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Good Dad Bad Mom, Girl Loses
April 30, 2009 permalink
The actions of a dysfunctional mother doomed a girl to life in foster care, though she had a father trying to find her.
Dad, teen daughter both lose
Mindelle Jacobs, Tue, April 28, 2009
This is the tragedy of a messed up mom who couldn't parent, a stable dad who wanted to but was overlooked and a troubled child who's been raised by the state.
Some men don't want anything to do with the children they've fathered. Others, like David, do but end up shut out of their kids' lives because of hostile ex-partners, government bureaucracy and legal fees that sap their spirits as well as their bank accounts.
I'd like to identify David (not his real name) but I can't because his daughter, almost 17, is in foster care in B.C. She has been a permanent ward of the state since age 8, when she was removed from her unfit mother's care.
When a child is taken into protective custody, both parents are supposed to be served with court papers. Somehow, David, 44, an Edmonton computer systems analyst, was never contacted.
So a father who'd been looking for his daughter for 15 years was denied the right to parent and a child who had often wondered about her dad grew up angry and suicidal in state care.
David and his ex-girlfriend had a brief fling in 1991 and then broke up. The following year, she called him to say they had a baby girl. For a few months, things were fine. He visited them regularly but when he broached the subject of joint custody, she cut off access altogether.
Shortly after, social services came to him for child support which, after DNA tests to confirm paternity, he gladly paid, figuring it would get him joint custody. He assumed wrong.
He spent two years and $10,000 fighting in vain for joint custody. Then his ex-girlfriend and daughter vanished. Even maintenance enforcement officials couldn't find them. The child support cheques were being returned as undeliverable but David still had to go to court to stop the payments.
He hadn't seen his daughter since she was about 18 months old. "I basically just gave up," says David. "I couldn't do it financially and I couldn't do it emotionally and that really destroyed me."
But it gnawed at him that he had a daughter somewhere and he tried to find her over the years. He always hit a dead end. Then he got an Internet hit in December. She was tagged on a Facebook photo.
They e-mailed back and forth and he went to visit her in B.C. in March, with the permission of social services officials.
"It was very surreal," says David, of seeing her after 15 years. "For her, I've never been there. I'm a stranger," he says.
"I could know her for the rest of her life and I don't think I'll ever get that time back. You can't."
His daughter contemplated committing suicide last year and is struggling with feelings of abandonment, says David.
"I don't know what it's like to have a father and I've always tried to imagine who you were and why you weren't ever around," she wrote him in a January e-mail.
David probably wasn't contacted by social services when his daughter was taken into state care because officials weren't aware of his existence, a B.C. social worker explained to him in a recent e-mail.
"Oftentimes, mothers are angry/resentful at the child's father or do not want the father to have the child if they can't have the child," she wrote. "Sadly, your situation is not unique."
Laments David: "They could have found me if they'd wanted to." Now all he can do is try to build a relationship with a mistrustful daughter he's never known.
Whether she wants to live with him or just open the door a crack for a meaningful connection is now her decision.
"I think I was robbed," says David, bitterly. "I think she was robbed."
Source: Edmonton Sun
April 29, 2009 permalink
Batwoman climbed a water tower in Cookstown Ontario to draw attention to Parental Alienation Awareness Day.
Protestor busted for climbing water tower
A caped crusader atop the water tower at the Cookstown Outlet Mall kept area police and fire departments busy Saturday morning.
South Simcoe Police, Innisfil and Bradford West Gwillimbury firefighters and county paramedics were called to the scene, where a 49-year-old Alliston woman, dressed in a Bat Woman costume, had climbed the tower and was threatening to jump.
The area was closed to traffic and the public while the matter was investigated for about an hour.
The woman was pulling a publicity stunt to create awareness for parental alienation awareness day, and had hung a large banner over the tower railing.
Emergency crews realized she had secured herself on the platform with fall protection equipment and was not suicidal.
She was eventually convinced to come down with the assistance of a firefighter and a large ladder truck.
No injuries were sustained during the incident.
She was charged with mischief and released on a promise to appear in court on May 28 and several bail conditions.
Source: Barrie Examiner
Help Save a Child
April 29, 2009 permalink
Rob Ferguson and Kalena Mallon ask for help in saving their child from children's aid. You can show your support by going to the courthouse in Brantford next Tuesday.
A PLEA FROM TWO PARENTS
To; All Interested
We are coming to you today as a father and mother of a child stolen by CAS. Over the past ten months we have received massive support from members of provincial parliament and members of the public. The case has been adjourned time and time again. We are now entering the final stages of the case and such we are asking for your support on May 5 2009. On this date Brant CAS will move forward in their attempt to place our son up for crown ward. The hearing will take place at 44 Queen st in Brantford at 3pm. We are asking for your support by rallying outside the court house. We are hoping for the rally to start at 2 and go 4pm. We would like this to go to trial so we can prove ourselves and that CAS is not being truthful. We are hoping people affected by CAS not just parents can come and support us. We believe we are all in this together and such plead with anyone who reads this will consider coming out to fight not only for us but for all families affected by the CFSA and CAS Once again the the specs are as follows.
Where: 44 Queen Street, Brantford
When: May 5 2009 Time: 2pm to 4 pm
Thanks rob and Kalena
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
Source: email from Rob Ferguson
Alberta Foster Teen Dies
April 27, 2009 permalink
Yet another Alberta native in foster care has died, this time a seventeen-year-old boy. As usual, Alberta keeps the names a tightly guarded secret. If this case comes up again, will will call it Edmonton Brawler.
Teen killed in bloody brawl grew up in rural foster home
By Elise Stolte, and Jennifer Fong, The Edmonton Journal, April 27, 2009
A teenager killed Saturday in a north-end fight was a foster child from Hobbema who saw his family every year at Christmas.
"Every one of the kids from the reserves, they all would go back. That's the only time we would get together as a family," said his uncle. "Why do these foster kids keep getting killed over nothing?"
The 17-year-old was found critically injured shortly after 2:40 a.m. Saturday near 72nd Street and 147th Avenue. There had been a fight outside an apartment building involving bats, knives and a sword.
A 16-year-old boy has been charged with second-degree murder, assault with a weapon and possession of an offensive weapon. Since he has been charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, neither he nor the underaged victim can be identified.
The victim, who died later in hospital, had been taken from his parents for his own protection years ago when he was a young boy.
His 14-year-old sister said she barely knew her brother, who grew up in a foster home in Three Hills. About two years ago he moved to Edmonton to live with an aunt. "He was in the system a lot," she said. "He was loud, fun. I never really got to have a long talk with him."
She found out about the death when her mother phoned her uncle, who she lives with. "My dad was on the phone for a really long time," she said. She was inconsolable when she found out it was her brother. "It was really hard for me. He was so young," she said. "You hear about killings all the time and you don't think nothing of it." Until it hits close to home, she said, and started to cry again. "I guess the creator told him it was time to go."
A school friend from Three Hills set up a Facebook memorial site for the teenager. "(His) best quality was the ability to make everyone around him laugh. He was always doing crazy stuff to get attention and to make people smile," she wrote in an e-mail to The Journal.
"He never had an easy life, but he still made the best of it," she wrote. "A lot of people
didn't see eye to eye with him but that (was) because they never really got to know him. So many people were quick to judge him because of the crowd he hung out with. (He) was never afraid to voice his opinion."
Source: The Edmonton Journal
CAS Worker Needs Time-out
April 27, 2009 permalink
When CAS complained in court documents that a mother was treating a baby with baby oil and feeding him yogurt, the parents called the Brant county health unit and spoke to the health information line intake nurse. She said baby oil and yogurt were beneficial and risk-free. You can hear the nurse on YouTube, or a local copy (flv). The video shows that even parents who have difficulty spelling are smarter than CAS workers. The caseworker's statement, apparently from a photocopy, is:
Ms. █████'s actions were harmful to the child (such as when she fed the baby inappropriate food, and when she still put baby oil in open cracks on the child's feet, even after being told many times not to do so as the baby's physician had already provided the foster parents with prescribed medication for the condition). The access that occurred at the Parent-Child Interaction Group indicated that they both required further assistance with parenting as the child grows and develops.
No List, No Communication, No Emails, No ...
April 27, 2009 permalink
In his continuing effort to get a copy of the list of members of Ottawa CAS (which Ontario law required them to provide), John Dunn got in touch with the society's newly elected president Rick O'Connor. Mr O'Connor turned down Mr Dunn, and asked him to cease communication. Mr Dunn is now trying to get copies of emails that may reveal the plans to thwart his lawful request.
For Immediate Release
April 23, 2009
In February of 2007, John Dunn, Executive Director of the Foster Care Council of Canada filed with the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa a request for a list of their regular voting members in an attempt to advocate through them for youth in care to become members of their agency since memberships are currently limited to people over the age of 18, eliminating the possibility for youth in care to become members and have any form of oversight of the agency which makes life altering decisions regarding their lives.
The Society refused to provide the list of it's members, which is a Provincial Offence under section 307 (5) of the Corporations Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. c-38.
Dunn, knowing the Society's Vice-President Rick O'Connor now elected President of the agency worked for the City of Ottawa contacted O'Connor at work to ask if he, as a Board member would appeal to the agency not to commit the Offence but instead to provide the list in accordance with the law.
Unfortunately, O'Connor refused to do so, and in fact requested that Dunn cease and desist from communicating with him at his place of employment, the City of Ottawa.
Having given O'Connor a chance to comply with the law, Dunn then requested via a Municipal Freedom of Information Request, copies of all communications between O'Connor and the Society which took place using the City's electronic resources.
The City denied Dunn access to the e-mail communications basing their decision on their assertion that personal e-mails of a City employee are not in the "care and control" of the City.
Dunn appealed the decision of the City to the Information and Privacy Commissioner's Office of Ontario, and the IPC's adjudicator, Catherine Corban, after considering the appeal and all submissions made by both parties, ordered the City to issue a new decision letter to Dunn basing their new decision letter on the fact that the City in fact does have both "care" and "control" of the personal e-mails.
The city has to act as if the request by Dunn was accepted by the city as of the date of the appeal's order, April 09, 2009 therefore giving them 30 days to respond to Dunn's request as if it were just made on April 09, 2009.
Two weeks later, on Thursday April 23, 2009, Dunn contacted the City to ask for the status of the request and was told the City is now considering it's options in relation to the request and will respond by May 9, 2009 with their new decision.
Dunn hopes the City does not try to create or find a different reason to deny him copies of the three e-mails (6 pages) at issue, however he has stated that he believes they will attempt to drag this out as long as possible based on new grounds.
Updates will be posted to the Council's News Blog located at http://www.fostercarenews.blogspot.com
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: email from John Dunn
Rally for Accountability
April 25, 2009 permalink
Queen's Park 2009
STAND UP SPEAK OUT
*Tentative Date October 5, 2009*
This year we will be bigger, better, louder as we fight for accountability within a system that has a monopoly on the children of this province.
Please Join us as we once again as we present you with Guest Speakers and your chance to show your support for Accountability and oversight of the Children's Aid Society.
If you wish to speak at the Rally please click "Speakers Register" at the side bar. If you wish to volunteer with the organization and planning of the rally or help out the day of the rally please "Contact us".
We hope to see you there! Check back here for updates.
Photos and Videos from last year's rally are also available by clicking the Photo Gallery and Videos section of the website.
Addendum: Persons interested in attending can notify the organizers on Facebook.
April 24, 2009 permalink
That's how a social worker described children on a Facebook page.
Accused Parents Investigate Investigator
Facebook Page Raises Eyebrows
Posted: 9:36 PM Apr 23, 2009, Last Updated: 9:36 PM Apr 23, 2009, Reporter: Mike McKnight, Email Address: email@example.com
A Ralston couple still faces a child abuse charge in court but have their kids back home from foster care.
Meredith Dearth says, “It’s a helpless feeling because there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”
Dearth and her boyfriend Jason Feldman did do something to investigate the investigator on their case for child protective services. They found the case worker’s personal Facebook page with opinionated postings.
One says, “I’m tired, it was a long day taking away babies.” In a job description also posted on the personal Facebook, the case worker writes, “I investigate child abuse/neglect and help families so it doesn’t happen again.” But adds, “and yes that means I will take their kid.” The posting also says “we really don’t want to take kids away.”
Accused of child abuse following the case workers investigation Meredith Dearth says, “Its like she is letting the world know, I can take your kid away.”
Attorney Mickey Meckna is also concerned some postings seemed derogatory toward children. One posted after Halloween said, “Passed out candy to little f***ers.”
Meckna says, “It’s bad because a person in this position just by some things you read on here you’d question her character.”
None of the postings give specifics about the case and the page has been shut off from public access.
Nebraska Health and Human Services will look into the personal Facebook postings of one of it’s case workers. Child and Family Services Director Todd Reckling says, “As to determine if there’s any violation of confidentiality or state equipment use and determine what potential action should occur.”
State employees do have a right to free speech. However Attorney general Jon Bruning says, “We need to make sure we’re not writing things on myspace or facebook that we’re going to be embarrassed about.”
The state agency points out that only law enforcement can order a child removed from a home, though CPS case workers often do much of the investigation.
The couple Meredith Dearth and Jason Feldman will go to court in late may. The abuse charge filed after someone reported one of their children with bruises on her arm.
Source: WOWT Omaha
April 24, 2009 permalink
John Dunn made contact with a youth in care who could benefit from an advocate. What did Prescott Russell Services for Children and Adults do in response? The youth's phone service was changed to block incoming calls, and the phone sets and power supplies were removed.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Prescott Russell Foster Parent Unplugs Phones and Blocks Incoming Calls
The Council recently posted information regarding a youth in a foster home under the care of the Prescott Russell Services for Children and Adults who had the phone disconnected. The Council has recently communicated directly with the youth who provided us with the phone number of the foster home.
The Council called the number and heard a message from an operator which says "The number you are calling cannot receive incoming calls... this is a recording".
The youth also reported that the phones were physically removed from the home (unplugged and unable to locate them or the power supplies) meaning the previous report was not entirely accurate.
So the phone service is still activated, however the incoming calls are blocked. (preventing the Child and Youth Advocate from calling). This happened after the Advocate called shortly before the line was changed.
Since the report was made public on this News blog, and sent to the Prescott Russell Services for Children and Adults the agency allegedly sent a worker out to the foster home on Monday April 21st during the day while the youth was at school and did not contact the youth to discuss the matter.
The Council will contact the agency again to inform them of the fact that the incoming calls are blocked and that the youth has reported directly to us that the phones have been removed from the plugs and the power cords removed as well.
The Council has asked the youth to talk to the foster mother and ask her why the phones have been removed and why the incoming calls have been blocked. The youth will report to the Council to inform us of the foster mother's response or lack of response.
This will then be reported to the worker and the agency and the local press in order to try and bring attention to this matter.
The Council will also give guidance to the youth on how to use the complaints procedures available to the youth under Section 109 and Section 68 of the Child and Family Services Act.
Complaint Sections Provided Below
(for more, refer to the source page)
Source: afterfostercare blog (John Dunn) April 23, 2009
Addendum: Today John Dunn followed up with and email to board member Ginette Goulet. We have blotted out names and addresses, and concealed the sex of the youth.
- firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
- John Dunn - Follow up
- Fri, 24 Apr 2009 09:28:49 -0400
Board of Directors member
Prescott Russell Services for Children and Adults
Thank-you for your time this morning I appreciate that you were in the middle of opening your boutique when I called. Also, feel free to share this message with whom ever you require at the agency as it is not a private communication. Anyone at the agency is welcome to read it.
I am going to send you the relevant links to the matter I mentioned and hope that you would be able to learn more about what is transpiring in relation to this youth.
The Youth's name is █████ ██████
His/Her worker is Julie McGraw
Julie's Supervisor is Carol Granger
The Foster Mother is █████ ██████ of
Phone: 613-███-████ (incoming calls have been blocked and █████ says phones are removed from his/her home and / or the phone power cords are missing)
This appears to be the foster mother's retaliation for the youth contacting the Child Advocate's Office. He/She appears to be getting punished for contacting the Child and Youth Advocate. This act goes against Section 18 of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act and against section 103 of the Child and Family Services Act (included below for reference).
A worker was allegedly sent to the home last Monday, after the agency received our notice of the issue, however the youth did not have an opportunity to speak with the worker or the foster mother about it as of yet.
I have already obtained a release of information waiver from the youth, signed by him/her and the agency has also received one, yet they refuse to contact me as the youth's personally chosen advocate.
The relevant link to the news blog can be found at http://www.afterfostercare.ca by clicking on the News page.
I have included the relevant legislation below
Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act
Obligations of service providers
18. (1) An agency or service provider, as the case may be, shall inform a child in care, in language suitable to his or her understanding, of the existence and role of the Advocate, and of how the Advocate may be contacted. 2007, c. 9, s. 18 (1); 2009, c. 2, s. 31 (1).
(2) An agency or service provider, as the case may be, shall afford a child or youth who wishes to contact the Advocate with the means to do so privately and without delay. 2007, c. 9, s. 18 (2).
(3) Every agency or service provider, as the case may be, shall, without unreasonable delay, provide the Advocate with private access to children in care who wish to meet with the Advocate. 2009, c. 2, s. 31 (2).
Child and Family Services Act
Rights of communication, etc.
103. (1) A child in care has a right,
(a) to speak in private with, visit and receive visits from members of his or her family regularly, subject to subsection (2);
(b) to speak in private with and receive visits from,
(i) the child’s solicitor,
(ii) another person representing the child, including the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth,
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: email from John Dunn
It's a Boy!
April 23, 2009 permalink
After the obstetrician told her she had a boy, mother Karen Piper said she had been hoping for a girl. That got her the Torquemada treatment.
After Mom's Wistful Remark, A Maternity Ward Inquisition
By Marc Fisher, Thursday, April 23, 2009
Woozy from pain medication after a Caesarean section, swinging from joy over her newborn boy to exhaustion from the strain of delivering him, Karen Piper mentioned to her doctor that she'd been hoping for a girl. She would come to regret those words.
There she was at Washington Hospital Center on an early spring afternoon, three days after giving birth. She'd be taking Luke home to the room she had lovingly prepared, to a time she'd dreamed about for years, just the two of them getting to know each other, reveling in the miracle of new life.
When nurses finally told Piper she was free to leave, no discharge papers for her son were brought out. Instead, she faced a parade of inquisitive official visitors, including uniformed police, a social worker, a psychiatrist, and assorted doctors and nurses. Her baby had been placed on medical hold while government investigators considered whether Piper was fit to take Luke home to Prince George's County, the authorities said. She had failed to bond with her baby, a nurse told Piper.
For three days, Piper fought through a bewildering nightmare of lawyers, investigators from the District and Prince George's, and hospital officials. A night nurse reported that Piper had declined an opportunity to breast-feed her baby, according to the mother and her lawyer. "I was so groggy, I don't even remember that incident," Piper says.
A psychiatric intern asked Piper to spell "world" backward. A nurse-practitioner told Piper that it was awful that a new mother could be disappointed not to have had a girl. "She told me the burden was on me to prove that I should be allowed to take my baby home," says Piper, a lawyer who works at the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Like too many parents before her, Piper had fallen into the rigid, overlawyered maw of a child protection system that substitutes mandatory reporting for the judgment and human sensitivity medical professionals should exercise.
Washington Hospital Center spokeswoman Paula Faria says medical personnel "have a legal obligation to report to local agencies any concerns staff have about discharge of a patient, and especially little newborns." She says it was the medical staff's "professional recommendation that we had to take steps to make sure the best interests of the baby were protected. We really believe we did do the right thing."
Mindy Good, spokeswoman for the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency, says her agency got involved after hospital personnel reported their concern. "Mandated reporters often err on the side of being cautious," she says.
The Prince George's and D.C. agencies eventually found no cause to keep mother and child apart, but for the better part of a week, it seemed to Piper, her family and her attorney that the hospital's care was being used against her. The hospital gave her pain meds that made her woozy, the hospital took her son to be circumcised, and then investigators wanted to know why Piper hadn't spent more hours with her baby.
When a social worker asked for details of Luke's conception -- Piper is a single mother and, at 50, an unusually old one -- Piper concedes she blew up. "My attitude with her was confrontational because I was getting scared they would take my son from me," she says.
When uniformed officers came to take Luke, she yelled at them: "This is my child, in my custody." Piper says one D.C. police officer dug her fingernails into Piper's palm "to make me let go of Luke's crib," then blocked her way when she tried to visit her son in the nursery. Citing privacy rules, hospital officials won't comment on the incident.
"I've been practicing family law for 31 years, and I've seen many abuse cases, but this is unique," says Joel Anders, who represented Piper. "To accuse Mom of neglect as a result of her not spending adequate time with the child in the hospital is just extraordinary, especially since Ms. Piper was postoperative and highly medicated."
The Prince George's child welfare agency refused to comment. A social services source familiar with the case says that "the issue is, Ms. Piper really believed she was going to have a girl and made some comments that caused concern." A hospital spokesman says putting a medical hold on a newborn is a rare move.
Anders says child protective services personnel "embraced the complaint no differently than if they had seen bruises on a child. Don't they have an obligation to sort out what they do and don't investigate?"
Astonishingly, that's a matter of debate. When I wrote about a similar case of overzealous child protection last year, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles argued that "this is a very law-driven process that can have very unsatisfying results. . . . The law is skewed properly toward the protection of the child." But in that same case, Roque Gerald, then deputy chief of the city's child protection agency and now its head, criticized "defensive child welfare. In our attempt to protect, we have also lost the ability of balance for fear of retribution."
That's welcome honesty; if only the authorities would act on it.
Source: Washington Post
I'll Be Watching You
April 23, 2009 permalink
Waterloo CAS continues to track Chris Carter in his efforts to draw public attention to the abuse of power by CAS. The latest court filing is accompanied by music from the Police (mp3). Send it to your music player or cancel when you click expand.
My name is (Ml legal name) Virginia Torrance
I work in (municipality & province) Cambridge, Ontario
and I swear/affirm that the following is true: Set out the statements of fact in consecutively numbered paragraphs. Where possible, each numbered paragraph should consist of one complete sentence and be limited to a particular statement of fact. If you learned a fact from someone else, you must give that person's name and state that you believe that fact to be true.
- I, Virginia Torrance, am Legal Counsel employed by the Children's Aid Society of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo and as such have knowledge of the matters hereinafter set forth.
- I had been informed that Christopher Anthony Carter was recently served with a trespass notice regarding his attendance within the court building at 89 Main Street, Cambridge.
- On April 8th, 2009, I observed Christopher Carter standing outside the courthouse at 89 Main Street, Cambridge speaking with people on the street.
- On April 8th, 2009, a police court officer provided me with a copy of a "WRFU Newsletter Volume 1.1". I was informed by the officer, and believe, that this newsletter was being handed out by Christopher Carter. A true copy of the newsletter is attached and marked, as Exhibit "A". [link]
- On April 8th, 2009, I was informed by fax correspondence from Waterloo Region Housing, and believe, that they received a WRFU Newsletter (Exhibit "A") that morning. Waterloo Region Housing forwarded the newsletter received by them to the Society by fax.
- In the evening of April 13, 2009 I accessed tine website of "Dufferin Voices of Children Alliance (VOCA)", This website has earlier posted under the "News" section of the website the full text of two affidavits served by the Society on Mr. Carter in this ███████ application, less the court, court file number and title of proceeding. On both occasions (under news items dated March 15 and 27, 2009), the website has identified, in an accompanying brief news item the source of the affidavit material as "Chris Carter". Since that time,
- A news item dated April 3, 2009 titled "Thieves Monopolize Courthouse", has appeared on the website containing information apparently orginating from Christopher Carter, including a copy of a letter addressed to him from the Waterloo Regional Police. A true copy of the news item and linked letter (with apparent cartoon editorial comment from the website) is attached and marked as Exhibit "B"; and [link]
- In a brief news item dated April 8, 2009 the website posted a linked copy of the WRFU Newsletter (Exhibit "A"). [link]
dated April 14, 2009
JANICE CATHERINE WEILER, a Commissioner for taking Oaths and Affidavits in and for the PROVINCE OF ONTARIO while in the employ of a Children's Aid Society approved under The Child and Family Services Act, and for work in connection with the Society only. EXPIRY DATE: November 15, 2011.
Mother Set Up
April 22, 2009 permalink
Florida mother Tiffany Cassara-Rodriguez is wanted by police for abducting her two children. The mother says a DCF worker authorized her to take her family on vacation.
This sounds like a case of a New Hampshire DCYF set up in 2002.
In a series of Usenet reports in 2002 Carol Hamel of Laveen Arizona told of a trick played on her fiancé Robert S. His three children were involved in a child protection case in New Hampshire. One day a DCYF worker informed him that the protection order was lifted and he was free to take his children home. In May 2002 he took them on a plane to Arizona, where he was arrested on arrival in Sky Harbor Airport for interstate kidnapping. The statement from the DCYF worker was not on record. The three children were held by Arizona CPS for a few days, then returned to New Hampshire where they went to three separate foster homes. Carol got New Hampshire lawyer Paula Werme to take the case, and Robert was released on August 2 after spending three months in jail. There is no report on the ultimate fate of the three children. To show that she was not faking it, Carol posted the docket numbers of the cases, in Colebrook District Court: Docket# 02-JV-00021,23,24, and for Arizona CPS, 235150.
Originally posted on: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 by Michelle Burdo, Last updated on: 4/21/2009 6:29:55 PM
Missing mom: I'm not missing
FORT MYERS: The woman at the center of a nationwide search spoke to NBC2 Tuesday.
Authorities launched a cross country search for Tiffany Cassara-Rodriguez after she left town with her two young children, violating a court order.
Tuesday night, the children were placed on FDLE's website for missing children.
Fort Myers police have a warrant out for their mother's arrest. But when we spoke to her Tuesday, she said the whole thing is a misunderstanding.
"It's a huge mix up - a complete, total mix up," Cassara-Rodriguez said.
On the phone, she explained that she left Fort Myers with her two children and went on vacation. Police say they're headed towards Minnesota.
"So I have custody and control of my children. And control means I can go on vacation whenever the heck I want," the mother said.
But the family is under DCF supervision, which means they're not allowed to leave the area without permission.
When we asked her if she in fact got permission to leave, she responded, "Yes I did. I sat right there and told her my plans. She did not in anyway say I couldn't go."
She was talking about her case worker, who she says visited her Fort Myers apartment last week.
So we asked Amie McClaughlin, with the Children's Network of Southwest Florida, if they were notified the family was leaving.
"It's OK if they go on vacation. But there are certain things the case worker needs to know - where they're going, the return date, et cetera. None of those things were done," she said.
And that is why the children are the subject of a nationwide search.
Tuesday, we asked Cassara-Rodriguez where she is. But she simply said, "I'm not going to tell you that."
Now, there is a warrant out for her arrest to help bring the children back to Southwest Florida.
We do not know the reason why the family is under DCF supervision for confidentiality reasons.
And no Amber Alert has been issued yet because law enforcement can't prove the children are in immediate danger.
Source: WBBH-TV Ft Myers
Fatal Soap Opera
April 22, 2009 permalink
Investigation by the press following a murder-suicide in Philadelphia reveals the soap-opera lives of professional child protectors. Angela, who worked for the Department of Human Services (DHS) was a single mother of three children. When her daughter Callie was four years old, Angela fell in love with a DHS supervisor, Aleem. While they were conducting their secret affair, Aleem married the Director of Performance Management for DHS, Kimberly, who was aware of Aleem's love for Angela. Angela left DHS to go to work for a judge, but continued to see Aleem. Aleem fathered a baby with Kimberly, who hoped that their marriage would work out in spite of Aleem's love for Angela. A rendezvous between Angela and Aleem went bad and police were called, but by the time they arrived at Angela's, Aleem was gone. Angela did not ask for a restraining order, though in her days at DHS she surely would have made her clients do so. Yesterday Aleem killed Angela, then killed himself as well. They sure set a good example for the rest of us.
Posted on Wed, Apr. 22, 2009
Woman slain in front of daughter, shattering lives, 2 families
By CHRISTINE OLLEY & DAVID GAMBACORTA, Philadelphia Daily News, firstname.lastname@example.org 215-854-5184
THERE WAS nothing that Callie Jefferys could do but howl in horror yesterday morning when her mother fell bullet-riddled and lifeless in the front of their Chevy Impala.
Moments later, Aleem Ali — Angela Jefferys' killer and longtime lover — fatally shot himself next to the blood-stained car on Sterling Street near Andrews Avenue, in West Oak Lane, police said.
The gruesome scene served as the tragic end to an affair that Ali and Jefferys maintained even after Ali married another woman, investigators said.
All three members of the tragic love triangle are city employees who worked, at one time or another, for the Department of Human Services.
"All of these families need our prayers and support," Mayor Nutter said at a news conference where he called on reporters to be mindful of Jefferys' traumatized 11-year-old daughter.
Homicide Capt. James Clark said that the carnage unfolded at about 7:30 a.m., when Jefferys and her daughter left their home on Sterling Street and got into the Impala.
Jefferys, who had worked as a court clerk in Courtroom 1103 at the Criminal Justice Center after she transferred from DHS in 2006, was about to take her daughter to school.
She hadn't even started her car when Ali, a DHS supervisor, approached the car and started blasting away, Clark said.
Though Jefferys, 34, was struck several times by the torrent of bullets, her daughter was not injured, Clark said. Jefferys and Ali were both pronounced dead at the scene.
Clark said that Jefferys and Ali had a "domestic relationship" that was apparently troubled.
Police were called to Jefferys' home last week because of some sort of dispute between her and Ali. By the time cops arrived, Ali was gone, Clark said.
"She didn't take out a restraining order or anything like that," Clark said. He added that it was unclear what had triggered the murder-suicide.
A DHS co-worker who knew both Jefferys and Ali said that they had been romantically involved for the last seven years and were often spotted by other co-workers while they dined at the Olive Garden or shopped at Wal-Mart.
"Even though people knew, they would deny it," said the co-worker, who asked to remain anonymous. "Nobody can really describe their relationship because it was a secret."
The relationship continued even after Ali married Kimberly Ali, who was recently promoted to the Director of Performance Management for DHS, investigators said. The couple have an 18-month-old baby.
Kimberly Ali was "well aware" of her husband's dalliances with Jefferys but refused to give up on her marriage, the co-worker said.
"She [Kimberly] is a nice person," the co-worker added. "I think he was a rotten apple who ruined these young ladies' young lives."
Relatives of Ali, of Ross Street near Washington Lane, declined to comment when reached by a reporter yesterday.
Friends and relatives of Jefferys, meanwhile, spoke extensively about her funny personality and her perseverance as a single mother of three.
Common Pleas Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi, who sits in Courtroom 1103, described Jefferys as "beautiful, happy and upbeat."
"Every single day, she would joke with [ME]," the judge said. "She really had a great sense of humor. We're all very sad."
Common Pleas President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe, who previously had sat in that courtroom, said of Jefferys: "She was very sweet, very hard-working, rather a shy person, but she had a sunny personality. She was very devoted to her child."
Dembe said that as a court clerk in room 1103 — a pretrial room where motions are heard — Jefferys was the person who had "to keep track of all the things the judge orders," keeping on top of the paperwork and computer entries.
Neighbors and relatives in Jefferys' West Oak Lane neighborhood were burdened by their grief.
"I just had to keep hugging her daughter because she's traumatized and really in shock right now, losing her mother this way," said Gwen Jefferys, Angela's aunt.
"It's just sad," said Daneea Johnson, 27, who grew up across the street from Jeffreys but had recently moved. "I can't even really put it into words right now." *
Staff writers Julie Shaw and Regina Medina contributed to this report.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Boy Drugged to Death
April 22, 2009 permalink
After Gabriel Myers was forcibly separated from his parents, Florida doctors prescribed a cocktail of four psychotropic drugs. Last week he hanged himself. Three of the drugs carried black-box safety warnings, useless for medication administered by force of arms. His death will be recorded as a suicide, but could just as well be called murder by drugs.
Posted on Tue, Apr. 21, 2009
Broward child's suicide raises questions about medication
BY CAROL MARBIN MILLER, cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com
Weeks before his death, Gabriel Myers, the 7-year-old Broward boy who hanged himself in the shower of his foster home, had been prescribed a powerful mind-altering drug linked by federal regulators to an increased risk of suicide in children.
In all, Gabriel had been prescribed four psychiatric drugs, two or three of which he was taking at the time of his death, said Jack Moss, Broward chief of the state Department of Children & Families. Moss said he is not sure which medications the boy was taking because Margate police took the foster home's medication log as part of an investigation into Gabriel's death last week.
Three of the psychotropic drugs carry U.S. Food and Drug Administration ''black box'' label warnings for children's safety, the strongest advisory the federal agency issues. Three of the medications are not approved for use with young children, though they are widely prescribed to youngsters ''off label'' -- meaning doctors can prescribe the drug even if not formally approved for that use.
In 2005 -- reacting to a series of stories in The Miami Herald that as many as one in four foster children were prescribed potentially dangerous mind-altering drugs -- state lawmakers approved a law aimed at curbing their use. Children's advocates now question whether the law is being ignored.
Gabriel was being treated by a Broward psychiatrist who is on a list of Florida doctors that the state Agency for Health Care Administration red-flagged as having ''problematic'' prescribing practices, said Robert Constantine, director of AHCA's Medicaid Drug Therapy Management Program, which tracks prescribing of psychiatric drugs to children.
The list flags doctors with a high volume of prescriptions of mental-health drugs or potentially dangerous combinations of the medications.
Dr. Sohail Punjwani has been on the list every quarter in which regulators have monitored the prescribing of psychotropic drugs since the program was created in 2006, said Constantine, a professor at the University of South Florida's Mental Health Institute. The practices of about 17,000 Florida doctors who prescribe medications to children on Medicaid are studied every quarter, and about 300 to 450 end up red-flagged on the list.
And though Florida law requires that either a parent or judge consent to the use of psychotropic drugs on foster children, a source with knowledge of the boy's case said Gabriel already had been taking a three-drug cocktail when Broward Circuit Judge Lisa Porter was informed at a March 11 hearing. The judge approved the medications over the objection of a court-appointed guardian, the source said.
''We are devastated,'' said Jon Myers, the boy's maternal uncle, who cared for him from June through October 2008. ``Gabriel's problems could not be solved by a pharmacy.''
Four feet tall and 67 pounds, with short-cropped brown hair, Gabriel was a bright, charming and often sweet little boy, those who knew him say.
But he already had a sad past hinting at a troubling future. Records obtained by The Miami Herald show Gabriel may have been molested by an older boy while he was living with grandparents in Ohio, while his mother was in jail.
On Thursday, Gabriel locked himself in a bathroom and hanged himself with a detachable shower head after arguing with the 19-year-old son of his foster dad about his lunch, Moss said.
DCF petitioned a judge on Tuesday to unseal the boy's records in response to requests from The Herald and other media, spokeswoman Leslie Mann said.
Punjwani told The Miami Herald that he is board certified as a child psychiatrist. He did not recall Gabriel, but Punjwani said he was part of a ''huge'' group practice and may have been one of many clinicians to treat the boy.
Punjwani defended the use of psychiatric drugs on children, even if they are not approved for such use, saying the lack of approval stems from the reluctance of drug makers and the medical establishment to launch clinical trials on children.
The anti-psychotic drugs, he added, are used routinely to treat mood instability and insomnia among children.
Gabriel originally had been prescribed Vyvanse, an attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder drug approved for kids aged 6 through 12, Lexapro, an anti-depressant which is not approved for children, and Zyprexa, an anti-psychotic drug that also is not approved for kids, said Moss.
