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Crown Ward Battered and Muzzled
February 28, 2009 permalink
The Hamilton Spectator gives a biography of a former crown ward recently in the news because he was abducted and abused for three weeks by neighbors. Even after age of majority, the man and his family are forbidden to speak his name in public.
Torture victim leads forgotten existence
Jackson Hayes, The Hamilton Spectator, (Feb 28, 2009)
Everyone seems to forget him.
He is peaceful and nice, a young man who likes video games.
But who is perhaps a little too trusting.
He is good with his hands and "can fix anything if you show him how."
He lives a quiet existence in a basement apartment.
As a boy, he was cared for by professionals, because mom couldn't take care of him.
As a teen, he bounced through foster homes from Kitchener to Durham.
And as an adult, he left the councillors' watchful gaze and was left to his own devices in Hamilton.
In early January, he was lured by a group of young people to a nearby apartment.
Police say he was held captive for three weeks, brutally beaten, repeatedly burned and even forced to eat feces.
During that time, no one reported him missing.
And now, because of a court-imposed publication ban, the man people have been forgetting for years can't even be named.
Everyone seems to forget him - but this is his story.
The epileptic seizures that plague him started when he was just four months old.
His mother said it was horrible watching her first-born son turn blue and pass out as many as six times a day.
Mom, who also cannot be named to protect her son's identity, said he would eventually learn from his pain.
"Every epileptic has an aura before their seizure. Some people smell burnt toast, some people smell oranges, some people have a sensation," she explained.
He saw spots in his eyes.
"He would be able to warn me and say 'Mom, Mom, my eyes,' so I would know he was going to have a seizure."
His grandmother said it would break her heart.
The exhausting seizures and the naps that followed meant less time outside with the other kids, fewer chances to make friends.
The boy's behaviour changed as he grew up: more violent and argumentative. The attention deficit disorder was diagnosed at five and the learning disabilities became more prevalent.
The "ongoing battle" continued after a move from Peterborough to the Oshawa area in the spring of 1994. Angry outbursts, continued seizures and depleting patience resulted in stints at a behavioural home, first for 30 days and later for three months.
Thrice weekly therapy sessions followed, but Mom said they did little to curb his behaviour.
She came home one night when he was 9 and found him outside the bathroom with a steak knife in his hand. The terrified babysitter and the baby brother were locked inside.
Dad was in the picture, but "in no shape to look after him" so Mom made the decision.
"He needed help and he wasn't getting it, so the only thing I could do was abandon him."
He became a ward of the state at age 10. The Durham Children's Aid Society, which would be his charge until adulthood, placed him in foster care, which Mom said didn't last.
Mom and his brother left for Alberta a short time later. She kept in touch over the phone and Grandma and Dad were in and out throughout the years.
It was assisted living until he was moved to a Kitchener foster home as a teenager.
Richard Lutman was his foster dad for about a year. He said this case illustrates what can happen when a ward grows too old for care.
Lutman said this teen, with the intellectual capacity of someone much younger, was assessed prior to his release to determine what services he would require as an adult.
Confidentiality rules preclude Lutman from detailing the man's exact level of cognition. But Lutman thinks this is an unfortunate grey area case: when a client scores too high for assistance, but may not be capable of making it on his own.
"It's sad, because you see clients like (the victim) who are excelling so well in a supportive living environment," he said recently. "Then you see them get out on their own and you see them fall through the cracks."
The young man, now in his early 20s, decided to move to Hamilton. He had grown fond of Steeltown when he was in the area during a previous foster arrangement, and came here against Lutman's better judgment.
His foster dad felt staying in Kitchener, where there was a support system, was a better move.
Durham CAS set him up with housing, a monthly disability payment and directed him to the multitude of social programs offered in the city. No one can confirm if he used them.
Soon he was a face in the crowd; one of 14,989 people in this city surviving on provincial assistance.
His basement apartment, like him, is easy to miss. A narrow corridor leads from the front of the two-storey red brick home down the left side to his door. There is no welcome mat. There is no doorbell. No mail in his box.
The only marker of his residence and his life there is the number "3" screwed sideways into the door, with a black drywall screw.
His landlord said he lived there for about a year and calls him a "very nice boy," but admits she doesn't know much about him.
His neighbour Bob has lived upstairs since September and describes him the same way everyone else does: "He is a good kid, but he was easily led. He should have been in a place where someone looks after him."
Bob said he noticed his downstairs neighbour hadn't been hanging around outside for a few weeks. He didn't think much of it and forgot about him.
The house that police rescued him from about two weeks ago sits in the shadow of the escarpment and is a few hundred metres from his apartment. The two addresses are split by a few blocks of faded homes and the Claremont Access.
His alleged captors had lived there since two of them were evicted in July from a rooming house on Wilson Street.
How their lives became entangled remains a mystery. Geographically and socially they ran in the same circles: young, receiving disability payments, surviving on their own and with a lot of time on their hands.
Both the victim and one of the suspects were "known peripherally" to downtown's Living Rock Ministry. Perhaps it was a run-in at a neighbourhood bar or a chance meeting at a food bank that set fate in motion.
Police say he was near death when they stumbled upon him in the garbage-strewn Corktown apartment.
Bloody, beaten, bruised and with "toxified" blood, his skull was fractured and he had burns all over his body.
Beyond the physical assault was the indignity he told Mom about. Through tears she said her son was tied up and forced to eat feces.
Mom feels even worse because she talked to him during the ordeal. He said he had been knocked around, but his "friends" were with him now. Mom thinks he didn't talk because the captors were in the room and he was scared.
Grandma cries when she talks about it.
He is out of hospital now and recovering. Mom talks to him regularly, but is worried about his emotional state.
She says police have found him a safe place and are looking out for him.
There is still no family here.
The knocks on his door go unanswered and his cellphone rings, but no one picks up. He has again become another face in the crowd, now perhaps a little less trusting - and a little less forgotten?
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Legal Child Sale
February 28, 2009 permalink
A group of three children is available for the bargain price of $29,000. Slightly black.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Urgent Sibling Group Situation
If interested, please contact me right away:
Sibling group of three, 3 year old girl, 2 year old boy, 2 month old girl available for adoption. The children are 3/4 Caucasian and 1/4 African American. Mom is 21 years old, wants to go back to school and wants a better life for her children. Birthfather will sign. They are not married and he doesn't support them. They have not been abused, are very healthy and on or above target for their ages. Need emailed profiles asap, with contact information. Couples only. Must be homestudy ready. This is through a licensed agency. Fees are approximately $29,000.
Posted by Karalee at 6:10 AM
Source: A path of the heart, February 27, 2009
Illegal Child Sale
February 28, 2009 permalink
Louisiana foster mother Donna Greenwell sold two of her wards to Paul J and Brandy Lynn Romero. The buyers could not afford the asking price of a thousand dollars per child, so they gave up their pet cockatoo instead. This is not from the Onion and is not a spoof.
The state of Louisiana seized the children. Maybe the state does not approve of undercutting their prices.
All children are safe after bizarre swap for cockatoo
By William Johnson • Gannett News Service • February 26, 2009
Evangeline Parish — A 5-year-old boy, his 4-year-old sister and their 17-month-old half-brother are now safe following a bizarre case in which the two older children were allegedly exchanged for a cockatoo.
Donna Greenwell, 53, of Pitkin, a small town in Vernon Parish south of Fort Polk, has been charged with aggravated kidnapping after being accused of selling the older children to an Evangeline Parish couple.
Greenwell, a long-haul trucker who surrendered to authorities Sunday, is being held in the Evangeline Parish Jail on a $100,000 bond.
The couple, Paul J. Romero, 46, and Brandy Lynn Romero, 27, also are facing kidnapping charges but have been released on a $5,000 bond each.
According to Detective Keith Dupre with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office, the couple had been trying for years to have their own child.
“The Romeros had good intentions from what we see,” Dupre said today. “They really wanted to take care of the kids. The kids were well-dressed and seemed to be treated good by the Romero family.”
Dupre said the transaction for the two children was negotiated by telephone last week after Greenwell spotted a flier posted at a livestock barn offering the Romeros’ pet cockatoo for sale for $1,500.
Although Paul Romero had three children from a previous marriage, Dupre said he and Brandy Romero had tried unsuccessfully for years to have a child of their own. When they told that to Greenwell, she allegedly offered to hand over the boy and girl for about $2,000.
When the Romeros said they couldn’t meet the price, Dupre said, “Ms. Greenwell agreed to make an even trade — the bird for the kids.”
Greenwell showed up with the children at the Romeros’ home the next day and said she would also need $175 for an attorney to complete adoption paperwork, Dupre said.
But it turns out she had no authority to put the children up for adoption. She was not their mother.
Everything began to unravel over the weekend when authorities received a telephone tip that the Romeros and the children would be at a Eunice fast food restaurant, where authorities approached them. The children are now in state custody.
The fate of the children’s infant half-brother remained in doubt for several days, but Dupre said the child has been located in Elizabeth, a town of about 500 in Allen Parish.
“He is in good shape. He has gained some weight. Social Services is in contact with the family. They are going through the proper channels,” Dupre said.
Authorities believe Greenwell began caring for the children about a year ago at their mother’s request.
Dupre said Greenwell “stated that the mother was having a hard time and asked her to baby sit. She said one month led to two months and two months led to a year.”
He said the children’s biological mother is believed to be in Texas but has told investigators through a relative that she plans to come to Evangeline Parish soon.
Dupre said the older children’s father, of Leesville, has been questioned and has expressed interest in getting custody of the children.
Who will eventually get the children will be up to the state, which will decide whether the parents can visit or gain custody of the children.
Authorities are also checking a claim made by the children to one police officer that they were sexually and physically abused, although not by Greenwell or the Romeros.
The Evangeline Parish Clerk of Court’s Office said today that attorneys had been appointed to represent Greenwell and Paul Romero.
A message was left this afternoon for Romero’s lawyer, Kelly Tate.
Greenwell’s court-appointed lawyer, Timmy Fontenot of Mamou, declined comment. Greenwell has an extensive police record including charges of kidnapping, assault and theft.
Police in Glenmora, near where Greenwell lives, are seeking information from anyone who might know if she had been involved in any similar cases.
“She’s had numerous children living with her at various times over the years,” said Glenmora Officer Jennifer Potter.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Source: Monroe News Star
February 27, 2009 permalink
The Ontario government cured the shortage of late winter holidays by declaring the third Monday in February as "Family Day". You probably thought this was to celebrate mom and dad and the kids. Not in Ontario. A reader alerted us to this gem from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Scroll down to the video under Family Day — Celebrating Diversity, or use our local copy (5 megabytes flv). A few interracial couples appear in the background but those in the foreground are all same sex couples with their assortment of stolen kids.
Puppy Mills for Foster Kids
February 26, 2009 permalink
What does a lonely foster child need to find love? A child protection worker suggested a warm cuddly dildo.
A Saskatchewan foster home looked like a puppy mill, according to a report by provincial Children's Advocate Marvin Bernstein. We enclose a report from the Globe and Mail, the full report is Breach of Trust (4 megabytes pdf local copy).
There are many more incidents not mentioned in the press report. One foster mom was told her foster child had no medical concerns, but found out from the child that s/he had a shunt in his head requiring special medical attention. When a foster parent refused to take a child on grounds of overcrowding, social services got the child into the home by tricking the other spouse. Many foster parents refused to speak to children's advocate investigators out of fear of retribution from the ministry staff. A three-year-old girl feared getting into a car, because she thought it meant going to yet another foster home. A provincial rulebook sets standards for physical accommodation of foster kids. Not one foster home was in compliance, lacking bathrooms, bedrooms and safety equipment. A mercenary foster parent referred to the children in her care as “truck payment, groceries or Florida trip” instead of using their names. The report has many cases of violence and sexual improprieties between foster children. What sort of teaching causes one three-year-old girl to perform oral sex on another?
How does Ontario compare to Saskatchewan? The death rates per hundred thousand foster child years are: Saskatchewan 266, Ontario 474.
Saskatchewan foster home 'like puppy mill'
SASKATOON -- Foster homes in Saskatchewan's largest city are so overcrowded and in crisis that a worker swarmed by children in one house she visited compared the place to a puppy mill.
The province's Children's Advocate released a scathing report yesterday containing disturbing accounts of violence and abuse in Saskatoon homes for children in care.
The report also contained numbers that show homes in the city are more overcrowded than anywhere else in the country. At one time, as many as 21 children were living in a single foster home.
Children's Advocate Marvin Bernstein said investigators in his office uncovered "graphic and repugnant" stories from children, foster parents and workers about the failing social services system.
"I was appalled that could be happening to children in this province," Mr. Bernstein told a news conference.
His report cites one Saskatoon home crowded with 13 children in which two girls, aged 9 and 11, sexually assaulted a nine-year-old girl with a low IQ. In another home with several past incidents of violence, an eight-year-old boy was caught urinating in the mouth of a three-year-old boy. Workers also placed a 17-year-old girl in a home without warning foster parents of her sexualized behaviour. She was later found in bed kissing a 12-year-old girl with developmental delays. The incident was reported to a caseworker.
"The foster parents were told to get the 17-year-old child a dildo," said the report. The teen was eventually sent to a different home but put in a bedroom with another 12-year-old girl.
The report said these incidents, and others, were not investigated or relayed to birth parents. Policies are not adequately monitored and enforced in Saskatoon, Mr. Bernstein said.
The current capacity guideline in Saskatchewan is four children for each foster home. But there are exceptions to allow that number to be exceeded in an emergency and to keep siblings together.
Mr. Bernstein said the highest number of children per foster home that he could find in other Canadian jurisdictions was nine.
A psychologist interviewed for the report said she was overwhelmed when she walked into one Saskatoon home and found 10 children under the age of five.
"When the psychologist came to the child gate blocking the entrance to the room, the young children 'swarmed' to her with their arms raised up seeking attention. The impression she was left with was that this looked like 'a puppy mill,' " the report states.
Source: The Globe and Mail
Child Protector Kills Her Own Son
February 25, 2009 permalink
What kind of people do social service agencies hire to protect your children? Sandra Renia Joseph is an employee of the Louisiana Department of Social Services, recently with the Office of Community Services, the agency administering child protection. Last Saturday she deliberately killed her own eleven-year old son Samuel Udomeh by running over him with an SUV. The second article enclosed below gives enough details that we know the boy was her natural child, not adopted. One clue to his problems is that at the age of three months a court rubber-stamped a protective order that kicked his father Fidel Udomeh out of his life.
February 25, 2009
Cops: Mom runs over son
Posted: 09:38 AM ET
Gabriel Falcon, AC360° Writer
There are cases that shock even the toughest of cops. The crimes that make hardened detectives sick to their stomachs. This is one of them.
A mother in Louisiana is accused of killing her own child. Investigators say the murder weapon was an SUV. And published reports describe the suspect as a former police officer.
The incident occurred Saturday morning. At around 9:15am on February 21, a call came into the Saint Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office. A woman said she was walking along a rural road when she noticed a silver Suzuki SUV with extensive front damage. She said the driver told her to contact the police because she had just run over her son.
When the authorities arrived at the scene, they say the driver said the same thing to them – that she had run over her son. They also allege she directed them to his body. The victim was found next to a barn near the road. Samuel Utomeh was 11-years-old.
According to the police, there were multiple points of impact that caused severe blunt force trauma to the child. His mother, Sandra Renia Joseph, was charged with first-degree murder. The 49-year-old is being held without bond.
The Daily World newspaper says Joseph was a Lafayette Police Officer from 1985 until 1990. According to the paper, she now works at the Louisiana Department of Social Services, which is in the process of suspending her until the case is closed.
The story has stunned many in the community, among them, Jimmy Darbonne. The Public Information Officer for the Saint Landry Sheriff’s Office says he’s worked in law enforcement for years, but has never seen anything like this before.
Source: CNN / Anderson Cooper blog
theadvertiser.com, February 24, 2009
Child's death investigated
Officials say mother admitted to running over 11-year-old son
William Johnson, (Opelousas) Daily World
As police spent Monday trying to piece together why a mother would run down her 11-year-old child in a sport utility vehicle, family members expressed shock and disbelief at the brutal act.
Sandra Renia Joseph, 49 of Lafayette has been charged with first-degree murder after her son Sam Udomeh was found dead Saturday in a rural area outside Grand Coteau.
Samuel's father and stepmother, Fidel and Felicia Udomeh, said the news came as a shock to them.
"I didn't think she would have done anything to hurt Sam," Felicia Udomeh said. "I thought she would have taken her own life before the child's. I didn't think it was that bad."
Investigators say the boy was standing beside a metal farm building when his mother's vehicle struck him with great force.
Joseph, a former Lafayette police officer, has no criminal history in St. Landry Parish or Lafayette Parish.
Investigators are trying to find out what led to the child's death.
"I met with the lady's family today - her mother, father and brother - they were very disturbed," St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said Monday.
"Anytime a mother takes her own child's life, there is a possibility of mental issues. I think that is the case here," Guidroz said.
According to Guidroz, the mother admitted during questioning that she ran over the child on purpose.
Joseph is being held in the St. Landry Parish Jail without bond.
Felicia Udomeh, said Sam, a Paul Breaux Middle School sixth-grader, was an "energetic and loving" child.
"Sam had his good and bad days just like any other child his age, but he was very intelligent and captivated everyone that he came across," she said. "Children and adults that knew him are very broken up over this."
The aspiring doctor played basketball and baseball, loved the French Immersion Program offered at school and loved to try different restaurants in the Lafayette area, they said.
Investigators say the scene revealed multiple points of impact where the vehicle had struck Sam, causing severe blunt force trauma.
Joseph, in what police described as "a very confused state," was found in her vehicle about a block away. The brand new silver Suzuki SUV, its left front end badly damaged, still carried its cardboard dealer's license plate.
The former Lafayette police officer - from March 1985 until October 1990 - grew up in Opelousas, Guidroz said she has no criminal history in St. Landry Parish or Lafayette Parish.
The murder investigation began when Sheriff's deputies were called to a rural area in the 200 block of Boxie Road outside Grand Coteau at 9:15 a.m. Saturday.
Joseph had apparently asked the someone to alert authorities after the incident, according to investigators.
When deputies arrived, the body of Joseph's son Sam was lying on the ground beside a farm building about 100 yards off the road.
Like investigators, the boy's father and his wife say they are trying to figure out what could have driven Joseph to this point.
"She has family and his father that would have taken [Sam] easily," she said. "She could have dropped him off here with only the clothes on his back, and we would have taken him just like that."
The last time they said they saw Samuel was in October 2008, when they took him to a Nigerian Independence celebration.
Fidel said there was a huge time gap from when he last saw his son because Joseph had gotten upset with him about disciplining Sam.
According to Lafayette Parish court records, Joseph filed a protective order against Fidel Udomeh in September 1997, when Samuel was about three months old.
"He has made threats to shake the child, place the child in danger and threatened to run off with the child," according to the protective order.
Fidel Udomeh denies these claims.
The protective order was officially court approved in Dec. 1, 1997 and was resolved in 2002.
Fidel Udomeh said because of the order, he was only allowed to visit with his son in public places.
Samuel, according to his stepmother, did not begin visiting their home without supervision until 2006.
At the time of the incident, Joseph was employed with the Louisiana Rehabilitation Service, which is part of the Department of Social Services, according to DSS spokesman Trey Williams.
Since 1995, she has worked at DSS on disability issues.
Prior to working for the Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, she worked at the Office of Community Services, another service that falls under DSS' umbrella.
Williams said in accordance with civil service rules, the department is taking steps to suspend her employment until criminal proceedings are complete.
There were no records filed with the department indicating "any history of abuse or neglect in the family," according to Williams.
"Tragedy is always difficult when a child is killed, but especially tough on the staff," he said. "To have an employee allegedly responsible for this act is particularly troublesome."
(Public service reporter Claire Taylor contributed to this report.)
Source: The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette
Free Court Transcripts
February 25, 2009 permalink
Chris Carter separated from his wife and they litigated over the children. Dufferin VOCA does not report on that kind of case, but during their squabbles children's aid grabbed the children. Mr Carter went to trial against children's aid two years ago, and tells us in a slightly edited report below that he is expecting another trial soon in which the judge offered him free court transcripts. We also copy his posting to the Canada Court Watch Canadian Judge's Registry, giving the results of the earlier trial. The lawyer Kim Putman for Waterloo CAS is the daughter of long-term Dufferin CAS executive director Gary Putman (confirming that child abuse is hereditary!). Comments follow the documents.
In Ontario section 136 of the Ontario Courts of Justice Act allows any individual to record Court appearances under certain conditions.
Today (Tuesday Feb. 24/09) we were in front of the Honourable Mr. Justice Hearn at the Kitchener location of the Ontario Court of Justice for a pre-Trial “speak to” appearance to resolve some preliminary issues.
Fortunately, Justice Hearn seems very fair, impartial, objective, professional and, unlike our previous Judge, not unduly aligned with any of the relevant/involved parties.
I’m going to appear on my own behalf in a 2nd Trial against the Children’s Aid Society of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (CAS RMW).
The 1st Trial ran 22 days from Aug. 20/07-June 6/08 at the Cambridge location of the Ontario Court of Justice with her Honour Madam Justice ‘Paddy’ Hardman presiding.
She ruled against me/us and in favour of my former spouse.
To provide context please read the accounts:
- “Father Stonewalled” on fixcas.com and
- Justice ‘Paddy’ Hardman on Canada Court Watch’s “Canadian Judge’s Registry”
Anyway, in a very reasonable manner his Honour Justice Hearn asked that I not tape record…I had pre-informed the Court via a Trial Co-coordinator that I would be taping today’s and all other appearances.
When I asserted my right to tape record his Honour suggested that, as a compromise, the Court would provide me and the CAS RMW with transcripts of the proceedings.
I raised, with his Honour, the issue of parents having complained that some statements which were made during Court appearances never made it into transcripts they had ordered.
His Honour acquiesced when I asserted that if I were to agree to his Honour’s recommended course of action each and every word spoken in the proceeding would be have to be included in the transcript.
This (free provision of transcripts to self-represented parents/families) could go a long way to exposing the CAS and what is going on in certain Justices’ Courtrooms.
Source: email from Chris Carter
Hello, my name is Chris Carter and I’m writing from Cambridge, Ontario which is in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
In a 22 day trial I did against the Children’s Aid Society of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (CAS RMW), Justice P.A. ‘Paddy’ Hardman violated, among other offenses, the Ontario Courts of Justice Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and my rights and protections as established by those two legal documents.
To provide some context, on the 1st day of trial Aug. 20/07 Justice Hardman stated that in her 18 years on the bench she had never ruled against a CAS on even one occasion.
However, her most serious (of numerous) violation(s) occurred on (what turned out to be) the last day of trial, June 6/08.
To provide further context, Justice Hardman had repeatedly told me that she would not allow me to turn the trial into an Inquiry of the CAS RMW.
On that day, I had the CAS RMW executive director Peter Ringrose on the witness stand. Ringrose was livid that a mere plebeian like myself would have demonstrated the (Irish-Newfie) temerity to “Summons to Witness” one as (self) exalted as his ‘highness’ the executive director of the CAS RMW.
During the trial the CAS WR lawyer Kim Putman had asked my witnesses if their families had ever been investigated by a CAS re: child protection concerns.
With a turn about being fair play here in Canada, I asked Ringrose the same question: “Has your family ever been investigated by a CAS for child protection concerns?” (I had read on fixcas.com that his granddaughter had died, tragically, in an automobile accident under questionable circumstances).
Upon me having stated and her having heard the question, CAS RMW lawyer Kim Putman immediately interjected and stated that executive director Ringrose (self-exalted though he may consider himself to be) shouldn’t have to answer the question.
Justice Hardman asked me if I had any specific knowledge re: a child protection investigation having been done re: Ringrose’s family.
I refused to provide Justice Hardman with the information. She hadn’t asked the CAS lawyer Putman that question prior to allowing the Putman to ask and expecting my witnesses to answer that question so I felt it was improper for her to expect that kind of information from me.
She ordered me to move on to another question.
I asked a few more questions and then went back to the child protection investigation question.
Upon me having stated and her having heard the question, Justice Hardman ordered the trial finished, against my will and stated wishes and before I had called all of the witnesses I had officially notified the Court and other parties I would be calling and, very importantly, without Ringrose being compelled to answer the question.
Justice Hardman issued her “Reasons for Decision” on September 3, 2008 and ruled against us.
I completed and filed the official Form 38: Notice of Appeal to Justice Hardman’s Decision and registered it with the Superior Court of Justice in Kitchener Ontario on October 3, 2008 but the Appeal couldn’t go forward as I couldn’t afford to pay for the Trial tapes (22 days=probably over $15 000.00) as procedurally required.
I’m not done by a long shot.
Since then, I’ve ‘screamed bloody murder’ re: Justice Hardman’s management of the case every time I’ve been in Court in front of another judge.
During a recent Hearing a judge, Justice Frazier, expressed anger at me for having spoken out against Justice Hardman.
In an upcoming trial which’ll probably begin sometime this spring 2009…
(my second Trial against the CAS RMW in a year and a half…significant when you consider that the CAS RMW is (or was) the most litigious CAS in the Central-West Region according to info provided on their own website’s 2002/3 Annual Report)
…the Chief Administrative Justice for this Area, a Mr. Justice Hearn, has become involved: he heard the Trial Management Conference on Jan. 15/09, moved the case/file from Cambridge, Ont. to Kitchener, Ont. (it was explained to me that he did this to prevent Justice Hardman, who almost always presides over CAS trials in Cambridge from possibly being assigned to this trial as well) and will preside over our “speak to” appearance this coming Tuesday Feb. 24/09 (as I write this it is Thursday Feb. 19/09).
I’m planning on tape-recording the Trial and I’d love for a Canada Court Watch representative to be in Court and attend the Trial.
At the Trial Management Conference on Jan. 15/09 I informed Justice Hearn that I would be calling, among others, the Minister of Children and Youth Services Deb Matthews as a witness and that I estimated that my part of the trial would take at least 30 days.
He seemed to accept these statements by me as legitimate.
We need help from Canada Court Watch and fixcas.com (please read the report Father Stonewalled on fixcas.com…it’s about us).
Please help us.
Ps: thanks for the article and info re: “tape-recording your own Trial.” If it wasn’t for Canada Court Watch I would’ve never known I could do so.
Source: Canada Court Watch Canadian Judge's Registry — use the inner scroll bar and the page skip button
Comments: A few years ago Canada Court Watch reported that parents in family court were prevented from recording their case. Judges ordered recording devices seized, but even before parents got to the courtroom cops searched them and seized the recording equipment, sometimes taking parents into a private room where they were roughed up. Over the last two years practice changed. In several cases parents recorded their own case unmolested. Perhaps the attorney general has instructed the judge's union (or whatever they call themselves) to give family court litigants the benefit of the law on recordings. The judge's union still does not like recordings, because they could be embarrassed and damaged by a posting to YouTube.
Back to the Carter case, since the judge cannot now seize Mr Carter's recorder, his offer to provide a free transcript may be his last-ditch effort to keep control of the record. A judge is under no obligation to keep a promise to put every word in the transcript. A prejudicial statement by the judge such as "In [my] 18 years on the bench [ I have ] never ruled against a CAS on even one occasion," will be deleted from the transcript. And a parent may at some point say: "Your worship, I wish to introduce the report of doctor Baker", to which the judge replies "Disallowed". An appellate court may decide the judge should have said "Allowed", giving the litigant the right to a new trial. When the trial judge drops the exchange from the transcript, there can be no appeal since appellate courts only review issues in the transcript.
Elman Reports on CAS Deaths
February 23, 2009 permalink
Today Ontario's child advocate Irwin Elman released his annual report (2 megabytes pdf local copy). While he dealt with several problems including difficulty in getting information required for his job, most of the reaction was to his report that 90 children in the care of children's aid societies died in a single year.
When the Pediatric Death Review Committee released its report, we commented that the four deaths in foster care, out of 90 child deaths, seemed miraculously low. It now appears that the 90 child deaths were all in foster care. Spread over 19,000 foster children that is 474 deaths per hundred thousand, making Ontario the deadliest jurisdiction for which there is credible foster mortality data, seventeen times more hazardous than care by mom and dad.
Today all news media in Ontario carried this story, and we can expect more to come.
Why did 90 children die?
Ontario's child advocate was appalled to learn how many in the province's welfare system die each year and is equally shocked at how difficult it is to get answers
Laurie Monsebraaten, Toronto Star
Ninety children known to Ontario's child welfare system died in 2007, according to the latest report from the chief coroner's office – a number the province's new child advocate says is shocking and should trouble us all.
Equally disturbing, says Irwin Elman in his first annual report to the Legislature today, is the government's refusal to share detailed information on these deaths with his office.
"These are obviously very critical documents for the understanding of the events leading to the death of the child or youth, and entirely necessary for the work of the Advocacy Office," Elman writes in the report entitled 90 Deaths: Ninety Voices Silenced. "The matter of access to information is one that we will pursue vigorously."
In an interview, Elman, who has worked with youth in the care of children's aid societies in Toronto for more than 20 years, said he had "no idea" so many of these vulnerable children, who were either open cases of the CAS or had died within a year of their files being closed, could perish in a single year in Ontario. Nor did he know that the number of children who have died has been constant since the late 1990s when the Coroner's office began tracking their deaths.
When he asked medical officers of health and colleagues in child welfare, they, too, were surprised by the number and urged him to speak out, Elman said.
It is why the deaths are highlighted on the cover of his 25-page report, he said, with the face of a child whose mouth is covered by a red banner reading "90 deaths, ninety voices silenced."
Elman notes the deaths represent less than a quarter of all children who died in the province in 2007 and are a fraction of the 26,260 open cases of children's aid societies. But the number of deaths is "too high by any standard."
"These are children that we, as a province, have determined are in some peril and should be receiving the best of what we, as their parents, have to offer," he said. "So how could 90 of them die? I want all of us to be thinking about that."
Gaining more access to information about children and youth involved in the child welfare and youth criminal justice systems, and broadening his office's legal right to the coroner's files on deaths are key goals this year, he said.
"We need (this information) to help resolve issues that youth have contacted us about, to know how to respond to incidents involving children and youth in care and to investigate any deaths among our charges," his report says.
The 90 deaths in 2007 are recorded as part of the chief coroner's annual Pediatric Death Review Committee report released last June. They include children and youths in foster care, whose families had open files with a children's aid society or had died within a year of their files being closed.
Most of the deaths were preventable, the committee concluded.
Sixteen were accidental; nine were listed as suicides; four were homicides; eight died from natural causes and could probably not have been prevented; 22 were considered undetermined, which means there was no evidence for any specific classification or they fit within more than one classification; 17 are yet to be assigned a classification; and 14 were not considered appropriate by the Coroner for investigation because their deaths were expected due to fragile health.
Of the 76 classified deaths, 34 were babies younger than one year old and 24 were youths between the ages of 12 and 18.
The report provides broad geographical information about where in the province the children died, but there is no information about ethnicity, family income and community resources, or if the child was in foster care or living with parents. (In an interview, a spokesperson for the coroner's office said 14 of the classified deaths in 2007 were children in foster care.)
Prevention strategies suggested in the coroner's report include safer sleeping arrangements for babies; co-ordinated mental health services for youth; better supervision; educating caregivers early in a baby's life to be more mindful; and paying more attention to children's medical needs.
Elman says his office must focus on the deaths and strive to understand the circumstances – broad and specific – to ensure the children are safe and thriving.
"I would like to honour the kids who died by looking at their journeys and using them to help the living in as broad a sense as we can," he said. In his report, Elman says his office will request legal standing at all inquests into deaths of children in the system and will conduct an independent review of jury recommendations dating back 10 years to determine trends and gaps.
The office receives about 3,000 phone calls for help each year from among more than 20,000 children and youth in contact with Children's Aid. Those in foster care are there because of parental neglect or abuse and many feel their lives are spinning out of control, the report says. Worse, many say the stigma of being connected to the system is overwhelming.
Elman wants his office to do more to reach out and give these children a voice and a role in improving their lives. And he hopes to form regional youth reference groups so their concerns can be heard.
The report includes a section and letter addressed directly to children and youth in care, advising them of their rights and urging them to phone the office – collect if they can't access the 1-800-263-2841 number – if they need help.
"Children and youth like you have overcome tremendous barriers in the past to become loving parents, lawyers, professors, plumbers, artists, activists – you name it," Elman writes. "We are here to help you with the hard work and courage needed for you to take the risks to overcome barriers you face," he adds. "I intend to lead an office ... that demonstrates each day our belief in you."
The office will work to implement Jordan's Principle – named for a First Nations child in Manitoba – which aims to ensure conflicts over which level of government has financial responsibility to help a status Indian or Inuit child are settled after the service is provided.
For Northern Ontario, where only one advocate fields calls from 15 child welfare agencies, the report said the office will appoint a special director or deputy provincial advocate to consult with the community on how best to proceed. New measures, which likely won't take effect until later in the year, would need additional funding, the report says.
The child advocate's annual budget when the office existed as part of the provincial ministry of children and youth services was $1.8 million. But it will top $3.9 million in this, its first year as an independent office.
Still, the report notes that with a staff of just 21, including 13 advocates, Ontario has the smallest per capita staff and budget of any provincial children and youth advocate's office and may need more resources in the future to fulfill its mandate.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Addendum: In the reader comments of the Toronto Star we found:
Only half the numbers
before anyone can make comments on these numbers, we should be provided with the amount of child deaths for the same time span of families that were investigated but the child/children NOT removed. Only then can a proper analysis be made!!!!!
Submitted by Meisje at 8:25 AM Tuesday, February 24 2009
Meisje (Dutch girl) must be a CAS worker. Well, we have found the other half of the numbers girl, and foster care is seventeen times as deadly.
In some incredible comments reported in the Toronto Sun below, Deb Matthews gets herself into deeper trouble. She says the deaths in one year of 90 children who had been through Ontario's child protection services is not an indictment of child welfare in this province. If serial killing is not an indictment, what is? She went on to say that the number of deaths of children known to provincial child welfare services has been constant since 1991. So this problem is not new, but Deb Matthews, and her predecessors, have been ignoring the slaughter for eighteen years. Good work, Deb.
Minister stands by child-welfare system despite 90 deaths
By BRETT CLARKSON, SUN MEDIA, Last Updated: 24th February 2009, 1:38am
The deaths in one year of 90 children who had been through Ontario's child protection services is not an indictment of child welfare in this province, the McGuinty government's children's minister said.
"I think that is a conclusion that some could jump to," said Deb Matthews, the minister of child and youth services. "I don't think it's the right conclusion."
Matthews was responding to the annual report released yesterday by provincial children's advocate Irwin Elman.
Citing numbers released by the Office of the Chief Coroner's pediatric death review committee in June, 2008, Elman's report said the 90 children and youth who were known to Children's Aid Societies and who died in 2007 "is too high by any standards."
According to the report, 16 of the deaths were considered accidental, nine were suicides, four were homicides, eight were from natural causes, 22 were considered to be from an undetermined cause by the coroner, 17 are still to be classified, and 14 were not considered appropriate for investigation because the death had been expected due to illness.
In the legislature yesterday Matthews, responding to questions from NDP Leader Howard Hampton, said the number of deaths of children known to provincial child welfare services has been constant since 1991.
Elman, who said he had been told by the ministry that the number has stayed in the area of between 80 and 90 deaths a year since 1991, said that figure "shocked" him.
Source: Toronto Sun
Addendum: Two more articles from the Hamilton Spectator. In the first the reporter mentions four deaths in Hamilton, all outside the foster care system. The second reports the opinion of Hamilton CAS executive director Dominic Verticchio, who diverts our attention to three children dying in a tragic non-foster care house fire. This is right out of our script for dealing with foster deaths — blame the specific cause of death: swimming pools, guns, dogs or in the current case fires. Sorry Mr Verticchio, we now have the numbers. The biggest danger to children is not fires, pools, guns or dogs. It is foster care. Seventeen times as deadly as care by mom and dad.
Child advocate 'stonewalled' on deaths
Seeking info on 90 kids who died in welfare system
February 24, 2009, Laurie Monsebraaten and Tanya Talaga, Toronto Star, (Feb 24, 2009)
Queen's Park is "stonewalling" the provincial child advocate in his bid to get more information about 90 children in Ontario's child welfare system who died in 2007, says New Democratic Party Leader Howard Hampton.
"We are talking about children under the control of children's aid societies. These are troubled children, vulnerable children who are dying," Hampton said in the wake of the Irwin Elman's annual report to the legislature yesterday, which highlighted the deaths.
"As he says in his report, the government is stonewalling him, making it difficult for him to do his job."
Elman, who became the province's first independent child advocate last summer, said the government's refusal to share detailed information about the deaths with his office limits his ability to act.
"I'm not talking about doing investigations," he said yesterday. "I'm talking about having the information about my children and youth so I know what's going on with them."
He said he will "vigorously pursue" the issue by proposing an amendment to the provincial Coroner's Act to give him full access to all reports concerning the death of children and youth involved in the child welfare system.
A shaken Premier Dalton McGuinty said the deaths are "troubling."
"If we lose just one child in care that's an issue. That's a cause for concern for all of us," the premier told reporters. "We need to better understand their particular challenges and to make sure that they are not just surviving but are in fact thriving."
Four of the 90 deaths occurred in Hamilton. One -- a child under two -- had been involved with the Hamilton CAS. That child died sleeping with its caregiver. The CAS has a caseload of about 14,000.
Three more of the deaths involved children who had been receiving services from the Hamilton Catholic Children's Aid Society. Agency executive director Ersilia DiNardo said all three deaths involved young or infant children living with their birth parents. Her agency provides services to 560 families each month.
In the legislature, opposition members hammered Children's Minister Deb Matthews for blocking Elman's access to detailed reports from children's aid societies, police and others in contact with a child before a death that are routinely submitted to the chief coroner's Pediatric Death Review Committee for review and analysis.
Matthews said the coroner has a detailed process of reviewing all child deaths. "When the coroner recommends that changes be made, we make those changes."
In an interview, Matthews said her ministry "fully supports the child advocate" and has drafted a protocol to ensure Elman's office gets information he requests about children currently in the system within 10 days. But she refused to comment on possible changes to the Coroner's Act because it's not within her mandate.
A spokesperson for Community Safety Minister Rich Bartolucci, whose ministry oversees the act, said the chief coroner's office has met several times with Elman to discuss the matter and is trying to work out privacy concerns.
However, Bartolucci "isn't considering changes to the Coroner's Act" at this time, said Laura Blondeau in an e-mail.
Children's aid societies say they are leery of the child advocate gaining access to detailed information about deaths of children in the system.
"The issue of children who have died I think is clearly and extensively covered by the role of the coroner's office," said Virginia Rowden, director of social policy for the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies which represents 51 of the province's 53 CASs. "We feel the coroner has an appropriate process in place for reviewing child deaths. It's very in-depth. It's multi-disciplinary," she said.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Children's aid groups focus on fire safety
February 24, 2009, The Hamilton Spectator, (Feb 24, 2009)
Fire safety is one of the biggest issues for the Hamilton child welfare system.
Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton, made the comment in connection with the release of a provincial report revealing 90 children known to Ontario's child welfare system died in 2007.
