. www.f4jcanada.com
TO ALL SUPPORTERS - PLEASE SEE ATTACHED SHEET ON HOW YOU CAN HELP SUPPORT PLYWOODMAN AND SPIDERMAN!!!!!!!
UNITED IN PURPOSE AND SPIRIT THE F4J "TEAM"
Source: email from Kris Titus
Addendum: A photo from F4J shows the entire building with the banner.
Source: F4J Canada website
Addendum: At the bail hearing, Denis Van Decker and Vi (Spiderman) were released on $10,000 bail each. Plywood Man (Mark Bogan) who during the incident used a threat to jump from the roof as a gambit to keep police from rushing him, was sent to a shrink. Source: email from Denis Van Decker.
Addendum: Toronto Police issued a statement (pdf) on August 11. It identifies one of the men as Vi−Nhien Tran, presumably Spiderman.
Addendum: Two years later after completion of legal action against Toronto F4J members, police returned a camera seized during the raid. The police never examined the tape, which contained pictures of the action. It is now on YouTube as F4J Protest 080808.
August 8, 2008 permalink
This story of a missing girl, Brittany Jeppesen, makes no mention of family, so we presume she has escaped from the "care" of the children's aid society.
Police search for missing girl
Public assistance is requested in locating a missing 15-year-old girl. Brittany Jeppesen has been missing since July 24.
Brittany is described as 5- feet-8 inches tall and 125 pounds. She has greenish-grey eyes, shoulder-length dark red hair and a light complexion
She was last seen wearing a black and purple halter top with jean shorts, short green jacket with a peace sign on the back in black. She was also wearing black flip-flops and was carrying a purple shoulder bag with the peace sign on it.
Brittany is believed to be in the Sudbury or Toronto area. If you have any information with regards to the whereabouts of this child, please contact police.
Source: Sudbury Star
August 8, 2008 permalink
Lying to the police is a crime. Lying to the public is not. Northumberland CAS executive director Greg Dulmage took advantage of this when he said: "The philosophy is to try to keep the child in his or her own home, a foster home or parent model homes, if possible. Only after that route is exhausted is the child placed into a group home, ... ". Mr Dulmage is avoiding the consequences of his own financial mismanagement by resigning as of the end of 2008. The budget deficit, $1.4 million on July 8, was minimized by Mr Dulmage today as only $430,000.
CAS chief refutes claims of poor budget planning
The Children's Aid Society (CAS) of Northumberland has been running deficits for years, says the head of a group home company who charges the agency should be able to budget better and not rely on the provincial government "bailouts."
However, local CAS executive director Greg Dulmage says that while it can "project" need, CAS has a mandate to protect children and can't predict what children will come into care and what their individual, specific needs will be.
In general, however, Mr. Dulmage said more children are coming into care requiring the outside resources of a residential group home setting. The philosophy is to try to keep the child in his or her own home, a foster home or parent model homes, if possible. Only after that route is exhausted is the child placed into a group home, and those outside resources are more expensive, he said. The bottom line is that both the child and the caregivers must be safe, Mr. Dulmage stressed.
Bob Connor of Connor Homes and his son Sean, who is second-vice-president of the Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth, agree that there are more children with mental health issues such as those resulting from fetal alcohol syndrome or autism and who are developmentally handicapped. But an association study has found that there is an average of four placements of a child elsewhere before the child ends up needing the care provided by 24-hour staffing in a group home.
The local CAS isn't intervening early enough, Bob Connor said.
"They don't have a triage system so they can get the right placement.... By the time the child gets the right placement they require more services... and it's more expensive."
Sean O'Connor agreed with his father, saying the CAS has "no mechanism" to triage where the child should be placed.
Before the situation worsens, intervention and assessments should take place. And there should be line-by-line accounting of where the CAS's funding is being spent along the way, Sean O'Connor added.
The CAS has just undergone an in-depth service and financial review by the provincial government and the ministry has determined the children are being properly placed in group homes, Mr. Dulmage countered.
The agency is pursuing a Section 14 Review, or budget review, next month seeking funding to meet its $430,000 deficit for the year ending March, 2008, he said. The deficit is primarily due to purchasing these outside "group home" residential resources.
"The budget for children in care... is unpredictable," Mr. Dulmage Because children must be protected and that is the CAS mandate, there can be no waiting lists, he added.
Source: Northumberland Today
Manitoulin Demonstrators Rebuffed
August 7, 2008 permalink
When a crowd of young people showed up at the CAS office in Little Current Ontario with questions about a child in their care, Sudbury-Manitoulin CAS executive director Colette Prevost stonewalled them. CAS even obliquely threatened them, suggesting the demonstration might be an inappropriate place to bring children.
Peaceful protestors ask for change in demonstration at Island CAS_office
LITTLE CURRENT-Mason Dugas and his young friends picked up placards and marched chanting back and forth outside the Manitoulin offices of the Children's Aid Society (CAS) in Little Current for about an hour last Friday.
Mr. Dugas and his friends were joined by around 30 fellow protestors of all ages, although some admitted to being there to support the young man's right to express his concerns in a peaceful and democratic way. Others clearly had their own agendas with the Children's Aid Society, although for the most part Mr. Dugas's message remained coherently his.
The protest proceeded despite a meeting held between the children and CAS executive director Colette Prevost on Tuesday. Perspectives on how that meeting went were decidedly different.
Ms. Prevost said that while she met with the young protestor, it was difficult to answer many of his questions because they were very specific to one particular case-thereby being interdicted by the requirements of protecting the privacy rights of a ward of the CAS.
Mr. Dugas, in turn, was adamant that from his perspective the meeting was a complete wash. "They couldn't answer any of my questions," he said. He said that he could not recall receiving answers to his questions even in general terms. "I asked the questions expecting answers," he said. "They said, 'We can't tell you that.'"
Mr. Dugas said that the CAS had sent out a letter (a copy of which was provided to the Expositor) warning foster parents that the demonstration might be an inappropriate place to bring children. "They said they were afraid bad people might come by," said Mr. Dugas. When asked if he had seen any 'bad people' at the protest, Mr. Dugas shook his head in the negative.
Mr. Dugas maintains that his primary concern is ensuring that the Children's Aid Society investigates where they place children thoroughly to ensure they are not putting the child at risk. His particular concern was about a young friend of his who was placed in a home where he understands there were drugs and alcohol being used. He maintains that the CAS did not act in a timely enough fashion to protect his friend and to remove the friend from that environment.
"I asked them why they won't ever admit they were wrong," said Mr. Dugas. "Their answer was 'I know I do, but I can't speak for other people.'"
In her interview with the Expositor, Ms. Prevost said that the decision processes under which the CAS operates are very complex, and difficult even for more experienced adults to understand. "There are very many levels of sophistication in our system," she said. "Even adults have a difficult time."
Ms. Prevost noted that the requirements of protecting and respecting the privacy of children can make communication in situations like these very frustrating for all parties involved. But she stressed that, contrary to the impression being given by the protesting children and their supporters, there does exist a very stringent system of accountability for the CAS.
While claims have been made that the CAS does not have a system of independent oversight, Ms. Prevost said that nothing could be further from the truth. The CAS internal complaint process provides a first level in an attempt to deal with a complainant's concerns. When that process does not solve the issue, Child and Family Services will review the matter in a provincially-mandated legal process.
"There is a third-party review whereby an agency with no connection to the CAS will come and hear the matter," said Ms. Prevost.
In addition, every year a number of cases of the CAS receive a random audit to ensure that legal standards are being met by the CAS. "We have no control over which cases are reviewed," noted Ms. Prevost.
Ms. Prevost clarified that the CAS concerns with the demonstration were more to do with the appropriateness of the venue as a means of communication. "The information picket, as I understand it to be, is about kids having something to say," she said. "I am not sure they have said it in a way that they feel confident they have been heard."
Ms. Prevost said she would have preferred to see the demonstration held in a venue such as a school gymnasium. "My concern is that this process really flirts with the danger of children being exploited by other people for their own purposes," she said. "I would have preferred to see this take place in a more child-friendly forum."
Larry Killens, a Providence Bay resident and Rainbow School Board trustee, joined the children on the picket line.
"I support these kids," he said. "I am proud of these kids, not only just our Island kids, for standing up and speaking out about things that concern them in a peaceful way."
Mr. Killens went on to say that he is in support of an initiative to have the CAS placed under the purview of the Ontario Ombudsman's Office. "Basically, every province in Canada has a process of oversight for child and family services," he said. Ontario, he claims, does not.
Ms. Prevost was adamant that that point of view is not reflective of reality. The CAS, she maintained, is very closely monitored and reviewed. "We are looking after the welfare of children," she said. "That is how it must and should be."
Mr. Killens, in his capacity as school trustee, is currently working on a protocol for interaction between the CAS and the Rainbow board. He said he had been concerned over liability issues as there was no formal policy in place. He praised the school board administration for their diligence in getting the policy in place. "My compliments to the director of education for confronting this huge concern," he said. "Without this commitment by the board we would not now have it."
Mr. Killens expressed his disappointment at Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Brown and the premier of Ontario, suggesting that the region's member of the Ontario legislature should have been at the protest and that the province needs to step in to ensure proper care is being given to the province's youth.
Off-Island media attended the event. With television cameras whirring, a TV journalist interviewed the young protestor and others on the scene.
Although a police cruiser drove past the demonstration twice during the hour, there was no overt police presence at the demonstration. Occupants of other offices at the building complex which houses the CAS were requested by the agency to park their cars at the far end of the parking lot to help ensure the children's safety.
Another group of young people was holding a demonstration at the corner of Highway 6 and Meredith Street-where they continued to wave their placards long after the central picket had closed down and everyone had gone home.
Mr. Dugas said he was pleased with the turnout for the demonstration he had organized. He expressed some confusion over the online petition to have the CAS overseen by the Ontario Ombudsman. "I just want them to be more careful about where they are putting kids," he said. "I don't want anymore kids being put in places that aren't safe."
He also wanted to share the credit for the demonstration's success. "I want to thank my friend Zack," he said. "He has been with me every step of the way-and my brother."
Many of the cars passing in front of the demonstration slowed to a crawl, their drivers craning to see what the signs were saying, and then honking support before driving away. Other vehicles simply honked in support as they drove past.
Source: Manitoulin Expositor (follow continued to main story)
August 6, 2008 permalink
Georgia state senator Nancy Schaefer, who spoke out against the abuses of the child protection system, has been defeated in an election.
Runoff: Incumbent State Senators Ousted
ATLANTA -- The state Capitol is already starting to look different as two state senators were knocked out in Tuesday's runoff.
Republican state Sen. Nancy Schaefer was defeated by Jim Butterworth, a former Air Force pilot and the chairman of the Habersham County Commission. And former state Rep. Gail Buckner unseated state Sen. Gail Davenport in the Democratic runoff.
Butterworth, who will represent a northeast Georgia district, said he unseated Schaefer because he "had a team that could get our message out."
Schaefer had flirted with the idea of running for Congress, but later changed her mind. By then Butterworth had already announced his candidacy.
Buckner, meanwhile, was the Democratic nominee in a failed bid for the Secretary of State's seat in 2006.
Source: CBS 46 Georgia
FLDS Children Menaced Again
August 6, 2008 permalink
Texas is once again trying to get custody of FLDS children. A pending petition to remove eight children from their parents will be heard before Judge Barbara Walther on September 25. The petition is to enforce a shotgun divorce — the mothers resisted a "safety plan" that required kicking the fathers out of the lives of the children.
Child protectors are fond of saying that children get a court hearing before removal from their parents (except in cases of imminent danger). They conceal their habit of checking the imminent danger box in every case. In hundreds of parents interviewed, and thousands of cases examined on the internet and in news archives, this is the first hearing prior to child removal. It takes a supreme court ruling to get child protectors to comply with the law on the scheduling of hearings.
Texas wants 8 FLDS kids back in foster care
Texas authorities have asked a judge to return eight children from a polygamous sect to foster care after their mothers refused to sign safety plans limiting contact with men involved in underage marriages.
Texas Child Protective Services filed a motion Tuesday to have six girls and two boys, aged 5 to 17, placed back in state custody. A hearing has been set for Sept. 25 by 51st District Judge Barbara Walther.
The children were among those the state removed from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in April amid allegations of sexual and physical abuse. In June, Walther returned about 440 children to their parents, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as ordered by two higher courts. CPS also asked the court to close cases involving 32 children.
However, other child welfare and criminal investigations continue. Last month, a Schleicher County grand jury indicted six FLDS men, including jailed sect leader Warren S. Jeffs, on sexual assault and related charges. The grand jury next will meet on Aug. 22.
In the new legal action, CPS alleges the children's parents refuse to agree to measures to protect them. Affidavits, diary excerpts and letters detail a history of underage marriages in some families and chronicle instances of physical abuse or neglect.
The state wants to remove two sons and a daughter of Barbara Steed and Merril Jessop, alleging they have permitted illegal marriages of underage daughters or between adult sons and minor girls. Merril Jessop is a church bishop who oversaw the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado.
The couple's daughter was married at age 12 to Jeffs at the ranch on July 27, 2006.
That same day, two of Merril Jessop's sons - Merril Leroy Jessop, 33, and Raymond Jessop, 36 - were married to 15-year-old girls, one of whom is Jeffs' daughter. The grand jury indicted the brothers last month and they remain in jail. Merril Leroy Jessop is charged with felony bigamy and sexual assault, and Raymond Jessop with sexual assault.
The state also wants to resume custody of a 13-year-old daughter of Amy E. Johnson, who is alleged to have allowed a 15-year-old daughter to marry an adult man in 2005. Merril Jessop and Wendell Loy Nielsen, a church elder and Johnson's current husband, witnessed the ceremony, the state alleges.
Another motion covers two daughters of Ellen G. Young, Barbara's sister, and Nephi Barlow. Young was married in 2004 to Merril Jessop, the state alleges. The girls lived with their aunt at the ranch for three years while their mother worked in Nevada, according to the documents.
Two other girls are daughters of Alice F. Barlow and Lloyd Hammon Barlow, 38, a physician indicted last month on three counts of failure to report child abuse. A court document alleges that one of Barlow's four plural wives was 16 when they married; it also says Barlow told investigators in April he had overseen births to underage girls at the ranch and other places "many times."
The state is specifically asking mothers of girls ages 10 to 17 to sign the safety plans to keep them from underage marriage or sexual abuse, said CPS spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner.
The mothers of the eight children listed in the motion refused to do so, she said.
FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop called the state's demand that the women sign the safety plan or face losing their children "barbaric."
"Why should these mothers forfeit their rights when they haven't had their day in court, and there is no evidence their children are in immediate danger?" he asked.
Attorney Stephanie Goodman, who represents Amy Johnson, said she advised her client against signing a plan that "will only be used against [her] in the future.
"My client is verbally and physically implementing the safety plan and CPS has the right to ensure by unannounced visits that she is keeping and providing her child a safe and stable environment," Goodman said.
Meisner said cases being dismissed involve families where there is either no evidence of underage marriages or children whose parents have agreed to appropriate steps to protect them from abuse.
She said in "more than half of the YFZ children, no match was found among the 26 fathers who provided DNA samples."
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Foster Child Dies with Name
August 6, 2008 permalink
The Ontario press has departed from its usual silence and is reporting full details and names in the death of a child in non-parental care. At least initially, it appeared to be a case of foster care without involvement of the child protection system. In other stories, the press has learned that a court made the foster mother, Donna Irving, the legal guardian of the now-dead child, Katelynn Sampson. The press is investigating whether Toronto Children's Aid or Native Child and Family Services had a role in the case.
Injuries on girl's body suggest past abuse: police
Toronto police say a seven-year-old girl found slain over the weekend was found with injuries that suggest she had suffered physical abuse in the past.
Homicide investigators were expected to announce the exact cause of Katelynn Sampson's death by Tuesday afternoon, but the autopsy results were not yet ready.
"The autopsy is taking as long as it has just because of the nature of the injuries," Det. Sgt. Steve Ryan told reporters early Tuesday evening.
"There are many of them, and they're complicated."
Ryan is appealing to anyone who knew the little girl since May 2007 to contact police.
"I'm hearing a lot of third-hand information which I can describe to you as disturbing, but no one has contacted me and I'd like to speak first-hand with all of these people," Ryan said.
"There have been suggestions that Katelynn has been seen in the past with marks on her body."
Katelynn was discovered by police after someone called 911 early Sunday morning saying the little girl had choked on a piece of food.
When officers arrived, they found the girl's lifeless body and saw bruises all over her body.
Authorities have not speculated about what killed the girl.
Katelynn had been staying with her legal guardian while her mother dealt with some personal issues.
The guardian, 29-year-old Donna Irving, was arrested over the weekend and charged with second-degree murder. She remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 15.
According to police, Irving has a criminal record for violent offences. There are convictions for robbery and assault.
The victim's mother said she and the accused had been friends for about 10 years.
Meanwhile, neighbours continue to gather in front of the building where the body was found to lay flowers and notes of sympathy at a makeshift memorial to the girl.
With a report from CTV Toronto's John Musselman
Social Worker Pay Rates
August 5, 2008 permalink
Philadelphia teenager Danieal Kelly had cerebral palsy, making her too much trouble to care for. Her mother let her die of starvation.
In this kind of case, social services pleads for more money and power to prevent similar future tragedies. At the same time, they make any social workers who should have been on the lookout for the remunerative case into scapegoats. Nine social workers have been suspended in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Daily News has assembled a list of the nine with their salaries. In aggregate they made $658,454 annually. It looks like social workers are anything but poor.
If you want to see the whole story of the child being shamelessly exploited in a bureaucratic power grab, it is in the grand jury report (pdf, from the Philadelphia Inquirer) or our local copy. Don't go there if you are squeamish.
A look at the 9 suspended DHS employees
Posted on Tue, Aug. 5, 2008, DANA POINDEXTER
Poindexter, a $55,243-a-year social worker who joined DHS in 1992, allegedly ignored repeated complaints of abuse and neglect in Danieal's case over a two-year period. Poindexter was suspended last week after being criminally charged in the case. Danieal was the second child to die on his watch. In 2003, Poindexter was suspended for "failing to conduct the required home visits" and safety assessments after a 3-week-old baby died, according to the grand-jury report
Walker, a 30-year veteran of DHS, was Poindexter's immediate supervisor at the time of Danieal's death. Poindexter was one of five social workers under her supervision. The grand jury concluded that Walker essentially enabled Poindexter to brush off multiple abuse complaints, including allegations that Danieal's father beat her. Walker also was aware of complaints that Danieal wasn't in school or receiving medical care, and that neighbors heard her screaming. She didn't require him to complete required investigative reports, according to the grand jury. About a month before Danieal died, Walker got promoted to DHS administrator and now earns $73,957 a year.
Poller, a DHS employee since 1980, was Walker's supervisor and oversaw the "intake unit," made up of "child protective" social workers like Poindexter, who are responsible for investigating complaints of abuse or neglect received by DHS' hotline. Instead of ensuring that Poindexter did his job, Poller disposed of abuse complaints related to Danieal by marking them "unsubstantiated" in the DHS database, the grand jury says. It concluded that Poller falsified records in Danieal's case to cover up the "nonperformance" of Poindexter, Walker and herself. Poller, who earns $78,438 a year, is now project manager of a DHS team that reviews child deaths.
Sommerer, a DHS social worker since 1992 who earns $54,843 a year, also was suspended last week after being criminally charged in the case. She was responsible for ensuring that employees at MultiEthnic Behavioral Health, an outside contractor, did their jobs, specifically enrolling Danieal in school, getting her medical care, and connecting her with services for her cerebral palsy. Sommerer had Danieal's case for 10 months before she died. The girl had not started school or seen a doctor during that time, the grand jury found. Every three months, Sommerer was required to visit Danieal's family and make sure that the children were safe. On a June 29, 2006, visit to the home, Sommerer told grand jurors that she didn't enter the room where Danieal lay in bed. The grand jury concluded that Sommerer backdated a report to cover up her negligence.
Hawk, who has worked at DHS for over a decade and earns $63,880 a year, was Sommerer's immediate supervisor. In grand-jury testimony, Hawk admitted that she did not review the DHS file on the Kelly family until after Danieal died. Hawk claimed that she discussed the case with Sommerer and kept progress notes from the meetings, but no records were found to support her claim.
Davis, a social-worker supervisor with a $56,678 salary, replaced Hawk as Sommerer's supervisor in April 2006 - about four months before Danieal's death. Davis' job required him to review the Kelly case in June 2006. But he failed to do so, the grand jury concluded.
Mond, a DHS administrator who earns $78,438 and started with the agency in 1981, supervised Davis, Hawk and Sommerer. Mond gave Sommerer an "outstanding" performance review three days before Danieal's death. While Sommerer visited the Kelly family five times as required, she failed to notice "the girl was being starved to death," the grand-jury report concluded.
Brown, who currently earns $93,178 a year as DHS director of intake, was director of the agency's social-service program and Mond's supervisor at the time of Danieal's death. He has been with DHS since 1975. During grand-jury testimony, Brown defended Sommerer's job performance, saying that she had met the "minimum expectations in case management."
Mayo, who earns $103,799 a year as DHS director of Operations for the Children and Youth Division, was Brown's supervisor. During the investigation into Danieal's death, Mayo testified that she never spoke with Sommerer, Mond, Davis, or Hawk about the case. Mayo, 26-year DHS employee, "made excuses for the employees' outrageous lapses and for her own failure to administer any consequences for failing to do their jobs," the grand jury concluded. *
Source: Grand Jury Report to District Attorney Lynne Abraham.
City payroll records.
Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Jersey Child Dump
August 3, 2008 permalink
Children's agencies in Britain shipped unwanted children to Jersey and kept no further records. No one knows how many survived and how many perished. Sifting the dirt at Haut de la Garenne has uncovered many child body parts, suggesting that children were killed and incinerated, with their ashes buried on the grounds.
Birmingham council illegally sent children into care in Jersey, MP report reveals
The Mail, By Eileen Fairweather, Last updated at 2:39 AM on 03rd August 2008
At least five children were illegally placed in care on Jersey by Birmingham social services, which then lost track of them.
Four of the youngsters - who are now adults - are still on the island and have been traced by local police. But the whereabouts of the fifth, a male born in the Fifties, remains unknown.
The revelation comes amid continuing police investigations into 100 charred bone fragments and 65 milk teeth found at Jersey's now notorious Haut de la Garenne former children's home.
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who discovered that his local city council had sent children to Jersey, believes other children from the UK 'were also placed in care there'.
The MP for Birmingham Yardley added: 'The Government has refused to order councils to check properly because it does not want to open a can of worms, on the links between abusers in England and Jersey.'
The Mail on Sunday has also learned that children from UK local authorities, which have also been the subject of abuse allegations, were taken on holiday to Haut de la Garenne, where the bone fragments are said to belong to five children whom detectives believe were killed.
The inquiry suffered a setback last week when forensic experts revealed that the age of the remains cannot be dated, meaning a murder inquiry is unlikely. But nearly 100 former care residents have alleged gross physical and sexual abuse.
Birmingham council only discovered it had placed five children in foster care on Jersey because, at Mr Hemming's request, it checked old accounts. It found it made payments to Jersey for child care between 1960 and 1990. Yet a social work file survived on only one child.
Mr Hemming praised the council for 'doing what every council should do now'. He added: 'It is not responsible for what happened under earlier administrations, and I can't believe it was the only British authority which used Jersey. The system nationally is not properly accountable. Children are taken into care never to be seen again.'
Schools Minister Kevin Brennan has told the Commons that checks are unnecessary because children from the UK cannot be placed in care in Jersey without a court order. Yet the five Birmingham children were sent to Jersey without such orders.
Although he has no information suggesting any crime took place, Mr Hemming is concerned that the fifth man's history and whereabouts remain unknown. 'How many other councils dumped kids there and forgot about them?' he said.
Birmingham City Council said: 'We will co-operate fully if needed by the Jersey authorities to investigate the whereabouts of adults from any placements made historically by Birmingham City Council.'
Mr Hemming has asked English councils to check their records under the Freedom of Information Act. He said: 'Most seem only to have done cursory checks, just checking recent electronic files, or asking around the office.'
Responses obtained by The Mail on Sunday confirm this. A handful of councils refused to check at all.
They included Islington in North London, whose 12 children's homes were infamously infiltrated between the Seventies and Nineties by a child sex and pornography network, while Margaret Hodge was council leader.
Key staff, The Mail on Sunday recently revealed, were from Jersey or had strong Channel Islands connections. The council told Mr Hemming that checking its records would cost too much.
Liz Davies, the former Islington senior social worker who bravely blew the whistle on the scandal, said last night: 'It is becoming clear that children at Haut de la Garenne were sent on holiday to children's homes in England which were also notorious for abuse, while the children in the English homes they went to were sent to Haut de la Garenne. They literally swapped beds.'
She did not feel able yet to reveal which authorities were involved.
'But I am perturbed that police in Britain have not written to all local authorities on the mainland to demand they check which children they sent to Jersey,' she added.
'During the North Wales abuse scandal in the Nineties, when I was a child protection manager in London, police asked all councils to check had we sent any of our children to its care homes. Many had, then just forgotten about them.
'Children in care are often shipped about, and paedophiles love placing them far from home.'
Mr Hemming is furious the Government has refused to respond to the call for councils to check records until after the summer break.
He said: 'They are stalling because they are embarrassed by the size of the problem, and because it involves English authorities, too.'
Source: The Daily Mail (UK)
Crown Ward Career
August 3, 2008 permalink
NJM was born December 25, 1963. Six months later his father murdered his mother and NJM became a ward of the crown. He passed through several foster homes, and failed adoption placements. The queen, through the actions of the Northwest Territories child protection system, is the proud mother of an intelligent but dysfunctional son.
A court case includes a rap sheet so detailed it amounts to his biography. Some comments:
Chronology of N.J.M.
25 December 1963
Born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Approximately June 1963
Birth mother killed by father prior to N.J.M.’s first birthday. Sent to Foster Home
25 December 1964
25 December 1965
25 December 1966
Spends One Year in an Institution
25 December 1967
Returned to Yellowknife until 1972
25 December 1968
Before 25 December 1969
Reports Suffering a Head Injury
25 December 1969
1969 – 1976
Number of Foster Homes and Eventual Adoption. Reports five different adoption/foster settings and being beaten by various foster parents. Reports being teased and subject to racial slurs because he is native. Reports foster mother asked him to put his hand in her vagina.
1969 – 1971
Assessed by Psychiatrist at some point because he refused to talk for six weeks
Before 25 December 1970
Reports being placed in Orphanage
25 December 1970
Reports being the subject to sexual abuse by a night worker in the orphanage.
Adopted by G. and C.G. and remains at this home until age 11. Reports never able to develop attachment to parents but did develop attachment to siblings.
Between sixth and seventh birthday
Reports failing Grade 2
25 December 1971
Age 8, seen by Child Psychiatrist for purpose of placement with foster parents
1972 – 1979
Reports being placed in Reform School
Moved to Regina home for boys (Ranch Erhlo) until 1980. Reports being beaten by the older residents.
25 December 1972
25 December 1973
At age 11 began using alcohol
25 December 1974
25 December 1975
25 December 1976
Leaves Adoptive Parents
Reports using alcohol
25 December 1977
At age 14 first heterosexual experience
25 December 1978
25 December 1979
Reports regular use of alcohol to Dr. Gojer
25 December 1979
Reports Being “dropped on the street on his own” from Reform School
22 July 1980
Sentenced in Regina
1. Theft suspended sentence, probation 18 months
2. Break Enter and Theft suspended sentence, probation 18 months
3. Possession suspended sentence, probation 18 months
(Probation until January 1982, but this was revoked on 12 Jan 1981 – See Line 15)
Left high school with grade 10
24 July 1980
KOLISH incident (Regina)
30 July 1980
Arrest for D.K. incident (arrested in B.C.)
15 August 1980
Sentenced in Regina (D.K. matter)
1. Break, Enter and Theft 3 months concurrent / probation 12 months
2. Theft 3 months concurrent / probation 12 months
3. Theft 3 months concurrent / probation 12 months
4. Unlawful confinement 9 months concurrent / probation 12 months
25 December 1980
12 January 1981
Sentenced in Regina (change in sentencing)
Breach of Probation (Crown application to re-sentence)
Probation order of 22 July 1980 revoked and new Sentence
1. Theft 30 days consecutive
2. Break Enter and Theft 30 days consecutive
3. Possession 30 days consecutive
15 April 1981
Sentenced in Regina
1. Theft -- 6 months
2. Theft -- 30 days consecutive
27 July 1981
Sentenced in Regina
Being at Large 30 days consecutive
26 October 1981
Sentenced in Regina
Break Enter and Theft -- 6 months concurrent
25 December 1981
18 March 1982
Sentenced in Regina
Break Enter and Theft -- 30 days / probation 2 years
20 April 1982
Sentenced in Regina
1. Possession -- 4 months
2. Theft -- 1 month consecutive
25 December 1982
Starts Common Law Relationshiop
12 March 1983
C.M. incident (Regina)
14 March 1983
Arrest for C.M. incident (released, but date unknown)
21 October 1983
C.Y. incident (Regina)
24 October 1983
Arrest for C.Y. incident (released, but date unknown)
14 November 1983
Sentenced in Regina
Possession of Narcotic -- $175 or 15 days
14 November 1983
D.S. incident (Regina)
15 November 1983
Arrest for D.S. (not released)
14 December 1983
Sentenced in Regina (C.M. matter)
Assault -- 2 months
25 December 1983
26 January 1984
Sentenced in Regina (YOUNG matter)
Assault Bodily Harm -- 9 months concurrent
27 January 1984
Sentenced in Regina (D.S. matter)(following preliminary inquiry)
Aggravated Sexual Assault -- 4 1/2 years
July 5, 1984
Assessed by Psychologist R. Loomes at Saskatchewan Penitentiary
25 December 1984
5 September 1985 to 6 November 1985
Treatment (anger and sexual problems) at RPC, but discharged due to involvement with drugs
13 November 1986
Assessed by Dr. Botros (Psychologist) of Saskatchewan Penitentiary
25 December 1986
14 January 1986
Assessed by Dr. A Gordon and Dr. C.M. Green, Regional Psychiatric Centre (Prairies)
25 December 1987
6 February 1987
Mandatory Supervision Release
17 April 1987
A.N.P incident (Saskatoon)
4 July 1987
M.P. incident (Saskatoon)
17 July 1987
Reports to Parole officer that he quit his job.