Both Punjwani and Moss said they think the Lexapro and Zyprexa were discontinued in recent weeks, and that a drug called Symbyax -- which contains the medication in Zyprexa along with another antidepressant -- was substituted.
Symbyax, recently approved for severe depression, is among a group of commonly prescribed anti-depressants, such as Prozac and Paxil, that the FDA warned in 2003 were linked to an increase in ''suicidal thoughts or behaviors'' among children. Symbyax is not approved by the FDA for use on children.
Dr. David L. Katz, professor of public health at Yale University's medical school, called the use of such drugs on youngsters ''extremely risky,'' He questioned whether the boy needed to be taking such powerful medications absent a diagnosis of schizophrenia. ''These are medications that are potent and potentially dangerous,'' Katz said. ``They certainly are powerful drugs for anybody, let alone a 7-year-old boy.''
Jon Myers, the uncle who cared for Gabriel after abuse investigators found him in a car in a Denny's parking lot after his mother had passed out, questions whether Gabriel needed such potent medications to begin with.
Myers said the boy's pediatrician had discontinued all psychotropic drugs while Gabriel lived with him, and the boy did well, earning A's and B's at the Hollywood Christian Academy.
''We did not have any issues with him having tantrums,'' Myers said. ``He would get upset, like little boys do.''
A week or two before Gabriel died, his grandfather in Ohio expressed concerns that the boy sounded overmedicated. ''My father said that the last conversation he had a couple of weeks ago Gabriel sounded like he was too drugged,'' Myers said.
``He sounded like he was doped up.''
Source: Miami Herald
April 21, 2009 permalink
Byron Prior says that he grew up in a family of twelve children in Grand Bank Newfoundland. His father was a fisherman who spent most of his time at sea, home for only a few days a month, so the family was run by his mother. On September 8, 1966, when Byron was 13 years old and his sister Suzanne (or Susan) was 11 years old, Mr Alexander Hickman was elected to the Newfoundland house of assembly. On election night he came to the Prior home to celebrate. With the connivance of her mother, Mr Hickman got Suzanne pregnant. She gave birth to a girl, Marjorie, adopted the following year by the mother of Byron and Suzanne, Marjorie's grandmother. Mr Hickman went on to hold several ministries including Minister of Justice. In 1979 he became chief justice of Newfoundland, retiring in 2000. You can hear Mr Prior's story on two YouTube videos  and  (local copies  and  both flv).
Both at the time, and decades later, Mr Prior has sought to bring Mr Hickman to justice for his crime. The province of Newfoundland instead prosecuted Mr Prior for criminal libel, but a conviction was overturned by an appellate court (pdf) in 2008. The latest effort to silence him is a psychiatric assessment. Judge David Orr ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Mr Prior. Efforts to get the assessment done by Dr Marty McKay failed, instead he was referred to Dr David Craig. Dr Craig's Clinical Note appears below. We also enclose a CBC report of one of Dr Craig's earlier patients, Mary-Anne Marshall, also a doctor, who killed herself on July 6, 2004, the day of her discharge from Dr Craig's care. This death could be, as the CBC article suggests, an unfortunate error in assessment by Dr Craig. Or it could be what critics call "pump and dump". Psychiatric medicines operate by suppressing the production of a brain chemical. The brain responds over time by generating more receptors for the chemical, adjusting toward normal behavior. When the drug is withdrawn, the normal chemical levels return to an oversensitized brain, producing the opposite of the behavior intended for the drug, in the case of anti-depressants extreme depression and suicide. The CBC article says that Dr Craig took Dr Marshall off her medications. The same treatment applied to Dr Mary-Anne Marshall could be the end for Byron Prior.
April 3, 2009
Mr. Byron David Prior
Seen: April 3, 2009
Mr. Prior is a 55 year-old married disabled former crane operator from Conception Bay South who is charged with criminal libel. He was ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment by the Honorable Mr. David Orr, Provincial Court Judge, of St. John's Provincial Court. Judge Orr's main question is whether or not the defense of "not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder" should apply to Mr. Prior's case.
Mr. Prior is alleged to have committed criminal libel against Mr. Justice T. Alex Hickman, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trial Division by publicly accusing Mr. Justice Hickman of having raped Mr. Prior's sister in 1966, thereby impregnating her, and of having subsequently gone to great lengths to cover up the alleged rape. A letter from Ms. Elaine Reid, Crown Attorney, of the Special Prosecutions Office to me dated March 27, 2009 clearly establishes, at least in my mind, that Mr. Prior's allegations against Justice Hickman have been disproven. "Googling" the names "T. Alex Hickman" and "Byron Prior" yielded several "hits" alleging the above-mentioned offenses by Mr. Justice Hickman.
Mr. Prior understands the nature, seriousness and potential consequences of the offense with which he is charged. He also understands Court Procedure, the functions of the Officers of the Court, his right to plead guilty or not guilty to the offense with which he is charged and the consequences of either plea. He is capable of giving valid instruction to Counsel acting in his defense. He is therefore, in my opinion, fit to stand trial.
When asked what this assessment was all about, i.e. what led to his being ordered to see me, Mr. Prior essentially repeated his previous allegations. He reported having repeatedly gone to the RCMP since 1960 complaining of incest, child prostitution and sexual abuse of his family members. He then alleged that in 1966 Mr. Justice Hickman, then a provincial politician "wanted" his mother and his sister as "sex toys for the night" of his election and proceeded to rape his sister, as a result of which she became pregnant and bore a son who, Mr. Prior reported, now works for Hickman Motors. Mr. Prior reported that Mr. Justice Hickman and others, including his then Executive Assistant, went to great lengths to cover up the alleged rape and to silence Mr. Prior, even going to the point of arranging for Mr. Prior to be hired as a "Warder" at Her Majesty's Penitentiary.
Mr. Prior reported having repeatedly complained to the RCMP about the matter and about other incidents of physical and sexual abuse against several of his siblings by his mother and others, including several politicians, several times over the last 40 years, particularly since 1998. He also reported having spent several months on Parliament Hill in Ottawa where, according to his report, he handed out 22,700 pamphlets outlining his allegations against Mr. Justice Hickman and where, according to his report, he was approached by several politicians, each of whom promised to investigate his allegations but failed to report back to him concerning the matter. Mr. Prior also reported having spent some time in front of the House of Assembly in St. John's where he reportedly handed out another 7000 similar pamphlets. Finally, Mr. Prior reported having had to appear in court on six previous occasions on charges similar to his current charge. He expressed determination to "obtain justice for my family" and to continue publicly making his allegations against Mr. Justice Hickman until he (Mr. Justice Hickman) is brought to justice.
I pointed out to Mr. Prior that at least one police investigation has disproved his allegations against Mr. Justice Hickman. Mr. Pryor's response was to the effect that this investigation simply consisted of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary asking the Peel Regional Police in Ontario to ask his sister four questions, that the Peel Regional Police spent a total of 10 minutes with his sister and that this investigation was therefore completely inadequate. I then went on to suggest to Mr. Prior that he might possibly be mistaken in his allegations against Mr. Justice Hickman, to which Mr. Prior replied that this was not possible as he was present at the time of the alleged rape and knew what he saw.
Mr. Prior also reported having repeatedly demanded a DNA test and having repeatedly offered to pay for the DNA test. He reported having asked the Honorable Judge Orr for a DNA test of Mr. Justice Hickman but that, instead, Judge Orr ordered him (Mr. Prior) to be assessed by me.
Mr. Prior denied that there was anything wrong with his mental health. He denied feeling depressed, anxious or otherwise distressed. He described his sleep, appetite, and energy as intact. He denied diurnal mood variation or suicidal or homicidal ideation.
Mr. Prior reported that, when he was about 14 years old, his mother, who was reportedly a "regular" at Waterford Hospital, brought him to Dr. Omesh Kashyap, psychiatrist, in an attempt to have him admitted to Waterford Hospital. Mr. Prior reported having attempted suicide by overdose in response to his mother's attempt and that Dr. Kashyap admitted his mother to Waterford Hospital and arranged to see Mr. Prior daily for about two weeks, after which Dr. Kashyap reportedly told Mr. Prior that there was nothing mentally wrong with him. Mr. Pryor also reported having taken an overdose of unspecified pills earlier in his childhood. He denied any other history of mental health difficulties or any other history of suicide attempts. He reported having been circumcised at age 4 because of trauma to his penis "because my mother made a toy of my penis" and having fractured his nose and his clavicle. He reported being a "chronic kidney stone former" and of suffering from chronic osteoarthritis. He denied any other significant medical history. He has no known allergies. His only current medication is celecoxib (Celebrex). He is reportedly supposed to take an antihypertensive agent but has not done so for the last month, reportedly because he cannot afford to pay for the drug.
Mr. Prior was born and raised in Grand Bank. According to his report, he is the second of 14 siblings. His older brother and one sister died in childhood. I neglected to inquire about Mr. Prior's mother's pregnancy or about his birth, developmental milestones or early health. Mr. Pryor reported that his father was a sea captain who was only home about three or four days per month and that his mother was chronically mentally ill, was frequently admitted to Waterford Hospital, was promiscuous and subjected her children to prostitution. He reported physical and sexual abuse of himself and his siblings by his mother as well as by other people in the community, including several prominent politicians. Mr. Prior reported having quit school in grade 10 after which he reportedly worked on boats, as a correctional officer at HMP for 14 months and on offshore oil rigs for several years. He then helped set up and teach a Basic Offshore Survival Training course for about two years in the mid-19 80s, and then drove taxis, delivered pizzas and carried out a number of other jobs. He last worked sometime in 2007. Mr. Prior reported having met his wife at around age 17 and having been married for the last 34 years. He reported that their marriage has had its "ups and downs". They have one son, now age 22. He denied any history of legal difficulties, other than those mentioned above.
Mr. Prior reported having quit smoking about 15 years ago. He reported drinking occasionally and in moderation. He denied any history of drug abuse.
Mr. Prior reported that his mother was frequently mentally ill and was "a regular" at Waterford Hospital. His half-sister reportedly suffers from a personality disorder and is also familiar to staff at Waterford Hospital. Mr. Pryor denied any other family history of mental illness, substance use disorders or suicide. He reported that one brother was briefly in conflict with the law.
Mr. Prior lives with his wife in Conception Bay South. They are supported by income from a GIC belonging to his wife.
Mental status examination revealed Mr. Prior to be appropriately dressed and groomed and in no apparent distress. At the beginning of the interview, Mr. Prior asked me if I minded him taping the interview and then turned on a Dictaphone. There were no other unusual behaviors and no disorders of speech or thought. Mr. Prior's mood was euthymic. He had a normal range of affect. There were no apparent hallucinations. He has a delusional system concerning Mr. Justice Hickman which is outlined above. Although formal cognitive testing was not done, he appeared oriented and cognitively intact.
A brief conversation with Mr. Prior's wife revealed that he first began making his allegations against Mr. Justice Hickman in approximately 1998 and that these allegations are an at least daily topic of Mr. Prior's conversation.
As best I can determine, Mr. Prior suffers from a delusional disorder. The only significant other possibilities are another mental disorder mimicking a delusional disorder, deliberate lying by Mr. Prior, which I do not believe, and guilt on the part of Mr. Justice Hickman, which 1 understand has been disproven.
Delusional disorders are characterized by non-bizarre (i.e. plausible) fixed false beliefs which are held with absolute conviction and are not in keeping with the individual's religious, cultural or socioeconomic background (i.e. delusions) and the relative absence of other psychopathology. In Mr. Prior's case, he is deluded that Mr. Justice Hickman raped his sister thereby impregnating her and subsequently went to great lengths to "cover up" the rape. He has gone to great lengths to publicize his belief, his intent being to clear his family name and to bring Mr. Justice Hickman to justice. He made it clear to me that he intends to keep doing so in the future.
If Mr. Justice Hickman were guilty of what Mr. Prior believes him to have done, then Mr. Prior's alleged actions would appear to constitute a legitimate (although extreme) attempt to bring Mr. Justice Hickman to justice. They would therefore be justifiable, i.e. "right", not "wrong".
I am therefore of the opinion that Mr. Prior is suffering from a mental disorder, namely a delusional disorder, the nature and severity of which is such as to render him incapable of appreciating that his alleged acts, assuming he committed them, are wrong. Therefore, in my opinion defense of "not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder" should apply to Mr. Prior's case, assuming he committed the offence with which he is charged.
Delusional disorders do respond, to a certain extent, to antipsychotic medications, classically to the antipsychotic agent pimozide (Orap). However the response to antipsychotic agents varies from patient to patient and the prognosis of delusional disorder is limited, at least partly by patients' lack of insight into their illnesses and their consequent reluctance to take antipsychotic medications on a regular basis.
As best I can determine, Mr. Prior is not otherwise acutely mentally ill. He is neither suicidal nor homicidal.
Mr. Prior is, in my opinion, fit to stand trial.
David Craig MD, FRCPC
Source: private communication
MD's family files suit over post-discharge suicide
Psychiatrist deemed MD's risk as low
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 | 7:28 AM NT, CBC News
The family of a physician who committed suicide in 2004 is suing the St. John's psychiatrist who discharged her from hospital just hours before her death.
Mary-Anne Marshall died July 6, 2004, the same day she was discharged from the Health Sciences Centre's psychiatric unit in St. John's by Dr. David Craig.
In a statement of claim filed in Newfoundland Supreme Court, Marshall's brother Alfred — the executor of her estate — said Marshall was admitted to hospital with a history of depression.
Days before her death, Marshall, a family physician, made a call from the hospital to the staff at her medical clinic.
She asked them for a syringe and lidocaine, a pain-deadening drug, which another physician at the clinic recognized as "a suicide kit." That physician instructed staff not to turn those items over to Marshall.
Court documents also say Marshall made what family members described as "goodbye calls," which were reported to Craig.
She was assessed by a hospital psychologist, who also reported to Craig that she was at significant risk for suicide.
Her family claims Craig ignored that and other signs that she was suicidal. Craig deemed Marshall to be at low risk for suicide and discharged her from hospital, without medication.
Hours later, Marshall ended her own life.
The claim argues that both Craig and Eastern Health — the regional authority which manages the Health Sciences Centre — were negligent. It also argues that Craig should have kept Marshall in hospital for her own safety.
The claim seeks losses, including loss of income and support for Marshall's young daughter. The suit also seeks damages as well as the legal costs of this case.
In a statement of defence, Craig said Marshall's treatment team agreed that her suicide risk was low and that she should be discharged.
He also said Marshall displayed manipulative behaviour and that he took her off her medications in order to get a clear diagnosis of her condition.
Craig said Marshall's suicide came as a complete shock to him.
April 21, 2009 permalink
Here is a new low in abuse by CAS. Social workers got a post-partum mother to sign a document without letting her have a copy, then took her newborn baby. The parents cannot get a copy of the document, and cannot get legal aid without it. They have received no legal process.
How come we haven't got court papers! What can we do?
Thu 02 Apr 2009, 4:24 pm
screen name: CAS_IS_CORRUPT
We have been waiting and requesting court papers to be filed so we can plead our case to a judge. It has been 3 months since our daughter was taken from us and we have yet to see any court papers. We have asked for them like everyday since our daughter was taken, and get the same response of 'we are getting them'. I know they should have given us these papers within the week of this happening, and I had a lawyer even call and they told him that the papers are going to come in a week, it has now been 3 weeks and still no papers.
CAS threatened my girlfriend into signing a hospital document when our child was a week old, and we asked for all files we signed to be released to us, and this hospital document was nowhere to be found. Now they bring this document out and are saying we signed it to release our daughter to my parents, but we didn't. My parents won't give us the documents we signed and the cops won't get them for us, and now we fear that the CAS told my parents to hold onto the files so they can slip this document into the folder that we got. We cannot afford a lawyer and legal aid will not take anything from us because we don't have these court papers. This is confusing and stressful to us, we haven't done anything wrong, and think the only reason this is happening is because my parents never had a girl of their own. PLEASE HELP US WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO!
Source: TalkCAS (private message board)
Social Worker Alters Court Records
April 21, 2009 permalink
As a sidebar to the story of the Pennsylvania judges who jailed children for cash, social worker Sandra M Brulo has admitted to altering court records. Keep this in mind when you hear social workers pretending they have an arms-length relation with the courts.
Ex-official surrenders her license
As part of plea deal, ex-juvenile probation official Sandra Brulo agrees to not practice in the state.
By Terrie Morgan-Besecker email@example.com, Law & Order Reporter
HARRISBURG – A former Luzerne County juvenile probation department official who admitted altering a juvenile court record connected to the judicial corruption probe has agreed to permanently surrender her license to practice social work in Pennsylvania.
The agreement between Sandra M. Brulo and the Department of State comes several weeks after Brulo pleaded guilty to federal charge of obstruction of justice.
“The guidance and protection of our children is among the most profound responsibilities we are entrusted with – one which has been breached in this judicial corruption case,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortes said in a prepared statement.
“We acted swiftly to ensure Ms. Brulo will never again practice social work in Pennsylvania.”
As deputy director of forensic services for juvenile probation, Brulo was responsible for making treatment recommendations. She was charged on Feb. 20 with alerting a document in a juvenile’s file to indicate she had recommended probation when in fact she had recommended the child be detained.
Authorities said she took the action in order to shield herself from liability in connection with a class-action lawsuit in which she had been named a defendant. That suit alleges hundreds of youths were improperly detained by former judge Mark Ciavarella.
Ciavarella and former judge Michael Conahan pleaded guilty in February to accepting more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from the owner the PA Child Care juvenile detention facility. Several lawsuits that have been filed allege Ciavarella ordered children be detained there in order to benefit himself financially.
Brulo pleaded guilty on March 26 to obstruction of justice, a felony, and has agreed to cooperate with authorities.
She remains free pending sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled.
The Department of State licenses and regulates social workers and other professionals. Conviction of a felony is a violation of the state’s social workers practice Act.
“Our close cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare allowed us to reach a swift conclusion on this case,” said Basil Merenda, commissioner of the department’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs.
“We will continue to work with federal and state agencies to protect the public welfare where and whenever possible.”
Source: Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
April 19, 2009 permalink
When the Canadian government apologized for past stealing of native children, it implied a promise of reform. In breach of that promise, this month newborn Raven was removed from his mother's breast. Below is an edited version of the father's comments.
Apr 11, 2009 11:07 PM
The Children's Aid Society have just taken my new born son from the hospital who was born on April 5th. They inspected my home and approved and also made me do urinalysis test and I have not yet received the results but I do not use drugs or drink alcohol, I do not even smoke so I do know it will be clean. My home is very clean and I have gotten all the proper things to care for my son, like diapers, brand new crib, brand new stroller the list goes on. They came to the hospital the day his mother's milk came in and took him away. Now I tell you the mother does have a history of mental health issues but has been pro-active and is getting assistance in the community for addiction counseling and has the proper professional help within the community. I am a sober clean living Native American man and I follow my traditions and heritage with discipline.
Before the court hearing the lawyers tried to make our plans of making my sister the legal guardian fail and said that we had disagreed on the plan, which in reality was a farce. We were in 100% agreement so that eventually our son will not be in the care of the C.A.S. at all. So what happened was my son's mother spoke up not once but had to stand up two times in court and go against her legal aid lawyer and tell the judge that she was 100% in agreement with the plan. The judge was presented with 5 plans of action all suitable and structured for the care of my son Raven so that he has the best possible care he can get. The C.A.S. wanted to make a lengthy court battle off and on for months but because of my sons mother standing up in the court room two times the C.A.S. was NOT prepared for that and the judge shortened the length of the next court appearance by over a month.
On another note: In Sudbury Ontario the highest paid person in all of the city was the head of C.A.S. for 2008. What does that say? Children are big business and the C.A.S. are on top of the corporate corruption ladder.
We would greatly appreciate your support! You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading.
If you are on facebook you can join my group against the Children's Aid Society.
Edited by LittleRaven at 04/11/2009 8:15 PM PDT
Source: AETV Children's Aid Society Corruption
April 16, 2009 permalink
Last year Texas CPS conducted a disastrous raid on the FLDS, seizing over 400 children. The raid ended only after a ruling by the Texas supreme court in favor of the families. So what is the proposed legislative solution? More power for CPS!
Read about it below, or watch a video report by KXAN (flv).
Lawmakers tackle FLDS raid
One year later, the gov't procedure is discussed
Updated: Wednesday, 15 Apr 2009, 12:19 PM CDT, * Jenny Hoff
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Just over a year after the government raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ranch in West Texas, lawmakers in Austin look at what they could have done better.
Members from the FLDS sect and representatives with Child Protective Services are among the invited testimony on the state's actions.
"Are there things we would have done differently today? Of course," said CPS commissioner Anne Heilingenstein. "I wish we would have had the information we have today."
Heilingenstein told the Human Services committee that CPS faced a dilemma on the Yearning for Zion ranch that they had never faced before.
"If we could have only removed the children facing the worst abuse, we would have," she said. "But, we were facing organized deception."
However, Heilingenstein said if the situation were to happen again, she would still have the agency remove all the children. The only difference she would make is prohibit any mothers from accompanying the children into state custody. However, she said after parenting classes and counseling sessions with the families, she believes the children are now safe with their parents.
"The FLDS have acknowledged our concerns and the children are now safe in their homes."
Heilingenstein said CPS has instructed the children on what is abuse and the FLDS children know they can call for help.
CPS initially removed more than 400 children from the YFZ ranch and allowed some of the FLDS mothers to accompany them. After a Texas Supreme Court ruling, CPS returned all but one of the children to their parents.
Heilingenstein said the agency is hoping to keep one girl CPS still has in permanent state custody. That girl is the 14-year-old girl that was allegedly one of the wives of the sect's jailed prophet, Warren Jeffs. She was 12 years old when the marriage supposedly happened.
The FLDS Side
Spokersperson for the FLDS sect, Willie Jessop, gave the House committee a drastically different account of the state's actions on April 3, 2008.
"The government had an agenda and it didn't matter what the truth was," said Jessop. "They came onto the ranch with tanks and guns and based their investigation on information they knew was false."
Jessop said a report that will be filed on Wednesday in preparation for suppression hearings in May will shed more light on the state's actions.
"In the depositions, investigators said they started searching the area hours before they had a search warrant even signed."
Jessop said the mass removal of children displayed the state's disregard for citizens' rights.
"State lawmakers have been quoted several times as wanting to get us out of Texas and they'll do anything they have to in order to accomplish that," he said.
Bill to Grant CPS More Power
Rep. Harvey Hilderbran , R-Kerrville, passed legislation in 2005 that targeted some of the practices of the FLDS sect, including raising the age of marriage with consent from 14 years of age to 16 years of age. Hilderbran is now urging lawmakers to pass another bill that would give CPS more leniency in similar situations.
"This bill doesn't target this group," said Hilderbran when laying out the HB 4255. "There is another case that isn't as famous in my county but involves similar situations for children and even includes child labor."
However, those who disagree with the state's actions during the raid said the bill is severely flawed.
"This is just a laundry list of new things we can criminalize," said Susan Hays, who was appointed as one of the attorney ad litems and represented children taken off the Yearning for Zion Ranch . "It gives CPS more power after they got a slap in the face for not using the power they already have correctly."
One of the biggest elements of the bill is allowing the state to circumvent the law requiring CPS make reasonable efforts to keep children with their family before taking them into state custody.
Section 7, C of the committee substitute reads as follows:
"The court may find that based on the circumstances, no reasonable efforts would prevent or eliminate the need to remove a child and the department satisfied the requirements even though the department made no efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the child."
The Texas Supreme Court's decision was based on CPS not making reasonable efforts to keep the FLDS children with their parents.
Rep. Drew Darby , R-San Angelo, said the bill is meant to clarify the state's powers to avoid another similar ruling in the courts. He said the bill is necessary to protect children throughout the state.
"There are a bunch of different prongs to the bill and each one of the prongs are important," Darby said.
Breakdown of the Bill:
- Increases the statute of limitations to report bigamy from three years to seven years for adults and from five years to 10 years if the case involves a minor.
- Increases penalties for parents who do not properly report births.
- Allows a peace officer to enter the home of a student who is part of an ongoing CPS investigation and is not meeting compulsory school requirements. Increases the penalty for parents who do not require their children to go to school. That includes being charged with a third-degree felony in some cases.
- Allows the state to circumvent the "reasonable efforts" clause in keeping children with parents
- Mandate that if an alleged perpetrator is removed from the home instead of the child, the parent residing with the child must report to law enforcement any attempt by the alleged perpetrator to return to the residence
- Prohibit a parent from accompanying a child taken into state custody (this directly relates to FLDS mothers of infants who were allowed to stay with the children in San Angelo).
- Changes the definition of bigamy and increases the offense to a higher felony depending on the age of the spouses
Some of the members of YFZ ranch are learning from the experience and making a few jokes. Below is a clip of Jenny Hoff when she went to visit the Yearning for Zion Ranch during the one-year anniversary of the raid. While there, the members of FLDS showed her "compound dressing." Take a look: link (flv).
Source: KXAN Austin
April 14, 2009 permalink
When a driver shows up to take three-year-old Lily back to foster care, she expresses her opinion by voting with her feet. [ The girl was later identified as Madison Willard. ]
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Lily Being Traumatised By CPS...Fear Is In Her Eyes...She Is Being Repeatedly Harmed By The State Of Washington
(Here we see "Lily" trying to get away from the driver who will take her back to the foster woman. The look you see is fear. She is trying, frantically, to get away. She does not want to leave the grandparents she loves.)
It doesn't take a shrink to know when a child is traumatised. You know it when you see it.
The ages of 0 to 3 are the most formative in a child's life. The whole theory of nature vs nurture is one that supports the fact that trauma does affect the development of a child. Lily was pirated away from her grandparents at age 3 years. We know from her comments that she thinks it is her fault.
When it is time to leave her grandparents after her one hour visit she tries to escape the social worker! She screams! She kicks! She is horrified!
I can not adequately explain how harmful this is and it is at the hand of the state. And...they really don't care. Can you imagine such awful people?
At the last visit the driver and the social worker and the grandparents all recognized bruises on the little girl as being serious enough to warrant investigation.
Lily still has a rash that she did not have while with the grandparents. This is now persistent and may be caused by emotional stress, food allergy, or lack of personal cleanliness. I am going with state induced trauma. Remember, Lily was under monthly doctor's care while with the grandparents. She is pre-diabetic. She was fed organic foods and was very happy. She attended her college educated grandmother's preschool class.
No Lily cries as she is torn again and again from the family she was forced to leave after a quack of a social worker spent his time fabricating "stories" so he could justify stealing this child.
Posted by Pam Roach at 11:35 PM
Source: Pam Roach blog April 12, 2009
Lying with Statistics
April 14, 2009 permalink
The US Department of Health and Human Services has released its annual report Child Maltreatment 2007 (pdf local copy). Much of the report is uninformative, for example, deaths from abuse in foster care and parental care are listed by state, but lumped together so that the foster care deaths alone are not disclosed. There is one place where foster deaths are listed by themselves, on page 62.
Comparison of these numbers with a list of deaths in non-parental care drawn from press reports shows the official numbers are too low.
For the four categories of foster parent, the report lists just six deaths. The press reported sixteen deaths of foster children in which the foster parents are accused: Loreyna Barea, Treau Jadyn Bemis, James Earl Bradley Jr, Miyanna Renae Chowning, Hailey Gonzalez, Chandler Ashton Grafner, Brittany (Brittnay) T Hampton, Alberto Johnny (Bobo) James, Chaeli Kyrie née Hei Min Chung, Dennis L Lindberg Jr, Tamaihia Lynae Moore, Malachi Jermaine Roberts-McBride, Jordan Kaleb Shelton, Alizé J Vick, Tyler (Ty Ty) B Westbrook and Davion Winrow.
For the category "staff group home" the report lists two deaths. The press reported eight: Jonathan Carey, Johnny S Dragomir, Ruben Gonzales, Caleb C Jensen, Omega Leach, Denis Manuel Maltez, David Mercado and Isaiah Simmons III. Maybe the department does not consider death by strangulation to be abuse.
The department doesn't seem to have a category for foster children killed by someone other than a foster parent. The press reported a dozen: Lydia Citrine Alday, Rodney Anderson, Daniel Brock Austin, Jamiya DeLoach, George Michael Flores, Melissa Flores, Earl R Freeman, Alizay A Koepf, Dymond McGowan, Demonte Norton, Cameron Smith and Christopher Stephens.
Another missing category is foster children dying in accidents. The press reported a dozen: Meshach Boges, Brittany K Burke, Madison Ariel Coley, Sunari Dowdell, Montana Rose Figgins, Jayla Thompson Fox, Christopher D H, Erica Lee Martinez, James McGee, Taya Pishion, Samuel (Sammy) Craig Vitela and Anariah West.
Finally, the department does not distinguish adoptive parents from the real kind. The press found three deaths of adopted children: Juan Turner Parks, Amanda G Piggott née Leandra Gutierrez, Crystal Ramirez née Camarillo,
The best estimate from statistical data on child mortality suggests that nineteen of every twenty deaths in foster care never get into the press. The official numbers on mortality in foster care are low to the point of absurdity. It is reasonable to assume that parts of the report other than deaths are just as absurd.
Child Protectors Defy Court
April 12, 2009 permalink
When a Texas jury ruled that two boys should be returned to their parents, Christopher and Laura Dobbins, what did CPS do? They kept the kids anyway.
Three months after jury decision in custody case, Midlothian couple still waiting for kids to come home
12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, April 12, 2009, By JON NIELSEN / The Dallas Morning News, email@example.com
Three months after a jury decided that Christopher and Laura Dobbins were fit to raise their two children, the couple are still waiting to see them.
What's more, a pending criminal case against the parents could create dueling jury verdicts and disrupt plans for a reunion with their 5- and 7-year-olds. The couple haven't seen their boys since Child Protective Services removed them almost two years ago over abuse allegations.
CPS sought to terminate parental rights, but in a December civil trial, an Ellis County jury disagreed. Despite that 10-2 verdict, an Ellis County assistant district attorney says she's building a criminal case that will show the Dobbinses physically abused one of the boys.
This is a difficult situation for the judge, the jurors, the parents and the children, said Ellen Marrus, a law professor at the University of Houston.
"It would be a little odd to have dueling verdicts," she said. "Normally you have the criminal case, and the CPS case is really the backup. If you can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt, you have a way of safeguarding and protecting the children."
But in this case, the children are in limbo, said Mark Griffith, Laura Dobbins' attorney. Nearly three months after the December trial, Ellis County Court at Law Judge Greg Wilhelm has yet to affirm the jury's verdict.
"I can't do it anymore. It's been too long," Laura Dobbins said through sobs about the separation from her children. "I want to get to know them again. I need them, and I know they need me."
Last month, her attorney filed a rarely used writ of mandamus asking the court of appeals to order Wilhelm to uphold the jury's verdict so the children can go home. The court of appeals' decision is pending. A ruling could come this month.
"It's ridiculous," Griffith said about the criminal charges. "There is no rabbit in the hat to pull out. They threw everything and the kitchen sink in the CPS case, and the jury didn't buy any of it."
When the Dobbinses last saw their younger son, paramedics rushed him to the intensive care unit at Children's Medical Center Dallas. That was May 31, 2007, the day the boy had a seizure in the family's Midlothian home. Doctors found bleeding around the brain, a laceration to the pancreas and two old fractures in his wrists. Physicians suspected abuse and called Child Protective Services.
In June 2007, officials took the boy, then 4, and his 5-year-old stepbrother into protective custody and moved to terminate the parents' rights. Midlothian police later arrested the Dobbinses in their home.
According to court records, the 5-year-old stepbrother told child advocate workers that the parents repeatedly kicked the younger boy in the stomach. The Dobbinses deny any wrongdoing.
According to testimony in the CPS trial, the younger boy suffers from Henoch-Schonlein purpura, a disease that causes the blood vessels to become inflamed. Some of the symptoms the boy had during his hospital stay are similar to those found in a child with HSP.
But that diagnosis is disputed by the state's criminal prosecutor and will become a key topic at trial, said Lindy Tober, Ellis County's assistant district attorney.
"We have no – zero – intentions of dismissing the case," she said.
Laura and Christopher Dobbins each face one count of causing bodily injury to a child and one count of omission. A trial is scheduled in May. If convicted of the first-degree felony, they face up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
It's unclear whether Wilhelm is waiting until the outcome of the criminal trial to determine the children's placement. This is the second writ filed against him in the past eight months for failing to uphold a jury verdict.
The judge declined to comment through his court coordinator.
"It is as if the trial and verdict were merely a 'mock trial' and the judge, through his continued actions that ignore the verdict, is abusing his discretion with no basis in law," according to Griffith's writ.
Those close to the case say both children are doing well in separate homes of extended family members. But learning that the kids were still not home with their parents bothered one juror.
"I'm a little shocked to hear that," Joe Sires of Waxahachie said. "I thought the verdict was the verdict."
According to Sires, jurors in the civil trial didn't know about the criminal charges against the parents when they voted against terminating the parental rights.
"I know there will be 10 of us who will be heartbroken if they are found guilty," Sires said.
According to the writ, Wilhelm has called for a transition plan that includes contact with the boys through a Web camera and telephone calls. But the plan doesn't include a deadline to return them to their parents.
"Justice demands that the trial court abandon its path of ever greater intervention and intrusion," Griffith wrote in the writ. "Any further delay will only serve to intensify the damage caused by the TDFPS [Texas Department of Family and Protective Services] in its failed petition."
Source: Dallas Morning News
April 11, 2009 permalink
Two Fathers-4-Justice members, Benoît Leroux and Gilles Dumas, have been convicted of mischief for a stunt on May 23, 2005 in which Robin (Leroux) climbed the Jacques-Cartier bridge in Montreal, stopping traffic for over two hours.
Mise à jour: 09/04/2009 15:36
Fathers 4 justice
Deux membres coupables de méfait
(Agence QMI) Stéphane Tremblay
Les deux membres les plus actifs du mouvement Fathers 4 justice, Benoît Leroux et Gilles Dumas, qui s'étaient hissés au sommet du pont Jacques-Cartier en mai 2005, perturbant gravement la circulation, ont été reconnus coupables de méfait et complot pour commettre un méfait, aujourd'hui, au palais de justice de Montréal.
Dumas, 56 ans, s’est présenté en cour avec plus de 30 minutes de retard. Il a immédiatement informé le juge qu’il contestait sa décision devant la Cour d’appel du Québec.
Leroux, 51 ans, demande une absolution inconditionnelle, «car je voudrais pouvoir entrer aux États-Unis sans problème pour aller voir ma fille qui y demeure avec mon ex-conjointe».
C’est le 23 mai 2005 que Leroux, vêtu de son masque et de son costume de Robin, a escaladé la structure du pont pour étaler une banderole avec les écriteaux «égalité parentale».
Bien ancré au sol, Dumas était en possession de haut–parleurs et servait de complice. Il a été arrêté par la police. À deux reprises, il est sorti du véhicule de police, ce qui lui a valu une condamnation d’entrave. Le pont a été fermé pendant plus de deux heures au grand dam des automobilistes.
Mentionnons que les deux hommes assuraient leur propre défense. Ils ont présenté de nombreuses requêtes retardant ainsi les procédures judiciaires. Le juge Gilles Cadieux n’a pas retenu la défense de «nécessité» soutenue par les deux accusés, qui protestent contre la manière dont les tribunaux traitent les pères dans les affaires matrimoniales.