Verticchio's comment was related to the tragic west Hamilton fire in March 2008 that saw three children perish in a blaze that also claimed two adults.
Those children had been the subject of CAS involvement, Verticchio said.
Fire officials found no evidence of working smoke detectors in the home where the three children -- aged 4, 2 and 1 -- and two adults died.
That fatal fire was devastating for the Hamilton CAS and served as the impetus for the agency to get involved with the Ontario Fire Marshal's office to raise awareness of the need for working fire detectors.
The CAS has been involved with producing large refrigerator magnets to highlight fire hazards.
"We don't take fire safety as liberally as we have in the past," Verticchio said yesterday.
Many of the agency's clients are renters who aren't aware of the importance of having working smoke detectors, he added.
Ersilia DiNardo, executive director of the Hamilton Catholic Children's Aid Society, said fire safety is a concern for her agency, as well.
"We do have a number of families who live in rental situations and they are occupied with more pressing needs and may not pay as much attention that the fire alarms are working properly," she said, adding her agency hasn't had families involved with fatal fires.
DiNardo said while the number of child deaths is a concern, "I don't believe the system is failing."
She noted that the system has a number of checks and balances and a high level of accountability and scrutiny.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Addendum: Now we have the official word from Jeanette Lewis: "the child welfare system was not a factor in the vast majority of deaths and most deaths could not have been foreseen or prevented by a CAS." The first step in fixing a problem is recognizing that there is a problem. Will children's aid ever take that first step?
Feb 26, 2009 04:30 AM [ letter to the editor, Toronto Star ]
Re: Ninety dead children, Editorial Feb. 24
The death of a child is devastating and we need strong voices to advocate for their well-being. However, the Child Advocate's recent report brings more confusion than clarity due to misrepresentation of numbers and facts.
Last year, the Chief Coroner's Office found that the child welfare system was not a factor in the vast majority of deaths and most deaths could not have been foreseen or prevented by a CAS. It recommended that we work together to prevent deaths from unsafe sleeping conditions for infants, drowning, accidents and teen suicides.
We all want the best outcome for children. Let's find ways to collaborate and help each other by using the right information for the right purposes.
Jeanette Lewis, Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
Source: Toronto Star
Addendum: A report on the number of deaths in Waterloo
Seven of 90 deaths in child advocate's report in the region
Local official singles out suffocation while sharing parents' bed as a major culprit
February 24, 2009, Frances Barrick, RECORD STAFF, WATERLOO REGION
Seven of the 90 children known to Ontario's child welfare system who died in 2007, were from Waterloo Region.
Peter Ringrose of Family and Children's Services of Waterloo Region called the seven deaths "extremely high."
The 90 deaths from 2007 represent the most recent statistics from Ontario's chief coroner, they were contained in a report to the legislature by the province's child and youth advocate yesterday.
Ringrose is concerned that unsafe sleeping arrangements have caused too many baby deaths.
"It is clearly an issue," said.
Of the seven deaths, four of the babies died of suffocation after sharing a bed with a parent, who either rolled ton top of the infant ended, or the baby rolled over and ended up sleeping on its stomach.
Sleeping on their backs is a safest position for babies, he said.
The infants ranged in age from one month to 15 months.
None of the babies were in foster care or were Crown wards.
All four died at home and the agency had contact with their parents because of issues with the families, Ringrose said.
Of the three remaining babies who died, one was medically fragile and died in a local institution, another died from a sudden illness and the death of a three-month-old girl involved a police investigation. The infant's mother, Paula Lee, is charged with first-degree murder.
In his report, Irwin Elman, who became the province's first independent child advocate last summer, said the government's refusal to share detailed information about the deaths with his office limits his ability to act.
He said he will "vigorously pursue" the issue by proposing an amendment to the provincial Coroner's Act to give him full access to all reports concerning the death of children and youth involved in the child welfare system.
In an interview, Children's Minister Deb Matthews said her ministry "fully supports the child advocate" and has drafted a protocol to ensure Elman's office gets information he requests about children currently in the system within 10 days.
A spokesperson for Community Safety Minister Rich Bartolucci, said the chief coroner's office "isn't considering changes to the Coroner's Act" at this time.
Children's aid societies say they are leery of the child advocate gaining access to detailed information about deaths of children in the system.
"The issue of children who have died I think is clearly and extensively covered by the role of the coroner's office," said Virginia Rowden, director of social policy for the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies which represents 51 of the province's 53 CASs.
In 2006 and 2007, 41 baby deaths in Ontario were attributed to bed sharing.
This led the Ontario coroner's office to call bed sharing "a genuine public safety issue."
Last year, the regional health unit conducted a public awareness campaign urging caregivers to ensure infants under one sleep on their backs.
Ringrose said the safest place for babies to sleep on their backs is in their own crib and adults should not share the same sleeping surface.
He said the agency is working with other social agencies to help financially-strapped parents get a safe crib.
While seven deaths is higher than normal, Ringrose said in other years there have been no deaths or just a few.
He said the agency works with "a very vulnerable population" who are exposed to higher risks than other infants.
email@example.com, with files from Record news services
Source: Kitchener-Waterloo Record
Addendum: Here is the OACAS press release of February 26, 2009 (pdf) which was the source for press criticism.
The Danger of Baby Stealing
February 23, 2009 permalink
Nevada parents Tonya and Carey Fleck appear to believe adoption is an act of charity. Now they are under threat from the real parents of one of their children. They are quoted: "It's really hard, because it's not right. We didn't do anything wrong. We've tried to do everything right." Oh? Have they heard of receiving stolen goods?
The disclosure to the real parents occurred because the state keeps differing lies on their computers. The lies got mixed up.
ID leak leaves parents in fear
BY MARTHA BELLISLE • firstname.lastname@example.org • February 23, 2009
When Tonya and Carey Fleck's older children moved from home, the couple felt they were still young enough to have kids around, so they decided to adopt.
Warm-hearted with a large ranch and horses, the Flecks hoped to help children in need and deserving a break.
But six years and seven adoptions later, the Flecks are in fear -- for their lives and for the safety of their family -- after a series of mistakes by social service and county workers resulted in the disclosure of their identities, address and phone number to the birth parents of two of their children.
Simon Duenas, a birth father with a criminal history, allegedly threatened to kill Carey Fleck, blow up their house and kidnap the children, according to several restraining orders approved by the court.
Despite having no legal connection with the children, Duenas has continued to harass the family, in violation of the protective orders, Tonya Fleck said. He wrote a letter from prison to the birth mother in January saying he wanted to see his "babies ... real bad."
What began as a peaceful lifestyle has transformed into a nightmare because a county social service agency and the justice system let them down, Fleck said as she leafed through a pile of police reports and court orders scattered across her kitchen table.
A new criminal charge could keep Duenas locked up a bit longer, she said, but the future is uncertain.
"My children's lives are at stake," she said. "My life is at stake.
"It's really hard, because it's not right. We didn't do anything wrong. We've tried to do everything right."
Other adoptive couples and foster parents need not worry about a similar situation happening to them, said Herb Caplin, a deputy district attorney handling the civil lawsuit the Fleck's filed against Washoe County.
Part of the problem occurred because while the Flecks had a closed, no-contact adoption with the daughter, they later became foster parents for her brother, he said, both Duenas' children. That put them in contact with the Duenases, and that's why Wendy Duenas recognized the Fleck name given to the daughter, he said.
"This is a very unique set of circumstances," Caplin said about the Fleck case. "I've never heard of this happening in all the years I've been here. Human error is always going to happen, but realistically, the problems have been corrected, and it shouldn't happen again."
Kevin Schiller, the director of Washoe County Social Services, said the district attorney's office did nothing wrong.
"It was a computer interface error, and it's been fixed," he said.
The Fleck's started their new family with the daughter. A "severe drug baby," she initially was sent to a foster family, but after a year, the Duenases, her birth parents, lost their parental rights, and the girl became their own, Tonya Fleck said.
Six children followed, ranging in age from 2 to 14. The Flecks also adopted an older girl who is the sister of one of the children but no longer lives at home, Tonya Fleck said.
Their house is a children's paradise with swing sets and monkey bars in the back yard and a garage converted into a giant play room.
All went smoothly for years as their family grew, until one day in 2006, when Wendy Duenas applied for welfare benefits and records showed the name of a child she did not recognize, Fleck said.
Wendy Duenas asked for an explanation from an employee with the Washoe County Family Support Division of the district attorney's office, according to court records. The worker pulled up that confidential file, which said the Flecks had adopted that child.
The worker gave that information to Wendy Duenas, who recognized the Flecks as the same family who was providing foster care for their son, Tonya Fleck said.
"Wendy and Simon found out at the end of November, but they didn't say anything right away," Fleck said. "They just kept asking about 'this little girl,' and 'the child the state stole from us.'"
The Duenases confronted her and demanded visitation rights, Fleck said.
Furious with news that her confidential information was disclosed, Tonya Fleck said she first went to the welfare office to get her daughter's name out of the computer, then went to the district attorney's office to demand an explanation.
She was told the problem would be taken care of, but it was already too late -- their identity was out. Months later, another major mistake, this time involving a police report, made the damage worse.
Schiller, director of county social services, said the problem with the disclosure of the Fleck name stemmed from an interface between computer programs in different agencies. The child welfare agency kept information in one system, and the agency handling Medicaid used another, he said. One was concerned with adoption information, and the other with child support issues, he said.
Unfortunately in this case, the child's information was not changed when it went from one program to the other, which allowed her legal name to show up in the welfare system, he said.
"This is the only case this has ever happened," Schiller said, adding that as soon as he learned about the problem, he had the system changed.
Schiller acknowledged, however, that the second mistake with the police report should not have happened.
Police report released
To keep one of her other children, Wendy Duenas was told she must leave the allegedly abusive father and go to a safe house, Tonya Fleck said. But the people at the house said Duenas couldn't stay unless she had proof of abuse, so Duenas asked a social worker to get a copy of her police report, Fleck said.
The worker called the Reno Police Department, which faxed an unredacted copy of the report containing information about the Flecks. The social worker gave the full report to Duenas, without blacking out the confidential material.
The report had the Flecks' address, phone number, social security numbers and other private data, Fleck said.
Wendy Duenas gave the report to Simon Duenas, Fleck said, and the threats began.
"Simon Duenas has call(ed) me three or four times over the last 30 days," Fleck said on a police report dated Dec. 27, 2007. "He call(ed) me a few times from jail."
In a police report filed Jan. 14, 2008, Fleck said he continued calling and "when I answer, he said he was going to blow up my house then no one will get the kids."
Many of the threats, including one to kill her husband, were left on the family's answering machine and have been recorded by the police as evidence, Fleck said.
The Flecks responded by filing for temporary protective orders, which twice became yearlong restraining orders after a review by a judge, Fleck said.
But after the first one was filed, Duenas fled the area, and sheriff's deputies were not able to serve him, she said. So when he threatened the Flecks again and they took him to court for violating the order, the judge had to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor because he said he didn't know he was under an order at the time, Fleck said.
During that hearing, the justice of the peace pointed her finger at Duenas and said "do not contact these people ever again," Fleck said.
He was given a six-month suspended sentence, "with the condition he have no contact with Tonya Fleck or her family," Deputy District Attorney Kelly Partin said.
Fleck said she understood this to be a permanent order.
"We were naive," Fleck said. "We were later told by a sergeant that 'never' only means until the TPO expires."
Back in custody
While at that hearing, the judge discussed revoking Duenas' probation on a drug charge, Partin said, and on April 8, the district judge took away Duenas' diversion status for violating his probation and sent him to prison for 12 to 32 months, she said.
The Nevada Department of Corrections said he's slated to be discharged from the Ely Conservation Camp "on or about March 2," according to a letter sent to the Flecks.
While in custody and under the "no contact" order, Duenas allegedly asked his sister-in-law to contact the Flecks and ask them to write to him, Partin said. Fleck said she gave the information to the police, and they contacted the sister-in-law, who verified the request.
In response to this contact, Partin said she went back to the court to again challenge Duenas for his contacts with the Flecks. The Flecks said they wished the prosecutors had sought to have his suspended sentence revoked sooner, but Partin said since he was already in custody, they filed it in February.
The order to show cause was sent to the court on Feb. 2, she said, and his hearing is set for March 3, one day after his release from Ely.
Partin said she filed a motion asking the judge to issue a warrant to keep him in custody for that extra day, but the judge has not ruled on the motion.
Duenas' lawyer, Sean Sullivan, said the claims of third-party contact "lack merit" and he plans to fight them.
Source: Reno Gazette-Journal
Stealing Kids is Fun!
February 22, 2009 permalink
The stories of hard partying by social workers that we have heard from parents are finally corroborated by a British newspaper story. New hires recruited with the prospect of partying but without even an orientation meeting are going into homes and taking the children.
The reference to "Baby P" is to Peter Connolly (or Connelly) who died at the hands of his mother Tracey Connolly, stepfather Steven Barker and lodger Jason Owen. Following a year of stories in the British press unfavorable to child snatchers, social services gave great publicity to this case, creating a lynch-mob mood toward abusive parents, a classic foster care panic.
You can see the enticements for job seekers at the recruiting site UK-Pro.
Baby P council hired US college kids to be £36,000 a year social workers
By Glen Owen, Last updated at 11:34 PM on 21st February 2009
Inexperienced American college students, lured to British social service jobs with the promise of high salaries and a party lifestyle, are deciding which children should be taken away from their parents.
In many cases, the young recruits are making vital child protection decisions without a single day’s training in the UK. Many of the hundreds of workers making the trip boast they are coming here mainly to have a good time and admit they cannot cope with the pressures of their work.
Town hall chiefs – including those at Haringey in North London where Baby P scandalously died under the noses of social workers – have been so desperate to find staff that they turn to agencies to hire American students fresh out of college at salaries of up to £36,000 a year, nearly twice what they could earn in the US.
Many local authorities even organise expensive recruitment trips to the States, where they accept up to 90 per cent of novice applicants.
Some recruits are so inexperienced, they have never used public transport and have to be advised on how to cope with buses and the London Underground. One student described social work in Britain as ‘trial by fire’.
Astonishingly, one of the US job agency bosses sending social workers to UK councils said the students themselves were shocked by the way councils sent them into people’s homes with little or no warning about what to expect or what to do. Some recruits are moved from council to council within days.
Last night the Tories claimed the move is a damning indictment of the Government’s failure to tackle the recruitment crisis gripping the profession.
Eye-catching deals to attract American students are being offered by a number of US firms, including UK-Pro.
The company, based in Boston and Atlanta, and with a small office in Croydon, Surrey, currently has 75 staff working in British councils on contracts ranging from a few months to several years. Haringey is among its clients.
UK-Pro’s website declares that ‘if you are a new graduate...you have come to the right place for a job. The UK is experiencing a national shortage of social workers and needs your help’.
Framed by pictures of American students drinking, it promises salaries of £36,000, relocation packages of £4,600 and the chance to ‘eat, drink, and be merry’. It adds: ‘Going to pubs, comedy clubs, musicals, city tours, museums, and having travel partners to see Europe with are just a few of our benefits.’
One expert compared it to offering them a ‘gap year’, but with pay of up to £700 a week.
Testimonies of some staff paint a shocking picture of inexperienced foreign workers floundering on the front line of child protection work – before going out to party.
Leigh Montagnet, from Louisiana State University, posted a message at the end of the second week of her placement at Havering social services in East London, in which she admitted that she was ‘still trying to orient’ herself to the job.
‘It seems to be mostly child protection,’ she wrote. ‘In fact, yesterday I helped to remove three children...I’ve been overwhelmed with how much there is to learn. There is no manual for me, or even an orientation packet. Even my manager wasn’t able to sit down with me and do an orientation/supervision during the first week. The beginning has been much harder than I anticipated and I cried many times.’
Another, Melissa Ganser from San Diego State University, wrote that it was ‘scary’ being placed on a children and families assessment team at a separate London council. But she made it clear why she had stayed: ‘There is just way too much to do in this city...and I am also earning a salary that is better than I would be earning at home.’
Baby P died in August 2007, aged 17 months. He had endured eight months of abuse, despite being repeatedly seen by Haringey social workers. The outcry highlighted concerns over the standard of social work across Britain.
Last night, Linde Grant, the director of UK-Pro, criticised the support councils offered the recruits she was flying in for them. ‘The councils do not offer good training for locums, there are not many councils that offer an adequate induction of even two hours,’ she said. ‘They just put them straight into cases.
‘Just today I had a call from one of our temporary placements at a council in the south of England. Three months in, she has been given 24 cases, of which 12 are child protection cases. She said she wasn’t comfortable with the cases, and said she hoped to be given a permanent job because then she might get proper training.’
Council officials from Barking and Dagenham are travelling to Boston next month to interview candidates for jobs working on child protection plans. And last July, Thurrock Council, in Essex, held interviews in Atlanta which, according to UK-Pro, ‘allowed 90 per cent of the candidates interviewed to accept employment in the UK!’
Ms Grant said there was a surplus of social workers in the US, and that the students on her books have masters degrees in social work which includes two years of studying and two years hands-on experience. ‘I was on a plane recently and the woman next to me was appalled that the British Government was having to “buy in” social workers,’ she said. ‘But if you have a shortage, then surely it’s a sensible move?
‘A manager in one council told me the quality of British graduates was so poor that they were unable to recruit decent candidates. There is a surplus of social workers in the States who can’t get jobs.’
Until 2007, UK-Pro placed between ten and 20 staff in Haringey, she said, but its problems were not unique.
‘The profession is under strain across the UK. It is not humanly possible for them to detect and help all the vulnerable children.’
Tory Shadow Minister for Children, Tim Loughton, said last night: ‘It is very alarming that we are flying in newly qualified social workers and throwing them in at the deep end. The Government has set great store by the social worker degree in this country, yet we have American students being let loose with a minimum of UK training or support.’
The students’ accounts also reveal the high turnover between jobs. Laura Rosynek, from Virginia Commonwealth University, was made a ‘permanent’ member of staff at Brent Council in North London for just ten days before being moved to neighbouring Camden.
UK-Pro acknowledges the difficulties faced by its staff on its website, which states: ‘Most social workers have never used public transportation before so we pay special attention to this feature.’
Brittany Heeren, from Louisiana State University, likened her experience at the London borough of Havering to ‘trial by fire’. She added: ‘You just have to jump in.’
Vacancy rates for children’s social workers are rising steeply across the UK. In ten authorities, including Haringey, a third of positions remain unfilled because of high drop-out rates and difficulties recruiting new graduates.
A recent survey by the Unison trade union said that the lack of child protection staff was a ‘ticking time bomb that could explode at any minute. Without decisive action it is only a matter of time before there is another tragedy’.
Havering Council said that its policy was to give its own permanent workers priority when it came to training, not the temporary recruits from the US. ‘All of our staff, including locum or agency staff, receive adequate training according to their level of skills to safeguard and protect children,’ a spokeswoman said.
Haringey Council said: ‘The council only employs fully-qualified social workers for front line duties.’
The Department for Children, Schools and Families said it was working hard to recruit and retain more social workers. ‘Only those who are properly qualified can work as social workers. This includes those trained abroad.’
Social workers in England must have a professional qualification, with a three-year social work degree now the standard course.
However, shorter postgraduate courses and part-time diplomas are available.
Students will also need to pass a Criminal Records Bureau background check. The courses, which must be approved by the General Social Care Council, involve at least 200 days in work placements. Social workers also have to be registered with the body.
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Family Court Stinks
February 20, 2009 permalink
The family court in Johannesburg has been shut down by the unbearable stench of human excrement. Plumbers cannot figure out the source of the problem. After the plumbing is fixed, will the stench continue?
Stench making life at court unbearable
20 February 2009, Cecil Motsepe
A stench of raw human excretion brought the Johannesburg Family Court to a standstill yesterday with people fleeing the building as though it were on fire.
The building has been experiencing water cuts during the past two weeks, leaving toilets floating with sewerage.
One of the people at court said: “We can’t eat or drink water in here because the place stinks.
“It is like trying to eat while sitting inside a pit toilet.
“The water gets cut every morning and unfortunately the people continue to relieve themselves.”
When Sowetan visited the court building at about 11am, officials were preparing to leave.
No one seems to know what is causing the problem.
Court manager Monwabisi Sobahle said plumbers had been called in to locate the cause of the problem.
“We have organised 12 portable toilets because we don’t want this to affect service delivery.
“We will put them all over the court because we don’t want cases to be postponed because of lack of water,” said Sobahle.
But court officials, who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity, said they could not work as the smell was becoming unbearable.
“This building has become a serious health hazard.
“While we would appreciate those portable toilets, the whole building is emersed in an overpowering smell of urine and other things we won’t mention.
“If it is not dysfunctional lifts we have to endure, it is the smell,” said an official.
Child For Sale
February 18, 2009 permalink
From the Child and Family Services Act, section 45(8)
Prohibition: identifying child
(8) No person shall publish or make public information that has the effect of identifying a child who is a witness at or a participant in a hearing or the subject of a proceeding, or the child’s parent or foster parent or a member of the child’s family.
This provision, used routinely to bully newspapers and even bloggers into suppressing foster care stories, is violated with impunity by members of the government and children's aid societies. Today's example is by Deb Matthews, minister of children and youth services. She is hawking a child available for adoption with an identifying photograph, exposing him to ridicule by his classmates for a wearing a virtual for sale sign. Warning! Expanding the block below will place you in possession of contraband identification of a child!
Justin is a 10-year-old boy with a mischievous smile and expressive features. He communicates easily with adults and enjoys engaging in conversation.
Justin would like to share that he can do flips as well as break dance! He enjoys athletics and participates in a wide variety of sports including skateboarding, cycling, soccer, baseball and is a member of the school chess club. He has expressed an interest in playing ice hockey in the future.
He is currently in Grade 5 and attends a classroom where he receives behavioural support. He is doing well with this support and is integrated into a regular classroom on a part-time basis.
Justin has been diagnosed with ADHD and is taking medication. He is having difficulty sleeping. Justin will need a highly structured home with regular daily routines and a predictable environment. Justin has issues trusting adults and he will need a family that will understand that it will take some time for him to adjust to a new home.
A family with no other children in the home and the ability to work closely with various supportive professionals in the community would be best for Justin. A single-parent with very strong daily supports would be considered.
If you think your family could be the right one for Justin, please call the Adoption Council of Ontario at the toll free number 1-877-236-7820 or 416-482-0021. Leave your name and telephone number and be sure to identify the child you are calling about. Information is also available from the Adoption Council of Ontario via e-mail at email@example.com or from AdoptOntario at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AdoptOntario is a partnership between Children’s Aid Societies, the Adoption Council of Ontario, private adoption professionals and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to recruit adoption homes for children.
This site is maintained by the Government of Ontario
Source: Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services
Angela Franklin R.I.P.
February 18, 2009 permalink
[Hoax alert, see addendum]
A mother who had lost two children to social services and was pregnant again found the sure way to prevent the loss of her third child in the delivery room. She killed herself and her unborn child. The story comes from a blog entry by Teresa Cooper Pregnant Mother Driven To alledged Suicide By Social Services. Since it was referenced by British MP John Hemming, we are sure the story is authentic. Enclosed below are Angela's final words. Her death occurred on or about February 11.
i felt suicidal after a bad relationship but after a while i got over him and i was able to move on. i now have someone who i love but still my life is not happy. i lost all my children due to lies being told in court by social services. I cant see or speak to my children.
this is one thing that i would not get over. my children meant the world to me and still do.
i have somehow detached myself from the man i love. the children look like him and they are everything like him. everytime i am with him i get upset.
i dont know where to turn or who to turn to now.
i feel lost
i am pregnant again and i dont want to live
some may think i am being selfish because i should be thinking about the baby inside of me. but social services want to take this baby too and i would rather die
i just dont know hat to do. i want out
the sooner the better.
Source: no2abuse blog February 17, 2009
Addendum: This story disappeared from John Hemming's blog within hours, and within days was withdrawn by Teresa Cooper. Either it was true and the victim of enormous pressure to suppress, or it was a hoax. In view of the news article by a professional journalist enclosed below, the pregnant suicide version was most likely a hoax.
Bridport mum's warning of tragic depression signs
8:27am Saturday 10th January 2009, By Joanna Davis »
THE mother of a suicide victim is urging parents of teenagers to be aware of depression warning signs.
Angela Franklin, of Watton, Bridport, claimed the authorities ‘failed’ her depressed teenage son and he would still be alive today if he had more help.
Her son, James Lowe, 18, hanged himself in the family garden in November 2007.
Ms Franklin said: “It was like James was sinking in quicksand in slow motion and no one could throw a rope.
“It was the same as going to a doctor and being told that you have cancer and no one’s going to do anything about it.”
Her comments came after a Prince’s Trust report revealed that one in 10 South West youngsters think life isn’t worth living.
The report also revealed that a quarter of 16 to 25-year-olds in the South West admit to being ‘often’ or ‘always’ down or depressed.
More than one in four young people said they were less happy now than they were as a child and 15 per cent felt like crying ‘often’ or ‘always’.
A special programme has been set up to help young people from Weymouth and Portland who are depressed.
Around 40 young people have used the programme over the last year.
The Waves Young Persons Advice Centre in Weymouth runs a Stand By Service which takes youths out to Dorset attractions with adult volunteers and encourages them to take part in sports.
Jane Fuhrmann, family mediator at Waves, said: “There are some young people who may present as being depressed, but they actually have a lack of self-confidence and a lack of self-esteem.
“We have a stand by service where we look to take them out of their comfort zone.
“It’s about helping them to feel good about themselves.”
Ms Franklin is now campaigning to make help more widely available for young people who are depressed or have suicidal tendencies.
“The care James had was atrocious and I think he would still be alive today if he’d had more help.
“My boy should have had a future but instead I woke up, drew my curtains back and saw him hanging from my tree,” she said.
For information on help with depression, see mind.org.uk or thesite.org/healthandwellbeing
Source: Dorset Echo
Social Advocacy Group Protest
February 18, 2009 permalink
Here is another opportunity for Hamilton area families to express their opinion of children's aid.
Social Advocacy Group Protest
On April 1, 2009 from 11am to 3pm the Social Advocacy Group will be protesting in front of the Hamilton Children's Aid Society at 26 Arrowsmith Road Hamilton, ON.
You can refer to the Facebook group on the Internet for further information.
Stay tuned for a more updated posting surrounding this protest/rally for families, children and fathers rights in Hamilton, Ontario.
Posted by Advocate at 9:48 AM
Source: Mary Janiga blog February 17, 2009
Don't Take Gifts from Strangers (or CPS)
February 18, 2009 permalink
Senator Pam Roach reports on a new family, grandparents tricked into taking a little girl on a one-way trip to a CPS office. [ In May the girl was named as Madison Willard. ]
Senator Roach Has Long Talk With CPS High-up And New Case Introduced
It was a conversation that lasted an hour and a half last Friday evening.
Lots was validated. The department knew that the judge in the Stuth case had not been informed of the emergency removal of little "Lisa" from the foster woman just the night before they argued for placement with the foster woman.
The department has no care what-so-ever that they get their facts wrong in these cases or that they withhold information from the judge. It makes them move faster to take the child. They want to steal a child faster!
Such is a new case of which I have been made aware. CPS lured a grandmother and 3 year-old to their offices...promising Christmas presents for the child... and a routine evaluation for the grandmother in the process of adoption.
The child was escorted down the hall for her gifts. The grandmother was escorted into a room where she was informed she would never see her granddaughter again!
The grandparents did get to see their little granddaughter (who had been promised would be theirs by the mother's wishes and the state). On two Fridays for 45 minutes they were allowed to see her. At the parting their "Lisa" screamed and kicked and was absolutely hysterical at being pulled away from her "parents." Aren't you all proud of the work CPS is doing? What kind of harm are they doing to this child?!
The state is moving very quickly. Last week there was a hearing to which the grandparents were not invited. They found out about it one day prior through a friend. They were not even informed!!! The state's plan is to have someone else's 3 year-old placed, permanently, within 3 weeks!
What is wrong with the grandparents?
- The state says they stole a computer from Swedish Hospital.
The computer was surplussed along with 100 others and given away. (They have the receipt.)
- They don't make enough money.
She is a pre-school teacher and the grandfather works at the school district as support staff.
- Third sin? Their daughter has been on drugs.
Yes, that is true. And, she would not have the child. The child has been with the grandparents for 3 years. Besides, the fact is that she has been clean and sober with counseling.
"Families First" in WA State? I don't think so.
Posted by Pam Roach at 7:47 AM
Source: Pam Roach blog February 17, 2009
British Court Doors Ajar / Families Gagged
February 15, 2009 permalink
Our December report British Court Doors Ajar said Britain was opening its family courts to the press. The story was a fake. The real purpose of the new law is to reverse a court decision that allows a family to tell their own story in public.
Justice Ministry to bar parents from telling their own stories
The Websters made headlines, but, says Matthew Bell, such exposure will soon be impossible
Last Wednesday, Mark and Nicky Webster were told they will never see three of their children again, even though a judge accepted that allegations of abuse could be false. Their story was the lead item on the following day's BBC news, and appeared in several newspapers with pictures of the couple and quotes of them saying they felt they had been the victims of a miscarriage of justice.
But as of April, because of a change in legislation being introduced by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, the media will no longer be able to identify those involved in cases such as the Websters. It will also be illegal for any children currently in care to speak out, even if they feel they are being maltreated.
The change, unremarked by the press, comes within an overhaul of the law on the reporting of family courts that has otherwise been widely welcomed by the media. Currently there is a blanket ban on journalists entering family courts, but in December Straw announced a change to the law that will allow journalists to attend family court hearings. "A really important veil is being lifted on what happens in these courts" he said. The change was greeted warmly, particularly by The Times, whose columnist Camilla Cavendish had led the campaign to open up the family courts, for which she won the Paul Foot Award. But what The Times omitted to mention was a line, slipped in at the end of Straw's statement, stating his intention to reverse the decision in a case known as Clayton v Clayton.
Simon Clayton is an intense 47-year-old book-seller from Hay-on-Wye. In 2003, he astonished locals in the Welsh border town by abducting his seven-year-old daughter, days ahead of a divorce hearing, fearing he would lose custody to his wife. He was tracked down to Portugal and brought home under arrest, after which he fought a lengthy custody battle.
When his case was concluded, Clayton found he was legally barred from offering a public explanation for what he had done. He fought the existing legislation, and in 2006 the Court of Appeal reached a landmark ruling that a parent should be allowed to identify himself and his child and tell his story. It was decided that a parent's right to freedom of expression was greater than a child's right to privacy.
It is because of that Clayton v Clayton ruling that the Websters were able to speak of their distress on Thursday. "Reversing it will mean that any child or adult who has been in a family court case cannot identify themselves in public," says Clayton. "The implication of this for papers is bad – editors are only interested in a story if it has a human dimension, if you can see the people or read about them by name."
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming agrees: "There are two issues here. One is that the press will be prevented from reporting cases like the Websters with their names and faces. The other is that, at the moment, children who are in care are entitled to speak out if they are unhappy, although it doesn't happen very often because nobody knows how to do it. The effect of this change will be to gag them."
Since Clayton v Clayton there have been no complaints of invasion of privacy. "Fran Lyon, Angela Canning, Bob Geldof, Jack Frost – there are more than a dozen people who have benefited from being able to go public with their stories," says Clayton. "There are thousands of people like the Websters out there who, once their cases are over, will want to log on to a forum and discuss what happened to them and get support. As of April, it will be illegal to identify yourself in any way that could lead to the identification of the child." Similarly, there are occasions when the children may wish to make a public statement.
Clayton is incensed that Straw is claiming to be opening up the family courts while reversing the Court of Appeal's ruling, and says he has yet to receive an explanation, or any reply, from Straw's office. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The Secretary of State has made it clear that any move towards openness in the family courts must be balanced with the welfare, privacy and well-being of children." She added that the decision to reverse Clayton had been made following a consultation with a variety of bodies. For better or worse, the balance has been tipped against openness.
Some say the child must come first, end of discussion. Others see a sinister attempt to gag those who say the system doesn't work. Cavendish takes a less conspiratorial view, but is nonetheless perplexed about the reversal of Clayton. "It won't cancel out the new legislation but it will make it increasingly difficult to report these cases," she said. "I'm afraid I don't know why it is happening."
Source: Independent (UK)
Another Smith Victim
February 14, 2009 permalink
Tammy Marquardt, convicted of killing her two-year-old son Kenneth Wynne in 1993, is the last person still in jail on the testimony of Dr Charles Smith. She is not, as the article suggests, his last victim. Many parents and children are still separated as a consequence of his actions.
A mother's quest for justice
Tammy Marquardt watched from jail as Charles Smith's pathology was discredited and other convictions were overturned. Now, finally, freedom is within reach
KIRK MAKIN, From Friday's Globe and Mail, February 13, 2009 at 2:46 AM EST
KITCHENER, ONT. — The only parent in Canada still behind bars for a murder conviction as a result of testimony from disgraced pathologist Charles Smith finally has the wheels of justice grinding in her favour.
From her prison cell, Tammy Marquardt has watched helplessly as Dr. Smith's once-sterling reputation was destroyed in case after case – several times granting freedom to a parent or caregiver convicted of killing a child. But never for her.
It has been 14 years since she passed up a plea bargain in order to tell a disbelieving jury she had not suffocated her two-year-old son, Kenneth. Now, the Supreme Court of Canada has granted permission to reopen her case.
“They say the truth will set you free,” Ms. Marquardt said, her green eyes flashing, as she sat in a sparsely furnished office at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont. “Well, it didn't set me free; it gave me a life sentence. And right now, I'm still living with that life sentence.
“For years, I was told that I was in denial,” she said in her first-ever interview. “You're in here, so obviously you did something. I had to just hold my head up, knowing in my heart of hearts that I hadn't done anything. I know the truth – and it will come out some day. I have just held onto that.”
Ms. Marquardt's dark journey began on Oct. 9, 1993, when she called 911 in a panic to report that she had emerged from the shower to find Kenneth – who had a history of epileptic seizures – tangled in his bedclothes, struggling for breath and calling, “mommy.”
“According to all witnesses who entered the apartment – and thereafter, the hospital – the applicant was visibly and deeply upset,” says a brief filed with the Supreme Court on her behalf.
On the eve of her trial, her two lawyers gave her conflicting advice. “One kept saying, ‘There isn't enough evidence here to get you convicted.' The other was saying, ‘The Crown's offering you a plea of manslaughter for five years – take it!' I hadn't done anything,” Ms. Marquardt said. “Why should I take it?”
The Crown portrayed Ms. Marquardt as an overstressed mother on welfare who had called the Children's Aid Society several times to have Kenneth temporarily placed in a foster home, once expressing fears that she might hurt him.
“Dr. Smith's testimony was central to the prosecution theory that the applicant was an impecunious young mother with limited parenting and coping skills,” says the brief. “Dr. Smith entirely discounted the theory that Kenneth, who had been treated for a number of seizures during his life, may have died during a seizure.”
Proudly touted by his employers at Ontario's Office of the Chief Coroner as a world-class pediatric pathologist, Dr. Smith's view carried the day. Ms. Marquardt was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.
However, in an affidavit filed with her brief, Newfoundland's Chief Medical Examiner, Simon Avis, flatly dismisses Dr. Smith's conclusion that Kenneth's death was a result of asphyxia. The only legitimate finding for cause of death, he said, is “undetermined.”
“To further define the asphyxia as a result of smothering or neck compression was wrong and inappropriate,” Dr. Avis said.
His view is corroborated by a Finnish pathologist, Pekka Saukko, who branded Dr. Smith's findings “illogical and completely against scientific-based reasoning.”
Ms. Marquardt said she does not regret her decision to reject the offer of a five-year sentence in return for pleading guilty to manslaughter. “I don't think I could have lived with myself,” she said. “They shouldn't have even offered it. So long as they get somebody – that's all that matters.”
James Lockyer, a lawyer with the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, calls Ms. Marquardt's case “as heart-wrenching as you can imagine.”
“It is an unfortunate side of the adversarial process that once you are convicted, the onus is on you to correct it.”
With the Crown unwilling to concede a wrongful conviction in Ms. Marquardt's case, Mr. Lockyer said it was imperative that he and co-counsel David Bayliss painstakingly assemble an ironclad case before they approached the courts.
Their next step will be to apply for bail. Then, they will ask the Ontario Court of Appeal to consider fresh evidence that could exonerate their client.
Ms. Marquardt gave birth to her second child, Keith, while on bail awaiting trial. She arrived in prison five months pregnant; her third son, Eric, was seized two days after he was born. Both boys were adopted by the same parents, whose identity remains a mystery to Ms. Marquardt.
She dreams that at the end of it all, she will see her two sons.
“The last time I heard of them was 1998, when the adoption was finalized,” Ms. Marquardt said. “I'm always thinking about them. I would like to see them again, but I don't want them to feel obligated. It's their choice.
“I know that one day they are going to want to hear the truth, to know what really happened to their older brother and what caused them to be adopted. I'm the only one who can really give them the truth. So, I have to stay above water.”
Her features grew steely as Ms. Marquardt spoke of Dr. Smith, who said in a public apology last year that while he did make serious mistakes in some of his cases, he never intended to cause any harm.
“As far as I'm personally concerned, he needs to be punished,” she said. “To me, it was like he was up there being God. It still makes me very angry. He needs to feel some of the stuff we've gone through. I don't want to see the man dead or anything, but he does need to do time.”
Ms. Marquardt was released on parole in 2005, but it was revoked after she began drinking heavily.
“It's impossible to turn back the clock of time and wipe away the nightmares, pain and tragic losses that 14 years of imprisonment have dealt Tammy,” said Win Wahrer, a spokesman for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.
Ms. Marquardt said she tries not to think about being exonerated. “Part of me is scared to look that far ahead,” she said. “It's just overwhelming. The truth is finally going to be out there. I just wish it didn't take so long.
“If they still had capital punishment, I would be dead,” she added. “Thank God Canada doesn't have the death penalty any more.”
Source: Globe and Mail
Addendum: Tammy Marquardt was released on bail on March 12, 2009.
Do-Nothing Children's Minister
February 13, 2009 permalink
Has Saskatchewan social services minister Donna Harpauer heard rumors that the Saskatoon office is dysfunctional? Yes. Can she do anything to correct it? No.
‘Whisper campaign' warned of dysfunctional foster care office
Canadian Press, February 12, 2009 at 3:39 PM EST
REGINA — The minister responsible for the care of children in Saskatchewan admits there have long been “whispers” about problems at a Child and Family Services office where two managers were recently suspended.
Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer said Thursday that she heard reports that the Saskatoon office was “dysfunctional.”
“You hear rumours, you hear people saying there are problems, but you can't act on someone saying that someone said that someone said,” Ms. Harpauer said.
She described what she called a “whisper campaign” that talked about “a number of concerns,” including communication problems, a lack of support for front-line workers and overcrowding in foster homes.
“The capacity (problem) is definitely provincial-wide, specifically far more to the two major cities of Regina and Saskatoon,” she said.
“The actual dysfunctional workplace ... I would say is isolated to Saskatoon, but should we not address it and have initiatives to correct it, I think it could happen elsewhere as well.”