Reports “stressful problems” with common law, J.R..
Referred to Employment Centre for Aptitude Tests.
30 July 1987
Completes Aptitude Tests.
14 August 1987
Reports frustration over future job and education prospects.
20 August 1987
Parole officer provides Saskatoon Police with updated photograph of N.J.M. because of concern that he involved in sexual assaults
27 August 1987
Appears for appointment with parole officer with black eye and scratches to the face.
18 September 1987
Parole officer interviews N.J.M. and Roberts and Roberts indicates that they are not spending much time together.
Roberts reports that N.J.M. goes out on his own with his friends.
Both deny use of alcohol or drugs.
Parole officer suggests counselling. Roberts is willing but N.J.M. refuses.
Parole officer informs Saskatoon Police that she is concerned that N.J.M. was responsible for sexual assaults in the area in the summer of 1987.
2 October 1987
Arrest for A.N.P and M.P. Incidents (Saskatoon)
2 February 1987 to 2 October 1987
Parole – intensive supervision.
8 October 1987
N.J.M. requests remand to federal custody from judge because he is afraid for his life in the Provincial Remand Centre.
13 October 1987
Parole officer conducts post-suspension interview of N.J.M. he has “fucking nothing to say.”
Preliminary hearing reported to be set for 10 and 11 February 1988.
Admits to things starting to go downhill at the end of July.
Admits to having been in a fight after a night of drinking at the Baldwin hotel the before his appointment on 26 August 1997.
Did not think breach of condition not to drink was serious.
Claims alibis to A.N.P and M.P. incidents.
14 October 1987
N.J.M. transferred to federal custody at Saskatchewan Penitentiary.
Short of following him around 24 hours a day, Parole officer opines that nothing else could have been done to prevent N.J.M. from committing A.N.P and M.P. incidents.
Parole Officer recommends revocation of mandatory supervision.
10 November 1987
Mandatory Supervision Revoked
30 November 1987
Recommitted to Saskatchewan Penitentiary.
25 December 1987
6 January 1988
Advises that Common Law Wife is four months pregnant
Reports past use of alcohol and drugs excessively but does not blame intoxicants on criminal activity.
Reports assaultive behaviour was impulsive.
Reports that it is difficult for him to voice true remorse but voices shame and realises that he has ruined most opportunity provided to him in life.
Reports Grade 12 standing.
17 March 1988
National Parole Board orders detention to warrant expiry.
Approximately June 1988
13 October 1988
Sentenced in Saskatoon (A.N.P / M.P. incidents)
4 ½ years on each (total 9 year aggregate sentence)
Sent to Saskatchewan Penitentiary
Requests transfer to Drumheller Institution because he cannot survive in general population at Saskatchewan Penitentiary due to “enemies”.
Reports desire to take Computer Course.
Reports daughter four months old.
Inter-regional transfer recommended because of incompatibility issues in Prairie Region.
25 December 1988
16 August 1989
Transferred to Kingston Penitentiary because he was unable to integrate into maximum security in the Prairie Region
25 December 1989
26 September 1990
Institutional conviction disobey written rule
18 October 1990
Threatened staff member -- Institutional conviction - segregated
26 November 1990
Institutional conviction for Possession of Contraband
10 December 1990
Assessed by Dr. Bellemare – Reports Blackouts which he attributes to head injury before sixth birthday
25 December 1990
19 May 1991
Refused direct order, found guilty / Institutional Conviction
25 June 1991
Writes letter to “J.Todd”
16 October 1991
Institutional conviction for possession of a Shiv, Possession of Contraband and throwing a tray
20 October 1991
Writes letter to Susanne Patry
22 October 1991
Assessed for Reduced Security and Denied
31 October 1991
Threw food tray, found guilty / Institutional Conviction
17 November 1991
Possession of brew, found guilty / Institutional conviction
15 December 1991
Segregated for good order of institution after throwing food tray at food service officer
Declined STS assessment at RTC because he was unwilling to give up cell at Kingston Penitentiary
25 December 1991
10 January 1992
Dissociation following fight with another inmate, released 12 Feb 1992
Institutional conviction for Possession of a metal that could result in making a weapon
8 May 1992
Institutional conviction of inciting inmates to harm staff (One Correctional officer was assaulted) – segregated
4 June 1992
Recommended to be Transferred to Special Handling Unit
17 August 1992
Transferred to Special Handling Unit Quebec after assault on Correctional Officer
5 October 1992
Assessed by Dr. Alfred Thibault, Psychiatrist
Reports Having Four Year Old Daughter
23 October 1992
Charged with possession of contraband, found guilty
10 November 1992
Assessment by Dr. Gilles Brabant who Diagnoses Anti Social Personality Disorder
19 November 1992
Decides he does not wish to meet with Dr. Brabant
25 December 1992
10 March 1993
Transfer from Special Handling Unit to Kingston Penitentiary
17 December 1993
Disobey order of staff, found guilty of institutional offence
25 December 1993
16 March 1994
Assessment by Dr. Bellemare who indicates that convictions “point” to sexual sadism
2 May 1994
CSC Staff Recommend Detention Past Warrant Expiry given institutional conduct, lack of treatment.
6 May 1994
Assessed by Dr. R. Dickey, Psychiatrist.
Impressed as extremely psychopathic
Reported N.J.M. Tested Positive for Tuberculosis.
Reported treatment including intermuscular treatment with sex drive reducing agents vital.
Very High Risk of Offence
11 July 1994
Detained by National Parole Board beyond Statutory Release Date
4 October 1994
Charged with contraband, segregated and later found guilty
15 November 1994
Found masturbating while sitting on chair in cell, lights on, found guilty
Began writing S.C.
25 December 1994
Completed the Spirit of the Eagle Programme
5 February 1995
Maintenance of Maximum Security rating recommended by C.S.C.
7 February 1995
Charged with having brew in cell, found guilty
17 February 1995
Wrote a letter to previous case management officer – letter seen as being ‘angry and disrespectful”.
Spirit of the Eagle Program in Progress
21 April 1995
Progress Report – Spirit of the Eagle Program.
25 May 1995
National Parole Board Confirms Detention Order made 11 July 1994
May to July 1995
Participated in Anger Management Programme (completed)
Final Report positive. Post-testing some anger scores remained somewhat elevated.
30 May 1995
Found with material necessary to make a still (burned)
10 October 1995 to 15 December 1995
Cognitive Skills Program (completed)
Final report positive although he did not complete homework.
30 November 1995
Test positive to THC – visits restricted
5 December 1995
Involved in fight with other inmate, dissociated until 06 Dec 1995. Institutional Conviction.
25 December 1995
18 January 1996
Disobey written rule, found guilty
4 March 1996 to 12 April 1996
Participated in Offender Substance Abuse Programme (OSSAP).
Active participation reported. Post test scores show “slight improvement” in most target areas. Relapse prevention needed.
16 April 1996
National Parole Board confirms Detention order
18 May 1996
Alleged to have assaulted correctional supervisor, N.J.M. intoxicated, admitted to dissociation. Later found not guilty of the assault.
Year Prior to 22 May 1996
Involved in at least three inmate assaults
22 May 1996
Reported involvement with Common law Spouse. Reported involvement in “Alternatives to Violence Project”. Transfer to Millhaven Institution recommended. Recommended Transfer to the Special Handling Unit in Saskatchewan.
23 May 1996
Transferred to Millhaven Institution
6 July 1996
SIR score correlates with one and three offenders not committing indictable offence upon reclease.
23 September 1996
Recommended Continued Detention beyond Statutory Release
20 December 1996
Returned to Kingston Penitentiary to facilitate participation in Sex Offender Treatment Program
25 December 1996
20 February 1997
Recommended Continued Detention beyond Statutory Release
Reported to be scheduled for Sex Offender Treatment Program at Regional Treatment Centre Ontario in March 1997
25 March 1997
Commences Sex Offender Treatment Program at Regional Treatment Centre, Ontario
4 April 1997
National Parole Board Confirms Detention to Warrant Expiriy
9 May 1997
Reported participation in the “basic” and “second level” of the Atlernatives to Violence Project.
Reported as active participant in Native Brotherhood.
SIR-R Score of –21 (1 in 3 offenders will not commit an indictable offence after release)
14 May 1997
Warden of Kingston Penitentiary Recommends Maintenance of “Maximum Security” Rating
28 May 1997
Assessed for Private Family visits
Approximatley June 1997
Slaps another inmate on the unit in the face.
15 July 1997
Recommended Transfer to Special Handling Unit in Quebec.
28 July 1997
Tests Positive for Codeine, Morphine and THC
30 July 1997
Dismissed from Sex Offender Program as a Result of Poor institutional behaviour and positive drug tests.
Offered individual therapy and declines because life would be too stressful back at Kingston Penitentiary to complete treatment.
Denies use of drugs and says urinalysis is a mistake.
8 August 1997
Correctional Service Notifies Kingston Police of Anticipated Release at Warrant Expirty on 10 October 1997
27 August 1997
Final Report – Sex Offender Treatment Program.
Demonstrated some change in attitudes and behaviours. Has difficulty integrating what he has learned into his behaviour.
10 October 1997
Release from Kingston Penitentiary
12 October 1997
Warrant Expiry Date for M.P. / A.N.P Sentencing
25 December 1997
Reports regular use of alcohol to Dr. Gojer
20 January 1998
Assessed as a high risk to commit sexual offences.
30 June 1998
B.D. incident (Kingston)
4 July 1998
Arrest for B.D. incident
21 September 1998
Cellmate requests to be transferred toanother cell for his own protection because N.J.M. has a weapon.
30 September 1998
Another offender reports that N.J.M. assaulted him.
1 October 1998
N.J.M. has a spike shaped object in his possession. Pleads guilty to institutional offence and sentenced to close confinement for a period of up to 30 days and loss of privileges.
26 October 1998
Greeting card to N.J.M. intercepted which contained materials alleged to be controlled substances
29 November 1998
Paper clip sharpened to the point of a hypodermic needle found in N.J.M.’s cell.
25 December 1998
24 June 1999
N.J.M. found to be instigator of assaults against other inmates and had threatened other inmates.
18 August 1999
N.J.M. identified muscling another offender for his canteen. Sharpened spike used to threaten other offender.
12 November 1999
N.J.M. charged with assaulting another offender. Pleads guilty and sentenced to close confinement for a period not exceeding 30 days.
25 December 1999
20 March 2000
Another offender complains that N.J.M. assaulted him. Close confinement for a period not exceeding 30 days.
6 May 2000
Another offender complains that N.J.M. is threatening him.
20 May 2000
N.J.M. complains about a cellmate snoring. Advises that snorer should be moved or range will snap.
6 June 2000
N.J.M. and another offender observed by staff in physical altercation.
16 June 2000
N.J.M.’s cell is searched and it is discovered that his cell windows have been tampered with and metal pieces are missing.
9 November 2000
Date of Conviction
25 December 2000
27 December 2000
N.J.M. states to security officer that “if they fuck with me I can fuck them.” Advises that he knows where a certain officer lives, that the officer has kids and where they go to school. States he has personal information pertaining to two staff members.
9 March 2001
N.J.M. observed protecting himself from assault by other inmate.
9 May 2001
N.J.M.’s cell is searched and officers located a piece of metal fashioned into a knife blade. He pleaded not guilty and received close confinement for a period not exceeding 30 days.
28 June 2001
Hard plastic shank located in N.J.M.’s mattress. Pleaded guilty and received close confinement for a period not exceeding 30 days.
4 September 2001
Psychiatric assessment by Dr. Bradford filed
9 September 2001
Suspected of having a razor blade.
15 September 2001
Piece of sharpened metal found in N.J.M.’s cell.
24 September 2001
Requests to be placed in segregation due to feelings of stress and an extreme desire to harm others.
12 October 2001
Wilfully disobeys lawful order
25 December 2001
23 April 2002
Intake Assessment at Millhaven Institution completed
24 April 2002
Psychological/Psychiatric Assessment Report
Did not wish to discuss predicate offence given status of appeal of LTO finding.
Advises predicate offence was consensual.
Describes sexual fantasies as “pretty boring compared to what they wanted” referring to prior assessments.
With respect to current sentence, offender stated that four years is not a punishment.
Reports involvement with a woman in British Columbia and intention to go to that province upon release.
Identifies victim awareness as a priority for treatment.
Indicates that he does not deal well with anger.
Opines that even after completion of sexual offender treatment programming he will always be at risk to reoffend.
Feels he lacks insight.
Feels he can “breeze” through treatment because of his intelligence.
24 May 2002
Tested Positive for THC
3 September 2002
Refused to provide Urine sample
7 October 2002
Unescorted Temporary Absence Eligibility Date
7 October 2002
Tested Positive for THC and Opiates
9 October 2002
N.J.M. impersonated another inmate to receive that inmate’s medication.
8 December 2002
Day Parole Eligibility Date
20 December 2002
Transferred to Atlantic Institution (Renous)
25 December 2002
14 March 2003
N.J.M. in physical altercation with another inmate
2 May 2003
Correctional Plan Progress Report
2 July 2003
Anger and Emotions program (complete) Atlantic Institution
18 July 2003
Anger and Emotions Management Program Performance Report -- Final
24 November 2003
Detention Prescreening Recommendation No. 1
26 November 2003
Correctional Plan Progress Report
22 December 2003
Anger and Emotions Booster (complete) Atlantic Institution
22 December 2003
Substance Abuse Moderate (start)
Drug Abuse Screening Test – Severe
Problems Related to Drinking – a lot
Alcohol Dependency Scale – Substantial
Offender reports using a variety of drugs over his lifetime including THC, speed, cocaine, LSD, PCP, opiates (heroin, morphine, Dilaudid, Talwin), mushrooms, peyote, valium, Seconal, Fiorinal, beer, liquor, shine and homebrew.
Offender reports primary drugs of abuse are opiates and whiskey.
Until arrival at Atlantic Institution, offender reported using heroin and shine on a regular basis
Offender reports trying to quit drugs and alcohol on at least five occasions.
24 December 2003
Anger and Emotions Booster Program Performance Report – Final
25 December 2003
9 January 2004
Correctional Plan Progress Report
20 February 2004
Offender Substance Abuse Pre-Release Program (complete)
8 March 2004
Correctional Plan Progress Report
11 June 2004
Reclassified as a Medium Security Inmate
27 July 2004
Correctional Plan Progress Report
27 July 2004
Tests positive for codeine/morphine and THC
29 July 2004
Offender’s Version of Offence History is the same as Dr. Bradford’s report dated 4 September 2001
Currently waitlisted to participate in Sexual Offender Treatment Program – High intensity. Previously willing to take the program but now wishes to wait until Dangerous Offender application is resolved.
Admits most crimes but downplays or minimizes them.
Does not recognise that he is a sex offender.
Denies sexual sadistic tendencies.
Appears motivated to change.
Intelligent and articulate.
High risk to reoffend in a violent and sexual manner.
Superficial level of remorse.
Anti-social personality traits.
30 July 2004
Correctional Plan Progress Report. Offender is not a manageable risk without sex offender treatment. Residency would be sought.
11 August 2004
Assessment for Decision – 15:41 hours
Offender agrees with parole officer that he has had a difficult life and has been consumed with self-pity and seeing himself as a victim. Consequently he finds it difficult to see how he has victimized other people.
Reported to be very concerned about Dangerous Offender Application and it may well be that this application has brought the seriousness of his of the offences he has committed as well as the serous consequences thereof to the forefront of his thinking as never before.
Detention recommended until he demonstrates as far as possible, that he has made serious progress in the area of sexual reoffending.
19 August 2004
Senior Deputy Commissioner of Correctional Service of Canada refers case to National Parole Board to detain past Statutory Release date.
26 August 2004
Addendum to Assessment for Decision
Detention is the best option.
If released into community, he would be unmanageable on the street.
If released into the community, there is no alternative to residency.
Extra police reporting, contact with collaterals, more visits with Parole Officers, curfews etc are not sufficient to manage risk.
Past release is a good indivation of who he will react.
Nothing has been done to address violent sexual offending.
He has developed no community release plan.
31 August 2004
National parole board orders detention beyond statutory release.
10 September 2004
Ontario Court of Appeal Hears Appeal of sentencing decision of Cosgrove, J.
7 October 2004
Eligibility Date for Statutory Release
25 October 2004
Sexual Offender Treatment Program High Intensity begins
25 December 2004
16 February 2005
Sexual Offender Treatment Program High Intensity Pre Program Assessment
Pretreatment risk of Sexual Redivisim judged to be high
3 March 2005
N.J.M. smoking in a non-smoking area
31 March 2005
Ontario Court of Appeal releases decision allowing appeal of sentencing decision of Cosgrove, J.
2 May 2005
Sexual Offender Treatment Program High Intensity Interim Report
13 June 2005
Correctional Plan Progress Report
13 June 2005
Assessment for Decision
Current Risk High Until completion of sexual offender treatment.
Currently achieving gains in treatment.
Offender advises author of report that he is undecided as to whether he will continue with programming objectives if the Dangerous Offender application is supported by the courts.
17 June 2005
Assessment for Decision
30 June 2005
Sex Offender Program – Intensive (complete) Dorchester Penitentiary
12 July 2005
Sex Offender Program Final Report
Static Risk Factors for Reoffence Remain High
Dynamic Risk Factors for Reoffence now Moderate
12 July 2005
National Parole Board orders detention beyond statutory release.
7 September 2005
Intake Assessment Completed
25 December 2005
4 February 2006
Warrant Expiry Date
25 December 2006
13 May 2007
Offender sees Dr. Gojer
10 June 2007
Offender sees Dr. Gojer
Source: Canadian Legal Information Institute
pointed out by Karol Karolak
Megavolt Child Abuse
August 2, 2008 permalink
When police found sixteen-year-old Mace Hutchinson lying on the ground after falling off a bridge in Branson Missouri, they shouted commands to him. The boy could not comply because his back was broken. To protect themselves, the police zapped the boy with a taser nineteen times.
Police Taser boy with broken back 19 times
Authorities say they were trying to 'keep him from getting hurt'
Parents of a 16-year-old boy in intensive care with a broken back want to know why police Tasered their son 19 times rather than calling an ambulance for help.
Citizens noticed Branson, Mo., teenager Mace Hutchinson walking alongside the road and, fearing for his safety, called 9-1-1.
"We called the police. My wife was afraid he was going to get ran over or hit," said witness Doug Messersmith. "He looked a little agitated but, other than that, he didn't look to be falling down drunk or anything like that."
When police arrived, they found Hutchinson under an overpass on U.S. 65 Saturday morning, Springfield's KY3 News reported. The boy had fallen 30 feet off the overpass and was lying on the shoulder.
When the boy didn't respond to police, they Tasered him, repeatedly.
"I'm not an officer, but I don't see the reason for Tasering somebody lying there with a broken back. I don't consider that a threat," his aunt Samantha said.
Hutchinson was later admitted to the hospital, where he was put under intensive care for his injuries and is listed in fair condition. His family believes police added to the trauma after he fell from the overpass.
"According to the doctors, all injuries are consistent with a fall," Samantha said.
His father said Hutchinson did not jump but fell onto the pavement; however, no one knows why.
"They tested his system. He was clean of drugs and alcohol. We don't know why unless just being in shock and the whole thing in itself caused him to forget everything," Hutchinson told the television station.
While Hutchinson remains in the hospital for major surgery on his broken back and heel, the family questions police actions that morning. His father claims if police hadn't stunned the teenager 19 times, his critical surgery would not have been delayed by two days.
"The Tasering increased his white blood cell count and caused him to have a temperature so they could not go into the operation," he said.
However, Ozark police say the wounded boy was a threat.
"He refused to comply with the officers and so the officers had to deploy their Tasers in order to subdue him," Capt. Thomas Rousset said. "He is making incoherent statements; he's also making statements such as, 'Shoot cops, kill cops,' things like that. So there was cause for concern to the officers."
Authorities say their use of a Taser weapon should not be questioned, because they were trying to help Hutchinson to safety.
"It's a big concern for the officers to keep this guy out of traffic, to keep him from getting hurt," Rousset said.
Social Worker Killed
August 2, 2008 permalink
Unlike rabbis (story below), social workers cannot be driven away by public protest. Social worker Brenda Yeager was murdered by two clients in West Virginia.
Three Arrests Made In Murder of Social Worker
The search for a missing social worker from Lincoln County has a tragic ending. State Police say the charred remains of 51-year old Brenda Yeager were discovered in a remote section of Cabell County on Friday along with her burned out car.
Mrs. Yeager had not been seen or heard from since Wednesday. State Police say they were hot on her trail-but her body and car were burning when they finally found her Friday. Now three people are charged in her death.
Twenty-three year old Stephen Foster Junior of Huntington said he was sorry as he awaited processing at the Cabell County Courthouse on Friday. His fiancé, 22-year old Rosemary Forney was also charged in connection with Yeager's death. A third individual, Foster's dad, 51-yea old Stephen Foster Senior, was charged as an accessory and with helping dispose of the body.
"I'm very saddened by all of this," said the Elder Foster when he spoke with WCHS Television on Friday. "I know that she only tried to help people. To having something like this happen to somebody who tries to help--because to be a social worker you have to want to help people."
Nobody apparently helped Yeager however, Troopers say she was sexually assaulted, murdered and then her body burned in an attempt to destroy the evidence. Mrs. Yeager's body has been sent to the state Medical Examiner's office.
Authorities say Yeager had gone to the Foster's home for an on-site visit. It's unclear what prompted the attack that killed her.
The younger foster and Forney are charged with first-degree murder. The elder Foster faces charges of 3rd Degree arson, conspiracy, and disposal of a body. All three are lodged in the Western Regional Jail at Barboursville without bond.
*****STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE****
ON THURSDAY JULY 31, 2008 THE WEST VIRGINIA STATE POLICE RECEIVED A COMPLAINT OF A MISSING ADULT, BRENDA YEAGER OF 8128 DINGESS AVENUE IN HAMLIN WV. SHE IS A SOCIAL WORKER AND WAS CONDUCTING HOME VISITS ON WEDNESDAY JULY 30, 2008. THE STATE POLICE WAS ADVISED SHE HAD NOT BEEN SEEN OR HEARD FROM SINCE WEDNESDAY WHILE SHE WAS MAKING THESE VISITS.
THE STATE POLICE BEGAN A MISSING PERSONS INVESTIGATION AND ON FRIDAY AUGUST 1, 2008 THE BODY OF A FEMALE AND A VEHICLE OF THE SAME MAKE AS THE VICTIM’S WAS LOCATED IN A REMOTE AREA NEAR MOUNT UNION ROAD, HUNTINGTON, WV. THE STATE POLICE BEGAN INVESTIGATING THIS DEATH AS A MURDER INVESTIGATION AND WAS OF THE BELIEF THAT THE BODY DISCOVERED WAS THAT OF BRENDA YEAGER.
AS A RESULT OF THIS FINDING THE STATE POLICE WERE ABLE TO IDENTIFY SEVERAL POTENTIAL WITNESSES AND SUSPECTS. THE INVESTIGATION REVEALED THAT THE BRENDA LEE YEAGER, THE VICTIM, HAD GONE TO THE RESIDENCE OF ROSEMARY FORNEY AND STEVEN ANTHONY FOSTER JR. ON WEDNESDAY JULY 30, 2008 FOR A HOME VISIT. THE VICTIM WAS THEN ATTACKED AND SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY STEVEN FOSTER JR. AND ROSEMARY FORNEY. THE TWO THEN KILLED THE VICTIM. THE VICTIM’S BODY AND HER VEHICLE WERE MOVED TO A WOODED REMOTE AREA A SHORT DISTANCE FROM THE RESIDENCE. IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS OF FRIDAY AUGUST 1, 2008 THE BODY AND THE VEHICLE WERE BURNT IN AN APPARENT ATTEMPT TO DESTROY EVIDENCE OF THE CRIME.
ON FRIDAY AUGUST 1, 2008 THE STATE POLICE ARRESTED THE FOLLOWING PERSONS IN CONNECTION WITH THIS MURDER:
- STEVEN ANTHONY FOSTER JR., AGE 23 (4293 MOUNT UNION ROAD, HUNTINGTON, WV) CHARGE: MURDER
- ROSEMARY FORNEY, AGE 22 (4293 MOUNT UNION ROAD, HUNTINGTON, WV) CHARGE: MURDER
- STEVEN ANTHONY FOSTER SR, AGE 51 (427 ½ 28TH AVENUE, HUNTINGTON, WV)HE IS THE FATHER OF STEVEN ANTHONY FOSTER JR.
CHARGE:3RD DEGREE ARSON, CONSPIRACY, DISPOSAL OF A BODY
UPON COMPLETION OF A CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION THE VICTIM’S BODY WAS SENT TO THE STATE MEDICAL EXAMINERS OFFICE IN CHARLESTON FOR AN AUTOPSY AND FURTHER INVESTIGATION. THE INVESTIGATION IS STILL ON GOING BY THE WEST VIRGINIA STATE POLICE.
Source: WV Metro News
Child Protecting Rabbi Banished
August 2, 2008 permalink
Rabbi Nochum Rosenberg, has been driven out of London by outraged parents after trying to "protect" their children.
Anti-abuse rabbi run out of town
A rabbi who uncovers child abuse in strictly Orthodox communities says he feared for his life as he was chased by a group of 200 Charedi men in North London.
Rabbi Nochum Rosenberg, 58, was forced to flee from a Stamford Hill synagogue where he had been listening to a lecture last Thursday.
He ran into Manor Road, in the heart of the community, and was taken to safety after stopping a passing police car.
The rabbi, on a four-day trip to London from his New York home, said: "I was sitting in the lecture, where there were about 30 or 40 people, but I saw some taking out their phones and taking pictures of me. I decided it was getting too crowded, so I went outside.
"I went into the street and they started to follow me. I saw them sending text messages and calling more people. There were more and more crowds. I was about to cross the street and a car mounted the pavement.
"More cars came and people were following me, shouting. It was a riot.
"The police car turned into the street and as soon as I saw the marked car I started shouting ‘Police! Help me, help me!' The police asked what was going on and I said they were trying to kill me."
The officers took Rabbi Rosenberg to Stoke Newington Police Station before moving him to a hotel where he stayed until returning to New York on Sunday.
Hackney Police said: "Police saw a disturbance involving around 200 Chasidic Jews who appeared to be attacking somebody. Once he was removed, the disorder ended."
Rabbi Rosenberg claims to have led a campaign against the covering up of child abuse in strictly Orthodox communities for the past 18 months.
He runs a hotline in the US for youngsters to report abuse and appears on Jewish radio phone-in shows. Rabbi Rosenberg said rabbis must "start facing reality".
He said: "Children are not toys. If you play with them you will go to jail. They should not give privileges to people with long beards.
"These things are happening all the time, but the rabbonim prefer to take a quiet road. "
Reports of the incident were posted on Jewish websites in America, prompting hundreds of comments. The majority attacked Rabbi Rosenberg's campaign.
Among the anonymous comments was one which said: "good - he is a pig", while others labelled him "a meshuggenah", "sick" and "mentally retarded".
But a more supportive comment asked: "Can someone please explain the warped rationale behind the attempt to lynch the man who is trying to bring child molesters to justice?"
Dr Asher Lipner, who counsels victims of abuse in Brooklyn, said: "Outside the Chasidic community no one has heard of Rabbi Rosenberg, but all the Chasidic communities know of his work."
Source: Jewish Community Online
August 2, 2008 permalink
The report of the Paediatric Death Review Committee (pdf) for Ontario child deaths in 2007 is now available. Last year's report gave little information on how many deaths occurred in foster care, giving only the cryptic statements:
We commented that 19 was too low, and could not be consistent with measured foster care death rates in other jurisdictions. This year the committee examined 90 deaths with CAS involvement. The only revelation of how many deaths were in foster care is in the statement on page 56:
Either children's aid has achieved a miraculous improvement in foster care safety, or the numbers have been cooked. Statistical arguments suggest for 19,000 children in care 25 to 50 deaths are to be expected yearly.
Shaken Baby Scam
August 1, 2008 permalink
When eleven-month-old Craig Smith developed bleeding in his brain, doctors diagnosed shaken baby syndrome and child protectors kept father Steve Smith away from his children for over a year.
Boston doctor Michael Laposata eventually found the real problem, a family blood condition, Von Willebrand's disease, making them prone to excessive bleeding.
The news article below links to a 74 page slide show (local copy of pdf) by Dr Laposata. He is a good resource for anyone else targeted by the junk science shaken baby accusation.
Babies Overdiagnosed With Shaken Baby Syndrome
More than 1,200 U.S. children are diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome and one in four of those children die from it.
The diagnosis can be paralyzing for families, but in some cases, doctors may be wrong. It happened to a Silver Spring family who says the medical community can do more to prevent other families from suffering what they went through.