Dumas reviendra en cour le 5 mai et Leroux le 21 mai pour les représentations sur sentence.
April 11, 2009 permalink
When Hamilton CAS needed six more foster kids they grabbed them from a home that had been under observation for a couple of months. Police arrested two parents and a grandma. CAS created a justification in a press release containing all of the standard horrible accusations. The Hamilton Spectator printed it uncritically but when the Toronto Sun checked with the family two days later, denials started to appear. Are there any homes that don't have a single dead mouse? Or a mouse dropping?
Kids found in basement black hole
Locked in urine-soaked and feces-smeared room, dead rats outside door
Susan Clairmont and Paul Morse
Two young Stoney Creek children have been rescued from a feces-smeared windowless basement room where they were kept locked up by their own parents and grandmother, Hamilton police say.
Two boys, 5 and 2, were found by patrol officers on April 2 when they went to the Stoney Creek Mountain home to check an unknown 911 call.
Investigators now think one of the little children made the call.
Police, who are required to check all unknown 911 calls, entered the home but at first found nothing out of the ordinary, said Detective Sergeant Chris Kiriakopoulos, of the Hamilton police victims of crime unit.
“When an officer came near the basement stairs, he heard a cry from downstairs,” he said.
Officers found a five-year-old boy near the bottom of the stairs “in a state of anxiety and fear,” then discovered a small room with a two-year-old boy inside.
“The room was filthy beyond words, and the officer who entered it said he almost couldn’t breathe from the stench.”
The windowless, pitch-black room had bunk beds and bedding that were soaked with urine, while feces was smeared on the walls.
“The room was very filthy and officers found dead rats outside the room.”
Kiriakopoulos said the room had a latch on the door frame that had been used to lock the children inside. “They had been confined inside the room for a periods of time.”
Child-abuse investigators executed a search warrant on the home the next day.
Six children from 2 to 13 lived in the home with parents and grandparents.
“It is a blended family,” Kiriakopoulos said.
All six children are now in foster care.
Children’s aid workers had routinely been checking on two children living with their grandparents on the main floor of the home, says Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton.
“But nobody knew the other children were living there,” he says.
The CAS had been involved with the children on the main floor for “a couple of months.”
Verticchio says four children in total were living in the basement, along with two adults.
The parents, a 35-year-old man and woman, 27, and a 60-year-old grandmother have been charged with forcible confinement.
The grandmother has also been charged with assault. All three have been released on a promise to appear in court on May 6.
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, 905-526-3434
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Allegations in child-abuse house of horrors 'greatly exaggerated'
By BRETT CLARKSON, SUN MEDIA, Last Updated: 11th April 2009, 2:41am
STONEY CREEK -- A distraught older man opened the front door of an alleged child-abuse house of horrors yesterday but didn't say a word.
Instead, he held up a business card of Hamilton lawyer Norman F. Williams and turned his face away from the doorway.
Clad in a white undershirt, his eyes moist and reddened, the man repeatedly nodded "No" when asked to comment on the horrific allegations that resulted in two children's aid societies seizing six kids from the 3rd St. E. home he lives in.
The family is "devastated" and in a "deep depression" over the "greatly exaggerated" allegations, Williams said.
Police said a two-year-old boy was found locked in a windowless basement room with feces smeared on the walls and the stench of urine overpowering the air.
During that same April 2 search, the boy's five-year-old brother, who's believed by cops to have dialed 911, was also in the basement. A dead rat was found outside the room, according to police.
Ultimately, six children ranging in age from two to 13 were seized by Hamilton CAS and the Catholic CAS. At least one of the boys is deaf, neighbours said yesterday.
The 27-year-old mother of the two boys, the 35-year-old father of the other four who weren't in the basement at the time, and his mother, 60, have been charged with forcible confinement. The older woman is also charged with assault on one of the kids.
Williams, who confirmed he's representing the three accused, said the family members are greatly saddened by the situation.
And while some neighbours on the quiet country road yesterday expressed outrage, one woman who has known the family for 30 years said there's no way the allegations could be true.
"This woman is a hard-working family person," Netty Verboom, 46, said of the 60-year-old woman. "She is a hard-working mother."
But a 3rd St. resident who was driving by said the community is "disgusted."
The man, who would only identify himself as John, said he never saw the children.
"That's what surprises me, that there were so many kids living there and I've never saw any of them," he said.
All of the accused have been released on a promise to appear in a Hamilton court on May 6. None of them can be identified to protect the identities of the children.
Source: Toronto Sun
Addendum: A year and a half later there is a criminal conviction by a judge. It is hard to tell whether this is a genuine case of abuse, or the province criminalizing poverty. The accused are being punished without a name.
Trio guilty in basement abuse case
A grandmother, her son and his fiancee have been found guilty on all counts of child abuse charges after keeping two small brothers locked in a tiny, windowless, filthy basement room.
The boys, aged 2 and 5, lived “in conditions of unthinkable squalor, filth and putrification,” said Justice Bernd Zabel in handing down his decision this morning.
The three Stoney Creek adults, who cannot be named due to a publication ban protecting the children from being identified, are each guilty of two counts of confinement, abandonment and failing to provide the necessaries of life. The grandmother is also guilty of assault.
All three remain on bail, with no contact with the children, until they are sentenced in December.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Humiliation and Hope for Lily
April 11, 2009 permalink
Senator/reporter Pam Roach tells more about Lily, the girl snatched from her grandparents at Christmas. The child protection juggernaut is rolling forward in its efforts to grab its latest prey. But at the last minute, a well-funded relative has come forward to save her. [ The girl was later named as Madison Willard. ]
Thursday, April 9, 2009
CPS Sec. Randy Hart....Never Sent The Exoneration Letter To Arrive Prior To Lily's Hearing As He Promised He Would
In reference to the retraction of CPS's false accusation regarding Lily's grandparents having stolen a computer which was actually given to them by another arm of this mega department
"I will send a letter of apology to the grandparents and send a copy to correct the records before the court." Randy Hart, Sec. Of Children's Administration on April 1, 2009
The letter was suppose to arrive before an April 9th court hearing. It needed to be at the court in time to have it entered. It was not. And, turns out there was not a lot of effort to get it there at all.
When it had not arrived by April 7th I called my friends at CPS. I figured Hart would not send the letter. "Fool me once...etc."
So, I called on Monday and was told the subordinate who was assigned the task was on vacation all last week. (How do you give an assignment to someone who isn't there anyway???)
And, get this...she was now on a two day, all expenses paid, annual CPS conference at the Seattle Convention Center. Not enough people there to carry out the commands of the director, I guess. How much time does it take to write a simple two paragraph letter in a timely manner. They have hundreds of people to do that!
One of my Senate colleagues also called about the letters. "They promised me, " said my colleague. "The letters will be hand delivered if necessary." OK.
Well, if they had wanted to be honest about the grandparents they would have done everything possible to correct this lie. They did not. They terried. They vacationed. They did not try at all actually.
If they were interested in being honest they would have told their lawyers from the Attorney General's office and had the information corrected. They really WANTED the false information before the commissioner. I mean...what other explaination can there be for this? These are adults not high schools kids late with a term paper.
You judge a person by what they do...not by what they say.
CPS does not want their own attorney to be made aware of the situation. To do that would be like calling off the dogs! (No derogatory thoughts here...just a euphemism.)
The department promised a letter of apology to the Lily's grandparents for lying about them having stolen a computer and a copy of the letter would be sent to the court commissioner for the hearing on Wed. They made the promise on April 1st (I know...quit laughing!). I called on Monday the 6th. No letters sent. They promised the letter would be there for the hearing on Wed. It was not there in time. There was a letter sent too late. Then there was a certified letter sent to the grandparents....too late to be considered at trial where the AG just blasted them...ala Stuth Case.
New developments...Another grandmother enters the picture. Turns out she is well heeled and will attorney up.
Posted by Pam Roach at 5:58 PM
Friday, April 10, 2009
Courtroom Drama Amounted To The AG Going After The Family With Both Guns Blazing
There was a terrible hearing in Skagit County. For days the AG's office faked strong interest in returning 3 year-old Lily to her meth troubled mother. The mother is doing well in counseling but Randy Hart told me last week that would not happen. (And, that I did believe.)
The 22 year-old mother was torn apart on the stand. She was faced with every bad thing she had ever done. She was crying during the whole thing. This is a mother that knows she has had issues...that is why she terminated her rights with the promise that her parents would raise Lily. The facts are what they are but it was a massacre.
The grandparents were blasted as well. The state intends to annihilate anyone that stands between Lily and the foster woman.
The department's AG has no intention of talking family reunification. That is not the goal. They argue for foster adoption even more vociferously than if they were the prosecution going for a murder conviction. That is because they are used to easy battles.
The "apology" letter arrives. 9/10ths bull and one tenth was half an apology. They apologised for having said the computer was stolen. They did not apologise that they had lied in court papers saying the grandparents had stolen it...or that they had wrongfully called the grandparents thieves.
Posted by Pam Roach at 11:34 PM 0 comments
Saturday, April 11, 2009
From Out Of Nowhere...Great-Grandma Arrives
What I like best about this woman is that she is livid angry at what is happening and has money for lawyers. Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead! (This is my kind of grandma...a fighter who has fire power!)
Lily's father...was killed in a car accident. The paternal grandparents are "unable" to take Lily and she was being raised by the mother's parents.
But...there was yet another grandmother... a wealthy great-grandmother who loved and raised Lily's dad who has been out of the country. This is the father's grandmother and great-grandma to Lily. She is relatively young and she is hopping mad.
How could CPS steal Lily and move for a quick adoption? "What is going on here?"
This grandma is NOT HAPPY...and is Lawyering Up!!! Thank God!
Attorney General Rob McKenna called me today from his cell phone. I gave him that story. Yes, he will work on this come Monday. He knows our Grandma with the guns! He knows what happened with the Stuths.
Posted by Pam Roach at 12:08 AM
Source: Pam Roach blog for April 9-11, 2009
Alberta Kafka Still Free
April 11, 2009 permalink
Who is more deserving of sympathy, a foster child or his killer? In the Alberta Kafka case, the court and the press are sympathizing with the foster mom. She has another two months on bail while the judge decides her sentence. Expect leniency.
Mom's safety 'jeopardized'
Document released detailing alleged remand centre abuse
By Jamie Hall, The Edmonton Journal April 10, 2009
Arguing his client's "safety could be jeopardized," the lawyer representing a woman convicted of killing a three-year-old foster child tried unsuccessfully on Thursday to prevent the release of an affidavit, in which the woman claims she was verbally and physically abused by remand centre guards.
The affidavit was introduced as an exhibit Wednesday by defence lawyer Brian Beresh when he argued for leniency at a sentencing hearing presided over by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Richard Marceau.
Beresh has said one to three years is a fair sentence for the manslaughter conviction, while Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga wants 10 to 12 years.
On Thursday, reporters asked for and received copies of the affidavit, over Beresh's objections.
In it, the woman claims she was pushed, kicked, prodded and called a "baby killer" during her incarceration.
She said she was regularly insulted by guards, and frequent searches were conducted of her cell, during which she was pushed to the ground.
She claimed guards withheld her mail, curtailed her exercise period, and unlocked her cell door, allowing other inmates to approach her "menacingly."
The woman said guards called her a "baby killer" using a "whining, mocking tone, accompanied by laughter."
She said she found her time at the remand centre "demoralizing," and that she was "often frightened and fearful for my own safety."
Alberta Solicitor-General and Public Safety spokesman Andy Weiler said he could not comment on the allegations while the matter is before the courts.
The woman was held at the remand centre for about a month following her arrest on Jan. 26, 2007, after a three-year-old boy, a foster child in her care, suffered a fatal brain injury.
Originally charged with second-degree murder, a jury convicted the woman of manslaughter in November, rejecting the version of events she claimed led to the boy's death.
The 34-year-old nurse testified during the six-week trial that she awoke to a screaming boy on the day in question, and when she tried to carry the struggling toddler to the bathroom, he slipped from her grasp and hit his head on the toilet.
The boy died the next day.
Beresh has described his client as a "super woman" who became a foster parent because she loved children.
He said she is a caring and attentive mother -- she has two biological children -- who has support from her family and the community.
During the hearing, he produced more than 50 letters attesting to her character.
Huyser-Wierenga contended the woman displayed increasingly "cruel and callous" behaviour toward the foster child in the weeks leading up to his death, and said she inflicted the fatal injury with "massive and violent force."
A live-in nanny testified the little boy had been forced to sleep on a mat on a cement floor in a cold garage, wearing only a diaper, because he wouldn't stop crying.
Huyser-Wierenga recalled her testimony when he referred to the foster mother's affidavit, in which she complained about being moved to "an extremely cold cell" with the most restricted view from the guard station.
"Wouldn't it be nice if (this child) could be here to provide us with an affidavit of his own experience?" said Huyser-Wierenga.
Marceau is expected to deliver his sentencing decision June 4.
Source: Edmonton Journal
April 11, 2009 permalink
The Osidacz jury has returned 35 recommendations. Since the language is too complex to come from laymen it is safe to say that the jury ratified suggestions written by the social services bureaucracy. All of the recommendations are for more family intervention, or more cross-communication within the bureaucracy. As usual in bureaucratic pronouncements on children, the words mother and father do not appear. Implementing the jury's suggestions will decrease the role of parents, and especially fathers, in the lives of their children. A child can be nearly certain of losing his father once dad has been convicted of a crime, even a minor one, or one far in the past. Since the biggest danger to children now is lack of parental involvement and control, things will only get worse. We wonder what a jury would recommend if there was ever a coroner's inquest into one of the 90 cases (or is it only 54?) annually in which children's aid removes a child from his parents, only to have him die in foster care.
Control violent parents' access: Inquest
Jury calls for limits on convicted offenders
Parents who have been convicted of violent domestic offences should only have supervised access to their children in custody cases.
That’s the most important of the 35 recommendations delivered today by the jury of the coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Andrew and Jared Osidacz.
If that had been the case in March 2006, Jared might still be alive.
Jared, 8, was on an unsupervised court ordered visit with his father, Andrew when he died. Andrew stabbed Jared to death and wounded his girlfriend and her 8-year-old
daughter. He then took his estranged wife, Julie Craven, hostage at knifepoint. His rampage ended when he was shot and killed by Brantford police.
For a month, the three women and two men of the jury heard evidence about the deaths in the hope of coming up with recommendations that would prevent another similar death. But the inquest was flawed from the start because Dr. James Edwards, the presiding coroner, narrowed the scope of the proceeding to exclude almost all evidence pertaining to domestic violence.
Andrew had been convicted of beating Julie several years before he killed Jared and had been kicked out of a court-ordered domestic violence program for refusing to provide instructors with contact information for his new girlfriend.
Recommendations from inquests are non binding.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Addendum: The Hamilton Spectator agrees that the inquest was a failure.
Inquest a miserable failure
It never sought the full truth
Susan Clairmont, The Hamilton Spectator, April 11, 2009
There were many missed opportunities.
To save the lives of Jared and Andrew Osidacz.
To save the lives of others who come after them.
Just as there were lost chances to intervene between the boy and the violent father who killed him, the very inquest into their deaths has become another missed opportunity.
To learn the whole truth. To explore the issues. To find answers.
And, ultimately, to prevent other similar deaths.
Jared was eight when he was stabbed to death by his father while on an unsupervised court-ordered visit. Unsupervised, despite Andrew's past conviction for a violent assault against Jared's mother. That final night Andrew also repeatedly stabbed his girlfriend, her eight-year-old daughter and then held Jared's mom, Julie Craven, at knifepoint. Andrew's rampage ended when he was fatally shot by Brantford police.
On Thursday, the three women and two men of the jury for the coroner's inquest into Jared and Andrew's homicides brought forward 35 recommendations to prevent the same thing happening again.
While a handful of the recommendations are worthwhile, the majority are of the boilerplate sort that crop up at every inquest held across the province: more funding for programs; better education for workers in the field; improved communication between agencies and ministries.
Most of the recommendations (which are all non-binding) were handed to the jury by the lawyers who spent the four weeks of the inquest protecting their clients -- the Children's Aid Society, the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services -- from lawsuits. Hence the complete absence of specific local agency names in any of the recommendations.
And therein lies the problem with this miserable failure of an inquest.
From the beginning it was set up to fail because it was not allowed to seek the full truth. Dr. James Edwards, the presiding coroner, set a scope for the proceedings which myopically focused on the hours and days leading up to the deaths, all but turning a blind eye to years of domestic violence, criminal and family court decisions and probation orders.
Jared's death was a domestic homicide. Plain and simple. Yet, the inquest did not treat it as such.
The irony here is that an inquest cannot find criminal wrongdoing, nor can it lead to financial compensation. In other words, an inquest should be the one forum where all parties can be open and honest without fear of repercussions. And yet, in reality, most of the parties are too fearful for their reputations and pocketbooks to be forthcoming.
An inquest should be able to find out what mistakes were made and by whom. But at this inquest, at the direction of Dr. Edwards, extraordinary steps were taken to keep names and other specifics out of it in favour of talking in useless generalities about ministry policies and procedures.
It is as though the coroner didn't want to hold anyone accountable. Or even make anyone uncomfortable.
Well, a boy is dead, damn it. And his father killed him.
Too bad if that makes people squeamish. Or if some social worker or probation officer has to be called to account. If an inquest is to have any sort of chance whatsoever of making a real difference in the future, a good strong light has to shine into every corner.
Years ago, coroner's inquests in our community had an impact. They dug up the details of deaths in a thorough manner and the recommendations that resulted were pointed and meaningful. Think of the inquest into the suicide of murderer Jonathan Yeo. It changed the way police services work together, the way border agencies do their jobs and the way wanted offenders are supposed to be handled. Or the inquest into the murder of two-year-old Zachary Antidormi, which brought about changes to our mental health system and its relationship with the police.
Lately, inquests have become public relations exercises instead of fact-finding missions.
A recent inquest in Kitchener into the police shooting of a former Hamilton man shares many of the same problems as the Osidacz inquest.
Trevor Graham was killed by police during a drug story robbery. Trevor, 26, had mental health and addiction issues. The road that led him to be at the pharmacy that night was long. And yet, the scope of the inquest focused primarily on the fatal shooting, rather than issues of the justice or health system.
Both inquests were mandatory because they involved deaths in police custody.
Both cost the taxpayers a great deal of money.
But unless inquests -- and the coroners who preside over them -- are serious about gathering the evidence a jury needs to make well-informed and necessary recommendations, really, what is the point?
Susan Clairmont's commentary appears regularly in The Spectator. firstname.lastname@example.org 905-526-3539
Best of the recommendations
- Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS), Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) and Office of the Children's Lawyer -- After a vicious assault and charges laid, the accused is put on bail with supervised access to children until the courts decide appropriate intervention.
- MAG -- Persons identified as at risk for lethality should be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis including, but not limited to, termination from, or completion of an intervention program. Copies of such evaluations be provided to other justice partners, including probation and parole and the CAS, where there are children involved or children in the home of the primary/joint or access parent.
- Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) -- All Ontario probation offices should form high-risk teams with other partners in the community such as police, the Crown's office, women's shelters and the CAS to case manage high-risk domestic violence cases, particularly those where the offender has been identified as being at high risk for lethality. That such high-risk teams partner with mental health professionals in appropriate cases.
- MCSCS -- Probation officers and supervisors should be directed that an anger management program is not a substitute for a domestic violence rehabilitation program.
- Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies -- Should fundamentally alter its strategy for assessing risk in cases involving domestic violence so the weight of decision-making rests on risk of harm posed by the perpetrator as well as the capacity of the non-offending parent to take protective action.
For the complete list of recommendations, visit thespec.com.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
April 9, 2009 permalink
John Milloy, Ontario's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, has violated the Child and Family Services Act, five times. On his his ministry website, Mr Milloy (red tie) identifies one crown ward, Abbie Gateman, by name in the first picture, and identifies four more in the second by picture only.
April 8, 2009 permalink
Fifteen-year-old Taylor Ballantyne is missing from Sudbury, without naming any family members. Looks like another CAS runaway.
Police are looking for 15-year-old Taylor Ballantyne, who was last seen Sunday at about 2 p. m. near Barrydowne Road.
Ballantyne has no history of running away or going missing, states a press release from Greater Sudbury Police.
Foul play is not suspected in Ballantyne's disappearance at this time, but police and her parents are concerned about where she is.
Ballantyne was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black and white plaid jacket with a green backpack. She is 5- feet-5 tall and about 100 pounds. She has straight medium-length black hair and brown eyes.
Source: Sudbury Star
Source: Sudbury24 copy of Persona News 10 (flash video)
April 8, 2009 permalink
A newsletter will appear shortly dealing with the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Children's Aid Society (RMW CAS). The first issue is enclosed below.
Note: On August 22, 2009 we changed the names of all persons disparaged in the newsletter to anonymized forms such as Shrinkone, Judgetwo or Workerthree.
The text of this newsletter has been deleted as part of the settlement of a lawsuit.
Lies for Lily
April 8, 2009 permalink
Pam Roach reports on the latest prevarications in the effort to steal a child Lily from her grandparents. The hair picture shows Lily under grandma's care, two days before DSHS grabbed her. An advocate for DSHS tried to claim the girl had "course hair". [ The girl was later named as Madison Willard. ]
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Grandma And Lily...Last Visit?
"On Friday, during our visit, Lily and I were in the middle of singing Puff the Magic Dragon, her favorite song, when she put her arms around me, kissed me, hugged me and said: 'Grandma, when will they let me come home? I love you sooooo much. I have been good for them. Can't I come home with you today?
Honestly, I do not know how much more of this I can take...and for them to say it is in the best interest of the child..."
This I received from Grandma. Just like the Stuths, these grandparents received glowing reports until it was decided that the child would go to someone else. This someone was on a waiting list for a child. I guess Lilly fit the order.
The grandparents have a lovely home. Grandma teaches the three-year-old's preschool class. Grandma has many community awards including "Lion of the Year" for Mt. Vernon, WA. There are many out and out lies in the report that is written by Myron Egbers who had never been in their home on Orcus Island when he wrote that there was no heat in the dwelling. The likes of you will burn in hell, Myron. Is there a bonus in it for you? Do you know the foster woman on the side? Hurrying to do the dirty work? Get it done before it gets out?)
Posted by Pam Roach at 11:34 PM
Source: Pam Roach blog April 5, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
House With No Heat? That's What CPS Claims. What do You Think?
The social worker put a report on the judge's desk, never having been to the home mind you...saying there is no heat in Grandma and Grandpa's home.
It defies logic to think that a building inspector would allow occupancy without heating. I mean...does anyone think a house could be sold if there was no heat source? But, with CPS logic does not matter.
Wouldn't you fire a CPS worker who so obviously lied about something like this and placed this lie on a judge's desk? Wouldn't you fire a supervisor who let something like this go unquestioned? I mean...what kind of supervisor...knowing we are talking about thwarting the law (it is the law that says we must place with biological relatives first) would not correct this lie?
Of course there is heating in this home. There is a wood stove and electric base board heating. Check out the home:
Posted by Pam Roach at 12:17 AM 2 comments
Lily's Adoption Hearing Will Be This Wednesday
After stealing this child...CPS is rushing to adopt her out to a single working woman who put in an order for a cute, blond little girl...you know the gig.
I am told Rob McKenna's attorney is just as bad in this case as the one who worked against the law in the Stuth Case. They have absolutely no care at all about the department lying to the judge. They have their marching orders.
I contend that the AG is legal counsel to DSHS. (OK, everyone agrees.) That does not just mean that they are to defend the state against lawsuits...it means they are the legal advisor. They should be advising CPS to follow the law and place with families first.
The AG should want truth before the judge. The state has lied about another set of grandparents. This is about justice. Dear reader...that is NOT how this is viewed by your government.
Posted by Pam Roach at 12:42 AM
Source: Pam Roach blog April 6 , 2009
CPS Colluders Raid Taxpayers
April 7, 2009 permalink
Marcia Lowry of Children's Rights Inc, who colludes with social services to get them more taxpayer money through litigation, is going to the Supreme Court to get money for her legal fees, also from taxpayers.
GEORGIA FOSTER CARE CASE
Supreme Court to rule on extra attorneys’ fees
By Bill Rankin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tuesday, April 07, 2009
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide a long-running dispute over $10.5 million awarded to plaintiffs’ attorneys in a Georgia case alleging foster care violations.
At issue is a $4.5 million enhancement given lawyers by Senior U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob, who presided over the 2002 suit that reformed foster care in Fulton and DeKalb counties.
The case prompted the state to cut caseloads of overwhelmed workers, beef up investigations into abuse, increase supervision and prevent overcrowding in foster homes.
Russ Willard, a spokesman for state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, expressed satisfaction the high court agreed to take up the fee issue.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers were rewarded handsomely for their work, Willard said. “The enhancement granted by Judge Shoob represented an inappropriate windfall.”
Marcia Lowry, executive director of New York-based Children’s Rights Inc., which represents the plaintiffs, said important civil rights lawsuits like the foster care case are financed largely through awards of attorneys’ fees.
“We do think the law is clear and we do think Judge Shoob got it right,” she said.
After deciding the plaintiffs’ lawyers should be paid $6 million for their fees and expenses, Shoob added the $4.5 million enhancement.
Shoob said the lawyers brought a higher degree of skill, commitment and professionalism than he had seen in his 27 years on the bench. The lawsuit’s success, Shoob added, “was truly exceptional.”
Judge Ed Carnes strongly urged the high court to take up the case.
Carnes, who sits on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, upheld the fees in a July 2008 ruling. But he did so only because legal precedent required him to do it and he made it clear he thought the precedent should be overturned.
Carnes also took issue with the award.
“When asked how much money would be enough for him, John D. Rockefeller reportedly said, ‘Just a little bit more,’ ” Carnes wrote. “The attorneys for the plaintiff class in this case want more than just a little bit more.”
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Review of CFSA
April 7, 2009 permalink
Ontario's Child and Family Services Act is subject to review at five year intervals, the next in 2010. John Dunn is watching, trying to prevent a repeat of the previous review in 2005 in which all but the last month was conducted in secret, with only social service providers participating. Following the excerpt below, John Dunn has an extensive record of correspondence on his blog.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Ontario Min. Children and Youth Services Staff withholding information on 5-year review of Child and Family Services Act
According to Section 224 of Ontario's Child and Family Services Act the Minister (the Hon. Deb Matthews) shall conduct a review of the Act or provisions of it the Minister specifies every five years and the Minister is to inform the public when such a review begins and what provisions of the Act are to be included in the review.
The previous review of the Act was conducted and reported in 2004-05. The 2005 report by the Minister mentioned the fact that the Ministry initiated consultations with certain stakeholders (agencies and community organizations) over the preceding year, however the public were not informed of this review generally until just 30 days before the report was to be made public.
This time, the Foster Care Council of Canada is pro actively contacting the Ministry through Chris Shantz -- Special Assistant to the Minister who was assigned to liaise with us -- on a monthly basis to find out when the Ministry says the consultations have begun so that we can avoid a repeat of the last review of the Act where the Minister only gave the public 30 days to organize and provide input into the Act.
These e-mails will be used to keep track of their behaviour in relation to the five year review of the Act. So far, (April 06, 2009 e-mail enclosed) the Ministry has denied any consultations have taken place in relation to the Act.
Incidentally, the Council has been made aware that the Ministry has sent surveys around to various Children's Aid Societies in Ontario to study the complaints procedures. This may be related to the pending review of the Act in 2010. If so it will appear in the Minister's 2010 review.
The history of communications so-far are included below for your information:
Source: Afterfostercare blog April 6, 2009
Help Your Relatives
Lose Your Kids
April 6, 2009 permalink
Province's child protection system operates in absolute secrecy
A mother who's had her children seized cannot speak to them and will not be informed if they die
By Darcy Henton, The Edmonton Journal April 6, 2009
It was her son's birthday, but Brenda was having a horrible day.
"My son will be six today, which is normally a very good thing, but I am worried sick about him," the 26-year-old single mom explained last week.
Brenda, whose real name can't be used because it would identify children in care, lost her children three years ago when they were seized by the province.
She says she is not allowed to contact them -- even a birthday card is forbidden -- and would not be informed if they died.
"If I saw them on the street, I would have to go the other way," she says.
The province seizes hundreds of children annually and if their birth homes can't be made safe, they are raised in foster homes or awarded for permanent adoption. It all happens quietly because the system is shrouded in secrecy.
Recently, a foster mother killed a foster child and neither the name of the killer nor the victim has been made public, which seems astonishing in a democratic society.
Some Albertans, like NDP MLA Rachel Notley, argue there should be more openness and transparency in the system to ensure it is taking all the necessary steps to protect children.
Brenda says she made "a mistake" that led to her son and daughter being seized, but they were never abused in the home. She says even court officials noted it was evident she loved her children and they loved her, but the court deemed she couldn't care for them. Brenda, who suffers from agoraphobia or a fear of crowds, says she has since done everything she can to change that, cleaning up her life and taking parenting courses.
Brenda's world came crashing down after she took in a homeless relative and his family.
"I was really naive," she says. "I had my cousin and his wife and their three kids and dog show up to my house one night. They said they needed to stay only one or two nights.
"It ended up being six weeks. I was stupid and let them stay. It was an absolute nightmare. I wound up looking after their three kids as well as my own and I got completely overwhelmed and my house went to hell. It was awful."
Brenda says she finally kicked them out and the next day, child welfare showed up. She believes her cousin reported her to child protection officials out of spite.
"They came and seized both kids," she says. "I had a bit of a breakdown and it took me a long time to get the house cleaned up. It was really bad. I just couldn't deal with it. My doctor had me on Valium because all I could do was cry all the time."
When she finally snapped out of it and cleaned her house, Brenda was given permission to have her son and daughter come for supervised visits. But Brenda and her mother became alarmed at the condition of the children.
They say the little boy and girl "didn't smell clean" and appeared to have developed skin conditions from not being bathed routinely.
Her two-year-old daughter had bite marks and scratches on her shoulder, back and neck.
"When questioned about it, they said it was from the dog," says the children's grandmother, Jenny.
Jenny says during one visit she noticed her grandson had blistering burns on his neck, ear and chest. When her daughter questioned child services about it, she was told the little boy, then three, had "pulled a cup of coffee off a tray in a food court."
Brenda says she filed formal complaints, but is not aware of anything being done about it.
After a four-day trial in 2007, the children were placed in permanent custody.
Brenda was given a "termination visit" to say goodbye to them. She says it was painful beyond words. "How do you tell your kids that you can't see them anymore?"
Brenda has a steady job and plans to get married this year. It is her mission in life to get her children back. "I am much more stable now. I am not on my own and I am not vulnerable." She is saving money to hire a lawyer.
"My daughter is a wreck," says Jenny. "She loved those children. Nobody has ever loved her children more than she loved those two. She is an awesome mother."
Under current provincial child protection legislation, reporters can't look at the files and can't get details from department officials, since they are not allowed to comment on specific cases. Court documents are sealed.
So who is scrutinizing the system? The NDP says the province's watchdog, the child advocate, has been leashed, if not muzzled. That's because he reports not to the legislature like in other provinces, but to the minister of Child and Youth Services, who is his boss.
Hopefully that, at least, will change soon.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Defend Your Country
Lose Your Kids
April 5, 2009 permalink
When baby Louie Dean required surgery for bleeding in his brain, British social services told his father that as a soldier he was prone to abusing his child. The family lost their son for nine months and suffered a forced abortion and an attempted shotgun divorce. After the case collapsed and Louie came back, there was no apology. Glenn Sacks has reported divorce cases in which a soldier's deployment was treated as abandonment.
Social workers said because I was a soldier, I was more likely to be violent to my own children
By Antonia Hoyle, Last updated at 10:16 PM on 04th April 2009
Sitting in his mother-in-law's living room, Matthew Dean's eyes widened in shock as he listened to what his social worker was telling him.
Because he was a man and a soldier - accustomed to fighting for Britain in war-torn countries - he was, they said, more likely to be of a violent disposition, and therefore more capable of abusing his baby son, Louie.
'I was furious,' says Matthew. 'To be told that my occupation and gender should have any bearing on my parenting skills and sense of decency was absolutely beyond belief.'
It was only the latest in a string of traumas social services had subjected Matthew and his wife Katie to since decreeing they were a danger to Louie - and taking him away from them.
Perhaps the most poignant repercussion was the three-month pregnancy Katie later felt forced to terminate - having been told that she would have to hand that child over to social services too.
Katie says: 'I was grieving twice - for the little boy I couldn't care for and for the baby I would never see.'
The full story of the Deans' ordeal can now be revealed for the first time after Matthew and Katie spoke exclusively to The Mail on Sunday about their treatment by social services - and the heartbreak of missing nine crucial months of their little boy's life.
It is a sad and worrying saga - and one that seems to be becoming all too familiar - of overzealous social workers acting on a flimsy diagnosis and ultimately tearing an innocent family apart.
Their agony ended last November when Portsmouth High Court decided that they should be reunited with Louie - by now 15 months old and a healthy little boy - and, finally, left alone.
For Hampshire social services, the matter is done and dusted. They were, they claim, simply doing their job when they made accusations of shaken baby syndrome against the parents.
Matthew and Katie, however, see things rather differently.
'Being a family again is unbelievable,' she says. 'We finally feel complete. But we lost nearly a year of our little boy's life and have been treated like criminals. As far as we're concerned that is unforgivable.
'We understand that social services have a job to do. But we are loving parents who have never wanted anything but the best for our family. They pursued a case against us while they could have been caring for children who really needed their help.'
Sitting in the living room of their three-bedroom home, as Louie toddles happily with his beloved toy Tigger, their love for both their son and each other is unmistakable.
Matthew met Katie in 2002 through mutual friends. She had recently separated from an ex-boyfriend, with whom she had a daughter, Charlotte, who is now nine. The following year Katie and Matthew had a daughter, Daisy, now five.
In December 2004 they married and a couple of months later Matthew, of the 1st Battalion Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, who had previously served in Kosovo and Northern Ireland, was posted to Sennelager in Germany, where his family set up home in the Army barracks.
Katie, 32, says: 'Matt treats Charlotte like his own daughter and we made the most of every minute as a family. We went swimming and to the zoo. We were thrilled when I became pregnant again.'
Carrying Louie proved traumatic, however. As an insulin-dependent diabetic, Katie found being pregnant depleted her blood sugar levels and she would often collapse from exhaustion. 'It was far more difficult than my two other pregnancies,' she says.
Louie was born five weeks premature by Caesarean section in August 2007 in a nearby civilian hospital. After two weeks in intensive care he was discharged.
'After such a horrendous start he seemed healthy,' says Matt, 34. 'We'd decorated his nursery with Winnie-the-Pooh curtains and were thrilled to have him home.'
Yet at a routine check-up ten weeks later, their paediatrician expressed concern that his head was larger than that of an average baby.
A scan showed he had blood on his brain that needed to be removed by drilling into his skull.
'We were told that without the operation he could develop brain damage, but that the stress of surgery could kill him,' says Matthew, who was granted compassionate leave by his Sergeant Major.
Louie survived the operation but subsequently developed viral meningitis. Over the next month normal life was put on hold as the Deans kept up the relentless routine of taking their daughters to school, playschool and baby-sitters while maintaining their presence at their son's bedside.
But as Louie began to recover, they were called into a meeting with their consultant and a social worker from the Ministry of Defence.
Katie recalls: 'We were told that as they couldn't find out why Louie had the clot, we were under suspicion as parents.