Ms. Harpauer's comments came after two managers were sent home with pay last week. Deputy social services minister Allan Hansen authorized the suspensions.
Ms. Harpauer wouldn't confirm media reports that the men were suspended because they allegedly shuffled children around so that foster homes wouldn't appear too full.
“What I can say is a clear direction I've given the ministry is that we make decisions ... based on what's in the best interests of the child. The deputy minister understands that is the direction and he also understands that if someone does not want to comply with that direction, then there have to be consequences.”
The guideline is four children per foster home. However, there are policies that allow that number to be exceeded in emergency situations and to keep siblings together.
There were 770 foster homes in Saskatchewan in December. Of those, 136 had more than four children. The average was six or seven children, according to numbers provided by the government.
Overcrowding in foster homes is expected to be the key concern in a report by Saskatchewan's children's advocate to be made public Feb. 25.
Source: Globe and Mail
Real Child Advocate Drugged
February 13, 2009 permalink
James Cavalier is being held prisoner in a mental hospital, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). You can get an idea of Mr Calvaier's character by reading his testimony before the Canadian Parliament in 2001.
Mr Cavalier has in the past worked with Dr Marty McKay. In a letter enclosed below Dr McKay expresses her concerns in the restrained tones of a professional, suggesting that treatment of Mr Cavalier with Zyprexa "carries significant risks to his future health".
Our unconfirmed source alleges Mr Cavalier's current difficulties began in December 2007 when he called Now Magazine, Eye Weekly and Xtra Magazine to complain about an advertisement for sexual services featuring a girl in bondage. Now Magazine pulled the ad but Xtra and Eye just blurred the image. Mr Cavalier called those two publications leaving phone messages complaining about homosexual pedophiles. On December 27, 2007 he was arrested on a charge of criminal harassment. By the time the case came to trial in July his pre-trial confinement exceeded the maximum sentence of six months, so the case was moot. But instead of being released, he was transferred to CAMH. Dr Ian Swayze diagnosed him as suffering from "prosecutory delusions".
Zyprexa could could directly damage Mr Cavalier's brain. Or he could be discharged suddenly from the hospital without a withdrawal period. Upon withdrawal, psychotropic drugs produce the opposite of the intended clinical effect. For Zyprexa that means depression and thoughts of suicide. Should his death occur under these circumstances it could be an unfortunate side-effect of efforts to cure him, or the result of a deliberate attempt to kill with drugs.
Dr. M. McKay Psychologist
Diplomate in Clinical Psychology
2100 Bloor Street West, Suite 6124 Toronto, ON
February 6, 2009
To Dr. Rootenberg
as email attachment
Re: Mr. James Cavalier
I am writing, with the knowledge and consent of the above person. My purpose is to alert you to certain pertinent facts, I have known Mr. Cavalier for 15 years. I consider him an important part of the effort to protect children from exploitation end sexual abuse. Mr. Cavalier served as a valuable outside researcher for me in this field. At no time, did I consider him delusional or dangerous.
He is prepared to take full responsibility for conduct which was perceived by others as threats. He recognizes that people cannot read his mind and could not be expected to recognize that his intent was never to harm anyone. I have found Mr. Cavalier very honest and candid in my dealings with him, and I have no reason whatsoever to disbelieve the veracity of his accounts to me. Further, as steed above, I have had many contacts with Mr. Cavalier and have never experienced any feeling of threat from him.
I have had occasion to review the report of Dr. Swayze and, as someone who is frequently called upon to critique professional reports for submission to Court, it is my opinion that his assessment deficient in a number of areas, and thus unreliable. Most notably, there is essentially no discussion of alternative hypotheses regarding Mr. Cavalier's state of mind when examined, reportedly, within a jail setting, not one that Mr. Cavalier is accustomed to as he is not part of the criminal subculture who might be little affected by the harshness of this environment. Dr. Swayze did not show evidence of taking into sufficient account the anxiety, depression, fatigue, physical discomfort, malnourishment and other poverty and confinement factors which might induce in the average person, a state of negative and ruminative thinking.
As the recent news items have indicated, for instance, 31 persons arrested for child pornography, Mr. Cavalier's concerns are far from abstract and imaginary. His concerns arise out of actual events transpiring within our communities. I have been involved in the protection of children since becoming a Consultant Psychologist with the Catholic Children's Aid Society in 1976. I am currently involved with others in the process of investigating whether there may be adoption practices which may place some children at risk for exposure to sexually explicit lifestyle circumstances, I could benefit from Mr. Cavaliers expertise in this area, and frankly am very concerned, about the efforts to identify him as having a delusional disorder which can then be used to discredit his findings on the pervasive influence of pornography in the community, including the inevitable potential for detrimental socialization effects on children and youth, I would see the distinct possibility that Mr. Cavalier's specialized knowledge and compilation of pornography as it pertains to the exploitation of children and youth may prove useful to the police in certain recent occurrences alluded to above. In fact, his accumulated research materials may prove to bear witness to solicitation efforts with respect to child exploitation. I understand that others who are concerned about Mr. Cavalier's incarceration at CAMH have been In touch with certain police officials to alert them of his knowledge base and his current situation.
Dr. Rootbenberg, it is important to note that the public may interpret the efforts to continue to discredit Mr. Cavalier's concerns about pornography on children end youth, through identifying them as evidence of a Delusional Disorder, as trying to silent a witness to a grave social ill. To be clear, I am not levelling any accusations, but simply making a somewhat educated idea about public perception when it comes to such a serious issue as child pornography and other areas of child exploitation.
Please note also that, with Mr. Cavalier's consent, I have forwarded this letter onto others who are actively concerned about his situation and actively working on his behalf.
On another rote, I must also express my concern about the administration of Olanzapine/Zyprexa to Mr. Cavalier, a substance, and at a reported dosage, which, I fear, carries significant risks to his future health. If you have any doubts about the basis on which I express these concerns, I would be happy to nave forwarded to you research compiled on Zyprexa.
M. McKay, Ph.D., C. Psych., ABPP
Clinical Specialty, American Board of Professional Psychology
Source: private communication
Family Denied Reunification
February 12, 2009 permalink
When we last mentioned the Webster family they were asking for return of their children wrongfully taken for adoption. The British courts have now given them an answer: No. It is an old answer. On April 21, 1999 Dave Brown reported on the case of Raymond Paquette, also denied reunification with his parents in a case in which the judge agreed the separation of parent and child was wrongful.
Couple wrongly accused of abusing their baby cannot have their children back because it is 'too late', court rules
By Tom Kelly, Last updated at 1:32 AM on 12th February 2009
A judge yesterday ruled that a couple will never see three of their children again even though he accepted they may have been wrongly accused of abusing them.
Mark and Nicky Webster's three eldest children were taken into care in 2004 after doctors claimed that six tiny fractures found on the middle child had been inflicted deliberately. All three were adopted.
Yesterday, in a failed attempt to have the adoption order overturned, the couple were told that even though they could be victims of a miscarriage of justice it was 'too late' for them to be reunited with their daughter and two sons.
In a devastating ruling, the judge said that as the youngsters are now settled with their adoptive families they would have to stay there - even though the original decision to take them away could have been wrong.
Last night, Mr Webster told the Daily Mail: 'I am very disappointed and hurt that we've been let down again. I haven't read the judgment yet so I can't comment on all the details but I do find it extraordinary that the judges say that there may have been a miscarriage of justice but still can't do anything about it.'
The couple's ordeal began in October 2003 when Mrs Webster took their second son to hospital with a painful, swollen leg.
He was found to have a number of small fractures which doctors said could be caused only by physical abuse.
All three children were placed in foster care and six months later, in a one-day court hearing, the children were permanently removed and swiftly offered for adoption.
Medical experts later concluded that the injuries were not caused by violent twisting and shaking, but were symptomsof scurvy. This now-rare deficiency is believed to have been caused by the family GP's advice that the child should be fed on soya milk, which is lacking in vitamin C.
The Websters have not seen their first three children since January 2005, when they were aged five, three and two.
They have always denied causing the fractures.
After the heartbreak of losing the children Mr Webster, 35, and his wife, 27, fled to Ireland in 2006 to stop their fourth child, Brandon, being taken into care at birth. He has never had contact with his siblings.
They later returned to their home in Cromer, Norfolk, where after a long legal battle Norfolk County Council dropped proceedings to take Brandon into care after accepting that he was in 'robust good health'.
Yesterday the Websters were left bitterly disappointed after the Court of Appeal rejected their bid to challenge the adoption order on their other children.
Lord Justice Wall, sitting with Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Lord Justice Wilson, said he had 'profound sympathy' for the couple, for whom the case had been a 'disaster', but ruled that the courts could do nothing for them.
He said: 'Mr and Mrs Webster believe that they have suffered a miscarriage of justice.
'They may be right. A family which might well have been capable of being held together, has been split up.'
But he said the case highlighted the 'finality' of adoption orders which can be revoked only in extremely limited circumstances.
'The court concluded that after three years it was in any event too late to set the orders aside, and that it would not be in the interests of the children to do so.'
He added: 'If there is a lesson to be learned from the case it is the need to obtain second opinions on injuries to children at the earliest opportunity, particularly in cases where, as here, the facts are unusual.'
Lisa Christensen, director of children's services at Norfolk County Council, said she sympathised with the Websters but believed the authority was 'absolutely right' to refer the matter to the courts when details of the fractures were first identified on their second child.
Source: Daily Mail
February 11, 2009 permalink
Father Chris Carter has made many requests by mail for information from children's aid, nearly all ignored. He followed up with some formal Form 20: Request for Information forms. Below is his account of the CAS (non-) response. RMW is Regional Municipality of Waterloo. Here is a copy of one denial letter (pdf).
I served the CAS of the Region of Waterloo with some Form 20: Request for Information documents. I was forced to utilize this Form as the CAS Waterloo Region almost never answered or even acknowledged the countless letters I had submitted to them, asking for info.
Very briefly and as one example; I have served seven of these Form 20: Request for Information forms on the CAS RMW over the last couple of weeks January 2009. Check out those forms online and it'll help explain the forms effectiveness.
On one of the Form 20: Request for Information forms I made the following request:
A full and complete copy of the "research project" referred to in the Children’s Aid Society of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (hereinafter referred to as the CAS RMW) 2002-2003 Annual Report. The CAS RMW is geographically subgrouped into the "Central-West Region" by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. This research project was conducted in partnership with the other four CASs of the Central-West Region and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. The purposes of this "research project" was to identify the reasons which resulted in the CAS RMW experiencing "higher volumes of litigation than any of the five Children’s Aid Societies in Central-West Region."
The CAS RMW responded with a Motion which included the following:
1. An order quashing and declaring of no force and effect pursuant to Rules 2 and 20(3) each of the four Requests for Information dated January 5, 2009 served upon the Applicant Society by the Respondent Christopher Carter or, in the alternative, providing directions with respect to the extent and manner of compliance with respect to such Request(s).
In this motion’s supporting Affidavit, CAS RMW legal counsel Kim Putman took the following position in the Affidavits final paragraph:
9. I make this affidavit on the basis that the information sought by the Respondent Christopher Carter is not relevant to the matters at issue in this xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx and that the Requests for Information as served are unreasonable and an abuse of the court process.
One of the most significant aspects of the CAS WR attack on us has been their enlistment of a psychiatrist from Guelph Ontario. This psychiatrist has, according to CAS worker testimony, made perhaps as much as $100,000.00 (or even more) via doing Parenting Capacity Assessments (PCA) for them in the last five years alone. He was enlisted to do a PCA re: us and he ‘crucified’ me in his Assessment. Shame on me for agreeing to participate in the Assessment in good faith. I was naïve. The psychiatrist-assessor didn’t even bother with the pretense of impartiality throughout the process including during my cross-examination of him during the trial. He was openly aggressive towards me during the trial. Fortunately for him an ‘establishmentarian’ judge by the name of Madam ‘Paddy’ Hardman was adjudicating so nothing was done about his breach of the PCA protocol/process which establishes that the PCA assessor must remain impartial and objective.
Anyway, I served some of those Form 20: Request for Information on the psychiatrist in Jan. 2009 as well. In the Requests I asked for an Affidavit from him which would include “a full, complete and detailed accounting of any and all compensation and/or payment of any kind paid to the psychiatrist George Glumac by any CAS ever.” On Jan. 29, 2009 I received a letter from a lawyer named Lisa Bonin telling me that psychiatrist Glumac would not be responding to my Form 20: Requests for Information and that it was inappropriate for me to have served him with the Forms. Ms. Bonin works for the law firm McCarthy-Tétrault. Reportedly they are the largest law firm in Canada. She specializes in “malpractice civil litigation.” McCarthy-Tétrault is the law firm that represented the disgraced pediatric forensic pathologist ‘Dr.’ Charles Smith in the Goudge Inquiry. The Affidavit they did for him is accessible on the Internet, it contained 1036 paragraphs.
I’ll be pursuing both the CAS’s and Glumac’s response via Motion in the coming days/weeks.
Source: email from Chris Carter
Man Threatened Over CAS Membership
February 10, 2009 permalink
A Sudbury man, Samuel Fragomeni tried to initiate prosecution of CAS for obstructing his membership request. Instead of holding CAS to account, the justice of the peace threatened Mr Fragomeni.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Sudbury Man's Charges Against Local CAS Quashed
A Sudbury man pressed private provincial offence charges against the local Children's Aid Society and its Executive Director for failing to furnish a list of their members in accordance with section 307 of the Corporations Act, something that is a provincial offence according to the Act.
However, the hearing, instead of being held in a court room, was allegedly held in a special room at City Hall, the Justice of the Peace, after quashing the charges, allegedly threatened to have the man arrested when he asked the justice when his decision would be available for pickup!
The charge against the Executive Director was allegedly quashed because the Executive Director is an employee of the corporation rather than a Board member, and the charge against the corporation was quashed merely because the prosecutor only used the legal Ontario Corporation Number of the Society instead of it's english name on the charging papers. (the Informations)
We are looking further into this case and will compare audio recordings as acquired under section 136 of the Courts of Justice Act with transcripts when they are made available.
It is reported that in attendance at the trial, was the Executive Director of the local Children's Aid Society and the private prosecutors ex-partner, which the private prosecutor assumed were to be witnesses in the case, however if not to be used as witnesses, since they were not asked to leave the room, the question remains, who invited them to this special room hearing and why?
More to come.
Posted by afterfostercare at 7:23 PM
Source: foster care news February 9, 2009
Leamington CAS Closes
February 10, 2009 permalink
The good news is that the Leamington office of children's aid is closing. The bad news is that, according to executive director Bill Bevan, it will not impact on service delivery.
Children's aid closes Leamington office
Posted February 9, 2009
The Leamington office of the Children's Aid Society is slated to close but it will not impact on service delivery, says executive director Bill Bevan.
"The issue is the budget, the dollars for infrastructure is limited, and children's aid is no different," said Bevan on Friday.
The Leamington office was of the CAS was opened nine years ago, but Bevan notes that over the decades that has always been an occasional thing.
"I am certain that Amherstburg or Belle River would have liked an office as well."
One person could be laid off.
Bevan said that many of the county staff, intake and family service employees work from their homes with occasional meetings in Windsor.
He emergency calls will be handled as they were in the past.
"I don't expect there will any difference, we'll be there just as quick," said Bevan.
The CAS is now trying to sell the office located on John St., just west of the Post Office.
Source: Leamington Post
Addendum: Howls of pain come not from families denied "services" but from police denied their efficient working arrangement.
Police board protests closing of children's aid office
Posted Friday, February 13, 2009
The province will get a letter protesting the closing of the Children's Aid Society office in Leamington from the Police Service Board.
Several concerns were outlined to board members Thursday although Chief Dean Gow is uncertain of the impact.
But he told the board the local CAS office has been a vital link.
"We have a protocol, an efficient working arrangement," said Gow, of the working arrangement with police officers and frontline society workers.
"We are there on a regular basis," he told board members.
The issue was raised at the meeting by Mayor John Adams, who said that it appears the decision is a monetary one by the province, so that's where the protest must go.
Adams told the board that in a way it appears that some issues are simply being "downloaded on the police."
He added that some people who may require the service are simply not going to make the trip to the Windsor CAS office.
Board chairman Rob Schmidt agreed saying that "no matter how they try to provide the service in cannot be as good" as with the office here.
"Sometimes they seem so short-sighted."
According to Adams, another puzzle is that the CAS "just spend thousands of dollars in renovating "the Leamington office.
The mayor said he may recommend that town council request officials with the CAS come to a council meeting here to explain the decision.
Children's aid has operated a facility here since 2000 and it is the only satellite office in the county.
Source: Leamington Post
Addendum: Union wins, children lose.
CAS county office to stay open
Sonja Puzic, Windsor Star, Published: Thursday, March 05, 2009
The Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society has scrapped plans to close its Leamington office after community members and union officials expressed concern about the reduction of child protection services in the area.
Three weeks ago, WECAS said it would close the Leamington office and move its staff to the agency's Windsor building, citing funding pressures and deficits faced by CAS offices across Ontario.
The news angered the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2286, which represents local children's aid workers. WECAS has maintained that the closure would not hurt service or translate into frontline staff job losses.
The agency received numerous letters asking that WECAS reconsider closing the Leamington office.
Tina Gatt, WECAS's manager of public relations, said Wednesday the office will remain open while the agency looks at other possible cost saving measures.
"We're trying to find creative ways to save money in other areas," she said. "We will be working with the Leamington community to figure out the best way to serve the area. We have a mandate to provide services not just in Leamington, but across Essex County."
In a news release, CUPE Local 2286 president Cathy Matthe said she was pleased with WECAS's decision.
"The decision to keep the Leamington office open is a good one for our community, and for the services we provide," she said.
Gatt said even if WECAS eventually sells the Leamington building, it will look for another office space so that it can maintain a physical presence in the area.
Source: Windsor Star
Protected Beyond Death
February 10, 2009 permalink
Australia is even more protective of its social services than Canada, suppressing the names of almost all dead foster children. A mother and her ten-year-old daughter must remain anonymous, avoiding public embarrassment for the persons responsible for the girl's abduction and death.
Mum demands answers after daughter's death
Melinda Siegmeier | 9th February 2009
HER daughter was becoming a beautiful young lady, but a Rockhampton mother's dream to have her back at home was shattered on the weekend.
Lost and scared, the vibrant 10-year-old girl was allegedly trying to wave down a passing car along an unlit section of Belmont Road, but the driver could not see her.
She was knocked down and died instantly.
Yesterday the distraught mother (pictured above) lashed out at the Department of Child Safety, blaming it for her daughter's tragic death.
“How can I protect her when they took her off me? It was now their responsibility and what care did they give her?” she said.
“I've been fighting to get my family back for two years. It just shouldn't have happened. They had a duty of care and neglected it.”
Yesterday The Morning Bulletin spoke to the mother about her daughter and the events that had led to the fatal accident about 9pm on Saturday.
The mother and child cannot be named, even after the child's death, as it would breach the Child Protection Act because of their involvement with the Department of Child Safety.
The woman, 37, who is now eight months pregnant with her eighth child, said her daughter was the “best girl you would ever meet”.
“They have stolen her whole life. She'd just turned into a little lady,” she said.
“I miss her so much.”
On the night of the accident, the girl had run away from her foster home.
According to her mother, this wasn't the first time it had happened.
The woman said her daughter would always run back to her and had begged the department to let her return home.
She said her daughter was running away because another girl at the home kept “bashing her up”.
“Last time she had her earrings ripped out. We begged Child Safety not to put her back in that home because she said she would just keep running away,” she said.
“They promised they wouldn't send her back there, but they did. They promised they would remove the other girl, but they didn't. She rang and told me she was hurt again.”
The girl was with a 17-year-old girl when they got lost.
The mother said police had told her that the 17-year-old called triple-0 and when she saw a car she was told to try to wave it down safely.
However, in the unlit street, the mother said, the driver, whom she held nothing against, had no chance of seeing her child.
The woman said she lost care of her five younger children two years ago.
“I ran up to the shop for no more than three to five minutes. I know I shouldn't have done that. During that time, my eight-year-old tried to take the baby from the high chair. She tripped and dropped the baby. I immediately rang the ambulance and did all the right things. The department said they would only be gone for one week and one week turned into two years.”
The woman said since losing custody she had completed parenting classes, sought counselling and registered for an alcoholic program.
Queensland Department of Child Safety media manager Jan Martin said although she couldn't discuss specific cases, the death of any child was “deeply distressing and my sincere sympathies go out to the family”.
“The death of a child in care is extensively examined by the Department of Child Safety and the relevant independent authorities,” Ms Martin said.
“For instance, when a child in care dies, the coroner is advised. The coroner makes a decision about autopsy requirements and, having reviewed the autopsy report, decides whether to inquire further.
“Separately, the department also reviews the circumstances of the death and a reviewer prepares a report, which is provided to an independent child death review committee.
“The review looks at whether our interventions, policies, procedures and interactions with other agencies were adequate and appropriate.
“The circumstances surrounding this case will be detailed as part of the review process.”
They have stolen her whole life. She'd just turned into a little lady
Source: Rockhampton Morning Bulletin
February 9, 2009 permalink
Rob Ferguson reports on how children's aid frustrates his efforts to see his son. This kind of war of attrition against parents is commonplace. After months of blocking access visits, the children's aid lawyer will present an affidavit to the court showing that the parents neglected their child by failing to show up for scheduled visitation.
CAS suspends access based on their own discrimation
It is no secret that I have a vision problem and that my wife uses a wheelchair to get around. For months after my son's birth in July attendance was 100%. The Brant CAS moved our access to the other side of the city. Meaning we will have to get their. Brantford Transit does not have a complete fleet of accessible buses. This mean that many buses go by without us being able to board. We have been stuck downtown for hours trying to wait to see if the next bus is accessible. At times we jump in a cab and go to the visit. We have arrived 1-5 minutes late and such the CAS made an order to attend the visit 1 hour before. Once again because of travelling issues we have arrived 1-5 minutes late for their protocol but 55 mintues early for our visit. We are not a typical family that can jump in their own car and go to a visit. We learned yesterday that two out of three visits have now been suspended because we have had some travelling issues. At a meeting Friday with Brant CAS the worker is quoted as saying " come on guys it doesn't matter the reason this is happening, we will only present that the end result is missed visits. The judge will favour us" She said. I then said you need to present that the ability to get to visits is the real issue and she replied by laughing. The CAS will present a lack of interest in your son with poor attendance to the court and that may cost me yet another son. I have not lost yet and will do all I can do to fight. I might be at the visit first thing in the am hours and hours before the visit. and while I'm there I can talk to parents about their cases and issues again and be a thorn in CAS backside. But hey they put me there
February 7 at 5:05pm
Child Advocate Wants Foster Death Reports
February 9, 2009 permalink
John Dunn asked the provincial child advocate Irwin Elman for a progress report on his request for information from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. The reply disclosed that even the child advocate is denied reports about deaths in foster care, though he reports progress in trying get them.
Ontario Provincial Child and Youth Advocate Responds to Public Request
The Foster Care Council of Canada wrote an open question to Irwin Elman, Chief Advocate of the Provincial Child and Youth Advocate's Office which read as follows:
"What is the current status of the legal action taken by your office in connection with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, how was that status reached and what is the intended outcome of its current status"
Irwin Elman took the time to formulate the following detailed response.
"Good information is essential for the operation of the Advocate’s Office. We need it to help resolve issues that youth have contacted us about, to know how to respond to incidents involving children and youth in care, and to investigate any deaths among our charges.
But we have found that good information is difficult to come by, and our legislative powers do not extend broadly enough to assure that persons with good information will make it available to our office, even on a confidential basis. We do not want this information in order to accuse any individual or institution but to help us take the most positive action to benefit children and youth in care. We believe that people involved with such children have their best interests at heart but are often limited by rigid systems, poor information, and other obstacles that lead to breakdowns in care. Good information would help us discover where there are snags so we can advocate for change.
The issue came to a head at the end of July, when the Office received a complaint from a youth in detention. He cited physical abuse, and we set out to investigate. The detention centre was already the subject of a review by our Office because of other complaints.
Our staff contacted the appropriate person in the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and attempted to get the relevant reports and photographs of his injuries. Those attempts were rebuffed over the next three months, as the Ministry took the position that under its guidelines we were not entitled to the information. Obviously, then, we were unable to advocate well for this particular individual. In late November, we commenced an application in the Ontario Court of Justice to obtain the information from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
Another part of our struggle, referred to in court documents though not part of the application itself, was to obtain information regarding the death of children and youth in care. The relevant Children’s Aid Society is required to prepare, in the case of such a death, a Child Fatality Case Summary Report and an Internal Death Review Report, which are submitted to the Coroner and provided to the Ministry. These are obviously very critical documents for the understanding of the events leading to the death of the child or youth, and entirely necessary for the work of the Advocate’s Office. The Ministry’s position regarding its ability to release this information has changed over time, but ultimately it took the position that it could not legally release the reports to our Office. Our request for the reports remains unfulfilled.
At the same time as communication was ongoing with the Ministry on these matters, the Government introduced Bill 103. Bill 103 proposed amendments to the Child and Family Services Act and unrelated changes to our statute, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007, which established the Advocacy Office as an independent office of the Legislature. In light of the difficulties we experienced in obtaining information that would enable us to advocate for children and youth, we appeared before the Standing Committee on Social Policy and proposed an amendment to Bill 103. The amendment would ensure that information sought in the court motion would be available to our Office as of right. The amendment did not pass.
The application to the Ontario Court of Justice and our proposed amendment proceeded in lockstep. After our application was served but before a court hearing was held, the Government released to us the report requested in respect of A.B.’s complaint. Our Office engaged in further discussions about a protocol between the Ministry and our Office for the requesting and release of other information. At the time of the writing of this report, the good news is that we are near agreement on draft protocol with the Ministry. While details of the protocol are not yet finalized our concern is that the Protocol speaks to the process through which information will be requested and delivered not the information itself. The proof will be in the pudding. We are aware of the obligations of Government to protect personal information, however access to information provides our Office with the tools to keep children and youth safe. The more information our Advocates have access to, the more meaningfully they can advance the rights of young people.
We will continue to seek an amendment to the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act that will allow for easier access to information for our Office. In the meantime, we will continue to strongly use all avenues available to us to obtain the information we need to fulfill our mandate."
Source: Foster Care News, by John Dunn
Give Us Your Costly Kids
February 9, 2009 permalink
Ontario is still compelling parents to abandon their children as a condition for helping the disabled. The child Pénélope McKeague has severe cerebral palsy and faces poor prospects living with her parents, but even worse prospects maintained in a laboratory setting without family contact. Children's aid societies bill the province astronomical sums for children with multiple handicaps.
Ombudsman probes custody-for-care claims
Ottawa parents among 12 cases Marin says emit a 'certain stench'
By Shelley Page, The Ottawa Citizen February 7, 2009
Calling such situations "abhorrent" and "cruel," Ontario's ombudsman is reviewing allegations from parents who say they've had to give up custody of their severely disabled children in order to get them into desperately needed care.
One of those complaints comes from an Ottawa family who recently put their infant daughter in temporary custody of the Children's Aid Society so she could be placed in a specialized group home for disabled children.
"I have about a dozen cases before me right now -- more than a dozen cases, in fact," said ombudsman André Marin.
"There is a certain stench that emanates from that pile. If indeed this is happening again, then it is one of the most morally repugnant things that (Ontario) government has done." Mr. Marin said he will review the cases and may launch a full-scale investigation.
When he last investigated the issue four years ago, he uncovered 113 cases in which parents had relinquished custody of their children in order to get them into group homes where they would receive round-the-clock care. His report found 196 more families on waiting lists, many of them on the verge of losing custody.
After the release of that report, Ontario's then-minister of children and youth services said she would find a way to help. "Parents, in the year 2005, in one of the richest countries in the world, should not be giving up their children," Marie Bountrogianni said.
The Ontario government dedicated millions of dollars to the problem and began to return children to the custody of their parents while leaving them in long-term, government-funded institutional care. The government also worked to provide better home care so that disabled children could stay in their homes with their parents.
"The government assured us it wouldn't be happening," said Mr. Marin, who reports a "spike" in complaints.
"The idea of having parents manufacture protection issues and then give up their kids to the state is abhorrent. ... It's a very cruel way to treat parents." He said it's a case of paying with the "left pocket or the right pocket." "The public still pays for these services. If it's an issue of budget, then you have to realign your budgets properly because it's having a very heavy toll on parents." The province's child advocate agrees.
"It's not a situation unique to this (Ottawa) family. I'm telling you (the government) has not solved the problem," says Irwin Elman, the provincial advocate for children and youth.
His office continues to receive complaints. He confirms that some parents find the way to secure specialized, long-term care is to abandon parental rights and turn children over to children's aid societies. "The problem is the wait list is so long, the child might be 18 years old by the time they get accepted some place." Deb Matthews, today's minister of children and youth services, told the Citizen that parents should not have to place their disabled children with the CAS to get care. "We are really clear with the CAS that kids are not to be brought into care of the CAS unless there is a protection issue." She said she has received information about specific cases, which she is working to resolve. "If there are systemic issues we need to work on, I count on the ombudsman and the advocate to work with us to resolve that." In the Observer: Shelley Page tells the story of baby Pénélope McKeague and her parents' fight to place her in a group home while hanging on to their parental rights. B1
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Driven to Drink
February 7, 2009 permalink
The stress of baby stealing drove Connecticut DCF Commissioner Susan Hamilton to drink. After her arrest for drunk driving she is enrolling in rehab. Calls for her ouster have fallen on deaf ears.
DCF Commissioner Applies For DUI Education Program
By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY, The Hartford Courant, 4:00 PM EST, February 6, 2009, MERIDEN
The head of the state's child protection agency, who was charged with drunken driving last month, has applied for a program that could get her charges erased.
Susan Hamilton calmly raised her right hand in Superior Court today and, under oath, told Judge Arthur C. Hadden she has not previously used the alcohol-education program. The program is for first-time offenders.
The court will determine whether she is eligible, Hadden told her before scheduling her next court date for March 20. The proceeding took only a few minutes.
Hamilton, who was accompanied by her husband, Paul Hamilton, declined to comment outside the courtroom.
But her lawyer, Michael Tansley, said his client "apologized to the governor, apologized to the public and apologized to her department" — the state Department of Children and Families.
In a written statement released the day after her Jan. 22 arrest, Hamilton said she feels "great remorse and embarrassment."
"I have never been arrested before, and I pledge to the Governor, the staff of the Department, and to the citizens of this state that I will take all necessary and appropriate steps to make sure this never happens again," she wrote.
At 6:48 p.m. on Jan. 22, a state trooper stopped a white GMC Acadia — Hamilton's personal vehicle — on northbound I-91 in North Haven after seeing that it was being driven erratically, according to a brief police report.
Hamilton failed a field sobriety test and was transported to the Troop I barracks in Bethany, where she was processed on charges of operating under the influence of alcohol and failure to drive in the proper lane.
Hamilton had attended an "Exit Plan" meeting in Bridgeport that day, according to her schedule, obtained by The Courant through a Freedom of Information request. The meeting, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., was about goals the department must reach to improve the quality of services and end federal oversight of the agency. DCF was placed under federal supervision after a 1989 class-action lawsuit.
Hamilton, 42, of West Hartford, began her DCF career as front-line child abuse investigator. She got the commissioner's job after a six-month, nationwide search that yielded 41 candidates.
Source: Hartford Courant
Addendum She got lenient treatment from the law.
DCF Head Accepted Into Alcohol Education Program
By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY | The Hartford Courant, March 21, 2009
MERIDEN — - In a proceeding that lasted about a minute, the head of the state's child protection agency on Friday was accepted into a program that likely will lead to the erasure of her drunken-driving charges.
Superior Court Judge Arthur C. Hadden granted the application of Susan Hamilton, commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families, for the alcohol education program. Hamilton opted to attend a 22-hour, weekend alcohol education program in New Hampshire run by the Amethyst Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization that offers substance abuse education. If she completes the program, her charges will be erased. Her next court date is March 19, 2010.
Her lawyer, Michael Tansley, would not disclose what Hamilton's blood alcohol content was on the night of her arrest. As in other cases when defendants apply for the program for first-time offenders, the court sealed her arrest file.
Hamilton's license was suspended for 120 days, from Feb. 21 to June 21, said William Seymour, spokesman for the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Under state law, the state motor vehicles department will suspend the driver's license of a first-time offender for 120 days if the person has a blood alcohol content of 0.16 — twice the legal limit — or greater, said Russell Palmer, an attorney who specializes in drunken driving cases. If the BAC is lower, a first-time offender's license is usually suspended for 90 days.
Hamilton did not ask for a hearing to restore her license, Seymour said. But she does have a permit allowing her to drive for work-related business, said Ernie Bertothy, another agency spokesman.
At about 6:45 p.m. on Jan. 22, a state trooper saw Hamilton driving her white GMC Acadia erratically on I-91 in North Haven, according to the state police. She failed a field sobriety test and was taken to the Troop I barracks in Bethany, where she was processed on charges of operating under the influence of alcohol and failure to drive in the proper lane.
Hamilton, 42, of West Hartford, began her DCF career as a child-abuse investigator. She was confirmed as commissioner by state lawmakers on June 28, 2007. Her husband, Paul Hamilton, was with her in court Friday.
In a statement on her behalf, Tansley said his client continues to express remorse about the incident last month.
"She appreciates the opportunity to participate in the alcohol education program and looks forward to a successful completion."
Source: Hartford Courant
British Columbia Bullies Family
February 7, 2009 permalink
British Columbia child protectors took baby Bethany from parents Paul and Zabeth Bayne claiming shaken baby. They placed their other two children with their grandparents under a supervision agreement. On May 19 and 20, 2008, while that arrangement was in force, Global TV aired two stories on the family. You can view the second video on the Bayne blog, the source of the enclosed article, or our local copy (7 megabytes, flv).
Three weeks later the ministry reneged on their agreement with the family and seized the two children still in their custody. They have not been returned.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Child Abusers or Caring Parents?
The above video aired on Global TV, May 20, 2008. Since its airing, a signed agreement with the Ministry of Children and Family Development from May 16, 2008 returning the two older children to the parents under a supervision order was canceled, as the Ministry felt that the parents had breached the mediation agreement by involving themselves and the children in an interview with Global TV. In fact though the interview was recorded the day prior to their mediation on May 15, 2008 and thus impossible for any breach. On May 19, 2008 Global TV did its first story on the family with the above follow up.
As a result the two older children who were already in a supervised living arrangement with the parents in the home of the Grandparents found themselves facing two police officers, the Director and social worker for the Ministry of Children and Family on June 12, 2008. The family was in the middle of birthday celebrations for the second child who was turning three and excited to have his other Grandpa there as well, who does not live in the area. Amid tears and screams from the children and family, those in power removed the two boys from their loving home in a violent and traumatic manner.
Statements from the Ministry's lawyer concerning their actions was that it was a "control issue". The Ministry has shifted the responsibility for their actions to their Practical Analyst with Service Quality. They say that the orders for immediate removal came from this source. Further research and inquiry by the mother found that the Practical Analyst did not have direct authority. They deal at arms length and only advise what fits the law. They hold no power to make decisions. She was told the decision in fact came from the Director and the Social Worker.
The Bayne family currently has eight completed and submitted experts reports that confirm their innocence to any abuse. These experts include: ophthalmologists, neuroradiologists, abuse specialist pediatricians, forensic pathologists, hematologists and biomechanics. They have ten more specialists that are currently reviewing their medical records and will be submitting their reviews shortly.
Regardless of the above submissions, the countless character reference letters, the petitions from the community and the obvious bond between the children and their parents, the Ministry has maintained its position. They require the parents to admit to guilt and if they don't do this, it is viewed as being uncooperative, as being a sign of denial and thus guilt and the actions of parents that are not truly interested in the best for their children.
At present the three children reside in foster care and are showing the effects of this prolonged separation. The Ministry has given the family one choice - trial. So in effect we seem to have the makings of yet another Goudge Inquiry in British Columbia.
Posted by F.U.S.E. at 9:24 PM
Source: Bayne family blog
February 7, 2009 permalink
A rally in Washington promoted by senator Pam Roach attracted a hundred and fifty people to the state capital Olympia.
Published February 06, 2009
Rally seeks greater rights for families in DSHS cases
Jan Smith of Nisqually began her battles with state Child Protective Services a year and a half ago, when her grandson was taken from a hospital by a social worker.
Her daughter was abusing drugs and Smith wanted to take over care for the child, she said. But the boy was sent to live with a foster family interested in adopting him, she said.
"Blood relatives are of no consequence. I had no rights," Smith said. "It's a public policy I'm interested in changing."
She and about 150 others rallied at the Capitol to demand more consideration from the Department of Social and Health Services, which is tasked with protecting children from abuse.
"We have gone so far in giving boundless authority to these social workers. They can do as they please," said Dave Wood of Washington Families United, which sponsored the rally.
The department recognizes how important staying with relatives can be for vulnerable children and has been moving more children to those homes, said department spokesman Thomas Shapley.
Research shows that children placed with relatives have fewer behavioral problems and switch homes less frequently than children placed with foster parents, he said. About 38 percent of the children removed from their homes in Washington are placed in what is known as kinship care.
"It's the first logical thing to do if it's safe for the child and ultimately in the child's best interest — remain with the extended family, in familiar surroundings with familiar people," Shapley said.
But Wood said that the rate of relative placements should be doubled. And complaints against the department have reached an all-time high of 1,200 in two years, according to a recent report by the Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman.
A broad assortment of activists recounted emotional stories Thursday, many saying they were treated with disdain by state employees.
"They use that argument against you a lot: if you couldn't deal with the adult child, then you can't deal with your grandchild," Smith said. But the troubles of an adult shouldn't reflect on the ability of grandparents to care for their grandchildren, she said.
Smith said she contacted social workers and lawmakers and picketed outside a state office while trying to regain custody of her grandson. After 18 months and four rounds of parenting classes, her daughter had the boy returned to her, Smith said.
The department cannot confirm details of individual custody cases because they are legally private.
Smith formed two groups to advocate for relatives' custody rights: Washington State Extended Families and Citizens for Family Preservation. They are part of the effort that led to Thursday's rally, the first of its kind that organizers could remember.
Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, promoted the event and said it was prompted by cases in which the state failed to stop abuse, including one in which a 14-year-old Carnation girl was starved.
"On one hand, they don't protect kids. On the other, they take kids away from parents," Roach said.
She touted several bills she has proposed to change the child welfare system. Among her ideas are splitting DSHS, the largest state agency, into several smaller agencies, boosting grandparents' legal standing, and requiring volunteers appointed by the court to represent children to report their financial and family status.
Adam Wilson covers state workers and politics for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-753-1688 or email@example.com.
Source: The Olympian
Addendum: For skeptics, here is a picture of some of the ralliers from the blog of Pam Roach. In Washington, they don't make people stay out in the winter cold.
Blameless Parents Lose Daughter
February 7, 2009 permalink
A British court has removed four-year-old Crystal Walton from her parents in a case in which the judge himself says the parents could not be convicted of any wrongdoing. Enclosed below are an article by Camilla Cavendish published in 2006 and a news article this week in the Enfield Advertiser. Enfield is the London district where the family lives.