Steve Smith says he does all he can to make his six-year-old son, Craig, giggle. But for a time, five years ago, Smith wasn't allowed to spend time with his three children, unless someone else was there. That's because he'd been charged with child abuse and Craig's attempted murder. It started in 2003, when Smith was home alone with his kids.
"I just went for a minute to grab a bottle to rock him to sleep," said Smith, "and when I was downstairs I heard a loud crash."
Craig, 11-months-old at the time, had fallen off the bed, and hit his head. Doctors said he suffered a subdural hematoma as a result of Shaken Baby Syndrome. But with a background in health care, Craig's mother Corrine, knew better. "Something else is going on here. I do not accept that this is Shaken Baby Syndrome."
While fighting their legal battle, the Smith's found Dr. Michael Laposata in Boston. After extensive blood testing, they learned the excessive bleeding that doctors first called Shaken Baby, was instead the result of a bleeding disorder called Von Willebrand's disease. Dr. Laposata believes as many as one percent of reported child abuse cases cases could be due to misdiagnoses like Craig's.
"There have been children with undiagnosed hemophilia, who have had bleeding disorders who were presented as child abuse victims," said Dr. Laposata.
In Craig's case, the bleeding on his brain and behind his eyes, looked just like bleeding caused by Shaken Baby.
"There's a certain amount of heroism to finding somebody who is abusing a child and identifying the abuser, but there's a danger in overdiagnosing," said Dr. Laposata.
Steve Smith was not allowed to stay in his own home for the sixteen months he spent proving his innocence. Charges were eventually dropped.
Dr. Laposata believes in cases of potential Shaken Baby Syndrome, the medical community should perform a whole battery of blood tests rather than performing the simplest or most common tests to be absolutely certain of whether there's been child abuse.
Source: WJLA TV Washington DC
Make War Not Love
August 1, 2008 permalink
Today we contrast two stories about teenaged foster boys. One was adopted and at age 17 shot to death. There will be be no legal repercussions for the policeman who killed him. The other teenager was loved by his foster mother. She is facing four felony charges and decades behind bars.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Police shooting of Pompano Beach teen justified, jury rules
It's nearly two years since then- Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Jonathan Welker shot and killed a Pompano Beach teen during a mysterious pre-dawn confrontation.
On Wednesday, Broward County grand jurors found Joshua Mendelson's slaying to be a justifiable homicide, prosecutor Brian Cavanagh said.
Welker, 33, who is no longer with the department, will not face criminal charges for the November 2006 shooting.
"I'm disappointed that two fully armed policemen with a trained canine could not calm down my grandson, if he was agitated, and instead wound up shooting him and killing him," Bob Mendelson, 68, said Wednesday from his Manhattan home. "It's just a tragedy and an overreaction by frightened policemen, who didn't show very much judgment."
Mendelson's family reported the former foster child missing the day after the 17-year-old failed to return home from a trip to a Coral Springs mall.
Three days later, they learned he had been shot dead near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
Joshua Mendelson, adopted at age 10 by Bob Mendelson's daughter, Rachel, struggled with depression and attended a school for emotionally disabled students.
Authorities said the teen was bleeding from his face and wielding a spear-like stick when he came at Welker and another K-9 officer during a 2 a.m. training exercise.
"His life was a difficult one, his life was a sad one, his circumstances were indeed unfortunate," Welker's attorney, Mike Dutko said. "But none of that was known to Officer Welker at the time that he was confronted by Mendelson at 2 o'clock in the morning in a dark and remote area."
An independent investigation by the FBI found no wrongdoing, Dutko said.
Welker testified Wednesday to the grand jury and deliberations were brief, Dutko said.
Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Accused foster mother faces August court date
A foster mother accused of having sex with the boy in her care has had her case continued until Aug. 26.
Jennifer Renee McWhirter, 33, of Mountain View Road, Bell Buckle, was charged in June with three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure and one count of criminal responsibility for facilitation of a felony. She is currently free on $11,000 bond.
At the Aug. 26 appearance, McWhirter could possibly have her case bound over to the Bedford County Grand Jury, according to Detective Lt. Becky Hord of the Bedford County Sheriff's Department.
McWhirter held the position of foster care coordinator at the Center for Family Development and was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.
Hord said in June she had received information that McWhirter, the boy's foster parent, had sexual relations with him.
The alleged relationship between McWhirter and the boy came to light after another foster mother was charged with eight counts of statutory rape by an authority figure earlier this year.
Alea Rhea Rippy pleaded guilty in June to amended charges -- three counts of statutory rape -- and agreed to serve 6 months in jail, followed by three years of community corrections. Rippy also had sexual relations with the minor in McWhirter's care.
Rippy could have faced from three to 15 years in prison on each of the eight counts, which is a class C felony. It was Rippy's first offense.
Hord said in June that the youth, McWhirter and Rippy "were all three good friends instead of foster care, foster parents." Other evidence was provided to Hord that indicated that "there was more than a foster mother/child relationship," she said.
Interviews of the juvenile indicated that McWhirter allegedly had sex with the boy three times last October and that the boy, Rippy and McWhirter drank alcoholic beverages together, Hord said.
Hord also said that preparations had allegedly been made to hide the boy in Florida because DCS had decided to send him back to Mexico. There was an issue with the Mexican consulate, Hord said, so the boy never went back.
Source: Shelbyville Times-Gazette
Wanna See Your Brother?
Get a Lawyer
July 31, 2008 permalink
Lawyers who already regulate relations between husbands and wives, and between parents and children, have found a new revenue stream: controlling visits between brothers and sisters.
Where a father has appealed from a Juvenile Court order terminating his parental rights, his appeal must fail because "the judge's finding of the father's unfitness [was] supported by clear and convincing evidence and her subsidiary findings amply supported by the record."
A remand must be ordered, however, on the issue of sibling visitation.
"Here, we read paragraph 220 of the judge's decision as containing the judge's finding as to the DSS's visitation plan, ... rather than her own ruling as to the schedule and conditions for sibling visitation. Accordingly, we remand the matter to the trial judge to make explicit (a) her findings and ruling as to whether sibling visitation is in Rico's best interests and, if so, as to which siblings; and (b) her findings and rulings as to the schedule and means by which such visitation is to occur. In all other respects, the decree is affirmed."
Adoption of Rico (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-113-08) (11 pages) (Wolohojian, J.) (Appeals Court) Case heard by Rebekah J. Crampton Kamukala, J., in Juvenile Court. Jeanne M. Kaiser for the father; Robert E. Young for the child; Annapurna Balakrishna for Department of Social Services (Docket No. 07-P-1883) (July 11, 2008).
- Appeals Court
- Docket #
- Case Name
- Adoption of Rico
Source: Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, with thanks to Fern
New Children's Lawyer
July 30, 2008 permalink
Debra L Stephens is replacing Clare Burns as Ontario's Children's Lawyer. This is one of the least effective organs of Ontario government. In many cases, the children's lawyer does not speak to his client. We have yet to hear of a children's lawyer in a child protection case who pleads to have his client placed under parental care. We hope, without any real basis, the new appointment represents a change in policy. The press release, abridged below, contains quotes to help journalists write a story. The commercial press has ignored the story, but Canada Court Watch comments Ding Dong the wicked witch is gone! (pdf).
Ontario Ministry of The Attorney General
Attention News Editors:
New Children's Lawyer appointed
TORONTO, July 29 /CNW/ - NEWS
Debra L. Stephens has been appointed as Ontario's new Children's Lawyer, effective August 1, 2008.
Called to the Bar in 1982, her practice has focused on estate, trust and guardianship issues, specializing in estate administration and planning. She has also served as an agent for the Children's Lawyer.
Stephens is a member of the Toronto Lawyers Association and the Ontario Bar Association, Family Law and Trusts and Estates Sections. She has been an adjunct professor with the University of Toronto Law School and Humber College, and has published works on estate and trust issues.
Stephens replaces Clare Burns, who has served with distinction as the Children's Lawyer since January 2003.
Source: Canada News Wire
Truth Not in Best Interest of Child
July 30, 2008 permalink
When eight-year-old Fabian Silva asked his dad about a newspaper story on the death of his half-brother, dad told his son the truth. That was enough for Tucson Arizona child protectors to cancel further visitation.
Father who rebuked CPS loses right to see son
Visitation canceled after dad and boy talked about story on kid's late brother
A father whose son was killed while under CPS watch had his visitation with his surviving older son cut off after talking to the boy about a Sunday Arizona Daily Star story on his brother.
Oscar Silva Jr. was notified his regular Tuesday visit with 8-year-old Oscar III was canceled just a few hours before the scheduled get-together. He was told there will be no further visits until at least next week, when there will be a meeting with his Child Protective Services case manager.
He normally has visitation Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and every other weekend.
Agency spokeswoman Liz Barker Alvarez confirmed Silva's visitation rights have been suspended, but she couldn't say specifically why.
"There were certain behaviors on Mr. Silva's part that went against the case plan and the visitation agreements, and those behaviors were seen as potentially harmful to the child," Barker Alvarez said.
Silva said Oscar III saw the Sunday story, which included a picture of his brother, and he asked to read it.
"I went ahead and let him read it. I wanted him to know what was going on," Silva said.
Silva's younger son, Fabian, 4, died in January from blunt-force trauma to the head. His mother's boyfriend, Alejandro Miguel Romero, 25, has been charged with child abuse and manslaughter.
CPS opened a file on Fabian Silva in October after two doctors examining him for a throat infection reported signs of suspected abuse. Oscar Silva and other family members have criticized the CPS investigation, saying they were never interviewed despite repeated requests to be heard.
Silva said his case manager told him Tuesday that he had violated a verbal agreement with CPS not to talk about the case with Oscar III, and therefore his visitation rights were being suspended. Oscar III now lives with great-grandparents on the mother's side, Silva said.
Barker Alvarez would not say if the unacceptable behaviors involved reading the news story and/or talking about it.
"We do have a child here, who has to deal with a lot. I am giving you as much information as I can," she said. "The decision was made in the child's best interest."
Silva said he felt the move was in retaliation for both the Sunday news story and a $5 million claim he filed against CPS last week.
He acknowledged that under the verbal agreement, he is supposed to contact CPS if his son asks about the case and his brother's death.
"On this Sunday, I didn't ask," he said. "I didn't call no one. I just let him read the article. It was a verbal agreement."
Attorney Jorge Franco Jr., who is representing Silva, called the suspension "off the charts."
"It happens literally two days after the article appears," he said. "That can't be a co- incidence. It has to be tied to the article."
"It's the ultimate in retaliation," he said. "If they are suspending his visitation because the child read the article and then had a conversation with the father about the article, and nothing more, that's outrageous and appalling."
Source: Arizona Daily Star
Addendum: Following bad publicity, Arizona CPS claims they never suspended visitation. They told the newspaper but they did not tell dad's lawyer.
● "Father who rebuked CPS loses right to visit with son," which ran on A1 Wednesday, included incorrect information from Child Protective Services about Oscar Silva's visitation with his remaining son. CPS spokeswoman Liz Barker Alvarez initially told the Star that Silva's visitation rights with his son were suspended after a story about the family ran on Sunday. On Wednesday, Barker Alvarez said the location and supervision has been changed, but that Silva still has visitation rights.
Silva's attorney said Wednesday evening that his client was given the same incorrect information as the Star about visitation being suspended, and that they have not been told otherwise.
Source: Arizona Daily Star
Help Needed with Angelica Leslie
July 29, 2008 permalink
We have received reports through the grapevine that the Angelica Leslie case is not what the press has been telling. Before saying more, we want to confirm the story with the family. Our readership is large enough that it must include a person with knowledge of this family. Please inform Dufferin VOCA at the email address or phone number listed on our home page under Contact.
CFSRB Shuns Dunn
July 28, 2008 permalink
John Dunn applied to the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) for relief in the matter of his CAS membership request. His application got short shrift, rejected even before a hearing. Mr Dunn has made a request for reconsideration to the board.
We anticipate another rejection. But after final rejection, perhaps Mr Dunn can bring the matter to the provincial ombudsman. André Marin has the ability to report on the CFSRB to the legislature, and may provoke some reform in this area. You can read John Dunn's letter to Jennifer Scott (pdf).
Addendum: As expected, the CFSRB denied John's request for review. Until now, we did not know that John Dunn was a service provider.
[on letterhead of CFSRB]
Child and Family
Custody Review Board
2 Bloor Street West
Toll Free 1-888-728-8823
August 1. 2008
Mr. John Dunn
12-1160 Meadowlands Drive East
Ottawa, Ontario K2E 6J2
RE: Decision on Eligibility File Number: CA08-0123
Dear Mr. Dunn:
The Board has received your further submissions dated July 28, 2008 requesting a reconsideration of the Board's eligibility decision dated July 24, 2008. You submit that membership in a Society is a child welfare service in the form of a prevention service.
Society membership is not a child welfare service, and in particular, a prevention service, under the Child and Family Services Act (the "Act"). To constitute a prevention service under the Act, it must be a service provided directly to children and their families. In this case, you allege Society membership constitutes a prevention service because it enables members to have input into Society policies, procedures and practices. The Board does not agree that this is a prevention service within the meaning of the Act. In any event, you are not seeking or receiving this service, you are attempting to provide it through participation in the development of Society practices and policies. A service provider is not eligible to access the complaint provisions under section 68.1.
The Board affirms its eligibility decision on July 24, 2008. Your application is not eligible to be heard by the Board.
If you have any questions, please contact Kelly Longley, Case Coordinator at (416) 327-2763 or toll-free at 1-888-728-8823.
cc: Children's Aid Society of Ottawa
Source: News page of Foster Care Council of Canada
Fireproof Foster Home Needed
July 28, 2008 permalink
Winnipeg children's aid is looking for a foster home for a girl arsonist who intends to repeat her offense. Her attitude is the outcome of five years in foster care. Dad can't stop her since, according to an earlier news story, he is in jail. Children's aid often does not notify the foster family of this kind of behavior, so another home could soon be in ashes.
Young firebug to get counselling
A 13-year-old girl who said she "had fun" burning down a new home is in need of intensive counselling, not more jail time, a judge said yesterday.
Judge Michel Chartier sentenced the girl to two years supervised probation and released her into the custody of Child and Family Services.
Where she will end up living is not clear. At a sentencing hearing earlier this month, a CFS worker said the agency has no secure placement for the girl and that jail was likely the safest place for her.
She has been in the care of CFS since she was eight years old. She is expected to be lodged in an "emergency placement" until long-term accommodations can be arranged.
The girl was arrested last May after setting a blaze that destroyed a brand-new, $200,000 home in Harbour View South and caused $10,000 damage to a neighbouring home.
In an interview with police, the girl, then 12, said she "had fun" setting the fire and that the family who had been preparing to move into the home "can go to hell."
Defence lawyer Dan Manning argued the girl's tough talk was a defence mechanism masking serious personal problems. Chartier agreed.
Source: Winnipeg Sun, pointed out by a Dufferin VOCA reader
Brantford Rally II
July 26, 2008 permalink
Mary Janiga reports on yesterday's rally in Brantford.
july 25, 2008 supporting families against Children's Aid Society
On July 25, 2008 in support of Rob and Kalena and families everywhere, Child Assist Services attended their protest to show support to their cause and the injustices that they received by the Brantford Children’s Aid Society.
Ed and Mary headed on the highway on the bus to Brantford Ontario. Swayze was there in spirit but due to health reasons she could not attend. She did offer a show of support by getting a friend in Brantford to deliver coffee and peach juice to the courthouse at 44 Queen Street, before we left Brantford to get home to Hamilton. Thanks Swayze. She was missed by all those in attendance.
Members from Canada Court Watch, one of the members of our group Child Assist Services and friend Lisa, and members from the Brantford community attended the protest. It was a warm day and we had great conversations with those in attendance.
Some members of the group left the protest site and headed into the surveys and neighborhoods to get petitions signed in support of Bill 93 and the Ombudsman oversight of Children’s Aid Societies in this Province of Ontario and we filled a few pages.
This is just one of the 14 satellite offices for the Children’s Aid Society of Brantford. You can bet that we will find out where the rest are. This just shows the amount of money spent by this Children’s Aid Society to hire more staff and destroying more families. By not helping these families they are hurting them by removing their children and this affects their lives forever.
I would like to thank Rob and Kalena for inviting us to their protest. A few people made the effort to show up on a hot Friday morning to hold signs and listen to stories about the hardships and injustices faced upon us by the Children’s Aid Societies of this Province of Ontario.
Posted by maryjaniga at 4:19 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog entry for July 25, 2008
July 25, 2008 permalink
Social worker Rhonn Gilchrist, is in trouble for billing two insurance companies for the same service. Social workers should stick to double billing parents and governments, where they can get away with it.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008 - 2:39 PM EDT
Social worker sentenced to year in prison
Business First of Buffalo - by Jodi Sokolowski Business First
A licensed social worker who was convicted of health-care fraud on Feb. 20 has been sentenced to 12 months in jail and fined $3,000.
Rhonn Gilchrist, 59, was convicted of defrauding health care insurance companies resulting from his submission of fraudulent claim forms seeking payments for treatment he never provided to patients, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney John Rogowski, who handled the case. Gilchrist, who had an office on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Tonawanda, conducted the fraud from 2002 to 2007. Sentencing took place before U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York Judge William Skretny.
Gilchrist, whose patients included individuals covered under the New York Workers' Compensation Program or the New York state no-fault automobile insurance law, engaged in a practice known as double billing, which is billing two insurance companies for the full amount of a treatment provided to the individual.
While a health care provider may bill two insurance companies for the same treatment, the provider must disclose that fact and repay any amount received over 100 percent of the cost of the service. The defendant did not disclose the double billing and kept the over-payments of $102,000.
Skretny ordered him to make restitution to the various insurance companies. Gilchrist agreed to a criminal forfeiture of $90,000 in cash and a condominium in Sarasota, Fla., valued at about $400,000, which he purchased, in part, using the illegal proceeds.
The investigation was conducted by the Western New York Health Care Fraud Task Force consisting of agents from the FBI, U.S. Postal Service, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, the FDA, the Department of Labor and the New York State Insurance Fraud Bureau.
Source: Buffalo Business First
July 25, 2008 permalink
Eighty-two-year-old Betty Robinson has been barred from taking pictures of an empty pool in Southampton England. You just can't be too safe when it comes to protecting children from pedophiles.
Betty's 'perv' rap over pool pictures
By JAMIE PYATT, Published: 24 Jul 2008
A WIDOW aged 82 was ordered by an official to stop taking photos of a deserted paddling pool — because of fears she was a PAEDOPHILE.
Betty Robinson and pal Brenda Bennett, 69, went to a common to shoot some pictures.
But as Betty pointed her lens at an empty fenced-off paddling pool a female council official stormed out of her hut and demanded she stop.
Betty, who has been taking photos in the park in Southampton, Hants, for decades, said: “She told us those were the rules to protect children.
“To me, this was bureaucracy gone mad.
“I just thought it would make a jolly nice picture.
“There were no children in the pool but she pointed to boys in the distance and said we could come back when the park was closed.
“We are just a couple of old ladies, we are certainly not paedophiles. I couldn’t even see the children she referred to.”
Brenda, also of Southampton, said: “It’s over the top. We’ve been coming here for years.”
City council bosses have apologised and said staff would be told to use their discretion.
Source: The Sun (UK)
July 24, 2008 permalink
Chris Carter reports that his Facebook account, containing stories about children's aid, was deleted in June. Now who would do a thing like that? Below is his email to a discussion group on the incident, copied with his permission.
As for the question ending the email, we have heard of many attempts by CAS to get rid of internet criticism, some after legal action, as with Cathy Norris, some by direct threat to an ISP or site owners without legal action. We have not previously heard of vigilantism. Our suggestions for keeping material on the internet are: use a paid service, use a service outside of Canada (or your home country), keep a backup copy and keep your password safe.
Chris Carter here. I just wanted to share some information with the group. I'm on facebook. I have been using my facebook page to record various facts/incidents'/CAS worker actions/CFSRB Hearings etc...I used strong negative language to describe my feelings towards CAS Waterloo region but I stated facts/documented truths. Anyway sometime in early June I logged onto my page and all of the info had been deleted. I contacted facebook and they formally and officially informed me that:
- they did not remove the material 'mini-stories' themselves
- they had changed my password
- I should contact my local police service and/or a lawyer and have them contact facebook's legal dept.
I printed out the emails facebook and I exchanged and brought them into the Waterloo Regional Police Service's Division 2. Detectives Howard Mark and Melinda Kuzyck interviewed me, accepted the material and promised to look into it. I've asked for updates a couple of times since then. Nothing so far. I'm visiting them today to press for an update. I'll let you know what happened.
Have you ever heard of a CAS taking action against an individual or group like that which occurred to me?
Source: email from Chris Carter, July 24, 2008
CAS Denies Community Participation
July 23, 2008 permalink
In a brief letter to Jim Watson, MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean, John Dunn summarizes abuses committed by Ontario's children's aid societies, not against children, but against the laws of corporate governance. They have systematically excluded participation by members of the public in observing, and participating in, CAS policy making.
distributed July 23, 2008
My letter to you asked if you were going to support Private Members Motion number 41 which would simply ask the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to issue a Directive to all Societies asking them to notify the public of the fact that Societies hold monthly, publicly accessible Board of Directors meetings.
In your response, you made references to two provisions of the Corporations Act (s. 161(1) & s. 129 (1) which refer to Annual or Special General Meetings of the Corporation which shall be made notice of to the existing members of the corporation or in the alternative to a local newspaper. These provisions give the Society the option of only notifying the existing members rather than putting an ad in the newspaper for all of the public to see if they so chose. And it is their practice that this is what they do.
Annual or Special General Meetings are not what Motion 41 refers to. As it stands Societies are blocking membership applications from members of the public who advocate for changes, therefore Members Motion #41 would force the Societies to notify the public of the fact that they hold "Publicly Accessible, Monthly Board of Directors Meetings" so that members of the public, regardless of whether they are members of the Society or not can be made aware of this fact and attend and observe and be heard.
Currently, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over CAS's. When the Societies have contravened provisions of the Corporations Act which are Offences (section 307 (5) ) the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services which has jurisdiction over corporations incorporated under the Corporation's Act stated that they have no jurisdiction over non-profit Corporations (CAS). When the Ministry of Children and Youth Services was asked to use its powers of revocation and take over afforded to it in the CFSA the Ministry also stated that they have no jurisdiction over CAS's as they are autonomous bodies governed by a local community elected Board of Directors. And now, even members of the public who apply for memberships as the Ministry states they can, so that they can hold the agency accountable via the rights afforded to them as members, they have their membership applications rejected, therefore reducing, and eliminating true stakeholder accountability.
So in essence, although the Act is in force, the agencies rely on the fact that citizens are not aware of, nor can they afford to take a Society to court in order to simply obtain a membership with the agency after they have had their applications rejected. Memberships should be automatically accepted and if someone then "acts inappropriately" as a member they could then be removed or banned or have their membership terminated.
As it stands today, Societies are pre-emptively hand-picking whom they want to become members based on their opinion of whether the potential member may attempt to hold them to account using the proper tools afforded to members via the By-Laws and the Corporations Act.
The Private Members Motion 41 seeks from the Government a deeper level of public accountability by asking it to issue Directives, which are in its power to do, forcing the Societies to notify all members of the public, regardless of whether or not they have been granted memberships through the Board of Directors -- those of which have been actively filtering these membership applications and disallowing people who advocate for changes to the Society's By-Laws or Policies and Practices from becoming members or Board members -- through their websites and through their lobbies.
I will be keeping a public record of which MPP's support the motion and which do not. From your response to me in your letter, I understand from you that you do not, and will not be supporting the Private Member's Motion 41 as referred to in the Legislature.
If I do not hear a response from you or your staff members stating the alternative by Friday, July 25th, 2008 at 613-228-2178 I will be posting this on my web site for the voters to be informed of your choice to support the status quo of keeping Ontario's Children at risk by eliminating the last remaining vestige of accountability the public can use to protect children and youth in foster care from possible institutional abuse and harm. Much like the very sad and tragic death of Jeffrey Baldwin who died due to the Catholic CAS's negligence in placing him with people who had a criminal history of child abuse which was known to the Society.
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: email from John Dunn, July 23, 2008
More Brantford Protest
July 22, 2008 permalink
Another event is scheduled outside the Brant CAS Satellite office for Friday morning, July 25.
To: All Interested Media and Members of Provincial Parliament
When: Friday July 25th 2008 from 9am to 11am
Where: Brant CAS Satellite office at 446 Grey st. Brantford Ontario
Event; Hello we will be holding a protest against the Children's Aid Society outside their satellite office located at 446 Grey Street Professional building two.
The Protest will be held Friday July 25th 2008 from 9am till 11am.
We would really appreciate if you could come and show your support to our family. Bring signs and invite friends too. Its time to step up to the plate for family rights. Family Advocates will be in attendance along side us. Our case represents 100s of cases in Brantford and 1000s in Ontario. We have invited all media and MPPs to review our case to show just how “shaffed” we were by CAS and CFSA.
Kalena and Rob
Source: email from Rob Ferguson, July 22, 2008
Addendum: According to a facebook posting/email from Rob Ferguson, there were about 30 participants from all around Ontario. They collected about 600 signatures for Andrea Horwath's proposed bill. They are planning a bigger rally for Brantford in late September.
Former Insider Supports Ombudsman Oversight
July 22, 2008 permalink
The online newspaper the Manitoulin Expositor publishes a letter from Larry Killens. We found another article from the same source dated January 2003 saying that Mr Killens was ousted as a CAS director.
undated letter retrieved July 22, 2008
Accountability is required from Children's Aid Societies
MPP Mike Brown is out of touch with supporters
To the Expositor:
The following is an open letter to MPP Mike Brown.
In the spirit of the timeworn phrase, "Who dares not offend, cannot be honest," I write the following comments and observations.
I have sent to you a site on the Internet that encourages the reader to petition our government, of which you are reported to be our representative. I point out the following observations:
- There are 541 signatures at the time of this letter attached to this petition, demanding that the Ontario Ombudsman's office be given authority to investigate concerns/complaints of an individual that has an issue with the CAS.
- Of the 541 signatures there are persons who purport to be educators, CAS workers, users of the system and victims of the system, and even one member of parliament has signed on.
- As recent as last week our local news media carried a letter from a person who says that he and others have been wronged by the non-action of CAS and have no avenue to appeal to what appears to be honest complaint and cry for help.
- I myself was removed from the board of directors for the CAS and to this day after urgings and letters sent to the CAS, the family resources, your office, still am unaware as to why this transpired; I was never given the pleasure of a hearing or explanation. I often wonder why the government of the day, yours, doesn't shake their heads in wonder as to why an individual, who was removed from the CAS Board of Directors, runs for and wins the office of public school trustee? It certainly shows me the degree of credibility the public places on the CAS and their activity.
Mike, speaking for myself, I feel you are out of touch with your supporters and citizens you serve-not new but very, very sad. I ask you for a commitment to help those people in Ontario in a meaningful way!
Will you champion the request to give the Ombudsman the power to probe decisions and investigate complaints concerning the provinces Children's Aid Societies (CAS)? I am not asking you to change the world, just require this entity to be accountable to someone.
In closing, all provincial Ombudsmen in the Dominion of Canada first identified child protection as a priority issue in 1986 and still Ontario does not allow the Ombudsman to investigate people's complaints about Children's Aid Societies (CAS) decisions. Who knows, perhaps First Nations residential schools would never have happened?
I am assuming, Mike, that this is your last term and hope you want to leave some sort of legacy of what you have or have not done. What a way to end it Mike, helping kids!
Source: The Manitoulin Expositor, pointed out by Canada Court Watch
July 22, 2008 permalink
In two articles from the UK, MP John Hemming reports on multiple injustices in family courts. In the other, the Times is able to report a bit more on a child they call "S" but is held in secrecy worthy of the name double 0-S. His stepdad helped him and his mother escape from Britain, and served a longer jail term than many muggers.
John Hemming: Justice must be dispensed openly and with compassion
Jul 22 2008 By John Hemming
The secrecy in the Family Courts has given rise to a culture of secrecy throughout the operation of Family Law. In fact much of that secrecy was merely custom and practise rather than legally enforceable. Furthermore some recent changes in 2005 and 2006 have allowed chinks in the armour concealing the activity in the Family Courts.
Dealing, as I have, with people who are refugees from the state in the UK it has been interesting to see what has been happening. My advice to families is to remain within the law. However, some of the court judgments seem quite draconian.
One that surprised me recently was where an order was obtained which prevents a mother leaving the UK. Her children are abroad with their father and she is not allowed to leave the UK to visit them. The court wants the children brought back to the UK and so has taken her passport. I didn’t know that it was lawful to prevent someone leaving the UK. In fact it is against one of the protocols of the European Convention of Human Rights (one which the UK is a signatory). The country in which the children are living won’t allow them to travel to the UK, hence we have an impasse.
Another case involved a family now in Ireland where the mother divorced the father without him being told. She was told that if she divorced the father she could have her children back. Hence she divorced him, but they refused to return the children. She then found she couldn’t remarry him as Ireland would not recognise the divorce because the court had decided to dispense with the legal need for the papers to be served on him.
I have also seen a number of cases where teenage children are forced to stay in care for trivial reasons when they want to remain with their family. The way the system works is that a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed to represent the child. The problem is that often the guardian ignores the child’s wishes. Children who are gillick competent (age 12 plus) and are past the age of criminal responsibility are told they are too stupid to instruct a solicitor. I have written to CAFCASS about this to find out what their official policy is.