'I ran to the toilet and threw up. My son was lying across the corridor covered in tubes and I was being accused of making him that ill. It was madness.'
After extensive X-rays which showed Louie had no other injuries consistent with child abuse, the Deans were told the next day that there would be no investigation.
However, their consultant was still bewildered by the unexplained blood clot and he told the couple he was sending all the X-rays and medical notes to a former colleague of his at Southampton General Hospital for a second opinion.
No further action was taken and Louie, who was quickly regaining his health, was let out of hospital at the end of November - to his parents' joy and relief.
Then, in January, Matthew and Katie were called back to hospital and arrested. A child protection police officer said Louie seemed to be a victim of shaken baby syndrome - shaken so hard he had developed brain injuries.
'I was screaming, sobbing and sick with shock,' recalls Katie. 'I couldn't believe anyone could accuse us of hurting the little boy we loved so much.'
An Army welfare officer took Daisy and Charlotte to baby-sitters and Louie was placed in the hospital's children's ward as Matthew and Katie were driven to separate police stations and interrogated for four hours.
'It was incredibly intrusive,' says Katie. 'We were asked if we had a violent relationship and whether we thought either of us could have been capable of harming our son without the other's knowledge.'
It was a question they discussed all night after they were released. 'Although we trusted each other implicitly, we forced ourselves to think about whether there could have been any occasion where Louie could have accidentally banged his head,' says Katie. 'We came up with nothing.
'The next day we asked the girls the same thing. We had to tell them doctors were trying to work out whether mummy and daddy were responsible for Louie's poorly head. It was heartbreaking.'
They were as scared as they were upset. 'We knew from previous baby-shaking cases that, if convicted, we stood to go to prison,' says Matthew.
'I would be tried in a court martial and, of course, we would lose our Army home as well as my job.'
A couple of days later, Katie's retired mother Christine, 62, flew to Germany. In what sounds like a farcical arrangement, social workers agreed that she could care for Louie - from Katie and Matthew's house.
'We weren't allowed to be alone with Louie,' says Katie. 'Mum even had to take him to the toilet with her. But nobody seemed remotely bothered about the welfare of our daughters.
'It was ridiculous. Still, we felt ashamed and paranoid about what our neighbours would think and became much more introverted as a family.'
After six weeks, and to avoid having Louie put in foster care elsewhere in Germany, Christine took him back to Britain and to the home at Eastleigh in Hampshire she shared with her 62-year-old husband, Kerry, a self-employed plumber.
Matthew and Katie, now realising they faced a fight for custody of Louie, decided they too needed to be in Britain and Matthew asked for a transfer.
Army bosses, who were as disbelieving as the couple's relatives that the Deans could be involved in their son's injury - and gave them legal aid to help them fight their case - granted him a recruitment position in Gosport, 22 miles from Katie's mother and Louie.
Their case was transferred from Ministry of Defence welfare officers to Hampshire social services who decreed that Katie's mother and father would be Louie's foster parents.
'It felt like we were being interrogated too,' says Christine. 'We had to say where we were schooled from the age of five and even whether our relationship was physical.'
Matthew and Katie were allowed supervised daytime visits to Louie twice a week.
Katie says: 'We missed his first steps, and his first word, which was dadda. I wanted to bathe him and sing him Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as he went to sleep.
'I felt overcome by guilt and terrified that he would come to regard my mum as his mum.'
Shortly after they had arrived back in Britain, Katie discovered her contraceptive had failed and made the agonising decision to have an abortion.
Because the clinic was nearer Christine's home than her own, and she had an early-morning appointment, she stayed with her mother the night before. When Christine accidentally told their social worker that Katie had stayed over he was furious, saying she had flouted the terms of their agreement.
Katie says: 'I had to tell him why I'd stayed. When I asked him if I would have had to hand the baby over after it was born he said yes without a flicker of compassion.'
She claims their social workers - there were three in total - kept up their bullying demeanour as the months passed.
'They said if we confessed we could have Louie back. But we found that highly unlikely, and in any case we weren't going to confess to something we didn't do.'
Matthew - who was brought up by his electrician grandfather until he joined the Army at 16 because his parents found raising a child too difficult - was also subjected to their prejudices.
He says: 'They told me that because I had an unconventional upbringing I was more likely to abuse my children. I was equally as shocked when they said my job would make me more prone to violence.'
Worse still, at regular meetings at their house and Katie's mother's house, the social workers tried to cause trouble between the couple themselves.
'They said I didn't have to cover for Matt,' says Katie. 'They bullied me more because I seemed more vulnerable.
'They were definitely trying to split us up. They asked us how this had affected our physical relationship. They even said Louie could end up dead if they let him come back and live with us.
'Yet we co-operated throughout and they admitted they couldn't find anything negative about our family life.'
Matthew adds: 'We said from the start that it wouldn't come between us. We made sure we talked about everything and actually became stronger as a couple.
'We tried to keep things as normal as possible for Charlotte and Daisy's sake. They missed their brother desperately.'
Last summer, Matthew and Katie received a letter from the police saying there was not enough evidence to pursue the case and that there would be no charges.
But to regain custody of Louie they still needed to proceed with a hearing against social services, which took place last November. 'After everything we'd been through we were prepared for the worst,' says Katie.
But the court found in favour of the Deans. Louie was placed back into the care of his parents and later the family enjoyed their first evening meal together for over a year. Katie says: 'Louie slept in our bed that night.'
She admits she's now overly cautious with her little boy, saying: 'When Louie banged his head the other week I took him to the doctor. I can't risk them thinking I have hurt him in any way.'
In fact, there were several innocent explanations for the blood clot including Katie's diabetes, the meningitis Louie contracted or even the way he was delivered at birth.
Beneath Katie and Matthew's euphoria at having their family reunited is a resounding sense of anger that they were torn apart in the first place.
'We nearly lost everything,' says Katie. 'Yes, we're thrilled to be together again. But it would be nice if someone said sorry for what we've been through.'
John Coughlan, Hampshire's director of children's services, said: 'If children's services have reasonable grounds to believe that a child may have suffered or is at risk of suffering harm, we are obliged to act accordingly. This includes where there is the presence of serious unexplained injuries.
'In such cases the local authority will make application to the courts for relevant orders. In this case the courts were of the view that Hampshire County Council acted properly in making the application.
'Hampshire County Council remains confident that all actions in this case were necessary, proportionate and appropriate and we believe we have fulfilled all of our statutory obligations.'
Source: Mail on Sunday (UK)
Escape from CPS
April 4, 2009 permalink
A Nebraska family, questioned by child protectors, has escaped to South Dakota.
Published Saturday April 4, 2009
Missing family back in Nebraska, hiding
BY LESLIE REED AND NANCY GAARDER, WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITERS
A missing northeast Nebraska family may have returned home, but it doesn't sound as if they came back to be found.
The Knox County, Neb., Sheriff's Office in a statement Friday said that Rowena Schade called her mother earlier in the day to say that she, her husband and two children had returned to northeast Nebraska to retrieve another vehicle. She also told her mother, Sandy Epstein of Creighton, Neb., that the couple had "another plan" if that didn't work.
The Schades fled their rural Creighton home March 20 after a sheriff's deputy interviewed them about allegations of abuse. Rowena Schade told her mother Friday that they left because they were worried that social services authorities would take their two children, Devon, 11, and Sean, 8.
Court documents filed March 24 by the Knox County Sheriff's Office indicate that Rowena had told family members that her husband was abusive and controlling and that she wanted to leave. The documents say that Matthew Schade had taken the children out of school in January and had been home-schooling them. He also had talked of "taking the whole family and live off the land," according to the records.
The couple appears to have driven back to Nebraska from the Black Hills of South Dakota in a stolen pickup truck. The truck, which was reported stolen in the area where the family's car was discovered, was found abandoned in a grove of trees about one mile west of Brunswick, Neb. The couple may have exchanged it for a 1994 red Jeep with Nebraska license plate number 12F982.
According to the Sheriff's Office statement, Rowena Schade told her mother that the family would go "where no one would ever find them" if their other plans don't work out.
The stolen pickup truck was discovered near Brunswick about 11:30 a.m. Friday, according to the Pennington County, S.D., Sheriff's Office. Matthew's father, Chester Schade, lives in Brunswick. He could not be reached for comment.
Because the Schade family has returned to Nebraska, South Dakota authorities have called off their search of the Black Hills, where the Schades were believed to have been.
Friday, Knox County Sheriff Jim Janecek called on the Schades to contact authorities.
"We are urging Matt and Rowena (Schade) to call the Sheriff's Office so we can end this search and resolve the situation," the statement read.
Authorities have said they are uncertain whether Rowena and the children went willingly. The children are Rowena's from previous relationships, but Matthew Schade has adopted them
World-Herald staff writer John Ferak contributed to this report.
• Contact the writer: 444-1102, email@example.com
Source: Omaha World-Herald
Addendum: The family returned to police custody on April 6. Both parents were on probation, and violated their probation to save their children. This is one more case illustrating that accepting probation to settle a charge is a sure way to lose your kids.
Missing Nebraska family surrenders; parents held
(CNN) -- A Nebraska couple missing along with their children since last month surrendered to police and were taken into custody Monday, authorities said in a statement.
Matthew and Rowena Schade, along with their children, met with Knox County Sheriff Jim Janecek Monday about 10:50 a.m. according to the written statement from Janecek's office.
"The family turned themselves over to law enforcement officers from the Knox County Sheriff's Office and the Nebraska State Patrol," the statement said. "Matthew Schade was arrested on an Antelope County warrant for violation of probation and Rowena is being held on a detainer from the Nebraska Department of Probation."
A determination on the placement of the children, a daughter, 11, and a son, 8, will be made after interviews with child welfare workers from the state Department of Health and Human Services, the sheriff's statement said.
Both Matthew and Rowena Schade were on probation -- he in Antelope County, and she in Pierce County, officials in both counties told CNN. Antelope County Attorney Michael Long told CNN Matthew Schade was wanted for violation of probation and failure to report a change of address.
The Schade family was last seen on March 20 in Knox County. Janecek said they disappeared after an officer went to their home on a domestic abuse complaint.
Knox County is near the Nebraska-South Dakota border. Authorities in both states on Friday suspended a search for the family after a relative told authorities he had spoken with them and they were unharmed.
Authorities thought they might be in Nebraska, after a brush truck they believed the couple stole from a South Dakota volunteer fire department was found abandoned in Antelope County on Friday. A brush truck is a type of small fire truck.
Schade's father, Chet Schade, contacted the Knox sheriff's office on Thursday afternoon. He confirmed he had spoken with all four family members and said they were alive and well.
Searchers had been searching for the family in South Dakota's Black Hills until it was determined the couple possibly made their way back to Nebraska.
Investigators thought the Schades might have gone camping on U.S. Forest Service property in the Black Hills. Schade had visited the area in the past, and law officers found the family's Ford Taurus on Tuesday in Silver City, South Dakota.
Toys for Tots for Cash
April 3, 2009 permalink
California foster mother Virginia Kelly, president of the Latino Foster Parents Association, has been arrested for selling toys collected by the US Marines Corps Toys for Tots program. It can be hard to make ends meet on those foster payments.
Woman accused of selling Toys for Tots for personal gain
By Ray Huard (Contact) Union-Tribune Staff Writer, Susan Shroder (Contact) Union-Tribune Staff Writer, 3:39 p.m. April 2, 2009
SAN DIEGO – The president of a foster parents organization is accused of taking thousands of toys from the U.S. Marines Corps Toys for Tots program and selling them for personal profit, the District Attorney's Office said Thursday.
Virginia Kelly, 73, was arrested Wednesday at her San Ysidro home on felony charges of grand theft and embezzlement, said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
Kelly cared for four foster children and was president of the Latino Foster Parents Association, Dumanis said.
She is accused of stealing the toys from the program and then selling them during the last several years at garage sales, Dumanis said.
During the past three months, investigators seized more than 11,000 toys from three locations, including Kelly's home and a Chula Vista storage unit she rented, Dumanis said.
Kelly pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Thursday afternoon during which her attorney adamantly proclaimed her innocence.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Kerry Wells, who did not allow photographs to be taken in the courtroom, ordered Kelly released without bail, saying she was not considered a flight risk and did not represent a threat to the community.
Defense lawyer Tom Matthews said outside the courtroom: “The prosecution is out for blood. This case isn't even a case.”
Matthews said Kelly never sold the toys for her own gain. He said she accumulated the toys faster than she was able to give them away to needy children.
“My client is adamantly, adamantly denying these allegations,” Matthews said. “It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever that at the age of 73, she's going to resort to a life of crime.”
Matthews said Kelly has participated in raising more than 2,000 foster children.
“This seems like a classic case of an extreme rush to prosecute,” he said. “She has dedicated her life to the community for the last 40 years.”
If convicted of the charges, she faces up to four years in prison.
Each year, Toys for Tots officials start collecting new, unwrapped toys in October and then distribute them at Christmas to needy families.
“Stealing from a charity and depriving needy children in San Diego of the chance to get a new toy is despicable,” Dumanis said in a news release. “This criminal investigation has identified someone who brazenly took advantage of the community's goodwill and trust for many years.”
The District Attorney's Office is continuing its investigation into people who may have assisted Kelly by selling toys on her behalf, Dumanis said.
Anyone with information is asked to call (619) 531-4475.
Ray Huard: (619) 593-4953
Susan Shroder: (619) 293-1876
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune
Save Our Child
April 3, 2009 permalink
British Columbia parents Paul and Zabeth Bayne are begging the Ministry of Children and Family Development to save their daughter now in foster care after discovering that she suffers from a rare medical condition easily mistaken for child abuse. The Baynes have an earlier news story and a blog.
Birth parents plead for medical treatment for baby girl in foster care
Government emails cast doubt about whether infant was shaken, as alleged
Last Updated: Friday, April 3, 2009 | 2:00 AM ET, CBC News
The parents of three children seized by the B.C. government in September 2007 say there is new evidence to suggest allegations that they shook and injured their baby girl were unfounded.
The children — two boys, now aged four and three, and a 19-month-old baby girl — were taken in September 2007 by the Ministry of Children and Family Development because the couple were suspected of shaking the girl and causing a head injury.
But the Surrey couple, Paul and Zabeth Bayne, obtained internal documents from the Ministry of Children and Family Development that suggest their daughter likely suffers glutaric aciduria, a rare disease often mistaken for child abuse.
Glutaric aciduria is a genetic disorder with varied symptoms, sometimes including bleeding and swelling of the brain.
Several doctors told CBC News on Thursday that the disorder has been mistaken for child abuse in other cases, and children suffering from it can die.
The Baynes, who hadn't heard of the condition until they obtained the ministry documents, said they want their daughter assessed and treated immediately.
Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen said Thursday he could not talk about this particular case.
"But anytime a child is taken into care, they are provided medical attention when that is required," he said. "And we rely on the very top qualified pediatricians and others to advise us."
The couple said their children's foster mother emailed a social worker at the ministry two months ago, according to the documents they obtained.
"I noticed the baby sister was diagnosed with glutaric aciduria," the email said.
"I decided to do a Google search.… Children with glutaric aciduria are often misdiagnosed with — believe it or not — shaken baby syndrome."
The social worker, Kimberly Grey, responded: "We are very concerned about where [you] would have gotten this information… because of the sensitivity of the case."
"This whole thing was a medical condition and an accident. And we just want them to admit their mistake," Paul Bayne told CBC News on Thursday.
"We can't do anything for our baby right now, and she really, really needs us," Zabeth Bayne said.
The couple have said their daughter's head was accidentally injured by their second son tripping and landing over her body. The couple have been fighting to get back their children ever since.
Supporters of the Baynes continued their weekly protest Thursday morning at B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell's constituency office in Vancouver.
The couple, who now work as night janitors, have begun a legal challenge against the ministry's decision. But they said they likely won't get their day in court until sometime next year because of delays and backlogs in the court system.
Thieves Monopolize Courthouse
April 3, 2009 permalink
The latest attempt to silence Chris Carter is a letter from the Waterloo Regional Police. The police accuse him of creating a disturbance by yelling, swearing and intimidating both Children’s Aid Society workers and members of the public. What Mr Carter has really done is discuss the antics of children's aid with families waiting in the courthouse. Other families have listened in, eventually creating an audience of a dozen people. He has not yelled profanity. Actual subjects have included the Waterloo litigation championship, names of CAS workers engaging in dirty tricks, the right of parties to record in court, the practice of altering transcripts, Justice Hardman's boast of never having ruled against CAS, the differences between public statements of CAS (such as their websites) and courtroom tactics, and the bias in parenting capacity assessments. The real reason to ban Mr Carter is not that he is disruptive, but that he is effective.
Mr Carter has obtained about 50 signatures on a petition asking the Minister of Children and Youth Services to exercise her power under section 22 of the Child and Family Services Act to replace the directors of a derelict children's aid society, or take over its management. He has not presented it to the ministry out of fear of retaliation against the signers.
In his courthouse experiences Mr Carter has noticed that the same policemen who professionally keep the peace for the court are privately sympathetic to the parents. This mirrors the experience of Aneurin Ellis. While child protectors were conniving to steal children from him and his pregnant wife, a court worker privately handed him the name of a midwife to help avoid theft of his next baby.
WATERLOO REGIONAL POLICEAddress all correspondence
MATTHEW A. TORRIGAN
CHIEF OF POLICE
March 19, 2009
P.O. BOX 3070
200 MAPLE GROVE ROAD
CAMBRIDGE, ONTARIO N3H 5M1
& WATERLOO (519) 653-7700
ALL OTHER AREAS (519) 570-3000
FACSIMILE (519) 650-1793
Mr. Christopher Carter,
Your behaviour in the courthouse, particularly over the last few weeks, has been disruptive to the courts, members of the public and duty counsel lawyers who are here dealing with court proceedings and other legal matters. You have been spoken to on several occasions by the Waterloo Regional Police at the Cambridge court house who have repeatedly asked you to relocate yourself from the upstairs lobby because you have been causing a disturbance by yelling, swearing and intimidating both Children’s Aid Society workers and members of the public.
Pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act (as occupier and agent) and also pursuant to subsection 3 (a) of the Public Works Protection Act, you are hereby given notice by the Waterloo Regional police that you are banned from the property (the building and lands) a 1) 89 Main Street, Cambridge, Ontario 2) 200 Fredrick Street, Kitchener, Ontario and 3) 20 Weber Street, Kitchener, Ontario save and except as follows:
- To attend court for which you are compelled to do so by court order or a served summons or subpoena to attend and immediately leave the property once the business is completed or you are asked to leave.
- To attend at the court counter (main floor) or before a Justice of the Peace for legitimate court business, provided you have arranged with my office at least 24 hours in advance and immediately leave the property once the business is completed or you are asked to leave.
- To attend a pre-arranged meeting with a person who has an office or works out of the buildings listed above and only when you check in and check out with personnel from that specific building and/or are, at our discretion, escorted to and from the meeting and immediately leave the property once the business is completed or you are asked to leave.
Failure without lawful excuse to follow the provisions of this notice may result in you being arrested and charged under the Trespass to Property Act.
The provisions of this notice will stay in effect until revoked in writing by the Court Services Branch Manager of the Waterloo Regional Police Service or other authorized person under the Trespass to Property Act and Public Works Protection Act.
Staff Sergeant XXXXXXX XXXXX
Court Services Branch Manager
Waterloo Regional Police Services
“PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE”
April 2, 2009 permalink
Protesters assembled yesterday outside of Hamilton Children's Aid.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Always a success
We stood in front of the Home Depot just across from the Hamilton Children's Aid Society on Arrowsmith Road and Centennial Road in the pouring rain. We waited for the sun to come out and we held signs, had Tim Horton's coffee and discussed the days events. People held signs and were glad to be together as a group. People stopped to talk with us and we met with parents and families destroyed and hurt by the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton. Everyone has a story and everyone's voice needs to be heard. We have to make Children's Aid Societies of this Province Accountable for their actions!! We had two visitors from Toronto and one from Brampton, Child Assist Services was there to lend their support, Mary, Ed and Swayze. The bull horn got some good use from Luke and we made our voices heard. We walked around Arrowsmith Road and Tim Hortons customers and Truckers in the neighborhood honked their horn in support of our actions. Way to go people our voices need to continue to be heard!!
As quoted by the organizer of the days events, Luke Armstrong:
"The protest was a success. Thank you to the people that could show up. We got the attention of the workers. :-) We also got support from passer's by and by customers of Tim Horton's. Thank you to all. Photo's may follow.
To those of you who didn't or couldn't make it. We will be having another protest at another CAS office. Details will follow when when available."
We are here for children and families affected by the Childrens Aid Society.
Thank you for your support!!
Posted by Advocate at 12:46 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog April 1, 2009
Alberta Foster Death
April 2, 2009 permalink
Another baby has died in Alberta foster care. This time is is a thirteen-month-old native girl in Hobbema. As usual for Alberta, her name is suppressed. In future stories we will call her Girl Hobbema.
Baby dies in foster care on Alta. reserve
By Elise Stolte, Canwest News Service, April 1, 2009
EDMONTON — An Alberta family is looking for answers after a baby died of pneumonia in her foster mother’s home.
“We knew she was sick,” said the baby’s grandmother Wednesday. “If I had a chance, I would have grabbed her and taken her to the doctor myself.”
The 13-month-old girl from a reserve in Hobbema, Alta., about 70 kilometres south of Edmonton, died Saturday night, but can’t be identified under provincial legislation.
An autopsy Tuesday found nothing suspicious in the child’s death but toxicology results are pending, RCMP Cpl. Greg Crook said. Police were called to the home Saturday night and found paramedics trying to revive the child. She was later declared dead in hospital.
The police investigation remains open.
“It’s just a terrible set of circumstances,” Crook said.
The Kasohkowew Child Wellness Society, which handles foster care for Hobbema’s Samson Cree Nation, is also investigating.
Provincial officials will help review the case and determine if a special review is warranted, said Child and Youth Services spokesman Trevor Coulombe.
The grandmother said the child was taken in December, after her 23-year-old mother was sent to jail for a week for theft. Both the baby’s father and mother were granted occasional visiting privileges, and the father was supposed to regain custody April 8, she said.
The child had just learned to crawl and would smile when you called her name, she said.
She and the child’s mother saw her last on March 25, when they noticed the baby coughing.
“You could tell, it was bubbly or phlegmy when she coughed,” she said. The child had also lost weight. She was wearing sandals and had no blanket.
The foster mother lives less than two kilometres down a dirt road from the child’s family.
The child’s mother sent a letter to the foster mother, begging her to bring the child to the hospital, the grandmother said, but was only notified when she died several days later.
The family is planning a wake for the child Wednesday, and a funeral Friday.
The child’s family says it is speaking out because they are worried the case will be hushed up and forgotten.
“She was a beautiful baby,” the grandmother said.
“Our kids have been getting hurt and it’s scary. If you can’t trust your own community, who can you trust?”
Kasohkowew’s authority was temporarily revoked in 2002 after a string of child deaths. A review showed staff were badly overworked.
At the time of their deaths, all the children were either in Kasohkowew’s care or known to its child-protection workers. Two died in fires, one drowned in the bathtub at his Red Deer, Alta., foster home, another died from head injuries inflicted by a foster parent, one died from a cough syrup overdose, another by choking on a balloon, and a teenage girl hanged herself.
Around the world, pneumonia leads to the death of more than two million children each year, say 2006 figures from the United Nations.
Edmonton Journal firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Calgary Herald
April 1, 2009 permalink
Cathy Norris got involved in an incident unrelated to child protection that resulted in police charging her with a crime. The police raided her home, seizing all her computer and video equipment. Since her passwords were stored on her computer, the police were able to delete her justiceseeker account from YouTube, containing all her child protection videos. Some of her video remains on our copy of her case. Cathy is subject to bail conditions forbidding possession of computer and video equipment. It looks like the police took the opportunity to act on an old grudge stemming from their embarrassment in Cathy's child protection case.
A story from the Brantford Expositor gives the case against Cathy — her side of the story no longer exists. It was in several deleted YouTube postings with video made by her son. The unnamed man in the story, characterized as "victim", is millionaire lawyer and real estate developer Howard Rotberg.
A lesson for readers with web postings: Don't keep your access passwords stored on your computer. Type them in every session. Even more important for bank passwords.
Brantford Expositor, Posted March 27, 2009
A city woman has been charged with extortion after police say a man was threatened with the public release of information unless he made a $15,000 payment.
Police said Thursday that a woman posed on the Internet as a 16-year-old girl and arranged to meet for sex with a man, whom she had dated. She watched the man show up for a date.
Later, the man was contacted and told to go to the woman's home, where he was told about the Internet ruse and asked for payment.
Charged with extortion is Cathleen Mary Norris, 49, of Brock Street.
Police declined further comment.
"We will not be releasing the name of the other person involved or any information that may identify the victim of this alleged extortion," said Insp. Kent Pottruff. "It would be inappropriate for me to comment or speculate on the direction of the investigation."
Source: Brantford Expositor
Power Grab Inquest
April 1, 2009 permalink
Andrew Osidacz stabbed his son Jared to death and was holding a knife to his ex-wife Julie Craven when police killed him. It is the kind of inquest loved by social services because the coroner's jury is sure to recommend more money and power for children's aid societies. For that reason, we have ignored it until now.
The Hamilton Spectator reports that while Brant CAS executive director Andrew Koster testified, Jared's grandfather accused him of lying. Mr Koster said: "The law needs to change if Children's Aid Societies are expected to investigate a parent with access as opposed to the one with custody to determine a child's safety." Whether it is the law or not, CAS exercises this power now. Dufferin VOCA was called by a custodial mother whose children were subject to court-ordered visits with the father. CAS, on its own authority, overrode the visitation order. The police took the word of CAS ahead of the family court judge.
In the second article, social worker Jeff Packer said "therapy for the entire family, including children, should be mandatory after incidents of domestic violence. ... Since Osidacz killed Jared long after his term of probation for assault expired, Packer suggested child protection agencies could keep files open long enough to ensure therapy for a family, if made mandatory, has taken place". This testimony is completely at variance with actual children's aid practice. Files never really close, since children's aid societies present decades-old reports to the court when it suits their purposes. Also, at present there are no limitations on the power of children's aid to intervene in families, so the restrictions mentioned by Mr Packer do not exist. But is it a good thing to keep parents on what amounts to endless probation after any conviction? Not many parents on probation have reported their story to Dufferin VOCA, but from the few cases we can say that a parent on probation is sure to lose his family. At every interaction with children's aid the parent is subject to the threat: do it our way or go to jail. Not after a trial, but today. Repeated application of this pressure results in unbearable stress, forcing the parent to end it somehow. In one case, by renouncing his son. And possibly, in some cases such as that of Mr Osidacz, by killing his family.
Another news article said that lawyer and father's advocate Walter Fox is participating in the inquest. He might make the jury aware of some of the stress on Mr Osidacz that precipitated the tragedy.
CAS never centred on Jared's dad
Mom's ability to protect son was focus
Carmela Fragomeni, The Hamilton Spectator, (Mar 31, 2009)
The law needs to change if Children's Aid Societies are expected to investigate a parent with access as opposed to the one with custody to determine a child's safety.
Brant County CAS executive director Andrew Koster made that proposal as he testified at the inquest into the deaths of eight-year-old Jared Osidacz and his father Andrew.
Jared was killed by his father while on an unsupervised visit with him in 2006. His father was then killed in a police standoff as he held his ex-wife, Jared's mother Julie Craven, at knifepoint.
When the CAS twice became involved in responding to concerns about Jared's safety, Koster said its investigations centred on whether Craven, who had custody of Jared, could protect her son -- as opposed to investigating any danger posed by Osidacz, who had access through weekend visits.
Jared would have been considered at risk of being harmed only if his mother was unable to control the violence, Koster said.
He conceded to inquest lawyers that Craven, the main caregiver, did not have control over times when her child was with Osidacz.
Koster added, however, that concerns of harm were alleviated when Craven and Osidacz agreed to try not to involve Jared in their conflict and that if Osidacz's probation officer, the police or Jared's teacher had any concerns, they would have reported them to the CAS.
Access visits with Osidacz for the year had gone on without incidents, he said, adding either parent could have tried to modify custody and access through the courts if there were concerns.
Each CAS now must screen every child exposed to domestic violence to determine if they need CAS protection or the help of other community services, he said.
Koster testified that Osidacz's behaviour did not apply in determining Jared's risk -- not his domestic violence, assault conviction, breach of probation charge or the fact he was kicked out of a domestic violence course.
"Domestic violence is not a condition for a child to be found in need of protection by the CAS," he said.
Koster said from October 2003 when the case was closed to March 2006, there was no further contact with the CAS, and there was no complaint about the decision.
This caused an outburst by Craven's father, who interrupted Koster's testimony by shouting "That's not true. I went down to the CAS and they turned me away....
"This is a whitewash. My grandson is dead and all they do is make excuses."
Julie Craven told the inquest through a written statement from her lawyer she felt the CAS worker did not understand the significance of the probation order and its breach and did not take the situation seriously.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Make therapy mandatory, inquest told
Carmela Fragomeni, The Hamilton Spectator, (Apr 1, 2009)
A social worker who counsels violent men says therapy for the entire family, including children, should be mandatory after incidents of domestic violence.
Jeff Packer was testifying yesterday at the inquest into the deaths of eight-year-old Jared Osidacz and his father Andrew.
Jared was killed by his father during an unsupervised visit with him in 2006. His father was then killed in a police standoff as he held his ex-wife, Jared's mother Julie Craven, at knifepoint.
Packer, who runs Caring Dads, an intervention program in Durham region, was called to testify by the Osidacz family's lawyer.
Before Packer testified, coroner Dr. James Edwards gave a stern warning to Julie Craven and John Craven, the boy's grandfather, that if there are any more outbursts from them, he will seek a contempt of court charge against them.
Edwards referred to "repeated interruptions" from outbursts of anger and said they were disrespectful and "downright rude."
An emotionally shattered Craven and her father have been unable to sit quietly in the courtroom at times during testimony they disagree with. They believe the system failed them and Jared.
Packer said family therapy is very important after domestic violence and that children require therapy after violence and after marriage breakups.
He said domestic violence is not about anger. "It's about all of one's emotions because anger covers up fear, pain, doubt and insecurity."
Packer also said there is a high correlation between homicide or suicide and access to children -- especially for men because it causes them intense pain when they don't see their child much.
He said he understood that Osidacz was suicidal.
The inquest has heard there were no access problems for Osidacz, however, and that he picked up his son for visits and returned him without incident for over a year.
Since Osidacz killed Jared long after his term of probation for assault expired, Packer suggested child protection agencies could keep files open long enough to ensure therapy for a family, if made mandatory, has taken place.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
April 1, 2009 permalink
In a move to cut $1.5 billion dollars from the provincial budget, premier Dalton McGuinty has announced a reform package for social services. Highlights include:
An April Fool fantasy!
Mom Put in Her Place
March 31, 2009 permalink
A teenaged girl taught her mother who is the real boss in the family.
Posted Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at 12:43 pm, from "Michelle".
[False domestic violence accusations aren't] only a boyfriend/girlfriend [or husband/wife] thing.
My then-17 year old daughter was out of control. Sneaking out her bedroom window not once, but twice in the same night, with two different guys, more than once. Our neighbor finally told us what was going on; her bedroom is upstairs so I had no idea she could do this undetected.
She had no sense of responsibility whatsoever, did no chores, and her language was as vulgar as it gets.
When I tried to discipline her, she would threaten to call the police and "make an injury" on herself to blame on me. And one day, she made good on that promise.
I came home from shopping one Sunday to find three police cruisers in my driveway and my daughter standing amongst them with a big red welt-like mark on her neck. She'd told them I'd tried to strangle her. I later found out she'd taken her purse strap to make the "injury." Incidentally, the reason she did this was because I removed a large bottle of rum from her bedroom and poured it out. I remember her saying, "Your ass is going to jail, just watch."
I was in such shock that I could say little except, "This can't be happening" and trying in vain to explain the situation to the cops. Then one said, "turn around" and I did and was promptly handcuffed and taken to jail.
I have NEVER laid a finger on any of our children, nor has my husband. He wasn't at home at the time, and I cannot tell you how it felt to be in the back of a squad car going downtown for doing absolutely nothing wrong (save for raising a spoiled child.)
It was her word against mine, and for some reason, I lost. I received a simple assault charge and was given a year's probation. When I returned home that night, she had this awful "told you so" smirk that made me wish I was back in the jail, for that's what my home had become since she began her rule.
I haven't the words to describe how this made me feel. All the way to the station, the cops driving me wondered aloud how I "could've done that to that sweet girl." It was the stuff of nightmares.
Source: Glenn Sacks blog March 31, 2009
March 31, 2009 permalink
A kidnapped girl from Levack Ontario fought back against her attacker. But since the abductor was a child-care worker, it is the girl who is charged with a crime.
March 31, 2009
GIRL CHARGED IN ATTACK
A 15-year-old Levack girl who attacked a child-care worker in a vehicle has been charged with assault and mischief.
Espanola OPP said the girl also broke a cellphone as they were travelling west on Highway 17 in Nairn Centre on March 23.
The girl cannot be identified under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Source: Sudbury Star
Star Social Worker
March 30, 2009 permalink
A social worker has been accused of using illegal drugs. What makes the story unusual is that her father is drug warrior and US vice president Joseph Biden. Ashley Biden has allegedly been video-recorded snorting cocaine. The story originated with a minor news source, Radaronline, and most of the US press has ignored it. Our enclosed article is from the UK.
From The Times, March 30, 2009
US Vice-President Joe Biden's daughter Ashley filmed snorting lines of cocaine
James Bone New York
The White House was rocked yesterday by claims that the daughter of Joe Biden, the Vice-President, was shown on video snorting cocaine.
The video purports to show Ashley Biden, 27, snorting lines of white powder at a house party in her home state of Delaware.
It surfaced days after Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, declared that the United States shared the blame for Mexico's violent drug wars. “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade,” Mrs Clinton said on a trip to Mexico.
The video will embarrass Mr Biden, a teetotaller and an outspoken anti-drug crusader who coined the term “drug czar” in 1982 while campaigning for tougher action against illegal drugs.
However, the video is unlikely to undermine his position with President Obama. Mr Obama admitted in his own memoir that he had used marijuana and cocaine - but not heroin - as a youth. “Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though,” he wrote in Dreams from My Father.
This month Mr Biden swore in a new US drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, whose stepson has a history of marijuana arrests.
The New York Post said that it had viewed about 90 seconds of a 43-minute video being offered for sale by an anonymous male acquaintance of Ms Biden, through a Washington lawyer.
The video showed a woman resembling the Vice-President's daughter taking a red straw from her mouth, bending over a desk, inserting the straw into her nostril and snorting lines of white powder.
The woman then stands up and starts talking with other people in the room as a young man - identified as her boyfriend - watches from behind.
The camera, which appears not to be concealed, follows her as she moves around the room. At one point she shouts: “Shut the f*** up!”
Although the dialogue is unclear, representatives of the seller insist that that the woman speaks repeatedly about the drugs.
“At one point she pretty much complains that the line isn't big enough,” one told the newspaper. “And she talks about her dad.”
Radaronline.com, an online gossip site, said that one of its freelance reporters had also viewed the video.
It described a man cutting up five lines of what is said to be cocaine, as the woman claimed to be Ms Biden jokes that the lines are not big enough.
The man hands her a rolled-up dollar bill and she pulls back her hair and snorts a line. After she snorts the first line, she lifts her head to wipe her nose and then snorts a second and third line.