The British press cannot report the names, but we can tell you the parents are Sarah and Ian Walton and their lost daughter is Crystal. To help in indexing we have used OCR to give the judge's opinion in html, you can also read the scanned version (1 megabyte pdf). It seems best not to draw attention to the source information for this paragraph.
Family courts are the B-side of the Law
London Times 21 December 2006, Camilla Cavendish
"What a strange, fumbling kind of justice system it is that condemns a woman as an unfit mother for the heinous crime of trusting her husband. Yet this is what seems to have happened in a recent case that I feel compelled to write about, even though legal restrictions force me to leave out much of the detail.
The nub of the case is this. A woman, let us call her Janie, gave birth to her first and only child a year ago. That baby was taken away from her and subsequently put up for adoption. Not because of her own failure to care for the baby – her own love and care never seem to have been in question. No. She has lost her baby because of a suspicion that her husband John may have injured another child in his previous marriage almost ten years ago.
The suspicion was no more than that. John was never charged with anything, let alone convicted. Social workers were never sufficiently worried to take that first child into care. Since his divorce John has shared custody of that child perfectly amicably with his ex-wife. Yet the same local authority which left the first child with him has forbidden him to see this new baby. And his new wife, despite having nothing to do with the first case, may never see her baby again.
Unless this case is overruled in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, where it is now heading, it will set a peculiar precedent. For it implies that any British mother could be penalised for choosing a partner to whom the State has taken a dislike: penalised with the loss of the thing that is most precious to her in the world.
It cannot be this simple, you are thinking. Well, not quite. The child of the first marriage is disabled, and did seem to have suffered an injury – I am not permitted to say more. But no one knows how. Both John and his first wife have always protested their innocence. They had a second child who came to no harm. No court will ever truly know whether John was innocent. But the fact is that he was never found guilty. For the local authority to leave him alone with a child that it thought he had harmed, and to take away another that had not been harmed is utterly hypocritical. No court should be able to punish you for a crime you may commit, when there is no evidence.
It should, surely, be a crime to remove a newborn baby from a mother who has never harmed it.
For that in itself is a form of abuse. Yet the secret State often chooses to abuse the children itself, rather than let them run the risk of staying put. They are at least alive, it calculates, even if it is a diminished kind of alive, deprived of the mother bond. And too often, it strikes the wrong balance. In 2002, the ECHR ruled against the British Government for removing a new baby from its mother in hospital and refusing even to let her cuddle it under supervision, when there was no evidence that the baby faced a serious risk at that time. The judgment came too late, though. The baby had already been adopted."
"This is what Janie fears. The ECHR has agreed to hear her appeal and to consider whether the English court ruling breached Janie and John's right to family life, to freedom of opinion and to freedom of expression. That is quite a ticket. But even if the ECHR finds in Janie's favour, it may be too late. The local authority is already seeking families to adopt her baby. Her only hope is that prospective adopters will be put off by knowing of her appeal.
Any lawyer will tell you that family courts are the B-side of the legal system. The majority of judgments will never be read outside the courtroom. Perhaps judges fear the consequences if they do not support social services and social services are later proved right. They seem to start from the assumption that children are de facto wards of court who need protection from their parents.
Even then, Janie's case seems extraordinary. Certainly the parents are not the brightest people in the world. They are not perfect. But the more I learn about it, the more I believe that Janie and John's biggest mistakes were emotional. Janie seems to have been very co-operative. However, John has been irritable, even aggressive, which would support the view that he has a violent nature. But can you really convict on that basis? Which of us could control our temper if faced with losing a child to a bunch of hypocrites? In a Hollywood movie, anger is a natural reaction to injustice. In an English suburb, defiance makes you guilty. The legal system wants "remorse". But how can you show remorse for something you haven't done?
Until this case I had tended to be sceptical about the claims that the Government's targets for adoption were leading to miscarriages of justice. I still feel that ministers were right to want to speed up adoption and to release more children more quickly from the hell of care. But I have now started to take more seriously the argument that these targets have created a perverse incentive for local authorities to take more babies into care. Babies are, after all, more attractive to prospective adopters than older children and therefore an easy way to reach those targets. In Janie and John's case, you do have to wonder why the authorities have rushed to take away a healthy baby, when they did not take away a disabled one.
Janie's case seems to me to make a strong argument for introducing juries. Why is a burglar facing six months in jail allowed to ask for a jury trial, but a mother facing the irretrievable loss of her only child is not? Mistakes will always be made when the ordinary, imperfect citizen is judged by the imperfect and powerful. Personally, I would rather face 12 men good and true."
Source: Family Law Week
Guilty of nothing but still lose their daughter
Thursday, 05 February 2009
A JUDGE has crushed the hopes of a couple who fought to be reunited with their little girl after she was put up for adoption by social services – even though he said the evidence used to keep the family apart would not stand up in a criminal court.
The couple, who along with their daughter cannot be named due to a draconian injunction brought against the Advertiser by Enfield Council, had their child taken from them four years ago on the vague basis that she may suffer “potential future harm”.
This was because the father had been accused – though never charged – of shaking his son from a previous marriage, leading to that child being brain damaged.
Perversely, social services allow the father full and unsupervised access to his disabled son. But when he remarried and his daughter was born, social workers, backed by police, stormed into their house when she was just four days old and took the child from its mother, claiming the baby was at risk.
The father has consistently denied hurting his son and the couple were given a final chance to win their daughter back by challenging the shaken baby accusation in the High Court.
But the judge, Mr Justice Mark Hedley, failed to support their case, despite saying: “The father has never been prosecuted for any offence nor have I seen evidence on which a jury could be invited to be sure of guilt of any offence.”
Appealing to the judge after the ruling, the tearful mother said: “You know it’s my only child – I have done nothing wrong and neither has my husband.”
And the father told the Advertiser that although the family will seek an appeal on the judgment, there is little chance it will be successful.
He said: “I feel like my heart has just been ripped out – even in his own ruling the judge said I hadn’t been prosecuted.
“In a criminal court I would be found not guilty and we would be with our little girl right now. We have been given a life sentence and what they have taken away from us will last forever.”
The mother – who has never been accused of any wrongdoing whatsoever – was told that unless she leaves her husband she will never have custody of her child.
Adoption proceedings are due to go ahead within the next couple of months and it is now extremely ments and chose to support the testimony of Enfield Council’s expert, Dr Neil Stoodley, from Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, who claimed it was most likely that the brain damage was caused by non-accidental head injury.
The family were praised for their conduct by the judge, who said they had acted with courtesy, restraint and ability.
“The court can have nothing but admiration for the persistence of the parents in this case or any doubt but that the father’s belief in his innocence and the injustice done to his families is genuinely held,” he said.
Andrew Fraser, Enfield Council’s joint acting director for education, children’s services and leisure, said: “The judgment confirms the validity of the original medical evidence before the court, and means the child remains in her current placement.
“Our main concern is, and must always be, to ensure that children are safe and protected from harm.”
Source: Enfield Advertiser
Addendum: Here is the Walton family on YouTube.
Alberta Death in Foster Care
February 6, 2009 permalink
Yet another death in Alberta foster care has come to light, this time a thirteen-month-old boy who died November 26, 2005. As usual, names are suppressed, the foster mom is identified only in silhouette. Our archives show the child as Caleb Jerome Merchant.
February 4, 2009
Foster mom hopes fatality inquiry three years after boy's death will finally clear her name
By ANDREW HANON
News of another child dying in foster care last month filled Sarah with a sickening sense of deja vu.
The parallels between a four-year-old girl's death on Jan. 13 and the slaying of a 13-month-old boy in Sarah's care just over three years ago hit too close to home for Sarah, who's still struggling to piece her own life back together.
On Nov. 24, 2005, Sarah (whose real name can't be used because it's against the law) received a hysterical phone call at work that would forever change her life.
Her common-law husband was on the other end of the line, talking gibberish.
"He was making no sense," Sarah recalled yesterday. Eventually she gleaned from him that their foster son, a relative of hers who had been placed in their home by Children's Services three months earlier, was badly hurt and being taken to hospital.
Two days later, the boy was taken off life-support and died.
Sarah's husband was charged with second-degree murder, but later pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years.
According to Sarah, he's out of prison and living in a half-way house.
"I've had no contact with him," she said. "I never will again. He's never said what really happened that day and I've never had closure."
The horror of the weeks following the boy's slaying came flooding back last month when she read the news of the girl's death.
In that case, the 24-year-old foster mother was charged with second-degree murder. The child was her niece.
The girl and five other siblings - all younger than seven - were recently placed in the aunt and her boyfriend's care by a children's authority.
But the most chilling similarity between the two cases are the allegations that social workers failed to respond to pleas for help.
The 24-year-old's mother - the victim's grandmother - told Sun Media last week that the young woman was not prepared to take on the responsibility of six foster children.
"I told (child services) from the very beginning she couldn't handle six kids," the grandmother told Sun Media. "We expressed our concerns from the very beginning."
The grandmother said calls for help went unheeded.
Sarah was already caring for her foster son's two siblings (one of whom she had adopted), when she got a call from Children's Services telling her to come to a nearby office and pick up the boy.
"They never came to our house to check it out or anything," she said.
It took another five or six weeks before any social worker did any followup, she claims.
Sarah says she told the social worker that the boy was lethargic and seemed developmentally delayed. When she asked for help with him, she was told it was coming.
The help never came. She says she kept calling Children's Services, but never heard back.
Two months later, the boy was dead, the foster father under arrest and the two other children in the home were taken away.
Faced with a death in care, Children's Services workers went from AWOL to smothering, she said.
Even though Sarah wasn't even home when the boy died and has never been accused of any wrongdoing, she says she had to fight for months to get her adopted son back.
"I'll never be allowed to work with kids again," she says.
"I feel like I'm being held responsible for everything that happened."
Sarah hopes a fatality inquiry - which is required by law whenever a child dies in foster care - will finally clear her name.
It's expected to be completed this spring.
Last June, in the wake of yet another case of a child dying in a foster home, Children and Youth Services Minister Janis Tarchuk promised better screening of potential foster parents.
In that incident, the foster mother was convicted of manslaughter after her three-year-old foster son died of massive cranial trauma in January 2007.
Sarah agrees that better screening is critical, but charges that there are plenty of other problems, such as foster parents being left to fend for themselves.
And until the system is overhauled, she fears more children will be put in harm's way.
Source: Edmonton Sun
Juvenile Judges Jailed in Pennsylvania
February 4, 2009 permalink
Two Pennsylvania judges have been busted for a scheme to build juvenile detention centers, then use their judicial powers to assure a steady stream of clients. Many teenagers were jailed for trifles. All higher judicial authorities in Pennsylvania refused to intervene, their downfall came when the IRS found the judges failed to pay taxes on their millions of dollars of graft. Remember that new juvenile detention centre in Ottawa?
Posted on Wed, Jan. 28, 2009
Editorial: Judges Sentenced
Kids for cash
The setting is Pennsylvania coal country, but it's a story right out of Dickens' grim 19th-century landscape: Two of Luzerne County's most senior judges on Monday were accused of sending children to jail in return for kickbacks.
The judges, Luzerne County President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., 58, and his predecessor, Senior Judge Michael T. Conahan, 56, will serve seven years in jail under a plea agreement.
They're alleged to have pocketed $2.6 million in payments from juvenile detention center operators.
When a federal judge reviews their plea, though, the question ought to be whether the punishment is adequate - along with the judges being bounced from the bench, disbarred, and losing their pensions.
If the allegations are true, Ciavarella and Conahan were involved in a disgraceful cabal far worse than one that merely lined their pockets.
First, the judges helped the detention centers land a county contract worth $58 million. Then their alleged scheme was to guarantee the operators a steady income by detaining juveniles, often on petty stuff.
Many of the kids were railroaded, according to allegations lodged with the state Supreme Court last year by the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, an advocacy group.
In asking the court to intervene in April, the law center cited hundreds of examples where teens accused of minor mischief were pressured to waive their right to lawyers, and then shipped to a detention center.
One teen was given a 90-day sentence for having parodied a school administrator online. Such unwarranted detentions left "both children and parents feeling bewildered, violated and traumatized," center lawyers said.
"Very few people would stand up" to the Luzerne judges, according to the law center's executive director, Robert G. Schwartz.
Fortunately, Juvenile Law Center was willing to do so, along with backing from state Attorney General Tom Corbett's office and the state Department of Public Welfare.
The blind justices on the state's high court, though, took a pass. Only last month, they offered no explanation in declining to take up the law center's request that the court step up.
Now, the state Supreme Court should revisit the issue, since the scope of corruption alleged at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre could further undermine confidence in the courts statewide.
Authorities need to redress running roughshod over juveniles' rights - a process also likely to bring damage suits. While the local district attorney pledges to "do our best to right the situation," this calls for an independent, outside review.
The two judges' downfall may have rooted out the worst perpetrators of this evil scheme, but the abuse of power alleged in Luzerne County is so startling that it should send shock waves for reform around the state court system.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Pam Roach Attacked
February 4, 2009 permalink
Pam Roach is a Washington state senator who intervened in a child protection case and helped save child Alexis from foster/adoption and return her to her grandparents the Stuths.
We have previously pointed out that elected legislators are usually powerless against the child protection juggernaut. Pam Roach is now under attack. An ethics probe has been launched to find out what she has done wrong in the Stuth case. This will force her to divert her efforts to lawyers in her own defense, and will end any efforts at further reform of DSHS.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Senate Ethics Board Witch Hunting To Hang Senator Pam Roach
"No good deed goes unpunished."
Without any idea what they are looking for ... Senate Ethics Board counsel, Mike O'Connel, says he is currently "researching" the past ethics renderings and the state law for what I might have done wrong.
(Yes, Dear Readers....they are on the hunt. And, they intend to find SOMETHING... ANYTHING to punish me.)
But even though his research has not been completed ... even though they have not told ME what they think I may have violated ... the board has already hired and has sent out a "Mr. Wilson" to interview CPS, DSHS, and Attorney General people that I contacted in the last 11 months trying to help the Stuth family and formulate legislation to correct the wrongs from happening again.
Concepts like "Kangaroo Court" ... and "Star Chamber" come to mind.
So as it turns out ... Mr. Wilson used to work for the AG. Yes, that is true. So, how unbiased do we think he will be? I had no say in who the interviewer would be. I have not been notified to get an attorney. Mr. W has not spoken to me first so I might give him some direction. And, what do you want to bet I will not have a name with my accusers?
Now Pam Roach will get the same treatment as so many good families have gotten. They want me to have to get a lawyer! They want to find an ethics violation that they know I will have to spend time and money to fight. Just like some of the people that have so persecuted the Stuths (see previous PPR) the Ethics Board has sent out a man with an order: "Find SOMETHING that Roach has done wrong." Lucky Mr. W. He will be paid ...as long as he finds someone to interview ... If CPS lied to the court and they did ... I wonder what they will say about me!
More on this later. It will be a public lynching. You will read about it here. I will not cower to this intimidation, retribution, waste of taxpayer funds, and political payback. I believe I will give my first speech on this at the rally.
I want everyone to know what is happening. The light of day should shine on this action just like it should shine on CPS violations.
Posted by Pam Roach at 1:54 AM
Source: Pam Roach blog February 4 2009
Alberta Kafka Lawsuit
February 4, 2009 permalink
In another strange twist in the Alberta Kafka case the unnamed parents of the unnamed dead child are suing the director of Child Welfare for harm inflicted by the unnamed foster mother convicted of homicide in the boy's death. Alberta is diligently protecting the emotional health of the dead boy by suppressing all names in the case.
February 4, 2009
Dead boy's parents sue
Alta. gov't., convicted killer named in $400,000 legal action after three-year-old died in foster care
By TONY BLAIS, COURT BUREAU
The parents of a three-year-old Edmonton boy who died at the hands of his foster mother have launched a $400,000 lawsuit against the convicted killer and the province.
In a statement of claim filed Jan. 22, the parents - who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child - allege the director of Child Welfare was the boy's legal guardian and therefore responsible for his proper care.
The parents claim the Child and Family Services Department placed the boy with the foster mother, who also cannot be identified, notwithstanding that it knew or ought to have known that she was unable to properly care for him or otherwise likely to present a risk to his well-being.
They also allege the placement was made despite the fact there were other individuals who were able and willing to provide proper care for the young child.
On Jan. 26, 2007, the boy was assaulted by the foster mother and died in hospital the following day.
On Nov. 29, after three days of deliberations, a jury convicted the 34-year-old nurse of manslaughter. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 7.
According to the statement of claim, between Dec. 5, 2006, and Jan. 26, 2007, the province was repeatedly given information or had information available which ought to have caused them to remove the boy from the woman's care in the foster home or to initiate further investigations.
Instead, the parents allege the boy was permitted to remain in the home under the woman's care without supervision or further investigation.
It is also alleged in the lawsuit the foster mother abused the child while he was at her home, including repeatedly striking him using unreasonable and excessive force and locking him in a cold garage wearing only a diaper.
The parents allege the province was negligent in the boy's death for failing to implement a proper screening and monitoring system for foster parents and failing to provide foster parents with adequate support and training.
They claim they have suffered grief and the loss of the guidance, care and companionship of their son and are seeking $100,000 in general and special damages and $300,000 in aggravated and punitive damages.
Statements of claim contain unproven allegations.
During the foster mom's second-degree murder trial, jurors heard police were called to her west-end home after the boy was taken to hospital with severe head injuries.
The foster mother tearfully testified the boy had been displaying self-abusive behaviour and told the jury he hit his head on the toilet after falling from her arms.
A Crown medical expert told jurors the head injury was from non-accidental force and said it came from being repeatedly struck or shaken, or a combination of the two.
A child maltreatment expert told jurors that significant force would be required to cause such a brain injury, such as a high-speed crash or a three-storey fall.
Source: Edmonton Sun
BC Grabs Visiting Children
February 4, 2009 permalink
Gao La Li and Coi Yun Ouyang fled to Canada to escape the effects of China's one child policy. Now they have to deal with Canada's no child policy. Both their children have been seized by British Columbia's Ministry of Children and Family Development. Allegation: shaken baby.
Couple fight to get children back as police launch abuse probe
Katie Mercer, The Province
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
A Chinese couple who came to B.C. to have their second child are now fighting to get her -- and their older daughter -- back from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Gao La Li and Coi Yun Ouyang's one-month-old and six-year-old daughters were seized Jan. 19 by the ministry on suspicion that the newborn was suffering from shaken-baby syndrome.
"We're totally innocent; there is no way we would hurt our own baby," said the 40-year-old Li through an interpreter.
The couple knew they could avoid China's one-child policy by having their second child in Canada, which would also guarantee the child Canadian citizenship. "We wanted our child to have a good future," said husband Li.
Searching the Internet, the couple found "Health and Happy Post-Partum Care Centre" -- an unregistered "maternity house" in Richmond offering pre- and post-natal care to Chinese women. The centre also books hospitals for the birth.
According to the website, the Richmond house provides "peace and happiness" during childbirth, helping to care for kids while the moms recuperate.
When social workers visited the centre, a regular suburban house in the 5700-block Blundell, four families were in residence, with seven adults and six children ranging in age from three days to nine years. Efforts to reach the centre for comment weren't successful.
The family said they paid the centre over $8,000 to book the birth in Richmond Hospital and to provide a bedroom and care.
Ouyang arrived in Richmond on Oct. 28, her husband and their other daughter arrived Dec. 27 -- six days after the healthy baby was born. The family had booked a return flight to China for Feb. 10. That's no longer the plan.
Li, clutching his trembling wife, outlined their last day together as a family. On Jan. 17, the wife of the centre's owner had taken the newborn around 10 a.m. and didn't bring her back to the family's bedroom until 7 p.m., after the baby's bath. The child was screeching and her hands were slightly shaking.
"I got the baby and was talking to it, saying, 'Don't cry, baby, mommy's here,'" said Ouyang, 34. "The landlord's wife took the baby and wrapped it in a blanket and I said, 'Don't wrap the baby, you've had her all day, I want to be with her.'"
Rocking the child, the baby fell asleep in her arms.
"There were no obvious signs of anything that would cause any attention," Li said. "It wasn't until the middle of the night that we noticed there was something wrong with the baby."
The couple rushed the child to Richmond Hospital. She was transferred by ambulance the next day to Vancouver Children's Hospital, where social workers, Richmond RCMP officers and the Ministry of Children and Family Development were waiting. The ministry took possession of the baby and placed the six-year-old in foster care. The six-year-old has since been transferred to another foster home.
According to a ministry report obtained by The Province, the baby remains in critical condition, intubated and on a ventilator.
Since being admitted, she has been given a blood transfusion and suffers from sub-dural hematoma, retinal hemorrhaging and a skull fracture. CT scans indicate further injuries, the report states. Her condition has been deteriorating due to significant brain swelling, seizures and slowing brain activity.
One of her doctors told the ministry that the infant's injuries were non-accidental, the report says.
Richmond RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Nycki Basra confirmed a probe is ongoing and that no charges have been laid.
Ouyang and Li said they are co-operating with police. They surrendered their passports, have been extensively interviewed and have agreed to a polygraph test. They know the probe will take months. In the meantime, they want their older daughter to be returned to Beijing in the care of her maternal grandparents so she can continue school.
"The child does not belong here, she doesn't have roots, friends, she's in a situation where she doesn't have parents," said their lawyer, Lawrence Wong, adding the centre's operators, who also had their kids seized, "do not want to talk" to police.
Source: Vancouver Province
February 4, 2009 permalink
The adoption of three pubescent boys by two homosexual men has drawn commentary, some inflammatory. Below is a thoughtful analysis by Dr Marty McKay. Dr McKay has previously appeared here as critic of the megadoses of psychotropic drugs for CAS ward "J".
Why are pubescent boys being adopted by homosexual couple?
February 1, 2009
Yo Mustafa and Paul Groulx may be stellar individuals and wonderful role models for all I know, but I still have to ask what was their motivation to adopt 3 pubescent boys, and why did the Children's Aid Society allow this to happen to these boys?
I was one of the busiest psychologist consultants for Catholic Children's Aid Society, starting in 1976. I saw hundreds of these unadoptable children. By the time that a foster child had reached 9 or 10, we knew that the child was not going to bond with a parent figure. They were not adoptable. The focus was on providing care and maintaining family relationships, even though those family relationships may have been problematic and the reason why the children were in care in the first place. They needed these primary attachments. In other words, they were Crown Wards with Access. They would grow up in care, but they would remain attached to their birth parents and kinship bonds. These children typically had many problems and did not fit into foster homes, so there were many moves. The growth in group homes came as a result of this population of children who needed basic care but who were not going to form parent-child bonds with anyone else, children who had "special needs," i.e. many emotional and behavioural issues. A Society lawyer was known to say that any kid growing up in Regent Park had been sexually abused before reaching age 12. This was his catchment area but could apply to many neighborhoods, given the large number of pedophiles which live amongst us.
So, back to Yo Mustafa and Paul Groulx. Suddenly, 2 homosexuals with presumably no parental experience can deal with not one, not two, but 3 foster boys of the demographic that not even seasoned foster parents can manage in a family setting---pubescent foster boys who may have a history of abuse and expect it and need extra care, children who are vulnerable, distrustful and rebellious. I was especially troubled by the fact that this couple was able to hire their own social service worker to approve their parenting plan. What kind of oversight for vulnerable children is this? It has been demonstrated that the rate of pedophilia is high among homosexual men -- reference the existence and lobbying efforts of the National Man Boy Love Association. This is not to say that every homosexual is a pedophile, of course, or that Mustafa and Groulx are. I want to make it clear that I am not making this assertion about them.
However, given that the incidence of pedophilia is higher among homosexual men, the risk of placement of children, particularly boys, particularly pubescent boys with surging levels of hormones, is necessarily higher. Yet, this risk is not taken into account in adoption placement, and thus there is a dereliction of duty to protect these children. I cannot help but hypothesize that these children are being placed at higher risk in order to placate the homosexual community, but if the child welfare system loses its focus on its mandated priority -- the protection of children -- it loses the reason for its existence and becomes a danger in itself.
I was also concerned about the fact that these boys were moved far away from their community and away from their friends and sources of support and assistance if they run into trouble in their "adoptive family."
I also have other other admittedly dangerous and incendiary questions for the child welfare system. Given that the government provides funding for foster children, and that group homes reap benefits from youths growing up in care, and given that these benefits end when a child is adopted, what is their motivation in providing homes for pubescent boys who don't want to be adopted. Are these children essentially for sale? Is the CAS trying to reduce its liability given the amount of abuse that happens while children are in their care? It appears, that contrary to their legal rights, these children may have been used as property, put up to bidders, without having their legal rights to consent or refuse their placement. The law presumes capacity to make decisions about one's residence, irrespective of age, (Substitute Decisions Act, 1992) but there is nothing in the newspaper article that indicated that these children knew that they had these rights and were able to exercise them. If the Children's Aid Society were to go into the human trafficking business, they have a good supply and there is undoubtedly a high demand.
Dr Marty McKay
Source: email from Marty McKay
February 3, 2009 permalink
Toronto is about to get a new politically-correct hate campaign against fathers. See a preliminary at shelter from the storm.
New Lock-up for Teenagers
February 3, 2009 permalink
Ontario's low-profile Minister of Children and Youth Services, Deb Matthews, has broken her silence to announce a service for Ontario's children — a jail, euphemistically called a secure custody facility. It will expand its capacity to confine 40 teenaged boys in Ottawa.
Newly Expanded Ottawa Youth Custody Facility Opens
McGuinty Government Helping Youth Get Their Lives Back On Track
TORONTO, Feb. 3 /CNW/ -
The William E. Hay Youth Centre, a newly expanded secure custody facility, will now help accommodate more youth in conflict with the law with specialized services and programs.
The Ottawa project is an expansion of an existing secure custody/detention facility that will add 16 more beds for a total of 40 for male youth ages 12 to 17. All male youth in conflict with the law who require secure custody in the Ottawa area will now be served at this facility.
Ontario is moving youth out of adult correctional facilities and into separate youth custody facilities (www.gov.on.ca/children/english/programs/youth/law/228585.html) to provide young people with more effective programs and more opportunity for rehabilitation as close to home as possible.
Services provided at the centre will help youth make the transition back into their community better-prepared to make the right choices and a positive contribution to society.
"This expansion marks the end of an era," said Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews. "No longer will youth in conflict with the law be sharing a facility with adult offenders. Not only will they take responsibility for their actions but they'll have access to dedicated youth programming that will significantly reduce their risk of reoffending."
"This expansion is part of Ontario's plan to establish a dedicated stand-alone detention and custody system to help meet the unique needs of youth ages 12-17 in conflict with the law," said Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre.
"The William E. Hay Centre's dedicated staff are focused on this goal: to ensure no young person's entire future is defined by a poor choice they have made or a risk they have taken. Working with the other Youth Services Bureau programs - mental health, housing and employment - we seek to focus these young men on the path towards a better life ahead," said Alex Munter, Executive Director, Youth Services Bureau.
- Approximately 27 new jobs have been created to operate the expanded centre as well as more than 100 construction-related jobs.
- The province is building new youth centres in Brampton (www.gov.on.ca/children/english/programs/youth/law/228586.html), Fort Frances(www.gov.on.ca/children/english/programs/youth/law/228588.html) and Thunder Bay (www.gov.on.ca/children/english/programs/youth/law/228590.html) and just opened a new youth centre in Sault Ste. Marie (www.gov.on.ca/children/english/programs/youth/law/228589.html).
- Learn more about programs for youth in conflict with the law (http://www.gov.on.ca/children/english/programs/youth/law/index.html) in Ontario.
- Find out about how Ontario is helping youth (www.gov.on.ca/children/english/programs/youth/oppotunities/index.html) achieve their potential.
- The Youth Criminal Justice Act (http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/yj-jj/ycja-lsjpa/ycja-lsjpa.html)is the legislation in Canada that deals with young people ages 12 to 17 who break the law.
- Learn more about ReNew Ontario (http://www.pir.gov.on.ca/english/infrastructure/renew.htm), the province's infrastructure investment plan.
WILLIAM E. HAY YOUTH CENTRE
The newly expanded William E. Hay Youth Centre in Ottawa will accommodate the specialized services and programs required to address the needs of youth in conflict with the law.
The Ottawa project is an expansion of an existing secure custody/detention facility operated by the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa(http://www.ysb.on.ca/), a not-for-profit community agency. The Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre Youth Unit will be closed in March 2009 and youth in this facility will transfer to William E. Hay Youth Centre. All male youth in conflict with the law who require secure custody in the Ottawa area will now be served at this facility.
The centre will keep youth as close as possible to their own communities while providing rehabilitative services in a facility designed to meet the needs of youth. This also maximizes the potential for family involvement, which plays a key role in helping youth re-integrate into society and become contributing members of their communities.
- Construction cost: approximately $5.36 million.
- Facility size: approximately 668.53 m(2) (7,196 square feet).
- Designed by Barry J. Hobin and Architects.
- Added 16 more beds for a total of 40 beds for male youth ages 12 to 17.
- Created more than 100 construction-related jobs.
- Approximately 27 additional jobs created to operate the centre.
- Capital funding to build the facility provided by the government as part of its $30-billion five-year ReNew Ontario infrastructure investment plan.
The McGuinty government is committed to keeping Ontario communities strong, safe and vital by reducing the number of youth in conflict with the law who re-offend.
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 - More on this organization
Source: Canada News Wire
From another website, here is a diagram of the facility.
Source: Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services
February 3, 2009 permalink
A teenaged girl was tasered while already being held prisoner in a cell in Sioux Lookout Ontario. Police, who proclaim in public that tasers are an alternative to deadly force, used the taser to keep the girl from damaging paint inside the cell. According to her lawyer the girl had poor communication skills because of a handicap.
Father sues OPP after girl, 14, Tasered
By Linda Nguyen, Canwest News Service February 3, 2009 4:03 AM
The father of a 14-year-old girl who was Tasered while inside a jail cell with two Ontario Provincial Police officers last summer has launched a $500,000 lawsuit against the province's police force.
The girl, who is identified in court papers only as Jane Doe, was hit once in the leg "for three to five seconds" with a Taser inside the OPP detachment in Sioux Lookout, about 400 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.
The family's lawyer, Jeff Roberts, told Canwest News Service yesterday that the girl was taken to the hospital for burn marks after the incident on July 10, 2008. The lawsuit claims that the girl was "left traumatized" when her leg went numb for a month.
More information was expected at a news conference scheduled for today.
Mr. Roberts said the two officers used the conductive energy device after the girl had been "sporadically peeling paint from the walls of her jail cell." The lawsuit said she "remained motionless for nearly an hour."
The girl, who is from the nearby Lac Seul First Nation, had initially been arrested the previous night for being drunk and disorderly. She eventually pleaded guilty to the charge.
"Police describe her as a dangerous girl. It's not true," Mr. Roberts said. "She has a cognitive impairment and her emotional responses have been stunted. She's not a bad kid."
The lawsuit claims police used unnecessary force to subdue the girl, after giving her only one warning.
It's seeking $250,000 in response to negligence, assault and battery allegations. It's also seeking $250,000 for punitive damages, an opportunity for the courts "to send a message," Mr. Roberts said. It also is calling for an order to ban the weapon from being used on minors, except in life-threatening situations.
The lawsuit lists the OPP and the two officers -- Mark Zappitelli and Andrew Hampson -- as defendants.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
OPP spokesman Insp. Dave Ross said yesterday the force was not contesting that the girl had been Tasered, but that the OPP's professional-standards bureau completed an investigation in December 2008 and cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.
"The OPP investigation was a result of a public complaint," he said from OPP headquarters in Orillia. "The matter was unsubstantiated. The complainants are able to appeal the decision to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services. I'm not sure whether they have done that."
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Addendum: Ontario's minister of community safety, Rich Bartolucci, has rebuffed a plea from provincial child advocate Irwin Elman to ban the taser on young people. Scratching paint remains a potential death-penalty offense.
Ontario won't ban Taser use on young people: minister
By Lee Greenberg , The Ottawa CitizenFebruary 4, 2009
TORONTO – The Ontario government will not ban police from using their Tasers on young people.
The province’s minister of community safety, Rich Bartolucci, said Wednesday he would leave the decision whether to use the device in officers’ hands.
“The police must use their best judgement possible in order to protect the individual, to protect the general public and to protect the police officer,” Mr. Bartolucci told reporters Wednesday before a weekly cabinet meeting.
Irwin Elman, Ontario’s child advocate, is calling for a moratorium on using stun guns on minors except in rare circumstances.
The call follows the case of a 14-year-old girl who was Tasered by two Ontario Provincial Police officers while in a northern jail last summer. The girl, who has fetal alcohol syndrome, was arrested for underage drinking and detained in Sioux Lookout, Ont., according to her lawyer.
She was Tasered after being told to stop picking at paint on the holding facility’s walls, the lawyer says. The girl’s family, which says the incident was caught on tape, is suing police for $500,000.
Mr. Elman issued his request reportedly after seeing the tape.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
Wednesday, Mr. Bartolucci said he would await the results of a lengthy study on the stun guns before making any decisions.
“I’m not going to make a knee-jerk reaction to any individual case,” he said.
Premier Dalton McGuinty was equally non-committal.
“As you know, we have a panel that’s out there taking a look at this,” he told reporters. “We await their advice.”
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Shaken Baby Sleuth
February 1, 2009 permalink
Scientist Irene Scheimberg says in an interview with The New Scientist that sub-dural hematoma and retinal hemorrhaging, two of the purported indicators of shaken baby syndrome, are caused by hypoxia and have nothing to do with shaking.
The pathologist challenging shaken baby syndrome
In 1976 Irene Scheimberg fled Argentina when the military regime began arresting and killing her friends, experiences that have made her extra sensitive to injustice. Today, as a paediatric pathologist in the UK, she is prepared to challenge it whenever it arises, whether it be shaken baby syndrome or the controversy over retained organs at Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's hospital, she tells Sue Armstrong
What kind of family did you grow up in?
My grandfather was a civil rights lawyer and both my parents are doctors. It was a family in which you had to do something for society.
But you had to leave Argentina?
In 1976 there was a coup d'état and a military dictatorship took over. It was the most brutal in Argentina's long history of military dictatorships. Lots of my friends were "disappearing" and my ex-boyfriend Carlos - a very recent ex and somebody I really loved - disappeared. His body was found in the river with marks around the wrists and ankles. I went to bury him, and 10 days later I was on a plane to Spain. The police or army had been to check on his friends and so I had to leave.
How have those experiences affected your philosophy of living and the work that you do?
They have affected me in two contradictory ways. On the one hand I think I have personal understanding of what parents go through when they lose a child. At a bereavement conference some time ago they read out something that a mother said on the death of her baby. She said that not only did her family lose a baby, but the toddler, the child, the pimply adolescent, the wedding and the grandchildren. I can identify with that. It's the loss of the future that is so painful. On the other hand my experience makes me intolerant of people who complain about minor things. It makes me want to say, "Come on, get on with life."
What made you decide to study pathology?
Because my parents were doctors, medicine was always part of the equation. Why pathology? When I came to the UK, I didn't speak English well enough, so I chose something that didn't involve much contact with patients. I always liked pathology because it's about getting to the bottom of things - trying to understand the mechanisms of the disease. I found paediatric pathology fascinating and later I also started doing perinatal pathology - which relates to diseases in the womb until shortly after delivery. The two are very different. In paediatric pathology you deal mainly with live children, trying to help keep them healthy and alive. Perinatal pathology is about death and loss.
As a pathologist, how much are you aware of the human being behind the image under your microscope?
I know there is a person, in my case a child, on the other side of that slide, whether I meet the child or the family or not. But I like seeing the patient. I like not to lose this human contact, because for me that's what medicine is all about.
The main reason to do a post-mortem is for the family, to tell them what happened. When a child dies the parents tend to feel guilty - the child's death is like a failure to protect. So it's important that there is a professional there to tell parents that this would have happened no matter what they did. The post-mortem is sometimes the first time that that child - particularly if it's a young baby - will be examined by a doctor. We are that baby's doctors. What we find will not only help the parents in their grief; it might also help them if there's the possibility of the same problem occurring again in another child.
Can you give me an example of how you have assisted someone to have a healthy baby?
There was a mother who had an autoimmune disease and lost her baby. What we found at the post-mortem allowed the obstetricians to rescue her second baby. I've got a photo of that second baby aged 2, and these are very rewarding moments.
Post-mortems are an important element of teaching too. Medicine doesn't only progress via big Nobel prizewinning discoveries. Medicine progresses little by little; it's like building a wall in which every little piece of knowledge is a new brick- and pathology can give a lot of bricks to that wall.
One of those "bricks" you're working on at the moment is shaken baby syndrome, is that right?
The problem with the shaken baby controversy is that it's very dogmatic. If I don't accept religious dogma (and I don't), I'm not going to accept scientific dogma. If it's there, it can be proven. I do recognise that some adults are capable of doing nasty things to children, but I'm uneasy about people saying: "Oh, if a baby has got subdural haemorrhage (SDH), retinal haemorrhage and brain swelling, it can only be shaken baby syndrome." I'm trying to find out the mechanism of bleeding in the brain in babies who have not been shaken.
Have you any clues as to what the mechanism causing "shaken baby" symptoms might be?
I'm exploring all sorts of theories. My colleague Marta Cohen from Sheffield Children's Hospital and I have just published a paper with observations of our autopsy work on fetuses and babies over the last couple of years. We selected 55 cases - 25 late third trimester fetuses who died shortly before delivery and 30 newborns - who had haemorrhage within the membrane that covers and separates the two halves of the brain, and compared this with the level of brain hypoxia, or oxygen deficiency. We knew that none of these cases could possibly be inflicted trauma. We found that all those with severe brain hypoxia and half of those with moderate brain hypoxia had SDH. This is the same type of SDH that some people describe as specifically indicative of shaken baby syndrome. A similar pattern of haemorrhages has been described in the retinas of newborn babies dying of natural causes. We think that in these cases the haemorrhaging is caused by the hypoxia.
My concern is that by relying on this famous triad of symptoms - brain hypoxia, SDH and retinal haemorrhages - to diagnose shaken baby syndrome, when there's no evidence of inflicted trauma, we may be sending to jail parents who lost their children through no fault of their own. As scientists it's our duty to be cautious when we see the triad, and to take each case on its merits. We owe it to the children and their families.
Do you find that getting consent to keep autopsy material for research and teaching is difficult, particularly since Alder Hey?
Maybe because of the kind of family I grew up in, I am a strong supporter of people's rights. But rights come with responsibilities. People are part of society, they benefit from what other people are putting into that society. When I ask for consent I tell people: "The slides that I have taken for the diagnosis to try to help you can be discarded after diagnosis. Or they can be used to teach other people that will continue my work." When they say yes, they feel part of the society and they are fulfilling their duty. Some say no because of intense grief or because nobody explained things properly to them.
How do you deal with the emotional challenges of your work?
Sometimes it is very difficult. When I do a post-mortem I prefer not to see babies when they come to the mortuary dressed. I need to detach myself, and I know I wouldn't be able to cope if I see the baby dressed.