I had the big row with the Court of Appeal over an adult’s “capacity to instruct a solicitor”. What happened was that an arm of the state called the “Official Solicitor” came in and decided to concede the local authority’s case without challenging the papers and against the wishes of the mother.
This exclusion of the mother from court proceedings to me is one of the worst things. Arguably someone who has been sectioned (which she hasn’t) should be constrained from starting court cases where there is no sense. However, to prevent someone from defending themselves and essentially have a government bureaucrat plead “guilty” on their behalf has to be one of the worst abuses of the rule of law possible.
The rule of law requires that people are given an opportunity to have a trial. If the court silences them then it is not a trial. There is a similar case in Birmingham which is going to the Court of Appeal. It is quite clear that we need greater transparency and accountability in family justice. There are far too many tragic stories that arise from the caprice of the system.
Source: The Birmingham Post
From The Times, July 22, 2008
Times wins ruling over secrecy of family court
Rosemary Bennett, Social Affairs Correspondent
Details of private family court proceedings that led to a mother fleeing the country with her son after he was placed in foster care have been disclosed after legal action by The Times.
The highly unusual ruling allows the publication of undisclosed details of the case. The boy’s stepfather was sent to prison for 16 months for helping the mother to remove him from care and flee abroad.
She has since had another baby, the couple’s first child. The stepfather has been released from prison but is forbidden to contact his wife.
The Times fought to publish more information after an outcry from readers when the case was reported by Camilla Cavendish . She highlighted the perceived secrecy of family courts and the lack of scrutiny of social workers, who have sweeping powers to remove children from their parents. Times readers were particularly outraged that the stepfather served a longer sentence than many muggers.
Sir Mark Potter, the President of the Family Division, dismissed Medway Council’s argument that it should not be named publicly in case it led to identification of the child, known as S. With more than 300 children in local authority care in the Kent borough, he said that this was unlikely.
The judge accepted that there was considerable public interest and that reporting a fuller story would “enable the public to form its own view whether the actions of the [Medway] council or the decisions of the court to date have been fairly characterised”.
His summary of the care proceedings provides an insight into the secretive family courts, where decisions to remove children from their parents’ care are made every day. The Times can report for the first time that social workers became involved shortly before the mother and father split up. In the ensuing care proceedings the mother made claims of domestic violence that were “heavily disputed” by the father. The judge found that, while the mother had exaggerated many claims, the father had on occasion acted “in an aggressive and intimidating manner, which placed S at risk of harm”. The mother was found to have a “tendency to play the role of victim”.
Judge Cox, the family court judge, concluded that S was “suffering emotional harm due to the conflict between the parents”. She ordered that S be taken into foster care until matters improved. There were also concerns about living conditions, with the family home described as “like a building site”. At a later hearing the judge said that she was troubled that S was keeping secrets with his mother, who was manipulative.
In a final care order the court ruled that the boy would stay in foster care and his mother was given a list of conditions to meet before he could be returned. These included weekly counselling, a move to secure accommodation and a settled lifestyle. She was also not allowed to discuss with her son the possibility of his returning to her care without social workers’ permission. Contact with her son would be reviewed and would depend on her “promotion” of his foster placement. She also had to cooperate with “counselling with S concerning the father’s gender identity issues”.
A final hearing on the case was due to take place last October. A social workers’ report said that there had been no significant improvement in the mother’s “insight/approach” towards S. Although the mother had moved house and remarried, the social workers noted that she was still challenging the care proceedings: “Significant improvements are not possible while the mother continues to be of the opinion that much of the previous judgments has been wrong or exaggerated,” they wrote.
They concluded that adoption would give S “the best possible opportunity for permanency”.
At 4am on September 11 last year, the mother, assisted by M, her new husband, took the child from his foster home and drove to France. When M returned two days later he was arrested and charged with abduction.
John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP campaigning for more openness in family courts, said: “I am pleased that Sir Mark has recognised the public interest in people understanding that the reasonings of the family court outweighs the need for the activities of practitioners to be kept secret.”
Source: London Times (UK)
Guilty of Killing Social Worker
July 21, 2008 permalink
Luttrell pleads guilty in social worker's 2006 slaying
By VICTORIA MARTY, Gleaner staff, 831-8341 • email@example.com
A 24-year-old Henderson man accused of killing a social service aide in 2006 pleaded guilty but mentally ill to aggravated murder and other charges Friday.
Christopher Luttrell’s guilty plea means that his maximum sentence would be life imprisonment without parole — and not the death penalty — in the murder of 67-year-old Boni Frederick of Morganfield.
She was killed when Frederick was facilitating a visit between Renee Terrell and Terrell’s then 9-month-old son at Terrell’s residence.
Luttrell, 1200 block of Clay Street, also pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, kidnapping, theft over $300 and three counts of being a second-degree persistent felony offender.
His sentencing date is Aug. 25 at 10 a.m.
The recommended sentence for Luttrell is life imprisonment without parole for aggravated murder, 50 years each for kidnapping and robbery, and 10 years for theft.
Terrell’s trial date is set for Sept. 3.
For more on this story, read The Gleaner on Saturday.
Source: Evansville Courier Press/Henderson Gleaner
Queens Park Rally
July 21, 2008 permalink
The group that organized the recent Ottawa rally is planning another for Queens Park in October.
Queens Park Rally
- Walk for Accountability
- Causes - Rally
Time and Place
- Start Time:
- Friday, October 3, 2008 at 9:00am
- End Time:
- Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 4:00pm
- Queens Park
- 111 Wellesley Street W
- Toronto, ON
Our second Public awareness rally for accountability and oversight of the Children's Aid Societies of Ontario.
Our goal is to raise awareness and gather support for Bill 93 introduced by Andrea Horwath MPP for Hamilton Centre
We have tentatively scheduled the rally for these dates. Dates and times may change to accomodate schedules of proposed guest speakers and other schedule conflicts
**Bears for accountability**
-We are requesting everyone that attends to please bring a teddy bear to leave behind. We will be donating them to children in need.
Couple in shadow of suspicion, death
July 20, 2008 permalink
A Vietnamese couple living in Minnesota were suspected in the death of a child in 2001, but never charged. When they give birth again, the child was seized in the delivery room and their parental rights were terminated. The parents now regret their decision to live in "freedom" in the USA.
Couple in shadow of suspicion, death
Parents fight to get 3rd boy back
Editor’s note: Interviews of Anh Van Duong and Bich Thuan Nguyen were conducted through interpreter Lana Nguyen, who is court-certified to interpret Vietnamese.
Fighting for the South Vietnamese Army against the communists and spending almost four years in confinement because of it gave Anh Van Duong an appreciation for the freedom offered in the United States.
His first stop after immigrating to America was Texas. The lure of steady jobs for him and his new wife attracted him to St. Cloud in 1996. As the lone male in his Buddhist family, he felt a heavy burden to carry on the family legacy by having a son.
His wife has carried three sons, but it’s unlikely the one living son will carry on the family name.
The couple’s first son, Anthony, died at 9 months old on Jan. 12, 2001, during surgery at St. Cloud Hospital to repair head trauma. The death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, creating a cloud of suspicion that still hangs over Duong and his wife, Bich Thuan Nguyen.
A miscarriage of their second child, Andy, was followed by the Feb. 6, 2007, birth of David, who was removed from his parents’ care before they left St. Cloud Hospital after the delivery.
A Stearns County district court judge late last year terminated Duong and Nguyen’s parental rights to David, ruling that Anthony had suffered egregious harm while in their care, creating a potentially unsafe environment for David.
Duong and Nguyen know they are the only suspects in Anthony’s death. They staunchly deny causing any harm to Anthony. In their first public comments about the case, they equate their treatment in St. Cloud to what Anh experienced in Vietnam as a prisoner of war.
“When I made the decision to come here, my goal was to live in a free country in order for my kids to have a brighter future,” Duong said through an interpreter. “Now I regret it, because of the things that are happening to us. I no longer believe in justice.”
St. Cloud police and Stearns County prosecutors have no other suspects in the death of Anthony Duong. County Attorney Janelle Kendall said the criminal investigation into his death remains open and that Duong, Nguyen or both could be charged in the future.
“The fundamental point of Minnesota’s child protection system is to protect the best interests of the child. At the full public trial in this matter the state was required to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that removal of the second child was necessary to protect him,” Kendall said.
Medical testimony on the cause and timing of the injuries that resulted in Anthony’s death was crucial, she said. And Judge Kris Davick-Halfen’s decision to terminate the couple’s parental rights showed that the evidence proved that termination was legally required to protect David, Kendall said.
The parents recently argued their case to the state Court of Appeals, hoping that panel of judges reverses Davick-Halfen’s decision and reunites them with their son. Until then, they see their son two hours a week during supervised visits.
“Without David, life is meaningless,” Nguyen said. “But even though we might not be able to have him, seeing him is enough. We still have hope to see him again and take care of him.”
The investigator was reading the newspaper during breakfast one morning in February 2007 when she recognized the names.
Bich Nguyen. Anh Duong.
A birth notice. A son.
One day later, Nguyen was eating lunch, 5-10 minutes away from taking David home from St. Cloud Hospital. Minutes earlier she had been told that a nurse was taking him for one last examination. The car seat awaiting him already was adjusted to fit his tiny frame.
That’s when St. Cloud police investigator Kathleen Bluhm walked into Nguyen’s room, accompanied by a Stearns County child protection worker. Nguyen knew Bluhm as the officer who investigated the death of her first son, Anthony.
“I panicked,” Nguyen said. “I sensed trouble was coming. I was terrified.”
She didn’t know it then, but she already had seen David without supervision for the last time. Bluhm, after reading the birth notice that morning, filed a report with county human services that initiated a maltreatment investigation. The investigation was based on the contention that Anthony’s death had created the potential for maltreatment of David.
The county removed David to emergency protective care pending child protection proceedings in court.
Duong and Nguyen were given a date to go to the county offices to see David on a supervised visit. Then they headed home, without the child they had just welcomed into the world.
“We were sad, devastated,” Nguyen said. “The nurse didn’t know what was going on. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t walk. I didn’t know what to do. My mind was empty.”
The court held an emergency protective hearing one week after David’s birth. There were interviews with county social workers and more court hearings.
While David remained in foster care, his parents believed they would get him back, but they weren’t sure how long it would be.
“We did not think we were being separated from David for that long because we hadn’t done anything,” Duong said.
Police and prosecutors disagree.
Duong and Nguyen acknowledged they were Anthony’s only caregivers, and they didn’t provide any evidence that Anthony’s injuries could have happened while he was in someone else’s care.
However, they point to a car accident that happened three weeks before Anthony died as a possible cause for his injuries. And they told police the night Anthony died that he had also recently fallen backward while leaning against a couch as he was learning to walk. Both parents said he had hit the back of his head on the carpeted floor, and couldn’t recall seeing him fall and hit the front of his head.
Medical experts testified at a 10-day parental rights termination trial that the crash or fall couldn’t have caused the injuries to the front of Anthony’s skull that were seen during the autopsy.
Dr. Michael McGee, a medical examiner for Ramsey County, performed the autopsy and testified that the car crash could not have caused the fresh hemorrhage he found inside Anthony’s skull.
“It didn’t happen three weeks ago,” he said at trial, referring to the car crash three weeks before Anthony’s death. McGee also testified there was evidence of previous trauma to Anthony’s head that had healed, meaning there was one old injury and one fresh injury discovered during the autopsy.
The fresh injury had to have happened near the time Anthony died, he testified. And the car crash or a fall onto a carpeted floor couldn’t have caused the injuries listed in his autopsy report — a head contusion, a skull fracture, a subdural hematoma and hemorrhages in both retinas, McGee said.
“I do not believe that that story is sufficient to explain the injuries present on this child,” McGee testified. “I don’t think that’s an explanation. And to be perfectly candid, that’s what we told the cops.”
The crash in mid-December 2000 involved two vehicles hitting the one carrying Anthony. A large truck struck their car on the right rear side where Anthony was buckled into his car seat.
There were no visible injuries to Anthony after the crash. But he started to throw up and behave differently, his parents said. Duong and Nguyen said they were used to Vietnamese customs in which doctors are consulted only when injuries or symptoms are obvious. So they asked a friend, who told them Anthony’s behavior was normal.
Anthony had a 9-month well-baby checkup about a week before he died. The parents told the doctor about the crash, but neither mentioned that Anthony had sustained any injuries from it. Their doctor noted no health problems with Anthony.
The parents’ attorney, Cynthia Vermeulen, questioned whether McGee had come to his conclusions about the cause of Anthony’s death from police reports alone, information Vermeulen contended could have been incomplete or inaccurate.
Nguyen and Duong were questioned by police the night Anthony died and were asked to come to the St. Cloud Police Department for another interview three days later. They didn’t know until they got there that they were suspects in his death, they said.
The interview lasted several hours, and neither was given a Miranda warning, Vermeulen said.
“Our intention was to fully cooperate with police to find out what happened,” Nguyen said. “But we didn’t know we were suspects. In our culture, I have never heard of parents doing such a thing to their child.”
After being accused of their son’s death, they started to “put the pieces together,” she said. “We only could relate it to the (car) accident.”
They think police made assumptions without knowing the truth and that accusations that they have changed their story about Anthony’s death are the result of poor interpretation of their answers during police questioning.
“I always wanted to tell the truth, but I don’t think they understood me,” Nguyen said.
In Vietnam, people fear the police, they said. They expected a different dynamic in America. Once they realized they were being questioned as the only suspects in Anthony’s death, they felt as fearful as they would in their homeland, they said.
“We absolutely had nothing to do with his death. We were so puzzled. We wanted to cooperate and find out what happened with our child’s death. But when they invited us to come to the (police department), they accused us of shaking our child,” Duong said. “It was my child. Why would I do such a thing?”
The St. Cloud Police Department had a Vietnamese native-speaking FBI special agent participate in the investigation for consultation and translation, Kendall said. The audiotapes of conversations with the parents were sent to FBI headquarters in Washington to ensure the accuracy of the interpretation, she said.
“Significant effort was taken to ensure that all information provided was accurate and complete,” Kendall said.
Initiating a child-protection case on the basis of an allegation of past abuse when no charges were filed is rare, according to attorneys who handle child-protection cases. The most common scenario for filing a case based on past abuse or neglect is when the parent had drug problems that led to a previous termination case and then has another child. And those cases are a small number of the overall number of child-protection cases.
Stearns County Human Services did a sampling of child-protection cases from spring 2005 and found that 41 of the 56 cases they reviewed, or 73 percent, included parental chemical use or dependency.
There are no allegations against Nguyen and Duong regarding drug use or harmful conduct toward David.
Minnesota law says that, unless there is a compelling reason not to, the county should file a termination of parental rights petition once it makes a finding that there has been “egregious harm” to a sibling or another child in the care of the parents. The law doesn’t require proof of who committed the harm.
In her argument to the Court of Appeals, Vermeulen said that it’s not enough for Anthony to have experienced egregious harm in his parents’ care. There has to be evidence that one or both parents knew that egregious harm had occurred.
“I believe my clients and their infant son, David, have suffered a true injustice.” Vermeulen said during a recent interview. “There is no evidence that Bich or Anh knew that their son, Anthony, had head injuries ... (when) they called 911 at 11 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2001. There were no injuries observed on Anthony.”
Source: St Cloud Times
Mom Gets Cops on Her Side
July 20, 2008 permalink
Canada Court Watch reports on a case in which the police cooperated with a mother to destroy evidence collected by the father. A private investigator caught the mother imitating Monica Lewinski with a policeman. Below is an edited version of the CCW report.
Teens report that nobody, including the police, the CAS or the court listened to them while their mother abused them and their father for years
(July 20, 2008) A new video will soon be released in which three teens reveal how they were miserably failed by the system in Ontario which ended up rewarding their mother for abusing them and their father for years. They reported abuse by their mother to the authorities but nothing was done. After reporting that mother was abusing them, the children were put in the custody of their mother and forced to endure even more abuse. Dad was forced into virtual poverty trying to protect his children.
The oldest teen reports [tape recorded] evidence had been collected by the father. When the teen told the police to look at it, the police told the teen that it was not their job. Police refused to look at the evidence after taking it from the father and handing it over to the mother so that she could destroy [it].
A licensed private investigator's report in this same case given to Court Watch reveals that the mother was observed by a private investigator inside an undercover police car on a remote rural Ontario road with one of officers from the local police force and appeared to have engaged in sexual activity. Was this payback to one of the police officers for letting mom destroy evidence?
It's no wonder kids in Ontario are losing respect for the police and the courts. The kids are seeing for themselves how corrupt Ontario's family law system has become.
Source: Canada Court Watch article of July 20, 2008
Amateur Baby Stealer
July 20, 2008 permalink
Andrea Curry-Demus of Wilkinsburg Pennsylvania cut open the uterus of a pregnant woman and stole her baby. We regret to say that baby stealing is illegal only when practiced by amateurs. In later news reports the real mother has been tentatively identified as Kia Johnson, 18, of McKeesport Pennsylvania.
Medical Examiner: Dead Woman Cut Open in Pennsylvania Mystery Baby Case
Saturday , July 19, 2008
A woman found dead in a Pennsylvania home had been partially eviscerated, her uterus cut open, after another woman showed up at a hospital with a newborn she falsely claimed was hers, a medical examiner said.
An autopsy was performed Saturday on the body of a woman found in the Wilkinsburg apartment of Andrea Curry-Demus, 38, who told police she had paid $1,000 for the baby after authorities said tests proved she wasn't the child's mother.
The victim appeared to have been dead for about two days before she was found, Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl Williams said in a statement.
The woman's hands and feet were bound with duct tape, and her face was covered with a plastic material that had also been secured with duct tape. A placenta was recovered at the apartment.
The medical office would not elaborate on what was meant by "evidence of partial evisceration that included opening of the uterus."
Pathologist Cyril Wecht, who previously served as the county's coroner but did not participate in the autopsy, said evisceration means to cut into the abdomen and remove organs and tissues. "Obviously, they did so to get to the baby," he said.
Some blood was discovered near the body, Williams said, and investigators were trying to determine the woman's identity, how she died and whether she was the mother of the baby that Curry-Demus claimed she had bought.
Police checked Curry-Demus' apartment after reporters called authorities about a foul odor coming from inside. Wilkinsburg Police Chief Ophelia Coleman said the dead woman was lying face down when she was discovered.
Investigators had been at the building Thursday night but did not go into that apartment, Coleman said. Instead, a relative of Curry-Demus led them to another apartment, she said.
Earlier Friday, police said they were concerned that the infant's real mother — described as a thin, black female in her 20s or 30s named Tina — might be in danger or need medical attention.
The description was provided by Curry-Demus, but authorities aren't sure how reliable it is because she "has a history of emotional problems," Coleman said. The body found Friday was that of a black woman, but Williams said he couldn't tell how old she was.
The families of two missing pregnant women waited at the crime scene Friday night for police to identify the body.
County detectives, who are handling the investigation, entered Curry-Demus' apartment Friday night after obtaining a search warrant.
In 1990, Curry-Demus, then known as Andrea Curry, was accused of stabbing a Wilkinsburg woman in an alleged plot to steal the woman's infant.
A day after the stabbing, Curry-Demus snatched a 3-week-old baby girl from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, according to court records reviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
The newborn was in the hospital for meningitis and the girl's 16-year-old mother had gone home for the night when Curry-Demus took the child, court records state. The infant was found unharmed with Curry-Demus at her home the next day.
Curry-Demus pleaded guilty in 1991 to various charges stemming from both incidents and was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. She was paroled in August 1998 and began serving a 10-year probation term, the Tribune-Review reported.
The latest case unfolded when Curry-Demus showed up at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh on Thursday with a newborn baby that still had its umbilical cord attached, according to authorities. Tests later proved she was not the mother — despite her claims to the contrary, police said.
Curry-Demus was initially charged Friday with one count of child endangerment. She was later charged with dealing in infant children, a misdemeanor, according to court records. She has been jailed until she posts $10,000 bond and undergoes a psychiatric exam.
Court records did not indicate if she had obtained an attorney; a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Thursday.
Curry-Demus told police she miscarried in June and didn't want to upset her own mother by telling her she had lost the baby.
She said she befriended a pregnant woman and discussed buying her child when it was born, according to the criminal complaint. She told police she paid a woman named Tina $1,000 for the baby, but authorities have said they don't know how she really got possession of the infant.
A relative and a neighbor both said they had attended a baby shower for Curry-Demus last month.
Stephanie Epps, 41, the suspect's sister-in-law, said she had doubted the pregnancy.
"I just had a feeling that she wasn't pregnant," Epps said. "She would never let you touch her stomach and pregnant women let you do that. ... I liked her and I still do like her."
Ivee Blunt, a neighbor who also was at the shower, said Curry-Demus wanted her in the delivery room when she gave birth.
Blunt said Curry-Demus told her on Sunday night that she expected to have the baby the next day; but on Monday, she said, Curry-Demus told her she wasn't ready to give birth.
Click here for more from MyFOXPhilly.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: FOX News Network
Algoma CAS Layoffs
Soo Kids Rejoice
July 20, 2008 permalink
Algoma CAS has scheduled a layoff of twelve employees, improving safety for the Soo region's children.
CAS lays off staff
Posted By MARC CAPANCIONI, SPECIAL TO THE STAR, Updated July 19, 2008
A dozen employees at Algoma Children's Aid Society may be out of work this fall. About 12 members from the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1880 received a 60-day lay-off notice recently, confirmed Rick Alexander, CUPE national representative.
"It's always the front-line staff that gets laid off -- never management," he said.
The employees -- some temporary -- are involved with residential intervention and work with children in their homes.
"I hope what (management is) doing doesn't have an impact on the community," said Alexander. "I hope it's just a surplus (of workers), and they're dealing with it."
Tracy Willoughby, CAS Algoma director of services, said programs will run as usual. "These are minor adjustments. They won't affect our services."
In fact, the agency is simply dumping temporary positions for permanent ones, she said.
Alexander is optimistic that most -- if not all -- the workers affected will find other positions within the CAS. The union and management will meet in early September to discuss possible openings.
"We'll take a look at every-one's skill level and make suggestions at that point. I'm hopeful that at the end of the day, no one will lose their jobs," he said.
"There's still going to be employment opportunities within the agency," said Willoughby.
Nevertheless, Alexander said management is at fault. "They put themselves in this position by hiring a bunch of people without thinking (about the future). For the most part, they overextended themselves," he said.
Part of the problem, according to Alexander, is the structure of the organization, which he deems "top-heavy."
Source: The Sault Star
Child Carer Pregnant with Client's Child
July 19, 2008 permalink
An Ohio child care worker served her client so well that she is now pregnant with his child. In the news report below, the identity of the missing boy/father is withheld because of the scandalous charges. Ohio prefers to lose a child rather than publish his name. In later news reports, the boy/father has returned to his foster home. Ohio's baby shower for the expectant mom includes six felony indictments.
The Oxford Press
Prosecutor: Housemom pregnant after sexual relationship with teen abuse victim
The 25-year-old married teacher charged with battery involving 16-year-old Middletown boy in her care.
By Daniel Wells, Staff Writer, Tuesday, July 15, 2008
LEBANON — A married teacher and housemom at a Christian group home was arrested Monday, July 14, on six counts of sexual battery after she allegedly became pregnant by a 16-year-old Middletown boy under her care.
Carolynn Hatcher, 25, allegedly carried on a two-month affair with the boy at Mid-Western Children's Home in Pleasant Plain, said Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel.
Now, the boy is missing after he ran away from his foster father during a trip to get ice cream Sunday, said Michael Fox, director of Butler County Children Services.
Children Services is working with law enforcement to locate the boy, but the agency is unable to release his name or photograph because of state laws protecting foster children and child sex abuse victims, Fox said.
The agency first learned of the allegations against Hatcher on July 3 and moved the boy into a Fairfield foster home on July 11.
Hatcher, who was indicted last week, worked at the home with her husband for a year before she was fired in June after another child living at the home reported the relationship, Hutzel said.
The boy's parents signed over custody to the county in 2004 after officials learned he had been abused by his father. "Now he's victimized again," Fox said.
The group home, affiliated with the Church of Christ, serves emotionally disturbed children ages 6 to 18.
"We take the safety of the children in our care very seriously," said Administrator Barry Boverie, who called the abuse an "isolated" incident in the home's 41-year history.
Source: The Oxford Press (Ohio)
Fund Child Abuse
July 19, 2008 permalink
The high cost of the failed raid on the FLDS ranch in Eldorado Texas has left the child protection system short of funds. As well, they anticipate heavy monetary demands for lawsuits stemming from the raid. Texas residents can help by purchasing a new license plate supporting the agency. From the $30 specialty plate fee, $22 goes to the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services to fund programs and services supporting abused and neglected children. Link here to the order page. Sorry, they don't have a plate saying "Protect Family Rights".
July 19, 2008 permalink
On May 19, seven-month-old Michael Anthony Brown Jr died in the Mansfield Connecticut foster home of Suzanne Listro. Initial reports said he fell out of bed.
Investigators do not believe the story of the fall, and Listro has been criminally charged. The agency claims it is implementing policy changes to prevent such incidents in the future. They are doing nothing of the sort. They are following the child protection script, brought out in all cases of public failure by social services. Don't expect any real improvements. We include a cartoon published in the Hartford Courant following the death of three-year-old Alex Boucher on September 25, 2000. Things never really change.
Agency Worker Arrested; Investigation Reveals Past Allegations
DCF Worker Charged In Death Of Infant
By MATT BURGARD And HILDA MUÑOZ, Courant Staff Writers, July 18, 2008
A state Department of Children and Families employee who appeared in court Thursday to face charges that include manslaughter in the death of her 7-month-old foster child had been investigated twice by DCF since 2006 in response to allegations she had abused her adopted 3-year-old son. In each instance, the allegations were found to be unsubstantiated by DCF investigations, which the head of the agency described Thursday as "substandard and unacceptable."
Commissioner Susan I. Hamilton said one of the DCF investigators who looked into the abuse allegations against Suzanne Listro in 2006 and 2007 has been fired in the wake of the death of Listro's foster child, and a manager who supervised the investigations has been suspended without pay for 20 days. Another investigator and a senior manager are also expected to be disciplined in connection with the earlier abuse complaints, Hamilton said.
"As commissioner of this agency, I not only feel the enormity of the loss but have the responsibility to do something about it," Hamilton said Thursday at a press conference at DCF headquarters. "The death of any child for any reason is difficult to comprehend, but when it happens at the hands of someone who has been entrusted with their care by the state, it is an unspeakable and unacceptable tragedy."
Listro, 42, a 15-year DCF employee who was granted a license to be a foster parent earlier this year, was arrested by state police Wednesday night at her home in Mansfield in connection with the May 19 death of the 7-month-old boy who had been placed in her care for a week before he died.
Listro appeared Thursday at Superior Court in Rockville to face charges of first-degree manslaughter and risk of injury to a minor.
Her bail was set at $1 million, and she is to return to court on July 25.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Listro told investigators that the infant, identified as Michael Brown Jr., fell off a bed in a bedroom of her Mansfield home while she was ejecting a video and turning off her TV.
When she turned around, she saw the baby lying on his back on the floor, his eyes shut tight as if wincing, the affidavit says.
When Listro picked the boy up, he cried for a moment and then went limp, the affidavit says. Listro told investigators she tried unsuccessfully to revive the baby then called 911. The baby was taken by ambulance to Windham Community Memorial Hospital in Willimantic and then by Life Star helicopter to Hartford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the affidavit says.
The prosecutor in the case, Matthew C. Gedansky, told Judge Patricia Harleston that Listro's story was not consistent with the baby's head injuries.
"The defendant's explanation for the victim's injuries are inconsistent and ... somewhat unbelievable," he said.
Hamilton said the agency granted Listro a foster care license in February in part because the agency's licensing division was unaware of the previous abuse complaints against her. The commissioner said that because those allegations had been found to be unsubstantiated, they were never included in the agency's computerized registry of child abuse and neglect. Instead, she said, details of the allegations were kept on file only in hard-copy form, and therefore the agency's foster care licensing division never saw them.
After the death of Listro's foster child, the agency launched a more intensive review into her history with the agency, and the files about the allegations involving Listro surfaced, Hamilton said. When she learned of the allegations that Listro had abused her adopted son, now 3, it became clear that the investigators who looked into the allegations had not been thorough enough to make a definitive finding either way.
"It is unclear whether those allegations would have been substantiated if a more thorough investigation had been completed," Hamilton said, adding that investigators failed to question several key witnesses, such as day-care providers, who might have been able to provide insight into the allegations.
The 3-year-old, now in DCF custody, was adopted through an international agency that also checked Listro's background, Hamilton said.
Along with the discipline imposed on the investigators and their supervisors, Hamilton said she has called for several other steps to make sure abuse investigations are conducted more thoroughly and to make sure licensing officials have access to all background information before granting foster care licenses in the future.
Hamilton said she has placed the special investigations unit that looked into the earlier abuse allegations under new management while ordering a complete overhaul for the unit, including retraining for all staff on the proper conduct of investigations.
In the meantime, she said, she has ordered her chief of staff to review all recent unsubstantiated investigations, as well as cases that have been substantiated but with recommendations that the case be closed, to make sure they were conducted properly.
To prevent background information from slipping through the cracks, Hamilton said, she has ordered all future abuse investigations, substantiated or not, to be entered into the agency's database and to cease keeping unsubstantiated files in hard-copy form.
She said she has also ordered a review of all DCF employees who have been granted foster care licenses to make sure they were granted properly.
The agency, which employs more than 3,400 people, has 28 employees who are licensed foster parents, as well as 15 who are in the process of obtaining a license, she said.