The New York Post said that the seller originally wanted to sell the video to the media for $2 million (£1.3million), before reducing it to $400,000. Radaronline.com put the asking price at $250,000. The video was supposedly taken this year.
Thomas Dunlap, the lawyer named by both outlets, reportedly stepped aside from representing the seller yesterday.
He told The Times: “We do not represent anyone involved in that. I do not have information.”
If the allegation is true, Ms Biden, a social worker in Delaware, would not be the first relative to embarrass the White House with alcohol or drug abuse. Gerald Ford's wife, Betty, struggled with alcoholism and addiction to painkillers and, after a family intervention, opened the famed Betty Ford Centre to addicts.
President Lyndon Johnson's brother, Sam, admitted in his memoir to being a problem drinker. Roger Clinton, dubbed Headache by his brother's Secret Service guards, spent a year in prison after his 1984 conviction for cocaine trafficking.
George W. Bush's twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, were charged with using a fake ID to buy margaritas in a Texan bar even though they were under the legal drinking age of 21.
Last month Mr Obama's halfbrother, George, was arrested in his native Kenya for alleged possession of marijuana.
In a so-called internet town hall meeting last week, Mr Obama was inundated with questions about whether he would legalise marijuana.
His terse answer: “No, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy.”
Source: The Times (London)
March 28, 2009 permalink
The New York Times reports in depth on the Pennsylvania judges who jailed kids for cash. In an audio sidebar a victim's mother wanted to speak in support of the accused but the judge would not let her speak, and now-disgraced judge Mark A Ciavarella lectured in high schools on the importance of staying out of trouble with the law. The judges used their courts to suppress a critical auditor's report, and used their proceeds to buy a 56-foot yacht named Reel Justice. All appeals to higher courts court on behalf of the aggrieved children failed — the scandal broke because the judges failed to cut the IRS in on the take.
CAS or Die
March 27, 2009 permalink
Bolton Ontario mother Nadine Bernard has been arrested for killing her 18-month-old boy. A family friend told 680News the CAS was preparing to take the woman's three children away.
If this is indeed a preemptive killing to avoid child seizure, we can expect a news blackout on that side of the story. Watch for future articles vilifying the mother.
Canada.com names the boy as Jayden and the Toronto Sun calls him Jadon Bernard.
Toddler found murdered in Mississauga, mother arrested
Charlene Close and 680News staff 2009-03-27 16:10
An 18-month-old boy was found murdered in an underground parking garage across from Square One in Mississauga Friday, Peel police said.
Nadine Bernard, the toddler's 34-year-old mother from Bolton, Ont., was arrested and will be charged with first-degree murder in court later on Friday, Peel police Const. Wayne Patterson told 680News.
Officers were called to the Mississauga Executive Centre at 1 Robert Speck Parkway just before 8 a.m., where the toddler's body was found inside a Honda CRV.
The office building is located across the street from Square One in the Hurontario Street and Burnhamthorpe Road area.
The woman's other two children have been found safe and are staying with family members.
Police are also looking at the woman's involvement with the Children's Aid Society. A family friend told 680News the CAS was preparing to take the women's three children away.
An autopsy will be performed in the next few days, but police said they will not be releasing the cause of death.
This is the region's sixth homicide of the year.
March 27, 2009 permalink
An earlier post expressed skepticism of the court's motives in offering to provide transcripts to Chris Carter at no cost. He reports that the transcript he received "was not altered in any way by his Honour", Mr Justice Hearn.
CAS is taking exception to the disclosure of an affidavit by Mr Carter. CAS fears that he may disclose family matters in violation of the court rules. While we have published details on other families, in Mr Carter's case we do not know his family issues, we have reported only on peripheral issues such as disclosure of documents and free speech.
Enclosed below is the latest affidavit against Mr Carter, along with two pictures, drawn from the website of Waterloo CAS, in which they violate the law by photo identifying five of their wards.
My name is (full legal name) Kim Putman
I work in (municipality & province) Cambridge, Ontario
and I swear/affirm that the following is true: Set out the statements of fact in consecutively numbered paragraphs. Where possible, each numbered paragraph should consist of one complete sentence and be limited to a particular statement of fact. If you learned a fact from someone else, you must give that person's name and state that you believe the fact to be true.
- I, Kimberley Putman, am Legal Counsel, employed by the Children's Aid Society of Regional Municipality of Waterloo and as such have knowledge of the matters Hereinafter deposed to.
- On March 23, 2009 I viewed the website of "Dufferin VOCA (Voices of Children Alliance)" at fixcas.com.
- The main page of the website has a link to "Synopsis of Dufferin cases." It then lists eleven specific cases by name, at least one of which occurred in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. According to main page of the website, a. "We try to post as many documents as possible about Children's Aid. If you are willing to give us photocopies, please call."
- The "Current News" link on the website opens a page containing the following entry:
Speak No Evil
March 15, 2009
Children's aid says, in their own words, that warning others about the unfairness of CAS and family courts is a form of wrongdoing. Have they heard of free speech? The magna carta?
The most damning statements about children's aid come not from journalists and critics, but from their own mouth. We encourage others to forward oppressive or ridiculous CAS statements to Dufferin VOCA.
Below is an affidavit, verbatim except for the caption, sent by Chris Carter. The conclusion regarding free speech remains true even if, as Mr Carter says, there are many errors of fact in the document.
- Linked to this entry appears the entire text of the affidavit of Chris Leslie, sworn March 11, 2009 (filed at Tab 27 of the Continuing Record) with the exception of the title of proceeding and Court file number. It is not possible from the manner of publication to determine who excerpted the title of proceeding - Mr. Carter or the website. Attached and marked as Exhibit "A" to this my Affidavit is a true copy of the entry and attached link and associated graphic.
[ The exhibit copies the entire affidavit in the expand block and the picture of the monkeys. ]
- Mr. Carter and Dufferin VOCA have published Mr. Leslie's Affidavit, and there is the possibility that Mr. Carter may seek to take similar steps with respect to this and other affidavit materials. I wish to take this opportunity to make it clear that Mr. Carter's allegation as recounted by Mr. Leslie (paragraph 7) that "one of the judges who usually presides during Society matters in Cambridge has never decided a case against the Society" is absolutely false and untrue.
- On the basis of the forgoing, I believe that Mr. Carter has released, and may in the future release, materials in this proceeding to uninvolved third parties. I further believe there is a risk that confidential information may be released in contravention of section 45 (in particular section 45 (8) of the Child and Family Services Act.
- I further believe on the basis of the forgoing that there is a risk, with respect to future documentary disclosure, that Mr. Carter will not comply with Rule 20(24) of the Family Law Rules.
-End of Document-
THIS IS EXHIBIT "A" referred to in the Affidavit of Kimberley Putman
Sworn before me this 23
day of March A.D. 2009
A Commissioner, etc.
HAZEL YVONNE READE, a Commissioner for
taking oaths and Affidavits in and for the PROVINCE
OF ONTARIO while in the employ of a Children's Aid
Society approved under The Child and Family Services
Act, and for work in connection with this Society only.
EXPIRY DATE: September 23, 2011.
Here are photo-ids of five CAS wards from the Waterloo CAS website:
Source: Waterloo CAS Kick Off Event
Family and Children's Services of Waterloo Region experiences higher volumes of litigation than any of the five Children's Aid Societies in Central-West Region.
In common with other children's aid societies, Waterloo has become more reticent about distributing its annual reports. The last one filed online is for 2005/2006. More recent reports have to be ordered by phone.
Parental Alienation Awareness Day
March 27, 2009 permalink
Oakville mayor Rob Burton has proclaimed April 25 Parental Alienation Awareness Day (pdf). A campaign for divorce reform has caused many places in the US and Canada to make the proclamation. Mayor Burton's abbreviated version is broad enough to encompass the dual alienation by child protection workers when they tell parents that their children no longer want them, and tell the children that their parents no longer want them.
Progress in Stealing Lilly
March 25, 2009 permalink
Senator/reporter Pam Roach tells more about Lilly, the girl snatched from her grandparents in December by luring them with promises of Christmas gifts. The family is now being worn down emotionally and financially.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Skagit County CPS Office Right In The Groove With Misdeeds... DSHS Head Randy Hart Does Not Return My Call
NOTE: AS YOU READ THIS ABOUT OUR NEW CASE... PLEASE KNOW THAT THERE HAS NEVER, NEVER, NEVER... BEEN EVEN A SLIGHT SUGGESTION OF ANY WRONG DOING AGAINST THE FAMILY.... CPS JUST WANTS THE CHILD.
PREVIOUSLY IN PAM ROACH REPORT:
DSHS head Robin Arnold Williams leaves her position right before the scathing January report of DSHS woes is released by the ombudsman, Mary Meining.
Randy Hart becomes the new DSHS Secretary. We talk and he assures me that he, too, wants accountability in CPS. He had been the head of the Skagit County office before his promotion.
Skagit County, WA right before Christmas: Little three-year-old Lilly and her grandma go to CPS in Mt Vernon at the behest of a social worker. The goal is ostensibly to complete an adoption by the grandmother and grandfather of little Lilly whom they have raised since birth. Their daughter (with drug issues) had terminated parental rights with the understanding that her parents would have Lilly.
CPS had then... lured Grandma and Lilly to their offices by offering Christmas presents to Lilly and to Grandma they would give an interview necessary to proceed with adoption. With Lilly receiving presents down the hall... Grandma (44) is escorted to a room and told, "You will never see your granddaughter again."
THE SICK DRAMA CONTINUES... WITHIN THE LAST SIX WEEKS:
Lilly, who was immediately swept away ... without a goodbye!!!... is put in foster care. She does get to visit Grandma. Shows up smelling so badly that even the social worker stands at a distance. She has lost weight. Her hair is snarled and matted.
The child is seen rocking back and forth in her car seat being told if she cries she will not be able to see Grandma. No comfort here...just threats!!! These vile jerks know nothing about children!!! They have no hearts. Mental cruelty is something only other people commit.
The grandmother is not told of important court proceedings by CPS. She finds out from a friend and shows up despite the very purposeful "non-invite" by the department. Proceeding in secrecy, the department decides to move quickly to take the child.
Social worker lies in report to the court. Among other things he claims the grandparents have stolen a computer from Swedish Hospital. (There was no police report but he reports this!) The computer was actually given to the grandparents by DSHS! It is not a matter of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing. The social worker just made up the story to then tell the judge the grandparents are unfit!!! The report to the judge still says they are thieves! Why aren't they being charged with lying to the judge???
The lying social worker's report to judge claims the grandparent's home has no heat! Who the heck would believe that???? The house has a wood stove and baseboard electric heating.
The Social worker has NEVER BEEN IN THE HOUSE and makes these outrageous claims!
Grandparents who are both employed at modest incomes are forced to get a lawyer. They are now being spent down. It is part of CPS's plan to discourage them...to make them give up...to break them while they fight for their baby.
Last week the department set up a meeting with the grandparents and their two lawyers. The attorneys drove to Skagit County from Seattle ($$$$$$$$$$$) and the grandparents took the ferry from the islands($)and time off of work ($$)to make the meeting. And...DSHS did not show up! No call. No explanation.....The social worker did not show up...left everyone waiting...$$$$$$. NEVER SHOWING UP
CALL TO DSHS SECRETARY RANDY HART
Yesterday morning I called Randy Hart and left a message describing to the aide the issues of the child's condition...threatening a 3 year-old with no visit if she cried...the NO SHOW CPS worker....the false accusation about theft of a computer...the lie about having no heat in the house...the fact that the lies in the report still lay on the judge's desk!
HE DOES NOT RETURN THE CALL. Mr. Hart: I regard myself as a whistle blower. Have you no time for that? What do you do when employees connive to get a child? You said you wanted accountability. Is the Skagit County social worker who told the judge the family has stolen a computer an old friend of yours? You know...from when you recently worked out of that office? Is this the kind of activity you condoned up there as the supervisor?
Little known fact: The department is now saying it wants to work toward reunifying the mother with Lilly! They are doing the same thing they did with the Stuths! Bank on the mother having "issues" and hoping she fails so they can place the child in foster adopt. They will minimize visits with the grandparents so they can claim Lilly no longer remembers them. They will claim the only place to place the child after the mother messes up is with the foster person. WE ALL KNOW THE GIG.
WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR THE THREAT THAT CPS HAS ISSUED THE MOTHER
Posted by Pam Roach at 10:39 PM
Source: Pam Roach blog March 24, 2009
March 25, 2009 permalink
Nadya Suleman, mother of octuplets, has fired three nannies provided by Angels in Waiting USA. She figured out they were spies for CPS after they filed three reports.
Why Angels in Waiting USA Will Not be Caring for the Suleman Children, According to Both Sides, on Dr. Phil, March 25-26
Nadya Suleman, Attorney Gloria Allred and Representatives from Angels in Waiting USA Will Be Guests on Dr. Phil, Along with Child Advocate Linda Wallace Pate, to Explain What Happened
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) March 25, 2009 -- When Dr. Phil mediated an agreement between the group Angels in Waiting USA and the mother of octuplets, Nadya Suleman, his intent was to arrange for qualified care in a transparent environment for the children so that they could be released from the hospital to their biological mother. It seemed like the best solution in a difficult situation. Three weeks later, the agreement has been terminated, and both sides in the disagreement will speak out to explain what went wrong, on DR. PHIL, Wednesday, March 25 and Thursday, March 26. (Check your local listings).
"I'm disappointed that the two parties could not find common ground to work together. Now my concern for the 14 children continues to be my singular focus," said Dr. Phil in the opening of Wednesday's show.
Because Dr. Phil did not want Ms. Suleman to spend valuable time away from her children to make the journey to the Paramount Studios, she joined the conversation by telephone during today's taping. She was given the opportunity to share her concerns regarding Angels in Waiting USA, and discuss why she and her attorney Jeff Czech felt she had no other option but to end their arrangement and find replacement care.
Four of the Suleman octuplets have now left the hospital and are being cared for at home, but as of this week, their care will be supervised by Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Hospital, according to Ms. Suleman and Czech.
In Wednesday's show, Ms. Suleman stressed that while she was appreciative of all Angels in Waiting USA (AIW USA) had done to assist her in caring for her babies, when Kaiser stepped up to provide training for the nannies she had hired, as well as daily home health visits, she ultimately decided she no longer needed the services of AIW USA. She did not want to rely on the donations the agency needed to provide wraparound care, and she explained that her eventual goal was to be able to support her children without public or private assistance.
But Ms. Suleman had other concerns besides the funding question. "The primary issue was that myself (sic) and my nannies felt extremely uncomfortable. I personally felt like a stranger in my own home. The goal was to empower me as a mother, help me, train me. I'm open to that, I want that, I want to do the very best for these … premature babies. I wanted them (AIW USA) to use their training and knowledge to help guide me. I felt that was never accomplished. I felt as though every time I tried to hold the babies, feed the babies, they would be observing and they were waiting for me to make a mistake."
Linda West Conforti and Jackie Peebles of Angels in Waiting USA, together with their attorney Gloria Allred, were also on hand to respond to Ms. Suleman's assessment of the situation, as well as reiterate their concern that the care and well-being of the Suleman children continue to be monitored and reported by the responsible agency.
Allred said: "Our major concern has always been the best interest of the babies…and of course, I happen to disagree with quite a bit of what Nadya said in terms of what has happened. I think the real reason that Nadya has not been able to continue with Angels in Waiting may be the fact that not one, but three reports had to be filed with Child Protective Service by Angels in Waiting (who) are mandated reporters under the law." The substance of those three complaints will be discussed in the show.
Added Allred: "The whole point of Angels in Waiting, besides providing such high-quality care…was not to put the burden on the taxpayer, but that's what Nadya and Jeff are doing. (They want) to shut everybody up…that's wrong. I want to know what they are hiding and why."
In addition, all of the guests will identify what they thought went wrong the night the first octuplets, Noah and Isaiah, came home from the hospital, and Dr. Phil will address what kind of limitations Ms. Suleman and her attorney must set if she wants to keep her children safe at home. Explained Czech: "I don't think anyone really foresaw the extent of what would happen the first time around."
And child advocate and civil rights attorney Linda Wallace Pate will discuss why she thinks it's in the best interest of the Suleman family to let the drama subside, and the small business owners who agreed to make improvements on the Suleman home so that it was ready and safe for the babies to come home were on hand to show their work and explain why they stepped forward.
Minister Announces Euphemism
March 24, 2009 permalink
Ontario's low-profile Minister of Children and Youth Services Deb Matthews has emerged to proudly announce a new jail for aboriginal children in Fort Frances at a cost of over a million dollars per prisoner. Oops, it is not a jail, but a "secure facility for youth in conflict with the law".
Secure custody facility opens
By BRYAN MEADOWS, Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Canada‘s first secure custody facility for aboriginal youth was officially opened Monday in Fort Frances.
The $13.2-million Ge-Da-Gi-Binez Youth Centre will help aboriginal youth in conflict with the law through culturally appropriate programs and services.
“Aboriginal youth in conflict with the law will no longer share a facility with adult offenders,” said Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Mathews.
Mathews was to have joined community leaders to open the Eighth Street centre, but freezing rain prevented her from flying into the Fort Frances airport.
“Aboriginal young people face unique challenges,” she said.
While they take responsibility for their actions, Mathews said, they‘ll now have access to culturally appropriate youth programming that will significantly reduce their risk of reoffending.‘‘
Operated by Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services, the facility serves up to 12 youth, aged 12 to 17, who require secure custody and detention in Northwestern Ontario. There are separate areas for males and females, with eight beds for males and four beds for females.
The facility offers traditional teachings, aboriginal history, cultural ceremonies, as well as education, anger management and life skills programs. It has a ceremonial space so young people can practice aboriginal traditions
About 40 new jobs have been created to operate the centre and more than 200 jobs were created during the facility‘s construction.
“We are proud to be operating the first aboriginal youth facility in Canada,” said Chief Chuck McPherson, president of Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services.
“One of the primary objectives in rehabilitating youth is to be inclusive of culture and not inconsiderate of it,” he said. “As First Nations people, we understand the social and economic conditions that our clients are coming from. Our approach can help our youths turn their lives around and be positive contributors to society.”
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Brad Duguid noted that the centre demonstrates the government‘s commitment to finding and implementing innovative solutions to improve the lives of aboriginal youth in Ontario.
“The centre will enable aboriginal youth to acquire and develop the life skills that will increase their opportunities as adults in a unique setting respectful of their culture,” he said.
Ontario is moving youth out of units in adult correctional facilities and into separate facilities to provide them with more effective programs and more opportunity for rehabilitation.
The province has also opened a new youth centre in Sault Ste. Marie, expanded a facility in Ottawa, and is completing construction of new youth centres in Thunder Bay and Brampton.
Source: Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal
Mother Protects Daughter
March 24, 2009 permalink
A Kansas homeschooling mother has gone to jail to avoid revealing the whereabouts of her daughter. All of the comments on this story in USA Today are supportive of the mother.
Kan. mom jailed for contempt
By Roxana Hegeman, Associated Press Writer
WICHITA, Kan. — A homeschooling mother whose daughter was removed from their home following a mistaken truancy report was jailed for contempt Friday after refusing to say where the 14-year-old has been since fleeing state custody in October.
Bambi Baker-Hazen said she was invoking her right to protect her daughter, Ashton Baker, 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 a lot of 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 is 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 discloses the girl's location. He set another hearing next week but said he would hold the session anytime she was ready to talk.
"My desire is not to lock you up," Henderson said. "My desire is not to punish you."
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.
"As strongly as she feels about this - she may die there," he said.
Stan Kenny, Baker-Hazen's lawyer, said Ashton "is more afraid of the state than her family." Kenny said he had never had a client voluntarily go to jail, adding that the mother "sincerely believes in what she is doing."
Paschal and the girl's biological father, Paul Baker, both declined to comment after the hearing.
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.
Their 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 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.
"Why are they torturing a child for something she has not done?" said Twyla Kreiner, the girl's maternal grandmother.
The family went public with their problems in October, contending the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services did not make reasonable efforts to keep the family together.
But in court Friday, Henderson noted that the girl was out at 3 a.m. and had admitted to drinking alcohol.
He rejected a defense suggestion that he guarantee Ashton's placement with Kreiner, who has already been approved for foster care. The judge said he does not have that authority nor does he know the condition of the runaway girl.
Child advocacy groups have long contended Sedgwick County authorities are too quick to remove children from homes.
According to the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, Sedgwick County's removal rate of 6.3 children for every 1,000 children in the county far exceeds the national rate of 4.1 children. The group contends the county would be the "child removal capital" of America if off-the-books placements of short-term removals were included in the figures.
Source: USA Today
Place of More Unsafety
March 22, 2009 permalink
The Omaha foster girl, who a year ago was a passenger in drunk-driver Denise M Thomson's car, is back in the news. This time she has been mauled by a foster family's black Labrador
'She didn't look like this when she went into foster care'
An Omaha girl was put in foster care 2½ years ago when a state worker questioned whether the girl was safe with her mother.
Now the mother is questioning how safe her daughter is in the state's care.
The girl was a passenger in a car driven by a drunken worker who was arrested in a highly publicized case. More recently the 9-year-old was mauled by her foster parents' dog.
"It's the second time they have almost killed her," her mother said.
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services staff described the incidents as a rare but unfortunate coincidence.
As of January, about one-half of 1 percent of foster children had suffered maltreatment in state custody, said Todd Landry, children and family services director.
"We continuously strive to keep children safe, particularly while they're in foster care," he said in a written statement. "While issues such as these are very infrequent in foster care, we take each one very seriously. We're saddened that this child has experienced this type of trauma."
The executive director of the Nebraska Foster Care Review Board, Carol Stitt, said she knows of a few other foster children who have been mauled by dogs.
In 2007, according to the most recent data available, her agency concluded that 1.4 percent of foster children - or 77 - were in unsafe placements, which can include a lack of supervision, assaults by other children, neglect and other situations.
"All children and youth placed in the care of the state are entitled to be well cared for and to be safe," the review board's 2007 annual report said. "It is only rational to expect that the conditions in foster homes and group homes would be much better than those endured by the child prior to coming into care."
The child in this case was 6 when she was put in state care after her mother was jailed on a drunken-driving charge.
Their house was littered with dirty clothes and unwashed dishes, according to court records. Friends, family, school and day care employees told an HHS worker that they worried about the girl, who often had an unpleasant odor.
The mother, then 35, struggled with eating disorders and anxiety. She ended up in prison for her sixth drunken-driving conviction while her daughter lived in foster homes.
Then, in February 2008, drivers called police to report a sedan swerving on Interstate 80 west of the Gretna exit.
Driver Denise M. Thomson, working for an Omaha company that transported foster children for HHS, was taking the girl to visit her mother, court records say.
Police determined Thomson's blood-alcohol level was .40 - five times the legal limit - and found an open vodka container on the front seat.
The girl, then 8, was found crying in the back seat.
The driver was fired and pleaded guilty to attempted negligent child abuse and driving under the influence.
The girl was living with foster parents in Omaha, HHS spokeswoman Jeanne Atkinson said.
Almost a year later - on New Year's Day 2009 - the girl tried to nudge her foster family's black Labrador, Stitch, off her bed, said Mark Langan of the Nebraska Humane Society.
The dog bit her face, leaving gaping wounds on her cheek, and tore a 2-inch strip from her upper arm, exposing tissue, according to medical records. Her mother said she needed 42 stitches.
The foster parents released the dog to Humane Society staff, who euthanized him, Langan said.
HHS staff investigated the incident, and while the girl was removed, the couple remain licensed and have one foster child.
The couple, who declined to comment, have been foster parents for seven years and adopted five children, Atkinson said.
The appropriateness of a pet in a foster home is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
About two weeks after the attack, HHS staff placed the girl with her mother's sister, who now serves as her foster parent, Atkinson said.
The mother, released from prison a year ago, was pleased with that decision but worried because her sister also has a black Lab.
The mother's attorney, Carol Pinard-Cronin, filed a motion to return the girl home, saying she has "suffered significant injury, trauma and psychological upheaval in the department's custody."
The motion says the mother has complied with court orders to remain sober, pass drug tests, attend therapy and have a job.
However, a prosecutor filed a motion to terminate the mother's rights, saying her compliance has been inconsistent. Hearing dates have been set in April and June.
The mother's lawyer and the guardian ad litem, assigned to represent the child's best interests, declined to comment because of the pending case.
Taxpayers have footed the bill for the girl's injuries through the Medicaid program, Atkinson said. The mother said her daughter may need plastic surgery.
"She didn't look like this when she went into foster care," her mother said. "She is scarred for life, and it is not fair."
Contact the writer: 444-1208, email@example.com
Source: Omaha World-Herald
March 20, 2009 permalink
Three teenagers held against their will at a home in Illinois tied up their social worker and escaped with her money and her car.
Teens arrested here face serious charges
Posted: Thursday, Mar 19th, 2009, BY: EMILY CURTIS Staff Writer
DIXON — Late Sunday evening, three teens housed in the Nachusa Lutheran Home in Dixon have been charged with armed robbery after they allegedly tied up a social worker and escaped the scene with her car.
According to Lee County Sheriff John Varga, the sheriff’s office was notified that a 911 call had been received from the Nachusa Lutheran Home regarding an armed robbery at approximately 11:51 p.m. on March 15.
Varga stated three male teens, armed with a putty knife, allegedly cornered a social worker in her office at the facility and tied her up with duct tape and Ace bandages. They then reportedly stole her money and took her vehicle to flee the scene.
An alert was put out to surrounding law enforcement agencies, Varga said. Shortly after the incident took place, the teens were located and apprehended in the Rochelle area.
Rochelle Deputy Chief Eric Higby said the males were taken into custody at about 12:51 p.m. on Monday, March 16 after a traffic stop was initiated on First Avenue. Higby noted the Ogle County Sheriff’s Police, Illinois State Police and the Rochelle Police Department participated in the traffic stop and assisted at the scene.
The teens were identified as two 16-year-old juveniles and 17-year-old Adam Malik. Varga said the two 16-year-olds were taken to the Mary Davis Home Knox County Juvenile Detention Center where they remain, pending court appearances. Malik was taken to Lee County Jail. He did not post the $200,000 bond and remains in custody. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. March 25.
Varga noted the investigation is ongoing and further charges are pending. All three teens were reportedly staying at the Nachusa Lutheran Home, which provides various services to troubled families and youths.
Source: Rochelle News-Leader (Illinois)
Foster Family Loses Kids
March 20, 2009 permalink
Being an insider is no protection against child theft. An Idaho foster family has lost their own children, not because of a fatal accident in their home, but two months later when local child protectors decided they were becoming uncooperative.
Foster family loses custody of children
Posted: March 20, 2009 12:23 AM, Updated: March 20, 2009 01:39 AM
POST FALLS - The foster parents taking care of the Post Falls toddler who died in their care earlier this year have now had their own children taken away.
Two-year-old Karina Moore died in January after her foster parents say she fell down a short flight of carpeted stairs. The Spokane County Medical Examiner's office later ruled her death a homicide.
Thursday morning the Post Falls Police Department confirmed the foster parents' four biological children were taken out of their home on Wednesday. A petition filed Thursday by the prosecutor lists an unstable environment as the reason for removing the kids.
Mark Jackson, an attorney for the foster family, said Thursday afternoon the police had no right to take away their children because he says there is no evidence of abuse and the couple has not been charged with any crime.
Jackson believes the children were taken away as revenge for the couple no longer cooperating with police.
The children are now in state care.
Source: KXLY Spokane
Grandpa Resists Baby Theft
March 19, 2009 permalink
Indiana grandfather Marvin Garbers was arrested after resisting efforts by social services to remove members of his family. Other Americans resisting social workers have been sentenced to long jail terms or killed forthwith.
Grandfather accused of striking officer
A 61-year-old Evansville man is accused of striking a police officer after becoming upset about Child Protective Services taking custody of his infant grandchild.
Marvin Garbers was arrested Tuesday afternoon on preliminary charges of battery on law enforcement and resisting law enforcement.
According to an Evansville Police Department probable cause affidavit, Officer Cara Messmer was dispatched about 3 p.m. to 4107 Theater Drive because case workers were taking custody of a child and believed “the mother would give (them) a hard time.”
Garbers and the child’s grandmother reportedly pulled up as case workers and police were there, with Garbers allegedly then charging officers standing at the front door.
“Garbers was yelling ‘You aren’t going to tell me what to do,’” Messmer wrote in the affidavit, adding he then hit her and flailed his arms as he attempted to get inside.
Police say Garbers agreed to stop immediately after being warned he could be stunned with a Taser if he continued.
Messmer reportedly suffered a complaint of pain and redness to her forearm. According to the affidavit, he said “Good, I hope your arm does hurt” as Messmer recounted the circumstances to a police supervisor on scene.
Authorities did not release any information on why the child was being removed from the home.
Source: Evansville Courier-Press (Indiana)
Falsely Accused Family
March 19, 2009 permalink
Today we add a story by Maureen Burke, a Hamilton Ontario mother falsely accused of killing her own baby son Stryker Burke after an earlier baby death and a stillbirth. Children's aid kept four other children from the family for over a year. Among the lowlights, a pathologist preserved tissue samples in a solution containing methanol, then found that Stryker had died of methanol poisoning. When a teenager was found reading Harry Potter, a social worker diagnosed her as needing psychological intervention. A doctor diagnosed a baby with a fever requiring lots of liquids for recovery, but the parents were forbidden to give her anything to drink. After the murder case collapsed, there was no apology.
Run Run Run
March 18, 2009 permalink
Girl missing since Monday
Posted March 17, 2009
Officials are looking for help in finding a 13-year-old girl missing since Monday.
Sara Linklater is native, 5-foot-3, 137 pounds, with straight, shoulder-length brown hair, a dark complexion, brown eyes and a scar on her left pinky toe.
She disappeared from the Parry Sound area, but is believed to be in the Greater Sudbury or Manitoulin Island area.
If you know where she is, call police.
Source: Sudbury Star
Missing boy may be in Sudbury area
Posted March 17, 2009
Officials are looking for help in finding a 15-year-old boy missing since Feb. 28 and may be in the Greater Sudbury, Espanola or Manitoulin Island area.
Christian Shawanda is native, 5-foot-11, 122 pounds, with straight, short, medium brown hair with bangs (maybe dyed blonde), and with brown eyes and a fair complexion with acne.
If you know where he is, call police.
Source: Sudbury Star
17-year-old boy last seen Feb. 12
Date Published | Mar. 13, 2009
Posted by Sudbury Northern Life
The public's assistance is needed in locating 17-year-old Kristopher Aubrey, who was last seen on the morning of Feb. 12.
Aubrey is described as 5-7, 160 pounds with short, sandy-brown hair which is near brush cut length and blue eyes.
If you have information about the whereabouts of this child, phone 675-9171.
This story is based on the most recent information provided by police. No further details have been provided at this time. If you have pertinent information, phone Sudbury Rainbow Crime Stoppers at 675-TIPS or 1-800-222-TIPS.
Source: Northern Life
March 15, 2009 permalink
Politicians demand neutral language for women.
Euro chiefs ban 'Miss' and 'Mrs'
The European Parliament has banned the terms 'Miss' and 'Mrs' in case they offend female MEPs.
By Simon Johnson, Last Updated: 3:06PM GMT 15 Mar 2009
The politically correct rules also mean a ban on Continental titles, such as Madame and Mademoiselle, Frau and Fraulein and Senora and Senorita.
Guidance issued in a new 'Gender-Neutral Language' pamphlet instead orders politicians to address female members by their full name only.
Officials have also ordered that 'sportsmen' be called 'athletes', 'statesmen' be referred to as 'political leaders' and even that 'synthetic' or 'artificial' be used instead of 'man-made'.
The guidance lists banned terms for describing professions, including fireman, air hostess, headmaster, policeman, salesman, manageress, cinema usherette and male nurse.
However MEPs are still allowed to refer to 'midwives' as there is no accepted male version of the job description.
The booklet also admits that "no gender-neutral term has been successfully proposed" to replace 'waiter' and 'waitress', allowing parliamentarians to use these words in a restaurant or café.
It has been circulated by Harold Romer, the parliament's secretary general, to the 785 MEPs working in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Struan Stevenson, a Scottish Conservative MEP described the guidelines as "political correctness gone mad."
He said: "We have seen the EU institutions try to ban the bagpipes and dictate the shape of bananas, but now they see determined to tell us which words we are entitled to use in our own language."
Philip Bradbourn, another Conservative MEP, vowed to ignore the booklet, which he described as a "waste of taxpayers' money" and called on Mr Romer to reveal its cost.
He added: "I will have no part of it. I will continue to use my own language and expressions, which I have used all my life, and will not be instructed by this institution or anyone else in these matters."
Seven years ago, an attempt to amend noise laws came close to effectively outlawing bagpipes.
However, a number of bizarre EU rules remain in place, including a directive stating that every pair of rubber boots must be supplied with a user's manual in 12 languages.
Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)
Speak No Evil
March 15, 2009 permalink
Children's aid says, in their own words, that warning others about the unfairness of CAS and family courts is a form of wrongdoing. Have they heard of free speech? The magna carta?
The most damning statements about children's aid come not from journalists and critics, but from their own mouth. We encourage others to forward oppressive or ridiculous CAS statements to Dufferin VOCA.
Below is an affidavit, verbatim except for the caption, sent by Chris Carter. The conclusion regarding free speech remains true even if, as Mr Carter says, there are many errors of fact in the document.
MARCH 11, 2009
AFFIDAVIT OF THE CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY OF THE REGIONAL MUNICIAPALITY OF WATERLOO’S CHILD PROTECTION SUPERVISOR CHRIS LESLIE
My name is (full legal name) Chris Leslie
I work in (municipality & province) Cambridge, Ontario
and I swear and affirm that the following is true: Set out the statements of fact in consecutively numbered paragraphs. Where possible, each numbered paragraph should consist of one complete sentence and be limited to a particular statement of fact. If you learned a fact from someone else, you must give that person’s name and state that you believe that fact to be true.
- I, Chris Leslie, am a Child Protection Supervisor for the Children’s Aid Society of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. As such I have personal knowledge of the matters hereinafter set forth.
- On the morning of March 4, 2009 I attended the Cambridge Court House on a scheduled Society List day to sit in on a Society matter. During the time preceding my appearance in court, I sat in the waiting room of the Courthouse. While waiting I observed Mr. Chris Carter attend the waiting area, as I have observed on some previous Society Court dates. As on previous occasions, Mr. Carter appeared to be in attendance when he did not have a matter involving himself on the docket.
- I am informed by my co-workers at the Society, and believe, that Mr. Carter has been in frequent attendance in the Cambridge Family Court waiting area during Society List days since the fall of 2008, although he noticeably did not attend at the Courthouse for several weeks earlier this year. It is my understanding that he frequents the Family Court waiting area even though he does not have personal involvement in any matter on that day’s docket.
- On March 4, 2009, as I had personally observed on previous occasions, Mr. Carter began to circulate through the court waiting area, stopping and addressing other individuals who were in attendance and waiting for their respective scheduled court appearances. I am not aware that any of these individuals were previously known to Mr. Carter (on a previous occasion, Mr. Carter had approached me, in the apparent belief that I was a litigant with the Society as I was reading Court documents, and asked me if I needed help).
- I observed and heard Mr. Carter commenting to persons waiting outside Court that they should obtain copies of the Child and Family Services Act, as this will demonstrate to them that the Society does not act in accordance with this legislation. I also observed Mr. Carter carrying a tape recorder and encouraging persons waiting outside Court that they should record their proceedings, and suggesting to individuals that court transcripts can also be requested.