It helps me to think that I'm helping people at probably the worst time of their lives. I think this has a lot to with my past, with the losses I experienced when I was in my 20s. Somehow I can identify with what people are going through and that's important to me.
Irene Scheimberg studied medicine in Argentina and Spain then trained as a paediatric pathologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London. She is now a consultant paediatric and perinatal pathologist at Barts and the London NHS Trust. This is an abridged version of her interview with Sue Armstrong in A Matter of Life and Death: Conversations with pathologists (Dundee University Press, 2008).
Source: Issue 2693 of New Scientist magazine
Stop Gay Adoption!
February 1, 2009 permalink
Social services is finally generating some real opposition. In a family with an unfit mother the grandparents have been caring for a five-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl. Edinburgh (Scotland) City Council, claiming the grandparents at 46 and 59 are too old, bullied them into consenting to an adoption, then disclosed the prospective parents are two gay men. The Catholic church has announced its opposition, and an unnamed millionaire is funding the family's defense.
Tycoon backs grandparents fighting gay adoption bid
By Marcello Mega and Jane Simpson, Last updated at 2:06 AM on 01st February 2009
A multi-millionaire is funding a legal challenge to halt the controversial adoption of two young children by a gay couple.
In a move brokered by the Catholic Church in Scotland, the businessman has agreed to help meet the legal costs of a court bid to block plans to hand the brother and sister to two men.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a top law firm has been instructed to help the grandparents of the children, whom social workers ruled were too old, at 46 and 59, to offer a loving home.
With the support of the benefactor and the Catholic Church, the family hope the move will quickly lead to a judicial review of Edinburgh City Council’s decision to remove the four-year-old girl and her five-year-old brother from their family.
The tycoon, who has requested anonymity, was among a group of businessmen considering offering the family financial support after the adoption plans were revealed last week.
His offer has received the ‘moral backing’ of the Catholic Church, which is fundamentally opposed to gay adoptions.
Last night a spokesman for the Church said: ‘As well as the moral issue there is also a legal question, which needs to be explored. Lawyers will be taking this forward with the family.
‘Allowing two men to adopt children against the wishes of their grandparents who want to care for them is positively wicked.’
The development comes after the devastated grandparents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, made an official complaint to council bosses.
They have claimed they were warned they would never see the children again unless they dropped their opposition to the adoption, and again threatened with the same fate for speaking out publicly.
The family claim they have been victims of ‘bullying’ social workers and politically-correct manipulation.
The devoted couple had fought for two years for the right to care for their grandchildren, whose 26-year-old mother is a recovering heroin addict.
They agreed to an adoption only after they faced being financially crippled by legal bills and were promised continued contact with the children.
But they were devastated when they were told the children were going to be placed with a homosexual couple.
There were several heterosexual couples on the council’s books willing to offer a loving home – leading to suggestions that the council was operating a politically-correct quota system.
The move flew in the face of social-work reports that show the girl is ‘wary’ of men.
Last night the grandmother broke down in tears when told of the mystery benefactor’s desire to help block the adoption.
She said: ‘I can’t believe anyone would do that for us. We are so grateful.’
Her husband, a farm worker, added: ‘Because of the generosity of a stranger, we might have a chance to put things right, not only for our family but for others who are put in this position.’
Source: The Mail on Sunday
Addendum: Here is more on the family.
A gay couple adopted our grandchildren.. and kids think we're dead
Exclusive: By Thomas Smith 21/06/2009
Despite looking after their five-year-old grandson and four-year-old granddaughter for three years, social workers decided they were "too old" and unsuitable to continue.
And, tragically, the children now think that their grandparents are dead.
"Social workers made up their minds that we were too old," says the grandad, who is 59. His wife is just 46 and both look much younger.
"It just breaks my heart and eats away at me every day. My own grandchildren have been wrenched away and now they think that me and their granny are dead."
The children went to live with their grandparents because their mother, a heroin addict, couldn't look after them. The boy's father is dead and the girl's father has not had any contact with her.
But social workers later insisted the children would be better off with the two gay men. "My wife and I were happy bringing the children up ourselves," says the grandfather.
"We are their family. Now we've been told we'll never see them again. How can that possibly be right? They are our flesh and blood."
The children have now been given new identities and totally removed from their former life, family and friends.
The only contact their grandparents have had with the children in the last eight months is a two-paragraph letter from their new parents giving a few scraps of news about the pair.
The case provoked a storm of criticism in February when the adoption was first revealed.
The grandparents and children cannot be identified for legal reasons so we are calling the boy Adam and his sister Katie. We are calling their grandparents Brian and Margaret.
Thanks to a well-wisher, the grandparents know where the children are living, only a few miles away in an affluent area near Edinburgh.
Whenever they are in the area the grandparents find themselves staring out of their car windows in the forlorn hope of catching a glimpse of the children.
"Even if we saw them we would never approach them or do anything that would upset them," says Brian with tears welling up in his eyes. "But we can't help hoping we might see them in the distance."
When it became clear that the children's mum was incapable of looking after them, social workers were happy for Brian and Margaret to be granted "interim parental rights".
But problems began when the mum, addled by drink and drugs, began making threats against her parents, saying she wanted her children back.
In September 2006, Brian and Margaret reluctantly suggested to social workers that Adam and Katie should stay briefly with foster parents until their daughter stopped menacing them.
Then Brian and Margaret say they found themselves under immense scrutiny from social workers who later changed their minds about their suitability to care for the children. Brian and Margaret hired solicitors to get the children back.
Four times a court ruled in their favour, but eventually, they say, they were left unable to cope with the lawyers' bills and emotional stress.
Brian claims they were then "bullied and manipulated" into eventually agreeing to the children being adopted last year - on the basis that they would still have some contact with the children.
Then, last October, they were shocked to discover that two men were adopting Adam and Katie. And in the row that has followed all access has been cut off. Margaret says: "We honestly are not bigots. It's just the practicalities which bother me. Which dad do they call dad? "How can anyone explain to a five-and a four-year-old what on earth has happened here? It's all so sad."
The gay couple have been together for eight years. They live in a smart home and lead a well-off lifestyle. They are both in their thirties and one has given up work to look after the children, taking them to school and nursery.
Before the children moved in, they got planning permission improvements to their home to accommodate the children Knowing that Adam and Katie live so close makes the agony even worse for Brian and Margaret. "It's Adam's birthday next month," says Margaret.
"I want to give him a present like any normal granny. I just want to see the kids - even if it's only twice a year, that would be better than nothing." Brian says social workers told him that the children think he and Margaret are dead because they haven't seen them since October.
"It's not surprising that they think we're dead when they haven't seen us for so long. We've been just erased from everything.
"I can't stand the thought that these kids will think we have abandoned them."
Originally Brian and Margaret say they were told they would be still be allowed contact with the children. "We would never have consented to adoption otherwise," says Brian. "But now we've been told we will never see them."
The couple are in talks with solicitors in the hope of winning some limited access, but accept the adoption cannot now be overturned.
A sympathetic businessman is paying their legal bills, but it will be a long drawn-out process. Meanwhile, a short drive away, Brian and Margaret fear Adam and Katie are starting a new life believing that Gran and Grandad are dead.
Source: Mirror (UK)
January 31, 2009 permalink
What is more important, protecting confidentiality or saving a girl's life? In Australia it is confidentiality. A girl is missing from a foster home, but authorities refuse to allow publication of her name and picture to help in finding her.
Hunt for girl, 14, barred
Article from: Sunday Herald Sun, James Campbell, February 01, 2009 12:00am
THIS girl, 14, has been missing for three months. There are grave fears for her welfare, but the authorities will not allow us to show you her face.
She is supposed to be in the care of the Department of Human Services, but has been missing for all except a few hours since she ran away from her foster home in October.
There is a warrant out for her arrest over an aggravated burglary and a serious assault - allegedly committed with her boyfriend, 19.
Her desperate mother has pleaded for weeks with the department to let her go public, but officials have refused to ask the Children's Court to allow her to be identified.
We cannot even say where she is missing from or where authorities believe she may be.
Andrea - not her real name - said her daughter's life had spiralled out of control after she went into care in September 2007.
"I went to them (the DHS) for help because Gemma (not her real name) was running away," she said.
"Since she's been in the department's care she's been drinking, taking drugs and engaging in prostitution.
"I wake up wondering if today is the day someone rings to tell me they've found her dead on a street corner."
Andrea said she first went to the department for help when Gemma was 11.
"They said they couldn't do anything because there wasn't a protective issue," she said.
Instead, they offered counselling, but Gemma refused to attend.
By September 2007, Andrea was at the end of her tether and again contacted the department, which put Gemma into foster care.
Andrea said she now bitterly regretted her actions.
After months of coming and going from her carers' home, Gemma left in October.
A department spokesman said: "An appeal to the court is not the only way to locate her.
"It's known she's out and about in the ---- area.
"Outreach workers, police and other agencies are on the look-out for her. She has been in contact by phone."
Source: Herald Sun
Relief for Teens
January 31, 2009 permalink
A small industry exists to correct the behavior of teenagers. Some market their services to parents, claiming that their trained counselors will provide therapy for their clients, others market primarily to criminal courts and child protection agencies. Either way, once the teenager gets into their custody, he gets nothing but boot-camp humiliation. When an inmate has a medical problem, the staff construes it as malingering, and becomes even more abusive, often until it is too late and the child is dead. Since children in these circumstances are often uncooperative and unruly, the camps employ goons to keep them under control, another source of frequent death. Our list of deaths in non-parental care includes 61 caused by "restraint", most in boot camps or mental hospitals.
An article below from the blog of Mother Jones magazine shows that the current economic downturn is forcing many of these camps to close.
Economy Killing Abusive Teen Programs
Below is a guest blog entry by MoJo author Maia Szalavitz:
There is a silver lining to this bleak economy: Abusive and ineffective "tough love" programs for teens are failing right and left.
In just the last few weeks, the notorious Tranquility Bay program in Jamaica, Spring Creek Lodge in Montana, and Pathway Family Center in Detroit and Ohio have all been shuttered.
Tranquility Bay was known for making kids kneel on concrete for days, using "restraint" so harsh that it broke bones. Both Tranquility Bay and Spring Creek Lodge were part of a network called the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASP or WWASPS)—and the group’s philosophy involves constant use of emotional attacks and humiliation in a rigid, structured day in order to break teens' spirits.
Spring Creek was notorious for a frigid, small isolation room called "the Hobbit"—sometimes teens were left there for months.
From Pathway—which was descended from the infamously abusive Straight Inc.—I received two separate accounts of suicide attempts by girls which were not reported to their parents, and many stories of the usual attack therapy and humiliation. Unfortunately, neither WWASP nor Pathway is completely dead yet: WWASP still has centers operating in the US and abroad, and Pathway has sites in Indiana: Porter and Indianapolis.
The media tends to present these closures as sad examples of needed services being cut—but in fact, teens are better off with no treatment than with treatment that often divides families and has characteristics known to produce post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Family support tends to be crucial to long term recovery—and PTSD doubles the odds that a drug problem will become a lasting addiction.
Troubled teen programs were yet another sign of the bubble economy. Many were financed by mortgage and home equity loans because they cost thousands of dollars a month and because insurers, quite correctly, don't usually pay for programs that aren't proven to help.
Since there are proven alternatives for teens with drug and other problems that do not carry the risks of "tough love," we should greet the closings of these centers with glee. And those who care about this issue should keep the pressure on so that the wounded programs finally die. After all, there are still teens suffering inside, being "treated" without dignity or respect—some of whom were just transferred from closed programs to other similar, sites.
Legislation to ban the most egregious practices is coming—and may well be strengthened now that the Democrats control Congress and the White House. But an even better outcome would be for the "troubled teen" industry to wither and be replaced by what the evidence shows works: community-based, family-centered, minimally restrictive, and youth-driven care.
Maia Szalavitz is the author of "Help At Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids," and Senior Fellow at stats.org.
Source: Mother Jones blog January 30, 2009
Edmonton Toddler Dies in Foster Care
January 30, 2009 permalink
A three-year-old girl in the custody of the Metis Child and Family Services Society of Edmonton has died. They are blaming the foster mother, who was also the girl's aunt. Like the Alberta Kafka case, the names of the dead girl and her foster mother are suppressed. In case of more news we will call this case Edmonton Toddler.
'My granddaughter is dead and my daughter is charged'
By MICHELLE THOMPSON, SUN MEDIA, January 30, 2009
The grandmother of a slain four-year-old says she's devastated the child's aunt has been charged with second-degree murder.
"I don't know what to think," said the grandmother, whose name cannot be published to avoid identifying the child, who was a ward of the province. "It's just not right.
"Look what happened: my granddaughter is dead and my daughter is charged."
The girl was discovered dead Jan. 13 inside a west Edmonton home she shared with five siblings and her aunt, who was caring for the children.
Yesterday, police confirmed her 24-year-old caregiver had been charged with second-degree murder. An autopsy determined the girl died from head trauma.
Police spokesman Karen Carlson said she could not elaborate on the extent of the injuries, except to say they were "quite complex."
The aunt was also charged with criminal negligence causing death, and failing to provide the necessities of life.
Sometimes whispering in angst, sometimes raising her voice in anger, the grandmother said the aunt should never have been caring for the children.
She was only recently granted temporary custody of the youngsters through a children's service authority, the grandmother said.
"I told (child services) from the very beginning she couldn't handle six kids," the grandmother said. "We expressed our concerns right from the beginning."
The aunt took custody of the children when her brother was unable to provide for them. The remaining youngsters - all younger than seven - are now living in a group home, the grandmother said.
She said she's now fighting for custody of the children - a battle she began to wage before her granddaughter's death.
"Why didn't they help her?" she said. "Nobody did."
After the girl's death, her aunt - alongside her boyfriend - turned to the Metis Child and Family Services Society of Edmonton for help coping.
"They were crying," said executive director Donald Langford. "They were devastated when it happened."
But he said the couple was never fit to care for the children.
"I do have some grave concerns about that," he said. "There are several tragedies.
"The first tragedy is the little girl. The other tragedy was placing six children without guidance and without ensuring these (guardians) were properly trained and supported."
But a spokesman for Alberta Children and Youth Services of Edmonton said numerous steps - including criminal background and reference checks - are in place to prevent children from being placed in unfit homes.
"There are a variety of checks in place to ensure the safety of children who are being placed outside of their home," Sharon Lopatka said, adding privacy legislation prevented her from speaking about this case specifically.
Once placed, foster-parent support workers and case workers keep close tabs on youngsters to ensure they're being treated properly, she added.
But still, a grandmother is left to remember the child she lost.
"(My daughter) was a protector," she said. "She was just a protector of her children.
"She liked to sing to all of them."
The acccused's first court appearance is scheduled for this morning.
Police would not say whether more people could be charged, saying only that the "investigation is ongoing."
Source: Edmonton Sun
Woman Killed by Foster Graduate
January 30, 2009 permalink
Warren David Rattray was separated from his parents at an early age and was raised in more than 24 foster homes where he was abused sexually, emotionally and physically. His past acts as an adult include threatening a woman with a butcher knife, inviting a ten-year-old boy to engage in sex, sexually assaulting a girl, and stealing a car. Last Saturday he killed a 37-year-old Kerrianne Parks in Sudbury Ontario.
Parole records reveal disturbing past of man accused in Sudbury slaying
History of violence and sexual assaults
Posted By RACHEL PUNCH, SUN MEDIA, Posted January 29, 2009
Warren David Rattray had only been in Sudbury one day before Kerrianne Parks -- the woman he is accused of murdering -- was found dead.
Rattray, who was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant after failing to check in with Saskatoon police in August, also slipped through the fingers of police by using a fake name in southern Ontario before he turned up here.
Greater Sudbury Police Insp. Bob Keetch said Rattray, who has a long, violent criminal past, arrived in Sudbury on Friday from southern Ontario. Police have not determined the nature of the relationship between Parks and Rattray, Keetch said.
"We know how they met," Keetch said, adding it was on Friday. He would not say how or where they met.
Her funeral was held Thursday.
Parks' body was found at her small McLeod Street home on Saturday at about 1:20 p. m. by her father.
Rattray, 44, who first told police his name was Jason Charters, was arrested Sunday and charged with second-degree murder in the death of the 37-year-old woman. The man's fingerprints were sent to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ottawa on the weekend, confirming Rattray's identity.
National Parole Board records obtained by The Sudbury Star on Tuesday reveal disturbing details about Rattray's criminal past.
Rattray was released from the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon in June of 2007 after serving about eight and a half years in jail. He served his full term for a series of offences -- committed between March 1998 and March 2001 -- because corrections officials found he was at a high risk to reoffend.
A parole decision from Oct. 7, 2004, denying Rattray day parole, states his sentence began for convictions of assault, robbery and forcible confinement.
The charges stem from an incident in 1998 where a woman befriended Rattray and offered him accommodation at her home.
"You confronted her with a butcher knife while she slept, demanded money and the keys to her car, and threatened to kill her," states the parole decision. "At the time of arrest for this offence, you waived in charges of sexual assault and indecent act from 1997, surrounding the violation of two elderly nuns."
When Rattray was unlawfully at large in December 1999, he befriended a 10-year-old boy while camping, the documents state. Rattray was convicted of invitation to sexual touching.
After being released again on statutory release, the decision states, Rattray violated a young girl in November 2000 and was charged with sexual assault.
"In January 2001 you befriended a woman and later stabbed her in her bed after she had provided you a place to stay," the document states.
"And finally, in March of 2001 you became involved with a woman whose car you stole after a physical altercation," the decision reads.
In that case, Rattray was charged with theft, assault and driving while disqualified.
The documents also reveal information about Rattray's childhood.
He was separated from his parents at an early age and was raised in more than 24 foster homes where he was abused sexually, emotionally and physically.
By his mid-teens, Rattray was living on his own, the decision states. He began drinking at the age of 15 and has a history of alcohol-related offending.
The parole board detain Rattray until the last day of his sentence.
The last decision confirming his detention was delivered on Feb. 1, 2007.
"In the absence of significant success at treatment and/or programming and no assessments of reduced risk, the board concludes that you are likely to commit an offence causing serious harm to another person before the expiration of your sentence," the decision states.
"As no halfway house could reasonably be expected to manage your risk and protect the community, the detention order is therefore confirmed."
When Rattray completed his sentence in 2007, Saskatoon police requested a recognizance issued when police are concerned a person may reoffend, said Alyson Edwards, Saskatoon City Police's public affairs manager.
"Basically what that is is a set of conditions that the person has to abide by if they are going to live in that community," Edwards said.
He breached the conditions and went back to jail for a year, Edwards said. He was released again on June 5, 2008 and another recognizance was requested. Part of the order was that Rattray check in with Saskatoon police.
"He didn't check in with us on Aug. 20, so we issued a Canada-wide warrant on Aug. 21," Edwards said.
When a warrant is issued, police services across the country receive photos and information about the wanted person. Saskatoon police had no reason to believe Edwards was headed for Ontario.
"In fact the information we had was that he was travelling west. We had somebody who phoned and said he thought he had given him a ride hitchhiking," Edwards said.
Source: Timmins Daily Press
January 29, 2009 permalink
Susan Clairmont, who on January 22 published and article we called Hatchet Job on Devon tried to balance the story by reporting it from Devon's side. She was thwarted by the judge, who ousted her from Monday's court hearing. Devon cannot speak in public about his own life. The press can tell all of Dominic Verticchio's side of the story, but none of Devon's.
A very sad story waiting to be told
Media ban on boy's condition 'unfair'
Susan Clairmont, The Hamilton Spectator, (Jan 29, 2009)
First, the boy was ordered to have chemotherapy against his will.
Now, he is being ordered to stay away from the media against his wishes.
He feels, according to his parents, he has no control over his life. He is tired and frustrated.
And he wants to share his story.
He wants to explain how he feels. He has written poems. And songs. Some are about cancer. Some are not. Either way, a judge says he cannot have an audience. Even if his identity is kept secret.
In Justice Alex Pazaratz's closed courtroom Monday, the boy's case was discussed for the first time in eight months. Last time, the courtroom was cheek-to-jowl with media reporting on the controversy.
This time, I was the only journalist present. And I was ordered to leave. Even though the boy's family told the judge they wanted me to stay.
Politely and patiently Pazaratz -- who was once a summer intern at The Hamilton Spectator -- explained why I was getting the boot. It was "a settlement hearing" and therefore an "off-the-record" discussion of sorts about the boy's future. Reporting on what was said could compromise the decisions of future lawyers and justices who may become involved with the matter. And may inhibit the parties from speaking freely.
The judge added that, last spring, when he allowed media in his courtroom, "this case cried out for the press to have an understanding of the matter."
But now it is different.
"I wouldn't want you to infer that we don't want you here," he said. "Not that we're trying to hide anything or promote secrecy," but rather it is about "protecting the integrity of the process."
And then I was told to leave the court so a little boy's life could be decided upon.
What I missed was this: Pazaratz once again ordered the Children's Aid Society to watch over the boy. For at least another 12 months, the agency will make all his medical decisions.
As well, Pazaratz clarified an earlier order that prohibits the boy from being identified in the media or from having any direct or indirect contact with the media. After hearing the boy's parents say their son wishes to have his writings made public, the judge said his previous order prohibits that from happening.
The tug-of-war drama of this boy's cancer battle is well known by now. He was diagnosed with leukemia when he was seven. He went through chemo and it made him sick. His cancer came back last spring, when he was 11. He remembered what chemo was like and said he didn't want it again.
His parents supported his decision.
Even though the boy is young, has fetal alcohol syndrome and mental health issues. Despite a psychiatric review that determined the boy was incapable of making an informed decision.
Doctors said, without treatment, he would die within six months. With it, he had a 50 per cent chance of survival. So doctors went to the CAS, the CAS went to court and, last May, Pazaratz ordered the child welfare agency to make decisions pertaining to the boy's medical care.
And so the boy had chemo.
He is 12 now. Finished with chemo at the hospital but continuing to take medication at home. He still doesn't want it. His parents still back him up. How is the boy doing, you ask?
Well, according to his parents, not well. They say his eyesight is poor, his lungs are infected, his memory is failing, he is having trouble walking. They blame chemo.
According to Dominic Verticchio, CAS executive director, the boy is doing well. Rather than palliative care, he is now getting preventative care.
What is the truth? I'm not sure.
"This story has been very publicized and I think the public has a right to know what is going on with this child," says the boy's stepmother. She accuses the judge of being "unfair" and the CAS of "lying" about her son's condition. She believes that only by having the facts of the case made public -- while still keeping her son's identity private -- will the truth come out.
And then there are the songs and poems written by the boy himself.
"He wants them published," she says. "And he wants to see it happen. A year from now, we'll be in court again to talk about it again, but what if a year from now he's dead?"
Susan Clairmont's commentary appears regularly in the Spectator. firstname.lastname@example.org 905-526-3539
Source: Hamilton Spectator
CAS Wards Isolated
January 29, 2009 permalink
A letter from John Dunn to Barbara MacKinnon shows that CAS isolates its wards by intercepting their mail.
The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa
1602 Telesat Court
Ottawa, Ontario, K1B 1B1
If I want to send mail to a youth who resides at Apollo Way Home of Walker Youth Homes near Ottawa, how can I do so. Especially since it appears the home is blocking mail in contravention of section 103 of the Child and Family Services Act to that particular youth, who originally contacted me of his own initiative.
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: email from John Dunn January 28, 2009
Addendum: Here is a response from children's aid.
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009 13:04:34 -0500
I wish to inform you of the following on behalf of the Society:
The Society is aware of your efforts to communicate with a Ward who is currently placed in a group home operated by Mr. J. Walker. You left messages for this youth with the group home through telephone and e-mail. We understand that you are concerned that perhaps your messages have not reached the youth in question. The Society was assured that these have been communicated to the youth by the group home staff.
Please note that it is unusual and, at times, inappropriate for an adult to attempt to make direct contact with a minor with whom he or she has no pre-existing relationship or legal role. The youth in question has been made aware of his right to access the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth , the Residential Placement Advisory Committee and the Complaint Procedure (The Child and Family Services Review Board). Moreover, this youth is currently represented by counsel from the Office of the Children's Lawyer. These organizations are the only ones that have a legal mandate to look into matters raised by children and youth in care and advocate for them, which includes direct and open communication with the youth.
We trust that you will respect the will of this youth to respond or not respond to your attempts to communicate with him.
Director, Professional Standards
The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa
Source: email from John Dunn January 30, 2009
Addendum: John Dunn says he received a call saying the boy in question no longer needs outside help. In later discussion, Mr Dunn, himself a former crown ward, said that in his opinion, the call was not coerced.
The council received a call from the youth in Walker Youth Homes thanking us for our assistance and letting us know that appropriate action has been taken regarding the other youth in the home and letting us know that he was made aware of the fact that someone was not letting us call him at the group home, and that our services are no longer required.
Source: email from John Dunn February 4, 2009
Foster Mom Kills Rapist
January 28, 2009 permalink
Here is a story we could not make up. When foster mother Crystal Keith changed Christopher Thomas's diaper, he had a look suggesting that he wanted her sexually. In defending herself against the rapist she beat the boy to death. They pick fine fosters in Milwaukee.
Christopher Thomas' aunt details reasons for abuse
Psychologist concludes she knew it was wrong
By Crocker Stephenson of the Journal Sentinel, Posted: Jan. 26, 2009
Days after state child welfare workers placed the infant Christopher Thomas and his 2-year-old sister in the care of their aunt, the 24-year-old woman miscarried, an event she blamed on the children. Within weeks, she was abusing them, believing Christopher wanted her sexually and that his sister was "sneaky," according to a court document filed Monday.
Crystal Keith is charged with beating Christopher to death and with torturing his older sister for months. She has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. A report filed by forensic psychologist Kenneth Smail paints a portrait of a deeply troubled woman, but concludes Keith knew the difference between right and wrong.
"Her conduct occurred as an expression of her depression and stress," Smail writes. "It was not something that was out of her control."
According to the report, Keith grew up in large family where, she told Smail, she was sexually abused, depressed and at times suicidal. She moved in with Reginald Keith when she was 16. They had a child, then married four years later.
Christopher and his sister are the children of Reginald Keith's brother. The Keiths became Christopher and his sister's kinship foster parents in June.
According to the report, Keith began slapping the sister's hand. When that seemed to have no effect, she began hitting her hands and feet with the back of hairbrush. She pulled and twisted both children's extremities.
"She did recall placing (the girl's) feet under hot water because the (striking) was no longer effective," the report says.
"She said she did that until the child's skin began to bubble. She said that she made sure that (the girl) wore socks so that Reginald would not see the injuries.
"She said that in October, (the girl) began to 'act better' so she turned attention to Christopher."
Christopher turned 1 that month.
According to the report, "one of her thought distortions that seemed particular to Christopher was that she perceived him to 'want me in a sexual way,' " based on how he looked at her when she changed his diaper.
"She said such observations on her part resulted in her hitting him in the leg and in other parts of the body. . . . She would keep hitting him until he stopped crying."
The report quotes Keith talking about the beating she gave Christopher on Nov. 10, which resulted in his death the next day.
"I had in my mind that I need to hit him. He was trying to control me, and I punched him in the leg. He was still crying. I hit him some more so I hoped that he would stop crying."
According to the report, she said she slapped him, choked him and shoved the handle of a hairbrush down his throat.
"All my life I wanted to die, but instead he died," she is quoted as saying in the report.
"That isn't fair. There was incest in my family. I was so sad. I've always been sad and alone."
As for Christopher's sister, the report noted that by the time she was hospitalized, her weight had fallen below the first percentile, she had four fractures, could not use her left arm, and had burns "from head to her foot, some of which were consistent with flowing water burns with blistering and oozing observed on those wounds."
Keith attempted to hide the children's injuries from her family, the report says.
"I believe the record is replete with indications that she appreciated that what she was doing was wrongful," Smail wrote.
A hearing on the report is set for Wednesday before Milwaukee Circuit Judge Patricia McMahon. Keith's trial is set for May 4.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 28, 2009 permalink
An Ohio man, Guy Luttrell III, has shown his feelings for social worker Alishia Snoke with a Molotov Cocktail.
25-year-old arrested on arson charges
By MORGAN DAY • The Eagle-Gazette Staff • January 27, 2009
LANCASTER - Police say a Lancaster man threw a "Molotov cocktail" into a social worker's vehicle in an act of retaliation in December.
He now sits in the Fairfield County Jail on a $100,000 bond.
Guy Luttrell III faces one count of arson, a fourth-degree felony, and one count of aggravated arson, a first-degree felony.
Lancaster police arrested the 25-year-old Lancaster resident early Monday morning in connection with the arson incident Dec. 14.
He is accused of tossing a homemade bomb, constructed from gasoline in a gallon milk jug, inside the car of Alishia Snoke, a Children's Services employee at Fairfield County Job & Family Services.
According to the Lancaster police report, Snoke parked her vehicle in the driveway by the garage on Reese Avenue in Lancaster. Her husband Chris heard a loud noise and saw a flash of light from inside the house about 9 p.m. Dec. 14, the report said.
He saw their vehicle on fire when he looked outside.
Alishia called 911 as Chris extinguished the flames. Neither one was hurt.
The incident is directly related to one of her Children's Services cases, investigators believe.
Source: Lancaster Eagle-Gazette
January 28, 2009 permalink
While advocates of women's shelters claim they are refuges from abuse, and critics claim they are indoctrination camps run by man-hating feminists, reality is that they are the worst abusers of women. Here is an article by Carey Roberts dealing with Florida. Our own site has a collection of audio clips from Ontario showing that the abuse pattern extends to Canada as well.
January 28, 2009
Florida abuse shelter scandal
By Carey Roberts
"It was really terrible what I went through." These were the first words that Yvonne Scott blurted out, even though the incident happened more than five years ago.
One morning a social worker and policeman showed up on the woman's doorstep. "Either you come with us to the abuse shelter or we take away your children," was their grim-faced ultimatum. Scott had been previously involved in an abusive relationship, but there was no current threat to Ms. Scott or any of her three children.
One might expect such an encounter to occur in the former Soviet Union or maybe a Latin America banana republic. But in the sunshine-addled state of Florida?
Scott had no choice but to hastily strap the kids into her car and follow the Child and Protective Services worker. They ended up at a domestic violence shelter in LaBelle, a few miles east of Fort Meyers in central Florida. The shelter is one of three operated by Abuse Counseling and Treatment (ACT). According to its website, the organization provides a "circle of support services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault." [www.actabuse.com]
But instead of a caring circle, Scott found herself confined to the four walls of a house in an isolated part of town. To her dismay, she and her children were the only residents at the facility. The shelter had three staff members, but they were out and about holding consciousness-raising sessions, attending conferences, and the like. "They ignored me and my children," Scott recounts. And when she pleaded to take her kids ages 6, 8, and 9 to a nearby park, the staff berated her.
The biggest problem, though, was no one available to mind the place during the night shift. And shelter workers fretted Scott might try to escape. Her gas gauge rested on empty, but still, she might grab her kids and walk away in the dead of night. That wouldn't look good to potential donors.
The solution? Lock the house from the outside and activate the alarm. "I felt we were in a prison," Scott's tearfully recalls.
Three weeks later her daughter's disability check came in. Yvonne Scott could finally afford gas money to escape her captors. But not so fast, first she had to wash all the linens and blankets. That should teach her a lesson.
Six months I ago I began a series of articles detailing the horrific events going on at the abuse shelters in Florida.
At the Naples Shelter for Abused Women and Children, director Kathy Catino was forced out after staff complained she ruled the place with an iron fist and pressured subordinates how to vote. Then a security camera caught her grabbing an employee — that's known as battery.
At SafeSpace in Stuart, 16-month-old Myliak Dale was run over in the shelter parking lot and Millie Almore was fatally stabbed by another resident, all within a two week period. An investigation concluded the Almore tragedy was caused by the "egregious failure of the entire agency to satisfactorily assure the health, safety, and welfare of both its clientele and staff.
A deranged woman kidnapped a two-month-old baby, hopped in her car, and decided to take refuge — but where? Well, why not at the Hubbard House in Jacksonville? It's the perfect place — they believe anything you say and the police know abuse shelters are a no-man's land. Fortunately, the woman was apprended three weeks later.
At Another Way in Lake City, mischief and mahem are the order of the day. There staff with criminal records are hired, shelter assets misappropriated, training documents falsified, drug use condoned, and shelter employees callously mistreated. Most troubling is the child abuse taking place within shelter walls: a 4-year-old girl sexually assaulted by another shelter resident, a boy confined inside a sweltering van, children left to fend for themselves while their moms toke weed, and much more.
One Another Way employee recounted, "Around November or December 2007, a man came into the office. He was crying, and his arms were bruised, seeking assistance." The intake worker "took him into her [manager's] office. Then to my amazement I heard her tell him that Another Way doesn't provide services or assistance for men."
Twice I have called on readers to alert the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence to this gross violation of the public trust. But the Coalition refuses to acknowledge the problem. Maybe that's because the head of the FCADV Executive Committee is Donna Fagan. Fagan also serves as the director of Another Way.
Remember, sisterhood is powerful.
Maybe it's time to take this to the top — we all need to bring this travesty to the attention of Florida governor Charlie Crist. His email address is Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com .
Gov. Crist needs to know that domestic violence shelters are turning into abuse penitentiaries.
Source: Renew America
Demonstration for Devon
January 27, 2009 permalink
Mary Janiga reports on the demonstration in support of Devon. In the court hearing, Devon remained under the control of CAS and will be subject him to more chemo, probably until he is blind.
Monday, January 26, 2009
January 26th days events
Always a success!!
It was a cold and bitter day with temperatures hitting -17 degrees Celsius on the scales with a wind chill factor that made it seem quite colder. We arrived on site with our trusty bullhorn at 10am. However a group of supporters small as they may be braved the cold temperatures to support a family that has been at hands of Children’s Aid Society and the treatment inflicted upon their son for the past 9 months, 263 days. We made up signs and huddled together and discussed the events of the day and what might come about this day.
The parents of “D” arrived at the court house earlier and we spoke with them briefly through out the day. As to be expected with the weather the way it was it did not damper our moods to protest and talk to people that looked at our signs and at one time we had 8 people standing around together talking about the Children’s Aid Society and their victims. We spoke with people from all walks of life, and everyone had a story to tell about their experiences.
The outcome of the court case was to be expected. Overpriced and overpaid CAS lawyers were there on behalf of the Society and a Duty counsel lawyer to represent the family and evidence was not allowed to be presented further instead a token offering was made to the family. The Children’s Aid Society did want to adjourn this hearing but the parents said no way. They had waited since May 14, 2008 and when the November 2008 court date was swept by it was a long time coming to get to court. 12 months of a further in home care maintenance plan of chemotherapy drugs and they would have the right to seek out alternative care and therapy for their child outside of the Province of Ontario as long as they had a court order to do so when arrangements are made for alternative care for their child.
We can’t say if a milestone has been crossed by this family. Have they been given every opportunity to respect their child’s wishes? They are allowed to seek alternative treatment yet they are still at the hands of the Children’s Aid Society whims and promises. This is not the end of the story as there are many more bridges to cross to get to where there is a light at the end of the rainbow/tunnel. The child “D” still suffers in pain. The CAS maintained control of his medical needs yet again and his family has a choice now we hope to get their child the help he so rightfully deserves.
We will definitely be back at the court house with the family in the months to come when they confront the CAS and call them on their promises of allowing them the right to seek alternative treatment for their child.
It is always a success when 2 or more people stand together and hold a sign and unite for a family we feel that we have accomplished something.
Nothing is a negative and everything is a positive for this family and community. Come rain or shine, wind or snow, day or night, we will be there to support families and children in their plight against the Children’s Aid Society.
Maybe someday the Ombudsman will gain oversight of the Children’s Aid Societies of this Province of Ontario and make the Children’s Aid Society accountable for their actions against families and children.
Thank you for your support.
Posted by Advocate at 1:38 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog for January 26, 2009
Advocate Speaks for Devon
January 26, 2009 permalink
An advocate for Devon has produced a press release recounting his last year of abuse at the hands of the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton. At the start of his ordeal, his cancer was in remission and he had no symptoms. As you read what was inflicted on him, think of the words of Dominic Verticchio: "I've not heard of any significant detrimental side-effects."
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Child Assist Services
19 John St. N.
289 396 4275
Date of event: January 26, 2009 10am to 12pm
Where: Hamilton Family Court 55 Main Street West, Main/McNab Street
For more information contact: Mary or Swayze 289 396 4275
On May 9, 2008 through the tactics of the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton, Children’s Aid Society workers told the father of his sick child diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) at the age of 7 years old, that he had to go to the hospital for a simple finger prick test and some generalized blood tests. This child was also diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and has been receiving the drug Resperdol (resiperdone) throughout his child hood years. The father agreed to these simple procedures and when he arrived with his child he was told that his child would undergo his first round of treatment of Chemotherapy. The father so concerned and upset about his child not wanting the treatment was there to protect his child. What did the Children’s Aid Society and McMaster Children’s Hospital do? They contacted security guards of the hospital and the Hamilton Police and removed the father from the hospital room in handcuffs and away from the hospital property. The child was told by Children’s Aid Society staff that he would not see his parents again. The police did not lay any charges as no crime had been committed except that the father was protecting his child from chemotherapy treatment and harm at the hands of the Children’s Aid Society and McMaster Children’s Hospital.
During this weekend it was Mother’s Day. A candle light vigil was held for the child recognized as “D” and over 20 people showed up in support of this family. The very next day the parents arrived outside the hospital with more supporters, family and friends and they still had not seen their child except through a window and a bullhorn provided by supporters. The CAS workers and security staff closed the blinds after the child waved to the crowd. Children’s Aid Society workers and supervisors contacted the mother and father shortly thereafter and said if they put down the bullhorn and stop disturbing people at the hospital then they would let them in to see their child. They had not seen the child for over 24 hours after the first round of treatment had been administered. They went in to see the child and the court battle started.
From May 9th, 2008 until May 14, 2008 visitation was enforced, and a court case was held. The Children’s Aid Society was granted custody of the child’s medical needs to administer chemotherapy for the next rounds of treatments and his family retained custody of the child to take him to the medically necessary treatments of chemotherapy at the McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. The child was deemed incapable through a court ordered prescribed mental capacity assessment, as they said he could not understand or comprehend the difference between standard western medicine (chemotherapy) versus traditional native medicines (naturopathy). When this first took place there were friends and anonymous donors that assisted in legal and medical assistance for this family. A lawyer was hired and was told stop the chemotherapy, but that did not happen. It was forced upon this child through a court order. This child had suffered for many years and it was his choice to stop the treatment.
For the next 263 days after “D” was transferred from McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton in June of 2008 to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, ON. He was found to be misdiagnosed with the wrong form of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and his medicines were reduced from 25 different concoctions down to 12 medicines. He underwent 8 rounds of chemotherapy at Toronto Sick Kids Hospital from June until November 2008 and has had one at home which is continuing the treatments at home. Hospital staff were sometimes kind and sometimes not. They were kind to “D”, but humiliated the parents at times and tried to entice them to argue and fight with them. The hospital staff was just doing their job administering the medication. The family didn’t have to like it or enjoy the treatment and pain the child endured every time he was at the hospital. The family was not permitted to pray (smudge) specifically “D” in their native traditional healing ceremonies. The child “D” was only home a full 21 days out of the 9 months of chemotherapy. He went for a spinal tap and chemotherapy injections once every fifteen days throughout this timeframe as well. It was changed to every six weeks after the last in hospital chemotherapy treatment. It wasn’t until December 2008 that the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society notified the family that they would not force cranial radiation treatment. A doctor admitted to the parents that if weren’t for a court order they would not be treating this child.