To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, the agency will also begin outsourcing all applications for foster care licenses involving DCF employees to a private contractor by Oct. 1, Hamilton said.
Lastly, the commissioner said, she has asked the Child Welfare League of America to conduct an independent, comprehensive review of the Listro case to identify any other systemic problems or possible solutions.
"I want to again stress that I and the entire department are responding as fully as we can to this tragic loss," Hamilton said.
Jeanne Milstein, the state's child advocate, said she welcomed the steps the commissioner outlined to address shortcomings within the agency.
But she leveled a withering criticism against the agency's record of reacting to tragedies instead of ensuring they don't happen at all.
"I am deeply troubled by the repeated, fatally flawed responses by DCF to a child's death," Milstein said. "Aggressively reviewing and upholding quality care should be common sense and commonplace."
Hamilton said the agency is now in the process of terminating Listro from her job at DCF.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Michael Brown Sr. said he is still struggling with the loss of his son.
"It's been hell, losing our son and ... the way he died," Brown said after Listro's court appearance Thursday. "She's supposed to be a foster parent and that's hard to swallow."
Contact Matt Burgard at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Source: The Hartford Courant
July 18, 2008 permalink
We copy below two posts to a discussion thread, one dated May 1, 2007 recounting CAS intervention in a family, and the second dated July 18, 2008 announcing the final end. The children's aid in question is a lot richer now that they are getting paid for their special needs child.
screen name: smartlady23
I need advice
« Thread started on May 1, 2007, 8:54pm »
Hi I am in a bit of a situation and need some advice, my 23-month-old son was apprehended from me and my husband may 5th/06 and still remains in CAS. I have other children who remain in our care. At the time he was apprehended he had problems wrong with him one being that he had a feeding aversion and wouldn't drink and two he eventually was diagnosed with acid reflux. All these problems started at the age of two months old where he found it painful to eat and wouldn't drink. He then had a feeding tube inserted in his nose and underwent several tests to see why he just wouldn't eat. He was apprehended because CAS says me and my husband didn't pay enough attention to him and that he was malnutritioned. I am very disturbed by all this because he has had problems since two months old and we have taken him to the hospital several times to get him help but all those times it was just put against us from CAS in court saying we didn't provide the best care for him when all we ever did was try and get him help. He remains in care and since being in care he has been in the hospital over 20 times if not a lot more for the same reasons as in our care vomiting, coughing, gagging when on tube feeds, fevers,dehydrations, not eating etc. He then was transferred to Ottawa's Cheo sick kids hospital where they were very good and accurate and did some of their own tests and had found something wrong with him which then gave us a relief. They found out that the upper sphincters in my son's stomach weren't opening and closing like they should and everything he was eating or drinking was coming right back up so they had to go in and operate, where they wrapped some of the stomach around the esophagus to put pressure on the sphincters plus inserted a Gtube in his tummy. He recently was vomiting again which from the surgery they done said it would prevent vomiting so we were all worried about that. He was admitted back in the hospital in the place I live and was there for a week for vomiting, gagging, and drainage around the site of his tube. He is also back on acid block medication and is out of hosp and so far is doing good. I am currently fighting CAS and hoping something gives because this is ridiculous what they are putting my family through especially when I have other kids with us that are fine and healthy. All this is doing is putting us through pain and suffering because its very clear that what is going on isn't a result of anything we have done it's medical and CAS doesn't want to admit that they keep pointing finger's at us.
Please someone help or provide advice cause we need closure
« Reply #167 July 18, 2008 at 1:52pm »
Hey all sorry its been awhile since posting, a lot has been going on. I have had a lot to deal with CAS-wise. They found out somehow I was coming on this site even though I remained anonymous and were using it against me in my papers that I was posting my case on here so thats why I laid low for a bit. For a quick and brief update things didn't go as I had planned and hoped it would. Finished court in May 2nd/08 and recently then lost my son who is now three to crownwardship to CAS. It is an open adoption and we requested pics and letters twice a year so I hope they keep up their end of the bargain and plus we are allowed to write him during the years to come also and include pics, videos of us etc. We also prepared a scrapbook of the entire family so that it will be shown to him growing up. It will be a long wait waiting until hes 18 to come looking for us. I just wished things would have worked out differently in the end, I believe me and my hubby done everything we could have possibly to win our son home and its breaking my heart each and every day as I think about him and how he is doing and whether he has made the final move to his adoptive home as they have already found him one prior to him even being crown ward. I just hope that he receives good care and all his medical needs met etc. He will always be in our hearts and prayers. I believe we are good parents and that once again CAS took a child from a home that was doing fine before they stepped in as I have two other kids with us who are perfectly healthy and we love them all so dearly.
Source: Sarnia's Smoking Gun
July 18, 2008 permalink
John Dunn has found a children's aid society that does something right. The page Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society, Board Business discloses everything about corporate governance, the members of the board of directors and committees, the minutes of board meetings and the policies. It also has a link to the bylaws, though we could not get that one to work.
This webpage should be the model for all children's aid societies in Ontario.
Neglect, Nepotism and Bad Case Work
July 18, 2008 permalink
When two-year-old Gage Guimond was being killed by his foster parent in Winnipeg, where were the social workers responsible for his safety? 1200 kilometers away at a retreat in Calgary. Manitoba has taken the easy route of charging the foster mother and great aunt Shirley Guimond, while the social workers remain immune.
July 18, 2008
All placements to be reviewed
By PAUL TURENNE, SUN MEDIA
All child and family services placements across Manitoba will immediately be audited after a review into the 2007 death of toddler Gage Guimond revealed nepotism, a questionable staff retreat to Calgary, and a serious lack of adherence to standards by child care workers may have contributed to his killing.
Almost a year ago, Guimond died a day after his second birthday from injuries he allegedly suffered at the hand of his great aunt, Shirley Guimond, whom the Sagkeeng CFS agency had entrusted with his care.
Shirley has been charged with manslaughter and assault, but has pleaded not guilty. Her next court appearance is set for September.
Yesterday, the Southern First Nations Network of Care, which oversees Sagkeeng CFS, released the scathing results of a review it conducted into Gage Guimond's case. The Sagkeeng agency's executive director was asked to resign two weeks ago, and did as a result of the review's findings.
The review revealed Guimond would likely never have been placed in his great aunt's home had the resource worker assessing the situation -- an under-qualified "close relative" of the agency's executive director -- done the required check that examines a caregiver's prior contact with the CFS system.
"There was very critical and important information that was missed," said Elsie Flette, CEO of Southern First Nations Network of Care.
The review also found, among other things, Guimond was fatally injured while an "inexperienced and overwhelmed" junior employee was left in charge of Sagkeeng CFS as the majority of the agency's employees attended a staff retreat in Calgary.
While in Calgary, workers listened to a couple of speakers, played games, and went shopping. The review states no actual conference took place.
"What a deadly, tragic cascade of neglect, nepotism and bad case work," said Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh.
Mackintosh announced the more than 4,000 CFS placements in Manitoba will all be immediately reviewed to ensure all the proper checks were done when the children were placed in their foster homes or short-term places of safety.
Last week, Mackintosh gave CFS authorities the money to begin conducting regular audits so operations can continually be reviewed -- not only after tragic incidents.
Mackintosh said he will accept and attempt to implement all of the Guimond review's 88 recommendations.
Source: Winnipeg Sun
Boy Wanted by CAS
July 18, 2008 permalink
Fifteen-year-old Zachary Swyer is wanted in the Sault Ste Marie area. Other news reports give his date of birth as August 28, 1992 and say that he is wanted by the children's aid society. If you find him, you can, as the article suggests, call the police. Even better, offer him a month's room and board, giving him a chance to go home at age 16.
Teen boy missing
Date Published | Jul. 17, 2008
The public's assistance is requested in locating a 15-year-old Zachary Swyer, who has been missing since July 5.
He is described as approximately five-foot-eight and 165 pounds. He is white with brown shaved hair and hazel eyes. He was wearing white pants, a black t-shirt and black running shoes.
Swyer is believed to be in the Sault Ste. Marie area. If you have any information with regards to the whereabouts of this child, please contact your local police department.
Source: Northern Life
Possible Relief for Families
July 17, 2008 permalink
A member of Canada Court Watch has communicated with the ombudsman André Marin and has a possible route to relief for families wrecked by children's aid. Taking the case to the Child and Family Services Review Board may give the ombudsman an entry into the case. We have a version of PapaJohn's personal story (MS-Word), with names altered to comply with disclosure laws.
screen name: PapaJohn
Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 5:36 pm
Good news, perhaps for all...
Hey folks. Last week I sent an e-mail to the Ombudsman that contained the 28 page story of our dealings with C.A.S. and the courts and lawyers. Also attached were video evidence , photo evidence, and audio recorded evidence of our claims.
Last night I received a phone call from Andre Marin personally. He told me his assistant Julie had looked at our material and passed it on to him because she felt in needed immediate attention. He told me he read the document and looked through and listened to all the material and he was VERY concerned with what has been happening to our family. He stated that he could not intervene personally due to current laws HOWEVER he COULD assist us in getting in touch with the people who COULD help us. He told us to contact the Child and Family Services Review Board ( http://www.cfsrb.ca/en/cfsrb/your-rights/scenario-two ) and send them all of the materials I sent him along with any updated material. I mentioned to him that we thought about going there but were hesitant because we heard they are biased to C.A.S. He said he understood that BUT there was a method to his madness. Yes, he can not step in and help us with C.A.S. BUT if the Child and Family Services Review Board does not do the right thing then he CAN go after THEM which would then also affect C.A.S.!! He told me that as soon as the process with the Review Board is complete to contact him with the results and he will take it from there.
He also told me that we need, not should but NEED, to speak to a good lawyer and have a suit brought against C.A.S. under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sections 7 and 8
7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
Search or seizure
8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
because C.A.S. has clearly abused our rights under these two sections.
So for those who need help try the Review board and if you don't get satisfactory results there then go to the Ombudsman.
Source: Canada Court Watch forum
Off With Her Blog!
July 17, 2008 permalink
We think of Louise Uccio as a father, because, like most fathers in family court, she has been forced out of the lives of her children and required to pay child support. She has one of the most informative blogs on the subject of family law. So how do the courts react? With a gag order. The legal wheels are in motion to shut down the blog.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Estranged Husband asks the court for a GAG ORDER!
I'm busy today finishing the fourth copy of the Writ to present to the First Department Appellate Division... so I haven't had time to scan in the latest hogwash.. but now that I'm copying a transcript I have a min so here goes..
The estranged husband filed a motion to SILENCE THIS BLOG - and asked to for CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT- and for a PROTECTIVE ORDER for my DISCOVERY DEMANDS.. I can't help but think.. FRAUD? FRAUD? FRAUD? Now they wanna shut me up .. why? Ohhh DUH .. so it's NOT exposed... TO LATE!
Wonder what else they have in mind that they're afraid will get out?
Jail perhaps.. for my inability to function/work/or get through the day... therefore unable to pay the ransom... I mean child support that was procured on fraudulent custody orders?
Then OOPPZZZ accidentally doubled child support I ended up owing him...yet never reassessed to reflect the true arrears?
Arrears? on fraudulent custody orders that went into effect April 03 - when in fact the legal kidnapping.. I mean change in custody.. didn't happen until 04?
Oh wait.. forget all that.. how about the 38K HE OWED ME THAT DISAPPEARED BEHIND CLOSED DOORS..
What a racket... let's hope (blank and blank)(names of officials that I hand delivered the Writ to are omitted for a reason) get to the bottom of this!
But for now.. IF it appears that I've been silenced.. well it's only Richmond County ignoring the laws again.
If I have time later I'll post their motion.. if not .. well I'll be back!
Posted by Louise Uccio at 12:55 PM
Source: Disgusted with the System blog entry for July 17, 2008
July 17, 2008 permalink
Seven years of working through the system failed to get Marina Powless a copy of her foster care records, but less than two weeks after her story was published, she received a heavily expurgated version.
Former foster child receives records
Katie May, Northern News Services, Published Wednesday, July 16, 2008
SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - After seven years, Marina Powless finally has some official record of her childhood.
The 26-year-old Yellowknife resident and former foster child received files last Friday relating to her time in care, which she first sought through an access-to-information request in 2001.
The Child and Family Services department delivered to Powless a stack of nearly 750 pages of information, including intake records, court transcripts, a few notes on schooling and several blacked-out pages.
"When I got it I was so happy," she said. "Seven years waiting for that and I had it."
Within 24 hours, she carefully read through the entire document and couldn't find a lot of the information she had hoped to find. Powless still doesn't know how many foster homes she has lived in, and most of the foster parents' names are blacked out due to third party privacy concerns.
"After I read it all, I had a lot of mixed feelings," Powless said, explaining at times she felt both sad and angry.
"A lot of negative stuff I was wanting to deal with wasn't there," she said. "There's more things I want answered still."
When she called the department to inquire about missing information, a representative told her there were some files they had forgotten to send and that she will soon receive them by mail.
Powless said she hopes those additional documents will clear up some of her questions. All in all, she said she's glad she has the information in hand and grateful to the staff who worked to compile it for her.
"I'm thankful that someone took the time to get all that information for me, she said."
On Tuesday, Department of Health and Social Services communications manager Damien Healy confirmed that Powless had received all requested records. He said the office's broken microfiche machine, which was one of the reasons Powless was given for the paperwork delay, still needs to be fixed.
Dean Soenen, director of Child and Family Services, declined to comment.
Source: Northern News Service
July 17, 2008 permalink
Ever wonder why foster and adoptive kids live in poverty after legislatures appropriate billions? Here is an answer from New York.
The New York Times
Officials Accused of Taking Agency Money in Fake Adoptions
By BENJAMIN WEISER, Published: July 17, 2008
Two officials of New York City’s child-welfare agency and the fiscal director of a Brooklyn foster care agency have been charged with creating phantom adoptions in a scheme to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for the care of children with disabilities or special needs, federal authorities said on Wednesday.
One of the two officials of the city agency, the Administration for Children’s Services, was also charged with issuing government checks for work that was not performed in return for kickbacks.
The senior Children’s Services official accused, Lethem Duncan, was the deputy director of the payments-services department, federal prosecutors said.
In the phony-adoption scheme, the officials said, Mr. Duncan worked with the second employee, Nigel Osarenkhoe, who they said used the agency’s computers to create false names and issue checks as if they were subsidies for real adoptions.
Prosecutors said that Mr. Osarenkhoe told Mr. Duncan that he had figured out a way to manipulate the agency’s computer system to cause adoption subsidy payments to be mailed to whomever he wanted.
“All he needs is a name — any name — to send payments to,” said the United States attorney in Manhattan, Michael J. Garcia.
“These defendants were driven by greed,” Mr. Garcia added, “and they placed their own self-interest above the well-being of the children served by A.C.S.”
The announcement of the charges came a day after the sentencing of Judith Leekin, who was convicted of fraud after she adopted 11 children under four aliases and collected $1.68 million in payments meant for the children’s care, which she used to support a lavish lifestyle. Ms. Leekin was sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison.
Rose Gill Hearn, the investigation commissioner, said that after Ms. Leekin’s fraud was discovered last year, her office began to work closely with Children’s Services to study how such a fraud could occur. One of the officials that the agency assigned to work with her office was Mr. Osarenkhoe, who by then, without the knowledge of officials, was already involved in his own fraud involving similar adoption subsidies, she said.
The children’s services commissioner, John B. Mattingly, said that Mr. Duncan and Mr. Osarenkhoe had been suspended.
Prosecutors said that the phony-adoption scheme relied on cooperation from Stay Thompson, the fiscal director of the Brooklyn foster care agency, Concord Family Services, which they said had received more than $28 million in contracts for foster care and other services in recent years.
In that scheme, prosecutors said, Ms. Thompson received about $79,000 in illegal payments and agreed to share the proceeds evenly with Mr. Duncan and Mr. Osarenkhoe. Ms. Thompson was arrested on Tuesday.
Mr. Mattingly said the city had halted the placement of children with Concord and told it to suspend Ms. Thompson.
“We will not tolerate this type of fraud and are working at the direction of Mayor Bloomberg to immediately correct any gaps in our financial controls,” Mr. Mattingly said.
Ms. Thompson was also involved in the fictitious-services scheme, Mr. Garcia and Ms. Gill Hearn said.
In that case, they said, Ms. Thompson was stealing money from Concord’s petty cash fund and giving it to Mr. Duncan, and when he could not repay it, she proposed that they work together to embezzle money from the city agency.
Prosecutors said Mr. Duncan had the city agency issue a check for $375,000 to a computer- services firm run by an acquaintance of Ms. Thompson, which they said had done no work to earn the money.
The head of that firm, Philbert Gorrick, who had offices at Concord, then split the money with Mr. Duncan and Ms. Thompson, prosecutors said.
The government said that Mr. Duncan received more than $100,000 that way, and that Mr. Gorrick, who was also charged, used some of his money to buy a 2006 BMW 750 Li sedan, worth $84,500, and a 2006 Range Rover, and for rent for an apartment.
Ms. Gill Hearn said that Mr. Duncan “had the power to authorize A.C.S. payments and checks — so he did, for himself and his co-conspirators, and it was easy, too easy.”
She added: “We have now turned that spigot off.” She said that she would work with Children’s Services to “put in proper internal controls.”
In a criminal complaint unsealed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, prosecutors said that Mr. Duncan had been cooperating with the Department of Investigation in its inquiry, hoping to receive a reduction of any sentence he might face.
In March, for example, Mr. Duncan, at the Department of Investigation’s direction, met with Mr. Osarenkhoe in a session that was being secretly recorded and asked whether he could “reactivate that stuff we did,” which prosecutors called a reference to the scheme, which they said began in 2005.
Mr. Osarenkhoe agreed, the complaint said, but “expressed concern that adoption subsidies were being looked at more closely, now that ‘they are doing the checking.’ ”
The authorities said that they believed that Mr. Osarenkhoe was referring to controls the city agency put in place after Ms. Leekin’s fraud was discovered.
Mr. Osarenkhoe was arrested at the Children’s Services offices on Wednesday. He, Ms. Thompson, and Mr. Gorrick were released on bond by a federal magistrate judge. Mr. Duncan, while charged, is not in custody.
The claims of problems involving money at Concord are not new. Late in 2006, its executive director resigned after an audit by the city comptroller’s office found that she had spent tens of thousands of dollars at luxury stores using the agency’s credit card. The director said at the time that the purchases were made to benefit foster children.
A person who answered the phone at Concord on Wednesday said that there was no one available to answer questions about the new case, and a message left there was not returned. Lawyers for the four defendants either declined to comment or could not be reached by phone for comment on Wednesday night.
Source: The New York Times
FOCASD Recruits Members
July 16, 2008 permalink
FOCASD has issued a poster recruiting members. You can see the original poster (1.3 megabytes jpg) or read our html version below.
Families in Ontario are crying out for help in dealing with Children's Aid Society's standard practice of submitting false and misleading evidence to family courts in this province and in fact across this country.
The number of families destroyed, and damaged continues to grow at an alarming rate, yet at this point there is little that Families can do about what is happening to them.
The complaints process in place to deal with complaints against Children's Aid Society is practically ineffective in providing any resolve for families that have been wronged. Children's Aid Society management and their legal offices have managed to manoeuver into place people that will use all of their efforts to dispell any complaint against Children's Aid Societies, regardless of weather Children's Aid Society broke the law, caused damages, or acted improperly.
Children's Aid Societies spend a great deal of money trying to prevent recordings of any kind that will show the truth in how they operate. Any attempt to record a CAS worker or staff member will immediately be met with resistance and lies. Information gathered by Children's Aid Society investigations is automatically and deliberately interpreted in a manner supporting Children's Aid Society's view, and interpreted in a manner that paints the parents or parent in the worst light possible. Children's Aid Societies will delete, ignore, hide, and manipulate any evidence that show the parents or parent in a positive light.
Even when required by law to fully and completely disclose all CAS files for legal examination, CAS agencies will delay turning over the files, ignore court orders, hide files, file information, and residential files. Then when they have no choice but to turn over the files they provide incomplete copies, illegible copies and lie and say some of the files don't exist. When children are taken into custody CAS immediately works to reduce contact with the parent, family members and friends, regardless of whether the child is at risk or not. When more then one child is apprehended by CAS the CAS will immediately separate them if they show any signs of exposing CAS wrong doings or band together to protect themselves from abuse and control in CAS care.
Quite simply Children's Aid Society's have lost sight of their purpose, and has grown into an enormous Cog that financially feeds and manipulates and industry that exploits our most precious resource, Our beloved children.
FOCASD is gathering people and compiling a contact list in order to create a pool of people that at certain times are available and willing to come out and protest such people as Doctors and other in the medical field that write falsified reports to serve CAS needs, Lawyers that secretly help CAS efforts and fail to adequately represent clients fighting CAS lies and manipulations, and anyone else that provides falsified reports, documents or evidence that support CAS lies. Canadian children and families will continue to be damaged and destroyed by Children's Aid Societies lies and greed unless we band together and fight back against this monster called The Children's Aid Society. Join the rapidly growing list of families fighting back for what's right.
To join FOCASD or get further information or if you need immediate information and help with CAS problems Contact me at 905 462 1462 or email email@example.com
Source: email from FOCASD, July 16, 2008
Dad Accused for Photographing Own Kids
July 15, 2008 permalink
Anti-family propaganda has reached such a level that a father taking pictures of his own children has been labeled a pervert. In this British article you can see a picture of the family together, and the photograph taken by the dad himself that got him in trouble.
Father-of-three branded a 'pervert' - for photographing his own children in public park
By David Wilkes, Last updated at 7:26 PM on 15th July 2008
When Gary Crutchley started taking pictures of his children playing on an inflatable slide he thought they would be happy reminders of a family day out.
But the innocent snaps of seven-year-old Cory, and Miles, five, led to him being called a ‘pervert’.
The woman running the slide at Wolverhampton Show asked him what he was doing and other families waiting in the queue demanded that he stop.
One even accused him of photographing youngsters to put the pictures on the internet.
Mr Crutchley, 39, who had taken pictures only of his own children, was so enraged that he found two policemen who confirmed he had done nothing wrong.
Yesterday he said: ‘What is the world coming to when anybody seen with a camera is assumed to be doing things that they should not?
‘This parental paranoia is getting completely out of hand. I was so shocked. One of the police officers told me that it was just the way society-is these days. He agreed with me that it was madness.’
Father- of-three Mr Crutchley, a consultant for a rubber manufacturer from Walsall, West Midlands, was with his wife Tracey and their sons when the pleasant Sunday afternoon out turned sour.
He said: ‘The children wanted to go on an inflatable slide and I started taking photos of them having a good time. Moments later the woman running the slide told me to stop.
‘When I asked why, she told me I could not take pictures of other people’s children. I explained I was only interested in taking photos of my own children and pointed out that this was taking place in a public park.
‘I showed her the photos I had taken to prove my point. Then another woman joined in and said her child was also on the slide and did not want me taking pictures of the youngster.
‘I repeated that the only people being being photographed were my own children. She said I could be taking pictures of just any child to put on the internet and called me a pervert. We immediately left the show.’
Mrs Crutchley, 37, a teaching support assistant and qualified nursery nurse, said: ‘I was shocked by the reaction of those women.
'It is very sad when every man with a camera enjoying a Sunday afternoon out in the park with his children is automatically assumed to be a pervert.’
The slide was run by Tracey Dukes, 35, whose father Malcolm Gwinnett has an inflatables hire company.
Mr Gwinnett, 58, a LibDem councillor in Wolverhampton, said: ‘Our policy is to ask people taking photos whether they have children on the slide. If they do, then that is fine.
‘But on this occasion another customer took exception to what the man was doing and an argument developed between those two people that continued without any further involvement from staff on the slide.’
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
July 15, 2008 permalink
The baby girl abandoned in a Toronto parking garage in January has now been legally separated from her parents and is available for adoption.
Girl abandoned in a Toronto stairwell now a Crown ward up for adoption
July 14, 2008
TORONTO — An Ontario court cleared the way Monday for the adoption of a baby girl whose plight captured the imagination of Canadians six months ago when she was found abandoned in the dead of winter in a freezing parkade stairwell in Toronto's east end.
Angelica-Leslie - so named by aid workers for her cherubic face and the name of the street where she was discovered - should be in the state's legal care, with no contact from her biological parents, who are facing criminal charges, an Ontario family court judge decided.
The ruling is the first step towards the formal adoption of the child, said Corrie Tuyl of the Children's Aid Society of Toronto.
"This allows us to proceed with planning for her placement in a permanent, loving family," Tuyl said.
Members of the girl's extended biological family were contacted by aid workers in advance of Monday's hearing, but the court heard no option other than making the girl a Crown ward, Tuyl said.
"I think the facts speak for themselves in that there was no alternative plan presented in court today for the baby's care."
Angelica-Leslie's parents continue to deny she is their daughter, despite DNA evidence to the contrary.
Neither were present at Monday's hearing.
Her discovery prompted a swell of public support, including trust fund donations, homemade knit blankets and an avalanche of adoption offers. The agency says some 149 families have offered to adopt the child.
Family lawyer Elizabeth Dyke said she wasn't surprised at the number of people who are looking to adopt the little girl.
"Quite frankly, little babies are in high demand everywhere. There's lots of kids out there if you want to adopt a child, but there's few babies," Dyke said.
"Those poor little kids come with some baggage. This little girl doesn't have any."
Last year in Ontario, some 1,400 families were pre-approved for adoption. Of the 2,500 children available, 800 found new homes, said Virginia Rowden of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies.
She said cases like Angelica-Leslie's raise the profile of adoption and the need to find homes for children of all ages.
"Where people are most likely to be interested at first glance at babies, there are all kinds of other kids in our society who need permanent homes," said Rowden.
It was -14 C on the January day Angelica-Leslie was found abandoned in a frigid parking-lot stairwell, touching off a massive police search for her parents.
Investigators focused their efforts on a green car that was captured on surveillance video pulling up to the doorway, then driving off after one of the occupants dropped something off inside the stairwell.
Police arrested a 30-year-old couple in Kitchener, Ont., in May and charged them with abandoning a child, failing to provide the necessaries of life, assault causing bodily harm and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
Last month, additional charges were laid against the pair, who cannot be identified under the terms of a court-ordered publication ban.
No decision has been made on whether or not Angelica-Leslie will be placed under the same roof as her three older siblings, who are in foster care in Kitchener-Waterloo, she added.
"The Children's Aid Society knows the importance of sibling relationships and always works very hard to preserve sibling relationships whatever the situation," Tuyl said.
She said the final decision will be influenced by several factors, including the unique individual needs of the children, any trauma they may have suffered and the length of time the children have lived together.
The family currently taking care of Angelica-Leslie will not be her permanent foster family, Tuyl said.
Children's Aid is required to have a formal plan for any child within a year of initial contact. In the case of Angelica-Leslie, six months have already passed, Tuyl added.
Source: The Canadian Press, hosted by Google
July 15, 2008 permalink
Mary Janiga reports on the Brantford rally for Rob Ferguson.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Brantford Rally Success
On July 15, 2008 at 8am a crew assembled upon 19 John Street North Hamilton, ON. Child Assist Services had 5 people participating in the rally in Brantford, ON at 44 Queen Street Family Court house, Swayze, Ed, Mary, John “Bulldog” and Frances.
We were in Brantford at 10am and we handed out flyers, and held signs from 10am until 1:30pm.
We met with the family in trouble with Children’s Aid Society and also we talked with many people that were having problems with CAS of Brantford.
We had three more people show up in their own cars from Hamilton and the Brantford area. Cathy Norris showed up and provided us with support and added to our cause.
We pushed Bill 93, The Ombudsman to have oversight of Children’s Aid Societies of this Province.
I haven’t got a total signature count on what we accomplished, but we filled many pages.
We got names and numbers of people that were supportive of our cause and people were honking their horns and were happy we were trying to make some changes in the Family Court system on the streets.
CAS of Brantford granted them access to their child and we will be back in Brantford in the next month to show our support again for this family.
The Brantford Expositor was there to get an interview and spoke with Ed and Swayze about our cause.
We spoke with Al Sweeney of CHCH Channel 11 (as he was there on another matter) with the Native issues in Brantford/Caledonia, and we told him of our plight and cause of the CAS of Brantford and their ruthlessness of taking children and babies away from families.
I would like to thank all those who participated in the rally, for those who signed the Bill and for those who were there with us in spirit.
If we can make one protest a month we will have made a difference.
Posted by maryjaniga at 1:15 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog entry for July 15, 2008
Addendum: The success of Mary Janiga and Child Assist Services in getting Devin (chemo boy) returned to his parents has CAS running scared throughout Ontario. In the Rob Ferguson case, they brought out more legal firepower than usual. Rob did not get his newborn son returned, but did get better treatment than usual for this kind of case. His own report is below.