- By this point Mr. Carter had circulated to the far end of the waiting area, away from the Courthouse. He then appeared to generally address the room, because his statements did not appear to be directed to anyone in particular and were clearly audible over the conversation of everyone else in attendance. I was located as far away as was possible from Mr. Carter (being seated near the Courtroom doors) and could clearly hear everything he said. Mr. Carter began to speak about Justice Hardman, who happened to be presiding that day. During his description of Justice Hardman, Mr. Carter became escalated by his increasingly loud voice. The substance of his public announcement on this occasion was to the effect that Justice Hardman does not decide cases fairly and does not act appropriately in her capacity as a Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice. At this point, I observed a Waterloo Regional Police Officer exit the Courtroom and approach Mr. Carter, and escort him out of the waiting area.
- This was not the first time I have observed Mr. Carter make disparaging statements regarding Judges of the Ontario Court of Justice to parties waiting to be heard in Cambridge Family Court on Society List days. On other occasions I have observed Mr. Carter inform waiting individuals-each of whom were involved in cases before the Court involving the Society-that one of the Judges who usually presides during Society matters in Cambridge has never decided a case against the Society.
- I subsequently observed Mr. Carter return to the court waiting room. Mr. Carter continued to approach and speak with others. As my attention was turned to other matters, I did not hear much of what Mr. Carter was saying, but did notice when he began talking about Society Child Protection Supervisor Bill Shin, prefacing what he was saying by commenting "I’m not a racist" but then going on to discuss how Mr. Shin is Korean, and discussing how the Society has someone making decisions about the children of Cambridge who does not come from here.
- I approached a Waterloo Regional Police officer who was standing nearby in the passage hall between the waiting room and the court room and pointed out that Mr. Carter appeared to be making disparaging remarks of a racial nature about Society personnel. When I returned to the waiting area I observed that Mr. Carter no longer appeared to be present.
dated March 11, 2009
"ANGELA LYNN SZABATIN, a Commissioner for taking Oaths and Affidavits in and for the PROVINCE OF ONTARIO while in the employ of a Children’s Aid Society approved under The Child and Family Services Act, and for work in connection with this Society only. EXPIRY DATE: December 17, 2011"
Source: email from Chris Carter
March 15, 2009 permalink
The Toronto Star, often silent on the issue of parental rights, writes eloquently when the target of children's aid is aboriginal families.
Nation of lost souls
TONY BOCK/TORONTO STAR
March 16, 2009, Linda Diebel, NATIONAL AFFAIRS WRITER
TIMMINS – The last time Marcia Martel saw her mother at home, it was late summer and she was a chubby little Indian kid of 4. She doesn't remember much because she was crying and clutching the tall grass as strange people pulled her away. She was scared of the police and didn't understand why she was being taken from Beaverhouse First Nation on Lake Misema in northeastern Ontario.
Forced into a waiting boat, she sat down. She'd been taught "little children rules" for the water. She fixed her gaze on her mother standing alone against the house until the image was only a speck and then, nothing.
She couldn't stop crying. She felt so worthless, she says, "I knew God Himself didn't want me."
Martel, now 45, is part of a multi-million-dollar class-action lawsuit filed recently in Ontario Superior Court against the Attorney General of Canada over the treatment of thousands of aboriginal children from 1965 to 1985. The claim alleges the federal government – with constitutional responsibility for aboriginal people, principally through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada– committed "cultural genocide" by delegating child welfare services to Ontario. As a result, it says, children (there are no precise numbers) were stripped of their aboriginal identity by being placed in non-native foster/adoptive homes.
A Justice Canada official referred questions to Indian and Northern Affairs, while an Indian Affairs spokesperson said officials are conducting "preliminary research" for a statement of defence. Meetings with a class-action judge are expected as early as next month.
Martel lived in foster homes until being adopted at 9. She thought her family didn't want her. In an exclusive interview with the Toronto Star, she said of her childhood, "I felt like an (abandoned) puppy."
She battled thoughts of suicide. She says her adoptive mother told her to eat off the floor like the "savage" she was and rubbed her raw to wash off her "dirty" brown colour.
Most Canadians think children are no longer being forcibly taken from aboriginal communities. They've heard about the "kill the Indian in the child" regime over the 150 years children were carted off to residential schools under the auspices of Canadian churches. That sordid story of abuse of tens of thousands of children has come to public attention through a $2 billion class-action settlement, a parliamentary apology to survivors by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the creation of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
But it's not over, far from it.
The removal of aboriginal children from their communities dragged on with the "Sixties Scoop" described in Martel's lawsuit and named for the practice of taking newborns from their mothers on B.C. reserves. It continues today.
Federal Auditor General Sheila Fraser reported in 2008 that 8,300 First Nations children, ordinarily resident on reserves, were in care nationally at the end of March 2007. That's more than five per cent of all kids living on reserves and eight times the proportion of children in the general population.
Fraser's report chastises Indian Affairs for, among other shortcomings, failing to monitor the "cultural appropriateness" of child care services for aboriginal children.
"We are still struggling with (child welfare) workers who come into our communities and take our children without consultation," says Arthur Moore, chief of the Constance Lake First Nation, himself a church school survivor. "They have too much power and think we're not capable of looking after our own children."
Adds Chief Keeter Corston, of the Chapleau Cree First Nation: "Marcia's story isn't an isolated incident. They didn't think of her as a person. It's genocide in terms of breaking down a people morally and hoping they will just disappear."
IT'S A LATE winter morning and we're gathered in a Timmins conference room, chiefs, welfare workers and educators, to hear Martel recount her experiences to the Star. Regional aboriginal child services are based in this town, about 800 kilometres north of Toronto, and many of the 49 chiefs from Treaty 9 lands are here for a conference.
Martel, born Sally Susan Mathias, has a strong face, with high cheekbones, an aquiline nose and shiny black hair cut in choppy layers. She places sacred symbols on a table before her – eagle feathers, pouches of tobacco and herbs, a turtle rattle, rocks and carvings. She occasionally flashes an infectious grin. Mostly though, she fights back tears, her lips pursed and eyes squeezed shut behind wire-rimmed glasses.
She massages her temples or the bridge of her nose, pausing often. Elizabeth Babin, education director for Wahgoshig First Nation, fans her with an eagle feather to calm her; the air smells of burning sage, tobacco and cedar.
Martel speaks slowly in a flat monotone, as if describing a trip to the grocery store.
She wasn't alone in the boat that day. Authorities also took her sister, Doris Lynn, about 6, keeping them together until Marcia went to another foster home. She wrongly believed her sister wanted her gone. (Five other siblings were left with their family in Beaverhouse.)
Martel thought her mother didn't want her either, discovering only years later it wasn't true. She describes a happy early childhood and never found out why she was taken. But her mother, when in her late 70s, said she was afraid if she had fought for her children, police would have shot her dead.
"That's a normal reaction. Indian people are trained to listen to authority," says Corston. "You're not a real person and only a real person can question authority."
Always, Martel wanted to go home. Instead, she bounced around foster homes suffering, she alleges, physical and emotional abuse. She once ran away and told her story to a police officer but he apparently replied: "Aw, it can't be that bad."
By 9 when she was adopted, she'd lost her Algonquin language and felt she belonged nowhere. Suicide wasn't an option because: "God doesn't like it if you kill yourself."
She liked school but later saw a children's aid file describing her as "slow" and not likely to progress beyond the mental capacity of a 10-year-old. Authorities apparently told her family she was mentally handicapped.
Over her protests, an Ontario family with four children adopted her. She says her adoptive father was kindly, if distant. When he died some 15 years ago, he left her a small inheritance. Her adoptive mother, she claims, was cruel.
Martel had been carting around a beloved stuffed tiger. One day, her adoptive mother told her to bring Tigger outside, where she'd lit a bonfire. The woman apparently claimed Tigger was full of bugs – Indian bugs – and made her thrown him into the fire. She says she was forced to watch him burn.
"Your people loved you but they didn't know how to look after you," the woman apparently said, as she incessantly went about her nightly scrubbings. In her adoptive father's absence, Martel alleges: "I got beat until I was black and blue with everything – spoons, hangers, the vacuum cleaner tubing. ... But she never touched my face."
When the couple divorced, she stayed with her adoptive father. Then, the worst. "Okay, um ... I would have been in Grade 9, I think ... I was 16 and, uh ... I got pregnant" by an unnamed boy. Martel went to live with her adoptive mother in Los Angeles, then moved with her to Texas. The woman wanted to keep the baby.
"I would not allow that. I knew enough about human beings that if you know bad stuff is happening and you're not able to protect yourself, there's no possible way you can protect a baby," says Martel. " So, I, uh ... it was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done ... I gave him up."
Pause. She's sobbing quietly. "He was a beautiful boy." A nurse let her hold him briefly after birth and, "I never saw him after that."
She has one photo. "Nobody in my family ever saw him ... not even my Granny and my Granny loved me."
A few months later, her adoptive mother took her to the Houston airport, handed her a ticket to North Bay, Ont., and put her on a plane. She was 17. All she had was the suitcase she'd arrived with at age 9, filled with little girl's clothes.
An older sister met her in North Bay. Martel doesn't know how her adoptive mother found her sister Nancy; by then, they were alienated and she's forever lost other precious family connections. She tried to regain her Indian status but was told Sally Susan Mathias was deceased. She eventually won it back.
TORONTO lawyer Jeffery Wilson, who's handling the case with colleague Morris Cooper, stresses only Ottawa is named in the lawsuit, even though provincial Children's Aid Society (CAS) agencies were the ones removing aboriginal children from their communities and placing them in care. They did so under the 1965 Canada-Ontario Welfare Agreement.
Provincial legislation in 1985 recognized all services to Indian and native people should be provided "in a manner that recognizes their culture, heritage and traditions and the concept of the extended family."
However, Wilson argues: "That change (in provincial law) doesn't correct what happened before. ... It's shameful. You think you can raise a child and that it's in the best interest of the child to dispense with that child's culture?"
He argues the federal government was "improper and unlawful" in handing responsibility for child services to Ontario in the first place, thereby ignoring its duty to act in the best interest of Indian children "who are particularly vulnerable."
There's a buzz around the lawsuit. Aboriginal leaders see it as potentially precedent-setting and a step toward their goal of ensuring autonomous child care services. Aboriginal child and family services already exist. But many argue the province routinely big-foots them.
Vicky Hardisty, executive director of Kunuwanimano Child and Family Services, based in Timmins, argues all too often the province takes aboriginal children independently, without consulting community leaders. It's such a mess in the north, five Treaty 9 chiefs have banned provincial child welfare officers from their reserves.
Anne Machowski-Smith, spokesperson for Ontario children and youth services, says the law requires local CAS agencies to consult with bands or native communities in the apprehension and placement of aboriginal children. She adds: "We believe that, wherever possible, aboriginal children in need of protection, should be cared for in ways that recognize their culture and traditions."
Hardisty counters: "They always say that and we always tell them it's not happening. We ask them to provide us with proof of this compliance, but they don't. ... There's a huge disconnect."
For many aboriginal families, the lawsuit represents closure.
Once news of Star interest circulated, my phone began to ring with calls for help. Aboriginal adults in their 40s, 50s and older describe a nation of lost souls – Ontario's own "disappeared" – as they search for brothers, sisters and children who vanished into provincial care.
"Can you help me?" asks James Wesley, over a scratchy line from the northern Mountbatten First Nation. One of four kids who were split up, he's still looking for sister, Emma Lulu, and brother, Raymond Randy. "They kept moving me from home to home. ... I pretty much got lost myself."
Nobody places all the blame on Ontario's child welfare system or suggests children should never be removed from parents. Robert Commanda, 49, a plaintiff in the class-action suit living in Peterborough, says CAS officials took him after his mother ran off and left her five little boys alone. The oldest was 5 and kept his siblings, including Robert, 2, alive on chips and pop.
"She left us to die," says Commanda. "I sort of haven't come to terms with that. ... I'm a mess but I'm working on it. I just don't feel I belong anywhere."
The issue, rather, is about ensuring children in foster and adoptive homes don't lose their identity. Aboriginal leaders don't maintain all non-aboriginal families involved are terrible people. But they are fiercely adamant children receive "culturally appropriate" services and argue communities themselves, with their extended families, can best care for children.
MUCH TO her surprise, Martel found an inner strength. It nurtured her through childhood and, in her 20s, periods of homelessness. She says she never drank or took drugs and when, at age 28, her son, now 17, was born, "I realized survival wasn't good enough. My life had to be about happiness too."
She lays two photos on the table. In one, she's a glowing bride in beaded deerskin, shown almost two years ago on a sacred rock near Beaverhouse after she married Raymond Martel. The couple – he a simultaneous translator, she a social worker – live near Kirkland Lake.
In another photo some 40 years earlier at the same site, a plump little girl with glossy hair holds tightly to her pet black cat. It's Sally Susan at 3 with big sister, Doris Lynn. She's smiling with a child's confidence life will be wonderful.
In a roundabout way, that's how it turned out. The Star's Tony Bock photographed Martel against a snowy northern landscape. She's cuddling another pet black cat and looks, well, happy.
She is, she says. Sally Susan Mathias has come home. And the best part? She believes the lawsuit at last shows her meaning in all those rough times.
Source: Toronto Star
March 14, 2009 permalink
Peter Connelly died in Haringey (London England) in August 2007 at the hands of his mother Tracy Connelly, her partner Steven Barker and a lodger Jason Owen. Peter had been visited several times by social workers during his seventeen months of life but all had decided to take no action to protect him. In November 2008 the British press broke the story naming the victim only as "Baby P". The lynch-mob mood generated by the press started a classic foster care panic. Doctor Sabah al-Zayyat, the last to see Peter alive, has been banned from working with children and the head of children's services in Haringey, Sharon Shoesmith, was fired, actions that continue the unvarying pattern in child deaths. Social services punishes those who fail to take children, but protects those who erroneously take children, even when they die. Higher-ups George Meehan and Liz Santry lost their jobs in December 2008. The truncation of the victim's name made it impossible for skeptical Brits to investigate, leaving the press as the only source.
The case has culminated in an official report by former social worker Lord Laming giving 58 recommendations, all for more action by government. Many are the same ones Lord Laming made in 2003 following the death of Victoria Climbié. The word "mother" appears not at all in the report and "father" only once. We got the original report from the BBC, The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report (pdf 1 megabyte local copy).
We enclose an opinion article on Baby P by Brendan O'Neill.
Thursday 4 December 2008
How the abuse industry is exploiting Baby P
If the killing of Baby P wasn’t awful enough, now his death is being used to institute a new era of familial fear and spying.
It is becoming clear that the death of Baby P was a double tragedy. First, there was the tragedy of the 17-month-old boy’s neglect and death at the hands of his so-called carers in Haringey, London. Second, there is the tragedy of the ‘lessons learned’: that depraved abuse is widespread; that children around the UK are in mortal danger from their parents and guardians; and that social services must become more confident and cocky about removing children from the family home. One tragic death is being exploited to exaggerate, vastly, the scale of child abuse in the UK, and to re-empower the ‘abuse industry’ to interfere in family life.
This week the respected medical journal the Lancet published an extensive series of articles on child abuse in Britain, which argues that abuse is far more prevalent than we think, but professionals are failing to spot it or take interventionist action. Though the Lancet has been working on the series for the past year, it has, upon its publication, become intimately bound up with the Baby P tragedy. ‘One in 10 children mistreated’ screamed newspaper headlines, next to now-familiar photographs of Baby P. The Baby P link-up isn’t surprising, when you consider that the Lancet itself, in its press release for its series, upfronted the ‘severe child abuse’ of Baby P (1). There’s nothing like a timely, tawdry death to promote one’s research.
The Lancet – whose series on child abuse contains four papers that run to 63 pages – argues that in affluent countries, including the UK, one in 10 children (or 10 per cent) suffer from abuse, yet only around one per cent of children are referred to child protection services. It also claims that 15 per cent of girls and five per cent of boys have been exposed to ‘some sort of sexual abuse’ by the age of 18, and, perhaps most alarmingly, that five to 10 per cent of girls and one to five per cent of boys have suffered from penetrative sexual abuse (2). The image is of a nation in which very large numbers of children are being neglected, abused or even raped, yet where professionals are ‘too timid’ to take action. One contributor to the Lancet says we must do more to ‘ensure we are taking children away from dangerous situations’ (3).
However, these ‘stats’ are more a product of a low-down and prurient misanthropy than rigorous research. For all the declaratory headlines about ‘widespread abuse’ in the UK, the Lancet series is in fact based, not on scientific investigation of the occurrence of child abuse in Britain in 2008, but on a massive and unwieldy overview of more than 500 abuse studies carried out everywhere from the UK to New Zealand. The Lancet authors lumped the studies together – despite the fact that they study different things, and use vastly different methodologies – analysed them, and arrived at the conclusion that, all things considered, probably about 10 per cent of children in wealthy countries are abused. Yet as one critic pointed out, some of the old studies are themselves unreliable, containing ‘small numbers, unrepresentative samples and generalised conclusions’ (4). The notion that you might marry the studies together, pool their wildly differing results, and come to a neat conclusion about the number of kids being abused in the UK today is unadulterated hocus-pocus.
Indeed, so flaky and shaky is the figure of ‘1 in 10 British children abused’ that it doesn’t even appear in the Lancet series itself. Instead, the authors gave this estimate of 10 per cent at their press conference, perhaps recognising that they needed a neat figure to tantalise a press corps that was highly unlikely to wade through 63 pages of analysis of old analyses of child abuse everywhere from Haringey to Wellington. One reason why the authors might have arrived at such a high number of abuse cases is because they used a flabby, all-encompassing definition of abuse, borrowed from one of the American reports that they reanalysed: ‘Child maltreatment encompasses any acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that result in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child even if harm is not the intended result.’ (5)
This could involve almost anything. Indeed, for the Lancet physical abuse can mean ‘hitting, punching, burning’ (6). Parents who physically discipline their children ‘with an implement’ or through regular ‘hitting’ are lumped together with parents who stub cigarettes out on their children’s bodies or who seriously assault them. This suggests that the Lancet doesn’t understand what is and what is not an act of violence against a child. A parent who disciplines his or her child with an implement is not acting violently: the intention is not to injure or abuse, but to discipline; the motivation is mostly love or concern rather than malice. By equating corporal discipline (something that many parents, especially of the traditionalist variety, still carry out) with wanton violence against children (which is thankfully rare), the Lancet study demonises certain parental practices and brackets even loving parents in the Baby P category.
The Lancet’s working definition of abuse also includes psychological and emotional abuse, which can include ‘behaviour that conveys to a child that they are worthless, flawed or unloved’ (7). Again, this is an extremely broad definition. Stern or disciplinarian parents may make their children feel ‘flawed’ because they want them to improve and be successful – is that abuse? Other parents are not naturally touch-feely and may not heap love on their children – does that make them guilty of some kind of ‘emotional neglect’? Many of the studies analysed by the Lancet involved self-reporting of abuse or ‘retrospective recollections’ by adults, so there is also a strong subjective element here: teenagers and young adults often report feeling ‘worthless’ or ‘unloved’, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are. Nobody benefits from creating a slippery slope from sternly criticising a child’s flaws to seriously neglecting their emotional needs.
As an example of how unwieldy, and suspicious, is the Lancet’s view of abuse, its authors argue that many professionals, such as teachers, do not realise that ‘bad behaviour or arriving unwashed at school’ may be the result of maltreatment (8). Here, we can see how almost anything can become an indicator of abuse. Yes, being unwashed might be a sign of maltreatment – but it might just as easily, and more probably, be a sign of an untidy household or of a child that dashes out in the morning without doing as his mum says and washing his hair. Bad behaviour can spring from abuse… but it can also spring from such perfectly ordinary things as childish mischievousness or a rebellious streak. When everything from stern discipline to burning and from criticising flaws to psychological neglect is defined as ‘abuse’, and when everything from being grubby behind the ears to naughty in class is taken as a potential indicator of neglect, it is amazing that only ‘one in 10’ children falls into the Lancet’s promiscuous at-risk category.
The category of sexual abuse seems ill-defined, too. As Stephen Glover said in the Daily Mail: ‘Look at the wide range of figures. One to five per cent of boys are supposedly exposed to penetrative abuse. Which is it? You would think me pretty flaky if I said that London was a city of two to ten million people. The difference is huge.’ (9) Also, for the Lancet sexual abuse seems to include a vast array of unpleasant experiences for anyone aged under 18. Yet as the Independent argued: ‘A girl of 17 who is pressed into having sex by a boyfriend, while a clear instance of abuse, is a different case from that of a seven-year-old raped by a relative… How helpful is it, and how meaningful, to gather the many varieties of cruelty meted out by adults to children – and by children to each other – into one catch-all category of child maltreatment?’ (10)
In the wake of Baby P, and the idea that social workers are not doing enough to uncover abuse, and now this new study that wildly claims abuse is occurring all over the place, many now argue that it is incumbent on all of us to become spies, lookouts for neglect and horror. Even if it gives rise to a ‘culture of denunciation’, says one columnist, aptly drawing upon Stalinist ideology, ‘child abusers need to know on an intimate, cultural level that their actions will not be discreetly ignored’; we need more ‘public intervention’, apparently, to tackle the ‘magnitude’ of the child abuse problem (11). This, too, is a double tragedy. Ordinary families will become objects of suspicion; and if people’s and officialdom’s resources are directed towards spying on everything from tough discipline to lack of washing, all ‘signs of abuse’, then we may well miss the real and still rare cases of violence against children that occur in some communities.
Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked. Visit his website here. His satire on the green movement - Can I Recycle My Granny and 39 Other Eco-Dilemmas - is published by Hodder & Stoughton. (Buy this book from Amazon(UK).)
March 13, 2009 permalink
How do group home workers break the long nights of boredom? They arrange fights between their wards. We wonder how much they bet on the outcomes.
FBI to investigate Corpus Christi State School 'fight club' case
04:59 PM CDT on Friday, March 13, 2009
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News, firstname.lastname@example.org
AUSTIN – Corpus Christi police said they have arrested three of six state workers accused of forcing mentally disabled state school residents into "fight club"-style brawls – the same day the FBI announced it would investigate civil rights violations at the facility.
Corpus Christi Police Lt. Isaac Valencia said police are still seeking three other suspects, one of them out of state.
Criminal charges against the six stem from allegations this week that for more than a year, workers at the Corpus Christi State School forced disabled residents into orchestrated, late-night fights. The employees were caught after videos of at least 20 fights were discovered on a cellphone that was lost and turned in to police.
In custody are Vince Johnson, 21; Timothy Dixon, 30; and Stephanie Garza, 21.
Johnson and Dixon – the owner of the cellphone – are charged with injury to a disabled person, a third-degree felony. Their bail has been set at $30,000.
Garza is charged with a state jail felony for allegedly failing to intervene to stop the fights. Her bail is $15,000.
Still being sought are Jesse Salazar, 25; Guadalupe Delarosa, 21; and Dangelo Riley, 22. All are charged with injury to a disabled person.
Arrest warrants obtained by The Dallas Morning News allege that five of the employees encouraged, filmed or narrated the fights – which were documented in still images as well as the cellphone videos.
Riley is allegedly seen kicking a resident during a fight, while Dixon is accused of doing much of the filming and narration on his personal phone.
Four of the videos show residents, who are profoundly disabled, suffering injuries.
Officials with the Department of Aging and Disability Services said Delarosa and Riley left their jobs last year. The others have been fired.
Since the "fight club" scandal surfaced, the agency has made surprise overnight visits to every dorm in every state school. At Gov. Rick Perry's order, they also began installing video cameras, hiring security guards and adding overnight supervisors at all facilities. New admissions to the Corpus Christi facility have been halted.
"If you can imagine individual residents being woken up at night, being forced to fight with one another, while people who work for ... the state watch, encourage, incite, laugh and participate," Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, told agency officials at a hearing Thursday.
"I encourage you to do everything you can right now, and I'm disappointed that we haven't done more. "
Lawmakers, some of whom have seen the videotaped fights, are moving quickly to enact emergency state school safety legislation, which passed the Senate on Monday and got a hearing before the House Human Services Committee on Thursday. They're under the gun from the U.S. Department of Justice, which last year reported widespread abuse, neglect and civil rights violations in Texas' state school system.
The bill would creates an ombudsman to oversee abuse and neglect investigations, and would require employees to submit to random drug tests and fingerprinting.
Advocates for people with disabilities said the measure doesn't go far enough – particularly in light of the fight-club revelations.
They say security guards and surveillance cameras are a Band-Aid on a system that is in crisis, a system so strapped for cash that it's forced to hire inexperienced, unprofessional employees.
A search of the state's employee database indicates that all of those charged in the Corpus Christi case were entry-level workers who made $22,000 a year or less. All had worked at the state school for less than two years.
"An environment that breeds such atrocities is unfixable," said Jeff Garrison-Tate, a former Advocacy Inc. investigator who now runs the nonprofit Community Now.
"This so-called fight club bears witness to a new low in Texas. You can't even make this stuff up."
The forced fights, while highly organized in Corpus Christi, don't appear to be unique to that facility. The News reported on Wednesday that staff at both the Mexia and San Angelo state schools provoked physical altercations between residents in the last six months – and that at least five state-school employees had been fired, demoted or suspended since 2006 for such activity.
Staff writer Marcus Funk contributed to this report.
Source: Dallas Morning News
Another Attack on Elman
March 13, 2009 permalink
Many newspapers in Ontario have printed criticisms of the report by Irwin Elman of 90 deaths in the care of children's aid societies in one year. The Orangeville Citizen joins in under the byline of a columnist, really a letter to the editor by Trish Keachie, executive director of Dufferin CAS. Comments follow the article.
Orangeville Citizen, March 12, 2009
Elman report on children's deaths needs rewrite
With Your Permission
Constance Scrafield- Danby
I would like to comment on the editorial of Thursday March 5th, regarding the recent report released by the Ontario Children's Advocate Irwin Elman, entitled '90 Deaths, Ninety Voices Silenced'.
First I would like to applaud the Citizen for putting the focus of this editorial on Elman's key issue which spoke strongly to the need for greater access to information in the case of child deaths.
However, the editorial failed to set the record straight with respect to the misleading claims and false contentions contained in the report that reflect poorly on Ontario's Children's Aid Societies.
These false and chilling claims were of course what caught the headlines across the country when the report was released. And of course, even though the media now has the facts, these are not creating headlines. So the public is left with the perception that 90 children died unnecessarily while in the care of CAS's.
Mr. Elman's report states that '"90 children died while in the care of Children's Aid Societies" and that "most of the deaths were preventable." The facts are quite different.
Of the 90, natural causes took 14 and the CAS had no prior involvement with 36 of them. Thus, in 50 of the 90 cases, the CAS was clearly not in a position to prevent the deaths.
Of those 90 children, only four were in the care of CAS, and none of those four deaths were deemed preventable. Moreover, the investigators within the Coroner's Office who reviewed the pediatric deaths declared that CAS involvement "is not a factor" in the "vast majority of child deaths in Ontario" and cautioned that most of the few deaths of children receiving CAS services "could not have been foreseen or prevented by a CAS".
It remains to be understood why Mr. Elman chose to make such misleading and sensational public statements. If he was looking for attention, he certainly got it — but at what cost?
How might this report affect the public's confidence in a service so vitally important in protecting our children and supporting families?
How might it affect a person's decision to report suspicions, or a parent's responsible decision to approach the CAS when they recognize that they need support and help?
And consider the impact of such reporting on the dedicated foster families across this province who, on a daily basis, provide a home and nurturance to thousands of our most vulnerable children.
A public apology to the CAS community and a thorough rewrite of Mr. Elman's report is called for.
Trish Keachie Executive Director Dufferin Child and Family Services
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Comments: We should ignore the 14 deaths from natural causes? Why? When Statistics Canada reports the death rate for the whole population, those deaths are included. Likewise for deaths not deemed preventable. The one adjustment that may be justified is the one where Mrs Keachie, and Jeanette Lewis (pdf), say 36 dead children had no prior CAS involvement. Spreading Mr Elman's reported 90 deaths over 19,000 foster children gives a death rate of 474 per hundred thousand child years, seventeen times the rate for the general population. Excluding 36 cases cuts that to only ten times as deadly.
What, CAS involvement "is not a factor" in the "vast majority of child deaths in Ontario"? Of course. There are a hundred times as many children at home. The tiny proportion of children in care accounted for 90 of the annual 706 non-neonatal child deaths in Ontario, or 54 with Mrs Keachie's adjustment. Rates indicative of death camps either way. (The 706 comes from Statscan Deaths 2005 (pdf) after subtracting neonatal deaths).
Children's aid societies could clear the air by releasing the names of the 90 dead children. They won't because that would show for sure how deadly foster care is.
Parental Alienation Conference
March 13, 2009 permalink
A three day conference on parental alienation will take place in Toronto starting Friday March 27. Priced at $395, it is for professionals.
Parental alienation is a behavior in which a child is taught to fear or hate one of his parents. It appears mainly in divorce cases in which a bitter mother teaches her children to disrespect their father, but fathers and child protectors can do the same.
Some of the speakers earn a living on the wreckage left behind by the family destruction apparatus. Others from outside the family law system may suggest real reform.
The speakers are Pamela Richardson, Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D., J. Michael Bone, Ph.D., Jayne Major, Ph.D., Richard Sauber, Ph.D., Terence Campbell, Ph.D., ABPP, Dr. Douglas Darnell, Ph.D., Dr. Glenn Ross Caddy, Demosthenes Lorandos, J.D., Ph.D., Abraham Worenklein, Ph.D., Gene Colman - Gene C. Colman Family Law Center, Pamela Stuart-Mills Hoch, M.A., Bob Hoch, M.A., David L. Levy, J.D., Michael Gough - President - Internet Visitation, C. Gwendolyn Landolt - National Vice President - Real Women Of Canada, Dr. Marty McKay - Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, ABPP, Bob Finlay, M.A., R.M.F.T. and Brian Ludmer.
Young Man Wants Brothers
March 11, 2009 permalink
Senior family lawyer Jeffery Wilson has filed an application on behalf of an eighteen-year-old boy to get custody of his younger brothers, liberating them from foster care and harmful psychiatric treatment.
Teen pleads for custody of brothers
Decade-long battle sparks request to court
March 10, 2009, Susan Pigg, LIVING REPORTER
An 18-year-old from Mississauga yesterday made the unprecedented request to be granted custody of his two younger brothers in hopes of bringing an end to a decade of family "warfare."
"My concerns are not as to (which parent) is 'right' or 'wrong'... but how to bring back some sanity to our family," says the teen's eight-page affadavit to the court. "My brothers and I are close. I think we have become closer with all the conflict. I am determined to make sure they are not harmed."
The teen claims his parents' ongoing conflict has turned his siblings into "subjects of some social engineering experiment."
There are many issues involved, but at its core the case is about parental alienation, or warring parents using their children as weapons against each other.
The soft-spoken teenager, who will soon turn 19, says his 12- and 14-year-old brothers are "at risk of serious harm," and he's prepared to put his education on hold, move out of his father's subsidized apartment and apply for welfare – or sue his parents for support – so he can raise his brothers and "end the conflict."
The two boys have been in foster care since last December, after they declined to participate in what the older brother considers "voodoo science" – a controversial family workshop by U.S. parental alienation expert Randy Rand – and then refused to return to live with their mother, the custodial parent.
The mother, concerned about her sons' mental stability and the ongoing alienation, had the younger ones admitted for an assessment by a child and adolescent psychiatrist at St. Joseph's Health Centre.
After five weeks, the doctor became concerned the children felt "so trapped in the legal system," and that it might create a dangerous sense of despair, so he recommended that they be taken into Children's Aid Society care.
The court filings paint a picture of a severely dysfunctional family and, according to the teen's lawyer, Jeffrey Wilson, one of the most "extreme" cases of parental alienation to come before a family court judge in Ontario.
None of the family members can be named, along with identifying details of the case, by court order.
The mother, who separated from the father in 1999, has accused him of an orchestrated campaign to turn the boys against her.
She fears the teen is an "agent" of the husband and really trying to help him win custody through a back door.
The father and eldest son have accused her of physically abusing the boys.
The teen asked Justice Steven Clark to make him a party to the ongoing court case yesterday in a Brampton courtroom. He also asked Clark to forbid parental alienation experts from having anything more to do with his brothers.
"My brothers have ended up being committed in a hospital against their wishes, committed to live somewhere they do not want to live, exposed to psychiatrists who have attempted to carry out experimental therapy with them at the risk of severe harm to them, and if their lawyer will not do anything to stop this, I believe I have the right as their brother to be as concerned about them as each of my parents," he says in his affidavit.
The teen said he's done "a lot of homework now on `parental alienation' and those who believe it to be a `science.'" and recognizes that he has to fight for his brothers on his own because his father has been "tainted" by the court proceedings.
"I am almost 19 years of age. Neither my mother nor my father ought to be able to prevent me from taking all the necessary measures to protect my brothers and present my own plan (for raising them.)"
His mother's affidavit stresses that the teen, who holds down a part-time job and completed Grade 12 despite the stress of the case, has neither the income nor the ability to care for his siblings.
"The best thing (he) could do now is get on with his life, and get treatment for his alienation from me, as per court orders," the mother's affidavit says. "This would be in his best interest, and provide the best example for his brothers."
His father is unemployed and lives in assisted housing, so is unable to provide any real financial support to him, the mother says.
A ruling on the teen's request for standing is expected April 20.
Source: Toronto Star
March 10, 2009 permalink
In case there is any doubt, we can now be sure that lawsuits by Children's Rights Inc against child protection departments in several US states are a form of collusion with social services to enhance their power and funding. In Oklahoma, the union representing child welfare workers has (unsuccessfully) attempted to intervene in a lawsuit on the same side as Children's Rights Inc. Previous stories, February 21, 2008 and July 4, 2008
Oklahoma employees blocked from DHS lawsuit
BY JAY F. MARKS, Published: March 10, 2009
A federal judge in Tulsa has excluded a state employees’ group from a lawsuit seeking to reform the state child welfare system.
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which includes more than 300 state Department of Human Services child welfare workers, filed a brief last month in support of an advocacy group’s attempt to turn its lawsuit into a class-action case.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell sided Thursday with DHS, agreeing the group did not have any unique perspective to offer.
The group’s proposed brief, which was filed Feb. 11, largely duplicated the arguments made by Children’s Rights, the advocacy group behind the lawsuit, Frizzell wrote.
Both groups are pushing for more training and a decreased caseload of child welfare workers.
Frizzell is set to hear arguments March 30 on the push to broaden the reform lawsuit to include all children in state custody.
March 10, 2009 permalink
A story from Hamilton Ontario shows that adoption can be a success as long as there is no secrecy.
Open adoption: Two moms to love
February 24, 2009, Carmelina Prete, The Hamilton Spectator
A new Ontario law will open sealed adoption files
Secure loving couple wishes to expand family through adoption. Confidentiality assured.
The pregnant teen nervously read the ad that her older sister found in Mohawk College's campus newspaper.
Advertising for a baby? Are these people crazy?
Artrina shoved the newspaper in a dresser drawer. Tried to forget about it.
But the swelling of her belly wouldn't let her forget. She knew she could never abort. But, at 17, she also knew she wasn't ready to raise a child.
That left adoption. But to give this baby away for good? To never know what the baby looked like, whether the baby was OK -- no, she didn't want that either.
A few weeks passed.
Then she asked her mom to make the call for her.
About two months later, on April 29, 1999, 44-year-old Deborah Brennan was nearly out the door of her Oakville home. Her five-year-old, Daniel, was anxious to get to a birthday party. Ring-ring-ring.
She heard the distinct ring reserved for the 1-800 number she had hooked up shortly before she placed her ad in 14 southwestern Ontario newspapers. Many of them refused to take her money.
People thought she was crazy to advertise for a baby. She didn't care. After giving birth at 38, she and her husband had tried to conceive again, desperately wanting a sibling for their son.
Fertility drugs failed. A miscarriage the year before nearly killed her. But she knew they had so much to offer another child.
Every call she received from the ads in the past two months had led nowhere. But this call proved different. This call changed the lives of them all.
Today, Artrina Heinbecker watches a nine-year-old girl named Diana at dance recitals.
She is there to celebrate Diana's birthday, and every Christmas.
Diana is her birth daughter. She is also Deborah Brennan's adopted daughter. Theirs is an open adoption arrangement where the adoptive family and birth family have direct contact with each other.
Artrina has had another child since Diana. At 22, she had a boy named Brandon, now four.
She contemplated placing Brandon for adoption with a family in Arizona. What stopped her was the notion that Diana might never know her half-brother.
Artrina even lived with the Brennans for a week when Brandon was a baby. Deborah helped with feedings and diaper changes.
Now, Artrina is a 26-year-old single mom making minimum wage in a full-time contract job in Hamilton. She picks up temporary second jobs on occasion to make ends meet. She is confident she made the best possible choice for Diana.
She parents Brandon. She does not parent Diana. "I am there for the good stuff. I don't discipline. I don't want to. Deb can do all that."
Diana calls her Artrina. She understands she has two mothers -- the one who grew her in her tummy and the one who raises her.
She's always known that. There was no big sit-down serious talk. Deborah first talked about it when Diana was a toddler. She would show Diana pictures of Artrina. Diana gained a gradual understanding of her life story. "She doesn't see Artrina as a cool aunt or anything like that. She sees her as her birth mother," said Deborah.
Diana once told her mom it was weird to have two mothers because she doesn't know which one to love the most. "We know you love us both and you don't have to love either one of us more than the other," Deborah told her.
They both know Diana will have questions. Artrina hopes the little girl doesn't resent her mothers. And Deborah expects times will get rocky as Diana gets older.
"It's OK when she's 12 and hates me and says 'I'm going to live with Artrina.' Artrina and I are both very focused on what's best for Diana," Deborah said.
Theirs in an unconventional family, but the arrangement is an increasingly popular one in both Canada and the United States in which adoptive parents and child have direct contact with the birth family.
Provincial law is moving toward providing more openness to adoptive children. A new Ontario law, effective June 1, will give adult adoptees and birth parents access to information that is currently sealed in their adoption records.
Each type of adoption has its pros and cons. Open adoption offers the child direct access to their biological history, eliminating the need to search for birth parents. The identity questions that plague many adoptive children -- Whom do I look like? Why was I placed for adoption? -- are answered.
Some argue it muddies the boundaries of family. Adoptive parents can feel threatened by birth parents or worry that a birth parent can create conflict. How does a child explain the relationship to peers? What about the potential for rejection if the birth family moves away or drops contact? What if the adoptive and birth families don't agree on the level of communication they want?
Deborah Brennan wanted it no other way. She wrote a book, Labours of Love (Dundurn Press, $29), because she felt there was a gap in available information about adoption. There were plenty of how-to technical books, but few that celebrated the adoptive journey post-placement.
Brennan chronicles the journey of 20 adoptive Canadian families, including the late accomplished musician Jeff Healey, whose birth family were wealthy Hamiltonians. Healey described tracking his birth mother, only to have her hang up on him. He died last year not knowing if his mother ever passed on his warning to his sister, whom he never met, to get tested for the gene that caused his pediatric eye cancer.
"I was never looking for another mother or another sister," Healey told Brennan. "But somewhere there is a lady that needs to know and her kids need to know. I've done what I can do."
From the early 20th century until the last decade or so, adoption was often characterized by secrecy and a lack of contact between adoptive and birth parents.
About 11 per cent, or 126 of the 1,080 adoptions in Ontario in 2007, fall into the domain of private agencies, where open adoptions are more likely to occur, although there is no statistical tracking.
A 2005 study, co-authored by McMaster sociology professor Charlene Miall, found that 77 per cent of us approve of the milder forms of open adoption where letters or cards are exchanged. The approval drops to 62 per cent when people consider ongoing contact such as the kind of relationship Deborah and Artrina share.
Artrina has no doubt open adoption has gained acceptance since she placed Diana nine years ago.
Back then, people looked at her strangely when she tried to describe her relationship with Diana and her adoptive family.
"People used to say I abandoned her," she recalls. But with the increasing publicity surrounding Ontario's decision to open adoption records, she believes her situation is far better understood today.
She recognizes it remains different from most other relationships mothers and daughters share.
"When she yells 'Mom!' I still look. But then I think, 'Oh, that's not for me,'" she admits. "Still, I wouldn't want it any other way."
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Adoption Secrecy Penetrated
March 10, 2009 permalink
Mother Jones magazine unravels a single adoption in which an American couple paid $15,000 to finance the kidnapping of a boy from Chennai India.
Meet the Parents: The Dark Side of Overseas Adoption
A Midwestern kid's family believes his birth parents put him up for adoption. An Indian couple claim he was kidnapped from them and sold. Who's right?
By Scott Carney | Mon March 9, 2009 10:59 AM PST
After hours hunched behind the wheel of a rented Kia, flying past cornfields and small-town churches, I'm parked on a Midwestern street, trying not to look conspicuous. Across the way, a preteen boy dressed in silver athletic shorts and a football T-shirt plays with a stick in his front yard. My heart thumps painfully. I wonder if I'm ready to change his life forever.
I've been preparing for this moment for months in the South Indian metropolis of Chennai, talking to khaki-clad officers in dusty police stations and combing through endless stacks of court documents. The amassed evidence tells a heartrending tale of children kidnapped from Indian slums, sold to orphanages, and funneled into the global adoption stream. I've zeroed in on one case in particular, in which police insist they've tracked a specific stolen child in India to a specific address in the United States. Two days ago, the boy's parents asked me to deliver a message to the American family via their lawyer, seeking friendship and communication. But after traveling across 10 time zones to get here, I'm at a loss for how to proceed.
The dog-eared beige folder on the passenger seat contains the evidence—a packet of photos, police reports, hair samples, and legal documents detailing a case that has languished in the Indian courts for a decade. There's a good chance that nobody in this suburban household has a clue. I wait until the boy ambles around to the back of the house, then jog over and ring the bell.
An adolescent Indian girl with a curious smile answers the door. "Is your mother home?" I stammer. Moments later, a blond woman comes to the door in jeans and a sweatshirt. She eyes me suspiciously.
On February 18, 1999, the day Sivagama last saw her son Subash, he was still small enough to balance on her hip. Sivagama—who, like many in the state of Tamil Nadu, has no last name—lives in Chennai's Pulianthope slum, a place about as distant from the American Midwest culturally as it is in miles. Children play cricket in bustling streets swathed in the unbearable humidity that drifts in from the nearby Indian Ocean. Despite the hubbub, it's considered a safe area. Unattended kids are seldom far from a neighbor's watchful eye.
So when Sivagama left Subash by the neighborhood pump a few dozen feet from their home, she figured someone would be watching him. And someone was. During her five-minute absence, Indian police say, a man likely dragged the toddler into a three-wheeled auto rickshaw. The next day, Subash was brought to an orphanage on the city's outskirts that paid cash for healthy children.
It was every parent's worst nightmare. Sivagama and her husband, Nageshwar Rao, a construction painter, spent the next five years scouring southern India for Subash. They employed friends and family as private detectives and followed up on rumors and false reports from as far north as Hyderabad, some 325 miles away. To finance the search, Nageshwar Rao sold two small huts he'd inherited from his parents and moved the family into a one-room concrete house with a thatched roof in the shadow of a mosque. The couple also pulled their daughter out of school to save money; the ordeal plunged the family from the cusp of lower-middle-class mobility into solid poverty. And none of it brought them any closer to Subash.
In 2005, though, there was a lucky break. A cop in Chennai heard reports of two men arguing loudly about kidnapping in a crowded bar. Under questioning, police say, the men and two female accomplices admitted they'd been snatching kids on behalf of an orphanage, Malaysian Social Services (mss), which exported the children to unwitting families abroad. The kidnappers were paid 10,000 rupees, about $236, per child.
According to a police document filed in court, the orphanage's former gardener, G.P. Manoharan, specifically confessed to grabbing Subash; records seized from mss show that it admitted a boy about the same age the next day—the same day Nageshwar Rao filed his missing-person report. He was adopted about two years later. The surrender deed, which I reviewed along with similar documents for other kids, is a fraud, police say: The conspirators changed the child's name to Ashraf and concocted a false history, including a statement from a fictitious birth mother.
From 1991 through 2003, note documents filed by Chennai police, mss arranged at least 165 international adoptions, mostly to the United States, the Netherlands, and Australia, earning some $250,000 in "fees."
Assuming the Indian police have their facts straight, the boy they seek has a new name and a new life. He has no memory of his Indian mother or his native tongue. Most international adoptions are "closed," meaning the birth parents have no guaranteed right to contact their child, and the confidentiality of the process makes it difficult to track kids who may have been adopted under false pretenses.
After Subash disappeared, Sivagama fell into a deep depression. Ten years later, she's still fragile, her eyes ringed by heavy dark circles. At the mention of her son's name, she breaks into tears, dabbing at the corners of her eyes with her sari.
"Why should we pay like this," she pleads, "for what criminals started?"
And why would a crowded orphanage conspire to steal children off the streets? Perhaps Subash was viewed as particularly adoptable due to his light skin and good health. In Chennai, hoping to learn more, I negotiate my tiny black Hyundai past an endless stream of lorries, rickshaws, and stray cattle toward the outskirts of the city, where mss is located. It has closed the orphanage and no longer does international adoptions, but still runs several social programs and a school for young children.
I pull up outside the bright pink building, get out, and peek through the wrought-iron gate. A man in a crisp white shirt promptly intercepts me and then introduces himself as Dinesh Ravindranath, a name I recognize from police reports that list him as an accomplice in the kidnappings. He says he has been running mss since his father died in 2006. He's also its lawyer.
Ravindranath tells me the investigation of his organization—which made headlines in India—has been blown out of proportion; he's the real victim here. The police, he alleges, have been using their investigation to extort money from the institution. "The law says that we cannot ask too much about the history of a woman who wants to give up her child to adoption, so we have to accept children on faith," he says.
But surrender deeds obtained by Mother Jones bear the signatures of mss officials alongside those of the suspected kidnappers, who have admitted to handing over multiple children under different aliases. When I press Ravindranath about the fees the suspects told police they'd received from mss, he claims the situation was misconstrued. "We give the women 2,000 or 3,000 rupees [about $47] when they come here out of charity, not as a fee for kidnapping," he says. "This happens everywhere. We are only the scapegoats."
The problems with adoption are certainly widespread. Over the past decade, scandals in Delhi and the Indian states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu have exposed severe breaches of adoption protocol and claims by parents who have lost children to foreign families. The promise of lucrative adoption fees motivates orphanages to create a steady supply of adoptable children. (It costs about $14,000 to bring a child to the United States from India, not including the standard $3,500 fee to the orphanage.) In the most egregious cases, once-respected agencies get wrapped up in child trafficking, and well-meaning American families never realize they're not adopting a child—they're buying one.
The scandals aren't limited to India. In 2007, employees at the French charity Zoe's Ark were arrested trying to fly out of Chad with 103 children they claimed were Sudanese war refugees; police later determined that most of the kids had been stolen from families in Chad. In China's Hunan province, a half-dozen orphanages were found to have purchased nearly 1,000 children between 2002 and 2005, many of whom ended up in foreign homes. Last spring, an abc News team discovered that some institutions in the region were still purchasing children openly for $300 to $350.
In 2006, celebrity watchers were riveted by Madonna's adoption, from a Malawi orphanage, of David Banda, a child who was not, in fact, an orphan. More recently, in January, workers from the Utah adoption agency Focus on Children pleaded guilty to fraud and immigration violations; according to a federal indictment, they had imported at least 37 Samoan children for adoption after misleading the birth parents and telling prospective adoptive parents that the kids had been orphaned or abandoned. "This is an industry to export children," says Sarah Crowe, unicef's media director for South Asia. "When adoption agencies focus first on profits and not child rights, they open up the door to gross abuses."
The Hague convention on intercountry adoption, which addresses this type of criminal exploitation, was ratified by 50 countries—the United States signed on in 2007—but the pact is toothless, according to David Smolin, a law professor at Alabama's Samford University who has adopted two children from India. "The Hague itself has the weakness of relying on [the] sending countries to ensure that the child was properly relinquished," Smolin told me via email. "Receiving countries cannot afford to simply take the sending country's word."
Smolin should know. His adopted kids were placed in orphanages in Andhra Pradesh by their birth mother to receive an education—a practice not uncommon among India's poor. But the illiterate mother was tricked into signing a surrender deed at the outset and was later turned away when she tried to regain custody. The girls, 9 and 11, had been coached to say their father was dead and their mother had given them up, but they eventually told the Smolins the truth. The American adoption agency refused to look into the matter. By the time the family tracked down the birth parents, six years had passed, and the girls had acclimated to life in Alabama. Although the kids remain here, the Smolins opened up the adoption; they have traveled to visit the Indian family and kept in regular contact.
Smolin has since retooled his legal career, and he is now among the nation's leading advocates of adoption reform. The Hague convention's biggest flaw, he notes, is that it doesn't cap the adoption fees paid by rich countries. "If you don't sharply limit the money, all of the other regulations are doomed to failure," Smolin says.
Police, lawyers, and adoption advocates in India echo this sentiment. "If you didn't have to pay for a child, then this would all disappear," says Deputy Superintendent S. Shankar, the lead investigator in Subash's case (who requested that his full name not appear in print).
When the Chennai police first linked Subash to the United States based on mss documents, they called Nageshwar Rao into the station to identify his son from a photo lineup. He quickly chose a snapshot police say they recovered from Ashraf's orphanage file. Subash was lying on a comfortable bed, dressed like a Western child, recalls Nageshwar Rao, as he sits on a plastic deck chair in his cluttered abode flanked by Subash's siblings (Sasala, 17, and Lokesh, 15). "Even after almost six years, I recognized him immediately," he says.
The police commissioner was satisfied with the identification, but told the father to forget his boy. Subash was better off in America. "The police treated me like I was nobody, but how can I be happy that my son was stolen from me?" asks Nageshwar Rao. "I don't want my son to live his life thinking that we abandoned him."
At least he knows what's likely become of his child. Some 300 mss adoptions (foreign and domestic) have yet to be investigated; police probes at the local level seem to progress only in response to media attention. The overall mss inquiry has moved at glacial speed as it has been batted from city to state to federal police jurisdictions, narrowing in scope with each handoff. It's now with India's Central Bureau of Investigation, which is under court order to pursue just three mss-related cases in which stolen slum children allegedly went to adoptive families—in Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States. The latter is Subash's case.
Shankar, the agent in charge, concedes that his agency's investigation only scratches the surface of the problem. In reality, a family that can't afford a lawyer to usher its child-kidnapping claim through the court process will likely see the case go nowhere. "At this point, all we see are 10-year-old cases," says the burly, gray-haired cop. He says other orphanages have arisen to replace mss. "But I have no power to investigate," he adds. "My hands are tied."
It wasn't too difficult, though, to obtain the American family's address from the records of Chennai's High Court—it's listed on the legal document that makes the adoption official. When I tell Nageshwar Rao that I'll be traveling to the United States to make contact with the family, he touches my shoulder and eyes me intently. He was greatly relieved when the police told him his son was adopted, not trafficked into the sex trade or sold to organ brokers as he'd heard. Now he just wants some role in Subash's life. With the few words of English at his disposal, he struggles to convey his hopes. Gesturing into the air, toward America, he says, "Family." He then points back at himself.
"Friends," he says.
Two days and 8,000 miles later, on a front stoop in the Midwest, I'm finding communication equally difficult. Clutching the evidence folder, I introduce myself, grasping for the right words. The boy has come back from behind the house to stand next to me; his sister is listening just inside the door. I tell the mom we have to talk, but not in front of the kids. We agree to meet elsewhere after her husband gets home.
An hour later, in an empty park two blocks away, I lean against my rental car, checking my watch every other minute. Finally the father pulls up. He doesn't get out, but rolls down the window to talk. He seems unsurprised at what I have to say. "I saw something about this in the news a few years ago. I knew that it was a possibility," he says. "I've never been able to tell my son about it. It would be too traumatic." He flashes a nervous smile, and I hand him the folder. It includes the letter assuring that Subash's parents don't aim to reclaim the boy, but hope his new family will engage in friendly communication so that the Indian parents can still be part of his life. I ask the father to look the materials over, and we arrange to reconvene in 24 hours.
The American family didn't go through mss directly. Like most, they used an agency. I visited that agency, and my editors and I wrestled with the question of whether to name it here; there are serious questions about the conduct of US adoption agencies in child-stealing cases that should be addressed openly. Yet we decided to withhold this and other details that could have identified the family, because the child's privacy overrides the journalistic imperative to provide all the facts.
The Midwest-based agency in question has arranged hundreds of international adoptions over the years. Just inside the entrance to its offices—a stately brick building opposite an elementary school—are bulletin boards overflowing with worn photos, kids it has placed from all around the world. I find the co-owner sitting behind the front desk. She is not happy to make my acquaintance.
She concedes that she has followed the adoption scandals in the Indian press, but maintains that the Indian government signed off on every case her agency brokered. She'll cooperate with an investigation if need be, but won't discuss the case with me. When I ask the woman why she never contacted the family to warn them they may have adopted a kidnapped child, she refuses to comment.
The agency has never been under investigation for anything involving international adoptions, says an attorney for the state department that oversees adoptions, nor was the department aware of any irregularities. Even when complaints do surface, the state has little investigative power. "All we have is the paperwork," the attorney says. "And we can only look at the face validity of the documentation." While adoptions from India require extensive recordkeeping, there's no way to know if a document is forged, she adds; communication between Indian and American authorities on this issue is practically nil.
In short, there's no way to know for sure where some of these children come from. During her 10-year tenure at a US agency now known as Families Thru International Adoption, Beth Peterson worked closely with some of the largest and most respected Indian orphanages, helping arrange American homes for more than 150 children. In the process, she came to believe that many orphanages have become de facto businesses that engage in criminal activity. That's unlikely to change so long as the financial incentive remains, says Peterson, who currently runs iChild, a support website for families adopting from India.
Prior to 2002, for instance, Peterson had sent upwards of $150,000 to an Indian orphanage called Preet Mandir. The conditions were terrible—three babies died there while awaiting clearance for adoption by Peterson's clients. And when orphanage director J. Bhasin began illegally demanding thousands of dollars above and beyond the usual donation, and would not relinquish the children without the payments, Peterson severed the relationship. (She later filed a complaint about Preet Mandir and its director with the Indian government.)
Four years later, reporters from Indian TV news network cnn-ibn approached Preet Mandir posing as adoptive parents, and Bhasin told them they could buy two children for $24,000. The resulting story led to revocation of the orphanage's adoption license, but the Indian government has since reinstated it on a probationary basis. "The profit motive exists on both sides," Peterson says. "One American agency I worked with just wanted to know that I could get them a certain number of babies a year, and wasn't concerned with where they came from."
In general, so long as the documents appear to be in order, US adoption agencies tend not to look much further. Children's Home Society & Family Services, one of America's largest agencies, arranged some 600 international adoptions last year. David Pilgrim, vice president of adoption services, says he's confident that none of the children came from unethical sources. "We thoroughly vet all of the orphanages that we deal with, both in the past and in the present," he says.
However, Children's Home Society had worked with Preet Mandir up until the scandal broke. Asked whether any of these adoptions concerned him, Pilgrim pauses. "Our lawyers looked over the papers and didn't see any cause to worry," he says.
One day after my first encounter with the American couple, we're sitting together at a weathered picnic table in the cold park. Tears stream down the mother's cheeks. I can't tell whether she's furious or heartbroken. Maybe both. "To him, India does not exist," she says.
The couple tell me that the boy—whom they have given a new name—is their third adoption from India. Although the family used a new agency in his case, the process wasn't much different; they paid $15,000 in fees, and flew to India to see the orphanage and meet the owners of mss. "We had the adoption bug," the husband explains. "Regulations change so much. We looked at Korea and South America, but India was the most open"—as in least difficult.
I've told the couple all I know about the Indian police's case—the alleged kidnappers' confessions, the child's age and timing of admission to the orphanage, the allegedly forged surrender deed, the father's photo identification, the legal document relinquishing Ashraf to their household. But they still aren't convinced. "We need to know more to believe it," the husband says. dna evidence may be the only way to know for sure. But what do you tell the kid getting the blood test? And if it's negative, how can the family in India be sure the samples were properly collected?
An interim step would be for the two families to get in touch. But the American parents haven't decided where they stand. "We need to talk with our lawyer," the husband says with a frown. "We have to consider our son's best interest. What would it do to him if he found out?"
There's no road map for what comes next. As Nageshwar Rao discovered, there is little political will to pursue stolen children. With the passage of years, the ethical boundaries grow fuzzier still—although it's worth pondering whether any moral statute of limitations would be applied in the case of an American child kidnapped and raised in an Indian slum.
The Hague convention isn't much help. It neither lays out whether kidnapped children must be returned to their birth parents nor considers the impact of such a reunion on a child with no memory of those parents. René Hoksbergen, who studies adoption as a senior psychology professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, says the boy should hear the story—eventually. "The kidnapping issue could be told in different ways, but not now; the child is too young for this," Hoksbergen told me via email. In the meantime, he says, the American parents should reach out to the Indian parents and send them news and photographs to help ease their grief. So long as all agree that it's the same child.
And that's where things get even messier. Back in Chennai, two months after our meeting in the park, I haven't heard a peep from the American couple. They ignore my follow-up emails, and Sivagama and her husband are distraught. "You met them, you tell me they are good people, and you saw our son, so why will they not speak to us?" Nageshwar Rao implores. "We know he is in a good home. It's not realistic for us to ask for him back, but let us at least know him."
He urges me to send the Americans another email, this one describing several birthmarks and a small scar that weren't mentioned in the folder I gave them. In the morning, I find a reply in my inbox. The adoptive father responds that his son has none of the marks Nageshwar Rao described. "At this point we are going to do nothing else," he concludes. "Please convey our condolences to the family. We do understand what they must be going through and what a blow this will be to them."
When I share this information with Deputy Superintendent Shankar, the cop is skeptical. "They could be lying, or maybe the birthmarks have disappeared," he muses. "We have no doubt that we have made a match; everything points in the direction of [the American family]."
Besides, he says, the matter may soon be settled once and for all—an Interpol request his agency made this past August seeking blood and hair samples from the boy has finally reached the US attorney general's office. From there, it could get routed to the fbi for follow-up.
Even that is no guarantee. Should the couple decide to fight an fbi request, a good lawyer could likely tie up the matter until the child reaches adulthood—at which point any decisions in the matter would fall to the young man.
But Nageshwar Rao remains hopeful. He continues with his regular treks to an office building near the High Court, where he trades manual labor for representation by one of Chennai's top lawyers. He climbs the concrete steps to an office in the back, passing plateglass windows where legal clerks are filing hundreds of briefs, generating piles of documents taller than a man. Buried somewhere in this sea of paperwork are the petitions he has filed on behalf of his lost son.
Striding into the bustling office, he asks the first clerk he sees whether there has been any news from America.
Scott Carney is a journalist based in Chennai, India. This story was funded in part by the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
Source: Mother Jones
March 10, 2009 permalink
Devon is now on YouTube, where he gives his own full name, Devon Sweeney. Enclosed below is a devastating report on his medical condition. He will not have much of a life, even if cancer stays away. In case the video is dropped by YouTube, here is a local copy (flv).
Monday, March 09, 2009
I was surfing the World wide web today and came across a video on Youtube. I was talking to "D"s parents and they said that D is now on Youtube. Below I am quoting from what has happened to "D" from the beginning of chemo treatment until today. I posted the same phrases before January 26, 2009 and before the remission of D was announced. D is in remission now and only the Creator will heal his spirit and soul through Music and song and the beat of the drums of healing.
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?
The Creator and the power of the Native drum beat will heal his soul.
The Children's Aid Society has not stolen his voice!!
We hear you "D", you are in our thoughts every day.
Posted by Advocate at 8:51 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog March 9, 2009
Andrea Horwath Wins
March 7, 2009 permalink
Ontario's New Democratic Party has selected Andrea Horwath to be its leader. Mrs Horwath has been a vocal critic of the policies of Ontario's children's aid societies. This is a big step forward in at least two ways. For one, there is now a senior political figure willing to look seriously at the problems in child protection. For another, this should alert other political aspirants that opposition to child protection is not the road to oblivion, but to success.
For readers outside Canada, the New Democratic party is currently the third party in the legislature. From 1985 to 1987 it was part of a coalition government and from 1990 to 1995 it formed a majority government.
March 7, 2009 permalink
Ontario is advertising another adoption, this time a pair of brothers, one autistic. This looks like what we call a low-bidder adoption. The highly coveted cute babies are not hawked in public.
Six-year-old Brian and five-year-old Jonathan are close brothers and want to be adopted together.
Brian is quite a character! He loves to laugh and play and entertain others around him.
Brian loves his gymnastics class and attends twice per week. He enjoys being outside, jumping on the trampoline, and playing on the swing set and climbing equipment.
He is in grade one and currently receives the support of an educational assistant.
Brian is in good general physical health. When circumstances are beyond his control he can become aggressive towards others and towards his younger brother.
Jonathan is a loving and affectionate little boy.
He likes to play in the sandbox, ride his tricycle and watch Barney and Thomas the Train movies. He will get up and dance around with characters on the screen.
Jonathan has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and receives special support at school.
He is non-verbal but has made progress and recently learned a few words. He continues to use sign language in order to make his needs known.
Jonathan shows uncanny determination when he wants to accomplish something. This is a quality that will surely benefit him in the future.
The adoptive family for Brian and Jonathan should have realistic expectations of the boys, be nurturing and patient and be able to provide them with a consistent, structured, stable and loving home life.
If you think your family could be the right one for Brian and Jonathan, 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.
For more information about adoption, visit the website www.children.gov.on.ca/CS/en/programs/Adoption/default.htm.
This site is maintained by the Government of Ontario
Source: Ministry of Children and Youth Services (Ontario)
Alberta Foster Boy Dies
March 7, 2009 permalink
Doctors are in the process of removing life support from an Alberta boy injured in foster care. From the article below, and other news reports, the boy was nineteen months old, he started his second tour in foster care this January, his mother was 21 years old from the Tsuu T’ina Nation and the injury occurred in a foster home near Strathmore Alberta. Should this case come up again, we will identify the child as Baby Tsuu.
In recent years four Alberta children died anonymously. They are:
|Caleb Merchant||13 months||Nov 26, 2005|
|Alberta Kafka||3 years||Jan 27, 2007||Edmonton|
|Edmonton toddler||3 years||Jan 13, 2009||Edmonton|
|baby Tsuu||15 months||Mar 7, 2009||Strathmore|
Readers with knowledge of these cases, especially the names, are invited to email Dufferin VOCA, [ rtmq at fixcas.com ].
March 7, 2009
Injured foster kid to be taken off life support
Call for public inquiry of Alberta foster care
By DAVE DORMER AND KERRY DIOTTE, SUN MEDIA
The mother of a toddler who suffered life-threatening injuries while in foster care this week said doctors are expected to begin removing the boy from life support, possibly as early as today.
"If his heart stops then that's God's will, I'm just going to let it be," the boy's 21-year-old mother said yesterday at Alberta Children's hospital, where she has been holding a bedside vigil for the past five days. "I don't want to make him suffer."
Doctors gave the boy - who cannot be identified - an MRI yesterday, which the mother said should show how badly his brain is damaged.
"The left side of his brain is dead, a little bit of the right, front brain is dead too," said the mother. "If he does survive, he won't be normal, he's going to have some severe cerebral palsy."
The one-year-old boy was rushed to hospital on Monday after suffering massive head injuries while in foster care near Strathmore.
RCMP confirmed on Thursday they are investigating the incident, the same day the issue was raised in the provincial legislature by NDP MLA Rachel Notley.
The boy and his now two-year-old sister were temporarily removed from their mother's care in June 2008 by the ministry of Children and Youth Services, said their mother, who wasn't told anything about how the boy was injured.
Notley has called for a public inquiry into Alberta's foster care system, something the boy's mother said she would also like to see.
"I just want to find out what happened to my son," said the mother. "I trusted (Children and Youth Services) to look after him."
Notley said yesterday the provincial government must be more open and transparent when a foster child in its care dies or is badly injured.
She said provincial officials have insisted it's enough to detail serious incidents involving foster kids in annual reports but such reports have been tabled three years late.
Source: Edmonton Sun
Addendum: According to this follow-up story, the boy survived after removal of life support, but remains seriously crippled.
Seriously hurt foster child can't find home
Last Updated: Friday, July 31, 2009 | 3:30 PM MT, CBC News
A child who was seriously hurt in foster care is ready to be released from hospital but a suitable home hasn't been found for the child, RCMP said Friday.
The boy, now 18 months old, requires foster parents who can look after him given his medical condition, said Sgt. Patrick Webb.
The child fell into a coma in March following an incident in Strathmore, 40 kilometres east of Calgary. The exact nature of the injury hasn't been made public.
After he was admitted to hospital, the child's mother told CBC News her son wasn't expected to live and that if he does survive, he will likely have severe brain damage.
Webb said the police investigation is continuing and no charges have been laid.
Alberta Children and Youth Services Minister Janis Tarchuk has ordered a special case review.
The province's child welfare legislation prohibits the identification of any child in foster care.
CAS Criticizes Elman
March 6, 2009 permalink
Ontario's children's aid societies are striking back at the critical report by Irwin Elman. We enclose two replies, one from the website of Toronto Children's Aid, the other from the press. Both take the view that Mr Elman made errors, and both suggest that he replace his report with one that is factually correct. No part of the children's aid bureaucracy has offered to supply better data to Mr Elman, who has until now been frozen out of internal reports.
The figure of 90 deaths comes from the Report of the Paediatric Death Review Committee and Deaths Under Five Committee by the Office of the Chief Coroner Province of Ontario June 2008. It reports 90 deaths with CAS involvement, without defining that involvement. Page 56 says cryptically: "4 of the 37 children were in the care of a CAS – 3 of 4 children were Crown Wards". Four foster deaths is miraculously low. Until we see better data, Mr Elman's assertion that all 90 are foster deaths is the more credible version.
If, as Mr Elman's critics claim, in 36 cases CAS got involved only after fatal injury, that still makes foster care ten times as dangerous as parental care. Children's aid cannot release real numbers because they would look like death camps.
Update to Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth’s Annual Report
Inside Queen’s Park is the premier insider newsletter on Ontario government and politics. The lead article in the March 4, 2009 edition was a review of the report from the Office of Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth entitled, 90 Deaths: Ninety Voices Silenced. That review is posted below.
CUTTING EDGE: UNLEASHING MORAL PANIC
Ombudsman André Marin’s steady flow of systemic reports are strongly worded and cleverly packaged for maximum media impact. His detractors in government seethe unhappily when Marin unleashes yet another punishing expose, but they’ve learned that his assertions are factual and numbers cannot be dismissed. Marin is bullet-proof because he’s seen as very tough but fair. Children’s Advocate Irwin Elman took one leaf from Marin’s book, getting headline coverage for 90 Deaths Ninety Voices Silenced – his luridly-titled first annual report, tabled Feb. 23. But far from presenting an Ombudsman-style unimpeachable case, Elman misrepresented key facts and made assertions that were flat-out untrue respecting central issues. IQP can’t recall any formal report with comparable deficiencies from an Officer of the Legislature.
The Advocate’s narrative, with new-ish Children’s minister Deb Matthews blocking his office in its bid for broader access to records of vulnerable children, was swallowed whole by reporters. They also bought his chilling picture of 90 children in the system whose ‘voices’ had been silenced.
OACAS, the umbrella body which speaks for the local societies, sent a letter to all MPPs (pdf) on Feb. 26 impugning the report for its misleading claims and false contentions. It confronts Elman’s central claim that the 90 children “died while in the care of Children’s Aid Societies (emphasis added); this is not true”. Rather, the 90 deaths were reported for review by CASs (emphasis added). The letter also rejects his statement that “most of the deaths” were preventable: of the 90, natural causes took 14 and the CAS had no prior involvement with 36 of them. 50 of 90 is 55%; that means it was clearly impossible for the CAS to prevent “most” of the 90 deaths.
Moreover, it was investigators within the Coroner’s Office reviewing paediatric deaths, the prime source of Elman’s report, who declared that CAS involvement “is not a factor” in the “vast majority of child deaths in Ontario” and cautioned that most of the few deaths of children receiving CAS services “could not have been foreseen or prevented by a CAS”. With no factual basis for Elman’s charges, the verdict must be: Not guilty.
The looming recession will sharply increase already bulging CAS caseloads. The sector groans under province-wide deficits of $14M-plus and operating cost pressures have prompted 19 societies to seek ministerial reviews. This is the very worst time for Elman to provoke a moral panic by misrepresenting numbers and misstating the facts. The effect will be to undermine public confidence, incline people to think twice before reporting suspicions and discourage parents needing help from approaching the CAS. Worse yet, Elman’s grossly exaggerated death toll will cause vulnerable children in care to fear for their lives.
Elman came to the Advocate’s position with a stellar record in caring for children; to avoid totally exploding that reputation, he urgently needs to make amends for the clumsy and irresponsible elements in 90 Deaths. He should apologize to the CAS community and withdraw that report for a thorough re-write. Then Elman should silence his own voice while working to re-establish his credibility. Reading the collected reports issued by Ombudsman Marin would be a good first step.
Source: Toronto Children's Aid
Report inaccurate: CAS
AGENCY: Blamed for 90 children's deaths
Posted By W. BRICE MCVICAR THE INTELLIGENCER, Posted March 6, 2009
The Hastings Children's Aid Society is adding its voice to a growing cacophony of opposition from other societies across Ontario after a damning report was filed last month by the province's new child advocate.
Irwin Elman's report, titled 90 Deaths, 90 Voices Silenced, claims 90 children in the care of Childrens' Aid Societies in Ontario died in 2007. That number, members of the local CAS said during Thursday's board meeting, is greatly exaggerated.
Mark Kartusch, director of service for the Hastings CAS, said the report is the first issued by Elman and needs to be re-evaluated.
"It's especially disturbing," he told the board. "We don't want to lose sight of the tragedy of a child dying but we need to focus on how this report is being presented."
Len Kennedy, executive director for the Hastings CAS, said the report indicates all 90 of those children were in the care of CAS at the time of their deaths but that is not the case. Some of those deaths had no relation to CAS until societies' became involved after the child died. In other instances, the deaths were not preventable.
"In fact, the information disseminated with (the report) describes these deaths as children in care when, in fact, only a handful of those children were in care and none of those deaths were preventable," he said.
He said it is regrettable that the document creates an impression that all 90 of the deaths reported in the document are connected to children in the care of CAS. The deaths were all reviewed and investigated by the pediatric death review committee of the provincial coroner's office.
Those procedures, he said, are very thorough.
"A good number of these deaths came to the attention of the Children's Aid Society at the time of the child's death, some were reported by a hospital and some had no involvement whatsoever with the society," Kennedy stressed. "We feel, as an agency and as a field, that it's misleading. It's not helpful to our situation for that to be represented and, in fact, it could cause both children who are in care and their families, potentially, to be worried."
Kennedy said the local CAS will be writing a letter to the child advocate voicing its concern and requesting the report be withdrawn and be replaced by one factually correct.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
How a Child Protector Lives
March 6, 2009 permalink
Oklahoma social worker Dana Derruisseaux lived in what can only be called a messy home. She did not pay the rent and when the landlord threw her out she left confidential files behind. DHS recently rewarded her with a promotion.
Confidential DHS Documents Left Behind in Home
Posted: March 3, 2009 09:12 PM, Updated: March 4, 2009 01:21 PM
By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A DHS worker left hundreds of confidential documents behind after she was evicted from her rental home in Guthrie.
The documents obtained by NEWS 9 contained names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. They also contained the names and addresses of children involved in sexual and physical abuse.
Normally, this type of paperwork is heavily guarded but it was discovered when a DHS social worker moved and left it all behind.
Sandy Chanel was shocked when she discovered the condition of her rental home, from cat feces on the floor to food left in the kitchen. She says her house is trashed.
"I would not live like this," Chanel said.
Yet, it was a box in the basement that caused her the most concern.
"I saw a box of paperwork, which I thought was trash, then when I started looking though it, I thought, ‘This is not good'," Chanel said.
What she found was page after page of confidential DHS paperwork; some dating back five years.
The information was left behind by Dana Derruisseaux, a DHS social worker. Derruisseaux moved into the Guthrie home last October. Chanel says she was evicted for failing to pay her rent.
NEWS 9 delivered the documents back to DHS.
"There is no excuse for you to have to deliver to the state Capitol a box full of documents that has personal and private information; there's just no excuse," DHS Spokesperson George Johnson said. "We won't put up with it."
Johnson commented on the condition of the home as well.
"They're our employees when they're at work," Johnson said. "We don't go to their homes, we don't inspect their homes. We don't look at the kinds of living conditions they live in."
Dana Derruisseaux was recently promoted and is supposed to begin her new job in the next few weeks.
DHS says the appropriate actions are being taken immediately but can't comment on what exactly that means.
NEWS 9 tried contacting the DHS worker for her side of the story, but she did not return the call.
Source: KWTV Oklahoma City
Citizen Editorial on Elman Report
March 6, 2009 permalink
The Orangeville Citizen has printed an editorial on the report by child advocate Irwin Elman.
Orangeville Citizen, Editorial March 5, 2009
How many of the 90 child deaths led to inquests?
THERE WAS A TIME in Ontario when coroner's inquests were almost routine, particularly if there was a high-profile homicide.
A case in point was the situation 100 years ago, when a Melancthon man with a history of mental problems strode to a neighbours' house and shot two of the residents to death. An inquest was immediately called, at which three medical experts gave convincing testimony as to the killer's insanity, and within weeks the man was sent to an asylum in Hamilton.
Back then, inquests were often held to assist police in gathering evidence concerning a possible crime. However, this process came under fire in the mid-20th Century when some police forces were accused of using inquests, with their relaxed rules on evidence, as "fishing expeditions."
Today, the Ontario Coroner's Act not only states that the coroner's powers "shall not be construed as creating a criminal court of record," but goes on to stipulate that the five-member juries "shall not make any finding of legal responsibility or express any conclusion of law on any matter" relevant to the inquest.
What the juries must do is inquire into the circumstances of the death, including by what means the deceased died and, more importantly, "may make recommendations directed to the avoidance of death in similar circumstances or respecting any other matter arising out of the inquest."
Last week, Ontario's Child Advocate released a report chillingly titled: "90 deaths, ninety voices silenced."
The 90 were children known to Ontario's child welfare system who died in 2007, according to the latest report from the chief coroner's office — a number Child's Advocate Irwin Elman says is shocking and should trouble us all.
Equally disturbing, he said in his first annual report to the Legislature, is the government's refusal, on privacy grounds, 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," he wrote, adding: "The matter of access to information is one that we will pursue vigorously."
In an interview, he told the Toronto Star he had "no idea" so many of the children, who were either open cases of Children's Aid Societies (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.
Although acknowledging that 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 CAS cases, he said the number of deaths was "too high by any standard."
We heartily agree.
Mr. Elman said key goals for his office are gaining more access to information on 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.
He said such information would help his office "to 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."
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.
Interestingly, the committee concluded that most of the deaths were preventable. It found only 16 were accidental. Nine were listed as suicides; four were homicides; eight died from natural causes and could probably not have been prevented; 22 were "undetermined," while 17 were yet to be assigned a classification; and 14 were not investigated since deaths were expected due to fragile health.
Questioned in the Legislature, Deborah Matthews, Minister of Children and Youth Services, assured NDP Leader Howard Hampton that her ministry takes such deaths "very, very seriously. We work with the Chief Coroner every time there is a death reviewed. We take it very seriously and make sure that we take the steps necessary to prevent future deaths."
Well, one step we see as necessary would be for the law or government policy to ensure that more inquests are held into such deaths and for the coroner's office to disclose publicly the findings of investigations that lead to a conclusion that no inquest is needed.
As we see it, any privacy concerns arising out of such requirements should surely give way to the public interest in preventing preventable deaths.
We certainly wish Mr. Elman well in his efforts and hope the minister will give him the tools he needs to accomplish his important task.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Coroner Looks at Dee Montag Death
March 5, 2009 permalink
John Dunn reports that the Ontario Coroner is investigating the death of Dee Montag.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Coroner Investigating Death of CAS Client
It has been brought to the attention of the Foster Care Council of Canada that a Coroner's investigation into the suicide of a former Children's Aid Society client is currently on-going with the assistance of the OPP.
More details can be found at a dedicated web site for the victim "Dee".
Source: Foster Care News (John Dunn)
Report on Devon
March 4, 2009 permalink
Devon is now in remission from his cancer.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Good news about "D"
I have been reporting about "D" for the past year on his health, his family, our many protests and supporting his family when it came to the impact of the Hamilton Children's Aid Society forcing "D" into chemotherapy.
I have spoken with the family on a daily basis, they have given me updates about his case, monitoring CAS' involvement with "D" and other relevant medical news.
Today I was informed that "D's" test results came back and the parents have been told that he is now in full remission (clinical or otherwise) a milestone has been crossed.
I always report the sad news, the corruption and the disabling effects that Children's Aid Society inflicts on families and children. I dont ever come across a happy story or a about turn in happy thoughts or positivity.
Yes it still exists. the corruption, the lies and false allegations against families. I will never stop writing about that or posting the truth about the CAS.
I am hoping that this remission is a success and "D" can live a more comfortable life. Although he is still going through maintanance chemotherapy, to maintain this remission. We can remain hopeful. Children's Aid Society did not make another statistic out of "D" another dead child in Ontario. This one scraped by with the support of his family, friends and supporters. Children's Aid cannot take credit for this one, They just removed a barrier that families can still fight back and protect their children.
As "D" has always stated the Creator has the power to heal, his family maintained their dignity and their stand for natural medicines and this time he has a fighting chance with the Creator by his side even with CAS lurking in the background...
We are here to protect families and children from Children's Aid Society. We need accountability and Ombudsman oversight of all CAS's in Ontario.
Posted by Advocate at 8:30 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog March 3, 2009
Ministry Checking on CAS
March 4, 2009 permalink
John Dunn has found that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services is conducting an internal investigation of Ontario's children's aid societies. Little is known about it at this time.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Ontario's Ministry of Children and Youth Services Initiates Quiet CAS Complaints Research Project Sending Surveys to CAS's on Complaints
UPDATES AT END OF POST (2)
The Foster Care Council of Canada (Council) has been told by a citizen of Ontario -- Chris Carter -- that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services has initiated some kind of research project into Children's Aid Society complaints as confirmed by a Ministry Regional Office Staff. (Name withheld for his or her protection from retaliation although we are keeping in touch to report if any retaliation does come down upon the staff member for revealing the information)
Upon receiving the information, John Dunn of the Council contacted Chris Shantz, Special Assistant to the Minister who when asked whether he was aware of any such project replied that he can't say whether or not any such project had been launched.
In response to a request for further clarification as to whether he has knowledge of any such project or if he is not allowed to say anything about it, his response was again, a restrained sounding "I can't say".
We will continue to look into this matter and ask any Ministry staff to contact us (with assurance of anonymity) with further details as to who initiated heads the research project, what it is titled, why it was initiated, when a report is due and what use the outcome of the project will be put to.
UPDATE 1: John Dunn has since confirmed with a CAS staff member that surveys were sent out to the CAS's regarding complaints and the staff member is going to ask the Ministry if a copy of the survey can be sent to John.
UPDATE 2: John Dunn has sent a letter for information to Ministry staff Chris Shantz (Special Assistant to the Minister) regarding the Surveys to CAS's. The letter is enclosed below.
Special Assistant to the Minister
Children and Youth Services
I have been made aware of the fact that the Ministry has sent surveys around to the CAS's in Ontario seeking information regarding complaints. I wanted to ask the following questions regarding the Ministry of Children and Youth Services sending out surveys to CAS's regarding complaints.
- Can I obtain a copy of the survey which has been sent to CAS regarding complaints
- Could you tell me what the Ministry is researching in relation to these surveys or what are they being used for
- Do these surveys have anything to do with the review of the CFSA
- Do these surveys have anything to do with possible amendments to the regulations subordinate to section 68 of the CFSA
- What is the name or title of the research project in relation to the surveys as distributed to CAS's regarding complaints.
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Posted by afterfostercare at 10:33 PM
Source: Foster Care News (John Dunn)
Jail for Not Snitching on Your Kids
March 3, 2009 permalink
Ontario has proclaimed a new law mandating reporting of kiddie porn. Non-reporting is now a criminal offense. This law for the popular purpose of protecting children from having images of themselves used for erotic purposes contains provisions that are far too broad for its objective. Unlike existing snitch laws limited to professionals, the new law applies to all persons, potentially criminalizing anyone involved with kids. The law imagines the old days of photography requiring a trip to a studio and posing before a professional exploiter, but that is not the reality of today's technology. We recently covered the crime wave of teenagers snapping nude photos of themselves with a cell phone and clicking send. According to the law, the teenager is exploiting herself, and is a criminal. When dad finds out and reprimands the girl instead of reporting her to children's aid, he gets docked $50,000 and spends two years behind bars. In case you think the law protects you against false accusations, forget it. Informers have legal immunity, and you don't get to learn their names. The enclosed article includes a link to the text of the law.
Monday March 2, 2009
Ontario Law Makes Reporting Child Porn Mandatory
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
TORONTO, March 2, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the ongoing fight against the sexual exploitation of children, Ontario has enacted a new Child Pornography Reporting Act which makes it a criminal offense not to report suspected child pornography.
The bill amends the Ontario Child and Family Services Act and will be brought into force by regulations outlined by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. The revised act's definition of child porn now parallels that in the Criminal Code of Canada.
Laurel Broten, a lawyer and MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore said the bill seeks to clear up any question on the duty to report findings of suspected child pornography by private individuals.
"Before this legislation, if [you] were an employer or computer guy and came across what is an image of child pornography and would have taken steps, but you didn't know what to do or you didn't know how to do it, then that is a real problem," explained Broten. "This bill makes it clear that you have to report, you have to have liability for reporting."
Legislation is already in place requiring certain persons, such as doctors, nurses and educators, to report suspected abuse.
"Existing legislation requires certain persons, such as health care workers and teachers, to report suspicions that a child is in need of protection," wrote London Free Press business columnist David Canton. "The new law goes a step further by making it an offence for anyone who stumbles across suspected child porn and fails to report it. Essentially, the legislation will make it a crime not to do something."
Although the new regulations provide for a fine of as much as $50,000, up to two years in jail, or both, for a person convicted of failing to report child porn, Canton explained that "the test for determining whether material should be reported to officials is subjective. Individuals will not be fined for failing to disclose suspicious material if in their own mind they reasonably believe it is not child porn, even if a court ultimately decides it is."
Manitoba and Nova Scotia enacted similar legislation late last year.
More on Pennsylvania Judicial Fixing
March 3, 2009 permalink
Readers have asked for more on the Pennsylvania judges who sent teenagers to jail for a cut of the jail revenue. Enclosed are an article from the New York Times focusing on the unfair treatment of the children, and another from the Legal Intelligencer (a newspaper for lawyers). Judges held regular meetings with organized crime. Fixing a case with one judge was enough, even when he was not presiding over the case, because judges exchanged notes in their union hall.
The New York Times, February 13, 2009
Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
By IAN URBINA and SEAN D. HAMILL
At worst, Hillary Transue thought she might get a stern lecture when she appeared before a judge for building a spoof MySpace page mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was a stellar student who had never been in trouble, and the page stated clearly at the bottom that it was just a joke.
Instead, the judge sentenced her to three months at a juvenile detention center on a charge of harassment.
She was handcuffed and taken away as her stunned parents stood by.
“I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare,” said Hillary, 17, who was sentenced in 2007. “All I wanted to know was how this could be fair and why the judge would do such a thing.”
The answers became a bit clearer on Thursday as the judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care.
While prosecutors say that Judge Conahan, 56, secured contracts for the two centers to house juvenile offenders, Judge Ciavarella, 58, was the one who carried out the sentencing to keep the centers filled.
“In my entire career, I’ve never heard of anything remotely approaching this,” said Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim, who was appointed by the State Supreme Court this week to determine what should be done with the estimated 5,000 juveniles who have been sentenced by Judge Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2003. Many of them were first-time offenders and some remain in detention.
The case has shocked Luzerne County, an area in northeastern Pennsylvania that has been battered by a loss of industrial jobs and the closing of most of its anthracite coal mines.
And it raised concerns about whether juveniles should be required to have counsel either before or during their appearances in court and whether juvenile courts should be open to the public or child advocates.
If the court agrees to the plea agreement, both judges will serve 87 months in federal prison and resign from the bench and bar. They are expected to be sentenced in the next several months. Lawyers for both men declined to comment.
Since state law forbids retirement benefits to judges convicted of a felony while in office, the judges would also lose their pensions.
With Judge Conahan serving as president judge in control of the budget and Judge Ciavarella overseeing the juvenile courts, they set the kickback scheme in motion in December 2002, the authorities said.
They shut down the county-run juvenile detention center, arguing that it was in poor condition, the authorities said, and maintained that the county had no choice but to send detained juveniles to the newly built private detention centers.
Prosecutors say the judges tried to conceal the kickbacks as payments to a company they control in Florida.
Though he pleaded guilty to the charges Thursday, Judge Ciavarella has denied sentencing juveniles who did not deserve it or sending them to the detention centers in a quid pro quo with the centers.
But Assistant United States Attorney Gordon A. Zubrod said after the hearing that the government continues to charge a quid pro quo.
“We’re not negotiating that, no,” Mr. Zubrod said. “We’re not backing off.”
No charges have been filed against executives of the detention centers. Prosecutors said the investigation into the case was continuing.
For years, youth advocacy groups complained that Judge Ciavarella was unusually harsh. He sent a quarter of his juvenile defendants to detention centers from 2002 to 2006, compared with a state rate of 1 in 10. He also routinely ignored requests for leniency made by prosecutors and probation officers.
“The juvenile system, by design, is intended to be a less punitive system than the adult system, and yet here were scores of children with very minor infractions having their lives ruined,” said Marsha Levick, a lawyer with the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center.
“There was a culture of intimidation surrounding this judge and no one was willing to speak up about the sentences he was handing down.”
Last year, the Juvenile Law Center, which had raised concerns about Judge Ciavarella in the past, filed a motion to the State Supreme Court about more than 500 juveniles who had appeared before the judge without representation. The court originally rejected the petition, but recently reversed that decision.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that children have a constitutional right to counsel. But in Pennsylvania, as in at least 20 other states, children can waive counsel, and about half of the children that Judge Ciavarella sentenced had chosen to do so. Only Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina require juveniles to have representation when they appear before judges.
Clay Yeager, the former director of the Office of Juvenile Justice in Pennsylvania, said typical juvenile proceedings are kept closed to the public to protect the privacy of children.
“But they are kept open to probation officers, district attorneys, and public defenders, all of whom are sworn to protect the interests of children,” he said. “It’s pretty clear those people didn’t do their jobs.”
On Thursday in Federal District Court in Scranton, more than 80 people packed every available seat in the courtroom. At one point, as Assistant United States Attorney William S. Houser explained to Judge Edwin M. Kosik that the government was willing to reach a plea agreement with the men because the case involved “complex charges that could have resulted in years of litigation,” one man sitting in the audience said “bull” loud enough to be heard in the courtroom.
One of the parents at the hearing was Susan Mishanski of Hanover Township.
Her son, Kevin, now 18, was sentenced to 90 days in a detention facility last year in a simple assault case that everyone had told her would result in probation, since Kevin had never been in trouble and the boy he hit had only a black eye.
“It’s horrible to have your child taken away in shackles right in front of you when you think you’re going home with him,” she said. “It was nice to see them sitting on the other side of the bench.”
Source: The New York Times
pointed out by [ justiceismyreward at hotmail.com ]
Court Filing Says Former Judge Met With Felons Twice a Month
Leo Strupczewski and Hank Grezlak, The Legal Intelligencer, March 2, 2009
A former Luzerne County, Pa., president judge used to hold meetings about twice a month with a reputed mob boss and a common friend -- also an admitted felon -- to discuss pending court cases, according to a supplement to a King's Bench petition filed with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Friday.
The owners of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.-based newspaper the Citizens' Voice wrote to the court that a friend of William "Billy" D'Elia, Robert Kulick, has detailed his relationship with former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan and D'Elia.
According to the supplement, the three men once met in Conahan's chambers when they were located in the main courthouse to discuss a case in which D'Elia and Kulick "were both interested." That meeting happened prior to a hearing in that case, Kulick alleged.
Kulick went on to say that the meetings usually occurred at a restaurant, which was not named, and began with a "general conversation," the supplement claims. They generally happened around breakfast. When talk would steer toward pending cases, D'Elia would leave the table so Kulick and Conahan could talk in private, the supplement claims. Kulick would leave the table when D'Elia and Conahan would talk in private.
"If I or someone I knew had an interest in a particular case pending before that court, I would ask Judge Conahan to consider that the party I supported got a 'fair shake,' or a 'second look,'" Kulick claims in a declaration attached to the supplement. "It was my understanding that if the case was not being handled by Judge Conahan himself, he would, on occasion, speak to other judges who were handling the matter in response to my request. At various times, Judge Conahan would confirm that he had either acted on my requests or had arranged for them to be acted on."
According to the supplement, Kulick was interviewed by the newspaper's attorneys Tuesday.
Through his attorney, D'Elia issued a statement denying Kulick's declaration.
"I in no way was involved with the judges and juvenile detention center and the Thomas Joseph law suit," D'Elia said, according to attorney James Swetz.
Asked what his client's statement meant, Swetz said that would require interpretation. He said he was not prepared to do that.
"It's his statement and he wanted me to answer any inquiry by releasing that sentence," Swetz said. "To put it mildly, he disagrees with Kulick's declaration."
Kulick's attorney, Michael A. Schwartz of Pepper Hamilton, was reluctant to comment on the matter other than to issue a single sentence -- similar to others he has issued in relation to the Luzerne corruption probe. For instance, when asked if his client had approval from the U.S. Attorney's Office to cooperate with the newspaper's lawyers, Schwartz said: "Bob Kulick has fully accepted responsibility for the crime for which he has been charged and he continues to answer questions and cooperate with all law enforcement authorities."
Asked whether he or his client approached the newspaper or whether or how the newspaper approached him or his client, Schwartz said he could not comment.
Conahan's attorney, Philip Gelso, could not be reached for comment.
The filing, first reported by the Citizens' Voice, confirms what The Legal Intelligencer first reported online Feb. 20 and in print last Monday -- that Kulick was the company's witness.
It also supports a claim made by another source to The Legal Intelligencer weeks ago: that another person had told the source he had seen Conahan, Kulick and D'Elia meet at the courthouse to discuss business. The source portrayed the relator of that information as someone other than Kulick. The source who related the story had no knowledge of what the alleged meeting covered.
A former Luzerne County judge has also told The Legal Intelligencer that Conahan and Kulick were "friendly" and could be seen chatting in area restaurants and bars. The judge described Kulick's relationship with D'Elia in the same manner.
Other sources said Kulick and D'Elia were cooperating with federal authorities in their ongoing corruption probe at the county courthouse. Both men have pleaded guilty in the last year to criminal charges -- Kulick to possession of a firearm by an admitted felon, D'Elia to money-laundering conspiracy and witness tampering charges in March 2008.
President Judge Chester B. Muroski confirmed to The Legal Intelligencer last week that he had been interviewed by the FBI about court administration issues. He allowed the investigators to photocopy documents concerning civil court matters without a subpoena, he said.
Sources said other judges were interviewed, but none returned repeated calls for comment.
Multiple sources have also relayed rumors to The Legal Intelligencer that other judges are being looked at by federal authorities. Those sources have not said whether the rumors include what the possible focus of the inquiry might be or the number of judges.
The newspaper's supplement is the second filing to the state Supreme Court in which it asks the justices to vacate a $3.5 million defamation award issued against the newspaper and reopen discovery in the case.
In Joseph v. Scranton Times, Thomas Joseph, a Luzerne County businessman, argued that articles published by the Citizens' Voice during its coverage of a 2001 federal investigation that targeted D'Elia and his alleged business partners damaged his reputation and business.
A source told the paper that federal officials were investigating Joseph to see whether he used his direct mail and advertising business to launder money for D'Elia and that his taxi and limousine service was used to traffic guns, drugs and prostitutes between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Lehigh Valley international airports and Atlantic City, N.J., New York City and Philadelphia. Joseph was never charged with any wrongdoing.
Conahan handled the pretrial matters and, despite voiced concerns from the newspaper company, worked with William T. Sharkey, the former court administrator who has pleaded guilty to embezzling funds, to steer the case to former President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. for a 10-day nonjury trial, according to the petition.
In the petition, the newspaper claims that Ciavarella disregarded "substantial evidence connecting Joseph and D'Elia, including search warrants, the affidavits of probable cause and the Pen Register results showing hundreds of calls between them." Instead, the petition continues, the judge accepted Joseph's testimony that he and D'Elia were "mere acquaintances."
He also discounted the newspaper's reporting because Joseph was never mentioned in a May 2006 indictment of D'Elia and found one of the newspaper's witnesses, Joseph's former wife, to be not credible because she had prior convictions and was granted immunity by a grand jury for her testimony.
Ciavarella awarded Joseph and his businesses $3.5 million in damages.
Joseph's attorneys, George W. Croner and Christina Donato Saler of Kohn Swift & Graf in Philadelphia, filed a strongly worded response to the newspaper's petition on Wednesday, calling the request a "free-for-all fishing expedition."
"Turning to a historical metaphor, it is vitally important that the search to root out genuine wrongdoing does not lead courts or litigants to the practices of the Salem Witch Trials, where rumor, gossip and innuendo were substituted for rationality, reflection and deliberation," the attorneys wrote in the reply.
Joseph's attorneys also noted the verdict was the subject of a trial at which the defendant newspaper and journalists presented "virtually no evidence supporting the reporting and publication process used with their journalism."
The supplement also includes a declaration by attorney J. Timothy Hinton, who searched about 4,600 of the county's disposed cases. Only Joseph v. Scranton Times had a note indicating Conahan and Sharkey were involved in assigning the case, according to the supplement.
"Kulick's Declaration and the Database Records are additional evidence that the corruption in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas infected Joseph v. Scranton Times and likely predetermined its outcome in favor of Thomas A Joseph," the supplement claims. "This additional evidence along with the evidence previously submitted by Petitioners provide ample basis for this Court to vacate the $3.5 million in Joseph's favor or, at a minimum, authorize a period of discovery to be followed by a hearing, if necessary, and briefing on Petitioner's motion to vacate."
Conahan and Ciavarella have pleaded guilty to charges they accepted $2.6 million in kickbacks from the owner and builder of a juvenile detention center. The government alleges the judges steered juveniles to the facility.
In his declaration, Kulick claimed he met the judges after opening a restaurant -- Olives Mediterranean Restaurant -- in 1999.
He had a "social" relationship with Ciavarella, saw him at various events and invited him to his home "from time to time."
Kulick claimed he would see Conahan at the same events, but the contact between the two "was considerably more extensive."
Kulick arranged the breakfast meetings with Conahan about twice a month until 2007. They stopped after Kulick's wife, Michelle Mattioli-Kulick, received a grand jury subpoena regarding a letter of recommendation Conahan had written for her, Kulick claimed.
Mattioli-Kulick was apparently attempting to obtain an offshore, online casino license at the time.
Source: The Legal Intelligencer
March 2, 2009 permalink
One of the few FLDS mothers still involved in a child protection case was required to take her baby to to a meeting with social workers. She followed the advice on our help page: Never take your children to a place where CAS workers are present, unless required to by court order. They may use some trick to distract you, while they hustle the children away to a new custodian. The unnamed mother took a substitute baby to the meeting. The state of Texas wants her to have a psychological evaluation. They think the mother is crazy. She was deceptive, but not crazy.
State alleges baby brought to meeting does not belong to FLDS teenager
YFZ Ranch » Texas officials want girl to undergo psychological test
By Brooke Adams, The Salt Lake Tribune, Posted: 03/02/2009 05:59:02 PM MST
Texas child welfare officials want a 17-year-old FLDS girl to undergo a psychological evaluation because they fear she may have been separated from her baby.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said in a new court filing that genetic tests show a baby the girl brought to a meeting with caseworkers is not hers.
The department asked 51st District Judge Barbara Walther to order the girl to meet with a psychologist because it is concerned for her "emotional welfare" and believes the girl is "being improperly influenced, against her best interest, into making choices to not produce her child and to produce another individual's child."
Walther will consider the department's request at a hearing on Thursday.
The girl gave birth in June while she was still 16. The teenager and one other girl are the only FLDS children who have active lawsuits before the court.
The state has dismissed cases involving 437 other children removed last April from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. The ranch is home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The department said its efforts to observe the girl and her baby have been repeatedly "thwarted," as have its efforts to do a second DNA test and arrange an evaluation for her.
FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop said the girl had been traumatized by the raid and feared what the state might do to her baby, concerns she shared with Walther.
The state and attorneys for the girl and her mother agreed in November to a "meet and greet" where caseworkers could observe the infant, not take DNA, he said.
But representatives of the Texas Attorney General's Office also showed up and performed the test.
"We don't know what their motives are but one thing we do know is it's not about protecting [the girl] or her baby," Jessop said.
He also said there have been instances when genetic tests performed on FLDS mothers and children returned false results and had to be repeated.
But Patrick Crimmins, Texas DFPS spokesman, said no genetic tests had to be redone.
"The testing in this particular case was done by law enforcement," Crimmins said. "We believe it to be accurate."
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Addendum: This family is now free of Texas CPS.
State drops teen mom
She's no longer part of probe of possible abuse
By Paul A. Anthony, Saturday, March 14, 2009
And then there was one.
The state's Child Protective Services agency has dropped a 17-year-old mother from its investigation of alleged abuse at the YFZ Ranch, leaving just one child of the 439 initially removed from the polygamous Schleicher County compound.
The nonsuit, filed Thursday, removes from the case a girl who has vexed state and court officials with her refusals to produce her 8-month-old baby, which CPS had sought for genetic testing. The Salt Lake Tribune reported CPS opened a new case in San Antonio, where the girl lives, seeking access to the baby to monitor the girl's parenting skills.
The girl gave birth in June, just days after the return of hundreds of children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. CPS has alleged she was married to an adult man at age 14. The only child remaining in the case is a 14-year-old girl whom sect documents and pictures show as having been married to sect leader Warren Jeffs at age 12.
The girl has struggled to adapt to outside life with two foster families since 51st District Judge Barbara Walther gave the agency custody of the girl last summer. CPS filed a request that the girl be placed with a distant relative, Bandera resident Naomi Carlisle.
Carlisle, 52, is an FLDS member but has never been a resident of the YFZ Ranch, and five of her 11 surviving children have left the sect upon adulthood, according to investigation documents.
No hearing date on the placement has been set, court administrators said Friday.
Carlisle provided temporary shelter for her brother's children after their removal from the ranch in April until Texas courts ordered their return in June, the documents state.
"Ms. Carlisle has many strengths that make her an appropriate placement" for the girl, wrote Amanda Way, child placing manager for Adoption Priorities Inc., which conducted the background check on Carlisle. "She is of the same cultural and religious background as (the girl) and will be able to foster those needs. However, she is just far enough removed from the controversy of the FLDS case and the various participants in the case that she seems to be a safe placement option."
Source: San Angelo Standard-Times
Girl in Need of Protection (from Police)
March 1, 2009 permalink
A video shows a SeaTac Washington policeman beating a teenaged girl who was under arrest for stealing her own family car. The cop asked her to remove her shoes. When she kicked one off he attacked. To view the video, use the link on the source page, or use our local copy (1.5 megabytes flv).
Beating caught on police video
Tape shows officer kicking, striking teenager
Last updated February 27, 2009 10:59 p.m. PT, By SCOTT GUTIERREZ, P-I REPORTER
A video showing a King County Sheriff's deputy pummeling a 15-year-old girl in a holding cell was released Friday over the strenuous objections of the officer's attorney.
The case goes beyond police misconduct, County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a prepared statement.
"It's about criminal misconduct. And that's why he needs to be prosecuted," he said.
The video of the Nov. 29 incident was disclosed Friday, one day after Deputy Paul Schene, 31, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault in King County District Court.
Schene, an eight-year veteran, works out of Precinct 4, which covers SeaTac, Burien and high crime areas in White Center and Skyway.
He is the third sheriff's deputy since 2006 to face charges on allegations of excessive force. All three are from the Burien precinct.
A detective assigned to the girl's case discovered the video Dec. 1 and immediately forwarded it to supervisors.
The Seattle P-I requested a copy of the holding cell video and all reports from the incident under the state's open records law. A judge on Thursday denied a request from Schene's attorney to bar the video from public disclosure.
"We take this very seriously and we're very concerned about this," sheriff's Sgt. Jim Laing said Friday. An internal investigation would begin after the criminal case is finished.
The girl was arrested after she was caught in her parents' car, which had been reported stolen from her parents' Tukwila home. Deputy Travis Brunner spotted the car driving without headlights about 3:45 a.m. on 32nd Avenue South in SeaTac and pulled it over.
She and another 15-yearold girl were arrested and taken to SeaTac City Hall to be fingerprinted before being transported to the youth detention center.
The P-I is not naming the girl because she is a minor.
The deputies apparently didn't know until later that the girl, who was in the passenger seat, was related to the car's owner.
"We had argued strenuously that the videotape released to the media this morning not be released because it does not tell the whole story of the incident," attorney Anne Bremner said in a statement.
"As we argued to the judge, it will inflame public opinion and will severely impact the deputy's right to a fair trial."
The video shows Schene and Brunner as they escorted the girl into the holding cell. Schene had asked her to remove her basketball shoes, and, as she slipped out of her left shoe, she appeared to kick it at Schene.
Schene then lunged through the door and kicked her, striking either her stomach or upper thigh area, court documents say. He pushed her against a corner wall before flinging her to the floor by her hair. He then squatted down on her and made "two overhead strikes," although it's unclear where the blows landed.
The detective who reviewed the video said it appeared Schene and Brunner had the girl under control when Schene struck her. Schene, who is 6 feet 2 and weighs 195 pounds, did not explain his action to investigators, court documents say.
He and the girl exchanged words. Brunner said she was "real lippy" after being informed she was under arrest and called them "fat pigs."
The Sheriff's Office policy manual says deputies should use physical or deadly force only when "necessary to effect an arrest, to defend themselves or others from violence, or to otherwise accomplish police duties according to law."
Schene could face up to a year in jail if convicted. He has been on administrative leave since early December.
The girl said that she couldn't breathe after the incident, prompting the deputies to call paramedics.
Paramedics decided that she didn't require hospitalization. Felony charges require proof of serious injury.
"If the matter were to go to trial, he could face additional charges," said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff in the Prosecutor's Office.
In his own report from the incident, Schene wrote that the shoe hit him in the right shin, "causing injury and pain." He wrote that he "placed" her into handcuffs and that she needed medical attention for a "panic attack."
He said a "blood filled pocket" formed on his shin, requiring treatment at Auburn General Hospital, according to his report. The video, however, appears to show his shin strike a metal toilet as he pushes the girl against the wall.
The girl told investigators that she didn't intend for the shoe to hit him, court documents say.
Schene had previously been in the news in 2006 after he fatally shot Pedro Jo, a mentally ill man, during a struggle after a traffic stop on Interstate 5. It was the second officer-involved shooting of his career.
An inquest jury ruled the shooting was justified. Jo viciously attacked Schene, trying to strangle him with his own radio cord.
Jo then ran back to his car and disobeyed Schene's orders to stop. Schene said he saw Jo reach for something in the seat, so Schene fired 11 times after Jo ran back to his car.
Shortly after the shooting while on administrative leave, Schene was stopped for driving under the influence.
He had been drinking and taking prescription medication, according to court records. He received a deferred sentence and was placed on probation, records show.
Schene works in an urban precinct with higher rates of violent crime and gang activity than other precincts. Officers assigned there more often report having to use physical force in arrest situations, Laing said.
Schene is the second officer from the precinct in three months to face charges. In addition, a third deputy, Brian Bonnar, was acquitted in January of civil rights violations during a trial in U.S. District Court. Bonnar, who patrolled in the precinct, was accused by other deputies of using excessive force on a woman who'd been restrained after a high-speed pursuit.
Legal costs for Bonnar's private attorneys, David Allen and Todd Maybrown, as well as lawyer costs for other deputies involved, cost the county's insurer $315,000, according to records the P-I obtained.
In December, Deputy Don Griffee was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching a handcuffed male suspect. The state Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case.
P-I reporter Scott Gutierrez can be reached at 206-903-5396 or email@example.com.
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Addendum: Officer Schene has been fired.
Deputy accused in jail beating fired
01:39 PM PDT on Monday, September 28, 2009, By KING5.com Staff
SEATTLE - A King County sheriff's deputy accused of beating a 15-year-old girl in a holding cell has been fired, the Sheriff's Dept. reports.
Sheriff Sue Rahr fired Deputy Paul Schene for a list of policy violations, including Excessive or Unnecessary Use of Force, Making False or Fraudulent Statement or Inducing Others to Do So and Conduct that is Criminal in Nature.
In February, the Sheriff’s Office released a jail video that showed a confrontation between Schene and the girl.
The video shows the young auto theft suspect in a holding cell at SeaTac City Hall on Nov. 29, 2008. The girl is seen being led into the cell, then kicking her left shoe out the door in the direction of Schene and another deputy.
Two deputies are then seen storming into the cell. The girl ends up facing a wall next to the toilet. Schene is then seen apparently pulling the girl’s hair as she falls to the ground, face first.
It then appears that Schene hits the girl twice while she is on the ground.
The teen is then handcuffed. It appears Schene picks up the girl by her hair and leads her out of the cell.
Another detective following up on the alleged car theft viewed the video and reported what happened to her superiors.
The video was released by court order based on a legal request by KING 5 News.
Schene has pleaded not guilty to fourth-degree assault.