Strangely there was a court date in November, and it was postponed because the Children’s Aid Society Lawyer got transferred somewhere else, so much for the best interest of the child.
After the last round of chemotherapy in November of 2008 the parents were told that they would have to continue administering three separate chemotherapy maintenance drugs, Methatricade, 12 pills every Tuesday, 6MP 1 ½ pills a day and Etoposide 50mg-100mg switching doses every other day for ten days. He would have to continue to do spinal taps and chemo injections once every 6 weeks. They would monitor his blood levels and platelets weekly. A judge had ruled that they could do research and seek out alternative medicine but they could not start the alternative medicine while undergoing chemotherapy. The time frame would have to be 30 days for the chemo to leave his system.
The family has noticed a change in their child’s behavior from the beginning of the treatment to the last treatment. His health had worsened considerably since the last time in remission. He now has serious lung damage; liver and pancreas damage; he has been diagnosed with drop foot syndrome and must be fitted with braces on his legs to improve mobility and walking; he has decreased memory loss and fatigue, mental stability and capabilities at a preschool level and a very low immune system that can hurt him if he even gets a cold or runny nose. His hair has started to grow back but the headaches have returned. Because of the different medications forced upon him he now has glaucoma which the doctors have said will result in blindness. Is this what cancer chemotherapy treatment has produced? A child that is suffering at the hands of a Children’s Aid Society that wants to continue with ongoing treatment and care of this child for the next 12 – 18 months. “D” must endure more treatment with no chance of seeking alternative care and homeopathic medicines to treat him. There was never an option throughout this chemotherapy round to look for alternative care without the consent and approval of the Children’s Aid Society Workers and office. The family has not been told if in fact if “D” is in clinical remission, they will just guess as they go along. But the family has been told that if the cancer does radiate further in his body that it will start in his brain and that will be the beginning of the end of this child’s life.
Because of the media ban placed on this family since May 14, 2008 the child and the family have not spoken to the media except for a few tidbits along the way, with one at Christmas time and one previous to this court case on January 22, 2009 by Susan Clairmont of the Hamilton Spectator. The family respected the wishes of the judge, but they lost “D”s voice. He has been writing songs and stories about his trials and tribulations throughout this year and has been desperate to have his writings published, but with the media ban as it stands his voice is lost. His voice will not be heard.
That is why a group of supporters throughout Ontario will stand up in front of the Family court House at 55 Main Street West Hamilton on January 26, 2009 at 10am and hear “D”s voice. We are there for the children that are lost in a system for Children’s Aid Society to apprehend and force treatment.
We are there for the families that need us when Children’s Aid Society says ‘we are there for the best interest of the child’, when they don’t respect the child or family.
We are there to support the lost souls of our community through poverty, economic status and despair have been hurled into the Family Court system of corrupt judges, CAS lawyers and Legal Aid lawyers and clerks at the hands of the Children’s Aid Society.
The parents now enter the court room alone without a lawyer, with only Duty Counsel to protect them. They have to be the voice for “D” to prevent an inevitable and painful death at the hands of the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society and hospital personnel. Do they administer chemotherapy drugs for the next 12 – 18 months on a hope and a prayer their child gets better, who may never walk again or run or jump or play like a little boy? Do they seek alternative homeopathic drug treatment and native traditional healings? That is what a court will determine in the days to come. That is what will start on January 26, 2009 at the Hamilton Family Court House.
Because of the excessive costs for medication and legal fees a trust fund is being established, for information contact: www.maekids.blogspot.com or 289 396 4275. We are here to support families and children everywhere!!
Posted by Advocate at 8:54 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog for January 25, 2009
How to Employ Bad Foster Moms
January 25, 2009 permalink
Here is a case with the same pattern as that of Katelynn Sampson, killed by a foster parent where children's aid claimed no involvement. In California, according to allegations in a lawsuit, child protectors wanted to place a girl with foster mother Bertha Gonzales, but could not do so because of her prior record of abusing children. Instead they helped the mother to appoint Bertha as the girl's guardian. Bertha Gonzales later harmed the girl.
CPS faces lawsuit in another child abuse case
By KSEE News, Story Published: Jan 23, 2009 at 10:30 PM EST
KSEE 24 News has learned that Fresno County's Child Protective Services is facing a civil suit in federal court stemming from a case back in 2004. The suit claims a little girl was severely beaten by a woman that CPS helped establish as the girl's legal guardian, despite knowing the woman, Bertha Gonzales, had a history of abuse against her own children.
Attorney Steve Cornwell, who filed the suit on behalf of the girl, says CPS knew they could not get a court to directly appoint Gonzales the guardian of the girl, so they helped the girl's biological mother appoint Gonzales as the guardian. The little girl was beaten and suffered a broken leg, and then sustained another beating that left her with brain damage. Gonzales has since gone to prison for the beatings.
KSEE 24 News did not get a response from CPS when asked about the case.
Hospital Harms Family
January 25, 2009 permalink
If you are a parent you may fear taking your child to a hospital for an injury because of the possibility of CAS intervention. Your fears are justified, as shown in this British story of a mother seeking help for a child with a tiny mark on his ear.
Mother banned from being with baby over tiny mark on ear
Jan 24 2009 by Vicki Kellaway, Liverpool Echo
SOCIAL services banned a Liverpool woman from being alone with her baby for more than a fortnight after she took him to hospital about a tiny mark on his ear.
Lyndsey Craig told today of her ordeal after taking six-month-old Daniel to Alder Hey.
She said her baby had x-rays and a CT scan. Although there was no sign of injury, social workers banned his parents from looking after him for three weeks over Christmas and handed over responsibility to his grandparents who live 100 miles away.
Mrs Craig took Daniel to hospital because he had diarrhoea and sickness and she feared the mark was a symptom of meningitis.
But doctors described it as “unexplained” and referred the case to social services.
Mrs Craig, 24, was stopped from taking her son home until scans were complete and was banned from taking him outside for fresh air.
Daniel was discharged the following evening when his grandparents Florence and Jim signed a form promising to “support, supervise and monitor” his care.
They left their Lake District home and moved in with Lyndsey, her husband Tim, 30, and son Sam, four, in Broadgreen.
When the couple had to return home for a few days, Daniel spent three nights with his aunt in Walton.
The ban was lifted on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Mrs Craig, who works as a solicitors’ account assistant, said: “It was awful. They came to me in the hospital with a big form asking if my husband and I had been abused as children.
“I said I wanted to take him home and social services said if I did they would send the police around to arrest me and put my children into foster care.”
Mrs Craig took Daniel to the hospital at 9.30am on December 15.
He was discharged at 6pm the following day with his grandparents put in charge until a Child Protection Conference on January 8.
Source: Liverpool Echo
Judge Helps Victims of His Own Court
January 24, 2009 permalink
Retired Ontario Superior Court judge Ian Cartwright has donated a million dollars to the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.
In the 1980s Canadians were shocked to hear that Donald Marshall had spent eleven years in jail for a murder that he did not commit. Today cases of wrongful homicide conviction are coming to light by the dozen, as in the recent Charles Smith inquiry. Sadly, wrongful court actions extend far beyond criminal cases. Ontario has over a hundred thousand children separated from one parent, usually the father, by divorce courts. While courts may not be able to reconcile mother and father in these cases, in most there is no need to drive the father out of the lives of his children by force of arms. And in child protection cases, Ontario has eighteen thousand children in foster care, most separated from their parents for frivolous reasons. While judge Cartwright has made a start in acknowledging failings in the criminal courts, there is a greater burden of injustice in family law cases still without remediation.
The wrongfully convicted get a rightful donation
Million-dollar gift from retired judge will help non-profit advocacy group work to overturn unjust convictions
KIRK MAKIN, JUSTICE REPORTER, January 24, 2009
The office manager of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, Win Wahrer, froze in astonishment recently as she shook out the contents of a letter from Calgary.
Out tumbled a personal cheque for a million dollars.
In an instant, AIDWYC ended 15 years as a grassroots outfit struggling for every dime in order to ferret out and help exonerate the wrongly convicted.
The identity of the donor was surprising - Ian Cartwright, a retired Ontario Superior Court judge whose family has operated the Canada Law Book publishing house for several decades.
As word of the donation - which will provide no tax deduction to Mr. Cartwright because the group does not have charity status - travelled through the upper echelons of AIDWYC, the directors were flabbergasted. Lawyer Paul Copeland sent a one-word e-mail to Mr. Cartwright: "WOW."
Another director, lawyer James Lockyer, felt woozy. "I felt a sense of wonder and joy - and a bit frightened," Mr. Lockyer recalled yesterday. "I had to hear it two or three times before I could believe it.
"This demonstrates such a tremendous commitment to justice. It was so much money that my immediate thought was: 'We can't take this; it's too much responsibility.' "
Ralph Steinberg, co-president of AIDWYC, said he was heartened to learn it was a former judge who made the donation.
"We can assume that he is aware of the need for some mechanism outside of the appeal process to bring wrongful convictions to light," Mr. Steinberg said. "The last 15 years have seen a steady, increasing progression in the work AIDWYC does. There just doesn't seem to be an end to these cases."
Mr. Cartwright and his wife, Pat, asked AIDWYC to put the money into a fund in the name of former Canada Law Book president Stan Corbett, who is fighting cancer.
"I've been a very keen supporter of this association," Mr. Cartwright said in an interview yesterday. "The huge thing with these volunteer organizations is that they live hand-to-mouth, wondering, 'How are we going to continue?' "
Mr. Cartwright said he normally makes donations anonymously, but he hopes that his million-dollar gesture will prompt others to help fund AIDWYC. "They just don't have the capital funding they need," he said.
Mr. Corbett expressed delight that at a time when most organizations are downsizing and contemplating layoffs, AIDWYC can now envision a golden future.
"You know, the state has unlimited resources," he said. "We have a wonderful justice system in Canada, but I have often thought that there is a one-sided balance. Mistakes can and do happen. Prosecutors take a more adversarial position nowadays, and there needs to be a counterbalance.
"This organization has really picked up the gauntlet and taken a lead role in finding these cases where there may have been wrongful convictions," Mr. Corbett said. "I think they have done a fantastic job in this area. Having my name attached to this - I couldn't be more pleased or honoured."
AIDWYC directors said yesterday that the donation will likely go in many directions. With funding available for forensic testing, court transcripts and expert witnesses, they said clients will no longer have to languish in prison for months or years as a case for their exoneration is prepared.
AIDWYC also can contemplate lobbying politicians and justice officials for criminal justice reforms. And Mr. Lockyer said the association will move to expand its primary base - in Ontario, Newfoundland and Manitoba - into provinces where it has had difficulty gaining a foothold, particularly Alberta and British Columbia.
"Lawyers have always worked for free, and that won't change," Mr. Lockyer said. "But the administration behind the cases, as well as the work that is required to investigate cases, does cost money. We have to think how we can free more people, and free them quicker."
Mr. Cartwright said he only wished there was an organization like AIDWYC he could have donated money to 40 or 50 year ago, when Canada still had capital punishment.
"I just hate to think of the number of people who have been hanged," he said. "Some innocent people have definitely been hung, because the evidence against them just wasn't there."
Beyond Guy Paul Morin
The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted has few peers when it comes to achieving goals and reaping publicity for a cause.
Operating on a shoestring since its creation in 1993, the group has been instrumental in freeing more than a dozen wrongly convicted individuals serving murder sentences. Along the way, it has developed a media profile that would be the envy of any grassroots, volunteer organization.
Scores of prisoners from the U.S. to Mexico and Australia have sought help from the association, a global leader in the wrongful-conviction movement.
The association grew out of the Justice for Guy Paul Morin Committee, formed in 1992 to support Mr. Morin, who had been convicted of murdering his next-door neighbour, Christine Jessop.
Operating pro bono and with financial help from the Law Foundation of Ontario, a shifting group of 25 to 50 AIDWYC lawyers sift through pleas for help in search of those where prosecution evidence was scanty or appears to have been compromised.
Activists invariably list lack of funding as the overriding factor causing innocent people to remain in prison. A single case can consume hundreds of hours of work as lawyers reinterview witnesses, scrutinize transcripts and scour archives for unnoticed clues that could unravel a conviction.
The cases that AIDWYC has helped win exonerations include: William Mullins-Johnson and Steven Truscott (Ontario); David Milgaard (Saskatchewan); Greg Parsons, Ronald Dalton and Randy Druken (Newfoundland); Jim Driskell (Manitoba), and Clayton Johnson (Nova Scotia).
Source: Globe and Mail
Big Brother/ISP is Watching
January 23, 2009 permalink
A British story shows how child abuse investigators use ISPs to spy on internet users.
ISPs charge child abuse investigators for data
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has paid over £171,000 since 2006 for IP address data.
Internet service providers (ISPs) have charged child sex abuse investigators over £171,000 for access to data since 2006.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) told the BBC following a freedom of information request that since April of 2006 it had made 9,400 requests for user information, at a total cost of £171,505.99.
In an interview with the BBC, the CEOP centre’s chief executive Jim Gamble said the body expected to pay as much as £100,000 to ISPs to get the information they needed to find children who were being abused – and the criminals hurting them. “That could have put a number of specialists to work here – doing the right thing, making the environment safer, making it even more commercially viable,” he said, later adding that figure could fund two extra investigators.
Affiliated with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the CEOP centre uses information from ISPs to track online predators, essentially to put a name and location to IP addresses. Some ISPs charge to supply that data, while others do not.
Gamble said companies clearly have the right to cost recovery, and said he does not think a change to the law is necessary. “We don’t need new legislation, we need new thinking. We need sensible thinking,” he said. “What I’m trying to do is to say that I don’t believe that ISPs should give us everything for free, of course not.”
But he added that any firm which claims it can’t afford to provide such data in support of police protecting children “simply can’t afford to do business”.
Gamble compared CEOP’s work to transport police, who are allowed to travel free on trains. “They won’t have to buy a ticket to get on the train – and you compare the train system to the online network; they won’t pay or have to cajole or convince the conductor to give them the information about the threatening person who’s in the carriage down the back,” he said.
“So what we need to do is get the whole of the online industry – because many of them already provide this info to us for free – to get the whole industry to behave more reasonably on this particular issue.”
Source: IT PRO
Hatchet Job on Devon
January 23, 2009 permalink
The Hamilton Spectator interviewed Dominic Verticchio of Hamilton Children's Aid to get the latest on Devon. The family is gagged, so they cannot answer Mr Verticchio's claims. The family is in a situation calling for prayer, but they are not, as the article suggests, religious zealots who would neglect medical care. They are in touch with state-of-the-art medical specialists and in the absence of CAS compulsion, would be applying other treatments that could give Devon better prospects than chemo. Mr Verticchio says: "I've not heard of any significant detrimental side-effects." That is because he has not listened to the family, who report Devon is near death.
Family renews battle to stop child's chemo
Believe God will heal him
Susan Clairmont, The Hamilton Spectator, (Jan 22, 2009)
The boy would probably be dead by now if it wasn't for the chemotherapy a judge ordered him to have.
Still -- even as their son lives and breathes -- his parents wish he had never had the treatment they hold fast to the belief that this is not what their son wanted. That his desire was to refuse all modern medicine. That his belief was that the Creator would heal his cancer.
And they supported their son's decision.
Even though he was 11 when he made it. Even though he has fetal alcohol syndrome and mental health issues. Even though he functions at the level of an eight-year-old. Even though a psychiatric assessment concluded the boy was incapable of making his own decision on the matter.
And even though two of the country's leading pediatric oncologists said he would die within six months without chemo.
That was last May. Doctors at McMaster Children's Hospital called the Children's Aid Society and the case went to court. And at the end of a very public and very disturbing tug of war over a very ill child, a family court judge gave the CAS the sole right to make medical decisions for the boy. And so he had chemo.
On Monday, the boy, his parents and the CAS will be back in court for the first time since the judge made his initial ruling. The boy has finished his in-hospital chemo treatments although chemo drugs are still being administered to him at home. He is now expected to live.
His parents plan to ask the court to let them control their son's medical care again.
Even though they admit they would take him off all his meds.
"We want the doctors to leave him alone," says his stepmother.
None of the family members can be identified because they are involved with the CAS.
The boy -- who is now 12 -- and his father and stepmother all believe chemotherapy is more dangerous than the acute lymphoblastic leukemia he was diagnosed with nearly five years ago. They say it makes him far sicker than the cancer. It was the side-effects of an earlier round of chemo that led the boy to say he did not want any more and that he would beat the illness with the help of the Creator and natural remedies such as tumeric, oregano and green tea.
The family says they are of native background, although CAS documents declare the boy "non-native."
The boy, according to his step-mom, is having trouble walking, has a lung infection, impaired speech, blurred vision and a failing memory. She insists it is all because of the treatment he has received.
"He has a lot of medical problems he never had before," she says. According to her, the boy "just wants them to stop. He thinks he's going to die because they won't stop giving him chemo."
The boy's mother died of cancer. After chemo. And a baby she gave birth to during her treatments lived just four days.
The court order handed down last spring included a clause that prohibits the boy from having any contact with the media. So there is no way to hear from the boy in his own words.
CAS executive director Dominic Verticchio says the family has complied completely with the court orders. He also says that -- despite constant updates from the boy's doctors at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital where he is now cared for -- he is unaware of the ailments the stepmom says he now suffers from.
"The treatment has been successful," Verticchio says. "I've not heard of any significant detrimental side-effects."
As far as the doctors, the CAS and the court is concerned, chemotherapy saved this boy's life.
To the child's father, chemo is poison that is killing his son.
"I still feel exactly the same."
Susan Clairmont's commentary appears regularly in The Spectator. email@example.com 905-526-3539
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Addendum: Mary Janiga reminds us of the rally for Devon on Monday, and gives more on his medical condition. From other sources we have heard that he was prescribed Risperdal to treat fetal alcohol syndrome, and his cancer, if any, may be one of its side effects. Even his doctors disagree with his current chemo treatment, only CAS and the courts are forcing it on the boy.
reminder of January 26th protest
On January 26, 2009 at 10am a group of concerned citizens, families and supporters will be in front of the Hamilton Family Court House at 55 Main Street West Hamilton, ON to support a child and his family that has been undergoing forced chemotherapy for the past 9 months at the hands of the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton.
Through reliable sources we have been told that:
- There was a misdiagnosis of care and cancer therapies.
- Doctors have stated that if there wasn't a court order there would be no treatment.
- There have been debilitating after effects on the body of this child after chemotherapy treatments such as decreased memory, speech impairments, lung and liver damage, glaucoma, and foot and leg immobility. These are just a few of the many ailments that this child is suffering on a daily basis.
- The child has been on several pharmaceutical cocktail drugs related to chemotherapy treatments.
This child has been denied his right to Native traditional healing and spiritual teachings while in the hospital.
This child has been writing songs and stories and because of a publication ban cannot publish his thoughts and pain.
We support this family and families everywhere!!
Make your voices heard, come out and support this cause!!
Source: Mary Janiga blog for January 24, 2009
Crown Ward Graduates to Crime
January 22, 2009 permalink
The queen, acting through her servants in children's aid, is both the mother and grandmother of Alan Cory Esquega, a second-generation crown ward. The Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal describes the results of their "care".
Man jailed for brutal attack
By SARAH ELIZABETH BROWN, Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Standing in a wooden prisoner‘s box, a young man who brutalized and sexually assaulted an elderly Thunder Bay woman in her own home leaned forward and softly apologized Tuesday.
“I‘d like to say I‘m sorry for my actions,” 20-year-old Alan Cory Esquega told Justice Patrick Smith of Superior Court. “I know I have a history of violence.”
Esquega, who was sentenced to a total of 14 years in prison – minus the usual double credit for time already served – asked if he could serve his time at Kingston Penitentiary.
Smith told him he doesn‘t have any say over where he does his time, just how much he gets.
Esquega‘s effective sentence will be 11 1/2 years.
“This case is absolutely tragic,” said Smith. “Two lives have effectively been ruined. . . . the effects of this heinous attack have undoubtedly robbed (the victim) of the peace and happiness that she was entitled to enjoy in the last years of her life.”
No sentence would be enough to compensate for what happened to her, Smith said.
Calling the 14 years “an ultimately fair sentence,” defence counsel George Joseph noted the range for home invasions goes up to life in prison. Smith‘s decision was a fair one given Esquega‘s lack of a substantial criminal background, he said.
Esquega earlier pleaded guilty to unlawful confinement, uttering death threats, robbery, aggravated assault, two counts of breaching probation and sexual assault.
Joseph said it was the toughest case he‘s ever defended.
“This is the kind of case that tests the justice system,” he said. “I think today, this was an example of how it works.”
Esquega has been in custody sine his arrest 10 days after he stepped through the back door of a south-side Thunder Bay home on Aug. 21, 2007. The 87-year-old woman inside later told police from her hospital bed that she told him she would get him some money, and retrieved $75 from her purse.
Esquega pushed the woman toward the basement and she fell down the stairs. In the basement, he thrust a stick into her ear, struck her repeatedly and burned her with a hot iron. The woman was sexually assaulted and tied up.
She could have died if she hadn‘t untied herself and crawled upstairs to call 911, Smith noted.
The woman was found with bruising, scratches, a broken wrist and swelling all over her body.
While he said he hoped Esquega can get help and treatment while in prison, Smith said he has reservations of that happening given comments in the pre-sentence report and assessments.
Esquega started drinking at age 15 and displays delays in speech, communication, scholastic achievement and socialization. He loses control under stress and has a high risk to reoffend, the reports say.
It‘s suspected he suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, but he has refused testing.
The pre-sentence report author said Esquega has a history of compulsive and aberrant behaviour, and described one incident at age eight when Esquega poured oil on a dog, set it on fire and watched it die.
Smith outlined Esquega‘s early years – born to a mother in and out of dysfunctional relationships marred by substance abuse and violence before being handed over to extended family.
Esquega and his three siblings were eventually placed in foster care. Before being made a Crown ward, Esquega bounced through 16 foster homes. His mother had also been a foster child and ward of the state.
That Esquega has been severely disadvantaged in life from birth wouldn‘t be overstating the facts, Smith said.
But, Smith said in his 24-page decision, “These crimes are heinous, incomprehensible and shocking given the degree of cruelty, violence and sadism exhibited by Mr. Esquega towards the victim.”
Calling the attack “absolutely senseless,” Smith asked why Esquega didn‘t simply take the money the woman gave to him and leave.
“What compelled him to beat, terrify and repeatedly violate a defenceless person with whom he had no prior contact except to gratify himself in some perverse way?
“With respect to Mr. Esquega‘s aboriginal heritage and background, this is a case where the violence and seriousness of the crime dictates that, as a practical matter, an appropriate sentence will not differ as between aboriginal and non-aboriginal offenders,” Smith wrote.
Source: Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal
Alberta Kafka Still Free
January 21, 2009 permalink
The Edmonton foster mother accused, and convicted, of killing a child two years ago is still free awaiting sentencing.
Killer of three-year-old foster child free to walk the streets while awaiting sentencing
Two years after her three-year-old foster child died of cranial trauma so severe that it left his brain "popping out of his skull," the killer still walks around a free woman.
And it will be another three months before a judge finally determines an appropriate punishment for her deplorable crime.
"I'm sick to my stomach," the victim's aunt said yesterday as she struggled to keep her composure.
"It's been so long. We expected all this to be finished tomorrow, and now we have to wait until April."
The hearing to determine the killer's sentence for manslaughter was supposed to start yesterday, but it was postponed because a psychiatric assessment requested by her lawyer couldn't be done on time. The hearing is now scheduled for April 7.
The victim's uncle seethed. "How can they keep prolonging this? It's been hard on everyone. When something like this hangs over you, it's damaging to the mind and body."
The killer, who cannot be named in order to protect the victim's identity, was convicted of manslaughter in November for the January 2007 death of a little boy entrusted to her safekeeping.
Instead of a safe haven, witnesses at the trial painted the foster home as a den of sadistic cruelty.
One said the tyke was repeatedly left in an unheated garage in January, wearing only a diaper.
Another said the foster mom forced the boy to stand with his nose against the wall for up to two hours at a time.
The foster mom was said to have made the pre-schooler run up and down snow-covered hills for exercise.
Once, according to her live-in nanny, the woman made the boy do "stair exercises" - at midnight.
She was apparently determined to toilet-train the boy, forcing him to spend hour after hour sitting on a toilet until he urinated.
One witness recalled seeing the foster mom hit the tyke as he sat there, knocking him into the tub.
She was alone with him in the bathroom the night he suffered a blow to the head so extreme that his brain swelled up until it was, in the words of one medical expert, "popping out of his skull."
"You can't do it with a single impact," testified Dr. Alex Levin of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. "The bottom line is the kid didn't have a fall and suffer a sudden impact."
But the foster mom, a petite, well-dressed, middle-class woman, denied any abuse and tearfully insisted in court that, in fact, the boy was so out of control that he was injuring himself.
The blow that killed him, she claimed, happened when he struggled with her in the bathroom, fell and hit his head against the toilet.
In the end, Justice Richard Marceau acknowledged yesterday that nobody can say with 100% certainty what happened in the bathroom that night, whether "a blunt instrument hit the (boy's) head, or the (boy's) head hit a blunt instrument" because the only other person present was the foster mom.
The judge wants the psychiatric assessment to include potentially "mitigating circumstances," like whether she found the boy to be difficult, whether the foster mom was under too much stress and whether she "sought to be a foster mother for commendable reasons."
But Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga insisted that regardless, the foster mom must be held fully accountable.
"All we know is she's the adult; she's the caregiver," Huyser-Wierenga said. "She assaulted this child in a manner that caused his death."
But in the meantime, the boy's grieving family can only look on as the woman responsible for their loved one's death two years ago continues to walk around free.
Source: Edmonton Sun
Mother Denied Legal Aid
January 21, 2009 permalink
When a murderer is tried, he gets a lawyer, even if he cannot afford one, because every accused person is entitled to competent counsel. Murderers yes. Mothers no. We copy below a reply to an Ontario mother who asked for legal representation to allow her to have contact with her sons who are crown wards. The wording of the rejection shows that legal aid considers the actions of children's aid to define the best interest of the child.
Yvonne Craig, reasons:
This appeal, by letter of appeal by the applicant, from the refusal of a legal aid certificate by the Area Committee at Windsor on November 26, 2008, comes to me by way of Section 30(2) of the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998. The applicant applied for legal aid in order to bring an application for access to her two sons who are Crown wards without access.
I have carefully considered the material in this application, including the submissions of the applicant contained in her letter of appeal, the accompanying documents and the submissions of counsel. I have also had the opportunity to speak to the applicant by telephone in order to receive additional information. I have concluded that the Area Committee correctly decided that there is insufficient merit to the application to justify the provision of a legal aid certificate.
I am sympathetic to the applicant's wish to have access to her children and to ensure that they know her. The legal test for access is whether it would be in the best interests of the children. A previous status review application, concluded in 2005, resulted in the applicant withdrawing an application for access to these children. The applicant was granted access to her eldest child at that time. It appears that the CAS opposed the access to the two boys and the Children's Lawyer did not support access. I agree with the Area Committee's assessment that there is insufficient information to support a conclusion that the Court would likely to find that access at this time is in the best interests of these two children, in view of the length of time that has passed since the applicant has had contact with them and their stable placement in foster care.
Accordingly, I am upholding the decision of the Area Committee.
Source: Email from Yvonne Craig
January 21, 2009 permalink
An American mother separated from her toddler son in 1992 saw him for the first time last week. Here is her report on his condition.
January 18, 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
Today I spoke with my son for the first time since he was taken from me in 1992 by CPS. He is severely damaged, physically, emotionally, psychologically, socially. It is isn't a little minor trauma and distress. It is probably the most extreme case of harm done by the state and the home he was placed in that I have seen or known about in regards to any child that has survived long enough to reach the age of 18.
His condition is so extreme he will never be normal in any way unless there is divine healing from our Holy Creator. It was so terrible I do not even know how to talk about it all right now, but will need to.
My case needs serious media attention to demonstrate what happens when child protection agencies have complete control over what they do with a child with no true objective system of checks and balances and independent investigations. Christopher is in a horrible state. I will make a list of some of the things and send them to you when I have a chance to digest this mornings encounter. The psychiatric drug abuses they did to him as a toddler will cut his life short. His bone growth was severely stunted among other things.
I ask each and every one of you to pray now for my son, for God's incredible hand to be upon him for healing and comfort. Pray for our reunification as mother and son, and pray for Christopher's future as well.
Thank you so much. I know each and every one of you will be faithful and pray as you receive this.
In Christ Jesus we stand firm against the darkness of the evil one,
Your sister in Christ,
Source: Email to discussion forum. Since we did not clear this message in advance, we have suppressed the mother's name. Contact information can be supplied privately.
Adult Twins Kept Apart
January 21, 2009 permalink
Identical twins Rosabelle Glasby and Dorothy Loader were separated at birth and adopted in different countries. Showing that the stupidity of bureaucracy knows no bounds, the Australian government has ruled that the twins are unrelated persons, ineligible for family reunification.
Govt says identical twins 'not related'
Article from: PerthNow, Chris Robinson, January 17, 2009 05:00pm
A WA woman has been told by Australian authorities that she's not related to her identical twin sister.
Rosabelle Glasby says she is ``shocked and saddened'' she cannot bring her sister into the country to live because the Department of Immigration and Citizenship does not consider the pair to be related.
Adopted by different families shortly after their birth in Malaysia, Mrs Glasby and Dorothy Loader were separated for almost 50 years before finally meeting last September.
But now Mrs Glasby, from Margaret River, is facing an uphill battle to be permanently reunited with her twin, who lives in Malaysia.
In a letter to Mrs Glasby last month, DIAC state director Paul Farrell explained that despite the circumstances, the present laws meant Ms Loader would not be eligible for family migration.
``Under Migration Law where the legal relationship between a child and his/her birth parents has been severed by adoption, the legal relationship between the child and his/her birth siblings is also severed,'' he said.
``It therefore does not appear that your twin sister would be eligible for a permanent visa under the Family Stream of the Migration Program.''
Mrs Glasby said she was heartbroken that her long-lost twin did not qualify as family.
``We're identical twin sisters _ we're the same egg,'' she said. ``Just because we got adopted into different families they say they don't consider us related.
``It's hard to get anyone more related to me.''
Following an arduous search for her twin that stretched two decades, Mrs Glasby located her sister late last year and the pair finally met in Perth for an emotional reunion.
Having spent time in Australia and then Malaysia getting to know each another, Ms Loader said the sisters, who turn 50 next month, were desperate to be together.
``We have a bond that perhaps only other identical twins can understand,'' she said.
``We don't just want to be together, we need to be together; it is as strong as that.
``I hope the people who know about our story will have the compassion and mercy to grant this last wish of mine to be with my sister and turn my dream into reality.''
Mrs Glasby, a former WA Health Department worker who now acts as a carer for her disabled husband, echoed the sentiments of her twin sister.
``She calls me the yin and I call her the yang _ as a whole, we work together as one,'' she said.
``We've totally bonded and we want to be together. Without her, I now feel incomplete.''
Mrs Glasby's husband, Marc, said he found it difficult to understand the department's policy. ``It doesn't make sense _ I think the typical phrase is `bureaucracy gone mad','' he said.
``Now (that) the department has decreed that the identical twins are not related, this effectively closes off our last avenue to apply.''
He said because Ms Loader was over the age limit of 45 that applied for most skilled migration streams, the sole remaining hope for her to obtain a permanent visa was a plea on compassionate grounds.
``What more compassionate grounds could there be when these two have got nobody else in the world as blood relatives and they want to be together?'' he said.
A DIAC spokeswoman said the family would have to lodge a valid visa application and have it denied before ministerial intervention on compassionate grounds could take place.
``As much as we sympathise with Mrs Glasby's situation, the department is bound by Australian law and any application for a permanent visa for her sister and her sister's family would have to be considered against the relevant laws and the regulations which apply to every case,'' she said.
Source: Perth Now
Big Pharma Pushes Zyprexa
January 21, 2009 permalink
Whistle-blower Robert Rudolph tells a journalist how in his twenty five years at Eli Lilly the company changed culture from pharmacist to drug pusher.
Posted on Tue, Jan. 20, 2009
Whistle-blower's perspective on Lilly case
By Miriam Hill, Inquirer Staff Writer
Robert Rudolph knew he was about to end his lucrative career at Eli Lilly & Co., but he had to say something.
Why, he asked management, was the Indianapolis pharmaceutical company marketing its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa to elderly people when the drug was not approved for that group?
Why had the company violated privacy rules by culling patient lists at doctors' offices?
Why was the company counting drug samples as sales, which would boost the stock price?
He went on for about 10 minutes during a sales meeting in 2002. The other 25 Lilly sales representatives stared at him, stunned.
"I'd just been wrestling with this stuff for so long," he said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I was put in a position of breaking the law, in my view, or quitting."
Rudolph and eight other whistle-blowers brought their allegations to federal prosecutors. That led Lilly to agree Thursday to a record $1.4 billion fine to settle charges of marketing Zyprexa illegally.
Zyprexa had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - but in 2001, the company began promoting it for other uses, such as treating anxiety, agitation and confusion in the elderly.
Drug companies are permitted to market drugs only for approved uses, though doctors may prescribe as they see fit. Lilly did an end run around the process by telling doctors Zyprexa could ease agitation, anxiety, and other everyday symptoms, according to the Philadelphia U.S. Attorney's Office, which brought the case.
In a statement yesterday, Lilly insisted its employees always adhered to strict ethics. "Doing things the right way at Lilly is more important than securing a prescription," the statement said.
Rudolph and several other whistle-blowers found their way to prosecutors through their attorneys, Steve Sheller of Sheller P.C. and Michael Mustokoff of Duane Morris L.L.P., both of Philadelphia, and Gary Farmer of Florida.
Lilly's Zyprexa marketing material included pictures of composite patients such as Martha, a confused and agitated widow.
"If you looked at it, you would say this was an Alzheimer's dementia patient," Rudolph said in the interview from his home in Oregon.
Other tactics bothered him, too. Company employees were allowed into doctors' offices on weekends to collect names of patients taking certain drugs in hopes of switching them to Lilly products.
"We're not selling soap. We're selling chemicals that can be dangerous if they're not used in the right way," he said.
That was especially true of Zyprexa, which caused weight gain. And diabetes is a risk of the drug.
Rudolph, who was a pharmacist before joining Lilly in 1976, chose the company because of its sterling reputation.
But gradually, as financial markets boomed and stock options became a bigger part of executive pay, Lilly's culture began to change, Rudolph said.
Instead of the pharmacists it had traditionally hired, Lilly started bringing in recent college graduates who had no medical background and were easy to train to parrot the company line. Instead of a profit-sharing program that all employees participated in - "even the guy who swept the floor," Rudolph said - compensation shifted to rewards-based on sales.
"This new way of compensation kind of opened the door for a lot of unscrupulous practices, I felt," Rudolph said.
He warned management of his concerns. Their response: "You're not a team player."
He began talking to other sales representatives about the issue, including Hector Rosado, another whistle-blower in the case.
As he pondered what to do, Rudolph's son, then 15, provided a moment of clarity:
"He came up to me and said, 'Dad, what's wrong is wrong.' I had taught my kids that. It was wrong, and I wanted to make it right."
So he raised his hand at the Lilly district sales meeting in Sacramento, Calif., in January 2002.
The stress of the job had thrown him into a depression. Managers made it clear they wanted him to leave, so six months after he made his stand at the meeting, he retired from his $115,000-a-year job.
He and the eight other whistle-blowers will split $78 million to $100 million of the settlement. Rudolph, 60, says the settlement against Lilly will only go so far in changing business practices. He wants jail time for wrongdoing by companies and executives.
Zyprexa sales were about $39 billion since FDA approval in 1996. Lilly did plead to a single misdemeanor of misbranding of a drug.
"You have to remember, with Zyprexa," he said, "people lost their lives."
Contact staff writer Miriam Hill at 215-854-5520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Rally for Devon
January 20, 2009 permalink
The boy Devon will be the subject of a rally in his support on Monday, January 26. Through the efforts of child assist services he was earlier rescued from Hamilton Children's Aid, but later returned to debilitating chemo-therapy.
Monday, January 19, 2009
January 26 2009 Rally update
I have been posting our rally/protest all around the World Wide Web of the Internet today....
We will be in front of the Family court House at 55 Main Street West Hamilton, ON from 10am until the court hearing is heard for the family we are supporting.
Children's Aid Society has victimized this family for too long, forced chemotherapy, injuring the body and soul of a child.
My heart aches for this child and more than tears should be shed for him.
Come out and hold a sign, support the family and all families everywhere.
We must expose the CAS for what they truly are, tyrants that control our families and children.
There must be accountability for their actions!!
Posted by Advocate at 10:14 AM
Source: Mary Janiga blog for January 19, 2009
January 19, 2009 permalink
Here is an article showing where your children go after they are stolen by children's aid. The Burlington Post could not find anything unusual about the family. Can you?
Halton couple shares adoption success story
Same-sex partners adopt three siblings out of foster care
By Melanie Cummings, Special To Burlington Post, Jan 11, 2009
Yo Mustafa and Paul Groulx went from zero to three children in a matter of six months.
The adoptive parents’ days are now filled with the stuff of most attentive, loving parents: meals, laundry, chauffeuring, overseeing homework and chores amid feelings of worry, joy, frustration and laughter. And all of this is followed by a general weariness that comes from a full day of activity.
Their three boys, Adam, 13, and 11-year-old twins James and Matthew (not their real names) Groulx-Mustafa are absorbed in sports, arts, playing with friends and a myriad of other interests typical for their age.
For Yo and Paul, their previous life of dining out daily and free time outside of work spent relaxing or socializing has been replaced by kid-focused errands, parent-teacher interviews, soccer game schedules and daily dinner time chats at home.
In fact, friends and family were more worried that Yo and Paul would be unable to take on the role of parenting because of their extroverted ways, not because they are a same-sex couple raising children.
Both say that when they made their vows to each other in a Quaker-style commitment ceremony back on July 21, 1991 — two years after they had met — becoming parents was a mutual goal.
Four years ago that dream came true. Back in July 2003 the pair started their search by attending an Adoption Council of Ontario information evening. The council is a non-profit collective of the adoption community, such as children’s aid societies.
The two men had no preference for age or gender prior to their search, which is another way their story smashes the myths surrounding adoption in so many ways. Older children do need and want adoptive families and all types of people are eligible to adopt, from single adults to families with children, to same-sex couples.
Mustafa and Groulx’s only stipulations were to adopt within Canada.
“International adoption was wrong for us,” said Yo. And while each could adopt as a single dad, neither Paul nor Yo were keen on going that route either. They preferred to adopt as a duo.