CAS Brantford vs Ferguson Update
Yesterday in family court in Brantford I noticed some things right away and throughout the morning while there. The first thing was the CAS worker was there but he had brought his manager. I have never really seen this in any CFSA case. The CAS stated this was normal in high profile cases. I thought to myself "high profile"? Was this because of who I was or what I'd done publicly, or what could happen with more public exposure and government involvement? I overheard police who were there for a native issue state that CAS has gone to far in most cases. The waiting room in the courthouse was abuzz with talks which I could clearly hear. I don't think I heard anyone say anything negative about me and my wife, on the flipside I don't think I heard anything positive from the people about CAS. Child assist services was outside handing out flyers and I'd like to thank them for all their support. Another thing I noticed that was sort of odd was CAS's quick yes to all questions, This I do think is very supportive but maybe not completely honest. To give access is a great thing however giving my son back after you have kidnapped him would be better. I had asked the CAS lawyer how come he as the CAS was quick to order things but not so quick in admitting their wrongs. He answered by saying "I know and you know we do some good, but we can't be right always". I can't say I look forward to a family court battle but my son is well worth any court battle. Another thing that happened was the Brantford Expositor came in this sort of surprised me. They stated that they had been following my case for five days. Great I thought I have nothing to hide and never did. Any time Brant CAS director Andrew Koster wants to have a sit down like he has offered in the past I would do it if I could bring the reporter of my choice. So I guess that door is always open to Mr Koster. It is my opinion that my case is not any different from the hundreds of cases here in Brantford and 1000s in Ontario. So this leaves me with my last thought the Ontario government. Dalton you know what's wrong and the two past ministers know what's wrong. This is why as soon as they went public you removed them from the ministers position, they did not quit. But then they had enough I guess with the stress of being the minister in charge of this mess and both quit politics. Dalton if you ever want to have a sit down and talk about what's really going on with CFSA I'll be there so you can fix the issues. Just let me know the day and time and I'll be at Queens Park. However I know that Mr McGuinty will do as he's done all along and dodge this issue. Has to be expected I guess.
Rob Ferguson Brantford
Source: email from Rob Ferguson, July 16, 2008
July 15, 2008 permalink
Does your home have a television? That could be the newest reason for taking your kids.
Study: 'Secondhand TV' could harm children
09:05 AM PDT on Tuesday, July 15, 2008, By JANE MCCARTHY / KING 5 News
SEATTLE - We all know that secondhand smoke is dangerous for children, but believe it or not, secondhand television can also be harmful.
A lot of parents like to have the television on in the background while they're cooking breakfast or dinner. This study looked at children ages one to three years old and suggests even if they aren't watching, they may still be affected.
Limiting TV time for very young children is not new advice, but you may be surprised to learn that children don't even have to be in front of the television to feel its distracting effects.
The findings come from researchers at the University of Massachusetts. The study of 50 one to three-year-olds found background TV was distracting enough to disrupt children's playtime, even when the kids weren't paying attention the screen.
Researchers say the findings suggest, just like dedicated screen time, secondhand TV should be limited. Pediatricians suggest scheduling the time the TV is on.
"I think if the TV isn't on all the time there are ways to structure activities so older children can be watching their favorite show while the younger child is taking a nap," said Dr. Ari Brown, pediatrician.
Like sweets in diet, these experts say screen time, even background TV, should be in moderation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV until a child is two years old. Researchers at the University of Washington have said TV can be a beneficial tool for children and parents, but not before the age of three.
Source: Northwest Cable News
Social Worker Mad Tea Party
July 13, 2008 permalink
Today's story from Connecticut belongs in Alice in Wonderland. A few cases have come to light in which a social worker offered to let a mother keep her children in exchange for sex. Raymond Mancuso may be another one. He was fired by Connecticut DCF in 2006 for having sex with a client while he was her child protection worker. Currently he is a monitor appointed by the US District Court to oversee Connecticut DCF. On top of that, he is suing DCF, the agency he monitors, for wrongful dismissal. It takes the genius of Lewis Carroll to conceive a story like this.
Monitor Of DCF Sues Ex-Officials Over Own Case
By JON LENDER, Courant Staff Writer, July 13, 2008
For two years, the Department of Children and Families has operated under a bizarre governmental quirk: Its compliance with a federal court order has been policed by an official fired by the DCF in 2006 for having sex in the 1980s with a woman he met as a social worker.
Last week, the situation turned even messier.
Raymond Mancuso — whom the state pays $150,000 a year as the U.S. District Court-appointed federal "monitor" of DCF's child-protection practices — filed a federal lawsuit last week against present and former state officials over his 2006 firing.
Mancuso's lawsuit bares previously unpublished allegations about his relationship 23 years ago. Among them are claims by the woman, referred to as "Jane Doe," that he coerced her into sex and installed video equipment to monitor her at home.
His lawyer denied those allegations and cited official reports of her mental illness, years after the one-time sexual encounter that occurred when the two were single and in their 20s.
"Two mental health professionals opined that Doe has been likely fabricating allegations about Mancuso," his attorney, Thomas G. Moukawsher, said in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit has brought renewed calls for Mancuso's removal as monitor, based on the claim that it's a conflict of interest for him to oversee the agency that fired him — and whose former officials he now is suing.
In interviews with The Courant on Friday, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and State Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein reaffirmed a written request they made two years ago for Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas to oust Mancuso as monitor.
Nevas did not return a call from The Courant.
Mancuso had risen within the department ranks since his 1980s job as a case worker; he was installed in 2005 as the federal court monitor. The monitor evaluates and files periodic reports on DCF's compliance with standards to which the department agreed in a consent decree to settle a lawsuit on behalf of abused and neglected children.
Although Mancuso was fired as a state DCF official in July 2006, Nevas left him in the federal monitor's job.
Sources said that Nevas had been awaiting the outcome of Mancuso's administrative appeal of his firing. But that has stretched out for two years and appears far from over.
"The point I made when we asked for his removal in 2006 was that his termination by the DCF created a conflict of interest — insofar as he was overseeing as court monitor the very agency that terminated him," Blumenthal said.
He added that although "anyone has a right to file a lawsuit," Mancuso's suit against former DCF officials "could heighten the appearance of conflicting interests."
Moukawsher said Blumenthal and Milstein "should remember that, in America, to be accused of something is not to be convicted of something. While the wheels of justice turn slowly, they still turn."
Mancuso's lawsuit names three defendants: former DCF Commissioner Darlene Dunbar, who fired him in 2006; her predecessor, Kristine Ragaglia, now Kristine Williams after a divorce; and Frederick Heisler, a state labor relations officer who rejected the grievance Mancuso filed over the firing.
Mancuso seeks unspecified damages, a declaration that his firing was illegal and the restoration of lost pension benefits. He wants a judge to bar Heisler from prosecuting the case for the firing at the next administrative appeal level: the Employees' Review Board.
Dunbar, the former DCF commissioner, also had asked Nevas to dump Mancuso as court monitor in 2006. The department's current commissioner, Susan Hamilton, did not comment Friday.
Mancuso's lawsuit claims that the sexual relationship between him and "Jane Doe" did not violate departmental ethics rules.
They both lived in Enfield in the mid-1980s when he went to her home as a DCF social worker to investigate if she was neglecting her child. He determined she wasn't and considered the case closed, the suit says. Their friendship developed several months later when they bumped into each other in town, and "one day they had a physical encounter," the suit says.
His supervisor at the time investigated the friendship after a local social-work volunteer questioned it. Jane Doe "refused to confirm" allegations of an improper relationship, the supervisor, Thomas P. Gilman, wrote at the time, and Mancuso denied wrongdoing. "Please be advised that my inquiry is finished resulting in your complete exoneration," Gilman wrote, according to the suit.
DCF rules say that agency personnel must not engage in close relationships with clients. Because the DCF did not intervene after Mancuso visited and evaluated Jane Doe's situation, she was never a client, Moukawsher said.
Mancuso "heard nothing of the issue again for over 20 years," the suit says. Then, in December 2005, not long after he had become court monitor, Mancuso was informed that the old relationship had arisen again because of a complaint by an anonymous "whistle-blower." Blumenthal and Milstein were investigating the complaint, and after they contacted DCF, Dunbar launched her own internal inquiry.
As the new DCF probe progressed, the suit says, "Mancuso was shocked" to learn that back in 1997, then-commissioner Ragaglia also had investigated a whistle-blower complaint about the relationship but never told him.
He received a 1997 document from Dunbar's office showing that a decade after their relationship, "sadly, Doe now claimed a very different version of the events" — including that he planted "video cameras in her home" and threatened that a politically powerful relative would "take her child away if she did not cooperate," the suit says.
In May 2006, Blumenthal and Ragaglia told Nevas in a letter that during Dunbar's new DCF probe, "Mancuso acknowledged having had sexual relations on one occasion with a parent of [a] child who received services as a result of DCF intervention." They said it "calls into question his ability to continue as court monitor."
The DCF probe led to Mancuso's July 2006 dismissal from the state agency, but not the federal monitor's post.
Contact Jon Lender at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Hartford Courant
July 13, 2008 permalink
Mary Janiga and Child Assist Services are calling for a rally outside the Brantford Family Court House on July 15. There is no mention of the cause, but Brantford residents Rob Ferguson and Kalena Mallon just had their newborn son seized from mother's breast by children's aid.
A new rally and cause
JOIN US AT 44 QUEEN ST BRANTFORD AT THE FAMILY COURT HOUSE ON JULY 15TH, 2008 AT 9AM.
TO PROTEST AGAINST THE CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETIES OF THIS PROVINCE
CHILD ASSIST SERVICES STRIKES AGAIN!!
SUPPORT OUR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETIES DO NOT HELP CHILDREN THEY DESTROY FAMILIES
Bonding as determined in the dictionary is:
“The emotional and physical attachment occurring between a parent or parent figure, especially a mother, and offspring, that usually begins at birth”
“One of the numerous benefits of breastfeeding is the enhancement of maternal-infant bonding process”
WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?
WHAT HAPPENED TO KEEPING THE FAMILY TOGETHER AND STRENGTHENING THE FAMILY UNIT?
for more information contact me via message here or via my website www.casservices.bravehost.com
Posted by maryjaniga Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 8:35 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog entry for July 12, 2008
Lonely Social Worker
July 12, 2008 permalink
San Leandro California - Lonely trans-sexual female college-educated professional, executive director for a social services agency seeks strong, confident man who is sexually aggressive and secure within himself.
We are not making it up. A Texas member of the dating agency Online Booty Call came across the ad and forwarded it to Leonard Henderson. You can see the whole ad for DELILAH510 on AFRA. Sorry, as non-members, we cannot verify the posting.
Baby Stealing Panel
July 12, 2008 permalink
Would Ontario appoint a commission on labor with only management representatives? Or an expert panel on Indians consisting only of white people? Of course not. But today we have an expert panel on fertility treatment and adoption. Not one of the members has had a child taken for adoption nor is any panel member, as far as is known, an adopted child himself.
Ontario Appoints Expert Panel On Infertility And Adoption
McGuinty Government Helping Prospective Parents
TORONTO, July 11 /CNW/ - NEWS
Ontario has appointed an expert panel on fertility treatment and adoption to help find solutions for people who are trying to start or expand a family.
The panel will recommend ways to help make both fertility treatment and adoption more accessible and affordable.
The 12-member panel will provide advice to the government on:
- Improving access to infertility treatment and making fertility monitoring available to women so they know if they are likely to have problems conceiving a child.
- Improving Ontario's adoption system so that more children can become part of families more quickly.
Panel members include adoptive parents, people who have had personal experience with infertility, and representatives from the medical and adoption communities. The panel is expected to report back to the Minister of Children and Youth Services with its recommendations within a year.
MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES EXPERT PANEL ON INFERTILITY AND ADOPTION
The government has appointed 12 members, including a chair, to the new Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption. The appointees, who bring a broad range of expertise from the medical, legal, research and media communities are:
- David Johnston, Chair, is President, University of Waterloo and has degrees from the United States (Harvard, A.B. 1963), England (Cambridge, LL.B 1965) and Canada (Queen's, LL.B. 1966). He has held many academic positions, including Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario and Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University. David has served on many boards and provincial and federal task forces and committees. He has chaired several bodies, including the National Round Table on Environment and the Economy (1988-91), and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. David and his wife have five daughters.
- Cheryl Appell is a lawyer with the firm Dickson MacGregor Appell LLP in Toronto and has extensive experience in the area of adoption law. Over the past 28 years, she has acted as an advisor in adoption proceedings. She is also licensed to place children for adoption. Cheryl is a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and the Ontario Association of Practitioners in Private Adoption.
- Robin Cardozo has been Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, since 1999. Previously, he held progressively senior positions in finance and human resources at the United Way of Greater Toronto, culminating in his appointment as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. In 1999, Robin won the United Way's highest national honour, the André Mailhot Award. Robin currently serves on the boards of Bridgepoint Health, Active Healthy Kids Canada and the Youth Challenge Fund.
- Gill Deacon is an award-winning broadcaster. Since 1992, she has hosted and produced for CBC Television, CTV and Discovery Channel in Canada and the U.S. She is also the author of Green for Life, a guide to making sustainable living "the new normal," and author and editor of Green Tips: How to Save Money and Save the Planet. Gill is environmental columnist for Chatelaine magazine and has served as a director of World Wildlife Fund Canada since 2002. She lives in Toronto with her husband and their three sons.
- Dr. Marjorie Dixon is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Toronto (U of T) and co-founder of First Steps Fertility in Toronto. She is a graduate of McGill University's School of Medicine with postgraduate training from U of T in obstetrics and gynecology, and in reproductive endocrinology and infertility from the University of Vermont. Dr. Dixon is now on staff at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and her current practice deals with infertility and family planning. She has several professional affiliations including the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologist of Canada. She lives in Toronto with her partner and two children.
- William Falk is the Managing Partner of Accenture's Health and Life Science Practice in Canada and leads a team of more than 100 professionals serving health care clients across the country. Will has been a strategic consultant for more than 15 years based in New York and Toronto and has served many of North America's top academic medical centers, as well as health ministries and regional authorities across Canada. He and his wife are foster parents licensed through the Children's Aid Society of Toronto.
- Dr. Carol Herbert is Dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at The University of Western Ontario and a Professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Pathology. Dr. Herbert graduated in medicine from the University of British Columbia. She was founding head of the Division of Behavioural Medicine in the UBC Department of Family Practice (1984) and a founder of the UBC Institute of Health Promotion Research. She was President of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada from 2004 to 2006.
- Dr. Art Leader is a Physician and Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Medicine at the University of Ottawa, and a co-founder of the Ottawa Fertility Centre. He is also a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Canada), the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and a past president of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS). Art has received the CFAS Award of Excellence. He has also chaired expert working groups for Health Canada and is currently chair of the Canadian Standards Association subcommittee on assisted human reproduction. He is the father of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) daughter.
- Danny Roth is founder and President of Brandon Communications, a Toronto-based public relations firm. He is an officer and executive board member of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario region. A committed advocate for Canadians struggling with infertility problems, he is a director on the board of the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada. Mr. Roth and his wife are adoptive parents.
- Sharon Sell is a Private Adoption Practitioner in the Halton region and a social worker. She completed her undergraduate degrees in psychology and social work at York University and her masters in social work at the University of Toronto. Sharon has a private practice working with adoptive parents who are adopting internationally, privately in Ontario, or through a children's aid society. She has more than 23 years' experience in child welfare, including seven years serving as a supervisor of an adoption department.
- Jan Silverman co-founded the first Canadian infertility support network, Infertility Facts and Feelings. In 1992, after earning a second masters degree at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, she established the Infertility Support and Education Program at Women's College Hospital. In her work there, she continues to counsel on infertility and related reproductive issues, lectures and supervises nursing and medical students. She is a past chair of the Ontario Women's Health Network and created her family by adopting two children.
- Mary Wong is a co-founder of Toronto's ALIVE Holistic Health Clinic, specializing in women's health, gynecology and fertility. She graduated from McMaster University in biological sciences and in 1993 received a doctorate in traditional Chinese medicine from the Canadian College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Victoria. She is a member of the Ontario Association of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and is the sole Canadian member of the Fertile Soul Clinical Excellence group.
For further information: Laura Dougan, Minister's Office, (416) 212-3394; Anne Machowski-Smith, Ministry of Children and Youth Services, (416) 325-5156
ONTARIO MINISTRY OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH SERVICES
Source: Canada News Wire
July 11, 2008 permalink
On Wednesday July 9 about a dozen people participated in a CAS reform rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It was well short of the fifty people who had agreed to come. Among the participants were John Butts, Andrew Skinner and Lindsay, Cathy Norris, Christine Reid, Jacqueline Dratwa and Robert McQuaid. Only one Ottawa person came, a 59-year-old anonymous man who grew up as a CAS ward. The next day, Thursday, only four persons showed up by 11:25 am, so John Butts canceled that day's event at the parliament. But at noon, many of the participants returned, and about ten people continued the rally to the end of the day. Participation was too small to have an effect on policy, but one benefit was face-to-face meeting of people who previously knew each other only by internet.
Below is a more enthusiastic report by a participant.
screen name: luvmykids
Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:13 pm
The rally In Ottawa on the hill was a tremendous success! All the tourists and people visiting the hill were wonderful, we were approched by many different kinds of people who wanted to hear what we had to say, and also people that shared their own stories about CAS and the system. We recieved lots of signatures for bill 93, we were able to hand out about 200 flyers, giving out information that some of those people will share with others. It was nice to see people attend that I have talked to or met on this and other sites. We had fun, had some laughs, met some beautiful, kind people. We were treated with respect and given lots of encouragement just from the good response, with 0 negativity, except for maybe a sun burn or two and a blister
Thankyou to the people who organized this 2 day event, and thankyou to everyone who attended, you are all amazing.
Source: Canada Court Watch forum
Baby Grabbed Prenatally
July 10, 2008 permalink
Several crimes have been in the news in which a woman attacks a pregnant woman, tearing the fetus from the womb and claiming it as her own baby. Mary Janiga reports on a case in which children's aid is performing the same act, though possibly under more sanitary conditions. We follow that with an email from Rob Ferguson, describing a similar case, quite possibly the same one.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
family update and children's aid society
A mother and father of an unborn child, came to us in good faith on May 27, 2008 to ask us to assist them with baby clothes, toys, and extras needed to help bring a baby home and into this world. We have offered advice and support and watched their pregnancy with concern for the mother and her unborn child. The Children’s Aid Society of Brantford had its concerns and wanted the family to prove that they had what was needed and equipped for the baby. We provided to the best of our ability the comforts needed for the baby to come home.
The parents were wary of the Brantford CAS and they were concerned over the apprehension of their baby. June 28th was their due date. This day came and went. Concerns of health of the mother and baby and the concerns of the Children’s Aid Society weighed heavily on the father’s mind. They decided to wait for a natural child birth without evasive inductions and clinical analysis. They met with the Children’s Aid Society in their home and mental health forms and other relevant materials signed earlier in the week. Unfortunately they did not get copies of these forms. Contractions started for the mother at 1 hour apart and this continued for 24 hours on June [misprint for July] 8th, 2008.
At approximately 2:40pm on July 9, 2008 the Brantford Police Services apprehended the mother and her unborn child under the guise and warrant of the Brantford Children’s Aid Society. The baby will be delivered by induction, at a Brantford area hospital. This is all the information that I have to inform you all about, but I will keep you all up dated as to what will happen with this family and their unborn child.
Posted by maryjaniga at 3:28 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog for July 9, 2008
a sad and proud day sort of
Date sent: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 04:37:09 -0400
This morning I awoke at about 10 am by the pounding or hard knocking at my front door. I went to the door and answered it and to my surprise the Brant CAS represented by two workers. The workers tried to intimidate me into information and tried to imply that my wife and I were hiding something. Just because we wanted a natural birth does not mean we neglect anything. The workers left and a few hours later I spoke to our covering doctor for delivery of the baby. The doctor and I made an agreement that we could do a natural birth but the doctor wanted to run some final test so drop by on the 10th anytime at her office and she would complete them. About 25 minutes later another loud knock at my front door. I went to the overlooking window to see what was going on. A Brantford police officer looked up at me and demanded I come and speak to him. I then went to the door as I opened it the officer came into my home to "apprehend" my wife under some mental health act. The CAS staff member was there and I asked what the reasonable grounds were or at least what this was all about. The CAS staff member then stated that Brant CAS was acting on a report that my wife and I were planning to kill our unborn son. I said what. The CAS and police said we were refusing medical service for the baby. Keeping in mind that I just spoke to the doctor on the case less then a half and hour ago. I asked for a written statement from the cas of the complaint, they of course didn't not bring it. I refused to allow CAS in my home and instructed the officers if he did I would consider him trespassing. The officer then went upstairs to where my sleeping pregnant wife was and woke her up by yelling at her. I told the officer he could be a bit nicer about this situation. The officers then escorted me and my wife out of our home in front of 20 neighbors. Placing my cryng and afraid wife in one police car while the other officer offered to give me a ride to hospital. Upon arrival at hospital I made it clear that I wanted paper work on this which I never received. After a few hours in the labor room under police guard I asked the officer again what his grounds were. He said to clear my wife mental and physically. Within minutes mental health workers cleared my wife of any illness. The officer said now it comes down to the doctor. I replied that this is Canada and the government should not be allowed to walk into ones home kidnapped the parents and the force a birth. The doctor on call then confirmed that infact I had made arrangements with the doctor to deliver our son. The attending doctor spoke to a hospital social worker and the advised us that it would be in the best interests of our son if born today since we were there anyways. My wife and I agreed and so our son’s birth was set. The primary officer as stood in the labor room made comment after I asked a few questions the he would arrest me for interfering with an investigation. The questions I asked he were since my wife was cleared mentally and never had a problem who made this complaint? Then I asked what his grounds were again. Then I asked if he had ever donated to CAS? The hospital the discharged the officers from the scene as the primary officer left he asked where's rob and the approached me and said it will be difficult to leave the hospital with all the hundreds of court watchers outside. This was considered by everyone in the room including nurses as intimidation. I made no comment. After several hours of labour our son was brought into this world at 145 am at 7 pounds 10 ounces. Remember CAS this is our son and we choose to raise him, love him, provide for him and he is not for sale. I know cas will include this in statement so Ill conclude by saying I have disclosed all information to you all protection concerns simply do not exists so me my son and my wife do not need your help and ask our courts and government for relief from this agency. Please allow us to just be a family in peace.
Source: email from Rob Ferguson
Outlaw Home Births
July 10, 2008 permalink
One way of starting your family free from social workers is to give birth at home. The doctors are fighting back and are moving to treat home birth as child abuse.
Big Medicine's blowback on home births
Why do U.S. doctors strong-arm women into our standard maternity care system?
By Jennifer Block, July 9, 2008
You'd think the healthcare establishment would have bigger fish to fry than Ricki Lake. (The 47 million uninsured, maybe?) But Lake's recent documentary, "The Business of Being Born," which includes footage of her own delivery of her second child at home, was on the agenda at the American Medical Assn.'s annual meeting in mid-June. Lake was personally name-checked in a "Resolution on Home Deliveries" introduced by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Whereas, there has been much attention in the media by celebrities having home deliveries, with recent 'Today Show' headings such as 'Ricki Lake takes on baby birthing industry.' " The AMA ultimately passed the resolution without the Lake citation, but not before the Hollywood media got wind of it and, overnight, home birth was thrust into the mainstream light.
It's about time.
Last year I flew to Britain to be with a good friend for the birth of her first child. She's American but married into Britain's National Health Service, lucky duck. The differences in the prenatal care she got there were striking. First and foremost, she never saw a doctor. As a healthy woman with a normal pregnancy, she saw midwives. And one of their first questions to her was, "So, would you like to give birth in the hospital maternity ward or at home?"
Planning a home birth with a midwife may sound old-fashioned -- maybe you think it sounds crazy -- but a solid body of research shows that for healthy women who seek a normal, nonsurgical birth, there are several benefits. At home, a woman can get one-on-one care and monitoring from a midwife trained to support the normal labor process. The mother-to-be is free to move about, eat and drink, sit in a birth tub -- Britain's national health guidelines call water the safest, most effective form of pain relief. A woman will be helped to give birth in positions that are effective and protective: sitting, squatting, on hands and knees, even standing.
The physiological birth process is automatic: hormones fire, the cervix gradually opens, the uterus contracts, the baby descends, muscles engage. An optimal birth, one in which mother and child emerge as healthy as can be, is one that begins spontaneously, progresses on its own and concludes with the least amount of intervention necessary.
But hospital maternity care in the U.S. is typically not supportive of this process. More than half of women are induced into labor, or it is sped up with artificial hormones; the vast majority of women labor and push in the desultory flat-on-the-back or leaning-back position; and (perhaps not surprisingly) nearly one-third of women end up giving birth through major surgery, the caesarean section.
This has led to an epidemic of pre-term births in the United States. A 2006 survey showed that the majority of babies are now born before the spontaneous onset of labor, which leaves them more prone to breathing and feeding difficulties. Caesareans are also contributing to a rising maternal death rate, announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year.
Which is why some women, such as those in the film Lake produced, choose to give birth somewhere other than a hospital. Their choice is backed by sound science. Studies of "low-risk" women in North America planning out-of-hospital births with midwives have found that 95% give birth vaginally with hardly any medical intervention. The largest and most rigorous study to date, published in the British Medical Journal, found that in North America, babies were born at home just as safely as in the hospital.
Organized medicine can't believe this. Dismissing the research evidence, the AMA resolution states that "the safest setting for labor, delivery and the immediate postpartum period is in the hospital" or an accredited birth center. In its own statement earlier this year, the American College of Ob/Gyns went even further, implying that women who choose home birth are selfish and irresponsible: "choosing to deliver a baby at home ... is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby."
Compare that to this information in Britain's NHS-issued handout my friend was given at her first prenatal appointment: "There is no evidence to support the common assertion that home birth is a less safe option for women experiencing uncomplicated pregnancies." In a joint statement last year, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Royal College of Midwives said, "There is no reason why home birth should not be offered to women at low risk of complications, and it may confer considerable benefits for them and their families."
The AMA's statement calls for legislation that could be used against women who choose home birth, possibly resulting in criminal child-abuse or neglect charges. The group says this is about safety, but with no credible research to back up its claim, this argument falls flat. Women are simply caught in a turf war over the maternity market, and it would appear that the physicians' groups are perfectly willing to trample the modern medical ethic of patient autonomy -- grounded in our legal rights to self-determination, to liberty and to privacy -- in their grab for control.
If these groups were truly making maternal and child health a priority, they'd be reforming standard maternity care, not strong-arming women into it.
Jennifer Block is the author of "Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care."
Source: Los Angeles Times
More British F4J
July 10, 2008 permalink
Two members of Fathers-4-Justice staged another event on the roof of Labor deputy leader Harriet Harman. The BBC item is below. The Guardian (UK) posted a video of the action, and we have our local copy (flv).
Page last updated at 23:45 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 00:45 UK
Men held after Harman roof demo
Two fathers' rights campaigners have been arrested after holding a 14-hour roof-top protest at Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman's home.
Police said both protesters, dressed as superheroes, had come down voluntarily.
The men had earlier named themselves as Nigel Ace, 40, of Bristol, and Tony Ashby, 42, from Leicester.
It is the second time in just over a month that Fathers 4 Justice members have protested at Ms Harman's home in Herne Hill, south London.
Before their arrest, the men had said they had enough food for a week and vowed to stay until their concerns about equality for fathers were taken seriously by ministers.
After coming down from the roof shortly after 2000 BST on Wednesday, both were arrested on suspicion of harassment and taken into custody, Scotland Yard said.
Scotland Yard said police had been called to the home of the minister for women and equality at about 0620 BST.
Ms Harman ignored the protesters when she left home at 0745 BST.
Mr Ace, dressed as Spiderman, who said he was a sales manager, said the protest followed Ms Harman's recent promises over equality in the workforce.
He told the media: "What about dads? We haven't got equality. The government is ignoring us and has a feminist agenda.
"We want Harriet Harman to come back here and engage in a debate with us and if not then Gordon Brown should come.
"I am trained in survival, so I don't care how long we are up here."
Mr Ashby, dressed as Batman, who said he worked as a painter and decorator, said he had not seen his children for seven years.
"We have been up here since 6am and we are in for the long haul," he said.
"We don't want to cause trouble, we just want to get our message across."
The men displayed a banner saying: "Stop the war on dads."
In parliament, Ms Harman condemned the pressure group, agreeing with Labour MP Anne Moffat that their "vile" stunts did their case "absolutely no good".
During the protest last month, she moved out of her house after Jolly Stanesby and Mark Harris, both from south Devon, scaled her roof dressed as superheroes.
They unfurled a banner with the words: "A father is for life, not just conception."
They were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and causing a public nuisance, and were bailed by police until 16 July pending further inquiries.
CAS Overspends, Leader Quits
July 10, 2008 permalink
After Northumberland CAS overspent its budget by $1.4 million, Executive Director Greg Dulmage has resigned. This is not the kind of culture where the captain goes down with the ship.
Dulmage joins exodus of CAS management
Posted By BY VALERIE MACDONALD, July 8, 2008
Departure of senior management from the local Children's Aid Society will leave a new team dealing with its ongoing deficit of more than $1-million.
At its most recent board meeting, the Children's Aid Society (CAS) of Northumberland received word from its longtime executive director, Greg Dulmage, that he would be retiring at the end of the year, past chair Dick Malowney said.
Mr. Dulmage has been at the local CAS for over 25 years.
"He'll be a tough person to replace," Mr. Malowney said. "He contributed to the society and the community at large."
The second in command at the CAS head office located on Burnham Street in Cobourg, Linda Goldie, retired about a month ago. She was director of service, and was also a long-time employee there. Her position was filled internally by supervisor Tammy Callaghan, Mr. Malowney said.
Hugh Parker, the full-time legal counsel for the agency, left within the past year and has been replaced, Mr. Malowney added.
Even Mr. Malowney himself, who spent at least a decade on the board, stepped down to pass on the position of chair as of last May. He will remain on the board for at least another three-year term, he said. He is heading up the search committee to replace the executive director.
Mr. Dulmage was on vacation and unable to comment on his decision to retire, but when asked if frustration over the ongoing lack of provincial funding was part of the reason, Mr. Malowney said he did not believe that to be the case.
The local CAS has a deficit of about $1.4-million and has requested a change in the funding formula to recognize the realities it faces in meeting its mandate to care for children while still having to pay for "outside resources" to do so, Mr. Malowney said. A Section 14 review was completed about three weeks ago at the agency. A government team undertook both program and financial audits "at our request," Mr. Malowney said.
While the local CAS is awaiting a written report, provincial officials have indicated that "things are going along just fine."
He anticipates the formal report will indicate the CAS here in Northumberland County is handling its mandate, programs and resources appropriately, but that more funding is needed specifically targeting the growing need for paid outside resources for children in care in facilities, not foster homes.
The CAS has a legal mandate to care for children and that includes the need for outside paid resources which is the reason for the deficit, Mr. Malowney summed up.
Source: Northumberland Today
Family justice: the secret state that steals our children
July 7, 2008 permalink
The London Times has started a series on family law by Camilla Cavendish. The Times also has a Family Justice page and a page for how to find help and advice online. We are still waiting for the Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star.
Family justice: the secret state that steals our children
Every year thousands of children are taken from their parents, largely on the say-so of ‘experts'. It is a secret and sometimes unjust process and the system must change
Two weeks ago I got a phone call from a woman I hadn't seen for four years. She was calling to tell me that she was moving abroad, unable to bear the pain of living in the same country as the daughter she is no longer allowed to see. “I wanted to thank you,” she said, “for being the only person who ever gave me a fair hearing.” I was seized with guilt. This woman had asked for my help, and I had utterly failed her. Her story had been just so incredible. She described a world where courts need no criminal conviction to remove your child, only the word of a psychiatrist or doctor, and can deny you the chance to call any expert in your defence. A world that uses the “welfare of the child” to gag you from discussing your case. Where even if you prove yourself innocent on appeal, your children may already have been adopted: in which case you will never be allowed to contact them again. A world which had treated her so badly, this rather pretty and utterly normal young woman, that she was sincerely thanking me just for listening.
It had taken three calls from this lady and her boyfriend, a clean-cut army bloke, before I had agreed to go down to their provincial semi. We sat in their front room with the curtains drawn while they got out box after box of papers. And I got my first inkling of what it is like to go through the door into the secret state.
This particular case had started, as many do, with a custody battle. The mother had started to worry about her ex-partner's behaviour during his visits to their daughter. She approached social services to ask if they could supervise his visits. When the child then told a teacher that her father had touched her in bad places, the police were called. They filmed the child repeating the allegations. The upshot? A psychologist who watched the film but never met the mother, father or daughter wrote a report alleging that the mother had coached the daughter to lie. He never appeared in court, and was never crossexamined. Yet the court, encouraged by social workers, accepted his view. The judge ordered that the daughter should go to live with her father - a man the mother was convinced was an abuser.
My bitter regret, now, is that I did so little about that case. At the time I couldn't help wondering if there was not more to it than the mother had let on. And there may well have been. But today, I'm not so sure. Because so many elements of her story fit patterns that I have since heard again and again. The reliance on experts who have never met the accused. The stormtrooper behaviour of some social workers. The legal aid solicitors acting for parents who are always in a rush. This mother was plunged into a world of acronyms and organisations that she knew nothing about. She was always on the back foot. Having been the person who reached for help from the system, she became its victim.
The tale niggled away at me. I started asking questions. Soon after this encounter I met Denise and Nigel Clarkson, who had lost both their daughters after one sustained an unexplained injury, and who fought like tigers to get them back. Through the Eaton Foundation, which they founded, I met American doctors and radiologists who were challenging many of the assumptions made by British doctors who were diagnosing abuse from so-called “shaken baby syndrome” and certain tiny bone fractures.
I began to write about cases where judges were speaking out publicly about the failings of social services. In early 2006, Mr Justice Ryder denounced Oldham Council for taking a baby away from his parents because of a doctor who “strayed from the role of expert into the role of decision-maker” and a family court judge who “failed to detect that that was what had happened”. Two courts refused to let the parents seek a second medical opinion. It was a year, the most formative year of that child's life, before the Court of Appeal allowed them to call a neurologist who proved that the injury was caused before birth. We know of that blunder only because the judge involved chose to make his judgment public. Few judges do.
The stories began to pour in. People left messages on my answering machine saying that the system was rotten but that they dared not speak out, because they had managed to get their children back. Some had taken a sick child to hospital, only to be accused of physical abuse. Some had been accused of “emotional abuse”, a category that has no definition in British law but which has jumped 50 per cent in the past tenyears as a reason for taking children into care. Quite a number had complained about their local authority, for letting them down over special-needs education, for example, only to find themselves in turn accused of neglect. One woman in Sheffield sobbed that her two autistic sons had been robbed of their mother, as well as the care they needed, because she was accused of making up their symptoms.
Some parents complained about social workers and hospitals refusing to give them copies of any papers or X-rays in their cases, which they needed to mount appeals. Every single one felt that the system was set against them before they could even assemble a defence. Some had real problems: violent ex-partners or unreliable new ones, low IQ, brushes with drugs in the past. Many had never been known to social services or the police before. All were desperate to be given the chance to prove that they were good parents, some begging the local authority to install CCTV cameras in their homes.
Many alleged that their children were treated far worse in care: unloved, not allowed to do homework, some with a new bruise almost every time they came for supervised contact, bruises that were never explained.
Since local authorities generally would not talk to me, citing confidentiality, I still had only part of the picture. Was there really a problem, or were these people all lying? I looked for figures. Were particular local authorities taking above-average numbers of children into care, for example? How many of these proceedings were contested? How many mothers were being accused of having Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy, a psychiatric disorder that is supposed to be rare but seemed to be cropping up too often in my conversations? I would call the Home Office, which would refer me to the Lord Chancellor's Department, which would refer me to the various incarnations of the Education Department, which would usually refer me back to the Home Office. Many of my questions were met with the answer that the data was “not held centrally”. This whole area started to look more and more like a hole inside government that ministers were simply not interested in.
Telling the stories was fiendishly difficult. First there was the legal requirement to avoid publishing anything that might even indirectly lead to the identification of the child involved. This is understandable, but it means that what journalists can write is sometimes so thin, so patchy that it is hard to ask anyone to believe us - because the most pertinent facts are often very distinctive. It also means that we can never humanise stories with photos, of the kind that helped to secure the freedom of Angela Cannings and Sally Clark. This is despite the fact that children can be pictured and named in adoption magazines, even while their frantic parents are trying to mount an appeal to get them back. Secondly, there were often additional reporting restrictions. Some of these were sought by local authorities as soon as I called them to try to get their sides of the stories. Some of these orders were so badly drafted that our lawyers simply could not tell what we could say. Some bore no relation to the draft that we had been sent before the hearing. It costs money to fight such orders, money that local media may not have and nationals are reluctant to commit.
The more often my articles were spiked or denuded of interesting detail, the more incensed I became. I began to feel that we, the liberal press, were part of a conspiracy of silence against people who had no voice. Worse, their children had no voice.
Some of these children were being told that they were in care because their parents no longer wanted them. As soon as a care order is made, the local authority controls all communications between parents and children. In many cases contact is gradually reduced, sometimes from a few hours a week to an hour or so a month, at which point social workers can return to court and claim that the child no longer has a strong bond with his family. Such tactics are unbearable. Clearly there must be some protection for authorities that work in extremely tough territory. Social workers are lambasted as often for failing to protect children from danger as for misjudging the innocent.
The problem is when laws that are meant to protect professionals from malicious allegations become an armoury against truth. There are good reasons why it is illegal to name a child involved in family court proceedings. Family law cases are fraught enough, without publicity adding to children's suffering. But it is quite wrong that laws framed to protect child privacy are being used to protect the professionals. Two years ago, when the children taken into care by Rochdale Council in the fabricated “satanic abuse” scandal left care and publicly attacked the council for removing them, the council argued that it would be wrong to name the social workers because that would breach the children's privacy - even though the children were desperate to speak out the minute they were free.
It does not have to be like this. The media cannot name the victim in rape cases. But we do report the evidence. Family courts, which operate in camera, have a lower standard of proof than criminal courts. They “convict” on a balance of probabilities, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt. A lower threshold is thought acceptable because civil courts cannot send people to jail. But to lose your children, and for them to lose you, because a court finds that abuse is a “probability”, is a life sentence of another kind. This makes it even more vital that the system is accountable. Yet I cannot think of another area of public life that operates with so little scrutiny.
The main piece of legislation governing child protection is the 1989 Children Act. The Act was passed in the wake of the Cleveland scandal, in which allegations of sexual abuse by two consultant paediatricians at one hospital led to 121 children being removed from their homes. The Act clearly states that there should be “minimum intervention in family life” and that a court order should be made only if “it can be shown that this is better for the child than not making an order”.
Yet some parts of the country seem to have strayed a long way from that. This year, the education watchdog Ofsted became the regulator for Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service that provides guardians ad litem for children in care cases. Ofsted's first two reports so far have been devastating. “Inspectors could not find evidence,” Ofsted says, “about how service managers satisfy themselves that family court advisers are reaching sound conclusions in order to make the right recommendations to courts about children's lives”. It found that “most reports contain recommendations to the court that fail to take account of a key principle of the Children Act that there should be minimum state intervention in family life”. There is much more in similar vein. The hapless state of Cafcass is failing both children of innocent parents and children who are genuinely at risk.
Cafcass is one safeguard in the system that is manifestly failing. Another safeguard is that local authorities cannot remove children without a court order. But the manner in which these court orders are sought means that they are rarely refused (the Government has been unable to give me a single example of a refusal). Parents are not always informed that an order is even being sought, so are not able to defend themselves. Even if they are there, the momentum is unstoppable.
Bill Bache, the indefatigable solicitor who acted for Sally Clark, explained it to me this way. “Court proceedings are initiated within a day or two. The local authority knows the ropes. Most parents, including the brightest and most articulate, are often too distressed and shocked to think straight. They may well turn up unrepresented. The local authority makes its case, often in lurid terms, stressing that the children are in acute danger and they are requesting an immediate interim care order. There is no time sensibly to evaluate the evidence, therefore, no doubt wishing to be safe rather than sorry, the court grants the order. Suddenly the children are gone.”
It is impossible to describe the shock, the isolation, that parents feel once their child is gone. Even educated people who can afford a good lawyer struggle to think straight. They feel alone against the system. Judges rely on reports by experts, social workers and guardians, many of whom are used to working together. This can produce a fatal lack of objectivity. I have spoken to some exemplary social workers and judges in the past few years. It is not my intention to demonise them all. But we must be able to spot whether the same individuals are reaching erroneous conclusions over and over again. At the moment any expert, social worker or judge who makes mistakes, goes beyond their brief or is on a crusade against parents is virtually immune from scrutiny. They do not expect that their evidence or their judgments will ever be made public. Remember that Professor Roy Meadow was only uncovered because he gave misleading evidence in the criminal courts, which are open. If family courts remain closed we will never be able to feel sure that justice is being done.
Over the next few days I hope to paint a more detailed picture of the pieces of the secret state, offer some explanations as to why mistakes are made, and to outline some solutions. The Times' interest is more than theoretical: we will continue to challenge various injunctions in the courts. But we also need your help by asking you to write to your MP. We will not give up. Because to sever a child from its family without due cause is licensed state oppression of the worst kind. It is, in fact, child abuse.
Why the Government must act
Privacy laws are designed to protect at-risk children. Yet these same laws are cited to prevent local authority childcare professionals, expert witnesses and guardians from being subjected to scrutiny for decisions that can tear families apart.
The system claims that the welfare of children is paramount. But the only way to make the welfare of children paramount is to make childcare professionals properly accountable for their decisions.
The press is allowed to report the workings of the criminal courts, even in rape cases, where victim identities are kept confidential. Yet it is denied access to the family courts that make decisions with far-reaching consequences. In 2005 the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee advised that more transparency was needed and that family courts should be opened to the press in all but exceptional circumstances.
The Government consulted on the proposals, recognising that public confidence was plummeting. But it lost its nerve. The Ministry for Justice has yet to publish the results of a second consultation, which ended last October.
Eight months later the Government cannot even say when it will respond to the consultation.
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Source: The Times (UK)
A Conspiracy of Silence
Allowing the family courts and social services to operate in secret allows miscarriages of justice without the possibility of redress
Every parent fears losing their child. Except for those who have hit rock bottom, having a son or daughter taken into care is a desperate experience. The social workers, medical experts and judges who decide to remove children sometimes save lives by doing so; sometimes they ruin them. That is a grave responsibility. It means that the child protection system should be accountable and transparent. Shockingly, it is neither.
As Camilla Cavendish reports in Times2 today, serious miscarriages of justice are occurring behind the closed doors of social services departments and family courts. The area of child protection is described as “a hole inside government”, with ministers unable even to say who is responsible. Too often, a “secret state” is at work that seems to assume that parents are guilty, and then obstructs them from establishing their innocence.
Some parents are unable to get copies of the evidence against them, including X-rays. Others are refused permission to call experts in their defence. Many fear that the professionals are distorting evidence and amplifying problems which should be solved by supporting families, rather than by tearing them apart.
It is impossible to know the extent to which miscarriages of justice may be occurring, because the whole system is shrouded in secrecy. Gagging orders on families and draconian reporting restrictions mean that very few cases come to light. Judges can choose to make their judgments public: but few do.
The authorities justify secrecy by arguing that the suffering of children caught in these fraught situations should not be made even worse by publicity. But secrecy also protects incompetence and wrongdoing. It should be quite possible to maintain the anonymity of children while also holding the professionals to account. Rape victims are anonymous in rape cases: that does not prevent police officers making statements in open court, nor the media reporting the evidence in full.
Family courts have a lower standard of proof than criminal courts. Yet they pass effective life sentences. If parents prove their innocence on appeal but their child has been adopted, they will never get that child back.
It is not the intention of this newspaper to demonise social workers, nor expert witnesses, nor judges. It is our intention to expose mistakes, and to create a system which can acknowledge that error is human. Many social workers feel that they can do no right, being criticised for negligence if they fail to spot abuse in time, then accused of being overzealous if parents are found innocent on appeal. That is understandable. They work in fraught situations. They need more support, and oversight. But the minority must not be allowed to act as though they were above the law.
This newspaper recently reported on the case of Louise Mason, whose children were kept from her for two years by social workers, despite her having been exonerated by a jury. Her third child will probably never be returned to her, because he is felt to have bonded so well in foster care.
The Times believes that these are matters of pressing public interest. Many of our readers have already urged us to do more. There is growing suspicion of the authorities which are meant to support families. The only way to quell those suspicions is to let the light in to the family courts.
From today it will be possible to go online (timesonline.co.uk/familycourts) and express support for openness. Please do. We will not be part of what has become, in effect, a conspiracy of silence against children who have no voice.
Source: The Times (UK)
Family courts: the hidden untouchables
In the second of our special articles, we explain how family courts operate in secrecy
I wrote yesterday about my gradual realisation that the child protection system is a sort of secret state. Many social workers, psychiatrists and judges are doing their best to help families. But given their power to tear families apart, the lack of accountability is astonishing.
In March 2006 a High Court judge, Mr Justice McFarlane, condemned social workers who had removed a nine-year-old girl from her parents for 14 months in the erroneous belief that her mother was suffering from Munchausen's syndrome by proxy. They had jumped to this conclusion after the mother took the girl to hospital for stomach pains, and a nurse found nothing wrong. They asked magistrates for an emergency protection order to remove the child without telling the parents or seeking any medical opinion. It was granted.
The judge found that every one of the assertions made by the social services team leader was “misleading or incomplete or wrong”. He criticised magistrates for granting the order to take the girl. But he did not name the social workers. So we can never know who they are, or whether they are still working. It is a fair bet that none of the people involved has been disciplined.
Frontline social workers are employed by councils, which are theoretically controlled by elected councillors. But in child protection cases, councillors can be kept out of the loop. John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who campaigns on these issues and has also been a Birmingham councillor, says that officials routinely refuse to answer questions. “Even as a councillor and member of the relevant scrutiny committee, they say no, we're not going to tell you anything, because of the secrecy of the family courts.” The privacy of the child has become synonymous with the privacy of the professionals.
Parents who want to complain have to go first to the local authority that they are complaining about. Most fear that to do so will entrench the local authority's dislike of them. The few who are brave enough to complain receive a routine response saying that the matter has been investigated internally, and that the local authority is satisfied. Chris Smith, who lost his children to adoption, discovered that the investigator appointed by the local authority was not allowed to see any of the crucial court documentation. When he challenged the council concerned to release key papers under the Data Protection Act, they delayed for so long that the evidence arrived too late for his appeal. Many parents believe that their conversations with social workers have been distorted. But they are denied access to the case notes, even though these can be crucial in the courtroom.
Few parents have heard of the General Social Care Council, which has the power to remove workers from the Social Care Register. Since 2001 it has removed 17 people, mostly for inappropriate relationships with service users. There are 82,000 social workers on the register. Some of these seem to believe that they are above the law.
In February this year, a single mother called Louise Mason was reunited with two of her three children after a five-year battle against social services. It had started when she took her four-week-old baby to hospital. Doctors at first diagnosed a fairly common abdominal tumour. But they sought a second opinion in Belfast, where a doctor suspected that the injury might have been deliberate. Social services and police were called and her children were removed.
It took a year for the police to interview Mason under caution, and another year for her to be tried. During that time her access to her children was tightly curtailed. At worst she was allowed only an hour and a half with them once a month. Eventually a jury unanimously found her not guilty of causing grevious bodily harm. But social workers stuck to their own “guilty” verdict. They pressed on and served adoption papers. It took another two years for her to get two of her children back, with the help of the doctor who had made the original diagnosis. But the middle child had been allowed to see so little of her that he is likely to be adopted rather than returned.
What this case demonstrates is that parents can still lose their children even after being acquitted in the criminal courts. It is impossible to know how common this is. We know about this case only because the High Court judge who heard the appeal ordered that Louise Mason should be named.
It is not only social workers who are unaccountable. The secrecy of the family court system means that there is too little scrutiny of the psychiatrists and paediatricians who give evidence. A small but powerful group of radiologists, for example, believes that certain types of “greenstick” fracture are caused by parents twisting and wrenching a child's limbs - even if there are no bruises, cuts or broken bones. These fractures are often picked up when a child is taken to hospital with an unexplained head injury and given a full skeletal X-ray. One mother who took her baby to hospital with a nosebleed was accused of abuse after an X-ray showed three such fractures. There are now grave doubts about whether these painless fractures are caused by adults at all - yet courts still tend to consider them as absolute proof of abuse.
In 2003 Sally Clark, Trupti Patel and Angela Cannings were all cleared of murdering their babies. Lord Justice Judge declared that no one should go to prison again solely on the basis of expert witness evidence, and the criminal law was changed. But there have been no such changes in the family court system. “Expert” evidence almost always takes precedence over evidence from relatives and people who actually know the family.
The problem is compounded by the fact that judges are also acting in private. Unless they choose to make their judgments public there is no way of scrutinising the quality of those judgments.
Parts of the legal profession are concerned. In March 2005, a seminal report by the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee stated that “a greater degree of transparency is required in the family courts. An obvious move would be to allow the press and public into the family courts under appropriate reporting restrictions”. It advised that the restrictions on the discussion of their cases by parents should be removed entirely.
The Government launched a consultation but local authorities, the NSPCC and some family lawyers lobbied successfully against openness, citing the “welfare of the child”. In June 2007 Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, stated that a survey of 200 children had shown that many would be anxious about the presence of the press in the family courts. He stated that he wished to concentrate on “improving the information coming out of family courts, rather than on who can go in”. This meant giving more information about how the court has reached its decision to the people involved, and encouraging more judges to make their (anonymised) judgments public. A year on, ministers cannot say whether a single shred more information has been forthcoming.
The oldest law of bureaucracies is “first protect ourselves”. The need to shed light into dark corners is made all the more pressing by some particularly pernicious allegations that parents find almost impossible to disprove - as I will describe tomorrow.
Source: The Times (UK)
Family justice: your word against theirs
In the third of our special articles, we look at the pernicious types of allegation that are almost impossible for parents to disprove
I wrote on Monday about the many desperate parents who have approached me after losing their children to social services. One thing that they all have in common is shock at how quickly the system seems to decide against them, and at how doggedly it sticks to that view despite all evidence to the contrary. Some parents find that minor issues are magnified until the conclusions reached are out of all proportion. The opposite also seems to hold true: some children come to terrible harm because the system systematically underestimates the risk to them.
Why does this happen? Eileen Munro, a reader in social policy at the London School of Economics and the author of Effective Child Protection, says that “child protection work inevitably involves uncertainty, ambiguity and fallibility”. She believes that it is human nature to form a view based on first impressions, and stick to it. “This has a devastating impact in child protection work,” she says, “in that professionals hold on to their beliefs about a family despite new evidence that challenges them. It can be equally harmful whether they are over or underestimating the degree of the risk to the child. They may continue to believe parents are doing well, even though there are successive reports of the child's being distressed or injured. Innocent parents wrongly judged abusive can face the frightening experience of being unable to shake the professionals' conviction, however much counter-evidence they produce.”
The risk of groupthink makes it all the more important that decisions are transparent and open to review. We all know of the tragic deaths of children such as Victoria Climbié, who with hindsight should have been saved. We know much less about the tragedies of children wrongly separated from their families, because of the secrecy of the system.
There are several types of allegation that are almost impossible for parents to disprove. One is “emotional abuse”. You can see why the category exists. Ill-treatment comes in many forms, not all of which leave visible scars. But in that nebulous phrase lurks the potential for injustice. In the past ten years there has been a 50per cent increase in the number of parents or carers accused of “emotional abuse”. It now accounts for 21 per cent of all children registered as needing protection, up from 14 per cent in 1997. Yet the term has no strict definition in British law.
Emotional abuse is not “neglect”: that is a separate category. The Department of Health defines it as “persistent emotional ill-treatment ... [that] may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or inadequate ... and may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being placed on children ... Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of illtreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.”
Local authorities interpret this in different ways. In Nottingham, emotional abuse is “an ingrained pattern of interaction ... which it is essential to observe and understand over time”. In Enfield it includes “swearing”, “conditional love” or “discriminatory remarks”. I have heard anecdotally of councils, including West Sussex and Cambridge, that almost never use the term. There are no statistics to confirm this. But it seems that child protection is as much of a postcode lottery as cancer screening.
Expert medical evidence is also notoriously difficult to disprove, even where there is no circumstantial evidence. Lord Justice Judge (who was named as the next Lord Chief Justice yesterday) has warned against an “over-dogmatic” approach in the criminal courts, when we are “still at the frontiers of knowledge”. But it is less clear how family judges should treat syndromes such as Munchausen's syndrome by proxy (MSbP).
Since the discrediting of Professor Sir Roy Meadow, who first defined it, Munchausen's has been relabelled as “fabricated or induced illness”. This is a perverse disorder in which an adult invents or deliberately creates a child's illness to draw attention to himself or herself. Even the experts agree that Munchausen's is rare, likely to affect no more than 50 people a year. But campaigners fear that far more people are being accused of it. For the traits of the Munchausen mother are broad enough to cast suspicion on many whose children are genuinely ill. They include a reluctance to leave the sick child's side, familiarity with medical terms and, most devastating, the denial of accusations of abuse.
Two years ago, a group of MPs with falsely accused constituents asked the Government how many people nationally were accused of having MSbP. The Government replied that it did not collect such data - even though Department of Health guidelines tell charity workers, nursery nurses, teachers and even pharmacists to look out for the condition.
Last year, social workers in Hexham told a pregnant student at Edinburgh University that she was in danger of developing MSbP when her baby was born, so they were thinking of removing the baby at birth. The student, Fran Lyon, had developed self-harming and eating disorders seven years earlier, after being raped. But these are disorders from which she has fully recovered. The psychiatrist who treated her as a teenager states that she poses no harm to her child. So does another psychiatrist, who knows Lyon through her charity work. The only person who seems to have entertained the idea that she could develop MSbP is a paediatrician who has never met her. But social workers have given his evidence more weight. Lyon fled to Europe last year, unable to trust her own country, and is now in a legal limbo.
To err is human. To refuse to acknowledge that is inhumane. No professional can be right all the time, particularly in this fraught territory. That is why wholesale reforms are needed - as I will explain tomorrow.
Source: The Times (UK)
Family justice: what we can do to protect our children
A ten-point plan to make our courts system fairer
Over the past three days The Times has set out some of the ways in which it fears the child protection system is being subverted by forces that are largely unaccountable. We believe that the Children Act has unintentionally handed enormous power to local authorities and experts, which some are using arbitrarily. And that secrecy keeps injustices from public view.
Opening up the system sounds easier than it is. Yet there are concerns that it could lead to paediatricians and other experts being vilified and refusing to do child protection work, social workers becoming demoralised and the exposure of families' private troubles. That journalists would not keep confidences. That reports by local papers might inadvertently add to the suffering of children by revealing their identities to people living near by.
These are valid concerns. I know two couples who have adopted children in very difficult circumstances. The natural parents of those children are quite unable to care for them, but they are also vengeful. Those couples and those children should not have to live in fear of being tracked down. They have made me think very carefully about the nuances of this. But I feel that these considerations can no longer outweigh the risk of grave injustices being perpetrated against children. And that we can put safeguards in place that will work.
When the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee heard evidence on this issue three years ago, many of the respondents seemed to assume that media access would inevitably hurt children. That is wrong. In the Court of Appeal almost all family law hearings are in public with reporting restrictions imposed. The press attends family proceedings in magistrates' courts, again with reporting restrictions. The press simply does not identify children when it is illegal to do so. Many of my articles may seem incomplete precisely because I am bending over backwards not to publish information that might identify the child.
The Australian and Canadian family court systems are open and transparent. Children's identities are protected but judgments are public, and so is the evidence on which they are based. That means that justice can be done, and be seen to be done. Their press apparently takes no interest at all in the majority of cases. This would surely be the same here.
The Constitutional Affairs Select Committee took the view that courts should be opened in all but exceptional circumstances. In July 2006, the Government seemed to agree. It published a consultation paper stating that greater openness was required in family court proceedings “so that people can understand, better scrutinise decisions and have greater confidence”. It proposed that the media should attend proceedings “on behalf of and for the benefit of the public”, with reporting restrictions to keep the parties anonymous. Almost a year later, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, rowed back, citing a survey of 200 children in which a slender majority had expressed anxiety about letting the media into the family courts. He said that openness would be improved “not by numbers or types of people going in to the courts, but by the amount and quality of information coming out of the courts”. A second consultation paper proposed keeping courts closed, but encouraged judges to release anonymised judgments.
That was a tragic loss of nerve. For there is no way that the growing lack of public confidence in the system can be solved by the publication of a bit more information that the authorities decide to let us see. Publishing an anonymised judgment without the evidence will not let ordinary citizens see what is being done in their name. We cannot tell, for example, whether witness X repeatedly goes beyond their remit or offers hearsay evidence. We cannot tell whether local authority B or judge C repeatedly gives X's evidence undue weight. If it was felt too risky to reveal their names, I would suggest that each expert witness could be given a unique code. That would deter the sensationalist hack from malice, but would enable the determined truth-seeker to track the behaviour of individuals over time, and hold them to account.
Many of the children's charities and lawyers who lobby against openness are trying to protect vulnerable people from damaging publicity. It is a tricky balancing act. But the clincher for me is this. One of the most draconian decisions the State makes is to deprive a child of a parent's love and care. Removing a child from its family is not simply a private matter. It is a decision that demands the very highest standards of accountability and transparency.
I believe that wholesale reforms are needed, which can be summed up in ten points:
- Open family courts to the press in all but exceptional circumstances (as recommended by the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee).
- Let any parent or carer accused of abuse call any witnesses they need in their defence. At the moment, they are routinely refused permission to do so.
- Give automatic permission for parents who are refused legal aid to get a lay adviser to help them present their case. This is routinely refused.
- Remove the restrictions that prevent families from talking about their case (as recommended by the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee).
- Review the definition of “emotional abuse” across local authorities, to make sure that it cannot become a catch-all for overzealous officials.
- Provide an automatic right for parents to receive copies of case conference notes and all evidence used against them in court, just as they would in a criminal trial.
- Create an independent body to oversee the actions of social services, with proper sanctions. If that body is to be the General Social Care Council, make it easier for parents to go directly to that body rather than having to face delays from the local authority.
- Let children in care waive their right to privacy if they wish to speak out. For gagging children is surely not consistent with promoting their welfare.
- Restructure CAFCASS, the Family Court Advisory Service, from being an organisation that reports on the parents to the courts to one that actively promotes the parenting needs of children. The primary focus should cease to be assisting the court process. It should be diverting parents away from contested hearings into the making of parenting plans.
- Review the recent legal aid cut-backs that are deterring lawyers from taking on these complex family cases. It is quite wrong that desperate parents are unable to find a lawyer to help them in their time of need.
Thank you for listening. As Jeremy Bentham said, where there is no publicity, there is no justice. If you support these ideas, please do go online, support our campaign and e-mail your MP.
Source: The Times (UK)
Ottawa Rally Reminder
July 6, 2008 permalink
The Ottawa Rally will take place from 10 am Wednesday July 9 through 4 pm Thursday July 10 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Our post of a month ago has more details. This is your last reminder to help reform child protection and family law in Canada.
The Seven Year Glitch
July 5, 2008 permalink
Marina Powless grew up in foster care in Canada's Northwest Territories. Now as an adult she has applied for copies of the records of her childhood. It has been seven years, but she is still waiting.
Child protectors hold these records until they are needed. When they pick up a child from a parent himself a former foster child, they retrieve the parent's childhood records and get the damaging parts before a judge within three days. So we are skeptical of the claim that the seven-year delay is for technical reasons.