When confronted with the breadth of the need at that information evening, “I was an emotional mess,” said Yo. Currently, there are more than 2,500 children legally available for adoption in Ontario. Left to search through a bevy of booths detailing heartwrenching stories of the province’s youngest citizens, Paul continued on and found the three brothers.
It was neglect that brought Adam, James and Matthew into the care of Children’s Aid. At the time, Adam was six years old and the twins 3-1/2. They were in foster care two years before they came to Paul and Yo’s attention.
To expedite the average two-year wait for the Halton CAS to do a home study for two years, the prospective parents hired a private practitioner footing the $2,000-$3,000 expense. Over six weeks the social worker interviewed the couple — four times together and each separately — probing Paul and Yo’s financial, medical and physical states. Each had to get a police background check done and provide adoption authorities with seven reference letters.
The pair also attended a three-day parenting workshop learning about setting limits, attachment and issues faced by children from institutional and foster homes. No matter how many workshops they attended, preparing for life with a three-dimensional child in the house was a different story, said Paul.
“It was an emotional roller coaster,” said Yo.
Nevertheless, the hard work paid off. Paul and Yo were given the nod for multiple adoptions. They sent their application for the three boys to Sudbury and one week later were on their way to the Northern Ontario city.
“We made a five-hour trip in record time,” said Yo of their shared excitement and anxiety about meeting the boys they had seen only in photos. The first meeting went well. Paul brought a photo album of their pets, nieces and nephews to give the boys a glimpse of the lives he and Yo had built together. While the twins James and Matthew were amenable to them, the eldest, Adam, expressed reservations. His questions of these two strangers were simple and direct. He asked Paul and Yo, ‘Are you gay?’, ‘Do you love each other?’ and ‘Who would be the stay-at-home parent?’ To the first two Paul and Yo replied with a firm, truthful and obviously convincing ‘Yes’. To the third question, Yo assured that he would design his work schedule around their school life, working only between 9 a. m. and 3 p. m. Adam gave his resounding approval by replying, ‘Cool’.
After that initial introduction, Paul and Yo were speechless and unable to sleep that night. “We were so emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted,” said Yo. They stayed the weekend, taking the kids to lunch and a movie, playing games and chatting. “It felt like the most natural arrangement. We loved it,” said Paul. By Sunday dinner even the foster mom had given her blessing to the adoption. “I cried all the way home,” said Yo.
Between March 19 and May 15 and on top of their demanding work weeks — Paul is a family lawyer and Yo is an actor/instructor — they dutifully drove up every weekend staying at the foster family’s home and eventually taking over the parenting role. Paul felt the chemistry. He could see the twins were starving for affection and he and Yo were both willing to fill their need. Adam, ever the worrier, warmed up to them eventually.
In short order Paul became ‘Dad’ and Yo ‘Baba’ — a nod to his Turkish culture — which means Dad. Friends organized a shower to celebrate their new arrivals.
Yo, Paul and the boys almost immediately outgrew their two-bedroom downtown Oakville apartment — where the appeal of shopping, restaurants and entertainment was quickly substituted with the suburban, family-friendly atmosphere of Milton. They moved four years ago from a two-bedroom apartment to a two-storey home.
These parents firmly stick by the self-imposed rule not to speak ill of the boys’ birth mom and encourage them to stay in touch with their natural sisters aged 19 and 18. “We have to think of things from the kids’ perspective,” said Paul.
“I’m so proud of all three boys,” said Yo. While eyebrows sometimes are raised upon discovering the boys have two dads, Adam, James and Matthew take it all in stride.
“Our lives together have never been about shocking people but about education and love,” said Paul.
Source: Burlington Post
January 18, 2009 permalink
Another case has come to light in which the police tasered a mother while taking her children. This time it was the RCMP in the Northwest Territories. The children were abused by watching domestic violence, not between husband and wife, but between mother and police.
Use of Taser in N.W.T. child apprehension questioned
Last Updated: Friday, January 16, 2009 | 3:26 PM CT, CBC News
An RCMP officer's use of a Taser last year on a Northwest Territories woman, while she was holding two young children on her lap, has a shelter worker criticizing the amount of force used in child apprehension cases.
The woman, who cannot be named, was jolted with the electic stun gun after she refused to hand her children over to child protection workers in Yellowknife in March 2008.
"I don't think they had sufficient cause to go in and apprehend," said Mira Hall of the Yellowknife-based Centre for Northern Families shelter, which is familiar with the woman's case.
"It's a long and difficult process for women to leave abusive situations," she added.
"I think that what that calls for, and what best practices would say, would be that women who are living in abusive relationship need help and support counselling. They don't need people busting in their doors and assaulting them."
Hall said that in some jurisdictions, social services workers have to apply for court permission in order to apprehend children.
The woman told CBC News earlier this week that she had two of her youngest children, aged one and five, sitting on her lap when a Yellowknife RCMP officer shocked her twice with the Taser.
Police said an RCMP investigation of the case, which was reviewed by Crown prosecutors in Whitehorse, concluded that the officer did not use excessive force in the Yellowknife incident.
"The safety and security of the worker, and of the children in the home, is a concern of ours and the RCMP," Dana Heide, the N.W.T.'s assistant deputy health and social services minister, told CBC News on Thursday.
"So the RCMP walk in and ensure that the worker is safe within the home, and assist us in any apprehension or any activity we may have within the home."
The woman told CBC News that social workers told her she could not have her children back unless she stayed away from their father, who is an alleged drug dealer.
The woman said she had split up with the children's father a year earlier, but he was in the house on the day police arrived.
She added her children were returned to her a month after the Taser incident, but added that her children remain scared as a result of what happened.
Hall said the children's exposure to such violence is an issue: "A child is witnessing RCMP members attacking their mother," she said.
Heide acknowledged that child apprehensions are often emotionally charged, and sometimes it may be necessary to expose children to violence at the hands of police.
"We do our best to mitigate that damage to the child, and we weigh the balance of protecting children in the longer term with the activities we have to take immediately," he said.
Children's Aid Sued
January 18, 2009 permalink
A father is suing children's aid. The heart of his complaint is that after his divorce his mother-in-law abused his daughter so that the father could be blamed. When the scam came to the attention of children's aid, they did not protect the children from the abusive grandmother, but instead began an action to restrict his contact with his children. His press release is below, and we also have a copy of the statement of claim (MS-word format).
The father is the person using the screen name fixchildrensaid. Aside from sharing a common goal he is not associated with Dufferin VOCA.
Press Release - For Immediate Release
Monday, January 5, 2009
London, Ontario father of four sues the MCYS and Children’s Aid Society
Five and a half years after his hellish custody battle began, a London father was left with what he considers to be no option other than to sue the Children’s Aid Society of London & Middlesex (LMCAS), as well as the Ministry of Children & Youth Services (MCYS), which oversees CAS agencies in the Province of Ontario.
The father must remain unnamed due to the fact that a Protection Application was filed against him by a second, nearby Children’s Aid Society. The Child & Family Services Act (CFSA) – under which, CAS agencies’ legal obligations lie – states that children that are involved in a CFSA matter cannot be identified.
And that issue is the heart of the father’s claim against the LMCAS. In 2003, the father reported to LMCAS – based on his son and daughter’s statements to him – that a maternal relative had assaulted his daughter in an attempt to frame him for sexual assault. The father alleges that LMCAS knew that the assault occurred, but that LMCAS, instead of helping and comforting his abused child, went to great lengths to cover up the fact that the assault occurred.
“Even after I was granted joint custody in 2004 – which granted me the absolute legal right to access LMCAS’ files – they still denied me access,” the father states. “In 2006, a judge finally ordered LMCAS to grant me access to the files in question. When I finally got to see the files, even I was shocked at how clearly the evidence in the file showed that the assault had indeed occurred.”
“Even at that point”, the father goes on, “I sincerely believed that the matter was simply one of a couple of mistakes being made by low-level CAS workers and that my formal complaint to upper management would correct the problem.”
“Instead, within nine days of my official complaint being received by LMCAS, the neighbouring CAS agency filed a Protection Application against me. This had the immediate effect of instituting a publication ban on all of the issues that related to my children, which included the evidence that LMCAS had just been ordered to turn over to me. The Protection Application did not allege direct abuse or neglect by me. They didn’t even allege that I had ever hit or even yelled at my children. Their entire claim was based on the allegation that I was traumatizing my children by my pursuing legal remedies in court, which included my need to convince a judge to force LMCAS to grant me what was my legal right to receive anyway.”
The father also states that, during the two years since the Protection Application has been in place, the two agencies (the second agency has not yet been sued) have allowed the mother and her family to have almost complete control of the children and that CAS’ own evidence from the last two years shows that the maternal relatives have gone on to further abuse the children during that entire time.
The lawsuit also specifically names MCYS Minister Deb Matthews – another Londoner - as a defendant. The father alleges that the Minister herself has knowingly breached her obligations under the CFSA and is therefore also liable for the harm that has been brought upon his four children. The father was shocked when, after presenting the Minister with clear evidence of the abuse and cover-up, Deb Matthews’ office – speaking for the Minister herself - told him that if he wanted resolution, he would have to take legal action.
“It would have been much better”, the father says, “if the Minister simply abided by her duties under the CFSA and fixed the obvious mistakes that were made. Unfortunately for my children, she knowingly forced me to take the difficult and, most importantly, the lengthy process of needing to sue the MCYS and LMCAS in order to finally get the matter cleared up.”
When asked how he arrived at the figure of 1.4 million dollars in relation to his request for monetary compensation, the father explained that the figure was decided upon for a few different reasons. “1.4 million dollars is 1,000 times less than what we, as taxpayers, contribute to the CAS agencies in Ontario alone; meaning that the Provincial Government pays 1.4 billion dollars to the provinces CAS agencies – and the figure continues to grow exponentially each year. Most Ontarians would probably be surprised that the figure is that large, so I felt it important to bring that point to their attention.
Additionally, 1.4 million dollars is likely how much the MCYS and LMCAS have wasted in this case so far, while attempting to justify and cover up their previous inappropriate and unlawful actions.
But most importantly, my children have suffered tremendously due to the actions of the MCYS and LMCAS; and I have been prevented from granting my children what children with two parents should never go without: peaceful time with both parents. We all deserve appropriate compensation for what has amounted to clear bad faith actions on the part of the MCYS and LMCAS.
Note: Due to the publication ban that prevents me from identifying my children, it is not appropriate for my name to be published. (I have anonymously used the pseudonym “fixchildrensaid” in the past when posting to certain internet discussion forums, should you wish to provide the public with an identifiable name for myself.) Nevertheless, my contact information is as follows, in order for your news agency to get into contact with me:
115 McNay Street
London, Ontario N5Y 1L1
Fax – 519-451-2726
Statement of Claim will be provided to your news agency, should you request it.
Should you wish to contact The Honourable Deb Matthews, her contact information is as follows:
London Constituency office:
Mail - 242 Piccadilly Street
London, Ontario N6A 1S4
Telephone – 519-432-7339
Fax – 519-432-0613
Mail - Ministry of Children and Youth Services
M-1B114, Macdonald Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto ON M7A 1N3
Telephone - 1-866-821-7770
Fax - 1-416-325-5191
P.S. Is it possible for your news agency to confirm by email, if you do post the Press Release? Thank you in advance.
Source: email from fixchildrensaid
Pay or Lose Your Child
January 15, 2009 permalink
When California fourth-grader Paul Behill fell $7.30 behind in paying his lunch bill, the school sent his mother Kelly Behill a written demand to pay or get reported to Child Protective Services. Superintendent Richard Stotler followed the tradition of saying in public exactly the opposite of actions in private. He said he would never refer a parent to Child Protective Services just for non-payment of school lunch bill.
So which box on the form do social workers check in this case? Financial neglect? Best interest of the school? The one word "bully" is all they need.
Parent threatened by school district over $7.30 school lunch bill
Story Updated: Jan 14, 2009 at 6:21 PM PST, By Jose Gaspar, Eyewitness News
Paul Behill is a fourth grade student at Beardsley Intermediate School who is on the free and reduced school lunch program, which serves economically disadvantaged students.
His mother says her son became so uncomfortable after being questioned by cafeteria workers about his unpaid lunch bill.
"He even came to me and said, 'Well, I don't want to go to lunch, I'll just skip lunch.' He didn't want the other kids knowing that we owed money," said Paul's mother, Kelly Behill.
But the real shocker was when Kelly received a letter from Beardsley School District telling her to cough up $7.30--or risk being referred to Child Protective Services. The letter goes on to say the student's report card or diploma could be withheld or a student could be denied from participating in extra curricular activities.
"It doesn't say a whole lot for how the district cares about its students," said Kelly Behill.
The district defends its action. Beardsley Superintendent Richard Stotler tells Eyewitness News state education code gives it the right to send such a letter to parents, though Stotler could not cite the specific code.
And Stotler says the district acted out of concern for the child.
"If a child is not eating, the parent is not providing food to the child," said Stotler.
But in this case, Stotler could not say if there was any indication Kelly Behill was not feeding her son. Stotler also said he would never refer a parent to Child Protective Services just for non-payment of school lunch bill.
So why include the threat if the district doesn't intend to carry it out?
"Once you cry 'wolf' like that to a parent, are they going to believe you the next time when you didn't do it this time?" asked Loretta Westmoreland of Bakersfield.
Kelly Behill has since taken her son out of the free and reduced school lunch program. Phyllis Bramson-Paul from the State Department of Education Nutrition Program says she's not sure if school districts can legally threaten to refer a parent to CPS for non-payment of a lunch bill.
Bramson-Paul says she would discourage districts from doing so.
Source: Bakersfield Now
Social Services Cleared
January 15, 2009 permalink
Two articles from different countries show a common reaction to a tragedy in foster care. In Illinois, where four-year-old foster child Alex Angulo died in the jaws of a rottweiler, the state is cracking down on pets in foster homes. In Manitoba, where thirteen-month-old foster child Cameron Ouskan died of an undisclosed condition, the foster father is getting the blame. Typically many functionaries of the social services system, social workers, physicians, judges, police, psychiatrists and therapists are involved in cases that send a child to foster death. None of them take responsibility for their failure, and no outsiders hold them accountable. The press rarely so much as mentions one of these actors when a child dies.
Foster families could face ban on owning some pets
January 14, 2009
Sun-Times News Group
The death of a 4-year-old mauled by at least one Rottweiler owned by his foster family could lead to a crackdown on how the state regulates the care of foster children in homes with animals.
Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R-Des Plaines) said the Illinois House committee that oversees the Department of Children and Family Services might consider tough legislation outlawing dangerous dogs in foster homes.
“If you want to be a foster parent, forgoing a dog could be it,’’ Mulligan said. “The primary thing you want to do is err on the side of protection of the child.”
DCFS officials were awaiting results of an independent inquiry by a Child Death Review Team before deciding to make any changes.
Agency spokesman Kendall Marlowe said the teams review all serious injuries and deaths to children, even those not in foster care.
“We look to their recommendations for any changes that can effectively prevent these tragedies,’’ he said.
Alex Angulo died Sunday afternoon at his foster family’s Southwest Side home after he let himself out of the house and was attacked by one or both of the Rottweilers owned by the family.
The dogs were kept outside. An adult living in the house was using a snowblower in the back at the time of the attack, police said.
Alex was in the care of a 77-year-old woman in the home. But he was scheduled to move this week into the home of another family who planned to adopt him, according to court records. Alex had been in several foster homes since a week after he was born.
DCFS caseworkers were aware the animals were in the house and had recently told the family to have the dogs’ shots -- which were good through last Oct. 31 -- updated, Marlowe said. The caseworker also had been assured that the dogs were kept outside and that the child would not be unsupervised.
The Cook County Public Guardian also on Tuesday called for more stringent controls over how foster families with animals keep a child safe, saying it’s too easy for small children to accidentally provoke animals.
“There should be a whole protocol for issues of pets in general,’’ Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris said.
Source: Southtown Star
RCMP charge Manitoba foster father in child's death
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | 11:02 AM CT, CBC News
The foster father of a 13-month-old boy who died while in the care of a native-run social services agency has been charged with second-degree murder, RCMP said Wednesday.
Cameron Ouskan arrived at Gillam Hospital on Nov. 12, 2008, in life-threatening condition. The child was later airlifted to Thompson General Hospital but died of his injuries the following day. Police said an autopsy determined that Ouskan’s death was a homicide.
The boy was in the care of Awasis, an aboriginal child and family services agency that serves 12 First Nations. He was from Fox Lake, a small First Nation of about 125 people about 50 kilometres from Gillam, a town of 1,200 about 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Ouskan was in foster care in Gillam for 10 months before his death.
The RCMP said their serious crime unit is looking into a separate incident that sent Ouskan to hospital in August 2008.
Roderick Tobie Blacksmith, 29, was arrested near Cross Lake on Tuesday. Police said he has been charged with second-degree murder and was to make a court appearance in Thompson.
Awasis spokeswoman Marie Lands said the agency followed up the earlier incident in August.
"We can advise that in the earlier incident there was both an agency assessment and an RCMP investigation that were done," she said. "All necessary checks were complete and on file for this foster family."
Since 1997, according to Manitoba Child and Family Services, 48 children who received care through the child welfare system have died as a result of homicide.
The death of Cameron Ouskan occurred following a major review of Manitoba's child welfare system prompted by the 2005 death of Phoenix Sinclair, 5.
Her parents were convicted of first-degree murder in December.
Addendum: Years later, the courts exonerated the foster father of Cameron Ouskan.
Winnipeg man cleared in foster son's death
WINNIPEG - A Manitoba man has been cleared of wrongdoing in the death of his 13-month-old foster son after a judge ruled there was no evidence to convict him.
Roderick Blacksmith, 34, stood trial charged with second-degree murder in the Nov. 13, 2008 death of Cameron Ouskan.
Defence lawyer Saul Simmonds filed a motion arguing the Crown had proffered no evidence pointing to Blacksmith as the person responsible for Cameron's death.
Justice Deborah McCawley agreed and on Friday dismissed the murder charge against Blacksmith.
McCawley said she will outline the reasons for her decision at a hearing next week and in a rarely seen move, signalled she is considering an order that the Crown pay Blacksmith's court costs.
Blacksmith testified he checked on Cameron in bed and found him unresponsive with vomit in his mouth.
Blacksmith said he attempted to clear the child's airway and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before the boy was rushed to hospital. He died a day later.
Prosecutors argued Cameron suffered prior head injuries consistent with a finding of murder.
Simmonds said the medical evidence supported no such finding.
Last week, Blacksmith's wife Brenda testified she was in family court in 2009 when she learned of a Child and Family Services psychiatrist's report in which two other children admitted to roughhousing with Cameron.
A babysitter was arrested in the killing but never charged. The woman told court Wednesday she was bathing Cameron Nov. 10, 2008 when he fell backward and knocked his head on the tub.
The woman said she didn't tell Brenda or Rod Blacksmith of the incident as Cameron didn't cry and appeared unharmed.
Source: Sun News Network
Rottweiler Kills Foster Boy
January 12, 2009 permalink
Alex Angulo was fatally mauled by a rottweiler in Chicago on Sunday, making him the first entry in our list of dead foster children for 2009. A foster toddler died in Kuraby Brisbane Australia on January 2, but the Australian press suppressed his name. It is likely that 2009 will see dozens more foster deaths.
Boy mauled to death was going to be adopted
January 12, 2009, BY ANNIE SWEENEY Crime Reporter
A 4-year-old boy mauled to death Sunday by a Rottweiler at his Southwest Side foster home was going to be removed from the house and placed with a family who hoped to adopt him -- possibly as early as this week, officials said today.
Alex Angulo had been placed with the foster family in the 3800 block of West 61st Street in 2007, Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris said.
Harris said there was a plan in place to move Alex — who was not related to anyone in the home — as early as Jan. 15 to a “pre-adoptive foster home.’’
“They had found one and he was supposed to be moving,’’ Harris said. The family and Alex had already had five “transitional” visits as well.
Kendall Marlowe, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said Alex was going to be placed in another foster home, but he was not sure it would happen as soon as Jan. 15.
Alex was found dead in his backyard at 3:20 p.m. Sunday after being mauled by a Rottweiler, according to fire department officials.
Marlowe said that since Alex’s placement in 2007, there had been no investigations or “safety issues’’ at the home.
A December hearing had determined that Alex’s current placement was not a good permanent solution based on the fact that his foster mother was 77-years-old, according to court records.
A caseworker knew there were dogs in the home. Marlowe said it was the state’s understanding that the dogs were kept outside and the child would not have unsupervised contact with them.
The Public Guardian’s office, which has also been at the home, did not have any documentation about animals in the home.
Meanwhile, Chicago Police detectives were back at the home this morning. Among their questions was why no one in the home heard a young child getting mauled by the dog.
An adult was in the yard operating a snow blower when Alex let himself out and was attacked, police said. It is not clear where exactly he was attacked.
Alex has been in foster care since he was 7 days old after it was determined he had a sibling who was physically abused, according to court records.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Devon Near Death
January 10, 2009 permalink
The boy we previously identified as Chemo Boy or Devin has spent the last several months near death from chemo-therapy. At last report he had been protected from children's aid by high-powered legal intervention and had been moved from treatment in Hamilton to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Children's aid soon got him back on a harsh chemical regime leading to several organ failures. Below are two reports, one from Mary Janiga and one from the Hamilton Spectator.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Before Christmas I was reading the paper which is my daily duty to keep up to date and to see whats up with the world and Hamilton and I came across a story about "DEVON" a child that was suffering from the effects of forced chemotherapy at the hands of Children's Aid Society of Hamilton.
The Headline reads: "whatever happened to?"
We protested and stood vigil by his hospital outside during Mothers Day weekend 2008. We raised his spirits and made some changes or so we thought.
Now we will make another gallant effort to stand vigil beside this family.
I visited with "Devon" and his parents over the holidays and were told that they were going back to court on January 26, 2009 at the Family Court House 55 Main Street West Hamilton, ON.
There the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton will make another attempt to stay in the boy's life and the family's life for an additional year to monitor his condition and make the family provide the child with in home daily chemo treatment.
On January 26, 2009 we will be standing in front of the court house with our voices held high above the traffic with our trusty bullhorn and supporters.
I invite you all to come out and support us. We will be there for the day, handing out flyers, showing our support and standing vigil for this child and family again.
His voice must be heard!!
Is alternative treatment still an option?
Is Children's Aid Society going to prevent him from doing this alternative treatment?
Children's Aid Society has opted out of the radiation therapy for this child, yet with continued treatment of daily chemotherapy treatments at home, his body will not be detoxed enough for the alotted time of 30 days to start this treatment.
This child is hanging in limbo....
Thank you for your support. I look forward to seeing you all on January 26, 2009 at the Family Court House 55 Main Street West Hamilton, ON.
Hold a sign, raise your voice, hand out flyers, speak up for this child!!
Posted by Advocate at 10:34 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog entry for January 7, 2009
Whatever happened to
Court-ordered chemo boy home for Christmas
December 23, 2008, Dana Brown, The Hamilton Spectator
A 12-year-old boy forced to undergo chemotherapy after an intervention by the Children's Aid Society is home for the holidays.
The boy, who had been against the treatment, recently finished his last round of chemo at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, his stepmother said.
"This Christmas and New Year's is about (him) still being alive to share it with us," she said.
The child and the family cannot be identified because of their involvement with CAS.
The boy, who has fetal alcohol syndrome and suffers from mental health issues, has acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
In May, a court battle over whether to compel him to undergo treatment made national headlines. His family wanted to treat the cancer with non-traditional medicine.
The boy, who was 11 at the time, had been sick before and said he did not want any more chemo.
Ultimately, CAS won a court order forcing the child to have the treatment and his family complied.
The boy's stepmother said he will not have to be hospitalized for any more treatments, but will receive chemo at home, as well as injections in his spine every six weeks.
At home, the family will have to wear gloves to administer chemo in a pill form, once every day and a dozen pills once a week, she said.
The treatments should last about a year.
She said because of the chemo, her stepson has developed problems with his vision, back and legs.
The family, and the child, still wish the treatment had not happened, she said.
"It wasn't our choice for (him) not to do chemo. It was his," she said. "And we wanted to stand behind his wishes and nobody would let us and I think that's absurd."
Source: Hamilton Spectator
January 10, 2009 permalink
Who's the lawyer best qualified to be a family court judge? Answer: the one who represents children's aid. Nathalie Gregson, who represented children's aid in the past, has been appointed judge of the Ontario Court of Justice, sitting in Sault Sainte Marie
Sault's newest judge a specialist in family law
Posted By THE SAULT STAR, Updated December 19, 2008
A North Bay specialist in family law was sworn in Thursday as Sault Ste. Marie's newest judge.
Justice Nathalie Gregson will preside in the Ontario Court of Justice at the Sault courthouse.
Her appointment was effective Dec. 3.
Gregson, who was called to the bar 1994, has been a sole practitioner specializing in family law.
She also represented the Children's Aid Society for the districts of Nipissing and Parry Sound for the past nine years.
As well, she helped organize a collaborative family law program in North Bay and has represented children as a panel member of the Office of the Children's Lawyer.
Gregson has been a deputy judge with the Small Claims Court, a member on the board of North Bay's Legal Aid Ontario Appeals Committee and has served on Canadore College's Board of Governors.
Source: Sault Star, pointed out by Karol Karolak
Addendum: Here is another CAS judge.
Ontario Ministry of The Attorney General
Attention News Editors:
Three new judges appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice
TORONTO, Jan. 16 /CNW/ -
The province has appointed three judges to the Ontario Court of Justice, effective January 28, 2009.
[Judges Robert W. Beninger and Michael Block omitted.]
Madam Justice Manjusha Pawagi was called to the Bar in 1997. Since then she has practiced family law. She worked as counsel for the Children's Aid Society (CAS) of Toronto from 1997 to 2004, where she represented the society in child protection cases in both the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice. While with the CAS she also designed and delivered training for social workers, foster parents and CAS counsel on topics such as amendments to the Child and Family Services Act, court conduct, and the Human Rights Code. Later, she served as counsel for the Office of the Children's Lawyer, where she represented children in child protection and custody and access cases. She has also acted as mentor to several University of Toronto law students. Madam Justice Pawagi is also a successful children's author. Chief Justice Annemarie E. Bonkalo has assigned Justice Pawagi to preside in Brampton.
ONTARIO MINISTRY OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Source: Canada News Wire
CAS Helped Kill Katelynn Sampson
January 10, 2009 permalink
It turns out CAS was involved in the death of Katelynn Sampson, in spite of their earlier denials. A cop enticed mother Bernice Sampson into an illegal drug deal with the prospect of earning $40, then children's aid compelled her to give up custody of her daughter. [The more politically correct Toronto Star says she gave up custody to avoid having CAS seize her child after an anticipated conviction]. She selected her friend Donna Irving without any knowledge of Donna's past history of harming children. Had the police and children's aid left this mother alone, Katelynn would still be alive.
Mom lost girl over $40
Drug charge forced Bernice Sampson to give up Katelynn -- then she was murdered
By SAM PAZZANO, COURTS BUREAU, Last Updated: 9th January 2009, 3:49am
Bernice Sampson had to hand over her daughter to two guardians -- now accused of killing the seven-year-old -- because she faced a minor drug charge that netted her $40, court heard yesterday.
Sampson, 47, the grieving mom of murder victim Katelynn Sampson, pleaded guilty yesterday to trafficking crack cocaine and was given a four-month stay-at-home sentence in Superior Court.
Defence lawyer Corbin Cawkell told Justice Ian Nordheimer that Sampson suffered every mother's worst nightmare after the 2007 charges forced her to give up custody of her child.
"She suffered enormously and unexpectedly as a direct result of these charges," Cawkell said.
"She gave up custody to these guardians ... and (Katelynn) was brutally beaten to death. She is picking up the pieces and moving forward."
The judge said he accepted the conditional sentence due to "the tragic circumstances of the accused's life and her daughter."
Sampson said she's still so traumatized that she sometimes looks for "Katelynn as if I don't know she's not there.
"You cannot imagine what I have gone through," said the mother of five and grandmother of four.
"I'm seeing a psychiatrist to help me get through this nightmare."
Last September, Donna Irving, 29, and her common-law husband Warren Johnson, 46, had their charges upgraded to first-degree murder in the death of Katelynn Angel Sampson, who was found dead Aug. 3 in a West Lodge Ave. apartment in the Queen St. W.-Lansdowne Ave. area.
Irving told a 911 operator the child had choked while eating and stopped breathing, police said.
However, Toronto Police launched an investigation into Katelynn's death because of what police called major injuries to her body.
They said later the child had been "assaulted throughout her entire body," the victim of months of brutality.
Sampson has fought a long battle against drug addiction but had remained out of criminal courts for a decade before 2007.
But when she was charged in a drug deal as a go-between for a dealer and a buyer who turned out to be an undercover cop, the Children's Aid Society became involved.
Sampson agreed to hand over custody of her children to her friend Irving, whom she has known for 15 years, and Irving's common-law spouse.
Source: Toronto Sun
Another Shaken Baby
January 10, 2009 permalink
The junk science shaken baby allegation, supposedly banished by the Goudge inquiry, is back. Three experts convinced a court that retinal hemorrhaging was a sure indication of shaken baby. In the money-making part of the story, the family's three children are now under supervision of children's aid. Since the family is not named, no outsiders, such as child assist services, can check the facts or help the family. In case friends of the family see this item, please get in touch with Dufferin VOCA at the phone or email address on our homepage for assistance.
Crown wants 36-year-old jailed
January 09, 2009, Barbara Brown, The Hamilton Spectator, (Jan 9, 2009)
A 36-year-old mother of three was found guilty yesterday of shaking her 13-month-old baby so hard the boy was left blind and permanently brain injured.
Superior Court Justice David Crane convicted the Hamilton woman on one count of aggravated assault. Prosecutor Janet Booy said she will be urging a term in jail, but defence lawyer John Abrams would push for a period of house arrest.
In the meantime, Crane allowed the mother to remain at home with her husband and all three children -- subject to supervision by the Children's Aid Society -- until her sentencing April 23.
"I am acutely aware that a mother of a baby who is innocent and charged with this offence will be subject to the most serious and devastating allegation of crime. A wrongful conviction is the gravest miscarriage of justice," he said.
But Crane said he was persuaded of her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt based on the testimony of medical experts at her trial last month.
The Crown called three doctors who testified the baby's brain injuries and retinal hemorrhaging were not accidental, but the result of being forcefully shaken or from a blow to his head.
The judge found the mother was the only one who could have inflicted the injuries before calling 911 at 5 p.m. Aug. 31, 2006.
"I find that I am obliged by the evidence and its overwhelming weight," said Crane.
"I accept the conclusions of the medical experts ... that the subject injuries to (the boy) were non-accidental. I find the injuries proven beyond a reasonable doubt as shaken baby syndrome."
Paramedics arrived to find the mother seated on the living room couch and cradling her unconscious child in her arms.
The boy had no external signs of injury but was completely limp and his breathing shallow and irregular. He was taken to McMaster Children's Hospital and diagnosed with swelling and bleeding of the brain.
Doctors also found the micro-thin layers of the baby's retina had split or sheared, causing hemorrhaging and blindness.
The experts testified a finding of traumatic retinoschisis in one so young is a very telling sign of child abuse.
The baby's father, who speaks better English than his wife, reported to health-care and child welfare workers the boy had been climbing on a chair a few days earlier and had fallen 30 to 60 centimetres to the hardwood floor.
In the days after the fall, said the dad, the boy was fussier than normal, refused to eat and vomited a few times. On the day of the 911 call, the baby was seated on the floor of the bedroom and fell backwards, striking his head on the floor.
He said the boy cried at first, then went limp and unresponsive.
Defence lawyer Abrams referred the court to recommendations from the report of the Goudge inquiry, which examined the potential for wrongful convictions based on flawed expert testimony.
The inquiry looked at cases involving the now discredited Dr. Charles Smith, who had an international reputation as a pediatric forensic pathologist despite having no scientific basis for his opinions and none of the requisite training in forensic pathology.
Crane said the three expert witnesses called by the Crown at this trial met the threshold of reliability test "without a flaw."
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Pre-natal Baby Stealing
January 10, 2009 permalink
Pre-natal health in Hastings could soon be dropping, for the same reason parents fear taking their injured children to Ontario's hospitals. The Hastings Children's Aid Society, the subject of an unusually large number of complaints in the past year, is launching a new Helping Hands initiative for pre-natal care of high-risk families. If not enough gullible mothers participate, past practice suggests the police will be rounding them up for referral to children's aid.
CAS program to aid 'high-risk' families with newborns
Posted By HENRY BURY, THE INTELLIGENCER, Posted January 9, 2009
The Hastings Children's Aid Society is getting a helping hand from the Quinte Children's Foundation to help high-risk families welcome new babies into their lives.
Executive director Len Kennedy told directors Thursday evening the children's foundation is providing the CAS with $44,000 to help it launch its new Helping Hands initiative later this month.
"Our initiative will provide instrumental supports and linkages to lower income, high-risk families pre-natally and post-natally," he said.
Kennedy said the one-year pilot project will have a start-date of mid-January and will work collaboratively with such programs as Healthy Babies and Healthy Children and Babies and Beyond.
The emphasis of the program is to provide education, informal and formal support networks and problem- solving strategies.
Kennedy said Helping Hands is not one of the agency's core programs "but is more of a preventative service for high-risk families."
Peter Knudsen, children's foundation chairman, said his organization initially agreed to donate $30,000 to Helping Hands but decided to commit another $14,000 this year to ensure the financial success of the program.
"Prospects for these additional funds have been identified and we are confident that these funds will be forthcoming over the 2009 calendar year," Knudsen said in his report to the CAS board.
Knudsen said the foundation is also committed to reviewing funding on an annual basis "provided the program shows real success for the new mothers concerned."
"We are very pleased to have this program starting in January and commend the children's aid society for this initiative."
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Alexis Goes Home
January 10, 2009 permalink
Yesterday Washington DSHS asked the judge to return Alexis to her grandparents. The girl was reunited with her family the same day.
DSHS got a lot of bad television publicity in this case. Conceding custody of Alexis ended their embarrassment. The source page for the article below includes several minutes of video of the family reunion.
Investigators: Judge gives girl back to grandparents
10:08 PM PST on Friday, January 9, 2009, By SUSANNAH FRAME / KING 5 News
SEATTLE -- After a two-year battle, an Enumclaw couple has been reunited with their granddaughter. A judge ruled the child is leaving foster care to be with family.
"Hi, my princess," said AnneMarie as she kissed and hugged her granddaughter Friday.
It's a stunning turn of events in a custody case that the KING 5 investigators have been following for months. The ruling to place the child back with family came after an emergency hearing was called Friday afternoon before Judge Ronald Kessler of King County Superior Court. Department of Social and Health Services officials ripped the child out of her foster home two days ago, after a complaint came into the Department about the foster mother.
Doug and AnneMarie Stuth hugged and cried when the judge made his ruling. It was an unbelievable moment for the couple who has been at bitter odds with the state for months. But Friday, the state changed its tune by actually asking the judge that the toddler be placed with the grandparents.
"This is huge. We thought we'd lose her forever," said Doug Stuth.
The little girl was taken away from her mother, the Stuth’s teenage daughter, as an infant. The mother was seen unfit to take care of the baby.
The Stuths stepped in and raised the child for months. Favorable reports about the job they were doing were presented to the court many times. Then, they lost her to foster care.
State social workers and the prior judge thought the Stuths were too controlling of their teenage daughter and their overbearing ways hurt the young mom’s chances of learning how to be a parent herself.
This decision was made even though state law mandates that relatives must be considered first before foster care when a child can't live with the parents.
The KING 5 Investigators also found misinformation was presented to the court about the Stuths by a social worker and a court appointed child advocate, which helped lead to the separation. After fighting the system for nearly two years, this complete turnaround is unreal to them.
"It means a lot today to listen to those words," said AnneMarie.
"There’s no words for it," said Doug, holding his granddaughter in his arms. "We’re going home."
The grandparents still have to be approved by a court to keep the child permanently. As for the biological mother, who’s now 18 years old, she’s still the legal parent, but is supporting the move of her child back to her parents. Her defense attorney, Ruth Warner, said after court, "We’re delighted, vindicated, because this is part of what we’ve been working toward as an alternative. If the child could not be returned to the mother, my client wanted the child returned to the family – the grandparents. We’re thrilled."
DSHS just assigned new social workers to this case, who are obviously taking a different approach to it altogether. They tell us their goal is to keep the child with family, and out of foster care. They plan on providing several services to help make that happen. They even invited KING 5 cameras to their offices tonight to videotape the reunion. The supervisor said he made the decision because they saw this as a positive step in the child’s life after all she’s been through with several different placements.
Judge Kessler ruled the teenage mom can continue visiting her child, but he made it clear that for now, the grandparents are in charge.
Source: KING-TV Seattle
Addendum: Alexis Stuth became the youngest person to testify in the Washington state senate.
Source: Pam Roach blog January 22, 2010
January 9, 2009 permalink
Ten-year-old Seth Ireland died while social services was sleeping on the job. Today Californians fed up with child killers pelted the Fresno CPS office with rotten eggs, and sent harsh emails to social workers.
The parents were separated and the boy lived with mother Rena Ireland and her new partner Lebaron Vaughn. Father Joseph Hudson was reduced to visitation. When it was found that mom and stepdad were beating the boy, CPS and the courts sided with mom, bashing dad for not reporting the abuse soon enough.
We enclose two articles below, one about the vandalism, the second derived from an interview with the bereaved father.
CPS Feeling Backlash after Death of 10-Yr-Old
Thursday, January 08, 2009 | 6:55 PM, By Itica Milanes
Fresno, CA, USA (KFSN) -- The Fresno County Child Protective Services office was the target of threats, after the death of a 10 year old child.
CPS employees showed up for work in Downtown Fresno and found their building splashed with rotting eggs.
They called in extra security but then there were angry emails and phone messages. Action News has learned about a letter signed by Seth Ireland and whose penmanship looks like that of a child. But the words are beyond a 10 year old.
He talks about injuries and tries to explain how he got them-- like being tripped at school, and falling in the shower. Chilling words from a little boy just two months before his brutal murder.
The note -- dated November 2, 2008, appears to be written by Seth. He talks about falling in the shower and getting hurt, having been in the hospital, but feeling better.
He also refers to his mother's boyfriend, Lebaron Vaughn as his daycare provider. And then there are telltale signs that Seth may have had some help writing the letter. He signed off saying 'I declare under penalty of perjury under the law of the U.S.A.'
Legal jargon most 10 year olds would know nothing about. CPS Director Cathi Huerta says she and her staff are devastated by Seth's death.
CPS Director Catherine Huerta said, "You know, its a failure when we lose a child, whether fault found or anything."
Wednesday morning, CPS workers arrived at the Downtown Fresno office to find the building egged. Inside there were several hateful emails and phone messages.
"You know, how can you let this happen what kind of a person are you? Look what happens when you didn't do your job," said Huerta.
Huerta says she understands the outrage.
"The public is upset, they have a right to be upset. I won't take that away from them," said Huerta.
Huerta believes there are countless parents who may be on the verge of a breakdown where they may hurt their children or possibly do something even worse. But she admits the resources are just not available in the Valley.
Right now -- law enforcement, teachers, or others who call CPS about a problem involving a child usually talk to a case worker.
But Huerta told me that in the future-- the case worker must call a supervisor-- and the supervisor will make the ultimate decision about what to do with the child.
Source: KFSN-TV Fresno
Father Speaks Out Over Son's Death, Ongoing Fight for Custody
By Preston Phillips Story Published: Jan 8, 2009 at 1:20 AM EST, Story Updated: Jan 9, 2009 at 2:42 PM EST
The father of a Fresno boy who died Tuesday morning, following a severe beating, is speaking out tonight.
The boy's mother and boyfriend were formally charged in court today, in connection with 10-year-old Seth Ireland’s death.
For the first time since their arrest December, 30th, 40-year-old Rena Ireland and her boyfriend, 32-year-old Lebaron Vaughn appear in court.
Tuesday morning, Ireland is formally charged with 2 counts of child abuse against her son, 10-year-old Seth Ireland.
Vaughn, her boyfriend and son's accused killer is also charged with 2 counts of child abuse, and murder.
Both suspects pleaded innocent to all charges against them.
Joseph Hudson, Victim’s Father: “His smile, his bright eyes, his intelligence. I'm going to miss everything about my son."
Tuesday afternoon, Joseph Hudson, Seth’s biological father shared with us, his side of the story.
He says he blames the court system and police department for failing to protect his son.
Hudson: "I had been pleading with them since last august when I started noticing signs of child abuse."
Hudson says up until the end of August, 2008, he was allowed to see his son without supervision.
But he says, one weekend, while he and his son were hanging out, he noticed several bruises and scars on the back of his legs.
Marks, that according to his son, were from falling off of his bicycle.
Hudson: "For my son's safety, I didn't mention anything to mom or anyone else. I wanted to continue weekend visits with me because I love my son."
Shortly after, Hudson says the boy's mother filed a hearing with the courts and blamed the abuse on Hudson.
But Hudson says following mediation, what he calls "the truth" came out, that the boy's mother had actually been cited for child abuse around the time he noticed the physical marks.
Hudson and his attorney say the judge reprimanded Ireland for corporal punishment and for alienating a child.
But Hudson says the judge was also upset with him for not reporting the marks when he saw them on his son.
That's when Hudson says, the custody order was changed by the courts to supervised visits only, with the mother retaining custody.
Hudson: "I was totally outraged and shocked about the findings. The judge blew me off and just ignored me."
As the fight for his son's custody continued, more bruises and marks of physical abuse showed up on Seth.
This time, in October, witnessed by Carla Manning, the principal at Kirk school, where both Seth and his brother Javron had attended from early September until October 30th.
Concerned for the safety of both Seth and his brother Javron, Manning wrote a letter to child protective services on November 17th, requesting something be done.
In the letter, Manning states, “They live with their mother Rena Ireland and the mother’s boyfriend, LeBarron Vaughn. I am very concerned about the well being of the boys. Both boys are absent a lot and have come to school with bruises. Most of my concerns center on the boyfriend, LeBarron Vaughn. He tried to register the boys for school as their legal father. The mother was located and was told to re-submit the paper work or the students would be dropped. Mr. Barron claimed that the last school treated them rudely and tried to force them to sign an IEP for the boys. I told the parents that only the mother could make decisions regarding the boys and that I would not talk to or give any information to Mr. Vaughn unless there is an emergency. Mr. Vaughn has asked the school to 5150 Seth because “he was out of control.” He asked for a 504 plan even though the boys do not have a diagnosed disability and he wanted to get medication for Seth because he claimed that Seth had mental and behavioral problems. I again told him that only Mrs. Ireland could speak for the boys and that the boys did very well in school academically and did not have any behavior problems. The boys did not return to school. Out of concern for the boys, I made a CPS report reporting the bruises that I witnessed and the request for mediation for the boys. After two weeks, they were found to be enrolled in two different schools in the Fresno area.”
But Hudson says he feels authorities, even after receiving this letter, failed to intervene.
Tonight, he grieves, clinging to memories of his son, and hoping changes to the system will one day be made.
More shocking information was also revealed Wednesday.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s office stated on December 26th, 3 days before Seth was severely beaten, both his mom and her boyfriend tried to abandon Seth and his brother Javron at the Fresno County Jail, because they were, according to the report, quote “out of control.”
The report also stated that this is what Seth’s mother and her boyfriend were told by social services to do if the boys acted up.
According to a deputy, a short time later, they decided to take the kids back home, where they said they’d be safe.
At that same time, the report says a deputy notified child protective services about what had taken place.
It also stated that both boys didn’t show any signs of physical abuse or neglect.
Also Wednesday, Fresno County Supervisor, Henry Perea called for an independent investigation of the county’s child protective services.
He plans to ask the board next Tuesday to form a local independent review panel and present findings and recommendations back to the board of supervisors within 60 days.
Suspects, Rena Ireland and Lebaron Vaughn are scheduled to appear back in court on January 22nd and February 5th.
Source: KSEE-TV Fresno-Visalia
Addendum: Here is another case of anger at child protectors, this time from Texas.
Web Posted: 01/09/2009 2:16 CST
Police check out suspicious package at CPS
Lomi Kriel - Express-News
San Antonio Police are at the headquarters of Child Protective Services, responding to a call for a suspicious package that had been delivered there.
According to a police dispatcher, a package wrapped in a chain and padlock was addressed to a specific case worker and had been left at the location, on the city's Southeast Side.
More details were not immediately available.
Source: San Antonio Express-News
New CAS Fodder
January 9, 2009 permalink
Zavier Broomes is the first child born in Dufferin in 2009. The baby has not been visited by children's aid, but he is probably already under watch, since recordkeeping now covers all children. We can see some factors causing social workers to salivate: the parents show no signs of wealth, and it appears to be an interracial family. We wish this future Canadian Barack Obama good luck in in a system stacked heavily against him.
Orangeville Citizen, January 8, 2009
THE FIRST OF 2009: Zavier Broomes of Shelburne arrived right on schedule at Headwaters Health Care Centre Jan.1 to become the first child born in Dufferin this year. Even so, the 9 pound 8 ounce baby had parents Danielle and Kenwyn a bit concerned when he waited until mid-afternoon to present his 25-inch frame to the world. "I was surprised that another wasn't born closer to midnight," Danielle said. Zavier is not only the first born in Dufferin in 2009, but becomes the firstborn of the Broomes family.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
January 9, 2009 permalink
In another example of the amazing powers of social workers, a woman with credentials in social work and criminology, but none in chemistry or biology, can with a single drop of blood identify imbalances and pinpoint problems, and discuss what they mean to her clients’ overall health. Her analysis detects inflamation, liver damage, immune system problems and even cancer. No more need for years of scientific training or million dollar diagnostic equipment.
A single drop tells all in the world of blood analysis
Posted By Megan Huff, December 18, 2008
Quinte West – If a picture is worth a thousand words, so is a single drop of blood, says Jodi Hawthorne.
Hawthorne, a certified blood analyst, has been inviting people into her Stirling-area practice for about a year now, to study their blood in order to identify imbalances and pinpoint problems, and to discuss what they mean to her clients’ overall health.
With more than $18,000 in certified equipment, including a custom made microscope from Germany and a large flat screen monitor, in her one-room home office, Hawthorne uses both live and layered (dry) blood specimens to identify what she calls the “foundations” of many health issues.
In live blood analysis, Hawthorne uses her microscope to view a drop of her client’s blood on a large computer monitor. Comparing a blood specimen to the rings of a tree, Hawthorne said she can see anything from metal toxicity to parasites; on rare occasions, she’s even spotted the formation of cancer and other serious illnesses in some patients., she said.
Hawthorne said she never diagnoses the more serious cases but encourages them to have tests done through their family physician.
“I choose not to diagnose, instead I tell people that I can see the foundation for something – like cancer.”
Hawthorne sees about 10 patients per week on average; most of them are around 40. They book an appointment because they have a couple of symptoms and they want to know what’s causing them.
“Being tired is a big one,” she said. “Or people come in because they can’t lose weight. Or another big one is having ringing in the ears.”
Hawthorne said she regularly sees allergies as a key problem, as are inflammation and liver damage.
“Keeping the immune system healthy is so huge,” she said, adding that if a patient can change the way their immune system is functioning it will often fix a myriad of problems.
“Usually just curing one problem will help so many more,” Hawthorne said.
After discussing with clients what she sees in their blood, Hawthorne sends them home with a list identifying what problems they have, and a “to-do” list of what can be done to combat them. Sometimes it takes just weeks to turn things around, she said.
Currently working to finish her master’s degree in herbology, Hawthorne is a big believer in herbal supplements, and organic, raw foods. She said many problems people have today can be cured through lifestyle changes.
“If we have to open a package or a can, it comes loaded with allergens and chemicals,” she said. “It’s so amazing what nutrition can actually do.”
The moment a food is packaged, its nutritional value plummets.
“We are what we eat, so if we’re eating all this dead, packaged food, we’re going to show it.”
Some people are confused as to what kinds of foods are actually bad, Hawthorne said.
“For example, a lot of people say salt is bad, but really it’s table salt that’s bad for you. It is bleached and has chemicals in it. But, there are lots of other kinds of salts that actually have some health benefits.”
Since opening Quinte Blood Analysis a year ago, Hawthorne said there have been only three appointments where the patients had perfectly healthy blood – and more than 500 people have passed through her office.
A mental health worker for 10 years, with a degree in social work and criminology, Hawthorne found herself wanting to look deeper into the roots of schizophrenia and other diseases of the mind, and why so many illnesses are treated with medications, when she believes some can be treated naturally.
She recalled studying a case where a bipolar patient was found to be so full of metal toxicity that it had actually eaten a hole in the small intestine, causing leaky gut syndrome.
“It literally drove the patient crazy,” she said. “After three-and-a-half months of alternate treatment, she came off the medication that she’d been on for 11 years and had been told she’d be on for life.”
Hawthorne is now booked until January. For more information about blood analysis, visit www.quintebloodanalysis.com or phone 613-395-0993.
Source: Community Press
A Death in the Family
January 8, 2009 permalink
CBC's The Fifth Estate has produced a program on the case of William Mullins-Johnson, who spent twelve years in jail for a false homicide conviction obtained on the testimony of Dr Charles Smith. You can view the program on the CBC website, A Death in the Family (flash format).
Alexis not Terminated
January 7, 2009 permalink
A judge has ruled in favor of the Stuth family in the case of granddaughter Alexis. He ruled that DSHS failed to give the grandparents an opportunity to adopt, and has allowed them to file an application for custody. In situations like this, DSHS rarely plays dead, so there may still be more tricky motions from them. Meanwhile, Alexis has been moved out of her foster home to a new location.
Had there been no publicity from senator Pam Roach, Alexis would have been lost by now. This case is an example of our advice that publicity is the best defense against child protectors, better than lawyers.
Investigators: Stunning ruling opens door for grandparents
06:36 PM PST on Wednesday, January 7, 2009, By SUSANNAH FRAME / KING 5 News
SEATTLE -- There was a stunning decision Wednesday in a King County courtroom involving a custody battle the KING 5 Investigators have been following for months.
A judge has ruled a little girl taken from her home and put in foster care may be headed back to her grandparents.
The KING 5 Investigators first started looking into the custody battle because we couldn't understand why seemingly loving, stable grandparents weren't given the chance to care for the granddaughter they'd help to raise. Instead, she was put into foster care.
Wednesday, a judge agreed the relatives should have been given more consideration.
It was a defining moment in court for Doug and AnneMarie Stuth, who have been fighting for nearly two years to get their granddaughter out of foster care and back into their home.
King County Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler ruled it may happen after all -- a move which shocked everyone in the court.
Doug Stuth was stunned, saying the ruling “couldn’t have been better."
The baby was taken from her mom--the Stuths’ teenage daughter, Lisa Lieberman-- as an infant. She'd let the baby get dangerously thin.
The Stuths stepped in to raise the little girl, but they fell out of favor with social workers and a different judge who ruled the Stuths were too controlling and selfish to do the job.
The child went into foster care.
At Wednesday’s trial, the state was trying to terminate the teen mom's parental rights permanently. But, the judge ruled the Department of Social and Health Services and the earlier judge on the case hadn't properly followed state law.
“The department and the dependency court in attempt to get Ms. Lieberman on track to parent failed to adequately to consider the legal obligation to consider relative placement. I understand the reason for it but I think it was in error,” said Kessler.
“I didn’t think that this was going to happen, that’s for sure,” said Lieberman, in tears. “So happy that it did.”
The judge said he was prepared to terminate the teenager's parental rights because the state proved their case. If he would have done that, it would have meant that neither she nor the grandparents would have ever seen the child again.
But because of this error--not adequately giving the grandparents a shot at keeping their grandchild--he's giving the Stuths one week to file papers requesting custody.
And there’s another surprising twist. DSHS apparently moved the toddler out of her foster home Tuesday and placed her in an emergency foster home. No reason was given for the removal.
Source: KING-5 TV Seattle
Addendum: In case the KING-5 video disappears, we have a local copy (flv).
CPS presented a lie to the judge. They claimed Alexis should remain in foster care because the girl had bonded with her foster mother. An accident revealed to the judge that Alexis had already been separated from that foster mother.
CPS Lies To Judge Kessler And Gets Caught In Court
Sometimes you can do all you can and God just drops in and throws things a curve. I am talking a miracle. That is what happened today when a naive new CASA wasn't smart enough to keep a lie alive. And, boy, was King County Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler mad when he figured it out.
Well, judge, as grateful as we all are for your decision today...I have to tell you that there have been a lot of lies by CPS before your court.
Yesterday, the state went full bore against the family. They just railed on the Stuths and the mother. They lied through their teeth. They testified that "Little Lisa" had bonded with the foster woman and it was in the best interest of the child to terminate parental rights and place Lisa with this woman who has an active restraining order against a former lover. And, at the same time, they knew that CPS was removing Little Lisa from the foster woman and placing her in "emergency" foster placement.
CAN ANYONE REALLY BELIEVE THIS OUTRAGEOUS BEHAVIOR? What will the Attorney General say about this big lie? What will AG Ms. Li say about this lie?
WILL THE ATTORNEY GENERAL PUNISH THESE TRAITORS TO THEIR OATH?
AND...JUST PLAIN FUNNY.....Today, the state argued for 15 minutes that KING5 TV and investigative reporter, Suzannah Frame, should not be in the courtroom! (...Ya gotta love how stupid it is to go after people who broadcast TV all western Washington!!!!)
The attorney general's attorney argued the judge could not let the press in the courtroom. They were abruptly set straight when....Judge Kessler finally dropped a big book on the bench and said, "According to this book I can ... and... I will!" I LIKE BOSTON LEGAL, TOO.
Nothing seemed to be going well. The judge told the mother she wasn't a good person. He went after the grandparents, he was just not a happy guy. He only knows what he is told or what comes out in court. The mother's attorney could certainly have found a way to bring the terrible medical records forward but did not.
THEN SOMETHING HAPPENED...SOMETHING THAT STUNNED THE JUDGE...SOMETHING THAT HORRIFIED CPS AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE STATE.
The new CASA mentioned that Little Lisa had been removed from the "loving" foster woman and placed in emergency housing last night. The woman just assumed the judge knew! She didn't know the rules on how to steal kids!
It was one big blunder committed by the new court appointed special advocate (CASA). She didn't understand that she was suppose to shut up about what had happened last night at the home of the foster woman... and it unfolded right in front of a very irritated judge!
While the state was testifying about all this "bonding" crap between the foster woman and Little Lisa...they were preparing to take the child on an emergency basis away from the foster home!
Apparently, the loving foster woman had her license pulled! (I will find out why!!!!) And, remember...she has an infant baby boy from the state who was just in the hospital...another emergency.
Posted by Pam Roach at 9:35 PM
Source: Pam Roach blog for January 7, 2009
January 7, 2009 permalink
An aboriginal foster girl missing in Winnipeg since 4 pm yesterday is now back in custody (or care).
Missing girl found safe
By SUN MEDIA, Last Updated: 7th January 2009, 10:02am
RCMP have now found Jaeda Vanderwall, who has returned home safely after she went missing on Monday.
Yesterday, East St. Paul RCMP asked the public's help to locate the missing 11-year-old foster child, who also goes by the name Jaeda Beaulieu.
She had last been seen in the area of 200 Osborne St. in Winnipeg on Monday at 4 p.m.
RCMP thanked the public and media this morning for helping to locate her.
Source: Winnipeg Sun
Invasion of the Baby Snatchers
January 6, 2009 permalink
Caitlin Herman and Nathaniel Postma grew up in foster care in British Columbia. As they were both approaching emancipation, they fell in love and last November Caitlin gave birth to a baby girl, Gwendolyn Postma.
So did the family live happily ever after? Not with social services on the ready! The girl was seized from the delivery room at the age of eleven hours, and is now in the custody of the province. According to the British Columbia MCFD, a childhood in foster care prevents the development of the skills necessary to be a good parent.
In the sci-fi movie classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, aliens abducted humans one at a time and reincarnated them as aliens with the appearance of the human victim. In social services, families are turned, one at a time, into permanent foster families by condemning all future generations.
Surrey North Delta Leader
Couple's baby apprehended at birth
By Sheila Reynolds - Surrey North Delta Leader, Published: January 05, 2009 1:00 PM, Updated: January 06, 2009 12:07 PM
It was less than an hour after midnight on Nov. 16 when Annaliese Gwendolyn Postma entered the world.
She arrived weighing 7 lbs.15 oz. and was 51 cm. long with a full head of brown hair.
Parents Caitlin Herman and Nathaniel Postma were thrilled to meet their daughter.
"I was actually the one bawling my eyes out when she came out," recalls burly Nathaniel.
But less that 12 hours later, confusion, anger and sadness would overshadow their happiness.
Before lunchtime, a nurse came in and took Annaliese from her mom's arms. The nurse didn't say anything or answer Caitlin's questions as she wheeled the child out of the room in her bassinet.
Nathaniel had been sleeping nearby but awoke to the ensuing chaos as several social workers and RCMP officers entered the maternity room at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
The baby was being seized, the parents were told, and taken into the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
The dad, according to government documents, was agitated and volatile, even the next day. But his child was being taken, he argued, of course he was stressed.
Caitlin and Nathaniel are both 19. They were in foster homes much of their own lives. Both "aged out" of care earlier this year.
Caitlin, whose birth mother abused drugs and alcohol, was put in foster care at birth. Over the years, she has been diagnosed with myriad mental health disorders, including fetal alcohol syndrome, neonatal abstinence syndrome, attention deficit disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression.
Nathaniel lived mainly with his grandmother until age 14 when he began having anger management and abandonment issues, and she could no longer care for him due to her own health issues. He's since suffered from anxiety, depression and psychosis. He remains close to his grandmother.
Both have also been on medications for years, although Caitlin went off them prior to becoming pregnant. She has since followed up with her psychiatrist and a letter written after her Dec. 11 appointment says the new mom "does not require any medication at this time."
Nathaniel says he manages his symptoms without the pills but does have a prescription for a low-dose anti-psychosis medication.
When the couple met more than a year ago, they fell in love quickly and decided to have a baby together.
But six months into the pregnancy, in July 2008, someone placed a child welfare call, expressing concern about the pair's ability to care for a child. Their many diagnoses were cited, as was the fact they'd not been taking their prescribed medications.
A social worker didn't meet with Caitlin and Nathaniel until late October. A report provided to The Leader by the couple says the worker was concerned about the sanitary state of the one-bedroom apartment, noting there was cat hair, the carpets were dirty and there was a sour/stale smell. It also outlines Caitlin's admission that she has mood swings and smoked pot during her pregnancy. (Caitlin says she smoked very little, and only to stop nausea to allow her to eat). It also talks about verbal arguments and the teens slapping one another, but they say it's always in fun and never escalates to physical fights.
The report references collateral checks with family and professionals indicating concerns about the pair's mental health issues, as well as "the conflictual nature of their relationship and maturity/developmental ability to safely and effectively parent and (sic) infant."
A source also told the worker Caitlin drank and used drugs prior to knowing she was pregnant and predicted she'd go back to using in order to cope with the stress of being a new parent.
Sitting on a couch in their small but tidy apartment with family and friends, Caitlin and Nathaniel talk openly about their past, their troubles, their mistakes and their plans for the future.
Their baby, they vow, would be safe and loved and well-cared for in their home. While they are both on disability assistance and earn a combined $1,500 a month, they've budgeted for their daughter's needs.
"I've been around newborns since the age of 10," Caitlin says. "I do feel I'm one of those people that was meant to have a baby."
Nathaniel believes he's a "natural" when it comes to fatherhood.
They're currently allowed to visit their daughter in her Coquitlam foster home three times a week. Annaliese weighs close to 11 pounds now. Caitlin breastfeeds during her visits and pumps her milk during the week.
But the bassinet in the couple's bedroom remains empty at night, except for a blanket bearing their daughter's photo. No overnights with the baby are allowed.
On the change table beside the bed is a pale pink Christmas stocking they filled during their supervised holiday visit. They await the day Annaliese can come home to stay.
Kids only apprehended when 'immediate' threat: Ministry
Decisions to seize children are always a last resort, according to the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Only when a child protection concern is raised – be it through a hospital, a family member or a neighbour – does the provincial body step in.
Caitlin Herman and Nathaniel Postma wonder why, if they were viewed as such risky parents, they weren't offered supports – such as parenting or anger management classes – prior to the baby's birth and apprehension.
While a complaint was made in July, a social worker didn't come to their home until October, just weeks before the baby was born.
A spokesperson from the ministry could not speak about Annaliese's case specifically, but said the ministry often works with parents and parents-to-be on self-help skills and specific tasks such as meal preparation and money management.
"Our first goal would always be to try to put those supports in place where that's a possibility, but in some cases, there are immediate child protection concerns which outweigh those goals," he said, noting the approach is the same whether the child is born yet or not.
"Children are only removed when there's an immediate threat to the child. Unless that threat is apparent, we would not act to remove the child."
Nathaniel and Caitlin can't understand how their newborn would be in any danger, but say they weren't offered any assistance prior to the baby's birth.
Having been in foster care her whole life, the young mom says she would have attended any courses or counselling to assure her daughter would come home from the hospital with her.
"I know what it's like and I never wanted that for my daughter. Had they given me the choice – I would have done anything."
The couple has since registered for a parenting class that begins this month and they are looking for a relationship counselling course that doesn't have a waiting list.
Last month in court, the province applied for a three-month extension to the temporary custody order for Annaliese, but the couple's lawyer contested it. Both sides are now scheduled to sit down and discuss the case during a conference scheduled for Feb. 19.
Source: Surrey Leader
January 4, 2009 permalink
When Erie County New York Office of Children and Youth placed a foster child in the home of Bonnie and Paul Bryan, they didn't bother to warn about his past. He repeatedly sexually molested another child in the home.
Suit against OCY reinstated
Foster parents claim they got no warnings about violent boy
By LISA THOMPSON, email@example.com, Published: January 04. 2009 12:01AM
A federal appeals court has revived a long-pending lawsuit filed by a Cambridge Springs couple who claim the Erie County Office of Children and Youth placed a sexually abusive foster child in their home without telling them of his past.
The foster child, a 14-year-old boy, went on to repeatedly sexually assault a child during the 14-year-old's time with the family in 2001, claim the couple, Bonnie and Paul Bryan, of Cambridge Springs.
A federal district judge dismissed their suit in 2006. The appeals court recently ordered it reinstated.
This time, as the case moves forward again in U.S. District Court in Erie, it will be handled by a legal team that includes a high-profile Chicago lawyer who advocates the reform of foster care and adoption laws.
The lawyer, Jay P. Deratany, has worked on several cases of what he refers to on his Web site as "adoption negligence." The site highlights one case in which he won a $14 million settlement for clients who, he said, had been "abused due to the negligence of a social services agency."
"We regulate the automobile industry and products more than we do the placement of children," Deratany said in an interview Friday. "It is sickening."
Other lawyers on the plaintiffs' team include Timothy D. McNair, of Erie, and Jeffrey G. Mashni, of Chicago. A Meadville area law firm previously represented the Bryans.
Pamela V. Collis, of Pittsburgh, who represents the defendants, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Court records indicate the defendants have pointed to evidence that the Bryans were notified of the foster child's problems.
The Bryans are seeking damages. They first filed the lawsuit in 2003 in U.S. District Court in Erie against OCY and local child welfare agencies and caseworkers.
They said their 14th Amendment right to due process had been violated when a predatory 14-year-old was placed in their home and sexually assaulted a 9-year-old boy who was living in the home.
Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill Jr. dismissed the lawsuit in 2006. He ruled the Bryans had failed to state a claim for action in federal court.
The Bryans appealed. They recently received a ruling in their favor from a three-judge panel of the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
Two judges, Michael A. Chagares and Thomas M. Hardiman, said the Bryans should have been given the opportunity to amend their complaint before it was dismissed. The third judge, Theodore A. McKee, agreed, but also said the Bryans' claim should not have dismissed in the first place. He said he believed their first complaint raised evidence that the Bryans had been subjected to danger created by the state.
"I simply cannot agree that no reasonable juror would find that placing a known sexual abuser in a home with minor children, with no warning to the foster parents (and with reassurances), is tantamount to 'deliberate indifference,'" he wrote.
Based on the 3rd Circuit ruling, Cohill issued an order permitting the Bryans to file an amended complaint, which they did on Dec. 26.
Named as defendants are OCY, and several administrators and caseworkers who worked there during the events in question.
A status conference has been scheduled for Jan. 21.
The Bryans also have state law claims pending in Crawford County Court against private child welfare agencies and workers who played a role in the foster child placement, Deratany said.
Focus of new complaint
In the complaint filed in 2003, the Bryans said the 14-year-old boy was adjudicated dependent and placed at Harborcreek Youth Services.
In December 2000, the boy began to visit the Bryans under a "host family" plan, according to the suit. In March 2001, Erie County OCY placed the teen in their home as a foster child, the Bryans said.
They said six months later, in August 2001, a then-9-year-old child revealed to the Bryans that the 14-year-old boy had sexually assaulted him. They said they later discovered that the assaults had occurred repeatedly and began soon after the 14-year-old boy began visiting their home.
When they discovered and reported the incidents, the Bryans claim, they were blamed for not protecting others from the foster teen and were stripped of their foster-parenting certification.
At the time, the couple had two of their own children living at home, as well as two foster children, ages 3 and 4.
The amended complaint again faults OCY for placing the 14-year-old boy with the family. However, it abandons multiple claims focusing on the actions surrounding the couple's foster-parent status.
The new lawsuit reiterates the Bryans' claims that they had no knowledge the 14-year-old boy had a history of sexual abuse.
The Bryans claim OCY staff had direct knowledge that the 14-year-old boy had committed violent acts of sexual and physical abuse against members of his biological family. They claim an OCY caseworker who knew of this background told them that the 14-year-old was a "great kid" who was "just lonely."
They claim a form that was supposed to list the 14-year-old's problems had been edited to delete information regarding his history of sexual aggression before it was given to them.
LISA THOMPSON can be reached at 870-1802 or by e-mail.
Source: Erie Times-News
California Children Safer
January 3, 2009 permalink
KGO San Francisco reports that 65 child welfare workers are being laid off in Contra Costa County to meet budget cuts. Children and families are now that much safer. Sadly, the reporter does not get it. You can view the video on the KGO website Contra Costa cuts 65 child welfare workers, or our local copy (12 megabytes flv).
Failure to Snitch
January 2, 2009 permalink
When Pennsylvania Dr Lekgobo Chimidza examined infant Zaraiyah Mitchell in January, she found bruises and a bite mark, but did not report the injuries to child protectors. The baby girl died in May allegedly at the hands of her parents. The doctor has now been charged with a crime for not reporting.
There is a good chance that if this child had been removed from her parents she would be alive today. Child protectors take advantage of opportunities like this to terrorize mandated reporters, generate favorable publicity and stir up hatred. Here is a reader comment to another story on this same case:
Posted by MrsMP on 12/31/08 at 10:00PM
I hope they give her life in prison.... she might have saved this child's life, but she turned a blind eye to the abuse.
Caution. Sometimes hateful comments like this are posted by social workers hiding behind internet anonymity.
As long as the press prints these stories while suppressing most deaths in foster care, readers are being misled. Foster care is ten times as hazardous as parental care, and in general reporting children to child protectors is as helpful as reporting Jews to the Gestapo.
Doctor to be tried on failing to report abuse
Friday, January 02, 2009, BY MONICA VON DOBENECK, Of Our Lebanon County Bureau
LEBANON - The trial is to start Monday for Dr. Lekgobo Chimidza, a pediatrician charged with failing to report suspicions of child abuse in the death of 6-month-old Zaraiyah Mitchell in May.
Zaraiyah's parents, Kevin Mitchell, 21, and Miriam Nebot, 21, of Lebanon, have been charged with homicide in her death.
Chimidza, 50, a doctor with Good Samaritan Pediatrics, examined the baby in January, noting she had bruises and a bite mark, according to prosecutors. She did not report suspicions of abuse to the state, officials said.
State law requires certain professionals, including doctors, to report suspected child abuse. The law exempts them from the usual doctor-patient confidentiality laws in those cases and relieves them of liability if they are sued because of their allegations.
Anyone may report suspicions of child abuse to the state's ChildLine: 800-932-0313.
MONICA VON DOBENECK: 832-2090 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Patriot-News
Addendum: Sanity prevails.
Lebanon doctor found not guilty of failing to report child abuse
Posted by mvondobe March 05, 2009 19:02PM
A Lebanon jury found pediatrician Lekgobo Chimidza not guilty today of failing to report child abuse after about three hours of deliberation.
Prosecutors said Chimidza, 50, a doctor with Good Samaritan Pediatrics, should have reported to authorities when two-month-old Zaraiyah Mitchell showed up at her office Jan. 15, 2008, with bruises on her cheeks and a bite mark on her thigh.
Four months later, Zaraiyah was dead, and her parents, Kevin Mitchell and Miriam Nebot, are charged with homicide in her death. Their trial is scheduled for April.
Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold said Zaraiyah's parents also had a history of missing doctor's appointments and that a social worker had targeted the family for being "at-risk." Chimidza said she never saw the documents saying the family was at risk.
Chimidza told the jury she never suspected child abuse because she believed Nebot's explanations. Nebot, who took the stand today, said Zaraiyah got the bruises on her cheeks because her father would suck on her cheeks while kissing her. She said the bite came from a 2-year-old toddler.
The trial in Lebanon was unusual. While certain people, including doctors, teachers and police officers, are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse, charges for violating the law are rare.
Source: The Patriot-News
Durham CAS Stonewalls Client
January 2, 2009 permalink
According to John Dunn, Durham CAS is denying a client access to his (maybe her) own file.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Durham CAS Supervisor Theresa Ducey Denies Client Access to Files
A Durham Children's Aid Society supervisor, Theresa Ducey is refusing to allow a client to review their own files, something clients have a right to do, and which is a fairly standard practice within most child-welfare agencies and departments across the Country.
John Dunn, the Executive Director of the Foster Care Council of Canada talked on the phone with Ducey approximately a week ago and Ducey informed him that file access is a fairly regular procedure where a worker will accompany the client while they review their files.
Dunn is also in the process of trying to obtain a copy of the Society's policy on client access to their own files so the client is aware of their rights.
"It is extremely frustrating to see that a Supervisor at the Durham Children's Aid Society is choosing to be contentious on such a simple matter, which will end up costing hundreds or thousands of tax-payer dollars for legal counsel as the Society is unnecessarily dragged through the complaints procedure of the Child and Family Services Review Board" Dunn said.
The Council is currently working on a press release regarding this matter and will make a report available to the provincial Auditor who now has jurisdiction over Children's Aid Societies, the Ombdusman of Ontario, child-welfare critics at the Legislative Assembly, the local Regional Office of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Minister of Children and Youth Services and to the media in the hopes of bringing the appropriate attention to this matter.
Source: Foster Care News
Dead Girl Protected from Dad
January 1, 2009 permalink
Nebraska accused Paul Castonguay of touching his daughter Amanda, then took the girl into their custody where she died. Dad is not allowed to attend his daughter's funeral because of the accusation.
Accused Dad Can't Attend Daughter's Funeral
Judge Denies Paul Castonguay's Request For Temporary Release
POSTED: 6:16 pm CST December 31, 2008, UPDATED: 8:43 am CST January 1, 2009
OMAHA, Neb. -- The father of a 16-year-old girl killed in an icy car crash last week will not be able to attend his daughter's funeral.
A Douglas County judge has denied Paul Castonguay's request for a temporary release from jail so he could go to the funeral.
Castonguay being held on charges that he sexually assaulted his daughter, Amanda Castonguay. She had been in foster care for three months when she died in the Dec. 23 crash.
Paul Castonguay said he should be released from jail because the charges are a misunderstanding and because his accuser, his daughter, is dead.
"I told them the only thing I will admit I did wrong is allow my daughter to sit on my lap," said Paul Castonguay. "We were fully dressed. My whole family was together and, as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with that."
Amanda Castonguay told sheriff's deputies on Sept. 23 that her father molested her and was moved to a foster family that day.
In an interview on Christmas Eve, Paul Castonguay said he thought that the charges against him would be dropped.
"They don't have any evidence besides my daughter's testimony, nothing whatsoever," he said.
Prosecutors said that they have enough evidence to convict Paul Castonguay without his daughter's testimony. Deputy county attorney Leigh Ann Retelsdorf said there were other witnesses and phone records that showed Castonguay told his wife what to say to police investigators.
Defense attorney Jeremy Jorgenson told the judge that the phone records are being misconstrued and that the defense will continue to press for the charges to be dropped.
"We will vigorously defend the charges," said Jorgenson. "He's proclaimed his innocence from the beginning."
Judge Thomas Otepka said the phone records were one reason he declined to release Castonguay.
"There may be a difference in opinion of what the meaning was, but there's no question of what was said," Otepka said. The judge amended Castonguay's bond, ordering no direct contact between Castonguay and his wife.
Castonguay said the state is trying to paint a disturbing picture of who he is.
"I've never been a pedophile and never touched a kid in my life," he said. "But that's what the state of Nebraska is trying to get me on. (It's) trying to get me as a pedophile because I touched my daughter and I never touched my daughter."
Jorgenson said the next step will be to make a motion to suppress comments that Castonguay made during his initial interrogation and the phone records of the conversations between him and his wife.
Source: KETV Omaha
Child Welfare Worker Insane
January 1, 2009 permalink
Two psychologists testified that former Wisconsin child welfare worker Brenda Thiel was incapable of appreciating the wrongfulness of her actions. The testimony came only after the woman killed her son.
Dec 31, 2008
Child Killer Found Insane
OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) -- A Neenah woman who suffocated her 2-year-old son was found not mentally responsible Tuesday.
Testimony showed Brenda Thiel, 28, had spoken of harming her children after she attempted suicide March 31, only six weeks before the death of her son, Caleb.
Thiel, a former part-time employee of Winnebago County's Child Welfare Division, was kept in the psychiatric ward at Theda Clark Medical Center from the day of her suicide attempt until April 8. The boy died at their home May 5.
Thiel pleaded no contest in November to first-degree intentional homicide but also contended she was not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
A criminal complaint said she told police she heard voices telling her to "give her only son" just before she suffocated the boy.
Two psychologists who evaluated Thiel testified she was incapable of appreciating the wrongfulness of her actions.
After the testimony, Winnebago County Circuit Judge Scott Woldt found Thiel not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and said she would be placed in a mental institution instead of going to prison.
Under the commitment, Thiel could be institutionalized for life but will have the opportunity to petition the court for conditional release at six-month intervals.
Among the witnesses was psychiatrist Patricia Jens who told the court Thiel had become so psychotic that she didn't think she was doing anything wrong while smothering the child with her hands. Jens said Thiel thought she was sending him to heaven where he'd be happy.
"She did nothing to alert anyone," Jens said. "She was overwhelmed by the psychosis."
But special prosecutor Patti Wabitsch said in closing arguments that there was evidence to the contrary. She noted that Thiel told her mother to call police after she suffocated Caleb. Also, before committing the homicide, she closed the door.
"That's an indication that she knew what she was going to do was wrong," she said.
Members of Thiel's family testified she began growing lethargic a year ago, sleeping more and letting her hygiene slip, and after the suicide attempt she said she did it because she was having thoughts of harming her children.
Gloria Keen, her mother, said that on the morning the boy died, Thiel came in the room with an expressionless face and asked her mother not to hate her before saying, "I think I hurt Caleb."
Keen ran up the stairs.
"They made me do it," she recalled her daughter repeating. "The voices made me do it."
Keen said she tried to revive the boy, "but I knew he was gone."
Jens said Thiel had been treated for depression, not psychosis, and her grip on reality kept slipping after she left the hospital.
"She believed she was taking care of her son," Jens said.
After the verdict, Thiel turned to her family and said "I love you" before she was led out.
Her father, Rodney Keen, told reporters the trial brought some closure, but he's lost a daughter and grandson.
"The relief is that she's getting the help that she needs to get," he said.
Source: WTMJ-TV/Associated Press
January 1, 2009 permalink
Kansas mother Bambi Baker-Hazen is in jail to protect her daughter Ashton Baker from the horrors of foster care.
Posted on Fri, Dec. 12, 2008
Mother jailed in case of missing daughter
By ROXANA HEGEMAN, The Associated Press
WICHITA | A homeschooling mother whose daughter was removed from the family home following a mistaken truancy report was jailed Friday after refusing to reveal where the girl has been since October.
Bambi Baker-Hazen said she was invoking her right to protect her daughter, Ashton Baker, 14, from what she called abuse in the state’s child welfare system. The girl had spent 47 days in the Wichita Children’s Home before running away Oct. 6.
Baker-Hazen told Sedgwick County Juvenile Court Judge Tim Henderson that when she tried to return Ashton to the home, the girl threatened to jump out of the car. She said Ashton had lost weight and had burns on her arms allegedly inflicted by other children at the home.
“She was hysterical, upset,” Baker-Hazen testified. “She said she could not take it anymore.”
Baker-Hazen said Ashton was safe, but she repeatedly refused the judge’s admonitions to answer questions from deputy county prosecutor Ron Paschal about the teen’s whereabouts.
“Take me to jail,” Baker-Hazen told the judge. She was arrested for contempt and led from the courtroom in handcuffs.
Henderson said Baker-Hazen would remain jailed until she disclosed the girl’s location. He set another hearing next week but said he would hold the session anytime she was ready to talk.
Baker-Hazen’s husband, Jeff Hazen, said following the arrest that he felt “torn apart” but supported his wife’s decision not to reveal the girl’s location, even if it meant going to jail.
State welfare officials first became involved with the family when a Wichita middle school — apparently misplacing the homeschooling notification faxed by the state — reported Ashton as truant.
Problems escalated while the mother was out of town seeking substance abuse treatment and mental care services, claiming in her testimony that she was unaware of the state’s involvement.
Ashton was placed with Paul Baker, her biological father, but police picked her up and put her in the children’s home when Ashton ran away from her father to go back to her mother.
Child advocacy groups have long contended Sedgwick County authorities are too quick to remove children from homes.
Source: Kansas City Star