Katie May, Northern News Services, Published Monday, June 30, 2008
SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Marina Powless doesn't remember much from her childhood.
She spent a lot of it bouncing between more than six different foster homes from the time she was in elementary school until age 16, when she was no longer eligible to be a ward of the system.
Now 26, and with three children of her own, the Yellowknife resident wants access to records kept about her while she was in foster care. She first requested the records seven years ago and she still hasn't received anything in writing.
"I want to know where I've been," she said. "I don't remember how many foster homes I've lived in in this town.I was moved around like a puppy."
Powless filled out her first access-to-information request to the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority (YHSSA) when she was 19, asking for any information relating to her while she was in care. She received no response.
On April 26, 2005, she tried again, submitting another written request for a copy of the records. Another three years went by before she received a phone call last May from a YHSSA employee informing her they'd received the request.
According to section 8 of the NWT Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, "the head of a public body shall respond to an applicant not later than 30 days after a request is received," unless the request requires a time extension or is unanswerable. But even in those cases, the law says the applicant must be informed "without delay."
The executive director of the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT said Powless is not the only former foster child waiting for personal records.
"I know that access to records is a big issue," said Christine Bressette. "It's a national issue. It's important for closure - you need to understand what's happened to you."
When the records do come back to the applicant, Bressette said, they are often largely blacked out and contain inaccurate or traumatic details for which the applicant may later require counseling, such as a child being put into foster care for the wrong reasons.
"I think the government's really scared that there might be legal repercussions," she said. "I'm on board with all these kids and I agree they should have access to records."
The Foster Family Coalition of the NWT is trying to set up a territorial youth-in-care network that would focus on child welfare and voice foster children's concerns, similar to organizations already in place in several provinces and on the national level.
Bressette, who has been in the field of social work for 30 years, said she's never heard of a request taking seven years to complete.
The president of the Canadian Foster Family Association, Sheila Durnford, said waiting that long for personal foster care records is unacceptable.
"That wouldn't be considered acceptable in our association's eyes at all," Durnford said. "For anybody, it's not really acceptable, but especially for that foster child. They need to know their history."
Dean Soenen, the director of Child and Family Services for GNWT, said access-to-information requests within the department usually take from two to four weeks, depending on the request.
"We like to do it as quick as possible," he said. He added that the department only recently hired a records co-ordinator after the position had been vacant for about six months, and he said that might be a reason for the delay in Powless' case.
Powless said Soenen told her on June 25 that her request was the department's first priority as soon as they get their broken microfiche machine fixed.
At this point, Powless said she's not interested in excuses. She just wants some answers about her past.
"I don't have the money to get a lawyer to pursue this," she said.
"My whole life, I've never been in one place long enough to have a home," she explained, her voice breaking with emotion. "I just want closure."
Source: Canada Court Watch forum
we confirmed the first parpagraphs are from the closed site www.nnsl.com
More Power for Michigan DHS
July 4, 2008 permalink
A lawsuit between Children's Rights Inc and Michigan DHS has been settled. According to the settlement, DHS will reduce the caseload per social worker from current levels sometimes over 30 to 12 or 15, depending on the type of case. This reduction in caseload will be achieved by hiring up to 700 more workers, obliging the legislature to appropriate more money to pay their salaries.
The last thing children need for their protection is more caseworkers. We repeat our contention that lawsuits by Children's Rights Inc are a form of collusion with social services to gain more money and power.
Mich. settles suit, agrees to reform foster care
7/3/2008, 6:24 p.m. ET, By DAVID EGGERT, The Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan will hire hundreds of workers to help more than 6,000 abused and neglected children who have languished in foster care find permanent homes after settling a class-action lawsuit filed by an advocacy group.
Thursday's sweeping agreement, announced days before a federal trial was to begin in Detroit, also requires that foster care and adoption workers have no more than 15 cases and child protective services workers no more than 12. Many now handle 30-plus cases, causing concerns they can't keep children safe or ensure their placement in permanent homes.
State supervisors will oversee no more than five caseworkers under the settlement, which will be submitted for approval to U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds.
To make caseloads more manageable, the Michigan Department of Human Services may add up to 700 staff dedicated to children's services over five years, spokesman Edward Woods III said.
Michigan's progress in complying with the agreement will be overseen by a monitor reporting to the judge.
Children's Rights, a New York-based advocacy group, in 2006 sued the state on behalf of 19,000 children in state custody.
Sara Bartosz, an attorney with Children's Rights, called the agreement a milestone "to correct the injustices that abused and neglected children in Michigan's custody have lived with for too long."
Gov. Jennifer Granholm said her administration will embrace the reforms, which she said will continue child welfare improvements made in recent years.
The changes required under the settlement will cost about $200 million over four years, or 6 percent more than what the state had planned to spend on children's services over that period. Previous settlement talks stopped when DHS said it had no money to enact reforms, yet both sides wanted to avoid a trial.
An expert witness for Children's Rights reviewed the deaths of five foster children and concluded that children are far too likely to be no safer in foster care than they were with their abusive or neglectful parents.
John Goad, former director of child protective services in Illinois, found serious shortcomings in how DHS is structured and managed. Even if those problems and others didn't exist, Goad said, not having "nearly enough" caseworkers by itself is rendering the department incapable of protecting children.
The agreement sets deadlines by which caseloads have to be reduced. Ninety-five percent of foster caseworkers must have no more than 15 cases by October 2011.
Other provisions require DHS to:
- Create a Children's Services Administration dedicated exclusively to child welfare functions, headed by someone at the rank of deputy director or higher.
- Hire 40 specialists to license about 7,000 relatives of foster children. Without licenses, relatives who provide foster care aren't eligible for some financial support and aren't subject to safety assessments.
- Immediately identify all children in need of a permanent home, prioritizing those awaiting adoption more than a year.
- Do a better job recruiting foster and adoptive families.
- Hire a medical director to oversee policies including children's use of psychotropic medications. There have been problems with children not getting medical, dental and psychological exams.
- Increase training of supervisors and caseworkers.
An independent, court-ordered study has shown a foster system riddled with failures.
Children's Rights Executive Director Marcia Robinson Lowry said the reforms will take time to implement but are achievable. Through lawsuits, the group has prompted consent degrees or court orders affecting child welfare in several states such as New Jersey and Mississippi.
To improve the system, the state hired hundreds of more foster care workers this budget year and boosted rates paid to private agencies that care for abused, neglected or delinquent children.
David Eggert can be reached at deggert(at)ap.org
Read the settlement: childrensrights.org (pdf)
Source: Michigan Live
Trouble for Zyprexa
July 4, 2008 permalink
Child protectors may soon have one less harmful drug to force into children, following legal developments in the Ontario lawsuit against Eli Lilly & Co over Zyprexa.
Lilly Loses Appeal to Limit Damages in Canadian Suit (Update2)
By Joe Schneider
July 2 (Bloomberg) -- Eli Lilly & Co. lost an appeal to limit potential damages in a lawsuit filed by Canadian patients who claimed they developed diabetes after using its Zyprexa schizophrenia drug.
An Ontario appeal court today affirmed a lower court's decision that plaintiffs in a class-action, or group, suit may try to recover money the Indianapolis-based company made from sales rather than get damages. The plaintiffs sought C$900 million in damages in their initial claim.
Lilly, the world's biggest maker of psychiatric medicines, is accused of failing to warn the Zyprexa schizophrenia treatment may cause diabetes. Opting to go after a company's sales is unprecedented in court, said Toronto class-action lawyer Paul Bates, who isn't involved in the Zyprexa suit.
That has ``the power to make defendants liable for truly enormous amounts of money,'' Judge Sidney Lederman wrote last July 10 in granting Lilly permission to appeal. ``The ramifications of exposure to this type of liability will extend beyond the parties to affect not just the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, but also the securities market.''
24 Million Patients
Zyprexa has been prescribed to almost 24 million patients in 84 countries since being approved in 1996 and Lilly is confident the drug is safe, Laurel Swartz, a Lilly spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.
``We're disappointed in today's decision of the Ontario Divisional Court to not correct certain aspects of the initial certification decision,'' she said. She didn't say whether the company planned to appeal to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the province's highest court.
Lilly agreed to pay Alaska $15 million to settle a similar suit in March, before that case went to a jury.
Today's decision from a three-member panel shows the U.S. and Canadian cases ``are developing somewhat along different paths,'' Michael Eizenga, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said today in a telephone interview. ``You don't very often have drug cases certified any longer down there,'' referring to certification of cases as class action.
Lilly fell 1 cent to $46.09 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.
$4.76 Billion in Sales
Zyprexa is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Canadian regulators to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Last year, sales of the drug rose 9 percent to $4.76 billion, about a quarter of Lilly's revenue.
Studies linking Zyprexa and similar medications, including Astrazeneca Plc's Seroquel and Risperdal, made by a Johnson & Johnson unit, to weight gain and diabetes prompted the Federal Drug Administration to require warnings to doctors in 2003 and 2004.
Lilly has paid about $1.2 billion to settle 31,000 claims brought by U.S. patients who said they weren't adequately warned that the medicine can cause diabetes, weight gain and pancreas inflammation. About 1,200 similar lawsuits remain in the U.S., spokeswoman Tarra Ryker said earlier this year.
The case is Andrea Heward vs. Eli Lilly & Co., 181/07, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court (Toronto).
To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Toronto at email@example.com.
Last Updated: July 2, 2008 18:12 EDT
Police Remove Girl
July 3, 2008 permalink
A video posted to YouTube yesterday shows the Barrie Gestapo deporting a child... Sorry. It shows Barrie child protectors rescuing a girl, Natalie.
This scene is repeated many times daily in Ontario though few are caught on video tape. Below we include the blurb accompanying the YouTube posting, and an abridged comment from Canada Court Watch, who had direct contact with the family. They point out that incidents such as this are educating a generation to disrespect law enforcement, with severe implications for Canada's future.
You can view the video Child dragged away by police on command of CAS on YouTube, or since this one will probably disappear quickly, our local copy (flv, 6 megabytes) or high quality copy (flv, 16 megabytes).
Added: July 02, 2008
My 12 year old cousin was taken by CAS. She was being raised by her grandparents. Last year her grandfather was killed in a car crash. She was having emotional problems. She lied one day and said her grandmother hit her. The CAS had the police take her with no investigation done at all. She later admitted she lied and the CAS didn't care. Today she ran from them and came to my house. The CAS worker came to take her back with some cops. 2 cops dragged her away kicking and screaming. The whole time the CAS worker just stood there with a smirk on her face. By the time the 12 year old was shoved in the back of the cop car, there were 6 other cop cars on my street. All for a 12 YEAR OLD GIRL! who only wanted to go home to her family. The woman in the black pants and jacket, pink shirt is a Simcoe County CAS worker. First name is Nicole
Reign of terror in Barrie, Ontario as police terrorize girl and her family as part of police goon squad assistance to Children's Aid to "serve and protect" children and members of the public.
(July 3, 2008) A video posted on Youtube shows graphically how our tax dollars are being spent by police and child protection workers in the Barrie, Ontario region, to supposedly "protect" children from harm by forcing children to return to the care of the Children's Aid Society. If anyone wonders why a growing number of children and families in the community are beginning to hate the police and the CAS, this video shows graphic reasons why.
Source: Canada Court Watch news entry for July 3, 2008
Addendum: In eleven days on YouTube the video has attracted 2689 views, 113 text comments and four video responses. Below is a message posted to facebook giving more details on the family, copied with permission of the author.
Melody Blackier (Barrie, ON) replied to Nikki's post on Jul 11, 2008 at 9:30 PM
She is my cousin, and she is 12. She was taken because she lied about her grandma hitting her. She lost her grandfather, who with her grandmother raised her from the time she was 6 months old. Last year her grandfather died after a transport truck hit his car. Its been a tough year for everyone and she was having emotional problems. So one day she was nor getting her own way and she told someone her grandma hit her. So she was taken and her grandmother was charged. no investigation was done at all. The CAS worker, Lorrie Pepin took the word of a sad little girl and ruined everyone's life. The next day the worker and the police asked the grandmother and other granddaughter, 13 years old to come on for an "interview". That is when the grandmother was informed that she was charged with assault and the other granddaughter was told she would never see grandma again. So she tried to get away from the police, and screamed out for her grandmother. It was at that moment that 4 Barrie OPP officer jumped her and took her down to the ground like a common criminal. After 5 minutes of forcefully holding her down and hurting her they let her go home with her grandma.
The day that video was shot was the first time the two sisters had seen each other in months. The younger one said she wanted to go home so they ran from the worker and went to their aunt and uncles house. They had a nice visit until the police and the worker showed up. Thats when the video kicks in. Since that day the girl has been completely cut off from her family. The older sister was informed that the only place she could see her sister now is in the CAS office. But as you can imagine the 13 year old who was assaulted by 4 officers because the CAS demanded it is too afraid to go.
Addendum: As of July 21 the video was removed by the owner, on threat from CAS. It got almost 4000 views on YouTube. Our local copy (flv, 6 megabytes) is the only remaining source.
RCMP Investigates CAS
July 3, 2008 permalink
Here is the whole report by Canada Court Watch of an investigation into Ontario children's aid by the RCMP.
RCMP National Investigation unit reports that CAS have acted inappropriately and have wrongly taken children!
(July 3, 2008) Documents recently released were reviewed by Court Watch reporters today which clearly indicate that the RCMP at the highest level, did conduct an investigation involving the CAS in Ontario and did conclude from their investigation that the CAS had acted inappropriately and had wrongfully taken away children from their parents. In addition to this, information has been uncovered which would indicate that police at a local level where this family lives kept this report a secret until the documents were eventually uncovered. Thanks to the honestly of some good officers at the RCMP, the CAS perpetrators of this crime may be brought to justice. A number of good lawyers and police officers are now refusing to support a family court system which even they see is out of control and unaccountable. It's only a matter of time till many of these CAS workers who engage in criminal activities are going to find themselves and their agencies facing big lawsuits as the truth begins to surface of their wrongdoings.
Source: Canada Court Watch news entry for July 3, 2008
Kids Get XXX Evaluation
July 2, 2008 permalink
When family court sends your child to a psychologist, the shrink may have to make his diagnosis by getting into the little girl's pants, or even the little boy's pants. Philadelphia doctor Jerry Lazaroff has been caught fondling girls and at least one boy sent to him for evaluation.
Posted on Tue, Jul. 1, 2008
Moms tell of kids & accused fondler
Hearing on how children will testify
By STEPHANIE FARR, Philadelphia Daily News, firstname.lastname@example.org 215-854-4225
A mother who suspected that her daughters were fondled during a court-ordered counseling session testified yesterday that her divorce lawyer told her not to report her fears about the counselor, Jerry Lazaroff, then-director of Delaware County Court's family-intervention program.
"He said, 'Don't make any allegations about Jerry Lazaroff because he's very highly respected by the court,' " said the woman, whose name is being withheld by the Daily News to protect her child's identity.
That same lawyer called her about a month later on the day that news outlets reported that Lazaroff had been accused of fondling another child, she said, but this time he told her to contact the police.
Yesterday, three mothers spoke at a hearing to determine how their children - who were patients and alleged victims of Lazaroff's - will testify against him in court.
Lazaroff, who also served as a clinical psychologist for the county's juvenile court, has been suspended without pay from his county positions. He faces numerous charges of indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children.
Chester County Judge Charles Smith is overseeing the case because of the potential for conflict of interest due to Lazaroff's work with Delaware County.
Lazaroff was arrested in May following allegations that he indecently assaulted a 10-year-old girl during a session.
That girl's mother said yesterday that her child often would emerge from Lazaroff's office looking "disheveled," but would brush it off by saying that she and the doctor were "playing."
It wasn't until the child's final session, when she emerged with tape in her hair and looking like "a deer in headlights" that she told her mother that Lazaroff had "touched me inappropriately." The mother said that she called police immediately from outside Lazaroff's office.
The second mother to testify, the one whose fears were originally rebuffed by her attorney, said that she was ordered by the court to send her child to Lazaroff as part of a custody evaluation, she said.
Only one session occurred where her daughters, ages 5 and 7, were left alone with Lazaroff, she said.
The mother said that after the session, her daughters told her that "Dr. Jerry" hit them on their bottoms and was flicking the younger child's butt and tickling her all over.
"I think they were confused [by his actions] because they saw doctor in front of his name," the mother said.
The mother of the fourth alleged victim, a 7-year-old boy, said that her son still breaks down sobbing when they drive by Lazaroff's Upper Providence office.
She said that she was present with her son during most sessions, and noted that Lazaroff did a lot of touching and tickling "all over" her son's body.
"I was told this was play therapy," she said.
In February, her son had his first one-on-one session with Lazaroff, after which he told his mother he never wanted to be alone with "Dr. Jerry" again.
"I didn't think in my wildest dreams that it was what it was," she said. "I trusted him 100 percent that he was a doctor and he was doing what was right"
When news of the first allegation broke, the mother took her son to a pediatrician, where she testified that the boy said: " 'Dr. Jerry gives bad touches.' "
The boy said that Lazaroff would tickle his penis so hard it hurt and that when they played marbles and Lazaroff won, he grabbed the child's penis and said: "I win. You lose. Score!"
Smith ruled that the girl who first came forward will testify in court, since her mother said that she has been open and vocal with many people about the experience.
The boy will testify either via closed-circuit television or his testimony will be taken from statements already given to police, Smith said, citing the child's sensitivity to the situation as described by his mother.
Smith said that he will rule at a later time on how the two sisters' testimony will be taken at trial. *
Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Reign of Terror in Oklahoma
July 1, 2008 permalink
Oklahoma DHS is on a losing streak. In the past week, newspapers have reported two deaths in foster care, nineteen-month-old Raymond Palmer who was run over by a car on Saturday in Ardmore and two-year-old SkyDawn Word who drowned in a swimming pool in Chickasha on Sunday. Now a Tulsa TV station has produced a report on the experience of three mothers with families ruined by DHS. You can see the video at KOTV Tulsa, or our local copy (flv).
July 1, 2008 permalink
A couple in Ft Wayne Indiana noticed a maroon car driving slowly along the edge of the road with it's flashers on. As they got closer, they realized two men in the car were trying to talk to two young girls walking near the road. The couple offered the girls a ride home, to escape the men, and the girls gladly accepted. Police issued a warning to area parents to be on the look out for a suspicious maroon vehicle. Police thought the men inside the vehicle may have been trying to pick up young children.
In this case, the police were right. It turns out the men in the car were child protectors, stalking for prey. In Ontario we have also heard of professional child protectors remaining in a stationary vehicle for hours observing one family, trying to find a pretext for taking the children.
Police: Suspicious vehicle was Child Protective Services
Updated: July 1, 2008 03:39 PM
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The investigation into a report of a suspicious vehicle with two men inside has taken a 180 degree turn. Initially police thought the men might have been trying to pick up two young girls. Now they say the occupants were who they said they were, employees of Child Protective Services.
On Monday, Fort Wayne Police issued a warning to area parents to be on the look out for a suspicious maroon vehicle based on information they got from a couple. Police thought the men inside the vehicle may have been trying to pick up young children.
Police issued the warning after the couple, who thought they were being good Samaritans, told them of an incident they were involved with Friday night.
It happened near the intersection of Rothman and Maplecrest, on Fort Wayne's north side.
The couple told police they noticed a maroon car driving slowly along the edge of the road with it's flashers on. As they got closer, they realized two men in the car were trying to talk to two young girls walking near the road. The couple offered the girls a ride home, to escape the men, and the girls gladly accepted.
"The girls indicated they were very uncomfortable with the two men," explained Fort Wayne Police Officer Michael Joyner. "They did not know them, and the citizen took them home to a nearby subdivision."
The couple told police, the two men in the maroon vehicle followed them to the girls' home. That is when the driver, a white man in his early to mid-30s with dark brown curly hair, got out of the car and approached the couple's vehicle. He told them he was with Child Protective Services. He angrily told them he was trying to get the girls home safely. The man showed the couple an i.d. card with "CPS" written on it. The card had no picture, and the man never identified himself by name. The couple left the girls' home, and the maroon car left behind them, without ever making contact with the girls' parents.
On Monday, police said they didn't believe for a second, that the man was with Child Protective Services. They say the department does not work that way. But now they say the men were indeed with CPS, and the car wasn't maroon but was green..
One of the reasons police were so alarmed initially is that the incident came less than a week after two similar incidents in Garrett and Waterloo. In both of those cases, police say it was a white man in his mid to late 30s, driving a pretty junky maroon car that tried to pick up some local kids.
Source: WANE Ft Wayne Indiana
Cops Create Orphan
July 1, 2008 permalink
David LeClair, custodial father of nine-year-old Britney, was killed in his Aylmer Quebec home by three police gunshots. According to witnesses, he was not threatening police, his offense was merely non-compliance. In other news reports, his sister-in-law Vicky Hunter took photographs of Mr LeClair after he was shot, but still alive. Police have confiscated her pictures. The police intervention was the outcome of a failed four-month-long romance.
It appears that Mr LeClair, and his orphaned daugher, were victims of the feminist zeitgeist that tags all fathers as abusers of women and children.
June 30, 2008
Ex blamed for police visit
Family claims man shot dead by cop had been harassed for months
By AEDAN HELMER, SUN MEDIA
Family members of a Gatineau man who was fatally shot by a police officer Saturday claimed his ex-girlfriend had been harassing him for months until he asked police to intervene.
David LeClair dated the woman on and off for about four months, and the couple were engaged at Christmas.
But the relationship went sour, the engagement called off, and things spiralled downhill from there.
LeClair's mother Dorothy said her son had called police on his ex-girlfriend.
"It's a love affair that went bad, but it didn't have to go this far," she said, alleging that her son's former fiancee had been harassing him with phone calls and unexpected visits.
Repeated attempts by the Sun to contact LeClair's ex-girlfriend by phone yesterday were not successful.
When a lone police officer arrived at LeClair's home at 16 Conroy St. in Aylmer in mid-morning Saturday, family say it was in response to abuse allegations from his ex.
TREATED AS 'A JOKE'
"David thought it was a joke," said Dorothy.
"Everybody thought it was a joke. David thought the officer was joking, he didn't know it was his death," said LeClair's sister, Diane.
According to witnesses, the officer followed LeClair inside his home, beat him with a club and pepper sprayed his eyes, threatening to shoot LeClair's brother Robert and 73-year-old mother Dorothy if they intervened.
"He came in like a madman out of hell ... very aggressive," said Dorothy.
Once outside, the officer ordered LeClair to lie face down on the pavement.
When he didn't comply, he was shot twice through the stomach and once in the arm from close range.
His 10-year-old nephew Alex was seated in the passenger seat of a pickup truck metres away from the shooting.
"He was so scared, he put his hands up as if the cop was going to shoot him too. He's traumatized," said Diane.
The police investigation has been turned over to the provincial Surete du Quebec, who remained tight-lipped about case details.
"The investigation is ongoing, and any information will be turned over to the Crown," said Sgt. Marc Butz, who added the unidentified officer who shot LeClair is being counselled for shock.
"I know he was in shock," said witness and neighbour Robert Pombert.
"After he shot Dave he just stood there. He didn't try to help him, he didn't try to revive him. Nothing. I asked him four times if he called the ambulance, but the first cars to arrive were all cops. We had to wait ten minutes for the ambulance, but it sure felt like longer."
LeClair was well-known to Aylmer cops, having faced a number of charges in the past.
In February 2007, he pleaded guilty and was handed an 11-month sentence for fraud. Separate fraud and assault charges from 2006 were stayed, and he was also due to appear in court this summer on theft and fraud charges.
"A lot of Aylmer cops knew him as a joker guy," said Robert LeClair, who ran a roofing business with his brother. "But they also know if he gets pissed off, he gets pissed off."
"I can't understand why that officer would go in (to the house) alone without a warrant in the first place," said LeClair's brother-in-law Pete Lachapelle.
"If David was running after the cop with an axe or a knife, then maybe, but he was unarmed. One shot, that's too much, but three -- that's gun crazy."
David, 32, the "baby" of a family of nine children, leaves behind his only daughter Britney, 9.
"We're all here for Britney," said her mom Cindy Brisson, who lost custody of her daughter to LeClair several years ago. "She knows that her dad's not coming back."
Source: Ottawa Sun
Homeschoolers Flee to Canada
July 1, 2008 permalink
A German family, faced with persecution under a Nazi law forbidding homeschooling, fled to Austria. When German authorities reached across the border to continue harassing them, they fled to Canada. We wish them well, but their prospects may not be much better here.
Government chases homeschool family
Mom, dad now seek help from human rights tribunal
Posted: June 30, 2008, 10:15 pm Eastern, WorldNetDaily
Members of a German homeschooling family who fled to Austria, where the activity remains legal, have moved again – this time to Canada – to escape continuing government actions that now are the subject of a protest lodged at the European Court of Human Rights.
The case of Andreas and Katharina Plett is being addressed by Joel Thornton, chief of the International Human Rights Group, who alleges Germany is violating articles 8, 9, 10, 14, and 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights with its persecution of homeschooling families.
The Paderborn family is among several in Germany who have challenged the nation's Nazi-era ban on parents teaching their children at home. Thornton told WND that in the Pletts' case, one of the government maneuvers gave the Youth Welfare Office the authority to determine where the Pletts' two youngest children live .
According to a Brussels Journal report at the time, a plain-clothes policewoman rang the Pletts' doorbell early one day, and when Katharina Plett opened the door, a team of officers who had concealed themselves forced their way in.
Katharina was able to notify her husband by telephone since he and the children were not at home, and instead of returning, they traveled directly to Austria and set up a residence.
However, German authorities continue to try to impose their requirements on the family, since it still owns property in Germany, and the Pletts now are challenging not only the authority to decide where the children will live but the other decisions in their case as well.
"About a month ago the family fled to Canada to be together without fear of government officials taking their children," Thornton told WND.
"Though the court has been unwilling to uphold international law in regards to parents' rights in educational matters, it is our hope that the court will look at the number of families continuing to have problems and decide to take the initiative to enforce the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights that are currently being violated by the German courts," Thornton said.
The previous decision came in the now-infamous Konrad case in which the same court concluded Germany's ban on homeschooling – in place since the Nazis reigned – does not violate the convention's religious rights provision. The court ruled it was important for the nation to avoid parallel societies created by religious groups.
The new case raises that issue but several others as well.
The complaint, filed Friday, says, "The Plett family has suffered the deprivation of their rights guaranteed under Article 8 of the Convention in that respect for their private and family life has been violated without demonstrated necessity for national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, the prevention of disorder or crime, the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."
It also alleges violations of Article 9, contending their "religious convictions" have been violated, and Article 10 violations involving "freedom of expression, particularly the freedom to impart information and ideas without interference by public authorities."
Further, the court action alleges Germany is discriminating against the family based on their religious convictions and is violating Protocol 1, Article 2, which states that "in the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the state shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions."
The appeals says, "The Plett family is asking this court to overturn the decision of all the German courts and declare that the state took improper custody of their children while exercising their rights. ... The Plett family asks this court to clarify that the rights guaranteed under Articles 8, 9, 10 and 14 are not subject to governmental intervention without clear and convincing evidence that homeschooling their children would rise to the level of violating the interferences regulated by the Convention. That is not the case here."
The action also seeks a cancellation of all fines imposed by Germany and the recovery of all costs.
Thornton told WND the children continue to live with the family only because the state Youth Welfare Office never has exercised its authority to determine where they are required to live. Such situations are not unusual in Germany. However, they create major complications for families doing any traveling.
The Pletts have their roots in Germany but had been living in Russia before returning. They decided to homeschool after the parents "perceived a negative influence of the public school onto their children."
In 2005, German authorities ordered decisions about the children's residence given to the Youth Welfare Office without a hearing. The result was the family's sudden move to Austria. Their further move came after Germany continued to try to exercise control of the family even while living in Austria.
In 2006, the Strasbourg, France-based court ruled in the Konrad case. In that dispute, Fritz and Marianna Konrad, who argued Germany's compulsory school attendance endangered their children's religious upbringing and promoted teaching inconsistent with the family's Christian faith, were told they did not have a case.
The court said the Konrads belong to a "Christian community which is strongly attached to the Bible" and rejected public schooling because of the explicit sexual indoctrination programs the courses included.
The German court already had ruled that the parental "wish" to have their children grow up in a home without such influences "could not take priority over compulsory school attendance." The decision also said the parents do not have an "exclusive" right to lead their children's education.
"The parents' right to education did not go as far as to deprive their children of that experience," the decision said. "Not only the acquisition of knowledge, but also the integration into and first experience with society are important goals in primary school education. The German courts found that those objectives cannot be equally met by home education even if it allowed children to acquire the same standard of knowledge as provided for by primary school education."
A website for the Practical Homeschool Magazine noted one of the first acts by Hitler when he moved into power was to create the governmental Ministry of Education and give it control of all schools, and school-related issues.
In 1937, the dictator said, "The Youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing."
WND has reported multiple times on Germany's attack on homeschoolers, including earlier this summer when a judge handed down three-month prison sentences for two homeschooling parents.
The sentences for Juergen and Rosemarie Dudek came in Germany's equivalent of a district court in the state of Hesse, according to a staff attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association. The group, the premier homeschooling advocacy organization in the world, has been monitoring and helping in the Dudeks' case since before a federal prosecutor announced his intention more than a year ago to see the parents behind bars.
Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has commented on the issue on a blog, noting the government "has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion."
As WND reported, Drautz said schools teach socialization, and that is important, as evident in the government's response when a German family in another case wrote objecting to police officers picking their child up at home and delivering him to a public school.
"The minister of education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling," said a government letter in response. "... You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers. ... In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement."