Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.



More recent news

Stories Wanted

June 30, 2009 permalink

John Dunn says a reporter is looking for stories related to child welfare.

Anyone who has a child welfare related story may wish to contact Sonia Verma of the Globe and Mail as she is working on a story related to child welfare services and accountability.

She can be contacted at and by phone at 416.585.5761

The Council is eagerly looking forward to this report.

Source: email from John Dunn

Homosexual Adopts Boy for Sex

June 30, 2009 permalink

Frank Lombard, a homosexual who lives with a male partner, is a licensed clinical social worker with a master's degree in social work, a health-disparities researcher who studies HIV/AIDS for Duke University, holds the title associate director of Duke's Center for Health Policy, and is the adoptive father of two black boys. He prefers black boys because they are easier to adopt. When his partner was out of town, Lombard drugged one of the boys with Benadryl and used him for sex. He appeared in an internet chat room identifying himself as perv dad for fun. In a sting operation, Mr Lombard offered his five-year-old boy to an undercover detective for sex. He was arrested on June 24.

Because this case is so politically incorrect, the press reports the facts discreetly. Enclosed is the report of the John Birch Society, which brings most of the facts together in one place. This is not the kind of love that is beneficial to the child.



A Real Duke Rape Case

Written by Selwyn Duke, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 15:15

Frank Lombard

We all remember the infamous Duke University rape frame-up case, in which three white lacrosse players were falsely accused of raping a black female stripper. It was front-page news coast to coast, as it had all the elements of a mainstream-media cause célèbre: the perfect victim and the perfect villains, a “downtrodden” black woman of modest means and three “privileged” white college boys. Thus did the hard-left alliance of media, academia, and a Democrat prosecutor try its best to lynch the three, and if the stripper’s story hadn’t changed with the wind, the students could very well be sitting in prison currently.

But now we have a real Duke rape case, and one that largely conforms to the above narrative. Frank Lombard, Duke’s associate director of the Center for Health Policy, faces federal criminal charges for offering his adopted five-year-old adopted son for sex. Where are the parallels? Lombard is white and well-to-do while his victim, the son, is black (Lombard also has a second adopted son, who is black as well).

Yet there are also differences. One is that, unlike the tenuous lacrosse-player case, authorities have Lombard dead to rights. Writes the blog Self Evident Truths:

The arrest warrant states that a person, later identified as Lombard, used video chat on the internet to perfom [sic] sex acts on a child under the age of ten.... The complaint says Lombard's chat room ID lists him as "perv dad for fun."

The warrant states that an astute police detective contacted Lombard through Yahoo! Instant Messenger. Lombard admitted performing sexual acts on his adopted five year old son. He wrote that he would drug the boy with Benadryl before molesting him. He admitted that he waited to molest the boy until his partner was out of town.

The warrant continues describing the next day, when Lombard offered his five year old to the detective to perform sex acts on him. The detective said he lived out of state, making the solicitation a federal offense.

There are also other differences between the cases. One is that there is no reason to expect the media to do anything but bury this story posthaste. Why? Because, despite the aforementioned parallels, it doesn’t completely accord with today’s favored victimizer/victim narrative, as Lombard is a homosexual, making the victim a child who was adopted by a homosexual. Thus, while Lombard’s sexual inclination alone is enough to make the effluent-stream media treat this case with the “utmost discretion,” there is an additional factor: disseminate the facts of the crime enough, and people just may get the crazy notion that it’s lunacy to let homosexuals adopt children, especially little boys. So you’ve just got to watch the information you put in the yahoos’ heads.

Not surprisingly, this double standard is already apparent in the reportage. In the Duke lacrosse case, not only was the story front page, but an accuser of the easiest virtue was painted in the best light. For example, the stripper was often called an “exotic dancer,” which is much like calling a prostitute an exotic blind date. In contrast, now the mainstream media seem most reluctant to reveal Lombard’s homosexuality or the adopted victim’s race.

So, as far as how this story will most likely unfold, there are four things I cannot envision happening. First, I don’t foresee Duke’s administration and faculty coming out as a lynch mob and convicting Lombard in the court of public opinion. Second, don’t expect Jesse Jackson et al. to venture to Durham County and play the race card like a Vegas high roller, even though this case lends itself perfectly to it. A white man who adopts a black boy to keep as a sex slave, anyone?

Next, at risk of being redundant, don’t hold your breath waiting for the mainstream stream media to get on board; like the National Organization for Women, with its deafening silence regarding the savaging of Sarah Palin and women’s plight in Moslem nations, they care not about little victims but leftist agendas.

Lastly, the News & Observer tells us that Lombard is “a licensed clinical social worker with a master's degree in social work, [and] is a health-disparities researcher who studies HIV/AIDS in the rural South” (read: professional victimologist). So, not that any more evidence of his ideological persuasion was necessary, but it’s obvious that the man is thoroughly liberal in his professional life — and libertine in his personal life. Yet don’t expect the purveyors of pablum to be point this out, either.

Speaking of the race card, the hierarchy of victim groups is much like a deck of cards: black is a good hand, but it’s trumped by female. And, it appears, homosexual trumps everything.

Source: The New American

No Progress in 120 Years

June 30, 2009 permalink

A Los Angeles Times blog posts a photocopy of a newspaper column dated June 30, 1889 with two child protection stories, both glorifying the work of Humane Officer Wright. Baby snatchers then tugged on the same heart-strings as today, but at least they used real names.




A Little Fellow Whose Lot is Not a Happy One.

A day or two ago it was reported at the East Side station that Mrs. Noles, who lives at No. 128 South Workman street, had an adopted boy about 3 years old that she was in the habit of abusing, beating him cruelly with a buggy-whip and otherwise mistreating him. The person who made the report would not give his name, but said that all the neighbors knew about the case and would give any desired information about it.

The case was referred to Humane Officer Wright for investigation, who found that the child is the little son of old George Westfall, how in San Queutin, who attempted to murder the little fellow in the old tunnel above the Buena Vista-street bridge about a year ago. The case caused a great deal of excitement at the time, but this finally subsided, and nothing more was thought of it. The Noles adopted the child, taking it from the Orphans' Home, where it had been placed by the Humane Society, and he has since lived with them. Officer Wright examined the child carefully, and found a number of bruises on his body, but the Noles denied that they had been made by beating. Noles said that they had corrected the child, as any parents would, but said that be had never used a buggy-whip to chastise it; in fact, did not own such a thing. Several of the neighbors, however, insist that Mrs. Noles has been seen to beat the child, and to keep the chastisement up for hours at a time. The officer will look into the case further before determining what course to pursue.

Rescued from Her Mother.

Several days ago Humane Officer Wright, on the complaint of several people in the neighborhood, took the younger Huff girl away front her mother and placed her in the Orphans' Home. The child is a bright little thing about 5 years of age, and it was thought to be a pity to have her go the way of her elder sister, now serving a term in the reformatory at San Francisco, after having been frequently locked up in the City Prison and County Jail in this city. Besides, the child's mother is still living in the same house with the man Miller, who was the cause of all the trouble between the woman and her husband, and for these reasons it was believed best to take the child from under her control. Yesterday Mrs. Huff called on Mr. Wright and demanded her child again, saying that she intended to leave the city and locate in another State. Mr. Wright declined to give up the child, and will fight the case, if it is necessary, to keep her from falling into the mother's hands.

Source: Los Angeles Times June 30, 2009
citing unnamed newspaper dated June 30, 1889

Michael Jackson R.I.P.

June 29, 2009 permalink

The death of Michael Jackson got John Dunn to opine on love for unwanted children. He grew up without affection himself and cannot fault Michael Jackson for extending love to children. When growing up in foster care, an adult trying to love you is one of your smallest problems. Press reports that Michael Jackson's wife Debbie Rowe bore two children without having sexual relations suggest not a sex fiend, but impotence. Maybe it's time to recognize that not all love for children is harmful to the child. A slightly edited version of John Dunn's comments is enclosed.



June 26, 2009

I was shocked when I heard about Michaels sudden death. The first cassette tape I ever got was Micheal Jackson's thriller. I got it from my best friend at the time, Dean Tapp. (1981-3?) I loved his music, and knew very little about him as a person. As I got older, and kept loving his music, I realized he had been abused by things I heard and read, right down to his own father calling him a dirty little "Nigger", beatings, and probably years of verbal and physical abuse, and now, I learned he was even whipped by his father.

As I grew older, I realized how dedicated to children Micheal was. About the whole sleeping with the kids, I am mixed on it. If it was all above board, clothed and not alone without other adults, maybe ok, but I really believe he was pure intentioned, wanted the kids to know they were loved etc.

I mean, in my whole life in foster care, I was never shown any affection that I can remember. No talks at night, no bed time stories, no hugging, nothing. My life was quite empty that way. So I think he was trying to show he loved the kids more than anything, regardless of their terminal and other illnesses. He was nothing more than a child himself. As the report I saw last night, a man trying at a second chance to be kid again.

Anyhow, an amazing person was lost, and I too am mourning the loss of this great person. A kind, caring, silly, odd, and giving man from soo many personal accounts of people who knew him. A boy, trapped in the body of a man.

Rest in Peace Michael and thank-you for your many decades of entertainment and emotional release through your powerful lyrics, music and videos.

Source: email to afterfostercare group

Wikipedia on CAS

June 29, 2009 permalink

Wikipedia has an article on the Children's Aid Society (Canada), written almost entirely from the critic's point of view. After Jeanette Lewis shares in editing, it may sound a lot more tame. The current version is preserved in a local copy, including a citation of fixcas.

Canadian communist flag


June 27, 2009 permalink

Washington DSHS has flip-flopped (again) on Lilly/Madison. This time she is going back to paternal great-grandma.



Saturday, June 27, 2009

DSHS Does A "Cruel Lilly-Flip" (Now We Have A Name For The Game)

Cruel Lilly-Flip v (2009): The DSHS act of luring relatives into thinking they will be treated fairly and then moving forward with the taking of a child. An action without warning. Committed by DSHS with motivation. 1. to show power over financially strained relatives, 2. retaliate against relatives who dare fight to keep their kids, 3. cover-up departmental mistakes or wrongdoings, 4. move quickly to place child in a promised location, 5. establish the need for more government clock hours, 6. reap more federal dollars. Always unnecessarily hurtful. Part of a stream of actions designed to hurt primary caregivers. SYN CHANGE UP, DOUBLE CROSS, SCREW JOB.

Well, at least there is a name for it.

On Tuesday of this week the department went out to the grandparents for a new study. The grandparents were delighted. The first study made them out to be thieves, etc.

On Wednesday I met with Sec. Susan Dreyfus about CPS in general...but this case did come up and I thanked her for the fact that there was a new study being done. (She had all the paperwork on the case in front of her.) I also stated that since there were no accusations of harm to Lilly that she never should have been taken in the first place. And, that that general issue needed to be addressed within the department.

On Friday, during a one hour visit with Lilly, I received a call from Lilly's grandmother. She was in tears. The social worker said Lilly would not be able to speak for 2 minutes on the phone with her mother as she had done on all other visits. And...Lilly told her grandmother that she now has a new name. And, she has been learning how to write the name. The name is that of the paternal great-grandparents.

You know...if you are going to take the child (who was not abused in any way and there were no accusation of abuse) how bad is it to undertake another home study (because the first one was either done by an incompetent or done with the specific purpose in mind of taking the child to give to a predetermined "other" person)...and to then be able to cover your ass by now being able to say..."Well, Senator Roach, we did correct the home study," but in reality have already made the decision?

You look at what they do...not believe what they say.

Posted by State Senator Pam Roach at 6:05 AM

Source: Pam Roach blog June 27, 2009

More Reason to Steal Kids

June 27, 2009 permalink

Toronto researcher Esme Fuller-Thomson has found that child abuse increases the likelihood of cancer later in life.

Many scientific studies produce improbable conclusions, later found to be incorrect because of methodological error or bad luck in the sample. Maybe that will be the case with this result, or maybe more research will find the element responsible for the connection. Either way, semi-literate social workers will soon be arriving in homes to ask about cancer in the family. Affirmative responses will establish a family history of child abuse justifying child removal. If the study results are correct, wait for a future cancer epidemic among foster graduates.



child abuse linked to cancer
One theory suggests that ongoing stress in childhood permanently damages the immune system.

Intriguing study links childhood abuse to cancer News Staff

Updated: Thu. Jun. 25 2009 2:22 PM ET

Adults who experienced physical abuse as children seem to be more likely to go on to develop cancer, according to University of Toronto researchers.

The study, to be published July 15 in the journal Cancer, found that childhood physical abuse is associated with a stunning 49 per cent increased risk of cancer in adulthood.

Esme Fuller-Thomson
Principal researcher Esme Fuller-Thomson shares her findings with CTV News.

Many childhood abuse survivors face a lifetime of problems and sometimes substance abuse. But this study took into account major health factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and lack of physical activity, and still found a strong link between abuse and cancer.

The study used data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey, focusing on the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Of the 13,092 respondents, 7.4 per cent reported they had been physically abused as a child by someone close to them, and 5.7 per cent reported that they had been diagnosed with cancer by a health professional.

Childhood physical abuse was associated with 49 per cent higher odds of cancer. The odds ratio decreased only slightly to 47 per cent higher odds when the numbers were adjusted to account for unhealthy adult behaviors, socioeconomic status, and other stressors during childhood, such as divorce.

Principal researcher Esme Fuller-Thomson of U of T's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Department of Family and Community Medicine says she was rather shocked by her own findings.

"I was totally surprised that that relationship was so strong," she told CTV News. "So there is something going on, but right now it is a black box. It is a question mark right now."

Fuller-Thomson says there are many possible reasons why physical abuse might increase the risk of cancer, though they are just theories.

One is that perpetual stress that an abused child experiences raises levels of the "fight or flight" hormone, cortisol. Elevated levels of the hormone might inhibit the immune system's ability to detect and destroy cancer cells.

"With every stressor, you respond with a huge amount of this hormone which sends your heart beat up and can cause suppression of your immune system," Fuller-Thomson explained. "And so that is one potential hypothesis."

Diana Ermel, president of the Canadian Breast Cancer Network worries that the study will add to the stress that many childhood cancer survivors carry with them.

"People who are often already suffering from the effects of childhood abuse have yet another fearful kind of thing put in front of them. it just adds to any sort of suffering that they might have and it is an unnecessary fear," she says.

Ermel notes that even if the data are right and childhood abuse survivors do have a higher risk of cancer, the absolute risk of any one person developing cancer is still small.

"It's just going to add to the burden of possible long-term side effects that they're already suffering with that they may think, 'Oh gee, now i'm going to get cancer.""

Fuller-Thomson stresses the findings need to be replicated in other larger studies before anyone could say that abuse is a risk factor for cancer. She says more research is needed to explain the higher cancer rates her study found and to better understand what mechanisms might be involved.

"Most people who are physically abused are actually healthy and cope well, but some people may be more vulnerable," says Fuller-Thomson.

"It warrants further research."

With a report from CTV medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip

Source: CTV

No Information about CAS

June 27, 2009 permalink

On June 4, 2009 John Dunn sent a freedom of information request to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. You can read our copy of the request to Mary Lou Daniels (MS-Word), or view it at the link in the expanded article. The Ministry has denied the entire application. Reason? The requests are separate, and each is subject to its own $5 fee.

If the Ministry really meant this, they would have granted one of the requests (already paid for), and withheld the others pending payment of the fees. By rejecting all of them, they have by their actions repudiated their stated reason. Mr Dunn can proceed either by coming up with larger fees, or restricting his requests to just one item. Either way, the Ministry will find another reason for refusal next time. It is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to get official information about children's aid.



Friday, June 26, 2009

Ontario Ministry Denies FIPPA REQUEST

Ontario's Ministry of Children and Youth Services has denied all 28 items in a FIPPA request claiming the following.

The items listed in the original request are not related to each other, therefore the Ministry asserts that each item is therefore a separate FIPPA request which would require a separate $5.00 FIPPA fee to be paid for each part of the request because they would have to search several of their offices and regional offices for the information.

According to Order P-880, Adjudicator Anita Fineberg determined that records which are responsive to the request must reasonably relate to the request, not to each other as the Ministry has asserted. In the order, she states the following:

In my view, the need for an institution to determine which documents are relevant to a request is a fundamental first step in responding to the request. It is an integral part of any decision by a head. The request itself sets out the boundaries of relevancy and circumscribes the records which will ultimately be identified as being responsive to the request. I am of the view that, in the context of freedom of information legislation, "relevancy" must mean "responsiveness". That is, by asking whether information is "relevant" to a request, one is really asking whether it is "responsive" to a request. While it is admittedly difficult to provide a precise definition of "relevancy" or "responsiveness", I believe that the term describes anything that is reasonably related to the request.

Purpose of Original Request

The purpose of the original request was clearly stated as follows, and all of the records requested reasonably relate to the original request.

As it is in the public interest for the citizen's of Ontario to understand the way in which the Ontario Government, through the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (the ministry) spends tax payer's money in the administration of its duties to the province's most vulnerable members of the public, children and families affected by child protection services the Foster Care Council of Canada would like to request from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services/Community and Social Services (as they share the same records storage facilities) the numbered list of requests on the following pages.

Original Request here

The Council will determine shortly how to deal with this matter.

Posted by afterfostercare at 2:53 PM

Source: afterfostercare news

pass a camel through the eye of a needle

Gays! Lesbians!
Adopt Kids from CAS!
It's Free!

June 26, 2009 permalink

The Torontoist alerts gays and lesbians to opportunities for adoption. Children's aid supplies children to same-sex couples without charge. This is the preferred source for children, since no international organization will release a child to a foreign same-sex couple and natural parents will usually balk at releasing their child for same-sex adoption. No need to mention that most of the children were seized from mom and dad, or a single mom, by force of arms. Since it has lots of pictures, the article is on a separate page, Family, Valued.

Victims of Satan Released

June 25, 2009 permalink

A wave of hysteria two decades ago led to the conviction of hundreds of persons for satanic abuse of young children in daycare. We thought Gerald Amirault, released in 2004, was the last prisoner still serving time for satanic abuse, but Ohio has just released two more, Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen, after fifteen years behind bars.

Enclosed below are two articles from the Elyria Ohio Chronicle-Telegram and three photographs of Nancy Smith from other sources, before, during and after her ordeal. Releasing a grandmother does little to undo the damage caused by jailing the single mother of four children.



Judge acquits Smith and Allen in Head Start case

Brad Dicken

ELYRIA — Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen have proclaimed their innocence in the controversial Head Start child molestation case for 16 years and on Wednesday, a judge finally agreed with them.

“I have absolutely no confidence that these verdicts are correct,” Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge said before acquitting Smith and Allen of the charges that had kept them imprisoned from 1994 until earlier this year.

Cheers erupted from the few supporters of Smith and Allen who had accompanied the pair to what was expected to be a status conference to discuss the case.

Smith clamped a hand over her mouth as the weight of Burge’s decision registered with her. Later she said she just went “blank.”

“I couldn’t believe I was hearing that,” she said, still emotional as she discussed the case later in the day at the Lorain offices of her attorney, Jack Bradley.

The alleged crime

Smith, now 52, was a Head Start bus driver for the Lorain County Community Action Agency when the allegations against her surfaced in 1993. She was accused of taking the 4- and 5-year-old students who rode her bus to the Lorain home of Joseph Allen, a convicted sex offender.

The pair would molest, threaten and perform horrific sexual acts on the children, according to prosecutors.

Both Allen, now 56, and Smith said they didn’t even know each other and denied any wrongdoing.

The first Lorain police detective assigned to the case, Tom Cantu, now a sheriff’s deputy in Las Vegas, said Wednesday that he never believed that Smith was guilty of anything based on his investigation and told his superiors that no charges were warranted in the case.

He was later promoted, and the case reassigned. The new detectives, Cantu said, were under tremendous pressure to charge someone in the case.

“They were feeling pressure from the public,” he said, adding that in the early 1990s there was a climate of fear over child molesters in the United States.

Burge said Wednesday as he explained his decision to acquit the pair — just months after he had agreed to resentence them because of an error in their sentencing entries — that the detectives, social workers and parents of the alleged victims, though well-meaning, ended up convicting two people without enough evidence.

The interview techniques used by police when talking to the children were highly suggestive, Burge said, echoing a longtime complaint of Smith’s and Allen’s supporters.

Bradley said the interviews were so tainted that many of the children initially couldn’t even identify Allen as the man they accused of molesting them.


Bradley and K. Ronald Bailey, Allen’s attorney, said they hadn’t expected Burge to acquit their clients at Wednesday’s hearing.

Bailey said he only told Allen to show up for the hearing because he feared his client — who, like Smith, has been placed on the county’s list of registered sex offenders — might be arrested if he wasn’t there.

Bradley said he thought Burge wanted to discuss how a resentencing hearing for Smith set for early next month would be handled.

Even as he sat listening to Burge lay out his rationale for acquitting Smith and Allen, Bailey said he could hardly believe what he was hearing.

“Once he said ‘judgment of acquittal,’ I thought, ‘We’re done. It’s over,’ ” Bailey said.

As they made their way from Burge’s courtroom to a bank of elevators in the county Justice Center, Smith and Allen’s supporters cried, exchanged hugs and praised Burge.

Allen said he never lost his faith that he would be exonerated.

“Thank God,” he said. “I’m free at last, free at last.”

Jury’s view

Edward Minney, one of the jurors who convicted Smith and Allen in their 1994 trial, said he agreed with Burge that there were problems with the case.

He said after he learned about the taped interviews of the children that he and his fellow jurors never saw, he began to question whether the jury made the right decision.

“So much evidence was suppressed,” he said.

Minney said he’s long been convinced he and the other jurors made a mistake that sent Smith to prison for 30 to 90 years and ultimately netted Allen five consecutive life sentences.

“I really feel bad that we convicted them,” Minney said. “… We should have been more questioning.”

It’s an opinion not shared by another juror, who asked that her name not be used.

She said she stands by her vote to convict in 1994.

“To all of us we felt there was enough evidence,” she said.

Acquittal & appeals

County Prosecutor Dennis Will said he still doesn’t believe that Burge had the authority to even consider resentencing the pair.

Burge’s decision earlier this year to resentence Smith and Allen hinged on an error his predecessor on the bench, retired Judge Lynett McGough, made when completing the sentencing entries in the case. Will concedes a mistake was made but argues that it should have been dealt with by a new sentencing entry.

The 9th District Court of Appeals dismissed Will’s appeal, which Burge said Wednesday allowed him to move forward with the resentencing and also to review the entire case.

Bradley and Bailey had both planned to ask for Burge to give their clients new trials.

Burge said his reading of the trial transcript and watching the interviews of the alleged victims as he prepared to send Smith and Allen back to prison convinced him to grant an old motion for acquittal — known in legal circles as a Rule 29 motion — that that was filed during the trial.

But Will said that just because Burge read the case doesn’t mean he knows the entire story.

“Reviewing the record is different than sitting through the whole trial,” he said.

Will said he’s always been open to reviewing any new evidence that would clear Smith and Allen but has never seen any.

Will and U.S. Magistrate Judge Greg White, who was Lorain County prosecutor when the case went to trial, said both Allen and Smith’s convictions went through the appeals process twice and were always upheld.

White said he couldn’t comment on the details of the case because of his current position, but he did wonder how Burge reached his decision.

“I’m at a total loss to explain this from a procedure standpoint,” White said.

Will said he will have to review Burge’s decision and will likely appeal.

K. Ronald Bailey, Allen’s lawyer, and Bradley both said that even if prosecutors win their appeal it won’t affect their clients now that Burge has acquitted them.

Will said he has to review that as well.

Looking back…

Joe Grunda, Allen’s trial attorney, said Allen never should have been convicted based on the evidence presented by former Chief Assistant County Prosecutor Jonathon Rosenbaum.

“I’m glad Burge had the intestinal fortitude to do something like that,” Grunda said.

Cantu said he too was pleased by Burge’s decision, but he never gave up hope that Smith would be exonerated.

“I knew it was going to happen, but I didn’t know when,” he said. “I’m just sorry it took so long.”

Rosenbaum, McGough and Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera did not return calls seeking comment.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

Source: Chronicle-Telegram Elyria Ohio

Nancy Smith in 1993
Nancy Smith in 1993
Nancy Smith in prison
Undated picture of Nancy Smith in prison with four children
Nancy Smith in 2009
Nancy Smith in 2009

1990s sex abuse hysteria helped fuel Head Start allegations

Lisa Roberson

When horrific allegations of sexual abuse were leveled against Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen in the early 1990s, it was a different time.

There had been a wave of hysteria across the nation as cases with names like McMartin Preschool in California, Fells Acres in Massachusetts and Little Rascals in North Carolina were pressed against day care owners and child care workers accusing them of sexually molesting children in their care.

Those cases still were dominating the headlines when allegations surfaced in Lorain that Smith, a Head Start bus driver, drove preschoolers in the program to the Lorain home owned by Allen, where the children said they were sexually abused.

Even though both repeatedly said the accusations were false — they didn’t even know each other, they protested — police pieced together a criminal case.

The trial of the single mother of four and the unemployed man was sensational and emotional — the evidence convincing enough for the jury to deliver guilty verdicts, yet shaky enough to leave lingering doubts.

Those doubts prompted The Chronicle-Telegram’s Paul Facinelli to review the case, examining how it was investigated, how the children were questioned and what evidence was gathered.

For three consecutive years starting in 1996, Facinelli — with an assist by another Chronicle writer, Pam McMillan — dissected the case and provided readers details that the jurors never knew.

The first series focused on how Lorain police dealt with the child witnesses. Often they were questioned without being videotaped, and sometimes their parents were present and allowed to answer police questions for their children.

The second series revealed that the children had difficulty picking Allen out of a lineup. One boy was given 12 different opportunities to pick out Allen and failed each time.

The third series focused on the credibility of an adult witness who was a drug addict with federal drug convictions on her record.

Later, the case was the subject of an episode of the Discovery Channel series “Guilty or Innocent?”

But Smith and Allen remained behind bars. Their appeals failed each time, and the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

It wasn’t until Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge James Burge, who soon after his election developed a reputation for his less-than-conventional approach to his job, took on the case that a glimmer of hope surfaced.

Burge initially ordered Smith and Allen out of prison — granting them bond after determining that a sentencing mistake in the initial case gave him the ability to resentence them.

That reversal, which took the case back 15 years to when the pair were convicted and awaiting sentencing, gave Burge the opening he needed Wednesday, when he determined the convictions weren’t warranted and should be tossed out.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or

Source: Chronicle-Telegram Elyria Ohio

Addendum: Back to jail.



Sticklers for Procedure

Ohio's Supreme Court reverses an acquittal in yet another outrageous sex abuse prosecution.

It would be difficult to cite a more shameful episode in the history of America's criminal justice system than the pedophilia panic of the 1980s and '90s. Police, prosecutors, and social workers all over the country were overcome by hysteria about the supposed proliferation of ritual sex abuse, a fear fed by a new movement of quack, Christian fundamentalist psychologists. Although dozens of convictions have been overturned, we are nowhere near uncovering all the damage wrought by this panic. The case of Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen shows how the same criminal justice system that rushed to convict innocent people can take decades to recognize and correct its mistakes.

Smith, a bus driver, and Allen, an unemployed laborer, were imprisoned from 1994 to 2009 after they were convicted of bizarre and grotesque crimes against children at a Head Start school in Lorain, Ohio, where Smith worked. Prosecutors alleged that Smith, a single mother of four, routinely kept several children on the bus after dropping the rest off at school. They said she would take the remaining children to Allen's home, or possibly somewhere else, where the two adults would molest the children, rape them, put them through all sorts of outlandish and perverted rituals, then clean them up, dress them, and put them back on the bus in time for Smith's evening route. (She had a second job delivering Meals on Wheels in the afternoon.) Smith was sentenced to 30 to 90 years in prison, while Allen received five consecutive life sentences.

In 2009 Smith's and Allen's attorneys challenged their sentences on technical grounds related to the wording of the sentencing orders. Most observers expected Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge James Burge (who was not the judge who had presided over the trial) to correct the error and resentence Smith and Allen to the same prison terms. But Burge reviewed Smith and Allen's case files while preparing for the hearing and was appalled by the lack of evidence against them. Instead of resentencing Smith and Allen, Burge stunned the courtroom by acquitting them and ordering their release.

Prosecutors challenged Burge's decision, and last month the Ohio Supreme Court ordered Smith and Allen back to prison after two years of freedom, finding that Burge had exceeded his authority. The court ruled that Burge should have considered only the sentencing error, not Smith and Allen's guilt or innocence. Unlike Burge, the court did not review the evidence against Smith and Allen; its ruling was strictly about procedure. Smith and Allen have been permitted to remain free while their attorneys ask the court to reconsider its decision.

I don't know Ohio criminal procedure, so I'm not qualified to comment on the quality of the court's legal analysis. Commenting on the case at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh writes that reversing a judge-ordered acquittal does not violate the U.S. Constitution's Double Jeopardy Clause. But like a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that overturned a lower court's finding of actual innocence in a sex abuse case because the defendant's attorney had missed a deadline to file the claim, the Ohio Supreme Court's ruling starkly illustrates the difference between law and justice.

It is impossible to adequately convey the outrage perpetrated on Smith and Allen in a single column. (This long but compelling Crime Magazine article tells the story in great detail.) But here are the highlights.

There isn't a single piece of physical evidence against Smith or Allen. There were no hairs or bodily fluids from either of them on the children who allegedly were abused, or vice versa. There were no medical examinations of the children that found evidence of physical abuse. Prosecutors could provide jurors with no specific dates when the abuse allegedly occurred (denying Smith and Allen the chance to provide alibis), nor could they specify where it occurred. At one point in the trial the prosecutors alleged that Smith drove the children to Allen's home, and they attempted to show that one child could identify items seized from Allen's home after he was arrested. But when defense attorneys poked holes in that story—noting, for example, that prosecutors could find no one who had seen Smith's bus parked at Allen's home—the prosecutors changed their story, saying the abuse must have taken place somewhere else.

Smith and Allen claimed then, and still claim, that they had never met before they were arrested. The prosecution presented two witnesses in an attempt to link the defendants to each other. One was a child who claimed to have seen them together at a bus stop. But that child was at one point also supposed to testify as a victim. The problem for prosecutors: He alleged that Smith and another woman, not Allen, had abused him. So they didn't ask him about the alleged abuse. The other testimony linking Smith and Allen came from a Head Start employee who claimed to have seen Allen arguing with Smith after trying to board her bus. But a Head Start parent remembered that incident and said it was he, not Allen, who got into the argument with Smith.

The case got started when the mother of a Head Start student claimed her daughter told her that Smith and someone named Joseph had sexually abused her. Detective Tom Cantu of the Lorrain Police Department's Youth and Gang Unit interviewed the child, her mother, Smith, and Head Start employees. He found no evidence to support the allegations. But the mother persisted. She went to the press and started talking about the allegations to other Head Start parents. Rumors circulated. Soon the mayor and the Lorain County Prosecutor's Office got involved. The mother initially said Joseph was a white man (Joseph Allen is black) who owned a local gay bar (homophobia often factored into false ritual sex abuse allegations). When that suspect was cleared, the search for the "real" Joseph was on.

Six months after the initial allegations, Joseph Allen walked into a police station to report that his car had been stolen. An officer who had worked on the sex abuse investigation looked up Allen's criminal record and found that he had pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a minor several years earlier. (Allen says he was falsely accused by the girl's mother after the two had a failed relationship.) Never mind that police had initially been looking for a white man and had no way of connecting Allen to Smith. Here was a Joseph with a prior sex crime conviction. The panic was on. New alleged victims came forward, and Allen was arrested.

Almost none of the alleged victims could identify Allen. In police reports and taped interviews that defense attorneys either never saw or saw only the day before the child witnesses testified, child after child failed to pick Allen out of police lineups, despite persistent prodding by investigators. Incredibly, prosecutors spun this inability to identify Allen as proof of his guilt. The children, they said, were afraid of him, so they were afraid to look at him or to point him out. Of course, the few children who did identify Allen were also presented as evidence of his guilt.

Interview tapes show investigators leading children with their questioning, refusing to accept denials, and urging the children to help them protect other children by identifying their attackers. One psychiatrist asked to review the tapes told a local newspaper: "If these interviews were the basis of testimony on which people were convicted, it is an affront to justice. If people were convicted, it was on profoundly tainted testimony."

Head Start records showed that many of the children who alleged repeated abuse had perfect or near-perfect attendance records throughout the period when they supposedly were forced to participate in depraved orgies during school hours. Other Head Start employees gave testimony showing how implausible it was for these abuse rituals to have occurred without anyone—parents, teacher, neighbors, or administrators—noticing.

Prosecutors dismissed all of this testimony as attempts by Head Start employees to stave off a lawsuit against them and their employer. And it's true that the mother who first came forward with allegations was already preparing to sue. Another was also facing a criminal investigation of her own; she was suspected of getting illegal prescriptions for painkillers from a dentist.

In the end, Smith and Allen were convicted because jurors simply did not believe that so many innocent children (four in all) could make up such lurid tales of abuse. One juror would later explain, "I don't think [the children] could have gone into detail like that if they were lying."

If this case is like other wrongful ritual sex abuse convictions, the Lorain jurors were right. The children didn't make up those stories; the adults did. The preposterous fantasies in these cases—which have included horrific accounts of cannibalism, ritual murder, penetrating children with knives, and forced sex between children and animals—sprang from the minds of parents, cops, prosecutors, and child psychologists charged with protecting the kids.

The district attorney who oversaw the Lorain investigation, Greg White, later served as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and is now a federal magistrate. The assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, an aggressive rising star named Jonathan Rosenbaum, forced the resignation of local newspaper columnist Paul Facinelli after Facinelli wrote a series of hard-hitting columns and reports questioning the Smith and Allen convictions. In 2002 Rosenbaum himself was asked to resign after several controversial sex abuse cases, including one in which he charged a woman for photographing her 8-year-old daughter in the bathtub and another in which he pursued a case based on allegations gleaned from now-discredited "recovered memory" therapy. (In 2008 Rosenbaum was paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot by his son in a hunting accident.)

It may be true that Judge Burge exceeded his authority in ordering acquittals for Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen. But so did White and Rosenbaum by prosecuting them in the first place. Although the prosecutors failed to turn exculpatory evidence over to Smith's and Allen's attorneys, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the convictions in 1996. Because the bar for winning a new trial is set so high, appeals courts tend to dismiss such state misconduct as "harmless error." When prosecutors break the rules in their pursuit of a conviction, it's a harmless error. But when a judge, outraged at the appallingly weak case that put two apparently innocent people in prison, reaches beyond his authority to correct the injustice, the forgiving appeals courts suddenly become sticklers for procedure.

Source: Reason

Kangaroo Courts

June 24, 2009 permalink

Robert Freedland at kangaroo court
Robert Freedland stands outside of Sheppard Ave. courthouse in his kangaroo costume to forewarn people about Ontario’s Kangaroo Justice

Canada Court Watch has followed the details of the case of Robert Freedland. He has been assessed outrageous costs for defending himself, and has received court transcripts strongly at variance with his recollection of the proceedings. In follow-up requests for original records, the courts have reacted in the manner of a party with something to hide. Here is the report, Kangaroo protest against corruption and cover-up inside Toronto courthouse (pdf).

Secrecy Harms Families

June 24, 2009 permalink

A retired child protector in British Columbia comments on the effect of secrecy in family courts. The three children he refers to sound like the Bayne family, reported previously on February 7, 2009 and April 3, 2009.



Secrecy helps trample parents' rights

Ray Ferris, Times Colonist, Sunday, June 21, 2009

The keystone of child protection should be to ensure that children can be made safe at home, or in care.

Children enter care for many reasons other than neglect or abuse. Some are simply unwanted, delinquent, with special needs or whose parents are temporarily disabled. When young children enter care, early planning is essential so that stable life plans can be ensured.

In contested cases, it is important to have good factual evidence. This means direct eyewitness evidence and not the opinion and hearsay evidence so often presented.

Parents have rights to due process. They have a right to clear statements about what evidence will be offered and a right to competent legal representation.

On the surface, the Child Family and Community Services Act seems to support these principles. Hearings must be within 45 days and temporary orders no more than one year. The child's best interests are paramount and include stability, continuity of care and kinship contact. Timeliness is essential. In practice, the principles are ignored and regularly derailed. The long, complicated act seems designed as a source of revenue for lawyers. When first enacted, it ground the family courts almost to a halt for over a year.

Children's best interests depend on opinion, and ministry bureaucrats think only their opinion counts. Family court becomes as adversarial as criminal court, while child welfare gets lost in legal bickering. Neither the courts, the Ministry of Children and Family Development directors nor defence counsels monitor timelines. Cases get bounced from judge to judge.

Any piece of social legislation can be used as a tool or a weapon. The choice lies with those in authority. Legislators little realized that they offered as many weapons as tools, but the resolutely adversarial Children's Ministry quickly found them.

A recent Times Colonist editorial showed how the ministry behaves as if a child's right to privacy is a paramount right, which can trump all the other rights in the act. They cloak everything in secrecy and withhold information that people have a right to know.

A typical case recently covered by the CBC illustrates these matters. A couple had three children, the younger ones born 14 weeks and six weeks prematurely. Such children can be very fragile. When the parents took the six-week-old to hospital, a doctor reported that the child's condition was due to abuse. At first, the ministry's director acted reasonably and took charge of the child, who stayed in hospital.

With only inferred evidence on the older children, they took them into care, placing them with relatives.

Then the evidence wilted. Other doctors strongly disagreed with the first diagnosis. Courts had previously declared the type of evidence unreliable. A police investigation found no evidence.

After seven months the parents had spent $60,000 on lawyers with no progress, and in despair they went to the media. Following Global TV coverage, the director promptly removed the children from relative care with armed police, apparently just to assert his authority.

They have since been moved three times. Last July, the director's lawyer told him the case was weak and he should return the children. In spite of this, the director is pursuing the case aggressively and seeks a continuing care order.

A hearing will not take place until March 2010, and the parents -- already heavily in legal debt -- cannot raise the $100,000 needed for defence. Blameless or not, they stand no chance of getting back their children.

Obviously the need is for better staff, and not more staff.

Some suggested remedies:

  • The act is too flawed to fix. Scrap it and bring back the old one.
  • Save a lot of money by providing duty counsel to represent parents as well as the ministry.
  • Give the child advocate some real power to monitor practice.
  • Provide mandatory core training on matters like evidence and mediation.

Ray Ferris was a social worker and supervisor in child protection for more than 30 years. He retired in 1988 but has kept busy with advocacy and writing, including a textbook on child protection.

Source: Times Colonist (Victoria)

Dunn Asks CAS to Promote Participation

June 24, 2009 permalink

John Dunn is asking the Durham Children's Aid Society to add information about memberships to its website, and post its bylaws. Durham Children's Aid has a board of directors page and a membership page, but no bylaws page.



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Letter to Durham CAS on Membership Information

In it's efforts to improve transparency and accountability in child welfare in Canada, the Foster Care Council of Canada has written to the Durham Children's Aid Society to ask them if they could add more information about memberships with the Society to their web site. We will post their response below when we receive it.

Susan McNeil
Durham Children's Aid Society


I am writing to you as the Executive Director of the Foster Care Council of Canada, a non-profit organization made up of former wards of a Society and their supporters which advocates for improved quality and accountability of child-welfare services across Canada.

We have been reviewing various Children's Aid Society web sites in Ontario and have become aware of the fact that your web site ( )does describe Board membership requirements fairly well, however, we noted that there is little to no information regarding regular memberships which are extended to members of the community.

As the web site is currently worded, it appears to only speak to people who wish to become a member of the Board of Directors of the Society as opposed to those who would simply like to become regular members.

It is our hope that the Society would expand upon regular memberships as a separate category under their 'Get to Know Us" link directly above or below the link to the Board of Directors so that members of the community realize they can become regular members without having to become a member of the Board of Directors.

We would also encourage the Society to publish its By-Laws on the web site as a means of both attracting and educating the public of their privileges and obligations in connection with regular memberships in order to work toward increased transparency and accountability.

In our efforts to improve quality and accountability in child-welfare in Ontario, the Foster Care Council of Canada successfully advocated for the creation of a private member's motion (Private Member's Motion 41) at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads as follows:

Ms. Horwath - That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should instruct all Children's Aid Societies to publish information electronically on their websites, where available, and in print format, readily accessible in the lobby area of each CAS office, which informs the public of their ability to attend and make presentations at the regularly scheduled Board of Director's meetings, the schedule and Minutes of those meetings, and further, in the same manner as mentioned above, to inform the public of the fact that CAS memberships are available to people who reside in, or who conduct business within the jurisdiction of each CAS, to provide details on how to apply for membership, and to provide access to the Society's By-Laws in the same manner.

We would like to request a response to this letter and are looking forward to hearing from you.

John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada

Source: afterfostercare news for June 24, 2009

Ombudsman's Report

June 24, 2009 permalink

Ontario ombudsman André Marin issued his fourth annual report (pdf) yesterday. As usual, the prime discussion of children's aid concerns his legislated inability to look into this sector. Children's aid continues to extort custody of children away from parents of severely disabled children.



Children's Aid Societies

As the chart below indicates, our Office continues to receive complaints about children’s aid societies (CASs) that we are forced to turn away. We received a total of 429 complaints and inquiries about CASs this fiscal year. These complaints have increased significantly over the past eight years.


Fiscal Year 2008-
Total complaints 429431609436308297304262283

These complaints raised a wide variety of issues and allegations, including:

  • CAS refusal to investigate allegations of abuse;
  • concerns about the care of children in CAS custody or supervision;
  • concerns about CAS apprehension of children;
  • CAS refusal to disclose information relating to the reasons for apprehension, or services provided to children in care;
  • unreasonable demands placed on parents seeking access to children in CAS care;
  • allegations of abuse of authority by CAS workers;
  • a biased and adversarial complaint process;
  • allegations of retaliatory actions against parents who challenged CAS decisions; and
  • CAS failure to provide timely notice to parents of court dates.

Many complainants also felt they were at a disadvantage in challenging CAS actions, given that legal representation is expensive, while the CAS is represented by publicly funded lawyers.

The changes implemented in 2006, which revised the internal CAS complaints process and expanded the mandate of the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB), have done little to assuage those who have sought our assistance. The board’s authority to address complaints continues to be limited. This year, we received 10 complaints about the board itself. Complainants are often bewildered by the jurisdictional arguments and procedural rules they face during the board’s review process, as well as its inability to deal with their core concerns.

In a recent CFSRB decision, a board member considered the strictures of the current complaint scheme, and observed that:

…the Board does not participate in assessing the validity of any complaints on their merits, nor is there anything for the Board to overturn or quash in such a process. The Board’s only substantive remedies are to redirect the complaint for further review or to order a CAS to provide written reasons for its “decision,” i.e. the decision whether to take further action at the completion of the complaints process.

The board member went on to note that people who raise concerns about the conduct of CASs end up confused when they find that the board’s “review” is restricted to consideration of procedural allegations. He noted that an independent investigative model – i.e., using an ombudsman or similar body – had been rejected in favour of an adversarial model in which “complainants bear the burden of advancing their complaints within the very organization about which they are complaining.” He added that complainants might feel vulnerable and fear retribution for participating in the complaint procedure.

In the Legislature, attempts were made again this year to address the lack of Ombudsman oversight of child protection services through the introduction of private member’s bills. On June 11, 2008, Bill 93, the Ombudsman Amendment Act (Children’s Aid Societies), 2008, introduced by NDP MPP Andrea Horwath, received first reading. Bill 130, the Children’s Safety and Protection Rights Act, 2008, also included provision for Ombudsman oversight of children’s aid societies, but failed to pass second reading on April 30, 2009.

“There needs to be accountability and the Ontario Ombudsman should be given complete ‘absolute’ power to over look the CAS… and have them all held accountable.”

– Robert, via Facebook (Ontario Ombudsman Page)

“CAS is making decisions affecting the lives of families and in particular, innocent children and does so with impunity. We must bring these matters out of the closet and bring accountability to our precious and innocent children. Please write to your MPP and insist they support Bill 93.”

– Randal, via Facebook (Ontario Ombudsman Page)

In addition, the Ombudsman made submissions to the Standing Committee on Social Policy during its consideration of Bill 103, the Child and Family Services Statute Law Amendment Act, 2009, urging greater protection for communication between children and our Office. Consequently, amendments were made to the Bill that provide for improved access and communication with young persons by the Ombudsman and other specified individuals.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place – Special-Needs Children

In his 2005 report, Between a Rock and Hard Place, the Ombudsman found that as many as 150 families had been forced to surrender their parental rights to children’s aid societies (CASs) in order to get their severely disabled children the residential care they required. He found that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) had failed these families in a manner that was “unjust, oppressive and wrong” and recommended the Ministry immediately ensure custody rights were restored and funding was provided for residential placements outside of the child welfare system.

In response to the Ombudsman’s investigation, the Ministry announced an additional $10 million to assist children with severe needs in 2005, another $10 million in 2006, and $4 million was committed to Children’s Treatment Centres in 2007. Some 65 children were also returned to the care and custody of their parents. Two of the Ombudsman’s recommendations – that the Ministry remove its moratorium on special-needs agreements and that the government consider re-legislating the power to make special-needs agreements so that they are mandatory and administered outside of child protection matters – were not implemented. However, as an alternative, the Ministry committed to making special-needs services more accessible, better coordinated and centred on the needs of the children and their families.

In 2008, the Ombudsman’s Office once again began to receive complaints from families of children with severe disabilities, including some who had already relinquished the care of their children to a CAS in order to obtain a residential placement. In other cases, the families were in crisis and struggling to cope with the level of resources provided, having been told that there was no more funding available for the remainder of the fiscal year and no guarantees that it would be available in future, but they would be placed on a waiting list. In desperation, many began the process of giving up custody of their children in order to obtain the services they required. As of March 31, 2009, the Ombudsman had received 24 such complaints. Ombudsman staff are closely reviewing them and, where warranted, working directly with senior Ministry officials to attempt to ensure that appropriate treatment and placements are secured for the children without parents having to give up custody rights.

In one case, the parents of a nine-month-old baby who is blind, has cerebral palsy and is severely developmentally disabled were forced to sign a temporary care agreement with a CAS in order to place their daughter in a facility where she will receive high-quality, 24-hour care. They had attempted to care for her at home but when they realized she required full-time residential care, their local service co-ordination agency turned them down, saying there were budgetary constraints and waiting lists. They felt they had no option but to turn to the CAS. It was not until this family’s case received considerable media attention and the Ombudsman’s Office became involved that the MCYS intervened to secure funding for the child’s residential placement and care and the parents’ full custody rights were restored.

“If indeed this is happening again, then it is one of the most morally repugnant things that government has done.”

– Ombudsman André Marin, as quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, February 7, 2009

In another case, the parents of three special-needs children, including an eightyear- old boy with autism and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder, requested a residential placement for him because they felt they could no longer cope – at home, the boy had to be in a bare room with the bed bolted to the floor and locks on the door so he could not injure himself or others. He was placed on a priority list for placement, but they were told there was no money to fund his care even if a space became available. Feeling they had nowhere else to turn, the parents were on the verge of giving up custody rights to the CAS. But once the Ombudsman’s Office brought the case to the attention of senior MCYS staff, a suitable residential placement with the requisite funding was procured within a few days.

In yet another case, the parents of twin developmentally delayed boys went to the CAS in the hope of obtaining residential treatment for one of their sons. They had previously seen the other boy improve significantly under residential care, but when they attempted to obtain a placement for the second son, they were told by their local service co-ordination agency that there was no funding available. The parents feared that the child was becoming a danger to himself and others and that his increasingly volatile behaviour was having a negative impact on his twin. They were preparing to sign a temporary care agreement with the CAS until the Ombudsman’s Office raised the case with senior MCYS staff so that funding and arrangements for a residential placement could be secured.

“We implore this government to heed the words of [André] Marin and solve the deplorable situation that forces parents of disabled children to, as he says, ‘act out of desperation.’ ”

– Windsor Star editorial, February 11, 2009

In response to this surge in complaints, the Ombudsman met with the Minister of Children and Youth Services, who confirmed that the Ministry remained committed to ensuring adequate resources for the residential placement of special-needs children – and to the principle that no family should have to surrender custody rights to the CAS in order to obtain a residential placement. The Ombudsman expressed concern, however, that an “early warning system” was needed and that unless the Ministry implemented improved measures to identify serious cases and to work more closely with local service co-ordination agencies, the trend of parents having to turn to CAS authorities would continue. It was also noted that better monitoring mechanisms were required to improve the Ministry’s awareness of waiting lists and budgetary constraints at the local level.

Senior Ombudsman staff continue to work closely with Ministry officials to address individual complaints and to identify means of resolving the broader systemic problems identified by the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is seeking regular updates from the Ministry on its progress and monitoring trends in complaints to determine if a systemic investigation may be necessary in future.

Source: Ontario Ombudsman (pdf)
local copy

Addendum: Christina Blizzard asks the legislature to unleash Ontario's watchdog André Marin on children's aid.



Comment Columnists / Christina Blizzard

Power up the ombudsman

Andre Marin's office has shown it can make a difference, so let them loose in other sectors

By CHRISTINA BLIZZARD, SUN MEDIA, Last Updated: 24th June 2009, 4:40am

The capacity for the province's crusading Ombudsman Andre Marin to light rockets under the uncaring backsides of bureaucrats is legendary.

He has led the fight for better care for special needs children. His probe into the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) led to sweeping changes in that organization.

And he waged a high profile battle for more accountability from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), which he branded as "cutthroat."

He's tackled the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, which he slammed for its long delays and overly rigid methods of enforcing the rules.

His report yesterday gave us updates into his latest investigations: Secret meetings by municipalities. The need for change with the province's Special Investigations Unit.


The stories that drew my attention, though, were tucked away at the back of his report. They told how the ombudsman took on individual fights on behalf of the little people who'd run up against a bureaucratic brick wall.

  • A Sault Ste. Marie woman gave birth to a very premature baby girl. The baby was taken to hospital in London, but the mother couldn't go with her as she was still in hospital.

    When the parents finally could travel, the Northern Health Travel Grant wouldn't cover their costs because they weren't accompanying the patient. The ombudsman contacted health officials, who acknowledged the exceptional circumstances and reimbursed the family $748.

  • Conflict of interest guidelines at the Ministry of Labour were overhauled after a worker who had lost a leg in an industrial accident complained.

    The ministry's inspector had worked for the company in question for 24 years. The ombudsman's review revealed the inspector had failed to view the site of the accident and didn't ask for technical assistance from the ministry or issue orders to address contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. He told ombudsman staff he relied on information provided by the company because he had previously worked there.

  • A single mother of three children complained to the ombudsman the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) had wiped out a debt of more than $60,000 in child and spousal support owed her by her ex-husband.

    The dad had obtained a new court order reducing his support payments due to reduced circumstances. The FRO had also erased the amount he still owed her under the old court order.

    Staff at the FRO told her she was now owed only $5,400 and she would have to go to court to collect the rest.

    After the ombudsman intervened, FRO reviewed the new court order and agreed they should not have erased the debt. They agreed to collect the entire $66,921 owed to the women and her children.


So who are the grumpiest people in the province? It seems they're jail inmates. The largest number of complaints were in Simcoe North, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock and Ottawa-Orleans -- all ridings that have significant jail populations.

Again, Marin called for his powers to be extended to hospitals, school boards and children's aid societies.

The sooner the better, I say. Let him loose on children's aid first.

No one sticks pins in puffed up bureaucrats quite like Marin.

He brought the massive bureaucracies at MPAC and OLG to heel, but Marin is best when he fights for those who have no power.

Think what he could do for the most disadvantaged among us -- kids in the care of the Children's Aid. They have no voice, but he would speak for them -- loud and clear.


Source: Toronto Sun

Law Creates Orphan

June 23, 2009 permalink

Most of us know what child abandonment is: dad leaves his wife and kids without support while he goes off to another life. Legislation aimed at abandonment usually evokes this pattern.

Abandonment to child protectors is a different act entirely. A typical case is the mother who runs into a store for five minutes and returns to find cops surrounding the car with her child inside. We enclose two articles about a similar case in New Hampshire, the first giving the raw police facts, the second an opinion piece applying some common sense, a characteristic lacking in family courts. In its zeal to strictly enforce abandonment law, the court has created a half-orphan.



UNH prof charged with leaving baby in car

Associated Press - June 17, 2009 6:25 AM ET

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) - A University of New Hampshire professor has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly leaving his infant son alone in a car while he was sitting outside a restaurant a few feet away.

Police arrested 55-year-old John Collins on Saturday. Deputy Police Chief Rene Kelley said officers observed the 16-month-old boy was suffering from heat-related signs of distress. He said it was about 70 degrees, with the interior temperature of the car likely running higher.

The infant was taken to a hospital and released to the custody of his mother, who wasn't present when the child was left in the vehicle.

Collins said the baby was never out of his sight, and he was letting him sleep.

Collins is an associate science professor at UNH.

Source: WCAX Burlington Vt

The real child abuse is by the Durham cops

By Michael Graham | Thursday, June 18, 2009 | | Op-Ed

Not everything that’s dumb should be illegal.

So even if you think the University of New Hampshire prof who left his 16-month-old in the car is a moron, does he have to be a felon, too?

Here’s the story:

Saturday morning, science professor John Collins drove to a coffee shop in (for lack of a better word) “downtown” Durham, N.H. He brought along his son who, as babies often do, promptly fell asleep in the car. So Collins left Junior sleeping and went inside for a cup o’ joe.

A sleepy child on a sleepy Saturday morning in a sleepy New Hampshire town. What could possibly go wrong?

Fast-forward to this headline from Foster’s Daily Democrat: “UNH prof charged with leaving baby in car on warm day.”

For the record, it was 70 degrees. Or as we called it in South Carolina, “sweater weather.”

A passer-by called police, who decided the baby was “in distress,” took custody of him and arrested Collins for child endangerment.

Ah, but where was dad at the time? Collins says he was sitting at an outdoor table - just a few feet from the car.

Deputy Chief Rene Kelley refused to tell a reporter where Collins was when he was arrested, or even what symptoms the child displayed. Instead he said, “The bottom line is you don’t leave an infant strapped in a car on a hot sunny day, or any day, and leave it unattended.”


I know that many people - particularly non-parents - have this Norman Rockwell image of parenting where the children play quietly at mom’s feet while she cooks and dad does yard work in his pressed cotton dress shirt. But as the father of four I know the parenting reality: On a good day, controlled chaos. On a bad day, total anarchy.

You spend 16 months wrestling with a stinky, screaming colicky baby 24/7, then tell me you’re going to wake him from a sound sleep to come sit with you during your Saturday cappuccino?

Sure you are.

This isn’t a matter of parental convenience. It’s a matter of pure survival.

Millions of parents have done the “sleeping baby vs. risk to safety” calculus and left a child in a locked car for a few minutes. Those who scream “child abduction!” have no idea what they’re talking about. As ABC’s John Stossel reported in “The Kidnapping Hysteria,” there are fewer than 100 cases of children abducted by strangers in the entire country each year.

Sure it was warmer than 70 degrees in the car, but child “endangering”? Every summer my kids go south and frolic in the 100-degree heat. So far, no arrests.

Which, as we approach Father’s Day, is the key issue in the Collins case. His arrest.

You may think the professor is a dumb dad. Fine. But a criminal?

A term of Collins’ release is “no unsupervised visits.” He can’t be alone with his own little boy, all because of a parenting decision some people don’t agree with?

There is no evidence that Professor Collins has ever hurt his son. Which is more than can be said of the cops and courts handling this case.

Source: Boston Herald

Cheapskate CAS Needs Volunteers

June 23, 2009 permalink

The Hastings Children's Aid Society gets annual funding from the province of Ontario of $30,841,732. They don't want to pay their staff with their funding, so they are soliciting for volunteer drivers.



Children's Aid Society needs volunteer drivers

Posted By BRENDA SNIDER, Posted June 22, 2009

The Hastings Children's Aid Society responds to the needs of children requiring protection and care, providing ongoing support to families and the community and addressing the causes of child maltreatment.

How can individuals in the community make a difference? The Hastings CAS is looking for individuals interested in volunteering their time to drive children and adults to various appointments in Quinte West, Belleville and surrounding areas.

Volunteers will be required to have their own vehicle, a valid drivers license and a positive driving record. Approval for this position is conditional upon a successful police check, reference check and proof of insurance. Screening procedures are an important aspect in ensuring the comfort and safety of the individuals they serve.

CAS offers volunteer drivers a mileage reimbursement.

Benefits to volunteers are best described as the knowledge of being a part of making a difference in a child's life by providing an essential service in our community. Individuals in the community that can commit to a few hours a week or month are encouraged to contact VIQ at 613-969-8862.

Volunteer & Information Quinte refers volunteers to more than 150 agencies throughout Hastings and Prince Edward counties. Please contact 613-969-8862 or visit our website at for more information volunteer opportunities. VIQ is a United Way member agency.

Source: Belleville Intelligencer


CAS Executive Becomes Judge

June 23, 2009 permalink

Edward (Ted) Gareau has become a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. From 1992 to 1997 he was president of the Algoma Children's Aid Society. His wife was CAS legal counsel for twelve years.



Local lawyer appointed Superior Court judge (UPDATED)

Posted By Frank Dobrovnik, The Sault Star, Updated June 22, 2009

The region's newest Superior Court of Justice position will be filled by a local barrister.

Edward (Ted) Gareau has been appointed judge of the province's highest court.

A partner in the local firm Feifel Broadbent Gareau Gualazzi, Gareau decided a long time ago to stay close to home. After graduating from Queen's University and then the University of Windsor Law School, "I chose to return to Sault Ste. Marie to do my articling with Henry Lang," he said Monday.

Called to the Ontario bar in 1985, he toiled for many years with Richard DeLorenzi. He joined his current firm in 1999 and is now "delighted to be appointed to the community where I was born and raised. I see this as a tremendous opportunity to serve the public in my community."

His workload has been predominantly family law, with experience also in mediation, collaborative law, estates and trusts, wills and civil litigation.

He was president of the Algoma District Law Association from 2004 to 2008 and sat on numerous voluntary boards including as president of the Children's Aid Society of Algoma's from 1992 to 1997. Gareau's wife, Nadine, worked as the CAS legal counsel for 12 years.

He will replace Larry Whalen in Sault Ste. Marie, who will remain on the bench but with a reduced workload. Judges may choose to become a "supernumerary" judge after 15 years service.

Canada's department of Justice announced its seven new appointments late Friday.

Though Gareau's title is effective immediately, a swearing-in ceremony occurs before he hears cases. One has not yet been set.

Source: Sault Star

Killers Try Again

June 21, 2009 permalink

British Columbia MCFD showed its skill at child care by killing Felicia Wale's son Jor-el Macnamara. So what are they doing with her other two children? Keeping them away from her. This is far from the only case in which child protectors strike again after killing a child.



Tragic consequences

Jor-el Macnamara
Felicia Wale, whose son died earlier this month in government care, can't understand why the state has taken away her children.

Robert Matas

New Hazelton, B.C. — From Saturday's Globe and Mail, Saturday, Jun. 20, 2009 03:57AM EDT

Felicia Wale burst out in tears when the child protection worker told her that the government was not going to give back her two daughters. Two weeks after her 21-month-old son, Jor-el Macnamara, died while in government care, she could not understand why her worker believes her children were better off under government supervision.

“They said I was an unfit mother,” Ms. Wale said this week during an interview in the village of the Gitanmaax band outside the northern town of Hazelton, 1,400 kilometres north of Vancouver. “And here, when I had them, my children never had a bruise on them. They'd never been to the hospital. When they do get sick, I look after them.”

Ms. Wale, in a sweatshirt and jeans, appeared stunned and a bit overwhelmed by what she was going through. Her eyes looked puffy, but they were dry. She spoke quietly but forcefully, repeatedly saying she feels those in authority failed her and her baby.

Ms. Wale and her partner, Will Macnamara, had little money. The babies slept on piles of blankets on the floor. But their apartment was always clean, she said. “I would clean up every single day. It would get messy overnight and I would clean. We always had a clean place.”

The three children – Tasheena was not yet three when she was taken from her parents, Jor-el, and Trinity, who was born on Jan. 5 – were removed a few days after Ms. Wale turned 20. She had been taken into police custody after her arrest for aggravated assault in a domestic dispute. But fighting with her partner, the father of her children, does not mean she cannot take care of her children, she said.

“The kids were perfectly fine with me,” she said. “I was really good with the kids. Everybody knows, I'm a really good mom.”

She wants her daughters with her. “I want them back. If they were with me, everything would be okay,” Ms. Wale said. “They should have never really taken the kids away from me.”

Jor-el died on June 3, less than two months after the government removed the children. A youth has been charged with second-degree murder in his death. The media is prohibited from reporting his identity.

Jor-el's death sent shock waves through this northern community, already hardened by extremes. Several oversize billboards urge women not to hitchhike, a constant reminder of those who disappeared along Highway 16, known as the Highway of Tears. Many live with violence in the home. Police in Hazelton say intervention in domestic violence is one of their biggest jobs.

“I think people are sincerely trying to change things, but it comes from generations of substance abuse,” said Sergeant Hector Lee. “The issue here is alcohol. A lot of the problems are fuelled by alcohol and illegal substance abuse.”

Alice Maitland, the mayor of the village of Hazelton, said the region is “at the bottom of the barrel for practically everything” in the provincial index of well-being. Unemployment, illiteracy, poverty, children with birth defects caused by mothers drinking alcohol during pregnancy, and “the phenomenon of kids having kids” were among the issues confronting the community, she said. Gitanmaax band officials declined to be interviewed this week.

The death of a baby in care has also turned the spotlight on B.C. child-protection policies. The government overhauled its legislation and refashioned its bureaucracy after toddler Sherry Charlie was killed in 2002 by an uncle after being taken away from her mother and placed in his home. But the reforms did not help Ms. Wale or her son.

memorial for Jor-el Macnamara
A memorial for Jor-el Macnamara has been set up.

Ms. Wale is a member of the Gitanmaax band. She lived in Smithers with her partner, who is not a band member, and their children, and then in New Hazelton, adjacent to the band's reserve. She dealt with workers from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, although staff from the Gitanmaax band office were involved in decisions about care of her children.

She had scheduled visits with her children after they were removed from her home in April. She said that on three occasions, she told authorities about problems with Jor-el's care. She took Jor-el to the hospital to have medical staff look at bruises; another time, she called police to report an eruption of violence that threatened her children. She also spoke to ministry staff.

No one responded to her appeal for help. She was told the bumps and bruises on her baby's body were from falls.

Ms. Wale described Jor-el as a happy child, outgoing and fond of company. He had just started talking “in a baby way,” she said. “He'd say peeze and mom and gramma. He'd say hi for hi and bye. He was learning the basics.”

Ms. Wale had met Mr. Macnamara, the father of her three children, at a fair in Smithers, about an hour away from Hazelton. She was 16 and in Grade 10 when she became pregnant with Tasheena. She dropped out of school just before the baby was born on June 14, 2006. Jor-el was born 15 months later. Trinity was born 16 months after Jor-el.

Ms. Wale spoke plainly about the incident that led to her children being removed from her home. “I assaulted him,” she said bluntly. When they took the kids, she wanted them to be in an aboriginal home. She did not want them placed with non-aboriginals outside Hazelton, as her worker had done with the two older children when she was pregnant with Trinity. “They were with white people,” she said.

The two older children came back from the non-aboriginal family, but, Ms. Wale said, she did not receive the support that she anticipated from the ministry. “They did not even keep in contact with me. And they made me promises too,” she said. She thought that the ministry would find a nicer place for them. “We were staying in this small little apartment. We even wanted beds, but we did not tell them that. But they seen our place and everything. They checked our place and they did not offer beds for the kids,” she said.

“[The children] were sleeping on lots and lots of blankets for beds,” she added.

She believes the ministry should have done more to help her take care of her children. “They are the workers. They were supposed to take care of whatever problems that were in the home. They are the ministry of child and family – that is what they are there for, to help families.”

Ms. Wale was allowed to see her daughters this week in the home where they were moved after Jor-el's death. They are with a non-aboriginal family in Smithers, about 70 kilometres from her home in New Hazelton. She has been told “she has to work on herself” before her daughters can be returned, her great aunt Nancy Dickinson said afterwards. But Ms. Wale is determined “to do what she needs to do,” Ms. Dickinson said.

Ministry officials refuse to talk about the family, citing privacy reasons and criminal proceedings.

Ms. Maitland, the mayor for the past 33 years, does not blame the ministry staff. She is critical of the B.C. government for failing to provide adequate resources. The child and family services are understaffed, leaving social workers with caseloads that are too big. With a far-flung population, the social workers spend a lot of time on the road, going to young moms. “They cannot be there consistently to help these moms,” she said.

She also feels she shares some of the blame for what happened to Jor-el. “I think I could have done a little bit more,” she said in an interview at Hazelton's Northwest Community College, where she is the campus manager.

She thought about the woman who took care of Ms. Wale's three babies. “If someone dumped three kids that age on me, I'd have a nervous breakdown,” she said.

“I said to myself, what could I do to help. But I did not do anything. And that's too bad,” she said, adding that in retrospect she has thought of many things she could have done.

She suggested that maybe everyone who came into contact with the children should have taken some responsibility to help out. “Maybe we should all be front line [workers],” Ms. Maitland said.

Source: Globe and Mail

Crown Ward Kills

June 21, 2009 permalink

Another Alberta man has been killed by a provincial ward. The Edmonton Journal reports some of the biographical details of the accused killer. Even people who don't care about the emotional needs of children should be pushing to abolish this dysfunctional system, for their own safety.



Curtis Osterlund
Curtis Osterlund (from another news report)

Accused killer raised in turmoil

By Laura Drake, Edmonton Journal June 20, 2009

EDMONTON - The 16-year-old accused of murdering Curtis Osterlund has had a difficult life, living in group homes since he was a toddler, his family said Friday.

“He’s had a pretty rough upbringing,” the boy’s sister-in-law said.

“He’s been bouncing around from foster home to foster home his whole life. I think he’s only seen his mom like three times in his life. Group homes, foster homes, wherever they wanted to put him. He had to grow up so fast, all these kids did, I think it’s ridiculous.”

The boy is charged with second-degree murder in the June 12 death of 39-year-old Osterlund. He was found stabbed to death in the parking lot of Londonderry Junior High School.

The accused killer is the second teen in provincial care charged this month with murder.

A 14-year-old boy who ran away from Bosco Homes faces charges in the June 1 murders of Barry Boenke and Susan Trudel in Strathcona County.

The 16-year-old’s sister-in-law stressed that he was not a runaway. In fact, she said, he had been living in a Saddle-Lake area group home until his 16th birthday on June 6, when he reached the age limit for the facility.

His sister-in-law said authorities decided to place him in the home of her and her husband, who is the accused teen’s half-brother.

“He needed an emergency placement so he came down here. It was only supposed to be for a couple weeks,” she said.

Trevor Coulombe, a spokesman for Alberta Children and Youth Services, said he could not go into detail about the teen’s placement history, but did confirm he was placed with extended family. The teen had lived in group homes since he was one or two years old when his mother left her seven children due to a drug habit, his sister-in-law said, adding he was supposed to be placed in another group home after staying with them.

The sister-in-law said the family believes the teen should be punished if he is found guilty. He has expressed a desire to get help.

His family does want people to understand his history. ”He went through a lot of crap that no kid should have to go through.”

She said she thinks a lot of unfair conclusions about her brother-in-law are being reached for all kinds of reasons, including the fact the teen is aboriginal and that he has an uncle who was convicted of murder.

The family can’t understand why he is the only person facing charges when police have said there were also a 22-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl at the scene of the murder.

“He has no criminal record, he’s never done any violence before,” his sister-in-law said.

Source: Edmonton Journal

Repeat Survey

June 21, 2009 permalink

Waterloo CAS is conducting another survey. Their last survey resulted in no improvement in client satisfaction. Maybe they are trying harder. Or maybe the survey is a trick to pry information from current or potential clients.



For best viewing of this survey, use a standards-compliant browser

family and children's services
of the waterloo region

incorporated as the Children's Aid Society of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo

Serving the community since 1894

May 29, 2009

Family and Children Services of the Waterloo Region wants to improve our services for people in the community. In order to do this, we would like your feedback. We are interested in your honest opinions, whether they are good or bad.

We are asking families served by our agency questions to help us understand how satisfied you were with the service you received. The enclosed survey asks a number of questions about how you felt about working with us and how satisfied you were with the agency, and a few questions about you in general.

Please be assured that anything you tell us will be kept confidential. No information will be released which identifies you or any of the individual answers you give us. Only Quality Assurance staff conducting the survey will know who was sent or returned this survey, and this information will be kept confidential from all other agency staff.

We would appreciated if you took a few minutes, as soon as possible, to answer the questions and return the survey in the self-addressed and stamped envelope that is included. The agency will phone you in about two weeks in case you want to answer the questions over the telephone instead of in writing.

Thank you in advance for your time in completing this survey. Your feedback is very valuable to us!

If you have any questions about this survey please do not hesitate to contact me.


Jill Stoddart signature

Jill Stoddart

Manager of Quality Assurance, Planning and Research 519 576-1329 ext. 3643

Waterloo logo

Waterloo logo Family and Children's Services
of the Waterloo Region

Satisfaction Survey

Thinking about your overall experiences with Family and Children's Services of the Waterloo Region, please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the statements below. If you had more than one Worker, please refer to the Worker most recently involved with your family.

A. Family Satisfaction Questions


1. It was clearly explained to you why Family and Children's Services was involved.


1. It was clearly explained to you why Family and Children's Services was involved.






2. You were treated with courtesy and respect.






3. Enough time was spent with you when providing help.






4. Your phone calls were returned within a reasonable amount of time.






5. You felt listened to and understood.






6. You felt that you were treated fairly.






7. Your worker had the knowledge necessary to help you and your family.






8. You were kept informed about what was happening.






9. Your worker was clear about what was needed for your child(ren) to be safe.






10. Your worker and you developed a plan together to keep your child(ren) safe.






11. You felt that you had input into the planning and decision making for your family.






12. Your worker was able to provide you with useful services and supports.






13. Overall, Family and Children's Services helped to make things better for your family.






14. Overall, you was satisfied with the services you received from Family and Children's Services.






15. Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Waterloo logo Family and Children's Services
of the Waterloo Region

Satisfaction Survey

The section below asks a few questions to better understand the families we serve. This information is anonymous, and will only be used for the purposes of this survey.

B. Information Questions

16. What City or Township do you live in?







North Dumfries


If Other, please specify: __________________

17. How many parent(s)/guardian(s) are in your household?

Single Parent /Guardian Household

Two Parent/Guardian Household

More than two Parent/Guardian Household

18. What is the total number of children under 16 in your household? ______

19. Which age category do you fit into?

Under 19






20 a. What ethnic or racial background do you self-identify with?




Native (Please Specify):   First Nation   Metis   Inuit
Mixed (Please Specify): ________________
Other (Please Specify): ________________
No Answer
Specific Cultural Group (Please specify response in question 20.b)

20 b. Is there a specific cultural group that you identify with? (i.e. French, Somali, Jamaican) Please Specify: ______________________________

21. What sexual orientation do you identify yourself with?
gay   lesbian   bisexual   transsexual   heterosexual

22. Please specify your gender?

23. Which of the following income categories does your family income fall between?

 Less than $10,000

 $10,001 - $20,000

 $20,001 - $30,000

 $30,001 - $40,000

 $40,001 - $50,000

 $50,001 - $60,000

 $60,001 +

24. Were any of your children placed with a relative or a friend?


  If Yes, were you in aqreement with the plan:  Yes    No

25. Were any of your children placed in Foster Care?


  If Yes, were you in aqreement with the plan:  Yes    No

26. Were you and your family involved in child welfare court?
 Yes    No

ON - 098

Source: anonymous tipster

High-Priced Child Abuse

June 20, 2009 permalink

Does a couple spend $75,000 on fertility treatment so they can have children to abuse? Yes, says social services in Essex, England. Their expert diagnosis is corroborated by the mother's sick joke that pregnancy spoiled her body, and by the mother's anger toward the social worker who stole her twins.



'Social workers took away my twins after I'd joked that birth spoilt my body'

By Vanessa Allen, Last updated at 5:38 PM on 20th June 2009

Mr and Mrs N
'All we want is a family': But the couple face losing their six-month-old babies, after the mother joked the caesarean had ruined her body

A mother had her twin babies taken from her by social workers after she joked that their caesarean birth had ruined her body.

She and her husband endured five rounds of IVF costing £38,000 to start a family, only to have social services take their children within weeks.

The parents insist social workers acted needlessly, but have been warned their six-month-old boy and girl could be put up for adoption following a secret Family Court hearing last week.

The babies, who were born six weeks prematurely, were taken into care after hospital staff warned that the first-time parents were struggling to care for them.

Nurses reported that the mother appeared to feel ' bitter' towards her children after her joke about the caesarean's effect on her body.

And when the desperate woman lost her temper at social workers who had taken her babies, officials said she had 'anger problems' and could pose a threat to her twins.

The babies were born in December, at the height of nationwide fury that social workers had failed to step in and halt the abuse and tragic death of Baby Peter in Haringey, North London.

The alarm over Peter's death has raised the prospect that some innocent families have been caught up in the backlash.

The couple, from Hornchurch, Essex, can be identified only as Mr and Mrs N to protect the identity of their children.

They are allowed only supervised contact for ten hours a week with their son and daughter, and have been warned that the babies could be handed to strangers for adoption if a judge rules they cannot care for them.

Mrs N, a 36-year-old who has been told she cannot try for more children for medical reasons, said: 'Social services should step in where there's violence or abuse but we would never hurt our children.'

Her 42-year- old husband added: 'No one is born with parenting skills - you have to learn them.'

The couple have been married for five years.

A childhood infection left Mrs N suffering from a rare hormone disorder and unable to conceive naturally, and she suffers from short-term memory loss because of a car accident when she was a teenager, but doctors said there was no reason why she should not undergo IVF treatment.

The babies were delivered on December 30 after Mrs N was admitted to Whipps Cross Hospital in East London with high blood pressure.

They both weighed little more than 3lb and were kept in incubators at the NHS hospital's neonatal unit, where their parents were eventually able to help feed and care for them.

But staff became concerned that they were not giving the twins enough milk or changing them often enough.

On January 29 a senior nurse referred the family to social services.

Mrs N said: 'The hospital could see we were struggling but they made no attempt to help us. They just decided we didn't have the parenting skills to look after the babies.

'They wrote down everything we did and said so they could use it against us. They twist everything. I remember talking to my son while he was in his cot, and saying jokingly, "You want to see what you have done to your Mummy's body".

'It didn't mean I felt bitter towards him or didn't want him - I've never wanted anything as much as I wanted children - I was just joking about the state of my stomach.'

Social workers visited the couple and asked to take the children into foster care. When the parents refused, Havering Borough Council took the case to court and in February was granted an interim care order to give the twins to a foster carer.

Mr and Mrs N were allowed to visit but have found it difficult to see their babies in a stranger's care, and Mrs N admits she has shouted at the foster mother and social workers during angry confrontations over the twins' welfare.

The petite, 5ft 2in woman was accused of throwing her mobile phone at a social worker, and officials once called the police during an angry case conference.

Mrs N said: 'Who wouldn't be emotional, watching another woman with my children? How am I supposed to stay calm? I'm terrified that they are going to take my babies away.

'Of course I get frustrated and I sometimes lose my temper, but never with the children. We don't drink, smoke or take drugs. Neither of us has a criminal record. All we wanted was to have a family.'

A council spokesman said: 'Only in exceptional circumstances would we seek to separate a child of any age from their parents. This decision was undertaken with a great deal of thought and following thorough assessment.'

Source: Daily Mail

Second-generation Social Workers

June 20, 2009 permalink

An article planted by children's aid touts the successful career starts of two former Brantford crown wards. Both are beginning careers in social work, matching the aspirations of nearly half of the foster children in Bridgeway Family Homes. Maybe those children with the personality traits suiting them for dominator professions (policeman, social worker, soldier, lawyer) flourish in foster homes, while those with personality traits suiting them for productive professions (most of the rest) are destroyed by foster care. The few anecdotal success stories tell nothing of the success and failure rates. Jessie McVicar reports that of the group of 34 foster children he grew up with, three are still alive, and two of them are in jail.



Former Crown ward turns life around


Not all of Jodie Keeso's scars are on her soul.

When street kids meet the former Crown ward of the local Children's Aid Society they can't help but see that Keeso's inner arms are a healed mess of self-inflicted cuts and burns.

Today, Keeso, 24, has not only found healing, but she preaches it.

A youth counsellor with New York State's Freedom Village, a home for troubled teens, Keeso has risen above her early life in a remarkable way.

Back in Brantford on Monday night, she was honoured by the Children's Aid Society with the T. Dixon Moor award at the agency's annual general meeting.

The award goes to a former ward who has reached a high level of personal achievement.

"I'm so proud of the work that she does and the person that she has become," Ronnie Littlewood, Keeso's former social worker, said in her nomination statement.

"She has taught me that no matter how bleak and dark a person's situation may be, we must never give up hope and never give up trying."

Keeso's name will go on a brass banner in the lobby of the Arthur Binkley Family Resource Centre on Henry Street. She received $1,000 from the CAS endowment fund.

Born in Huntsville, Keeso ended up in Brantford almost a decade ago after being moved out of a poor family life.

She started mutilating herself, binging on drugs, and moving in and out of seven local foster homes. Along the way there were detox programs, psychiatric wards and a rehabilitation facility.

"After Brantford, it got worse and worse," she said. "I was a mess. I ended up in Toronto, shooting dope and working the streets."

That's where the Youth for Christ program found her and took her on a bus tour of Freedom Village in the U. S., where she opted to stay. Cleaned up and committed to Jesus Christ, Keeso finished school, began travelling with a Freedom Village singing group and went on outreach programs to help other street kids.

"I was there," she emphasizes. "I was one of those messed up kids."

Now a counsellor in a girls dorm, Keeso tries to help teens recognize they don't have to go down the same road that she did before getting help.

And she had an important message for her old social workers in Brantford, especially Littlewood, her first intake worker who never gave up on her.

"A lot of social workers can get discouraged. My worker used to shake her head and cry! Kids in the system are angry and are full of trouble but I hope to encourage the workers out there to keep loving them --it's the love that will set a kid free."

Littlewood said that she clings to Keeso's example of how messed up kids can turn around their lives.

"There have been too many years and too many social workers who are often disheartened that the work we do results in nothing positive," wrote Littlewood.

"These kids can move mountains. They can live extraordinary lives. Jodie will always remain my shining light of evidence that we never give up hope."

Keeso agreed, urging people to recognize that teens don't get messed up on their own and can't recover on their own either.

"Never give up. It was Jesus Christ that saved me and set me free from my addictions, but it was the people around me that helped."

The CAS also recognized Elise Hall, another former Crown ward, who has graduated from college.

Hall, now 20, was taken in by the CAS when she was 16. At age 18, when most Crown wards are released from protection, Hall was put under an extended care program so the agency could continue to help with her education.

"I couldn't have afforded to get here on my own," said Hall. "If it wasn't for them, half of what I've accomplished wouldn't have happened. They really helped me get where I am today."

Hall, who now lives in Hamilton, was in four foster homes in Brantford before going to college to become a personal support worker program. She plans to work with seniors because she feels they don't always get the care they deserve.

"I thanked all my workers and my foster parents. I'm really appreciative that they did this for me."

Source: Brantford Expositor

Killer Qualified for Social Work

June 20, 2009 permalink

In Somerset England what should you do to qualify as a social worker? Kill your husband! After Lynda Barnes was convicted of hiring a hit-man to kill her husband, she became a supervisor of 20 staffers and was responsible for removal of 31 children from their parents.



Lynda Barnes
Liar ... shamed Lynda Barnes

Child care boss hid murder plot past

By JOHN COLES, Published: 19 Jun 2009

A SOCIAL worker sacked for plotting to murder her husband landed a plum job with ANOTHER council by hiding her wicked past.

Lynda Barnes, 55, was rumbled by her new bosses after she went to court to testify in a child protection case.

She was caught lying under oath and trying to get a colleague to do the same.

The judge launched an investigation into her and discovered that 16 years ago she tried to recruit a hitman to kill her ex-hubby.

She met him on the M4 and offered £10,000 if unsuspecting Rodney, then 23, was bumped off.

The "hitman" was an undercover COP.

Barnes, of Nailsea, Somerset, got a two-year suspended jail term for conspiracy to murder and was sacked by Avon council.

But four years ago she duped Bath and North East Somerset council into putting her in charge of 20 staff.

Although she admitted her conviction, her new bosses were given "a highly sanitised version" which they never checked, according to investigating judge Paul Barclay.

The scandal emerged yesterday after a failed legal bid to keep her identity under wraps.

Barnes, who quit in March, was involved in 17 cases in which 31 children were taken into care.

Officials insisted none was unfairly removed.

Source: The Sun (UK)

Psychotropics Kill

June 19, 2009 permalink

Florida investigators looking into the events leading to the suicide of seven-year-old Gabriel Myers have heard from Kimberly Foster, treated with psychotropic drugs for ten years while held in a mental facility. What do the drugs to to children? In addition to cancer, they can induce sudden death. A scientific report shows children treated with Ratalin are more likely to die of sudden death (about five times more likely) than untreated children. The increase is real and not the result of bad luck in the sample. The American Journal of Psychiatry has an editorial and an article (both pdf) on the phenomenon. The second enclosed article is the CTV report on the study. About half of Ontario's crown wards are on psychotropic drugs, purportedly for treatment of mental health, actually to keep them in a permanently submissive mood.



Fla. officials struggle to reform foster system

By KELLI KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Kimberly Foster was on psychotropic medications every day during the decade she spent in foster care.

Locked in a mental facility with green walls, barred windows and four-point restraints from the age of eight, Foster said her actions were easy to explain: she was sad she couldn't be with her mother.

"They looked at me as a troublemaker instead of a child who is coming out of a troubled environment. If you cry, you're depressed. If you act out in school, you're a behavior problem. We're so quick to put these diagnoses on children," the 25-year-old Foster said Thursday in a meeting with officials from the Department of Children and Families. "Youth in foster care are overmedicated, overdiagnosed."

As state officials wade through the systemwide failures that led to the suicide of 7-year-old foster child Gabriel Myers in April, two issues come up repeatedly: the alarming use of psychotropic medications and the inability of doctors, foster parents and case workers to track problems with such powerful medications.

About 2,699 children in out-of-home foster care, or about 13 percent, are taking psychotropic drugs. That compares with about 4 percent to 5 percent of children in the general population, according to a recent DCF study.

Problems range from simply incorrectly entering basic information like a child's gender and age into a database to overloaded and inexperienced case workers who are expected to understand warning labels on psychotropic medications.

Even logistics of accompanying a foster child to a doctor's appointment fell short. Forty percent of the 112 foster children's files studied, were not accompanied to their appointment. Many were dropped off by medical transport, making it that much harder for an adult to communicate crucial details about the child's treatment.

Some officials proposed further training for foster parents and case workers, while others worried a four-hour training session on psychotropic drugs and what to look for would change little. Especially in a system with a nearly 50 percent turnover rate among case workers.

"Global training is important but I don't think it's going to get us to the level of specificity that we need," said William Janes, a member of the work group examining the boy's death. He stressed the importance of case managers.

"It's not about psychotropic medications solely," he said. "It's about the care that this boy did not get."

Basic analysis of medications for children in state care - such as what medication they were taking, why and when it was prescribed, and whether it worked - is not being completed in many cases. That information was supposed to be collected beginning in 2005.

"But it did not see the light of day," said Dr. Rajiv Tandon, a work group member who is a psychiatrist at the University of Florida. "This particular form was an integral part of that plan and it never happened."

In Gabriel's case, his foster parents and teachers reported disturbing behavior, including sexual advances toward classmates. At one point, the child admitted to trying to strangle himself.

Yet his doctor continued on the same treatment plan.

"The whole system broke down in the community," Janes said. "Everybody involved in this case was disconnected from that level that we would expect at some degree."

Mez Pierre, who entered the foster system at age 5, said he was given plenty of medication but very little emotional support.

"I felt like I was an animal in a farm being tested on," the 22-year-old told DCF officials Thursday. "Irresponsibility is just not worth a life. We need to do whatever we can to make sure another Gabriel does not happen again."

Source: Miami Herald


Findings questioned in ADHD drugs-heart risk study

Updated Tue. Jun. 16 2009 10:50 AM ET, News Staff

A new study has found that drugs used to treat attention deficit disorders may put kids at risk for of sudden death. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning the findings should not prompt parents to stop giving the medications to their children.

The study, published Monday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found there may be an association between stimulant medications used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), such as Ritalin, and sudden death in healthy children.

The drugs already carry warnings about risks of heart attack and stroke in children with underlying heart conditions. But in this new study, researchers found that children who were otherwise healthy and taking the meds were six to seven times more likely to die suddenly for unexplained reasons than those not taking the drug.

The study was partially funded by the FDA, but agency experts said the study methods -- which relied on interviews with parents and physicians years after the children's deaths -- is not the most reliable study method and may have caused errors.

"Since the deaths occurred a long time ago, all of this depended on the memory of people -- relatives and physicians -- involved with the victims," said Dr. Robert Temple, the FDA's director of drug review.

The agency urged parents to discuss safety concerns with their doctor, but to keep children on the treatments.

"FDA believes that this study should not serve as a basis for parents to stop a child's stimulant medication. Parents should discuss concerns about the use of these medicines with the prescribing healthcare professional," the statement said.

Researchers compared 564 children and teens who died of unexplained causes to 564 children and teens who had died in car accidents. The researchers used car accident victims as a comparison group because sudden childhood deaths are rare and difficult to track.

They found that among the unexplained deaths, 10 children were taking an ADHD drug compared with two of the patients killed in car accidents.

The researchers say they're confident the association is real, but the FDA noted the low rate of stimulant use in both study groups may limit the significance of the findings.

The FDA says it is working on a larger, more in-depth study on the potential risks of stimulant medication use in children.

"The data collection for this study will be complete later in 2009," the FDA said.

Source: CTV

Public Outcry

June 18, 2009 permalink

Honest media stories about child protection bring an enormous public response. Here are some of the comments on Kevin Libin's article about children's aid. For the rest, refer to the source page.



Kevin Libin: Readers detail rarely-seen ugly side of child-protection agencies

Posted: June 16, 2009, 4:36 PM by Kevin Libin, Kevin Libin, Canadian politics, children, child welfare, cas, social workers

Kevin Libin

My in-depth look at the tremendous power and frequent unaccountability of Canada’s child welfare agencies has touched a nerve, and inspired an outpouring of response from parents, teachers and social workers across the country, many of them recounting the most harrowing experiences with what they describe as abusive, incompetent, arrogant and unaccountable child welfare authorities.

The piece even elicited a quick Twitter response from the Ontario Ombudsman, André Marin, who, as the official public watchdog of the province, has long worked to pull the Children’s Aid Societies into the universe of his investigative power, to help improve that accountability. His tweeted response to the story: “CAS has long used your money to ward off oversight. Don’t forget, you and I fund this network of agencies.” And about oversight, he said: “They oppose it vigorously, tho they need it badly.”

Of course, there are undoubtedly many, many child welfare workers and agencies that do excellent, responsible work.

Here, however, are some clips of just a few of the reports from readers that detail a much uglier, rarely seen side of child-protection agencies (the law requires that all names be concealed).

"Thank goodness someone finally did a piece on the most monstrous institution in existence today."

My husband and I both hold university degrees. We have one child. We were married and prepared before bringing him into the world. We care for his every need and already have money put aside for him for college. We-like every other parent have bought him every device necessary for his health and well being, baby monitors, special bottles etc.

My husband and I disagree on things and we bicker a lot so we decided to go in for counseling to strengthen our marriage. We brought our 3 year old with us. The new, inexperienced counselor decided to ask the baby "if mommy and daddy fight in the house" the child's answer was "yes" although it could have been yes to anything. "Does your mother communicate with aliens?, or do you have lunch with Spiderman?”

The counselor called CAS and they became part of our lives . . .

The woman who came in seemed bossy and started telling me what to do, how I should run my life. . . .To make a very long story short...the social worker threatened to "apprehend" my child because my husband and I did not want to conform to her demand for a six-month separation period between us because she felt that "the child was in "potential for risk" of emotional abuse. All I could think of was "doesn't everyone in the world face the potential for risk?" What the hell does that mean? We could not believe this was happening. With all those truly bad parents out there WE were now facing court with CAS . . .We were over powered, we felt helpless, there was no agency more powerful that we could call on for help. We ended up going to court with the CAS and were forcibly divided. We used our son's college money to pay for the lawyer. My husband and I fell into a deep depression. I asked my boss if I could go part time, because the stress was killing me. It deeply affected all of my family, and my close friends too. It was scary that this was a Canadian institution; it felt like we were living in a dystopian universe, with no personal freedoms.

Please government of Canada REIN in the powers of the CAS it is long overdue!

I did thirty years of child protection work without screwing up . . . About caseload size. There is a lot of myth about this. I have handled caseloads of thirty and more without a problem. It is largely a matter of focus . . .What really matters is demand for work and the amount of work actually done. I have evaluated numerous caseloads and I have found that some caseloads grew and grew simply because the workers were not accomplishing anything. . . .A supervisor once asked me to evaluate a caseload for him because he was too busy to do it himself and a staff member had just left. I closed 35 of the 40 cases, because there was no need to keep them open.

Since retiring twenty years ago I have done a lot of advocacy work and I have built up a shocking dossier of abuse by social workers, who were fully aided and abetted by their superiors at every level. Nobody seems to care about it. Politicians are scared to touch them.

I applaud you for the time and effort it has taken you to write the article. Three families (including myself) , from here in Calgary, have experienced these types of abuses from social services. My MLA got me my children back. I was attending school, and had to withdraw due to my children being apprehended. My children also had no beds in foster care and were told not to complain, or they would be separated. When they did complain, I was told by the caseworker that the children were lying. 2 days later, after contacting my MLA, the foster parents had to buy my children beds.

My girlfriend's children have been gone for a year now, no abuse: a domestic dispute, and no evidence. The other family is being constantly threatened to have their children apprehended [for doing things] including feeding their children Kraft Dinner.

I applaud you for the well-constructed article about the state of [child protection] in Ontario; the immense immunity & powers of agency workers . . .

I have an amazing tale to tell about my own experiences with CAS, having lost custody of 3 children nearly 9 years ago after a violent marriage & entrusting their care to in-laws, for a personal reprieve, who couldn't be bothered & voluntarily relinquished them to authorities. As a result I've been engaged in nearly 9 years of litigation, left self-represented on a 2009 Court application, after being frozen out of Legal Aid....I could write volumes & pray that some day the madness will stop. I am truly the epitome of what your article says, about the situation with poverty, lack of supports & resources to leave the abusive marriage . . . the children were UNTOUCHED, but being intimidated, coerced & manipulated by the CAS worker, in my "then" naiveté, into signing " voluntary care agreements" etc., only solidifying my family's demise, whilst my universe was falling apart, hoping to regain custody of my children to face an interminable DECADE of battles within battles just for the privilege of maybe seeing my kids; always under the overhead of "we owe no duty of care to you” . . .

It was only this past fall that I was telling a wonderful man who was adopted through the Toronto Catholic CAS about the disaster that this agency still is. [This] man was adopted into a family that should not have been able to raise hamsters let alone children . . .

I told him about the long list of horror stories still happening including Jeffrey Baldwin. The Ontario audit that disclosed CAS mangers were jetting around the countryside with money allotted for children—this with a list of dead children that seems to grow yearly. The rash of lawsuits against them, and the fact that it remains a cesspool of secrecy, corruption and lies.

What bothers me the most is not just what these agencies have got away with in the past, no, it is that they are still doing the same thing. They are no more accountable now than they were 66 years ago when this man had the misfortune of being in their clutches.

Congratulations Mr. Libin on such a good article. Having been through CAS in foster care and adopted via them, I can assure you the anger I have towards them is huge. I've written to no avail requesting oversight of them for years . . .it is a disgrace that the Ombudsman is not being allowed to help in sorting out this festering disaster.

I just want to say thank you for standing up and doing this article about the CAS, very few have the guts to do so.

I am one of those parents who are still after 5 yrs fighting to get 3 of my children back from those baby stealers . . .I went to the CAS for help for someone to look after my children while I attended cancer treatment only to be [told] by the male worker . . . If I didn’t do what he wanted he would take my children, in the end I didn’t and he did. He falsified reports and affidavits to the court and shortly after was transferred across the province to cover it up we believe. It didn’t even go to a trial as legal aid had run out after 17 months . .. so I took the deal they offered under duress and took the 2 children they offered to me, leaving my other 3 to be beaten, abused and mentally/emotionally terrorized by these people. I live with the guilt of leaving my children in that situation every day of my life and I haven’t stopped fighting to get my 3 boys back . . .

I am supposed to have access to the other 3 children but am always denied it by the CAS office involved . . . My 3 children are alone and, as in your article are being drugged on things, like Seroquel to control them because they want to come home. The things they have done to my children I would never dream of . . . the child abusers are minding the children with no one overseeing their actions and that has to stop before anymore families are destroyed.

I commend you on taking this issue to the public. No one disputes the need for intervention to assist families and children in need. However in many areas a culture of impunity and corruption now dominates the closed, secret system of lawyers, judges and social workers who administer "protection". Child [protection] is now a multi billion dollar business on Canada, and the pursuit of power and profit has placed the interests of the "system" before the interest of families and children . . .

I am a direct witness to corruption and abuse in the Quebec care system (DPJ) and can provide documentation and corroboration of serious corruption and abuse at all levels of the system . . . bold lies, prevarication, false testimony, perjury and collusion in the court room . . .

For many years here in Ontario the Children's Aid has shown to be one of the most corrupt corporations and it is not getting any better. In Oshawa, a priest sued them and won however it cost him over $300,000 to finally have a judge charge the CAS with corruption and lying on documents. You know what they did? They moved the worker from Oshawa to London Ontario even after she was charged with crimes against him.

I wish to thank you for telling the truth as no one seems to be doing anything about this and it has got to the point where a parent can't parent anymore in Ontario and all it takes is a phone call to turn a parents life upside down. I emailed your story to all the MP's and MPP's in Oshawa but I know it won't make a difference.

Sadly your article missed a very critical issue completely, what happens when the parent calls them for help!? I did, under the guidance and recommendation of Youthdale (a centre my defiant and aggressive son was an in-patient [at] 2 years ago) when I reached out to them for help, when his rages escalated and our living conditions were untenable . . . what had ended up happening is my now 15 year old son has been living the life of Riley at a home I REFUSED to permit he go, and is calling all the shots! I have not seen or heard my childs' voice for nearly nine months now.

I merely did what Youthdale said I had to do to get the process in place to have my son put in residential treatment. Instead, my child declared he wanted no treatment of any sort and to go live hundreds of miles away . . .CAS all these months . . .continues to say "we can't make him do what he doesn't want to do” . . . I've been told I am to “just get used to life without him.” Clearly most of these social workers are not actually parents.!!!

I just read your article on Children's Aid Societies. I could not agree more with what you described there . . .

The sad thing is that it might be that without this monstrous system, there might be some abuses, but probably less than the amount of abuses at the hands of social workers or other kids in province's care. I am also sure that as abusers of children and pedophiles congregate where kids are, similarly a certain kind of people would pursue such careers.

I am not in the least surprised that Canadians react to such injustices by decreasing the amount of children they have to the point that Canada must import hundred of thousands of new immigrants (who don't know about these abuses) to pay the pension bill. The Children's Aid societies try to impose the Marxian view that children should be taken from their parents and being raised by the state.

Thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront where it deserves to be. Congratulation to you and NP for this great article!!!

Great story . . . Recently I was interrogated by a CAS worker in Woodstock Ontario who entered my home without warrant. That social worker came as a result of a supposed "anonymous" call. She claimed that the caller stated that I smoked Marijuana in my home and they were "concerned" about my disabled sons' behaviour. She stated that the prime reason for the interrogation was because my AUTISTIC son acted erratic (I would think that if he acted "normal" at any point I would have a heart attack!) . . . She said that she spent time in university and that she could "detect" a faint odour of marijuana in my home. We stated that was ridiculous. . . I was [once given an] award from Premier Dalton McGuinty for providing an exemplary role as a parent of a disabled person .

This organization should be looked at. They are non-accountable to the taxpayer, and routinely abuse whatever limited powers they have.

Generally the people that are abused by them, are unable to defend themselves and through the usage of voluntary agreements are forced to participate in drug testing, parenting classes, and other "state" approved programs that are intended to do nothing for families but everything for the alleviation of the "states' guilt".

I just read your article in the National Post. I want to thank you for writing this article. My life, my family life and everything I had been working for all my life is now almost destroyed because of the CAS. I haven't been able to be with my kids for the last 2 weeks and CAS hasn’t talked with me at all. They only have a small piece of the story and based on that I have now so many problems. I'm really afraid even writing this email because of the consequences, they have so much power.

What a great story . . .CAS is so corrupt . . . As an advocate in Ontario I have seen 1000s of cases and read all information on the cases. From police officer who were former crown wards to doctor being threatened to favor CAS and being over-paid to do it. The most common thing I see is discrimination. Why have the charter when a parent loses their child because they are legally blind or in a wheelchair? Julian Fantino said it best in 2001 "we can find a missing car in 24 hours but a missing child maybe never found, that’s child protection in Ontario.” But, great story. Families affected by cas/cfsa need more stories like this one to tell the truth.

I read your above article recently, and my wife and I couldn't agree more. The CAS is a spun out institution where the presumption of guilt reigns.

My wife and I have a 16-month-old daughter who is in an expensive daycare in Markham. My wife received a call about bruising on our daughter's legs (thick of thigh area) on a Wed. We explained how it happened, given she is super mobile and had a fall while 'investigating' our walk in shower—I was standing right beside her.

A week and 2 days later, as the bruising was subsiding, but darker, the daycare called me to advise the CAS was contacted and coming to check our daughter . . .

We are two professionals that are great parents. We wouldn't harm anything, much less our pride and joy. We were appalled at the lack of judgment of the daycare as well as the audacity of the CAS. And yes, 'apprehension' was mentioned through the process . . .

I'm filing complaints against the daycare and the CAS because of this ordeal . . . The experience was only mildly short of a death in the immediate family in terms of stress, pain and emotional turmoil. It was the worst day of my life, short of my father's recent passing . . .

Thank you for highlighting the CAS' completely ill-founded and distorted evolution.

A friend of mine is a lawyer with CAS in Kingston. Awhile ago, I, as a joke, I suggested that with the current laws and attitudes towards smoking that they would soon be taking children away from parents who smoked. She completely missed my satire and said something like, "Well, we have to consider everything in the welfare of the children."

by Really? Jun 16 2009, 8:15 PM

A buddy of mine had been fighting for his 3 boys for 10 years, the stories he told me were in the same league as all the stories Kevin Libin provided for us. I was aghast, almost didn't believe him, who would think this happens in Canada?

He happened to live across the street from the CAS building in his town. They have what I can only describe as "a cage" in the rear of the building where outdoor supervised visits take place. It was surreal to me, being new to all of it.

One day as we walked by the building to go to his place we witnessed 2 workers waltzing into the front doors with a 6-pack of Coronas! He and I couldn't believe our eyes! We didn't have cellphone cameras or we would have definitely snapped a shot of "our tax dollars in action."

Coincidentally, 3 months later I did some tilesetting at a foster care home where the 60 yr. old couple were renovating their house to the tune of thousands of dollars with the $$$ they received to "care for" the children. In the 2 weeks we spent there I assure all of you, I didn't witness any love!

They cared for 4 kids, and from what I understand they receive in the range of $3000 per kid per month.

The husband also was very forthright to me about the additional money he made from being "a driver", which meant he was on call to drive other kids to visits with their parents which in some cases was hundreds of kms. away from the foster home. So he pocketed an extra "income" from getting paid mileage at twice the rate anyone else being paid "mileage" gets...

I was disgusted, it took all I had to be civil and diplomatic with this man as I installed the expensive tile in this home.

Bottom line... This is a way for some "foster parents" to generate a huge income, in more ways than one.

Please Andre Martin, please fight like these children are your own, to get the oversight needed in this very, very corrupt and broken social program, to hold them accountable and correct the injustices.

This is not the Canada I was told/taught, I lived in.

by MerBill, Jun 18 2009, 2:39 PM

Dear Mr. Libin:

Sadly, these comments about the CAS being a dysfunctional organization, are all too familiar to us.

In 2007, my wife and I -- both middle-class Brampton residents, with a modest house, one daughter and a decent income -- approached the Peel Children's Aid Society, hoping to give a needy child a loving home.

To make a very long, frustrating story short, despite dutifully attending Peel CAS' amateurish "PRIDE" and "SAFE" adoptive parent training programs, one of the social workers who were in charge of the course, took a completely irrational hate to us, based (we think) purely because we challenged some of the assumptions taught in the course.

Later, in an interview, we were harangued by this person and several of her co-workers about having "oppressive" social views (needless to say, this observation was based purely on her subjective opinion and was wildly inaccurate), and because of this, were judged "ineligible to adopt in Ontario".

The CAS is judge, jury and executioner in cases like this; there is no effective way to dispute their (self-referential and subjective) assessments of prospective adoptive parents, and the agency as a whole is fantastically defensive about criticism -- they used their full-time lawyer to (unsuccessfully) attempt to stop us from even being heard by a review board (unfortunately, like with the Ombudsman, this board has no enforcement powers).

We appealed to the Ministry of Child and Family Services, by the way, but neither the Minister nor any of her underlings were in the slightest interested in listening to our pleas. Instead, they are far more concerned with protecting CAS from outside scrutiny. I don't blame them, because if people found out what is really going on with this out of control agency, the resulting scandal would make e-Health Ontario look like a walk in the park.

Because of the CAS' dreadful lack of professionalism, absurd insularity and obsession about avoiding third-party review of its activities, we can now NEVER adopt in Ontario (since their approval is now apparently required even for private adoptions). No wonder there are a lot of children stuck in the foster care system.

We don't have the money to sue them, so I guess there is some child out there in Ontario who would, in a competently managed system, now be sharing life with us, but who instead will never have that opportunity. There are probably thousands more like him or her, cast adrift by CAS' self-serving, mindless bureaucracy.

Source: National Post

mob reaction to children's aid

Crown Ward's Revenge

June 18, 2009 permalink

A foster teen in Sault Ste Marie got even with child stealers by trashing their home and smashing their vehicle.



Teen doesn't like foster parent rules. Throws royal hissy

By Staff,, Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lord of the Hissy-fit



Male youth arrested for mischief and assault with a weapon

A 15-year-old male youth was arrested yesterday at 8:21 p.m. at his residence and charged with one count of assault with a weapon and one count of mischief under $5,000.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. yesterday, City Police received a call to a centrally located residence regarding a 15- year-old youth that was out of control.

When officers arrived, they discovered that the male caused an extensive amount of damage to his foster parent’s residence.

It is alleged that the accused became upset with some household rules and smashed bedroom furniture, a stereo, a table, dishes, a dishwasher, and a door.

The accused then went outside, grabbed a shovel and some rocks and started to hit the foster parent’s vehicle with them, breaking a window and causing several dents and scratches to the vehicle.

It is further alleged that the accused struck his foster parent with some of the rocks, resulting in minor injuries.

The accused is to appear in bail court his morning.

Source: SooToday

Banish Mom

June 15, 2009 permalink

A British mother lost her children to foster care on an allegation later dismissed. She was left with just seven hours visitation with her children per fortnight. Now that she has a terminal disease, how did social services improve her family? They reduced her visitation to an hour and a half. They also reduced her to a pseudonym, Kate Brown, ensuring that no one can come forward to help. Next, will they be cutting her oxygen supply?



Social services cut dying mother's time with children

A dying mother has appealed for more time with her children after being banned from seeing them for more than 90 minutes a fortnight.

By Matthew Moore, Published: 10:00AM BST 15 Jun 2009

The woman, who suffers from a terminal brain disorder, has had her visiting time reduced by social services because of concerns about her failing health.

Her two children – a 12-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy – were taken into care three years ago after the daughter told a teacher that she had been abused by a friend of her mother.

The allegation was later dismissed but the children remain with foster parents because social workers are concerned that their mother – referred to as Kate Brown for legal reasons – is unable to guarantee their safety.

Mrs Brown, who has learning difficulties a history of alcohol problems, had been allowed seven hours of access a fortnight. But she has now been told that she can have only a few minutes with her children each week.

"By the time they get here, it is already time for them to go," she told The Times.

The children's extended family have offered to take the children in to allow them to spend more time with their mother, but their proposals have been rejected by social services. Meanwhile, the children have been getting into trouble at school and are said to be on the brink of exclusion.

"The social workers say they have got new families. But we are their family," said Mrs Brown's sister. "When they're 16 people won't want to know them."

A spokesman for the city council, which cannot be identified, said: "This case is going through an official process and we are unable to comment."

Source: Daily Telegraph

Sex or Foster Care

June 13, 2009 permalink

Since girls have been known to make false allegations, some skepticism is in order for this report. While other social workers have been caught demanding sex from mothers in exchange for custody, Seattle social worker Robert Cline reached a new low by demanding sex from a foster girl.



Social worker accused of attempting to trade foster home placement for sex

Thursday, June 11, 2009, Last updated June 12, 2009 4:40 p.m. PT, By LEVI PULKKINEN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF

Prosecutors have filed sex crime charges against a social worker accused of offering to place a then 13-year-old girl in a foster home of her choice in exchange for sex.

Indian Child Welfare caseworker Robert Cline, 48, was charged earlier this month with a single count of immoral communication with a minor, a felony sex crime.

King County sheriff's detectives were first alerted to the allegations in 2007, when they received a referral from child protective services, according to police statements filed with the court.

At the time, Cline denied any wrongdoing. He told detectives the girl was angry with him because he'd asked her about rumors that she'd joined a gang, and alleged that the girl had fabricated a report because he had removed her from her mother's home.

Unable to reach the girl, detectives suspended the case until another Indian Child Welfare caseworker informed them the girl was now willing to discuss the alleged incident.

According to detectives' statement, the girl became upset while discussing the incident during a January interview. She told detectives she was meeting with Cline at his office to discuss where she would live while in foster care when he asked her "what she would do for him" if he allowed her to live at a friend's home.

Cline went on to demand the girl have sex with him, prosecutors say. After being rebuffed, they say Cline drove her home.

Prosecutors say he touched her inappropriately during the trip, then threatened to harm her.

"She said Robert (Cline) told her not to tell anyone about what happened, and said 'You will be hurt and you will regret it,'" Detective Belinda Ferguson said in court documents.

Cline is scheduled to enter a plea to the charge on June 18 in King County Superior Court. He has not been jailed in the case.

Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Children's Aid Spanked

June 13, 2009 permalink

The National Post criticizes children's aid societies in depth.

Press articles about a public agency usually reflect the agenda of an interested party. We wonder who is the interested party sparking an article like this.

For readers outside of Canada, the National Post is one of Canada's leading newspapers, so this article means something.



National Post, Friday, June 12, 2009

Children's Aid Society workers should be reined in, critics say

Kevin Libin, National Post

They are charged with the most essential of duties: protecting vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. They will intervene in the lives of roughly 200,000 Canadian children this year.

For most of us, they are generally unseen, save for occasional mentions in news reports, when they rescue children from misery. Or, as sometimes happens, deliver it.

Canada's child-welfare agencies, says University of Manitoba social work professor Brad McKenzie, have among the broadest intervention powers in the Western world.

Caseworkers come armed with vaster powers than any police officer investigating crime. It is an immense authority easily abused, without vigilant restraint.

It is time, critics say, they were reined in.

"The social worker system, as it applies to children, is out of control, seriously out of control," says Katherine McNeil, a children's advocate who has worked with families in Nova Scotia and B.C. "And nobody's doing anything about it."

Child-welfare agencies step in when kids are homeless, exploited, hungry or abused. They do not stop there. As the highly publicized neo-Nazi case in Winnipeg demonstrates, they might seize children from parents for teaching racist views, or for "emotional neglect." They have taken newborns from parents considered insufficiently intelligent; from religious families believing the Bible commands them to discipline kids with a rod. They order homeschooling parents to enroll children in public school, deeming them inadequately socialized.

"They violate all kinds of privacy and rights," says Chris Klicka, senior counsel for the Home School Defense League, which represents Canadian and American parents.

Whether we wanted it or not, knew it or not, over time, the work of child-welfare organizations has become "parenting by the state and the imposition of their value system on other people," says Marty McKay, a clinical psychologist who has worked on abuse cases in the U.S and Canada. Provincial agencies have the power to intervene when children are considered "at risk" of abuse or neglect - even if none has actually occurred. Or, where spousal abuse happens, but kids are untouched. And what they do with the children they take can sometimes be worse than what they suffered at home.

When journalist J.J. Kelso founded Canada's first Children's Aid Society in 1891, it was from revulsion at what he had witnessed working in Toronto's slums: the filthy, homeless urchins begging on the street, the school-aged girls whored out by parents for whiskey money; children needing "rescue," Kelso exhorted, "from the environments of vice, cruelty or mendicancy."

Courts could imprison parents for cruelty, but not revoke custody. Backed by the 1893 Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to and Better Protection of Children, the society had unique authority to directly interfere in affairs of parents and children: Anyone under 14 found begging, receiving alms, out late, homeless, orphaned, imprisoned, thieving, or associating with thieves, drunkards or vagrants, would be appropriated by the province.

Since then, as child-welfare agencies multiplied across Canada, their authority expanded, too.

One Calgary mother said her kids were recently pulled from class and questioned by a caseworker after she kept them home from school for a week, fearing they might be exposed to Swine Flu. When the mother protested, the worker threatened to seize all six children in her house, including two toddlers.

"All because I was overtly concerned about my children's health," says an incredulous Ms. K, who, as is the case with all investigations, cannot be identified. Nor can she ever know who lodged the complaint against her.

The worker later visited the house. There, Ms. K reports (and witnesses confirm), when she further protested the interference - at one point calling police - the agent hollered at her, physically accosted her, and threatened to report her for abuse, of which, the caseworker later relented, there was no evidence.

The secrecy that envelops these cases makes it nearly impossible to fully investigate Ms. K's remarkable claims: caseworkers do not permit "clients," as they're called, to record meetings, and agencies cannot comment on any case. But the account doesn't shock those who work closely with the authorities.

"I'm certainly not surprised, and hear over and over again of workers ... threatening [parents] with apprehension. They'll never admit it in court, of course, but I hear it all the time," says Bradley Spier, a Calgary family lawyer. "Most of the time they're above board. ... They all have an attitude, but they'll do their investigation and, if they can't substantiate it, they're generally pretty honest about that, and won't take any action. But until then, they're god-like creatures, for lack of a better word. Or they think they are."

The government's role in protecting vulnerable children treads an impossibly fine line. Without anonymous complaints, and the power to interview and apprehend, some children would undoubtedly suffer terribly. Accordingly, legislators grant workers astounding licence: a social work graduate, fresh from college, can enter a home without warrant; apprehend children without due process; and commandeer police officers to enforce his or her efforts. A caseworker can order children dressed, fed, medicated, and educated any way they consider appropriate. Parents who do not submit risk losing custody, even visitation of their kids. Or have them taken away permanently.

It is an authority that is sometimes severely misused. When that happens, Ms. McKay says, families can be traumatized in a perversion of the very system designed to prevent abuse.

The anonymous process, for example, invites bogus tips - commonly from divorcing parents, for instance, since agencies can unilaterally alter custody arrangements. Most complaints prove "unsubstantiated": 55% according to the most recent Health Canada study.

"Children's Aid, even when they don't start an investigation [themselves], they can be manipulated by people," says Ms. McKay.

Prof. McKenzie says child-welfare agencies typically do good work under difficult circumstances. Overstretched caseworkers, with general training, can be unequipped to specialize in interventions and the complexities each case brings. What some, middle-class agents might consider neglect, for example, is often a matter of poverty, not necessarily cruelty.

And some child-welfare workers also exploit their tremendous clout to behave unethically, prejudicially or illegally.

"Some of them get a real power complex because they have a bachelor of social work, or a masters, and they suddenly have this power [to] apprehend," says Ms. McKay. "They throw their weight around." She sees in some workers a "police mentality." It may be a coincidence, but in the largest English-speaking provinces, Alberta, B.C. and Ontario (Quebec data are incomplete), the number of children taken into care by provincial agencies between 1993 and 2001, rose a remarkable 97%, 63% and 72% respectively.

Prof. McKenzie is encouraged by a nascent trend in Canadian agencies away from historic, heavier-handed investigative and apprehension focus, and toward working more co-operatively with families to improve home conditions.

Studies show that under the current system, he says, "generally we find that the majority of children that are served [by welfare agencies] do well" - meaning they thrive at school, seem generally well-adjusted, are free from abuse and neglect. About 15% to 20%, he says, do not.

That is not a trifling number. But the stories behind it - let alone the validity of the initial apprehensions - can prove impenetrable. Cases are shrouded in silence, media blocked from reporting details, or questioning workers, in the legitimate name of protecting children involved (even in the high-profile Winnipeg neo-Nazi case, most details were concealed). But such limits thwart public scrutiny into an arm of government as capable of error as any other, yet, in determining how much or even whether families stay together, working with some of the highest stakes imaginable.

Last year, Ontario MPP Andrea Horwath tabled a private member's bill to make Children's Aid Societies answerable to the provincial ombudsman, something Ontario's Children and Youth Services has repeatedly resisted (ombudsmen in some other provinces, such as Alberta, have that authority). Ontario's CAS typically refuses to share files with its Child Advocate; in his annual report released earlier this year - which found 90 children in provincial care died in 2008 - Irwin Elman called it "almost impossible" to get information necessary to investigate potential agency wrongdoing. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled parents could not sue child-welfare agencies; provinces, it ruled, owed no "duty of care" to families. The lack of oversight, says Ms. McNeil, creates departments accountable only to themselves.

And there are numerous instances of caseworkers acting improperly. Two years ago, a Nova Scotia judge ruled that workers intervening in a divorce custody dispute were so biased against the mother, and in favour of the father - who lived with a woman previously the subject of interventions for violence and neglect - that they took "intentional and deliberate" steps to "mislead the court" by concealing evidence against him. A few years earlier, the CAS of Prescott and Russell, near Ottawa, and one worker, were convicted of contempt of court for refusing to return a two-year-old boy to his parents, defying a judge's instructions to do so. Agents insisted they were acting in the boy's "best interests." In 2001, two judges in Simcoe, Ont., criticized the CAS there for "arbitrary use of government power" and unreasonableness "verging on blind obstinacy" in fighting to keep children from being adopted by certain foster parents. Several parents interviewed for this story claim to have faced false accusations and bullying from caseworkers harbouring apparent agendas.

A report this year from Saskatchewan's Children's Advocate, Marvin Bernstein, found children suffering serious, ongoing abuse and neglect in the care of the province amidst a "culture of non-compliance with policy" among social services staff.

Even when acting with utmost professionalism, whether agents are able to provide children a better, safer environment than where they came from is not certain.

Mr. Bernstein's report found staff knowingly placing children with histories of committing sexual abuse into crowded foster homes where they preyed on other kids, without alerting foster parents to the problem (one reported that a caseworker assured her "a certain amount of sexual abuse is to be expected in a foster home"). A quarter of children were placed in overcrowded homes, he found, as staff routinely used "manipulative methods" to "trick" foster parents into taking more kids than they were approved for. Two Saskatchewan caseworkers were suspended in February after being discovered shuffling children between foster homes to hide overcrowding conditions from investigators.

"Children's Aid has no business placing into care a child that they can foresee is going to come out worse the other end than when they went in," Ms. McKay says. "If that's the best they can do, just leave them."

Two teens charged in connection with the recent double murder near Edmonton were in care of a ministry-licensed group home - a place neighbours say they warned the government for years was poorly monitored. In March, a 15-month-old baby in care of Alberta's Children and Youth Services suffered critical head injuries in a foster home; in the past four years, two Alberta children have been killed by foster parents. A 2008 report found Alberta caseworkers regularly placing kids in unsafe conditions, including abusive situations.

Last year, seven-year-old Katelynn Sampson was killed in Toronto in care of a foster parent with a record of violent crimes, and in Vancouver, police discovered minors in provincial care working as prostitutes. In 2002, Jeffrey Baldwin was abused and neglected to death by a couple with a known history of child abuse but were nonetheless granted custody of the five-year-old by the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto. A 2006 CBC investigation uncovered Ontario caseworkers drugging a seven-year-old Ontario boy into a stupor with massive doses of psychotropic medications, which a psychiatrist would later find had "no actual treatment value," except making him more compliant in his group home. While in his drugged state, he was sexually abused by fellow residents.

Those who believe in the good intentions of child-welfare agencies argue they lack the resources to deal properly with each case; with some workers handling more than 30 clients simultaneously, it is impossible to act perfectly. One problem, believes Ms. McKay, is caseworkers spread too thin, drifting far from the original vision of the state's role in family matters: protecting kids from verifiable and authentic abuse, cruelty and neglect.

"They need to go back to the basics," she says. "Do the children look well-nourished? Do they have bruises on them? Are they molested? Is the house crawling with cockroaches? If not, they're not being abused or neglected."

But with powerful, generally unaccountable agencies, dependent on justifying their place in a world far improved from the cruelties of J.J. Kelso's Victorian Toronto, the need to intervene in more cases, for more reasons, may make such discipline difficult. "I would love to just demolish the system and start from scratch again," she says. "Because it's gone very far awry here."

Source: National Post

Addendum:The National Post published a reply from Kevin Ausman.



National Post, Monday, June 15, 2009

The problem with Children's Aid

Re: State As Mother; Critics Say It's Time To Rein In Child-Welfare Agencies, Kevin Libin, June 13.

For many years here in Ontario, the Children's Aid Society (CAS) has shown itself to be one of the most corrupt corporations. And it is not getting any better. In Oshawa, Ont., a priest sued the CAS for corruption and lying in documents. He won, but it cost him over $300,000 to finally have a judge rule in his favour. CAS's response: It simply moved the worker cited in the case from Oshawa to London, Ont.

I wish to thank you for telling the truth -- because no one seems to be doing anything about this and it has got to the point where a parent can't parent anymore in Ontario. All it takes is a phone call to turn a parent's life upside down.

Kevin Ausman, Oshawa, Ont.

Source: National Post


WRFU Newsletter

June 12, 2009 permalink

Here is the latest newsletter from WRFU. Mr Carter extended CAS the courtesy of giving them a copy 24 hours in advance (more he notes, than CAS gives parents to reply to their court affidavits). A lawyer for CAS wants to jail Mr Carter for communicating with CAS in violation of a peace bond. Who is the crazy one here?

Note: On July 11, 2009 we deleted paragraphs claimed as libelous in a Notice under the Libel and Slander Act. 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.

Child Killed in Foster Care

June 12, 2009 permalink

After mom hit dad, how did British Columbia keep the peace? They charged mom with a crime and sent their toddler Jor-el Macnamara to a foster home, where he was killed.



Mourners traumatized by sight of dead toddler's bruised face

Jor-el Macnamara
‘You are not supposed to see a child like that. I would not wish that on anybody, even my worst enemy,' close relative said

Robert Matas

Vancouver — From Friday's Globe and Mail, Thursday, Jun. 11, 2009 11:06PM EDT

The mourners cannot forget what they saw. Toddler Jor-el Macnamara had an open-casket funeral earlier this week. His pudgy cheeks and big lips were overshadowed by the huge bruises on his face.

“Those bruises all over his face tell their own story. It's heart-breaking,” Allison Wale, a close relative of Jor-el who said she was familiar with the events in the child's short life, said Thursday in an interview from New Hazelton, 1,400 kilometres north of Vancouver.

“I'm sick to my stomach. I could not even sleep last night after I saw him,” Ms. Wale said, adding that she was frazzled at the moment. “You are not supposed to see a child like that. I would not wish that on anybody, even my worst enemy.”

The memory of the bruised face was “eating me from the inside out,” she added. “I have a three-year-old and a five-year-old. I feel bad if I even raise my voice at them. I cannot imagine the amount of abuse that [Jor-el suffered during] his 21 months on this earth.”

The boy, the middle of three children, died on June 3. He had been removed from his parents' care weeks before and placed in the home of an aunt, who was raising her own teenage son. Jor-el's mother, who is 20, is currently facing a charge of aggravated assault against his father.

The young boy's death has drawn attention to care of children at risk, especially in first nations communities that share responsibility for child protection with the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The death comes seven years after the death of Sherry Charlie, a 19-month-old battered child who was removed from her home and placed in one where her uncle killed her. A government review found that child-care staff had not completed criminal and family checks before putting the little girl in her uncle's home.

Police have announced they are investigating Jor-el's death as a homicide but have declined to confirm any reports about the cause of his death that are circulating in the community of about 800 people. Police have also refused to comment on contact they had with family members before the death.

Ms. Wale said she was outraged when she saw “his little, tiny, beaten body” in the coffin. But she was not surprised to hear that the little boy died as a result of injuries.

Several people had told child-care workers after he was taken out of his home that Jor-el was in danger, Ms. Wale said. The RCMP, the children's ministry and the band office knew the history of those involved in Jor-el's life, she said. “The reason I'm talking to you is I'm sick of this,” she said. “Everything should be brought to the public's attention. It does not need to be swept under the rug any more.”

Dale Bulley, a youth advocate in Smithers who worked with the child's father and mother, said Thursday the ministry's handling of the case should not be overlooked. Mr. Bulley released correspondence yesterday showing that he had notified ministry staff on April 2 about problems with the little boy's care. “Like Sherry Charlie, they [the ministry staff] are not doing proper safety checks of where the kids are going,” he said.

Jor-el's placement with his aunt was a joint decision of staff from the ministry and the band office, a band official has said. However, neither the ministry nor band administrators were available for an interview Thursday.

“We are not at liberty to comment on this case because this matter is the focus of a police investigation,” ministry spokesman Kelly Gleason stated in an e-mail response to a request for an interview. “The ministry is also unable to confirm what involvement – if any – the ministry may have had with the family in question, as a result of privacy legislation,” he stated.

Source: Globe and Mail

Support for John Dunn

June 12, 2009 permalink

Here is a letter in support of John Dunn's effort to get membership in his local children's aid society. It is from Donald J Lester, himself a former foster carer with inside knowledge of the operation of CAS.



June 9, 2009


Barbara Mackinnon
[ barbara.mackinnon at ]

This request delay is representative of the unaccountability and lack of transparence of CAS across the province. While such delays are contrary to the mandates of CASs, such actions only testify to the larger issues that are concealed from the public in the guise of, "good faith". What is divisive is that public dollars are being distributed through the province to what amounts to a Secret Society. While the government Ministry responsible for these agencies are failing to insure accountability, including insuring that said agencies are complying with the best interests of the child rather than said agencies serving their own need.

Over the past decade thousands of complaints and direct violations of the CFSA have been charged against many agencies in Ontario. These violations have never been addressed and government Ministry responsible have not only hidden behind a cloak making references that these issues are the responsibility of said agencies. Maintaining a total disregard of such complaints while at the same time divesting greater powers to said agencies who have built a billion dollar system from the public's purse, yet no accountable.

While children, fall through the cracks, die in the care of the system; where boards are supposed to be open to the public, yet are not. This should leave little doubt in anyone's mind that this system Bilaterally has undermined the rights of Ontario's population including their mandate to children. Such behavior at minimal dishonest and in some cases could be classified as illegal. Such represent a systematic dark side that amounts to cruel and unusual punishment for many families who have been usurped into this system. Considering that said agencies have bottomless pockets to defend their actions, while most of said issues that have been raised over the years are from poorest of the poor, including children.

While the many pray and hope for their issues to be addressed in and honest and up front manner, many know, including government ministry that these days of secret societies will come to an end, because the many will not cease in their peruse. There are many parallels to such abuse of power, the native schools, the Duplessis Orphans, Mount Cashel abuse, the list is exhaustive. But when one examines all of the present complaints within the present system one becomes paralyzed by the enormity of the darkness the envelops in the dark corners of " the best interest of the child".

The facts are that these children are the responsibility of the province and not toys of some secret society that remains unaccountable. This system is paramount to the present e-health, that has demonstrated a total disregard towards the public purse and the health of thousands of Ontarians, while the present CASs are defiling our most vulnerable children with the support of the provincial government.

Therefore meaningful change can only become a reality when openness and transparence become the order of the day. When governments accepts it's responsibility rather than hiding behind a dark vale that only enshrines greater injustices.

Donald J. Lester

Source email from Don [ donjlester at ]

Warning of Canadian Scam Against Parents

June 10, 2009 permalink

Americans are being targeted by a scam suggesting their grandchildren are being held in a Canadian jail. As a protection to American consumers, we advise that your grandchildren are not being held in Canadian jails. They are really being held in Canadian foster homes, and it will take a lot more than $11,000 to get them out.



Lawrence Wasden


Date: June 10, 2009
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Grandparent Scam Surfaces in Idaho

(Boise) - Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says his office has received several calls from Idaho senior citizens reporting attempts to cheat them out of money in the “grandparent scam.” Wasden warned grandparents not to wire money to callers claiming to be their grandchildren.

Wasden said about a dozen such calls have been reported to his office in the past few weeks. One Idaho grandmother reported that she had wired $11,000 out of the United States, believing that her grandson was in prison under horrible conditions.

A typical call goes like this:

Victim: Hello.

Caller: Grandma?

Victim: Is that you, Justin?

Caller: Yeah, Grandma, it’s me and I need some help. I wrecked my car in Canada and I’m in jail. I need $3,000 for bail so I can get out of jail. I called you because I don’t want Mom and Dad to know I’m in trouble, so please don’t tell them I called. Can you wire the money to me today, Grandma? I don’t want to spend another night in jail. And you won’t tell Mom and Dad, promise?

Sometimes the caller will hand the phone to another person who will claim to be a police officer or bail bondsman.

“These calls are a cynical hoax, originating mostly in Canada,” Attorney General Wasden said. “Anyone who receives such a call should be very skeptical. Ask questions to verify the caller’s identity. Before you do anything, call the parents or other family members. Don’t wire money, which is like sending cash and is almost impossible to recover. Don’t give credit card or bank account information over the phone if someone calls you.”

Wasden said any Idaho resident who has sent money should file a report with their local police or sheriff. They may also contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. In the Boise area, call 334-2424. Elsewhere in Idaho, call the toll-free number, 1-800-432-3545.

“It is very difficult to trace funds sent by wire transfer,” Wasden said, “but if information is still ‘hot’ and there is a Canada connection, my office can help people get in touch with the Phonebusters anti-fraud hotline run by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and provincial police.”

The Phonebusters toll-free number is 888-495-8501.

Source: Idaho attorney general

Miscarriage of Justice

June 9, 2009 permalink

John Hemming comments on British family courts. Hard as it is to believe, they are even worse than in Canada. Here at least parents who present a good case to the court have a chance of getting their children back.



Birmingham Post

Machine for injustice

May 28 2009 By John Hemming

MP John Hemming looks at the effect of the latest changes in Family Court proceedings.

So, the new rules on Family Court Proceedings came into force about a month ago.

Indeed from time to time a journalist has attended a hearing. However, the journalist is then not allowed to publish anything about what happened at the hearing.

Given that journalists earn their crust by publishing there is little reason for any journalist to attend a family court and this change can only be described as a confidence trick by Ministry of Justice civil servants. Jack Straw, however, has now agreed that there will be a further step.

The new rules, however, do involve some improvements. It will be lawful for parents or children to tell their MP about what happened in court. It will also be lawful for parents or children to tell a journalist what happened. However, it remains that publication can only happen with the permission of the judge.

Public family law is that part of the law where the state (the local childrens services authority) is using judicial authority to remove children from their parents. Over the past three years since the formation of the “justice for families” campaign, I have been able to review a large number of cases of public family law. As with Camilla Cavendish, Denise Robertson and Sue Reid I have been shocked at what went on.

It is, however, best to start with some statistics. This gives the overall picture of what happens in the family courts. In 2007 local authorities in England applied for 8,173 care orders. 7,624 orders were made, 336 applications were withdrawn by the council, 290 “no order” decisions were made and 21 orders were refused. In other words the judgment of risk of the social workers working for the council was so good that they were only completely refused by the judge 21 times (0.27%). More importantly 93% of the time the judge merely rubberstamped the proposals from the local authority.

Perhaps more interesting is that on 679 occasions a local authority has applied to imprison a child – in a secret court where imprisonment is the threat for talking about what went on – in the “best interests of the child”. 634 prison sentences were given, no orders were refused, four no order decisions were made and 41 applications withdrawn. Now conditions in secure children’s homes are quite different to prison. It is, however, often locking a child up hundreds of miles from their parents mainly because they keep running away to go back to their parents. This is done in secret. Where is the accountability?

It is worth comparing the results in the family courts to those in the criminal courts. In 2007 87,553 defendants were sent for trial. 59,162 pleaded guilty, of the 28,391 who pleaded not guilty 17,184 were acquitted and only 11,207 convicted. That is an acquittal rate of 61% which is 19.6% of all cases.

Defenders of the system will say the standard of proof in criminal proceedings is higher than that in family proceedings. This is true. More evidence is needed in criminal proceedings, but the Crown Prosecution Service know that. If the CPS completely lose 19.6% of the time why do local authorities only completely lose 0.27% of the time. Is it that the judgment of the social workers is so good compared to the CPS that they are almost invariably right?

The reason why transparency is needed in the family courts is that they are a machine for miscarriages of justice. Those people who work in the system believe that it is so reliable that it very rarely goes wrong. My experience is, however, the opposite and that it is a machine for miscarriages of justice.

I am watching a case at the moment where it appears that the judge is going to make up a case against a father. I am also watching a case where a judge has specifically banned a father from talking to me about the case. What do these people want to hide?

Apologists for the family courts will claim that there are checks and balances in place that prevent miscarriages of justice. There is, after all, the Court of Appeal – the “engine room of UK justice”. Parents can always appeal their case.

This is true in principle, but the practice is different. Firstly parents need to get legal aid for the appeal. This involves a barrister being willing to write an opinion for the legal services commission that the parents are likely to win their case. There is no funding for this. Generally parents don’t win in England anyway. This hurdle stops most potential appeals. Desperate parents who are losing their children to adoption then learn that they can appeal as litigants in person (without legal advice). This brings up the second hurdle.

One of the saddest things about forced adoption cases is that parents end up with boxes and boxes of paper replacing their beloved children. In all of this paper, the key documents are the orders and judgments.

Orders are the judges’ decisions. The judgments are the reasons why the judge made the decision. Normally when I look at someone’s papers they have orders galore, but no judgments. That is a problem because if you wish to appeal a decision you need to demonstrate why the judges reasoning is “plainly wrong”. If you don’t have a transcript of the judgment you cannot appeal.

There have been cases in Liverpool where it has taken over a year to get a transcript of the judgment. If you want to take a case from the Court of Appeal to the House of Lords or indeed the European Court of Human Rights you need the judgment from the Court of Appeal. The Appeal Court judgements are special because they are also anonymously published. Two appeal court judges LJ Wall and LJ Thorpe are particularly good at sitting on transcripts of judgments. Two cases where I am helping parents as litigants in person in front of them have had delays of over a month recently. One judgment took almost four months to pop out of the system. The other case had a hearing in early March and the transcript is stuck somewhere in the system.

It is important to understand that much family court ‘evidence’ is not ‘evidence’, it is ‘opinion’. The family courts rely on opinion from ‘experts’. Not only that but you need permission from the court to instruct an expert and it is contempt of court to instruct an expert without permission from the court. This puts all the cards in the hands of the local authority. The local authority is taking away children from their families every week. The parents only have one exercise. The local authority does most of the assessments, agrees as to who can be the expert and even recommends solicitors to the parents.

Social workers will admit that they “advocate for the child”. This involves them talking to the experts about the contents of the report to try to ensure that it is favourable to the local authority. At the same time the parents will be doing the same. However, the difference is that if an expert upsets the local authority they should expect the stream of fees for expert reports to dry up. I have seen expert reports that cost £28,000 although normally they are more like £4,000-£5,000.

One of the worst things that can happen normally happens only to mothers. That is that the local authority pays an expert who says that the mother is “incapable of instructing a solicitor”. Then the Official Solicitor comes in and normally concedes the case against the mother. I have dealt with two cases like this where no second opinion was allowed, but after we have got the case as far as the European Court of Human Rights we have managed to get a second opinion which makes it quite clear that the mother does understand what is going on.

Using the issue of mental capacity to prevent someone contesting a criminal case was made unlawful in the 1800s. It really should not be possible to do this against mothers threatened with the removal of their children in the 2000s. However, it happens between 150 and 200 times a year.

These are only a few of the dreadful things that happen in the English Family Courts. The government’s failure on this and the judicial willingness to keep the secret gravy train pouring for practitioners is unacceptable.

Those who have seen the dreadful things that are allowed to happen will not rest until this is resolved.

* John Hemming is Lib Dem Mp for Yardley

Source: Birmingham Post

10-Year-Old Jailed for Fight with Sister

June 8, 2009 permalink

Two sisters had a fistfight. When the cops found out, the ten-year-old was arrested and charged with a crime.



Rhonda and Reagan Green

10-Year-Old Jailed for Fight w/ Sister

Published : Monday, 08 Jun 2009, 6:03 PM CDT, Shaun Rabb

FLOWER MOUND, Texas - Police in Flower Mound arrested a 10-year-old girl over the weekend for fighting with her older sister. They handcuffed her, took her fingerprints and picture, and charged with assault.

Officers in the town about 25 miles northwest of Dallas say it's not the first time they've arrested a young child for family violence, because they say state law forces them to take action. This time, a young girl is charged with a Class A misdemeanor assault.

Reagan and Desiree Green get along pretty well most of the time, but they admit they sometimes clash like all sisters do.

On Saturday they were playing in a Flower Mound park when 10-year-old Reagan refused to follow 13-year-old Desiree's instructions. In fact, she went beyond just saying "no."

"She pushed me, so I just walked away from it," Desiree recalled. "The third time she pushed me, we just started fighting."

Someone saw them fighting and called police. An officer showed up and ultimately, the younger girl was arrested.

The girls were visiting family in Flower Mound and went back to their house. Officers arrived after them, minutes before the girls' mother.

Rhonda Green said the officers told her, "'This is criminal, and one of them is going to have to go to jail and it's probably going to have to your younger one because she was the aggressor,' and I said, 'Are you kidding me?' and he said, 'No, no.'"

"They handcuffed me and put me in the car," Reagan recalled. "He just told me he was going to take me to jail."

We asked the police what happened.

"Both of them had some injuries," said Lt. Clay Pierce of the Flower Mound Police Dept. "The one showed more serious injuries, so the other one was detained."

Pierce said this was a case of family violence.

"By state law we are required to take action and what we did, we detained the youngest one," he said.

"They fingerprinted my baby," said Rhonda Green. "My baby is in the system, for having a fight with her sister. She's ten."

When asked if the girls planned on fighting in public again, Desiree had a sensible answer.

"Not in public, but we're still going to fight like every other sister will," she said.

Flower Mound police are turning the case over to the Denton County District Attorney for further review.

Source: Fox Dallas/Ft Worth

Pediatric Death Review Cover-up

June 8, 2009 permalink

Ontario's Coroner has released the Report of the Paediatric Death Review Committee and Deaths Under Five Committee.

It purports to inform the public on the nature of childhood deaths in Ontario, so that policy improvements can be made. One of the changes this year is the addition of Dr Dirk Huyer to the committee. Dr Huyer has appeared a few times on this site, many more times in reports that we cannot post. He was a sidekick of Dr Charles Smith during his heyday, supervising the SCAN clinic at the Hospital for Sick Children. The think-dirty attitude resulted in many parents falsely accused of child abuse by Dr Huyer. In a case we cannot report, he stated that when he gets a case, it is already child abuse, his job is only to gather supporting evidence for that conclusion.

One meaning of snow-job is an essay response to a question on an examination. When the student knows nothing of the subject, a long essay talking around the topic may get a passing grade, at least if the examiner does not read it carefully. The coroner's report is such a snow-job.

Much of the report is a long recitation of procedures within the coroner's office.

There is a long discussion of sleeping arrangements, including the line: 31 deaths are identified as SIDS. Another discussion is of fire (60 deaths).

And what about the biggest cause of child death, foster care? The report obfuscates the distinction between parental care and foster care. A table on page 67 says that of the 105 child deaths with CAS cases, only 17 were in CAS care, the rest were "In Home Service" cases. Since the 17 figure is impossibly low according to our statistical study, the category "In Home Service" must include many non-parental care cases. Maybe they classify foster homes as "In Home Service". In case you think the number 105 too high, another table on page 85 studies 41 deaths with CAS cases. The other 64 weren't worth study.

Not one dead child is mentioned by name, so there can be no outside check on accuracy. In an American report, there was enough detail to say definitively that the data was incorrect. In the Ontario document, there is less detail than in the US report, not enough to pin down any definite errors. It seems safe to say that the purpose of the report is not to inform, but to conceal.

An editorial in yesterday's Edmonton Sun calls for a public inquiry into Alberta's child welfare system. The call comes because of the large number of problems that have come to the attention of the press. In Ontario, where the number of deaths is higher, there are no such calls because of successful cover-ups by the social services system.



Child welfare public inquiry needed

By ANDREW HANON, Last Updated: 7th June 2009, 1:29am

It's time for Janis Tarchuk to call a public inquiry into Alberta's child welfare system.

Alberta's children and youth services minister is one of the most beleagured members of Premier Ed Stelmach's cabinet. It seems each time an uproar over the state of our child welfare system starts to die down, another one erupts.

The latest was last week's horrific double-homicide in Strathcona County. When police tried to contact the owner of a stolen vehicle they recovered, they discovered the bodies of two neighbours.

The following day, they announced charges against two 14-year-olds arrested with the vehicle, one with two counts of murder and the other as an accessory after the fact.

As if accusing a pair of young teens in two killings isn't horrifying enough, it was soon revealed that both boys were wards of the Crown, and had recently run away from a nearby group home.

Now it's been revealed that the minister has known for two years about neighbours' concerns over kids running away from the facililty.

That's how this mess landed in Tarchuk's lap. It's only the latest in a list.

Back in January, a four-year-old girl in a foster home died. The foster mom, who is also the victim's aunt, was charged with second-degree murder.

The little's girl's grandmother claimed the family had warned Children's Services not to place the girl in that home because the foster mom already had six kids of her own.

The same month another foster mother, a nurse by profession, was convicted of manslaughter in the death of a three-year-old in her care. Last week she was sentenced to three years in prison.

The boy's biological parents are now suing the government for $400,000, alleging that the foster mother systematically abused the child. They charge that the government fails to properly screen, train and support foster parents.

In March, a southern Alberta toddler in foster care was hospitalized with massive head injuries.

Meanwhile, there are at least two fatality inquiries pending for other children connected to the child welfare system who've died in recent years.

Then there was the outcry last fall over the delays in the children's advocate's failure to file annual reports on time, leading to accusations that Tarchuk had no control over her ministry.

In fairness to Tarchuk, some of these cases came along before she was appointed minister.

But that's not the point. This isn't about skewering a cabinet minister or scoring political points.

The only thing that matters is that individuals are dying, and the deaths are connected to the child welfare system.

Simply assuring the public that the system is good isn't enough.

Tarchuk needs to open it up to public scrutiny so we can see for ourselves. It's the only way to lift the cloud of doubt.


Source: Edmonton Sun

Baby-Stealing Memoir

June 8, 2009 permalink

Australian baby snatcher Lauren Psaltis says that she was ordered to take a baby from mom even after her own examination showed no risk of harm. Caseworkers deliberately schedule appointments at times that are difficult or impossible for the families.



A lifetime of scars: the case worker's story

Peter Munro, June 7, 2009 - 12:00AM

LAUREN Psaltis worked in child protection for about four years, far longer than most. "The average is about six months to a year," she says. "When you see young workers come through you think, 'OK, how long is this person going to be here for?' You almost watch people churn in and out."

Child protection work becomes debilitating, she says. Workers are overburdened and under pressure from the Department of Human Services, which she says is governed by a culture of risk management.

Once, Ms Psaltis was directed by a manager to remove a girl from her mother, despite assessing the child as being at no risk of harm. "You'd hear things around the corridors of people saying, 'Just remove the kid.' Decisions were made with a flippancy that I guess you become almost immune to, despite the significant impact long-term your decision is having on people's lives," she says.

"People have a very quick reflex action for removal because it's preventive, it's something that means the worker and management can sleep at night. You're not encouraged to dig deep and think strategically and creatively about how to keep a child at home."

Ms Psaltis, 33, left her job — she worked in the department's Box Hill office and for Anglicare — about three months ago to join a mental health outreach team.

"I'm working now with the stuff-ups of protective services in the adult homeless, mentally ill and drug addicted," she says. "I'm probably going to be responsible 20 years down the track for decisions I made in child protection."

Some parents miss out on access visits with their children because case workers are so busy, she says. "Some workers say, 'You need to contact me at 9am on Thursday,' even though they know mum has got sleeping problems or drug problems and would find it difficult to do that, because it lightens the load.

"Or just say a child's father has gone missing and I could put a lot of work into finding this dad but (don't have time so) I make a superficial call to Centrelink and say, 'That's all I can do.'

"There were a lot of things… that ideally if we had been more resourced we would have done… . There is a sense of always having to be vigilant, whether from your client or colleagues or management. You're constantly on guard. It's quite isolating."

Source: The Age (Australia)

Boys Detained by School

June 7, 2009 permalink

Canada Court Watch has issued a video on an incident last December 4 in which a school detained two young boys. A children's aid society worker asked the principal to detain the boys while he forced the father to sign a contract agreeing to conditions. The father went to the police with his court order giving him primary custody, but the police refused to help him. This is yet another case in which the informal word of a children's aid worker takes precedence over the order of a court. The principal mentioned is Stephen Baber of Prince Charles Public School in Newmarket Ontario. The 51 minute video is 320 megabytes mp4 format. You can view it on Canada Court Watch, posting for June 6, 2009, or our local copy.

Job Opening

June 5, 2009 permalink

Do you love teenaged girls? Become a foster dad! Bradley County Tennessee has an opening to replace Charles Woodman.



Foster Father Charged With Statutory Rape of 16 Year Old Girl

Submitted by WDEF on June 4, 2009 - 6:43pm. Bradley County News

Bryan Charles Woodman

In Bradley County, A foster father has been charged with statutory rape by an authority figure. Investigators say the victim was a 16-year old girl who was placed in his home. They say the incidents happened in February and May. 33-year old Charles Woodman was arrested yesterday. He was released on bond Wednesday night.

Source: WDEF-TV Chattanooga

foster dad loves girl

Someone Sentenced for Killing Somebody

June 5, 2009 permalink

The unnamed Alberta foster mother convicted of killing an unnamed child has been sentenced to three years. According to the article, the sentence will be appealed, so she will possibly be out on bail for some time. Even if served, prison rules could reduce the amount of time considerably. From the beginning of this case there have been suggestions of leniency on account of political connections of the accused.



Three years for Edmonton foster mom who killed boy

By Jamie Hall,, June 4, 2009

Alberta Kafka
Courtroom sketch from the trial of the foster mother.
Photograph by: Amanda O'Connell, Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON — By the time she was sentenced Thursday, a foster mother convicted of manslaughter had already spent her tears in the courthouse corridor, crying in the arms of supporters.

She was calm when she took her seat in the prisoner’s box, and dry-eyed as Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Richard Marceau told her she will spend the next three years in a federal prison.

When her three-year-old foster son died on Jan. 27, 2007, the 32-year-old nurse and had been a foster mother for a total of 52 days.

At about 2 a.m. that day, she was alone with the child when he suffered a blow to the head and lost consciousness.

The trauma and swelling was so severe that immediate medical intervention could not have saved him.

In his sentencing, the judge noted that was perhaps the only point Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga and defence lawyer Brian Beresh agreed on.

One insisted it was an accident, the other said it was murder.

Originally charged with second-degree murder, the woman was convicted of manslaughter by a jury last November following a six-week trial.

At a sentencing hearing in April, Beresh argued for leniency, asking for a jail term of one to three years; Huyser-Wierenga argued 10 to 12 years would be more appropriate.

During November’s trial, the foster mother maintained she was trying to control the crying, squirming boy as she took him to the bathroom, and said he sprang from her arms and struck his head on the toilet bowl.

Huyser-Wierenga contended the boy’s death was the result of “lethal violence,” the deadly culmination of a pattern of increasingly “cruel and callous” behaviour by the foster mother.

According to a nanny who worked in the house, whose testimony the judge said Thursday he accepted as an aggravating factor, that behaviour included leaving the boy overnight in an unheated garage, clad only in a diaper.

The nanny said the boy had bruises on his forehead when she found him sleeping on a cement floor the morning before he collapsed.

Marceau also accepted evidence that suggested the boy suffered from several neurological disorders, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Because of that, said the judge, the boy should have not been placed with the woman, who did not have enough fostering experience.

He also noted her willingness to accept more foster children in the weeks before the boy’s death. At one point, the woman had six children in the home; four foster children and two biological children, a son and a daughter.

Because the woman had no criminal record and is unlikely to reoffend, the sentence should reflect the “low end” of the range of incarceration, said the judge, who gave her two months’ credit for time served at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

She must also submit to a DNA order and must abide by a 10-year weapons ban.

Thursday’s sentence was met with outrage by the victim’s family. The boy’s biological father stormed out of the courtroom.

“You’re wrong!” he yelled at the judge, before pushing his way through the doors.

Outside court, Beresh said his client was “very pleased” with the thorough manner in which the judge reviewed the facts of the case.

“This was a very complicated case,” he said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of case, and the judge took a lot of time; she’s appreciative of that.”

Beresh said he thinks the sentence was fair but said the jury delivered a “compromised verdict” and his client will likely appeal the conviction.

Huyser-Wierenga said he’ll recommend the sentence be appealed, adding that it did not reflect the jury’s verdict.

“Obviously, when we put forward our sentencing recommendation we did so with careful deliberation and consideration, and the fact there’s such a disparity between what we asked for and what was given here today ... we don’t think this is the fit and proper sentence,” he said. “This is not an adequate response at all for someone who has killed a child in her care.”

Beresh said the court case has been “ruinous” for his client, who will likely no longer be able to find work in her chosen profession as a nurse.

Her son, meanwhile, now lives with his father in another country, and she is only allowed supervised visits with her daughter.

Source: Edmonton Journal

Addendum:Many Canadian TV viewers now know the names of the parents in this case. If you are one of them, please notify Dufferin VOCA by email to [ rtmq at ] or use the phone on our homepage.



Global blasted for leaking names

Judge stops short of banishing network

By: Mike McIntyre, 5/06/2009 1:00 AM

IT'S a story that has captured the public's imagination and made headlines around the world.

And yet media outlets covering the ongoing custody battle between Child and Family Services and two alleged white supremacists have been forced to strike a delicate balance -- feeding the interests of their audience and protecting the privacy rights of two young children.

The issue was front and centre Thursday when a Winnipeg television station had to explain its news coverage to a judge, facing potential sanctions.

Child and Family Services tried to have Global reporters permanently banned from covering the rest of the case after they broadcast sensitive information that shouldn't have been made public. Agency lawyer Izzy Frost told court they had lost faith that Global "could adhere to the directions of the court and the letter of the law" after the names of the two parents involved in the case were displayed in a nationally-televised report last Friday. Court documents showing the names were also placed on Global's website for four days until being removed earlier this week.

"There is a very real possibility the children will suffer further and unnecessary harm," said Frost.

Bill Haight, a lawyer representing Global, offered a "full and complete apology" to the court for what he called an "inadvertent error" and an "innocent mistake." He said the network has taken steps to ensure their stories are better screened and edited before making it to air. Haight noted a company representative flew in from British Columbia to attend court Thursday morning to show they are taking the matter seriously.

"It is unfortunate, it is embarrassing for Global," said Haight.

Queen's Bench Justice Marianne Rivoalen decided not to banish Global from court, despite finding they committed a "blatant breach" of the law.

"I'm very disappointed, to say the least. It's such a blatant disclosure of the names of the parties. Clearly it's a huge error," said Rivoalen. She warned Global that no further mistakes would be tolerated and noted they still could face still legal sanctions.

CFS told court they may ask the Manitoba prosecution branch to consider charging Global for breaching provisions of the Child and Family Services Act, which carries a maximum penalty of $50,000. A lawyer representing the man trying to regain custody of his son and stepdaughter said she will also be pushing for charges and questioned why Global wasn't apologizing to her client for illegally making his name public.

All media outlets covering the case were warned at the beginning of the trial to be careful with their coverage. Rivoalen noted CFS had filed a motion to have them excluded from the case, but she ruled against it. However, the judge left the door open to revisit the issue if evidence of "manifest harm" against the children arises. She also banned any members of the public from sitting in court.

The foster mother of the two children assured court Thursday they were both being kept far away from newspaper and television coverage of the case.

"The moment the children become aware of this we may have to put a stop to the media process," said Rivoalen.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

Crown Ward Double Murder

June 4, 2009 permalink

Two Alberta crown wards have committed a double murder. The names of the boys remain secret. If they were published, the public could find out the reasons, usually frivolous, for taking them from their real families, and could find out their treatment in foster care, such as their prescriptions for psychotropic drugs. As it is, we will find out none of these things, and the failings of the child protection will remain hidden.



Victims named in 'random' double murder

Updated June 3, 2009

Susan Trudel, 50, and Baldur (Barry) Boenke, 68, killed in a rural Strathcona County double murder earlier this week appear to be victims of random violence, according to the RCMP.

Their alleged killer is a 14-year-old boy who disappeared from the nearby Bosco Homes child care facility.

He has been charged with two counts of first degree murder.

A second 14-year-old boy who also escaped from the property has been charged with two counts of being an accessory after the fact to murder.

The 14-year-old boy accused of murder and his alleged accomplice — also 14 — disappeared from the Bosco facility on Sunday.

How Trudel and Boenke were murdered has not been revealed by the RCMP, which is still investigating the crime.

At a Monday press conference, RCMP Const. Wally Henry stated trauma was visible on their bodies, but ruled out a potential shooting.

According to Cpl. Daren Anderson of the Strathcona County RCMP detachment, the two boys were reported missing by Bosco Homes staff around 5:20 p.m. — about 20 minutes after staff first realized the boys were gone.

The boys weren’t located until an Edmonton Police Service officer initiated a traffic stop on a carelessly driving pickup truck in Edmonton at 2:45 a.m. the following morning.

An EPS investigation on the truck showed it was stolen and from a resident of Strathcona County. Local RCMP attempted to locate the owner of the vehicle and was pointed by a relative to the residence where the owner had been doing yard work the day before.

When RCMP arrived at that residence, the bodies of a man and woman were discovered.

“Its horrible,” said Gus Royzcki, the executive director of Bosco Homes at a Wednesday morning press conference. “Any loss of life is a tragedy.

Our heart goes out to the friends and relatives of the deceased.”

Anderson characterized the killings as a “completely random incident.”

The two teens were at Bosco Homes were they were arrested by the RCMP on Saturday, May 30 for vandalism and theft in Ardrossan, Anderson said. A court date in July was set and they were turned over to Alberta Child and Family Services.

“The criteria to have these two youths detained in custody was not there,” Anderson said.

Child and family services, in turn, gave the boys to Bosco Homes to keep track of them and ensure they stay out of trouble.

Since the bodies of the deceased weren’t discovered until 5 a.m. the following day, it leaves about an eight- to nine-hour window in which the murders could have occurred, Anderson estimated.

Despite recurring issues of children vanishing from Bosco Homes, which is located near the Uncas area of Strathcona County, Anderson said that there is a “very low percentage of crime in that area” that can be attributed to those youth.

He added there was no need for residents in the area to be alarmed or concerned.

Royzcki said the facility’s practice is to notify the RCMP as soon as Bosco Homes’ staff realizes a juvenile is missing.

It is not unusual for staff to locate the juvenile before he or she completely leaves the 120 acre property.

RCMP can then notify members of its Strathcona County Crime Watch program, which consists of 1,650 families, Anderson said.

All absent without care youths are considered a high priority, whether or not they are missing from Bosco, Anderson added.

Royzcki said the staff-to-juvenile ratio at the facility is three-to-one.

Bosco Homes sits on a 120 acre site, but because it is not an in-custody facility, there are no walls to keep juveniles from leaving the property.

Royzcki said the sides of the property are contained by forest on two sides, a body of water, and some fences.

Regardless, both Anderson and Royzcki acknowledged that it is not unusual for juveniles to leave the property.

Royzcki characterized the 120-acre facility with five large bungalows where juveniles commonly play with staff in the area’s playground and go to school on site.

Representing Alberta Child and Family Services, Cheryl Oxford said she couldn’t comment on the teens’ past or low long they have stayed at Bosco Homes in an effort to protect their identity.

She said she was attending the news conference with the RCMP and Royzcki to be open and to re-assure that Bosco Homes has a good record.

While making an effort not to underestimate the situation, she said “We have a very good relationship with Bosco Homes,” including no quality of care concerns.

The accused will appear in Sherwood Park’s youth court Tuesday, June 9 for the murder charges.

Royzcki estimated that the facility is located about 9.6 km. away from the property were two adults were found dead.

According to the Criminal Code of Canada, first degree murder charges apply when the murder is planned, or death is associated with sexual assault, kidnapping or forced confinement.

Source: Sherwood Park News

News from the trial confirms that the killers were wards of the group home, but still conceals the names of the accused, blocking answere to the important questions.



Teen confessed killings to undercover RCMP officer

Ardrossan acreage
In June 2009, RCMP did a walkabout at the scene of the a dual murder on an Ardrossan acreage.
Photograph by: Supplied , Screencap

EDMONTON - A teenager on trial for the 2009 killings of Susan Trudel and Barry Boenke confessed to the murders to an undercover RCMP officer in a recording played at his trial Monday.

The youth, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was unknowingly recorded when he spoke about the killings to the officer as they drove in a vehicle on March 30, 2012.

The teen tells the officer that he fled the Bosco Homes youth facility on May 31, 2009, and reached the piece of Boenke’s property where Trudel lived in a trailer, roughly 10 kilometres from Bosco Homes, near Ardrossan. He told the officer he had stolen a handgun from a stored vehicle nearby and shot Trudel and Boenke outside the trailer.

“I shot the guy in the middle of the head,” the teen said. “And then I dragged her, drug her inside and hit her in the back of the head with an axe.”

Boenke survived being shot in the head, the teen said. “He was still alive, so I beat him with a two-by-four.”

Throughout the confession, the teen mentioned how he specifically tampered with evidence to confuse investigators. He covered his shoes in plastic during the crime, bleached and burned his clothes, used rifle shells in the handgun, fired randomly outside the trailer to create further bullet holes, and then spread Trudel’s blood across her kitchen ceiling to make odd patterns for investigators to find.

“It was to throw them off,” he told the undercover officer as loud rap music played in the background. “They wouldn’t know how it got there.”

He dragged Trudel into her trailer “because the cops would assume a 14-year-old couldn’t,” he said.

The teen was 14 when Trudel and Boenke were killed. He was 16 when the recording was made. Now 17, he faces two charges of second-degree murder.

The teen was recorded after murder charges against him had been dropped. At the time, he had sat through his preliminary hearing, where he saw and heard all the evidence gathered after the killings.

Court has heard the teen’s charges were brought back after he was the target of a “Mr. Big” operation. In such circumstances, an undercover officer elicits information from a suspect under the pretence that they are being recruited into a criminal organization and need to admit crimes to gain trust.

The officer in the recording commended the teen after his story is complete. “I wasn’t 100 per cent sure you were one of us, but you’re solid. Taking care of business. Doing what you have to do.”

Some of the teen’s admission has already been disproven in court. The teen said he targeted Trudel’s trailer because it was known to have a large amount of crack-cocaine in a freezer, which an investigator testified was not there. He said that Trudel and Boenke were “smoking crack” outside the trailer when he arrived. Toxicology tests showed neither had the drug in their system.

The teen claimed he had beaten Trudel with an axe, then bleached the weapon before he left it beside her body. RCMP Staff Sgt. Dean Funnell, a bloodstain pattern analyst, has already testified that there was no evidence the axe was cleaned and there was blood on it.

“The bloodstains are not consistent with the axe being used,” Funnell told court.

Also, the teen said he had twice shot Trudel and Boenke but the medical examiner found at least three bullet wounds in both of them.

Other parts of the confession fit the evidence already heard in court. The blood trail that Trudel left shows that she was injured outside and then attacked again in her kitchen, where she died, which fits the teen’s account of her death.

The teen said he took apart the handgun he used, bleached the parts, then threw them in a nearby ditch. The gun has never been found.

The teen also told the undercover officer that a second teenager who fled Bosco Homes with him was “scared” and remained in a vehicle while the killings occurred.

“I want him gone,” he said of the second teen. “He knows exactly everything.”

The second teen and the undercover RCMP officers have yet to testify in the trial.

The recording has been presented as evidence in the trial by Crown prosecutors, but not yet accepted by the judge.

The trial continues.

Source: Edmonton Journal

Adoption Disclosure Arrives

June 2, 2009 permalink

The Toronto Star profiles a man seeking his family through Ontario's new adoption disclosure law. Time will tell whether interested parties get disclosure of their birth families, or the kind of bureaucratic foot-dragging that now awaits persons applying for membership in their local children's aid society.



Emotions high as veil around adoption lifts

Paul O'Donnell
Paul O'Donnell, 45, says his quest to find his birth mother — whose first name he hopes to learn from documents he gains access to tomorrow, is not a search for parents. "It's really more about learning where I came from."


What kind of information is contained in adoption orders and Ontario birth registrations?

The information may vary, depending on when the adoption took place. The records may include the child's birth name, mother's name, father's name and birth hospital's name.

I want to meet my birth parents. With the new changes, will I be able to contact them?

In most cases, you will be able to get your birth mother and possibly your birth father's full names, but not addresses or phone numbers.

What if I was adopted and I don't want my records released?

You can file a disclosure veto to prevent the release of identifying information if the adoption was finalized before Sept. 1, 2008. Source: Ministry of Community and Social Services

Crush of applications expected as new rules on disclosure take effect

May 31, 2009 04:30 AM, Nicole Baute, STAFF REPORTER

Paul O'Donnell wants to meet his mother. His other mother, the one who gave birth to him.

O'Donnell, 45, was adopted as an infant and raised by a gregarious couple. Although he loved them dearly, the differences between them were stark: he was a serious, introverted math whiz; his parents were the most popular couple on the block.

"My father was a salesman. I couldn't sell if my life depended on it. I don't have that kind of personality," O'Donnell laughs nervously, a self-deprecating tic.

Nor were his adopted parents bookish like Paul, who, despite his age, looks a bit like a university student in his thick, brown glasses and blue backpack. His adoptive mother, Donna O'Donnell, wonders why her son talks to her at all, "because I don't really know all he's talking about."

Though he has had a great life, Paul always felt like an outsider. He hopes that is about to change.

Tomorrow, the secrecy that has shrouded the adoption process will be lifted, and adult adoptees and birth parents will have access to adoption orders and birth registrations.

In Ontario, 250,000 children have been adopted since the government started keeping records in 1921. For Paul, that means he could finally learn his mother's name and can begin to track her down.

The Toronto computer programmer has been clinging to information he got in 2005, when, at age 42, he went to the Catholic Children's Aid to ask about his birth family.

When the envelope came, he was too nervous to open it himself. While a friend read all 10 pages aloud, Paul sat shaking, almost dizzy, and an image of his birth mother began to take shape in his mind. She was short, five-foot-one, with a medium build, dark blond hair, blue eyes, and "lovely teeth."

"Birth mother," as she was called throughout, was from Eastern Canada, of good health and average intelligence. She couldn't afford to go to school past Grade 10 and moved to Ontario, where she worked as a clerk-typist in a hardware store until she had Paul, at age 19.

She was not married and Paul's father denied paternity. She later had two more sons – Paul's half-brothers. She was of Scottish and Irish descent; his father was Italian.

For Paul, these were meaningful details, but it is the description of his mother's personality that he dwells on. She had a quiet, withdrawn manner and did not make friends easily. His grandmother stayed at home; his grandfather, laid up with an arthritic foot, was an intelligent man and an avid reader. Much like Paul himself.

"When I read that thing about my grandfather reading a lot, that really clicked," Paul says. "What did he read? What was he interested in?"

He went home and read the document at least 20 times, and typed it up on his computer.

"I'm a different person since having gotten that piece of paper," Paul says. "The day I got it, or the day after, I remember looking at myself in the mirror, when I was brushing my teeth in the morning, and I liked what I saw more than I did the day before. And I'm not even sure I can articulate exactly why."

Tonight, Paul will sit at his computer in his Toronto apartment, waiting for the application forms to appear on the Service Ontario website. He hopes they will appear at the stroke of midnight so he can fill them out quickly and squeeze to the front of the line, although a spokesperson for the Ministry of Community and Social Services didn't know when they would be posted. He also didn't how long it will take for the forms to be processed. Adoptees like Paul expect a backlog: a few months, a year, perhaps even longer.

He is fortunate to have his nonidentifying information, and a piece of paper with his birth name on it, William Thomas MacDonald, which was given to his adoptive parents by the Catholic Children's Aid in 1963. But even with his mother's first name, she will be difficult to find.

It is also possible she saw one of the ads the government spent $6.8 million on to warn adoptees and birth mothers they could soon be identified, and urged them to file a disclosure veto if they wanted to protect their identity.

The veto option was added last year, after Toronto human rights lawyer Clayton Ruby managed to have the previous legislation struck down on the grounds that it did not protect those who wanted to remain anonymous.

As of May 1, only 2,483 people had applied for the disclosure veto. The forms will be available after June 1, but it will become a race of sorts: If the disclosure veto is not filed before the other party applies for adoption information, the information will be released.

Joy Cheskes, an elementary teacher from Stratford, has already applied for a veto. She was adopted as an infant and raised in a small southwestern Ontario town by the only family she is interested in knowing.

Cheskes was part of the Constitutional challenge that struck down the legislation in 2007 and made way for the disclosure veto.

"I have lived almost 45 years of my life deciding that I want to keep that part closed," she says. "My life and everything that's happened to me makes up who I am and I don't welcome that kind of intrusion unless I decide that that's okay. And at this point in my life, that's not okay."

Other adoptees have spent years looking for their birth parents, wondering whether anyone else on this planet has their crooked pinky finger or curly red hair or aptitude for complex algebra. Some worry about inheriting genetic diseases.

"Adoptees often feel like aliens," says Karen Lynn, who gave a son up for adoption in 1963 and now works with three adoption support and advocacy groups. "They're not really sure they were born on this earth."

Lynn reunited with her son in 1999.

As adoptees and birth parents fill out their applications tomorrow, the disclosure veto will be on many minds. As Monica Byrne, registrar of the Ottawa Parent Finders group, says: "Everyone's scared that they're going to be the one that's had their information blocked."

Paul, who says he has great adopted parents, says his mission is not a search for parents. "I already have parents. It's really more about learning where I came from."

Donna, a bubbly 70-year-old who refers to her son as "my Paul," believes he has a right to know his birth mother, and if she ever had the chance to meet her, she would thank her.

Paul knew he was adopted before he understood what "adopted" meant. Donna loves to tell the story of Paul correcting a neighbour who called him cute: "I'm not cute, I'm adopted," he said gruffly. The neighbour was horrified, but Donna just laughs.

Donna is scrupulous in her lack of judgment: She supports Paul's search completely, but she can also see things from the other side.

She worries that Paul's birth mother could reject him.

Paul already attends an adoption support group called Adoption Support Kinship that will help him deal with the fallout.

Paul has read between the lines of his nonidentifying information so many times he is convinced he and his mother are of similar minds. He would never fill out a disclosure veto, and does not expect she will either.

"Maybe it's just wishful thinking," he says. "But ... I think my mother's brain is a little bit like mine. I think she's like me."

If you apply for adoption information or file a veto on the disclosure of information and want to share your story, please email

Source: Toronto Star

Addendum: Here is the opposition. Adoption disclosure has to be stopped, to prevent people from falling in love.



Genetic sexual attraction

Forbidden love

Pull of attraction felt between adoptees, biological family members

Last Updated: Thursday, May 7, 2009 | 10:59 AM ET , CBC News

When blood relatives reunite for the first time, they sometimes feel attracted to each other.

Two weeks after Sally reunited with her biological son, she began to have sexual feelings for him.

"This is feeling really bizarre, but I think I'm falling in love with this person," she recalls thinking.

Sally, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, had given up her son for adoption when she was 16, but vowed as she cradled the little boy swaddled in a blanket that she would someday, somehow become part of his life again. She never imagined that their reunion some 30 years later would lead to a sexual relationship.

After their first meeting, the two found themselves spending more and more time together. "We kind of gave ourselves permission to do more hugging," said Sally in an interview with CBC's The Current. Eventually, it progressed into a sexual relationship.

"I do remember the night we did and it was amazing … the most amazing thing I've ever experienced," Sally says. "He said, 'I've finally found the most perfect person in the world for me in every way and she turned out to be my mother.'"

Sally's not alone in feeling a deep attraction to a blood relative upon meeting as adults for the first time.

Genetic sexual attraction, as it's called, is a little known consequence of reunions with adoptees and their biological family members, where attraction is felt and sometimes acted upon. It has been known to happen between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, uncles and nieces, and even same-sex relatives.

While recognized by some adoption agencies and psychologists, there is little information on the subject. As Ontario, Canada's most populous province, gets set to become the fifth province to open its adoption records on June 1, there are calls for more education and support on GSA.

Though some adoptees and birth parents will likely use their power to veto access to their files, the change of law holds the possibility of affecting some 250,000 children officially adopted in the province in the past 88 years.

Single study on subject

Sally, who met her son after B.C. unsealed its adoption records in 1996, wishes she had known more about GSA at the time. "I would've appreciated knowing about it," she says.

Facts in brief

  • About 250,000 adoption orders have been filed in Ontario since 1921.
  • Nearly 75,000 people have sought information about their birth relatives under Ontario's voluntary disclosure registry since 1979.
  • Ontario is the fifth province to open its adoption records, behind British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Source: Government of Ontario

A B.C. adoption counsellor said that when the province unsealed adoption records there was an increase in GSA occurrences.

It's difficult to quantify genetic sexual attraction since many of those who pursue a sexual relationship with a blood relative won't even reveal it to adoption counsellors or psychiatrists.

Pastor Bill Bossert, a former president of the Oregon Adoptive Rights Association, says he believes at least one person feels a deep attraction in about half of adoption reunions.

In what remains the only academic study on GSA, Dr. Maurice Greenberg looked at 40 cases and concluded the sexual attraction was a normal response to an extremely unusual situation of blood relatives meeting as strangers.

Greenberg, the former head of student counselling services at University College London in the U.K. and ex-adviser to London's Post-Adoption Centre, says interviewees described emotionally charged meetings and the shock of familiarity as they noticed the same interests, traits and mannerisms in their relative. Many described it as feeling like they were looking into a mirror.

Combined with the feelings of loss and trauma associated with being put up for adoption and the excitement and fantasies of a reunion, the adoptees often felt vulnerable to such attraction.

Not seen as incest

Paul, also from B.C., recalls the strong attraction he felt when he first met his biological sister.

"I just felt like I had met my soulmate. The one that you don't think you possibly will ever meet," says Paul, whose name has also been changed.

"My heart wanted to just leave the rest of my life and walk away into the sunset with this person."

While technically the sexual relationship was incest, Paul says that "tawdry" term never crossed his mind and doesn't describe the deep connection he felt with his sister of wanting to blend with her "physically, emotionally and soulfully."

His wife soon learned of the affair and confronted him at a coffee shop.

"He cried. He couldn't understand why he was feeling the way he was because he was so frightened," his wife said.

The couple decided to stay together and to explain the situation to their two children, telling them Paul and his sister never experienced the sibling rivalry that occurs between most brothers and sisters but only the "pure love."

"I treated it as if it was an occurrence in life, one of the growing pains of life. I didn't want to harm them, and I didn't want them to hate their father," says Paul's wife.

Desensitized by living together

Dianne Mathes, a Toronto expert on GSA who counsels people involved in GSA relationships and is herself an adoptee, says relatives who don't live together miss out on the daily events that prevent such attraction from occurring.

"The birth mother … has not raised that child, hasn't done all the parental roles with that child whether it's diapering him or being there when he was sick," said Mathes.

According to the Westermarck theory, developed by anthropologist Edward Westermarck in the late 19th century, people living in close domestic proximity during the first few years of life are desensitized to sexual attraction later in life.

The Westermarck effect has been observed in communal child rearing in the Israeli kibbutz system where few sexual relationships and marriages developed among peers.

While there are rare cases where GSA evolves into a stable relationship and the couple makes peace with the societal taboo, many others soon break up but are left with a psychological scar.

"Some people are saying, 'I've lived my whole life being a good husband, a good father, a good provider, being a stable citizen. I've met this woman, I've never felt like this in my life. I've never been happier,'" said Mathes.

"These are people who have had a need and a feeling stirred in them so deeply that it's rocking the core of who they thought they were, what they needed, how they understand things and their worlds, and they're struggling."

Those who have experienced the turbulence caused by GSA say the only way to prevent others from the same heartbreak is through education and support.

Struggling to move on

Barb Gonyo, a leading expert on GSA and author of I'm His Mother, But He's Not My Son, says people need to know that the intense feelings at the beginning of a reunion will eventually subside.

She spent more than a decade struggling with feelings for her son and runs a website,, aimed at raising awareness about the issue.

"I've known many people who have gotten through this without having a sexual relationship and have been glad that they didn't because they still have a good relationship. Then there are people who have had a sexual relationship that still have a good relationship but they might have had to put up with an awful lot of pain," said Gonyo.

For Sally, her sexual relationship with her son crumbled in the face of ostracism from their friends and the shame and guilt they felt about the secrecy of it all.

She realized they had a choice: start a new life elsewhere where their situation wasn't known or stop what they were doing.

The two decided to stop their sexual relationship and have remained close. A new feeling has since evolved between the two.

She says her son now feels sick to his stomach when he thinks about the fact that they slept together.

"And that's good because that's normal. I finally got to a place where I'm like his mother, kind of. Not really, but kind of. And that's a good thing. That's a blessing."

With files from Aziza Sindhu

Source: CBC

Legal Flim-Flam

May 31, 2009 permalink

Nottingham England found a way to get a child from Rachel without paying all those lawyer's fees. They declared her imcompetent to hire a lawyer, or even instruct one, and appointed the official solicitor to represent her. He let the child go without opposition.



'They stole my little girl,' says mother judged too stupid to care for her baby

By Andy Dolan, Last updated at 11:03 PM on 31st May 2009

A young mother who was judged too stupid to care for her own baby has accused social workers of 'stealing' the child from her.

The woman, who must be identified only as Rachel for legal reasons, is taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights in a last ditch attempt to halt the adoption of the child, now aged three.

She has told the Mail that she was bitterly unhappy with her treatment at the hands of social workers at Nottingham City Council.

Rachel has taken her case to the European Court of Human Rights

Her daughter, referred to only as K, was born three months prematurely with severe medical complications. Officials felt the first-time mother lacked the intelligence to cope with the child and care for her in safety.

K was eventually discharged from hospital and given to a foster family.

But although her health has now improved to the point where she needs little or no day-to-day care, the child is due to be handed to adoptive parents within three months.

Rachel will then be barred from further contact.

The adoption is going ahead despite a recent psychiatrist's report which declared that the 24-year-old has 'good literacy and numeracy and that her general intellectual abilities appear to be within the normal range'.

It said the unemployed former cleaner had no previous history of learning disability or mental illness.

The single mother told the Mail that she had been 'totally let down' by the system.

She said: 'Social workers and the psychologist keep saying I have got learning difficulties but I do not. They go after the wrong people. There are people out there harming children. All I want to do is look after mine but they will not let me.

'That girl has been stolen from me. They might have stamped all the paperwork, but she has effectively been stolen from me.'

Nottingham City Council
Fight: Rachel's attempts to stop Nottingham City Council's adoption of her daughter have been hampered

After a hearing earlier this month, a family court judge reduced her contact visits with K from 90 minutes every fortnight to five minutes a month in preparation for the adoption.

Rachel's battle was compounded by the fact a psychologist concluded that her 'learning difficulties' would leave her unable to instruct her own solicitor.

As a result, Alastair Pitblado, the Official Solicitor, who acts for those who cannot represent themselves, was called in. He declined to contest the council's adoption application, despite Rachel's wish to do so.

She told appeal court judges last year that the Official Solicitor's involvement had reduced her to a 'spectator' in the case, even though she had the mental capacity to take part.

A study last year found that Rachel's IQ was rated at 71 - the IQ of an 'average' adult is 90-109.

Rachel will claim at the European Court that the lack of a fair hearing and the enforced adoption has infringed her human rights.

Social workers first raised doubts about Rachel's parenting capabilities soon after her daughter was born with chronic lung disease and other complications.

They were 'concerned' that she initially only visited the baby for one or two hours each day.

K was discharged from hospital aged six months into the care of the foster parents she remains with today.

The child's father, aged 66, has no contact with his daughter and he and Rachel are no longer together.

Rachel is being supported by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, a vocal critic of the family justice system.

Mr Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley, said Rachel had been 'swept aside by a system that seems more interested in securing a child for adoption than preserving a natural family unit'.

The council wanted Rachel to remain anonymous, but she successfully argued that allowing her first name and picture to be used would allow the case to be discussed publicly.

The Daily Mail has long campaigned for greater openness in the family courts.

In February last year, Nottingham City Council conceded social workers had acted illegally in removing a baby boy two hours after his birth because no court order had been sought.

The council claimed that the mother's troubled childhood and mental health problems threatened the baby's welfare.

Nottingham City Council said that adoption cases were 'decided by the courts, taking into account all the information presented by all parties and putting the future welfare of the child as the priority'.

Source: Daily Mail

Human Rights

May 30, 2009 permalink

The Orangeville Citizen profiles Joe James. With his social worker hat, he separated children from families. With his policeman hat he arrested the parentless children who ran astray. With his probation officer hat he harassed the ones who were caught. Dufferin-Caledon MP David Tilson has the solution to the problems of young people: tougher laws and longer prison sentences.



Business aims to put troubled kids on right path

By DAN PELTON Staff Reporter, May 28, 2009

Stephanie Sabouni
SHARON BENSON, right, an expressive arts therapist, examines an "image" with Joe James at the grand opening of Justices Support Systems. Expressive arts therapy is just one of the offerings the business has to help troubled youth get through difficult times.

During a career that has seen him serve as a social worker, a police officer and a probation officer, Joe James has seen the consequences of troubled youth from practically every angle.

His experience led him to found Justice Support Systems, a private Orangeville agency with the primary aim of detecting troubled kids and nipping their problems in the bud before they blossom into something far more serious.

His outlook does, on occasion, put him at odds with those who advocate a "get tough on crime" approach which includes longer jail sentences for younger offenders.

"I'm all for harsher sentences for youth," explains Mr. James, "provided they have already had the opportunities to make some changes and has access to resources to meet their needs."

Justice Support Systems held the grand opening of its Mill Street location last Friday, but the business has been in operation since the summer. It offers communitybased, proactive youth service programs, as well as investigative and administrative services to law firms.

Among the most ardent proponents of tougher young offenders legislation is Dufferin-Caledon MP David Tilson, with whom Mr. James feels he must "agree to disagree" on aspects of this issue.

Mr. Tilson recently reintroduced his private members bill to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act to have the name of a young offender be released if he or she has reached the age of 18 by the time of his/her trial or sentencing.

"I agree with Mr. Tilson's motivation and necessity to stir up debate on the issue of bringing about change in the YCIA," says Mr. James. "Secondly, I also agree that there needs to be more teeth put into the act. But (Mr. Tilson and I) may have to agree to disagree on where those teeth should be."

He says that the YCIA presently has intervention strategies, such as "restorative justice programs." Among them is a program wherein the young offenders are put in contact with the victim to develop both empathy and sense of responsibility for their actions.

"This is, in my opinion, a noble and desirable goal," says Mr. James, "and one that I do genuinely agree with."

Justice Support Systems, for example, has various programs to help their clients come forward and come to terms with their problems.

One of these is expressive arts therapy, where clients express themselves through the medium of art or, as expressive arts therapists prefer to call it, imaging.

"It is aimed at young people who need alternative ways to express their issues and explore what's holding them back," says Justice Support's expressive arts therapist Sharon Benson. "It's a way to speak without words. We're accessing their creative resources, rather than focusing on their dysfunction."

Mr. James, for his part, says he often takes his clients out of the office. "I sometimes take them out trail riding on bikes. You do whatever it takes to bring them out."

He concludes by stating that once such resources have been applied and the client still continues with criminal behaviour, then tough penal measures should be taken into consideration.

Until then, however, he cautions advocates of tougher, more rigid penalty phases that troubled youth are not confined to just one pocket of society.

"They could turn out to be your neighbour's kid," says Mr. James, "or even your own kid."

Source: Orangeville Citizen

Welcome to Dufferin County, human rights abuse capital of Canada

Beach Bum

May 28, 2009 permalink

Instead of conducting home visits, New York child protective worker Stephanie Sabouni enjoyed the beach. She is now being prosecuted for falsely recording visits to her wards. The administrators and legislators responsible for creating a dysfunctional system are not being prosecuted.



Former child welfare caseworker played hooky - and forged documents to cover it up, authorities say

BY Veronika Belenkaya and Stephanie Gaskell, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS, Thursday, May 28th 2009, 4:00 AM

Stephanie Sabouni
Stephanie Sabouni faces charges of faking city Administration for Children's Services documents. But she doesn't seem too worried outside court (below) or on her Facebook page (above.)
Stephanie Sabouni
Ward for News

A soon-to-be-married former child welfare caseworker entrusted with checking on truant kids played hooky herself - and forged documents to cover it up, authorities said.

Stephanie Sabouni, 27, of Brooklyn, filled out seven forms claiming she had visited three different families whose children routinely missed school while she worked for the city's Administration for Children's Services from 2005 to 2007.

The bride-to-be was charged Wednesday with seven first-degree felony counts of tampering with public records. Each charge carries up to seven years behind bars.

"Covering up misdeeds by faking official computer records is a serious crime and this case is even more troubling because it involves allegations that children in need were ignored," said state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

The forged documents were found shortly after Sabouni left the ACS to become a teacher at a Brooklyn middle school, authorities said.

"After several Brooklyn families told ACS employees that they had never met the former child protective specialist who had written about her supposed visits to their homes, ACS alerted [us]," said city Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.

Sabouni - who recently posted racy pictures of herself on her Facebook page - has been fired from her teaching job.

Sabouni, who attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice and earned a master's degree in education from Touro College in Manhattan, denied the charges.

"ACS is at fault for everything," she told reporters after her arrest. "I'm just being used."

Her lawyer Arnold Keith argued that the documents were not public records.

"Nobody was injured as a result of these [documents]," he said. "The children she worked with are fine."

Keith said his client "went to some [homes], but not other homes."

He also said Sabouni didn't know she was being investigated when she was questioned.

"She made a statement and the statements are being used against her," he said.

"If you go in and you don't know you're being investigated and you're told you can't leave until you make a statement, I think that brings a question of knowing and a voluntary waiver of your rights," he said. "I think she may have incriminated herself."

Sabouni, who is planning to get married on June 27, was released on $1,500 bail and ordered to hand over her passport, putting her Mexican honeymoon in question. "She is upset," Keith said. "She's destroyed over these allegations."

Source: New York Daily News

Addendum: An insider has offered a different view of this story. Many senior social workers defy orders from superiors to unnecessarily harass parents over trifles, such as teenaged truancy. Fake records are a consequence of this practice. Stephanie Sabouni was not one of the four-week wonders, but a degreed educator. She had enough education to know when home visits were doing more harm than good, and enough credentials to shift to another profession, which she did. Prosecuting a social worker is highly unusual. Maybe she was a thorn in the side of the agency.


Girl Coached in Hate

May 27, 2009 permalink

A girl who says her mother taught her to be a racist was coached to say those things, according to her mother. There is no way to check on a story like this with the names withheld, but coaching a child to say what the social worker wants is commonplace in other cases. Earlier story.



Girl 'force-fed' race remarks, mother says

Woman in custody fight blames social workers, denies raising children to hate minorities

May 27, 2009, Steve Lambert, THE CANADIAN PRESS

A mother at the centre of a Manitoba custody battle denies raising her children to be hateful racists.

The woman, who cannot be identified under Manitoba law, says her daughter appears to have been coaxed by social workers into saying she was taught to hate visible minorities.

"I think my daughter was either force-fed to say these things ... or she was coaxed, maybe into saying them, if she did in fact say them," said the woman, who now lives in another province, in a phone interview with The Canadian Press.

"I'm looking at these things that are being said, and I think, 'No, my daughter would never say that.' "

Manitoba Child and Family Services is trying to gain permanent care of the girl and her younger brother, who were seized last year after the girl showed up at school with racist symbols on her body.

The mother says she only drew one small symbol to demonstrate racial pride and has no idea who put the other markings on her child.

She also denies testimony at a custody hearing by two social workers, who said the girl was exposed to skinhead videos and raised to believe non-whites should be killed.

The social workers have also said the girl casually and frequently used racial epithets. The mother said she taught her children to be proud of their heritage but not to hate others. "That's not something we ever preached to our children," the woman said.

The violent videos were only historical programs about World War II, she said. Allegations of drug use in the family home are also untrue, she said. "We have a very hard stance against drug use. It's not a white thing to do."

It's not just social workers who are behind the accusations. According to a social worker who testified yesterday, relatives of the parents have said the two were skinheads who met on a racist website.

The couple at one point travelled to Brandon, Man., where one relative believed they were trying to set up a white supremacist group, the social worker said. It's not yet clear whether those relatives will testify in the case.

The mother does not have a lawyer. The father has filed an affidavit showing he plans to argue he has a constitutional right to raise his children according to his beliefs.

The racism concern is not the sole reason cited by child welfare officials for seizing the children. The parents are also accused of neglecting the kids' emotional and education needs, and being physically violent with each other.

Source: Toronto Star

Lily/Madison Back in Peril

May 27, 2009 permalink

The girl identified by senator/reporter Pam Roach as Lily, real name Madison, is back in danger. The great-grandmother has dropped out of the picture, and the grandparents have noticed an untreated injury on the girl.



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lily In Danger Again...Attempt To Cover Up The Condition Of The Child

Madison Willard

(This is a recent cut on Lily's came with bruises...and no explanation.)

BRIEF HISTORY... The following is an unsigned comment to this blog. It is regarding little 3 year-old Lily who was taken without justification from her grandparents shortly after Christmas. The department lied about the grandparents by saying they stole a computer and had no heating in their house. Lily was put into foster care, a rich great grandmother stepped up to take the child, and the child after spending some time with the GGM is now back in foster care. (Please read previous PPRs for background.)


Try to comprehend what this person is saying!!!! Person XX believes that non relatives have a right to someone else's child and will lie to make everyone feel better. My guess is that this is yet a new foster parent or a social worker already on the case.

"Lily is a friend of mine and she is not suffering or miserable. She is a happy, energetic, three year old. The children in the system are the victims. The foster mom and great grandmother are seeing to it that Lily is safe and loved, and that her transitions are done according to her well being, and not what the system wants. I don't know the grandparents personally, but they have been adversarial to the foster mom from the start, never trying to make anything but their visits the best they can be under these unfortunate circumstances." Anonymous

The rich paternal great grandmother was never a part of Lily's life (saw her only once since birth) but at least was a biological relative. She has never been in the home of the maternal grandparents. She thought the couple was fine until she listened to the lies of CPS. The grands are on the opposite financial ends...the grandparents have no accumulated wealth and in this economy have suffered...and are now renting. (I find this a really interesting form of discrimination that is playing out against the grandparents. If Lily were with young natural parents no one would think a thing about the parents renting and finances would not be a part of the consideration. The state does not yank kids from families without money...OR DOES IT?

Posted by State Senator Pam Roach at 9:56 AM

New Post: Letter From Lily's Grandmother To DSHS And Copied To Me

Posted With Permission and girl's name changed to Lily

"As of today, May 26th, 2009 I have not heard a thing from anybody regarding anything. I am writing this in pure frustration.

Last Friday, our visit with Lily was beautiful because we get to see her, but awful in so many other ways. First, we were able to meet her in a park, actually Lions park. This was very bitter sweet for the three of us as Lily, Andy and I along with other Lion members raised the money and did all the work on the playground including put in the new playground equipment. As we were doing this last summer, who would have thought we would be having SUPERVISED VISITATIONS at the playground we had built for other children.

Upon seeing Lily we immediately observed a severe cut under her chin that was probably a couple of days old. It was long and deep and probably should have required a doctor to look at it at the time. Lily said it hurt but she did not see a doctor. She continues to have the rash she has had since she left our care. She had visible bruises all over her in fact the one by her elbow looked just like a hand had grabbed her. Again, I am a teacher and know how bumps happen, but these all raised questions in my mind. She never had ANYTHING while in our care over 3 years.

When I asked if she had seen her great grandmother, she said "No, she does not have time for me, she went away on a big airplane".

Tomorrow is supposed to be a placement hearing at the Skagit County Courthouse at 9:30am. However, we were to have a pre-placement meeting two weeks ago that they cancelled the day before it was to happen. I was told it would be re-scheduled BEFORE she was moved. So, I have no idea what is going on and apparently {Great Grandma} is on vacation again.

We have been waiting since April the 8th on 3 motions to be decided on in the courts. To date, we have spent almost $15,000.00 in legal costs and still have never been heard by a judge. This is incredible. We have a new attorney, Alisa Maples, whom I have talked to for months and really believe she has a wonderful heart and will serve Lily well. We meet with her on June 5th.

As far as DSHS goes, they promised we would hear no later than 10 days after they got my paperwork. My faxed response went in on April 28th, 2009 and my hand delivered response went to them on May 8th. But as of today, almost a month later, nothing from the adoption unit about a new home study.

In the last 4 1/2 months since Lily has been out of our care we have been devastated. However, during that time I have received a promotion at work from Lead Teacher to Lead Teacher and Educational Coordinator for the school. Andy and I have put in countless hours on Lions projects including eyeglass distribution for over seas projects. We both have received more community awards and I am presently being appointed a Human Services County Council position. Today I am working on our preschool graduation for Thursday, which Lily should be participating in. Do you know what kind of torture this is to teach every day in a classroom with her empty desk? Andy is head custodian at Madison elementary where Madison was named after? (OK, so her name is not Lily. ED) We take care of many children...on a field trip whale watching.... but can't have our own granddaughter? We have no criminal history and are being treated like felons by DSHS?

As I was bringing out my red dishes this weekend for dinner, I remember the social worker coming to our home to do her party. Yes, I had three Home Interior parties at my house in Anacortes from a Social Worker at DSHS who loved our house so much, it was so lovely, well kept and decorated so nicely she wanted me to hostess her Home Interior parties. I did three parties last year for her. Do you think that will ever be brought up? Or will she be fired....

It is more than clear who is in the wrong here.... but the point is will Madison be returned home or be unhappy in limbo for the rest of her life until she can come home at 16 or so.....? Last Friday she asked me " Grandma, can you and Papa and I go to heaven and walk and talk and live with Jesus so we can live together again and be happy? You said there is no sadness or pain in heaven. We need to fly there".

So, this is what has been done in the 'BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD'"

This letter was written to a few DSHS workers and copied to me. I called the new DSHS director Susan Dreyfus and shared it with her.

Posted by State Senator Pam Roach at 8:02 PM

Source: Pam Roach blog May 26, 2009

Florida DCF Bullying Kills Child

May 26, 2009 permalink

Police refused to prosecute father Thomas Kelly for touching his daughter, but child protectors forced him from his home anyway. His overworked wife could not supervise ten children by herself, and eighteen-month-old Nicholas Ryan Kelly drowned in the pool.


collapse, May 25, 2009

Nicholas Ryan Kelly
Nicholas Ryan Kelly, 18 months, drowned in the swimming pool at his home. (Photo provided by Kelly family)

Father says DCF contributed to drowning death of Cape Coral toddler

He argues its slowness left wife unable to protect son


Thomas Kelly turned numb when he heard the story on the 11 o'clock news in early May.

"18-month-old found in swimming pool."

His twins were that age.

The newscaster said the child lived at Southwest 52nd Terrace in Cape Coral.

His street.

Kelly raced to the Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, where his son was airlifted.

There, he saw Department of Children and Families officials.

"I'd like to give a big round of applause to Children and Families," he recalls saying, stingingly.

The agency had been involved with his brood of 10 ranging from ages 1 to 14 since April, when Kelly was arrested on a lewd behavior charge and ordered away from his 13-year-old daughter.

DCF then opened an investigation listing Kelly as the potential perpetrator, directing his wife, Dawn, to protect the children from him.

The family had no prior history with the agency.

His wife and daughter soon recanted and the state attorney's office decided not to file a charge due to lack of evidence.

By then, the report had snarled the family into a resource-strapped child welfare system that's often frustrating to navigate.

The chain of events that followed has broken a family's heart forever.

Thomas Kelly and family members say they repeatedly warned the DCF investigator the Kelly children were in danger in the sole care of a frazzled Dawn, who had no money or transportation.

Telephone records from Thomas Kelly showed a call to an investigator April 20 and on April 21 for seven minutes. The investigator who answered said she couldn't speak to The News-Press.

Dawn's mother says she begged an investigator to step in, too.

"She was trapped in the house and couldn't get anywhere and do anything to get help," said Yvonne Pulcano, 61, from Brooklyn, where the Kellys' roots trace. "Her response was, 'I have other cases, too.' I think it overwhelmed her."

Then, tragedy came.

On May 2, around 9 p.m., Nicholas Kelly, the sandy-haired, audacious twin, wandered away and drowned in the home's swimming pool.

Dawn Kelly thought an older child was watching him. "I was spread too thin," said the 37-year-old mother. "The same situation happens every time I have to go to the bathroom."

Nicholas' kidneys failed, then his liver and heart.

He died May 4.

Shortly after, the Kellys reunited. They have been living in a hotel, at times, crammed in one room. Family has been helping foot bills as they're essentially homeless.

They say officials told them to stay away from their rented home pending a final inspection.

"Right now, my main focus is having my kids together as a family," said Thomas Kelly, 39, an out-of-work remodeler. "By the same token, I'm not going to sit back and let his happen to my family or another family."

The head of the local DCF office isn't talking because the case remains under investigation. Renee D'Angelo, who handled the case before Nicholas Kelly's drowning, was removed.

"It's an ongoing investigation on which I cannot comment," said DCF's Cookie Coleman. "I can't speak in general, and I can't speak in particulars."

Terry Field, a department spokesman, said the agency did not refer the case to dependency court, which would have brought the matter before Judge James Seals.

At that point, children are often removed from a parent's custody.

Field said it likely didn't go before Seals because the mother was considered a non-offending parent.

"The decision was made to provide diversion services to the family," he wrote in an e-mail, referring to the program to keep children out of the system.

Jan Gregory, DCF deputy director of SunCoast region, of which this area belongs, said staff found no legal sufficiency after the drowning to bring the case to court, either.

DCF is also making a push to keep children out of foster care as long as they can be safe at home. That is among the lingering questions in this case.

Others are:

  • How swift can a bureaucratic system respond to a family's immediate needs outside of court?
  • Are enough community support resources available? How easily can people attain them?
  • And, what happens when a family's needs may not fit services offered?

Dawn Kelly was given a safety plan directing her to seek an injunction against her husband and bar the children from his side of the family, upon whom they have leaned for support.

Thomas Kelly's sister, Heather Klein, 34, of Cape Coral, says she called D'Angelo before the drowning.

"I thought, 'You're crazy.' I told her, 'She's not capable of doing this on her own,'" Klein said. "It's not OK that they completely disregarded what everyone said."

Department officials said caseworker D'Angelo was reassigned after the drowning, but not due to wrongdoing.

She has not been disciplined, Gregory said, noting that Coleman just wanted another investigator. D'Angelo's personnel file shows no record of disciplinary action for the 40-year-old investigator, who was hired in July 2008.

A second investigator was assigned after the drowning then replaced by a third investigator two weeks ago, the family said, noting the other two apologized.

Deputy director Gregory said investigators are assigned as events arise during on-call hours. Several investigators may be assigned to a family, she said.

The couple says the April 14 dispute that triggered the department's involvement was steeped in stress.

Dawn Kelly called Cape Coral police around 11 p.m. When they arrived, she said her husband had touched their daughter inappropriately.

Thomas Kelly denies it, saying the pair were arguing about coloring her hair when he picked up his daughter and moved her away from a TV. The girl said the same, noting authorities made her feel as if her father had done wrong.

The next morning, Klein said Dawn Kelly called her in tears. She said she made a mistake. Klein then talked to her niece.

"If I thought for one second my brother was guilty, I would have let him sit in jail because kids are number one in this world," said Klein, who bailed out Thomas Kelly on April 15.

The husband and father steered clear of the home because a court order barred contact with his daughter. He stayed with his family.

That day, DCF began looking into allegations of sexual abuse, inadequate supervision and environmental hazards.

Dawn Kelly never pursued an injunction. She said she didn't feel in danger.

D'Angelo, the investigator, referred her to a domestic violence shelter, which Dawn didn't feel applied to their case.

Meanwhile, Thomas Kelly, Klein, and Dawn's mother Pulcano said they peppered the department with concerns.

Klein and her brother worried his wife might have issues with prescription drugs, which Dawn denies.

An agency spokeswoman said allegations are typically investigated.

Beyond that, the mother said DCF didn't deliver on emergency needs.

The deputy director said an investigator can refer parents to services such as counseling, child care and housing, but there has to be follow-through.

After the toddler's drowning, Klein said the department reversed the part barring contact with Thomas Kelly's family and she took in the children temporarily.

"How is DCF looking out for best interests of children?" Klein asked. "I don't see at all."

Sal Bazaz, the Naples attorney representing Thomas Kelly, said the agency also allowed the father to see the rest of his children aside from the 13-year-old.

The children, aside from the two oldest, reunited with their parents in early May and have been staying in hotels,. Essentially homeless, the Kellys say they've yet to see help. Their van - their only mode of transport - is broken. In one room, four children sleep on a queen bed, the twin baby in a crib, two on a pull-out couch and the parents on the floor.

The 13-year-old is also now with her family.

The Kellys remain baffled. The only thing clear is that a baby died.

A family is scarred.

A twin will grow up without a brother.

"This is going to affect him the rest of his life," said Thomas Kelly, who keeps a photo of the twin boys on his cell phone.

They buried Nicholas in Coral Ridge Cemetery two weeks ago, Plot 9a.

It consoles them to think they have nine children ... and one angel.

Additional Facts

How to help

The family has set up the Nicholas Kelly Memorial Fund, in care of Thomas Kelly, at Wachovia Bank to help cover burial costs and family expenses. People can donate at any local Wachovia branch.

Source: Fort Myers News-Press

Reign of Terror

May 25, 2009 permalink

The girl whose liberation was announced on May 12 is now in peril, as are her advocates. Anne Marsden has been threatened with a $10,000 fine for posting to Dufferin VOCA. The girl's mother is also blamed for the same posting, and has received a menacing communication from her own lawyer. The plans to return the girl to her mother may be suspended on account of the web posting. How is that for protecting the best interest of the child? As noted years ago, CAS suppresses news using methods shared with the late Saddam Hussein.

In an unrelated incident, another parent (we have to keep him/her anonymous) has been threatened with serious jail time if anything about his/her CAS case appears on the internet.

We regret that we cannot cite sources for this item. To eliminate any possibility of doubt, Anne Marsden does not have the ability to post messages to Dufferin VOCA.

reign of terror

Crime Wave

May 23, 2009 permalink

Does CPS have a court order? In California, it may be a forgery. And a Texas CPS worker has been convicted of making a false CPS report.



CPS worker charged with forgery

By Rob Young/Appeal-Democrat, May 23, 2009 - 12:58AM

A Sutter County Child Protective Services employee has been charged with forging a court record and a judge's signature, the Appeal-Democrat has learned.

Sarah J. Powell, 35, will be arraigned June 1 in Sutter County Superior Court, said Assistant District Attorney Fred Schroeder.

Powell is also charged with forging the seal of the state of California on a document, he said.

Schroeder said he could not comment on the motive behind the alleged forgery. He did not disclose which judge's signature Powell is charged with forging.

Powell and Child Protective Services officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The three charges were filed May 12. Powell was not arrested but was sent a letter ordering her to appear in court, Schroeder said.

There are no other defendants in the case, he said.

Child Protective Services workers are county employees.

Sutter County spokesman Chuck Smith said he learned of the case from the Appeal-Democrat.

"I have no idea what her job status is," Smith said.

Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young at 749-4710 or at

Source: Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Former CPS supervisor pleads guilty to falsifying a report

Woman falsely accused man of molesting child

By Mary Ann Cavazos, Originally published 02:24 p.m., May 22, 2009, Updated 10:19 p.m., May 22, 2009

Grizelda Lopez-Hess
Lopez-Hess still may face jail time after a June 1 hearing.

CORPUS CHRISTI — A former Child Protective Services supervisor took a plea deal Friday for probation for falsely accusing a man instrumental in helping convict child abusers of molesting a child himself.

Grizelda Lopez-Hess, 38, pleaded guilty to a charge of making a false report of abuse. She still could be sanctioned to jail time.

Lopez-Hess was accused of making a call to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services on Oct. 9 and making a false indecency with a child report. The false report was made months after Lopez-Hess no longer was employed by CPS, which falls under that department.

As part of the deal prosecutors recommended she be sentenced to two years in state jail, which was suspended for three years probation.

The agreement includes the conditions that while on probation she stay at least 200 yards away from the man she falsely accused and his family, and not work with any child abuse victims. She also must attend anger management, complete 100 community service hours, pay a $1,000 fine and give $50 to the Nueces County Children’s Advocacy Center.

Prosecutor Angelica Hernandez also asked District Judge Tom Greenwell to impose one more condition — that Lopez-Hess serve 90 days in county jail. She said the jail time is warranted because the allegation prompted a CPS investigation and disrupted the lives of the man and the child he was accused of molesting.

Defense attorney Eric Perkins argued jail time isn’t appropriate for his client.

That issue will be decided by the judge at a June 1 hearing.

Hernandez said after the hearing that the falsely accused man approved of the plea deal and likely will testify along with the child at the next hearing.

A department spokesman has said Lopez-Hess had worked for CPS since 1997 and was the supervisor for the local sexual assault unit, until she was fired in May 2008 for sharing confidential information, which damaged her credibility.

Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Addendum: At her trial, Mrs Powell invoked, what else, the best interest of the child.



Former CPS worker found guilty of forgery

By Rob Young/Appeal-Democrat, 2009-08-06 17:15:27

A Sutter County judge on Thursday found former Child Protective Services worker Sarah Jane Powell guilty of forgery after she admitted "cutting and pasting" a court document, including a copy of another judge's signature.

Judge H. Ted Hansen reached the verdict after a one-day trial in which Powell alternately wept and became angry under cross-examination by a prosecutor.

Powell testified she created the document April 15 so a foster child — a girl under the age of 5 — could get much-needed dental surgery. But Assistant District Attorney Jana McClung said Powell, who had just been reprimanded for not completing work on time, was trying to protect her job after failing to promptly file a true document.

Powell was fired after another social worker found a fake document, with Sutter County Judge Chris Chandler's signature taped to it, in a copy machine where Powell left it.

"Why did you do it?" Powell's attorney, Timothy Evans, asked her.

"I just panicked. I wanted to make sure (the foster child) got the procedure done she was scheduled for," Powell said.

Delaying the dental procedure, which was scheduled the next day, would have meant the child living in pain months longer, she said.

But Craig Hungrige, an investigator for the Sutter County District Attorney's Office, testified Powell told him soon after being caught that she was worried about losing her job.

Hungrige said he initially interviewed Powell at the CPS office on Live Oak Boulevard in Yuba City with her boss present. She denied knowledge of the fake papers, he said.

But when he and Powell, who knew each other from student days, walked to her car in the parking lot, Powell said, "Craig, I f----d up," and cited problems in her personal life. She acknowledged not getting her work done on time, he said. McClung aggressively cross-examined Powell.

"How many times had you done this before?" McClung said about the fake documents.

"I'd never done it before," Powell snapped.

Asked why she hadn't gone to supervisors to expedite the needed paperwork instead of forging it, Powell said, "I wish I knew the answer to that."

Evans said it was very unlikely his client would have been fired for not filing the papers on time.

"She foolishly chose the path that ended with her losing her job," Evans said in summing up the case.

Evans blamed CPS in general — and Powell's boss Roberto Garcia in particular — for delaying the dental work, which was first proposed in August 2008.

Powell took over the case from another social worker in February or March, according to testimony.

Two CPS employees testified paperwork moved slowly once it got to the desk of Garcia, who had to approve documents submitted to the court.

Powell said she complained to a superior about Garcia's "incompetence as a social worker."

Garcia testified he left Powell two voice mail messages and talked to her once in person about the dental procedure. Her response was, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it," he said.

Asked by Evans if Powell was a "poor social worker," Garcia responded, "I would say so, yes."

McClung summed up her case by saying Powell's forgery defrauded the dentist, who needed a legal document before doing surgery, and damaged the credibility of CPS and the courts.

Hansen scheduled sentencing for Sept. 18. Powell could be sentenced on just one of three fraud charges, or could serve concurrent sentences on all three, he said. Two of the charges are "wobblers," he said, meaning they could be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors.

If Powell is incarcerated, it will be in jail, not prison, according to McClung.

Source: Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Fighting Foul

May 23, 2009 permalink

John Dunn has discovered that the Alberta government is trying to win its foster care class action lawsuit, not by prevailing on the law or the facts, but through the back door method of disbarring the opposing lawyer, Robert P Lee. Here are two extracts from the complaints found by Mr Dunn: Dunne, McPhail. (Links to complaints removed because of the state of the legal case).



Friday, May 22, 2009

Class Action Lawyer Needs Our Help

I am not sure if anyone is familiar with the Alberta Class Action law suit which has been launched in Alberta on behalf of foster children and former foster children who were not compensated for abuse suffered before or after entering foster care, for children who were taken into care without proper plans of care being made for them, and more.

One of the Lawyers involved, Robert P. Lee, has been taken to the Law Society in Alberta with complaints filed against him by the opposing lawyers (or the Crown?) I am not 100% sure who

Anyhow, the Law Society has already convicted Robert P. Lee of a couple of the seven allegations against him of breaching professional conduct etc. and the next time he appears before the Law Society it is for them to decide how to punish him (sentencing). Do they remove him from being able to practice law? To prevent him from helping these foster kids and former foster kids to take the government to court?

I am asking everyone to please write a letter in support of him remaining as a lawyer because it is in the public interest that he remain able to work on behalf of current, former and future foster children. That he remain on the case to act as the voice for the most vulnerable who are rarely in the position to bring legal action against the child welfare authorities due to limited resources and a lack of lawyers willing to put in the time required to initiate and follow through on such an action.

Feel free to mention whether you feel it is in the public interest that Mr. Robert P. Lee remain active as a lawyer and that you believe (if you do) that he has endured enough public embarrassment and humiliation as a result of these allegations and the overall disciplinary hearings against him, and that they have already had the desired effect of deterring similar behaviour in the future.

End your letter emphasizing once again, the importance in the PUBLIC INTEREST across CANADA of Robert P. Lee acting on behalf of the Alberta's thousands of current, former and future foster children since far too often these vulnerable citizens can not find any legal representation to assist them with their claims related to child welfare abuse and neglect.

I rarely ask people to take part in writing campaigns however I feel that this particular issue, this particular lawyer, one of the very few who have stuck themselves out there for vulnerable children and youth and their families deserves our support.

It should only take five minutes to write a quick letter of support mentioning the public importance and public interest across CANADA of his staying on as a lawyer

Are you able to give five minutes of your time for this man who has given hundreds of hours so far for foster kids?

Please send your letters to Robert P. Lee at or call him at 1-780-438-4972 x306 and give him your contact information so he can contact you back. Also let me know if you contacted him.

The allegations against Robert P. Lee to the Law Society regarding professional misconduct, you will see do not pertain to him scamming a bunch of people from their money etc. or anything else of such an immoral character. He appears to simply be a guy who appears to get a bit upset periodically when dealing with child welfare authorities and their Counsel. (raising voice at them etc) Have you ever been upset at child welfare authorities and their counsel? Do you think he deserves to stay on as a lawyer?

Please help Robert P. Lee in Alberta.

If you have any questions, please contact me at 613-220-1039

Originally reported at John Dunn's Advocacy Blog: Child Advocate Report Evidence in Class Action Legal Action by Foster Kids

Also being reported at

Posted by afterfostercare at 9:11 AM

Source: John Dunn blog for May 22, 2009 and email

Recruiting Hookers

May 22, 2009 permalink

Andrea Horwath is calling for an inquest into the quality of care in group homes following a case in which a fifteen-year-old girl left a home to go into prostitution.

So what keeps a girl from becoming a prostitute? Or any other teen on the straight and narrow? One force, from the teen's point of view, is: "My parents would be (ashamed/angry/hurt) if they found out I was a (prostitute/shoplifter/junkie)". Well, this force doesn't operate in the group home, where there are no parents. Looked at another way, it is impossible to follow the biblical injunction to honor your parents when you don't have any. Group home residents have had the full weight of the law used to separate them from their parents, and every other remnant of their family. The legal parent, a social worker, can make contracts on behalf of the child, but she sees her ward only monthly, and her identity shifts with staff changes at children's aid. And what sort of a bond does a child develop with the social worker? Here is an (offensive) example. It is not the kind of bond that will get the child to stay in good graces. For group home children, the most important behavioral inhibition has been cut off.

An inquest, if held, is unlikely to deal with the serious problems, instead focusing on trivialities such as staff training, or bashing of pimps.



Teenage girls easy prey for pimps lurking outside

May 20, 2009, The Canadian Press

TORONTO — A public inquiry must be held into the quality of care in Ontario’s group homes where teenaged girls continue to be easy prey for pimps who lurk outside, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said today.

Two young men were arrested this week for allegedly luring a 15-year-old girl from a Mississauga group home, giving her fake identification and forcing her to serve up sex in a strip club.

The teen was the latest in a long list of girls who police say have been plucked from group homes with promises of a glamorous lifestyles, then forced to prostitute themselves and give all their cash to pimps.

“They want to be loved. They are missing something. They have never had the sense of belonging and that’s where the attraction for the gangs, the attraction for the pimps, attraction for any kind of structure, even if it is damaging and negative, (comes from),” said Inas Garwood, executive director of Streetlights Support Services in Toronto, who works with many juvenile prostitutes who came from group homes.

“Yes, they (group homes) give routine, they give meals and they give basic needs, but the emotional and psychological aspects are not found.”

Group homes are often part of a long chain of command — the provincial government contracts work to Children’s Aid Societies, which contract work to independent agencies — that lacks a standard of care across the board, Garwood said.

Annual checks and balances include documentation of health and safety but don’t make homes accountable for counselling services and life skills training, Garwood said.

“There’s a complete lack of standards around the care that’s provided in foster care and in group homes,” Horwath said.

Two years ago, Ontario’s child advocate of the time, Judy Finlay, penned a report that looked at the quality of care provided through residential services of the Children’s Aid Societies of Toronto, Peel Region and Thunder Bay.

The first of Finlay’s 26 recommendations was, “that there be a public inquiry into the standards and quality of care afforded children in state care across Canada.”

“The inquiry needs to happen ... and the commitment from government to make the change,” Horwath said.

Deb Matthews, minister of children and youth services, said she is “extremely concerned about kids who are in our care.”

But a public inquiry into their care is “not something that I will be moving forward with right now,” she said from Calgary.

Source: Hamilton Spectator

Texas Family Threatened

May 21, 2009 permalink

CPS in Texas found a tiny bruise on the leg of eight-year-old Haley, accused her mother, strip searched the girl and tried to force her to say that her mother hit her. Her mother, Janet Sanchez, is an employee of Alex Jones, and yesterday Alex did an hour on the topic, including an interview with consultant Kim Hart. You can see several YouTube videos on Prison Planet

Ticket Fixed

May 20, 2009 permalink

Unhappy with that traffic ticket? Long Island CPS worker Glen Tuifel was, and he used information in the CPS files to fight it.



Former CPS Supervisor Arrested Trying To Discredit Police Officer

Glen Cove man accessed confidential Child Protective Services files trying to get even with cop

By MIKE GRAHAM |, May 19, 2009, MINEOLA, N.Y. (WPIX)

Glen Tuifel
Arrested for using his position at CPS and trying to discredit police officer

In an attempt to get back at a police officer who gave him a speeding ticket, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice says a former Nassau Child Protective Services supervisor illegally accessed the agency's confidential database with hopes of discrediting the officer.

40 year old Glen Tuifel has been arrested and charged with Official Misconduct and Illegally Disclosing Confidential Information. Rice said on or about October 6, 2008, Tuifel got into the New York State Office of Child and Family Services secured database to see if the police officer had ever been investigated.

Tuifel did find that there was an investigation into the officer and attempted to use that information in court to get the ticket dismissed. Tuifel lost his court battle and in addition the actual investigation into the officer was determined to be unfounded.

"He was in a position of trust and he abused that trust," said Rice. "He launched a personal vendetta and when he abused his public position he crossed the line and his vendetta became criminal".

The whole incident came to light after the police officer filed a complaint with the Police Department and prosecutors. Prosecutors say an extensive investigation revealed that Tuifel's username accessed the secured database.

If convicted Tuifel faces up to a year in jail for both misdemeanors.

Source: WPIX-TV New York

Social Workers Chased with Knife

May 18, 2009 permalink

After John Michael Simon finished his probation he must have thought his ordeal was over, but social workers continued to harass him. Last week he lost it and chased them from his apartment with a knife.



The Times Leader, May 19

Cops: Man menaces caseworkers

John Michael Simon faces assault, other charges for allegedly carrying a knife while chasing wokers.

By Edward Lewis, Staff Writer

LUZERNE – Two Luzerne County Children and Youth caseworkers were chased out of an apartment by a man carrying a knife on Friday, Swoyersville police said.

Police said John Michael Simon, 50, of Bennett Street, Luzerne, was charged with four counts of simple assault, and two counts each of recklessly endangering another person and terroristic threats for allegedly chasing the two female caseworkers. He was arraigned by District Judge William Amesbury in Wilkes-Barre and remained jailed at the county prison on Monday for lack of $5,000 bail.

According to the criminal complaint filed by officer Wesley B. Manfre:

Two child caseworkers arrived at Simon’s apartment Friday night on a follow-up investigation. Simon invited the caseworkers inside and knew they wanted to speak with a woman residing at the apartment with her children.

Simon became upset saying, “I want these (expletives) out of my house,” and started playing with a folding knife in addition to making threats, the criminal complaint says.

The caseworkers began gathering their belongings to leave when Simon allegedly took the knife out of his pocket and chased the caseworkers out. The caseworkers claimed Simon continued to yell while he was chasing them.

According to Luzerne County court records, Simon was sentenced in January 2008 to one-year probation on a charge of corruption of minors for kissing and exposing himself to a then 9-year-old girl in November 2006.

Under a negotiated plea deal, prosecutors withdrew charges of indecent assault and endangering the welfare of children against Simon.

One of the caseworkers told police, the complaint says, that she was scared and believed Simon was going to stab her and the other caseworker said she was scared to death.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled on May 21 in Central Court.

Edward Lewis, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7196.

Source: Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

chased with knife

Big Cyber is Watching

May 18, 2009 permalink

Britain is launching its universal database, dubbed ContactPoint, of children up to age 18. Initially it handles only the north west region, but will soon expand to the entire country. You can read more on wikipedia, ARCH, Action on Rights for Children and the UK government sites every child matters and Office of Public Sector Information. Subjective opinions are excluded from ContactPoint, but could come through mission-creep. The number of people using the database will be in the hundreds of thousands, too large for keeping secrets, so in future disputes with social services damaging information about the family will get into the press. Since there is no provision for mother, father or the child himself to use the database, they will be unable to correct errors or even know about them, and when the database contains exculpatory data, they will unable to make use of it. Shortly after reaching age of majority, information shifts to "archived", but with the technical requirement for regular backup copies, there is no way to destroy it. These archives will follow British citizens for the rest of their lives. In the USA, social services records have already been used to embarrass a man for political gain.



BBC NEWS, Published: 2009/05/18 10:48:04 GMT

Database of all children launched

Victoria Climbié
The database was proposed after the death of Victoria Climbie

A controversial database which holds the details of every child in England has become available to childcare professionals for the first time.

ContactPoint, a response to Lord Laming's report following the death of Victoria Climbie, is beginning its national roll-out in the north west.

But the system, costing £224m, has been delayed twice amid data security fears.

The government says it will enable more co-ordinated services for children and ensure none slips through the net.

It will hold the details of 11 million children and young people aged up to 18 years.

The delays were prompted by concerns over access to the database. In 2007, a report into the project by auditors Deloitte and Touche said it could never be totally secure.

Last summer ministers delayed the database, admitting there were some "issues" identified in testing.

It says 390,000 people will have access to the database, but will have gone through stringent security training.

'Save time'

The system will be available to workers in 17 local authorities in the north west of England, before eventually being rolled out across the rest of the country.

More than 51,000 children deemed vulnerable will have their identities and information shielded, the government says, after fears were raised that information about children's whereabouts could fall into the wrong hands.


  • Name, address, date of birth, gender and contact details for parents or carers
  • Each child also has a unique identifying number
  • Details of the child's school and GP practice and for other practitioners or services working with the child
  • Whether the practitioner is the lead professional for that child Source: DCSF

The government said the database was vital to prevent any child slipping through the net, and would enable professionals to see quickly and easily which other services and people were in contact with a child.

England's children's minister, Delyth Morgan, said: "Under current arrangements if a practitioner believes that a child is at risk or may need additional support, for example if they have a disability, they may have no way of knowing whether other services might already be in contact with that child.

"We estimate that ContactPoint, when fully operational, can save at least five million hours of professionals' time, freeing them up from trying to track down other practitioners and enabling them to spend more time on the child."

The Conservatives have called for the database to be scrapped.

But it has been welcomed by the chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's, Martin Narey, who said it "would make it easier to deliver better-co-ordinated services".

Source: BBC

Addendum: The Conservative/Liberal coalition government is abolishing the ContactPoint database.



The end of a child protection revolution

Victoria Climbie
Victoria Climbie had many injuries when she died

A computer system that was meant to revolutionise the way in which professionals track vulnerable children is being switched off, quietly and without fanfare, later on Friday.

Called ContactPoint, it would eventually have contained the names and basic details of every one of the 11 million children living in England.

But the Conservatives had always believed the solution was disproportionate to the problem and pledged in its coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats to scrap it.

Within two months of the switch-off all the data collected for the system is to be destroyed.

The Laming Inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie had recommended that a national database of children should be set up to avoid another child being hurt in the same way.

Different hospitals and different local authorities had come in contact with the eight-year-old as she was moved around London, but no professional had a complete picture.

ContactPoint divided opinion from the outset. Civil liberties campaigners claimed it was an unwarranted intrusion into family life and serious concerns were also raised about the safety of so much information being held in one place, given the government's track record on keeping data safe.

On the other hand, many organisations working in the field of child protection felt that it could be an important tool in helping professionals find out who was working with a vulnerable child. They also felt it would improve the sharing of information.

After much delay, and increasing cost, the national roll-out of the system began in January 2009.

To date, some 15,000 users have accessed it, against the forecasted 330,000.

Tracing children

By the end of March this year, some £235m has been spent on the project.

But a report published by the Labour government said 75% of the professionals piloting the system had found it useful.

It quoted an attendance officer in one area who said he had been able to trace eight children who had been missing from education for more than a year.

With echoes of the Climbie case, a social worker also described a mother who had been going to different agencies using different names for her child.

ContactPoint helped them discover that there had been five different stories given for the same child.

Once they had that information they could protect that child properly.

Child deaths

After so much time and money has been put into setting up one system, the Association of Directors of Children's Services says it is concerned that the effort should not be wasted.

They also say focus must not be lost on the need for professionals to know who else is working with a vulnerable child.

Certainly time and again, reviews into child deaths have pointed to a lack of information-sharing between agencies.

The most recent was last week's serious case review into the starving to death of seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq in Birmingham.

The coalition government says it does recognise the problem that the system was meant to address.

It just wants a more proportionate approach focused solely on vulnerable children and used by front-line staff only.

It is exploring the possibility of a national signposting service.

Ideas will be considered by the Munro Review into child protection, but its full report is not due until next year.

Source: BBC

Alberta Lawsuit

May 18, 2009 permalink

A lawsuit against the Alberta foster care system has passed a court obstacle. The province held things up for nearly four years to determine whether it is a proper subject for class action.



Alberta court clears way for foster-care lawsuit

By Karen Kleiss, Canwest News ServiceMay 17, 2009

Edmonton — The provincial government has failed in its attempt to quash a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Alberta foster children.

In a decision released Friday, Alberta’s highest court dismissed an appeal by the Director of Child Welfare and the Public Trustee’s Office, which argued that a lower-court judge made legal mistakes in his decision to certify the class action in February last year.

The Court of Appeal upheld the lower-court ruling, and said the class action can go ahead.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of more than 400 one-time foster children, claims the government should have taken legal action to get financial compensation for children who suffered injuries before or after they became wards of the state.

The plaintiffs were all subject to temporary and permanent guardianship orders between July 1966 and February 2004, which means the government was acting as their parent at some point during that time.

The plaintiffs are not claiming that child welfare authorities didn’t react properly to injury or abuse. However, they claim that before or after they were taken into care they suffered injuries that entitled them to civil damages or victims of crime compensation, but child welfare authorities failed to pursue those claims. It is a class-action lawsuit about lawsuits.

For example one woman, now 28, was just seven weeks old when her mother and stepfather physically assaulted her so violently she was hospitalized for more than a month. Her parents were jailed and she was taken into care, but child welfare authorities never sought compensation for her under victims-of-crime laws.

Another lead plaintiff was five years old when he was placed in a foster home where he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by the son of his foster parents. His abuser was charged and pleaded guilty, but again, child welfare authorities never sought compensation.

Both plaintiffs claim the government should pay compensation now.

The Public Trustee’s Office is named in the suit because it is the government body that should be advancing claims on behalf of children in care.

In its appeal, the government argued in part that it is too late for many of the claims to go to court, and that the remaining claims are too different to be lumped together into one class action lawsuit. The Court of Appeal rejected those arguments.

Vancouver-based class action lawyer David Klein and local lawyers Mark Freeman and Robert P. Lee are leading the action. Lee estimates roughly 20,000 Albertans are in a position to join.

“This lawsuit is important is because it creates accountability. Our system has had problems for decades, and it hasn’t improved much, or at all, or maybe it has gotten worse,” Lee said.

“Now the government has to account for its mistakes. That is how things will change in the child welfare system — only with accountability. When it starts to affect the government in the pocketbook, I think that is when we will start to see changes in the child welfare system.”

Lee said the government can still appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

However, if the government chooses not to appeal, lawyers will begin the process of notifying other Albertans who may wish to join the class action.

A spokesperson for the government could not immediately be reached for comment.

The suit was launched in 2005, and since then Alberta Children’s Services has implemented a referral process to address the legal interests of the roughly 6,500 children who are in the care of the province.

Source: Edmonton Journal on

Addendum: John Dunn has found the court's decision in this case. It includes a draft of an advertisement soliciting class members.

Adoption Disclosure is Coming

May 17, 2009 permalink

COAR alerts us that Ontario's adoption disclosure law takes effect on June 1. Many procedural questions are answered in their bulletin.



Date sent: Fri, 15 May 2009 09:01:30 -0700 (PDT)

COAR Bulletin

May 15

The countdown is on!  On June 1, 2009 Ontario will open its adoption records to adopted adults and their parents at birth.

What does this mean?

As of June 1, adopted adults (aged 18 or older) and original parents (of adoptees aged 19 or older) will be able to access the adoptee’s original birth certificate.  Birth parents will also be able to access the adoptee’s amended birth certificate.  Both of these documents contain identifying information about the other party.

I am adopted.  Where can I get my information?

Beginning on June 1, application forms for original birth certificates will be available at ServiceOntario* ( You will need to print out the form and mail it to the address provided on the website.

If you submitted an application form for your original birth certificate before Judge Belobaba ruled the previous law unconstitutional, you do not need to send in a new application form.  The government will fill those applications before turning to those it receives after June 1.

You will receive a copy of your original birth certificate.  It will give you:

  • your name at birth
  • your birth mother’s name at the time of your birth
  • your birth father’s name, in some cases

If your birth parent has filed a contact veto, you will receive it along with your original birth certificate. If your birth parent has filed a disclosure veto, you will receive it instead of any identifying information.

I am a birth parent.  Where can I get information about my adult child?

Beginning on June 1, applications forms for original birth certificates will be available at ServiceOntario (  You will need to print out the form and mail it to the address provided on the website.

If you submitted an application form before Judge Belobaba ruled the previous law unconstitutional, you do not need to send in a new application form.  The government will fill those applications before turning to those it receives after June 1.

You will receive:

  • a copy of the original birth certificate naming you as the parent of your child
  • information from the amended birth certificate.  You will receive the name your child was given after adoption. The names of your child’s adoptive parents will be blacked out.

If your adult child has filed a contact veto, you will receive it along with the original and amended birth certificates. If your adult child has filed a disclosure veto, you will receive it instead of any identifying information.

What other services are available under the new law?

Adoption Disclosure Registry

Adopted adults and birth relatives can place their name on a government run registry.  Applications for the registry are available at  Once the government receives your application for the registry, they will check to see if another family member has also registered.  If there is a match (i.e. two parties have registered) the government will notify both individuals and arrange for the release of information.

Non-Identifying Information

Adopted adults, birth relatives, and adoptive parents may apply for non-identifying information.  This is information that was collected at the time of the adoption.  It will come to you as a summary compiled by a social worker or as a direct copy of the files themselves.

If a CAS handled the adoption, you need to write to the CAS and ask for a copy of the non-identifying information.  Make sure to include a copy of your identification.

If a private agency or individual (e.g. lawyer or doctor) facilitated the adoption, you need to go to , print off, and mail in the form for non-identifying information.

It is important to note that no identifying information will be released this way.

Severe Medical Searches

Adoptees and their descendants, and birth relatives may apply to the government for a search done for medical reasons.  The government’s doctor will decide whether a search will go forward.  Applicants must demonstrate that they need information vital to the diagnosis or treatment of a disease or that they have information vital to the diagnosis of a disease to pass along to the other party.  Applications for a Severe Medal Search are available at ServiceOntario at

What is a Contact Preference Form?

This is a new form that allows adopted adults and their birth parents to specify how they would like to be contacted.  You will find the form at  Again, you need to fill it out and mail it in to the government.

NOTE: If you are hoping for a reunion, we strongly urge you to fill out this form immediately and send it in. When the other party applies for the birth certificate, s/he will also then receive the contact preference form with your contact details on it.  This will make the search much easier and significantly decrease the time you will need to wait for a reunion.

If you want to read the Access to Adoption Information Act (ARRA) in its entirety, go to and search.

You can get your application form in one of four ways:

  • Download and print them from the ServiceOntario website
  • Go to a ServiceOntario kiosk in places throughout the province
  • Phone toll-free: 1 800 461-2156 or in Toronto: 416 325-8305
  • Visit a Government of Ontario office, but phone first!

Should you have any questions about what the law changes mean to you, please feel free to contact any of us, or to take your questions to a local adoption support group.

In solidarity,

Michael Grand,
Karen Lynn,
Wendy Rowney,

The COAR Coordinating Committee

Source: email from COAR

Dress for Social Work

May 16, 2009 permalink

To play the role of a social worker, Mariah Carey had to gain weight, throw away her makeup, get a scruffy brown hair style and dress in unflattering clothes.



Wow! Mariah Carey ditches the make-up to play dowdy social worker in new movie

By Chris Johnson, Last updated at 12:31 AM on 15th May 2009

Notorious for her dedication to glamour, she has refused to travel without an army of beauticians and admitted sleeping with 20 humidifiers around her bed.

So it is somewhat unusual to see Mariah Carey looking more dowdy than diva-like in these shots from her gritty new movie, Precious, in which she plays a social worker.

Carey, 40, who had to put weight on for the role, looks almost unrecognisable, sporting an unflattering blouse and jacket with scruffy brown hair.

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey dressed down for her role as a social worker in new film Precious, a look far removed from her usual glamorous image, below
Mariah Carey
She stars in the feature alongside newcomer Gabby Sidibe who plays Claireece 'Precious' Jones, a trouble teen who is made pregnant twice by her father

In the film, which is due out in the U.S. later this year, she plays the downtrodden character Mrs Weiss, a Harlem social worker assigned to an obese, HIV-positive woman who was made pregnant twice by her father.

The Grammy winner is hoping to earn respect for the gritty role after previous movie flops, including her quasi-biographical role in Glitter (2001) which was panned by critics.

In January, Precious premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for best drama.

Mariah Carey Mariah Carey
Pretty in pink: The singer/actress last night at LAX Airport in Los Angeles

The film, originally called Push, is based on the novel Push by American author Sapphire and is set in New York in 1987.

It tells the story of overweight, illiterate New York teen Claireece 'Precious' Jones (Gabby Sidibe) who falls pregnant with her second child aged 16.

She is then invited to enroll in an alternative school in the hope it will transform her life.

Mariah Carey
Carey dresses in a series of drab outfits in the film

Newcomer Gabourey 'Gabby' Sidibe - who had never acted before - plays the title role after director Lee Daniels discovered her on the streets of the city.

U.S. comedienne and actress Mo'Nique also appears as the mother of Precious.

Gabourey 'Gabby' Sidibe
Sidibe plays a HIV-positive New York teen, pictured here with one of her babies

Source: Daily Mail

Lily Saved

May 16, 2009 permalink

Pam Roach reports on the fate of the girl she identifies as Lily. The well-heeled, and well-connected, great grandmother, has gained custody, keeping the child in the family.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update On Placement Of Little Lily

As we left off in the story of 3 year old "Lily," CPS had taken her for no reason whatsoever. She was not being abused or neglected by her grandparents and her young mother had terminated parental rights with the understanding that the grandparents would be granted custody.

Axiom: Never trust CPS when there is the custody of a child involved. If you have a "troubled" daughter who is willing to terminate...get the placement in writing from the department. Once there is a termination they ALWAYS change their course (declared placement intention) IF the biological relatives have no money, the child is around three, and the child is healthy. Just count on that.

The state took Lily, screaming as she was. The state lied about the grandparents (who had no money to defend themselves). The state moved very quickly to permanently place Lily with a stranger. The state never asked about the existence other biological relatives before doing this. (They knew the dad was dead so there would be no trouble from him. They like it when the dad is out of the picture. Usually he has already terminated his rights.) THIS SCENARIO IS REPEATED OVER AND OVER ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

I learned Lily had a very wealthy great-grandmother on the father's side of the family. I called and informed several in the AG's office. I predicted that the GGM would get the child and that is what is happening. She personally knows several of the political decision makers. The department is looking for a way out...if they give the child back to the grandparents then they have admitted they were wrong...if they give the child to the GGM then they have placed with a bio and are off the hook.

I am claiming victory here since the girl was removed from the young single foster woman and her partner and placed with the GGM. The child is going to be with family. The family will have to sort things out.

Axiom: The older you are the less likely you are to outlive someone who is younger and, the fewer active years you have to live. GGM 66, GM 46, Lily 3.

I am not sure how this will end up but everyone agrees that if it had not been for the wealthy and well connected GGM Lily would already be gone. We give thanks that she and her husband are in the picture and fought for their GGD. That still does not address the situation of CPS stealing the child and going after the grandparents with lies and distortions. CPS is now focused on their lack of financial abilities.

Source: Pam Roach blog May 13, 2009

Feed Hungry Social Workers

May 14, 2009 permalink

The Children's Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin only gets $37,397,478 annually from the taxpayers of Ontario (according to the Public Accounts of Ontario 2007-2008 pdf). Those of you who love giving billions of dollars in charity for Wall Street bankers are invited to divert a bit of your generosity to children's aid.



CAS volunteer programs need assistance

Posted May 14, 2009

The Children’s Aid Society of the District of Sudbury and Manitoulin is once again asking for the public’s assistance to help local families in need.

Our food bank is considerably low and needs to be restocked. We service the following areas: Espanola, Webbwood, Massey, Walford, Spanish, Nairn Centre, Sagamok-Anishnawbek First Nation and all of Manitoulin Island.

We have come to the Mid-North Monitor in an effort to get businesses involved. I am holding several food drives, and we are looking for prizes, as well as cash or food donations.

We also need craft supplies and new toys for our access room. Our goal is to renovate that area one day.

Any donations would be much appreciated.

To make a donation or for more information, call 705-368-2810 or 1-800-461-3583, ext. 4224.

Pamela Mailloux
Manitoulin Case Aide
Manitoulin Protection Team 2
Little Current/Sudbury

Source: Midnorth Monitor

Power Grab

May 14, 2009 permalink

Baby Zachary Turner died an avoidable death in Newfoundland in 2003. The best account of his life is the documentary movie Letter to Zachary. The entire movie can be viewed online by clicking the link.

The case led, through political twists and turns, to the appointment of three senior Ontario social workers to review the Newfoundland system. Their report was issued in December 2008 and released this week, CYFS Clinical Services Review (700 kilobytes pdf local copy). The investigators pored over reports produced within the bureaucracy, including 400 case files. They did not interview parents. They did not interview children, either currently in the system, or past graduates. They did not interview the judges, who were the primary points of failure in the Zachary case. The report suggests improvements to leadership, staff stability, training, legislation and data (computers). Unlike many reports of this genre, it does mention the word mother, seven times, but four of them are as the murderer of her own child. As usual, the result of system failure will be more money and power.



Children falling through cracks in N.L. social services: report

Last Updated: Thursday, May 14, 2009 | 7:11 AM NT, CBC News

Shirley Turner and Zachary
Shirley Turner drowned herself and her 13-month-old son Zachary in August 2003. (CBC)

A hard-hitting report into Newfoundland and Labrador's child welfare system has found significant gaps in coverage, including failed investigations into child sexual abuse.

The report, called a clinical services review, identified scores of issues, many of which have been flagged in the past, such as high turnover of staff among child protection workers and inadequate resources to manage the system.

The report, delivered in December but not released publicly until Tuesday, found inadequate intervention to prevent sexual abuse or to assess the risk of abuse, incomplete investigations into allegations of maltreatment of children in foster care and even some serious complaints that were not investigated at all.

The report looked at 400 child protection cases from 2007, and found 68 of them had deficiencies that could affect a child's well-being.

The report was commissioned partly to assess how the child, youth and family services system has changed in the wake of the 2003 drowning death of Zachary Turner, a 13-month-old boy who was killed by his mother, Shirley Turner.

Turner drowned herself and her child in Newfoundland's Conception Bay after fighting extradition to the U.S., where she was wanted for a murder trial in the shooting death of Zachary's father, Andrew Bagby.

The report, by three external consultants led by Toronto child protection expert Susan Abell, found many of the problems identified in a formal report into Zachary Turner's death are still problems. The authors blame failures on a workforce that is not only unstable, but underfunded and undertrained.

It also identified an unfocused leadership with conflicting visions and priorities, and said a wide-ranging plan is "urgently required" to overhaul a system, a process the authors say will take several years.

Joan Burke
Joan Burke said government officials will review past child-protection cases to ensure errors were not overlooked. (CBC)

"If this report is received as another that can be responded to with a patchwork of 'quick fixes,' it will fail to make a significant improvement and be viewed as a disincentive to those working in the system," the report says.

"The lives of children in Newfoundland and Labrador depend on this."

The report helped guide the government in the creation of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, which brought services from other agencies under one roof.

Joan Burke, appointed minister of the new department last month, said government accepts the report's conclusions.

She said government will "ensure that any services or any gaps in any services are identified and the appropriate intervention takes place."

As well, staff have been directed to check on older cases.

"[With] the cases that were referred and screened out, and despite being screened out, they did have a file saying they had a history with child services, I want all those files that were screened out that had a previous history to be reviewed again."

David Bagby, Zachary Turner's grandfather, said he does not know if the review's recommendations will fix anything, although he said at least the problems have been identified.

"There's nothing very specific in here that I can say, "There, this would have saved Zachary,'" Bagby told CBC News.

'It seems like if all of this had been in place, there would have been a much better chance. That's got to be a good thing."

Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones said she found the report startling.

"The authors of the report are surprised that there [are not] more cases [like] the Zachary Turner case, and that is a pretty strong statement to make when you're dealing with services being provided to children in this province," Jones said.

Source: CBC

Coming Home

May 13, 2009 permalink

girl reunited with family girl reunited with family Click on photos for more detail. Photographed May 12, 2009.

The above photos are of a little girl who lots of you, particularly the BAC choir members, prayed over in terms of return to her family. The situation seemed desperate at times as arrangements were made for her adoption but fell through when the proposed adoptive parents who had had her almost since birth split!!!! (Thank you Lord) . Mother, thanks to the many prayers of support, never gave up hope that her daughter would come home. She was taken at birth in 2007 and my very thorough audit of all court files etc. (over 1,000 hrs. of pro bono work) showed there was no just cause. Despite not being in court CAS smacked me with court costs to try and discourage my work in this matter as a Rights Advocate for Vulnerable Canadians. These photos are of her first visit in her family home in advance of her integration back into her family home. There is one other sister who also needs to come home as the audit also shows there has been no need for such a separation – so keep on praying for this family until the family is completely restored to what the Lord would have all families be. Anne Marsden

Sad Note

May 13, 2009 permalink

When an atrocity is in progress, some try to stop it. Others think only of ways to gain by inflicting it on their enemies. On Sunday Tamil protesters blocked highway 401 in Toronto. Several Tamil opponents have suggested siccing the children's aid society on them to confiscate their children. One from City News is below.



"Did the police act responsibly during the protest or should they have moved in to make arrests? Yes, the police acted very responsibly, although they were attacked and suffered injury and property damages. But they could have been more swift to remove the crowd from the highway.

"Did the protest change your mind about the situation in Sri Lanka? NOT AT ALL... it only made me understand how much is not known by most of the people here in Canada.

"What would you have done, given that small children were present? What should authorities do the next time? If it was up to me, first of all I would have the children taken away by the Children's Aid Society and the parents charged for endangering the lives of children. Taken firm action against every person carrying the terrorist flag which is banned in Canada. And this what I think the authorities should do the next time (and I am sure there will be more.)"

Mohamed A.

Source: City News

Insider Adoption

May 13, 2009 permalink

An article on Northumberland CAS says that its new executive director Rosaleen Cutler has four adopted children (amended to only two). Insiders grab the best for themselves.



Funding could result in slight surplus, new CAS director says

Posted May 12, 2009

- The new executive director of the Children's Aid Society (CAS) of Northumberland expects the budget year will either feature a break-even budget or have a slight surplus, due to the government funding received this spring.

Additional funds to meet expenditures were announced for CAS operations across Ontario but the Northumberland society still has an historical debt of $600,000 from 2005/6 and 2006/7, Rosaleen Cutler said during an interview last week.

The provincial government funded the local CAS with $10.7 million to the end of March 2009 and the local society's board is awaiting the government's strategy to address the long-term debt -- as well as funding for the 2009/2010 year, she said.

"No Children's Aid knows that yet."

Cutler joined Northumberland's CAS in January after spending 18 years (at various times during her career) with the Frontenac/Kingston CAS. She was director of organizational planning when she left that society to join Northumberland, she said. In total she has spent 30 years in the field.

Married with four adopted children, the two youngest are a year old, the family is still making the transition to this area, she said.

Former CAS executive director Greg Dulmage retired last year after many decades with the Northumberland CAS. His second in command, Linda Goldie, took retirement earlier that same year.

"I knew and worked with Greg and Linda over the years," Cutler said.

As a result of that association, she said, she knew the local agency was a "fine" one with a "community focus."

This is "in keeping with my values," she added.

Still, Cutler said she has been spending her first months listening, learning the "culture" of the CAS and what is important in both the organization and the community. While the volume of cases is less than that in Kingston and therefore has fewer community supports for facilities, "this community has a collaborative approach" that brings partners to the table, she said.

These include programs such as WrapAround Northumberland, which received a $105,300 Trillium Foundation grant last week. (See related story, above.)

Referrals continue to come to the CAS from social agencies, law enforcement, schools and the health care sector, Cutler said. About 80% of families work with the CAS in Northumberland on a "volunteer basis" as opposed to court-ordered, she noted.

"My approach is to work with the strengths of the children and their families."

Most of the time people want to make the lives of their families better, but if that can't be, the CAS looks for the best placement possible where children will grow and prosper. The first option is to look at kin or neighbours and because need outstrips resources, the CAS is always looking for foster families. During a recent blitz, 14 new foster homes were established and there are about 57 open foster homes at this time, she said.

About 100 children are in care every month, and up to 157 different children over the course of a year, Cutler said. More than half of these are wards of the Crown where the CAS is involved in care to age 18, or to 21 if the ward is still in school.

Among the objectives is to help these young people become independent. At any one time about 180 families are receiving services, some for months and others ongoing for years.

There are about 70 investigations every month into situations where children may be at risk, she added.

Source: Northumberland Today

Posted May 12, 2009


The new executive director of the Children's Aid of Northumberland, Rosaleen Cutler, has two 15-year-old adopted sons. Their age was incorrectly reported in yesterday's newspaper article.

Source: Northumberland Today

Wraparound Persecution

May 11, 2009 permalink

Wraparound services refers to a program in which a large number of professionals collaborate on the treatment of one child, brought under control of the therapeutic system by the courts. From the point of view of the "Teen" in the chart, it looks like being surrounded by hostile forces. Wraparound is expanding into Ontario.



WrapAround program gets funding boost

Posted By VALERIE MACDONALD, May 11, 2009

More trained volunteer facilitators to expand the WrapAround Northumberland program to help county families will be possible because of a $105,300 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant issued last week.

"We are making children's lives as complete as we can through WrapAround Northumberland," Children's Aid Society (CAS) of Northumberland board chair Marilyn Curson said at the funding announcement.

The program is managed by the local CAS.

The grant is for three years to expand the work that began six years ago, says WrapAround's Jane Ashmore.

"WrapAround is a support program which brings together formal and informal services to assist families and individuals develop plants to address complex social problems they may face...," a media release states. "Teams are composed of professionals, community members, friends and family. The circle of support is guided by a trained facilitator who also assists in developing an individualized plan built on existing strengths."

A new co-ordinator will be hired with the grant to recruit, train and support the new facilitators and to spread the program countywide, Ashmore said.

Source: Northunberland Today

wraparound services

Sorry, Wrong Number

May 11, 2009 permalink

Police raided the wrong address and seized the children. When they found their error, the police apologized, but child protectors would not return the children. Since identifying information is removed, there is no way to verify the story from AFRA.



From Canada- (Note- All names, including the advocate's with-held because of definite risk of retribution)

CPS screws up, Police goon squad attacks wrong family, Police interrogators terrorize parents, kids still in Foster Care

May 8, 2009

Some months back we were involved in a case of similar mistaken identity. For obvious reasons we cannot disclose names and specific details, as the powers that be would come down on us like a ton of bricks. However, the case went something like this...

A report from a bonafide medical practitioner, alleged that a child was being repeatedly abused and neglected, according to medical tests he conducted, at the behest of the school, when the boy was brought in, after suffering a severe injury, during recess.

However, the CPS caseworker that took down the information transposed the address number. She then summoned police and they engaged emergency services. The EMS team, (our version of SWAT), several police officers, and this caseworker stormed the wrong address. They grabbed the husband/father, who was having a quiet dinner with his family, at the table, and pinned him to the floor yelling, "Freeze! Don't Move!". At this point the police escorted both children from the home to a waiting police car, while the wife/mother was held face to the kitchen wall. The entire family was in shock and traumatized by the event. None the less, authorities seemed to care less.

After both children were placed in foster care and both parents escorted to the police station, the wife/mother was placed in one interrogation room, the father in another. The parents were in shock. They had just been invaded by heavily armed men, their home damaged from storm trouper tactics, and now found themselves in dank, drab, poorly lit, odour-drenched rooms facing police officers who were far less than cordial.

The, "interviewing", (interrogation), officers tried to convince the wife/mother that she didn't have to protect her abusive/neglectful husband, the children's father, and that she could be charged as a co-conspirator in the alleged abuse, together with separate charges against her, for failing to properly provide for the children and being neglectful. The woman fell into deep depression, as she knew nothing of what they were talking about.

In the other interrogation room, the lead, "interviewer", (interrogator), used techniques that, in itself, bordered on abuse and assault. He grabbed the father/husband, by the shirt, threw him against the wall, pinned him there while he attacked him with a barrage of insults and condemnations. The husband/father began weeping, as he was oblivious as to why these officers were so vile towards him.

After hours of this kind of torture and abuse, the police finally contacted the health professional and discovered the error. At this point the officer turned to the husband/father and said, "Sorry about that Sir, I was just doing my job". The husband/father turned to the detective and said, "Is this how you do your job, threatening, lying, yelling and calling me every dirty name under the sun?" The officer just shrugged and said, "Well, we thought you were guilty!" The husband/father simply said, "Yeah well, I think you're a jerk, fella!"

The wife/mother was also released by the detectives and the officers that interrogated her also apologized for their behavior, demeanor, and attitude. However the damage had already been done. Like accusing the parents of murder, when a young child is found dead, these folks were traumatized by their home invasion, then treated like dirt, then humiliated and terrorized for hours, during police, "Interviews", (interrogations).

But unlike the folks at the police station the CPS agency was a little bit less than apologetic. To cover up their mistake, error, poor judgment, and lack of proper investigation, they claimed they still had concerns about the parents' conduct, with respect to their children. They continue to claim there are sufficient grounds and reason to believe the parents may be suspected of improperly raising their children.

It's been some months now. The children are still in foster care. There have been several Family Court hearings, without resolve, and the family continues to be decimated and devastated by this travesty. The police were honest enough to at least admit an error had been made, and apologized for the mishap. However, the caseworkers at the CPS agency were not so forthcoming.

Inevitably, they attended the correct home, charged that father/husband with child abuse, child endangerment and neglect. That mother was convinced to bring charges against her husband and provided much needed evidence and testimony to convict that father/husband of his criminal ways.

But what, if any reparations and redress will be provided to the first family they terrorized?

Will they ever get their children back?

Will the record of allegations against them ever be expunged?

Will they continue to have what the CPS calls "a history" with this family?

And what about the children?

Will the Family Court now finally realize the caseworker made a mistake, and release the children back into the care and custody of the parents?

And what provision will be made to help these children overcome the terrorism they faced, at the hands of people who shot first, shot again, shot some more... then decided to ask a question or two?

Worst part of all is that this was not the first time that something like this has happened, and it probably won't be the last. Without proper civilian oversight committees to oversee and hold accountable, those authorities will continue unabated and unchallenged, to exceed their authority.

There was, is now, nor ever will be any civility, decency, respect, and no attention to the laws that should govern us, one and all.

Source: AFRA

Addendum: Further research has determined that this story comes from a trustworthy reporter, and that it is an Ontario case.

Addendum: Efforts to reach this family through the reporter have failed. This is a case in which the family could benefit greatly from contact with advocates. If you are the family, or know the family, please get in touch with John Dunn email [ afterfostercare at ] or Dufferin VOCA [ rtmq at ].



The way I see it, is that since the children are already being kept, the family has to speak out and bring their story out. They can not sit in fear of retaliation. They are already being retaliated against and their silence allows for that to continue.

Please encourage the family to contact me so I can talk to them if you are able to. The family should write to their worker and ask what child protection concerns the agency has so they can work on resolving the issues and toward closing their file.

Then it is up to the CAS to respond in writing, or if any calls from the CAS come in, let them go to the machine first, get the message and record calls to the CAS at any time but to always ask what child-protection concerns they have so that they can work on resolving them.

If the CAS does not respond, they can go to the media or to me and I can go to the media.

Also the CAS MUST bring the case to court within five days of apprehending the children or the case can be thrown out. It is in the CFSA. Five days no matter what.

John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada

Manual for Tormenting Families

May 11, 2009 permalink

The latest newsletter of WRFU details a brutal practice of abusive authorities worldwide: laughing and smiling at the people they are tormenting. The views expressed are those of WRFU, and not necessarily of Dufferin VOCA.

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.

Merrianne Goes Home

May 8, 2009 permalink

Merrianne Jessop
Merrianne Jessop before

The last of the hundreds of children taken a year ago from the ranch in Eldorado Texas is leaving foster care. Merrianne Jessop will be going to a relative, Naomi Carlisle. So in the end none of the allegations against the FLDS could be sustained in the courts. The Jessop mentioned in the story is Merrianne's mother Barbara Jessop.

For more on Merrianne, watch the video at Captive FLDS Children, or our local copy (31 megabytes flv).



Last of YFZ children to leave foster care or 659-8253, Originally published 11:06 a.m., May 7, 2009, Updated 01:16 p.m., May 7, 2009

The 14-year-old girl alleged to be a wife of Warren Jeffs will soon be taken out of foster care.

51st District Judge Barbara Walther ruled this morning that the girl will be put in the care of Naomi Carlisle, a distant relative. The move came at the request of the Child Protective Services, as well as from attorneys for the girl and Jessop.

The girl will be released from foster care May 10.

However, Court Appointed Special Advocates argued that the girl should stay in the custody of her San Antonio foster care family. The girl is the last of the children from the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado to be taken out of foster care.

CPS still will have regular visits with the girl and Carlisle. If all parties follow the safety plan laid out, then Carlisle will be granted full custody in September.

"No child should be in foster care," said Valerie Malara, an attorney for Jessop. "The ultimate goal is to be reunited with the family."

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.

Jessop walked out of the courtroom smiling.

"Barbara is ecstatic," attorney Brett Pritchard said.

The child, whom sect documents and pictures show as having been married to sect leader Warren Jeffs at age 12, at one time cried during the permanency hearing that lasted about an hour.

During the hearing, CPS caseworker Ashley Kennedy said Jessop has of the last two months been following all the guidelines in her visitations with the girl. Before that, case workers had found text messages on an unauthorized cell phone, as well as saw Jessop pass unauthorized notes to the girl during visits.

Some of the notes seemed to direct the girl's behavior towards foster parents and the attorney.

However, there had been no issues since March 17 and the visits between the girl and Jessop had been going well, Kennedy said.

Jessop, who remained stoic throughout most of the trial, became excited when the young girl walked into the courtroom before the hearing began.

The girl's attorney refused to answer questions after the trial but said during the hearing this could lead to permanent custody with Carlisle. That, in turn, could take her back to the ranch which would make the girl "the happiest girl in the world."

CASA official Shirley Davis said the agency questioned whether being with Carlisle would be safe for the girl. She questioned whether Carlisle could provide for the girl financially and help with her education. She also said Carlisle is estranged from some of her own children.

"We want (the girl) to be protected and safe," she said. "We want her to be a little girl. We don't think that can happen outside a foster home."

Source: San Angelo Standard-Times

Addendum:Richard Wexler points out that as long as Merrianne cannot go home to her parents, she is still in foster care, though an improvement over stranger care.

Healthy Boys Available

May 7, 2009 permalink

Ontario's Ministry of Children and Youth Services is advertising two brothers for adoption. The announcement mentions no problems for Preston, and only a modest difficulty for Drew. These boys don't look like abandoned children. Maybe you are a family member, or know the family. If so, please notify Dufferin VOCA by email [ rtmq at ].




Preston and Drew are brothers who share a family bond. They would benefit from a home where they can be raised together.

Preston Drew

Six-year old Preston is a highly intelligent child who adores school. He brings a library book home every day. Sometimes Preston gets frustrated when he cannot master a task on the first try and he needs support with this.

Preston loves to help around the home and will make his own bed in the morning. He likes the pets at his foster home and enjoys a variety of activities including colouring and watching children’s movies. Preston is a very active child and needs a lot of supervision to ensure his safety.

Four year old Drew is a very affectionate child who thrives on one-on-one attention from the adults in his life. He prefers the company of younger children and likes to play “make believe” games or solitary activities. He really likes being read to.

Drew is described as an active boy at school and is doing well in junior kindergarten. He has some difficulty with speech for which he is receiving services from a community agency. He also sees an occupational therapist as he is lagging in his gross motor abilities.

An adoptive family who are able to provide nurturing, structure and consistency would be crucial to parenting these two boys. The ability to advocate and a willingness to be involved in community services would also be important.

If you think your family could be the right one for Preston and Drew, 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 children you are calling about. Information is also available from the Adoption Council of Ontario via e-mail at or from AdoptOntario at

Source: Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services

Queers Love CAS

May 6, 2009 permalink

For same-sex couples (self-identified as queers), adoption is the main source of children. They love CAS.



Helping queer parents post-adoption

FAMILY / Have kids, now what?

Lara Purvis / Ottawa / Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Holly Wagg is no stranger to reforming Ottawa's queer community.

Wagg and her wife, Julia Alarie are the founders of Camp Ten Oaks, the Outaouais-based one-of-a-kind summer camp for children of queer families.

Wagg only recently stepped away from the camp project. Accustomed to interviews, she speaks briskly over the phone, acknowledging that Ten Oaks fills a need. But she take little credit for the successful summer camp, which has created a safe, accepting space for children of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community since 2004.

Two years ago the unassuming activist couple moved onto a new, more personal project. They wanted a family of their own and envisioned adopting, their initial thoughts: a girl, maybe eight years old.

"We wanted one, age 8. We were quite young to do this." Wagg laughs, "But somehow we ended up with two, age 9 and 11."

Wagg's story is becoming increasingly common. Ottawa's Children's Aid Society, has been actively recruiting queer couples and individuals over the past few years. According to Andre Fontaine of CAS, 35 of the 96 children adopted through the agency in 2008 were to members of the queer community.

Wagg's own transition from lesbian couple to lesbian-couple-with-kids was a thrilling and challenging emotional rollercoaster.

"Once the kids moved in we decided that I had to take parental leave from my job to be with them. That's a big deal. All of a sudden your job — which defines you — is gone, and you have these kids but you don't really know them! You have to deal with all these things and you don't know what are normal kid things, what are adoptive kid issues and what's gay specific. You simply don't know which way is up."

Though Wagg and Alarie fumbled along on love and instinct, they found it difficult at times. Still it wasn't until another woman was struggling with the same challenges and pushing Wagg to start a support group that the idea took root.

"I was reluctant to move into another big project, but there was such a need. CAS promises post-adoption support, but it's just not there. So you have these kids with unique needs, they're older and they have histories. And on top of that, it's a totally different experience for same-sex couples. There needed to be a support network that is specifically meeting their needs."

Wagg got involved through the Adoption Council of Canada, forming a support group with funding that Wagg jokes, "covers the coffee and cookies."

Under the moniker: Post-adoption Support Group for LGBTQ Parents and Parents-to-be, the group first met in February, where they discussed the group's goals. These include a welcome wagon information basket, a mentorship program, and outreach and information for prospective parents. The larger ongoing project will be to advocate for queer sensitivity and education for adoption workers within the system.

"We are and will be completely parent driven. In a sense we're creating our own community of queer adoptive families. We really enjoy the two hours of conversation each month to discuss all those sensitive parenting issues."

Wagg laughs, "Sometimes we just need to talk about our own transitions, like going from gay activism to soccer and art classes!"

The Post-Adoption Support Group meets on the third Tuesday of each month from 7-9pm at the Overbrook Community Centre, 33 Quill St.

Source: Xtra

Addendum: On October 5, 2009 Steven Rudd used this article to support the statement: "Hard statistics prove that 36 percent of CAS adoptions go to homosexuals". The CAS appears to have treated the Xtra reporter as friendly, revealing otherwise confidential data. Skeptics cannot claim that the 36% figure comes from a source biased against homosexuals.

Your Money or Your Kids

May 6, 2009 permalink

Police in Tenaha Texas have been stopping motorists and threatening them with jail or loss of their children to CPS. The motorists can escape the threats by turning over all of their valuables to the police. In two years, the police have confiscated three million dollars. The proceeds, legally restricted to official purposes, were spent by DA Lynda Russell on frivolities including a popcorn machine. The first half of a CNN podcast by Anderson Cooper (local copy 152 megabytes m4v) tells the story.

Addendum: A class-action lawsuit got Tenaha to promise to change its policies, though none of the victims got their money (or children) refunded.




Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing?

On a bright Thursday afternoon in 2007, Jennifer Boatright, a waitress at a Houston bar-and-grill, drove with her two young sons and her boyfriend, Ron Henderson, on U.S. 59 toward Linden, Henderson’s home town, near the Texas-Louisiana border. They made the trip every April, at the first signs of spring, to walk the local wildflower trails and spend time with Henderson’s father. This year, they’d decided to buy a used car in Linden, which had plenty for sale, and so they bundled their cash savings in their car’s center console. Just after dusk, they passed a sign that read “Welcome to Tenaha: A little town with BIG Potential!”

They pulled into a mini-mart for snacks. When they returned to the highway ten minutes later, Boatright, a honey-blond “Texas redneck from Lubbock,” by her own reckoning, and Henderson, who is Latino, noticed something strange. The same police car that their eleven-year-old had admired in the mini-mart parking lot was trailing them. Near the city limits, a tall, bull-shouldered officer named Barry Washington pulled them over.

He asked if Henderson knew that he’d been driving in the left lane for more than half a mile without passing.

No, Henderson replied. He said he’d moved into the left lane so that the police car could make its way onto the highway.

Were there any drugs in the car? When Henderson and Boatright said no, the officer asked if he and his partner could search the car.

The officers found the couple’s cash and a marbled-glass pipe that Boatright said was a gift for her sister-in-law, and escorted them across town to the police station. In a corner there, two tables were heaped with jewelry, DVD players, cell phones, and the like. According to the police report, Boatright and Henderson fit the profile of drug couriers: they were driving from Houston, “a known point for distribution of illegal narcotics,” to Linden, “a known place to receive illegal narcotics.” The report describes their children as possible decoys, meant to distract police as the couple breezed down the road, smoking marijuana. (None was found in the car, although Washington claimed to have smelled it.)

The county’s district attorney, a fifty-seven-year-old woman with feathered Charlie’s Angels hair named Lynda K. Russell, arrived an hour later. Russell, who moonlighted locally as a country singer, told Henderson and Boatright that they had two options. They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services.

“Where are we?” Boatright remembers thinking. “Is this some kind of foreign country, where they’re selling people’s kids off?” Holding her sixteen-month-old on her hip, she broke down in tears.

Later, she learned that cash-for-freedom deals had become a point of pride for Tenaha, and that versions of the tactic were used across the country. “Be safe and keep up the good work,” the city marshal wrote to Washington, following a raft of complaints from out-of-town drivers who claimed that they had been stopped in Tenaha and stripped of cash, valuables, and, in at least one case, an infant child, without clear evidence of contraband.

Outraged by their experience in Tenaha, Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson helped to launch a class-action lawsuit challenging the abuse of a legal doctrine known as civil-asset forfeiture. “Have you looked it up?” Boatright asked me when I met her this spring at Houston’s H&H Saloon, where she runs Steak Night every Monday. She was standing at a mattress-size grill outside. “It’ll blow your mind.”

The basic principle behind asset forfeiture is appealing. It enables authorities to confiscate cash or property obtained through illicit means, and, in many states, funnel the proceeds directly into the fight against crime. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, cops drive a Cadillac Escalade stencilled with the words “This Used To Be a Drug Dealer’s Car, Now It’s Ours!” In Monroe, North Carolina, police recently proposed using forty-four thousand dollars in confiscated drug money to buy a surveillance drone, which might be deployed to catch fleeing suspects, conduct rescue missions, and, perhaps, seize more drug money. Hundreds of state and federal laws authorize forfeiture for cockfighting, drag racing, basement gambling, endangered-fish poaching, securities fraud, and countless other misdeeds.

In general, you needn’t be found guilty to have your assets claimed by law enforcement; in some states, suspicion on a par with “probable cause” is sufficient. Nor must you be charged with a crime, or even be accused of one. Unlike criminal forfeiture, which requires that a person be convicted of an offense before his or her property is confiscated, civil forfeiture amounts to a lawsuit filed directly against a possession, regardless of its owner’s guilt or innocence.

One result is the rise of improbable case names such as United States v. One Pearl Necklace and United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins. (Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson’s forfeiture was slugged State of Texas v. $6,037.) “The protections our Constitution usually affords are out the window,” Louis Rulli, a clinical law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a leading forfeiture expert, observes. A piece of property does not share the rights of a person. There’s no right to an attorney and, in most states, no presumption of innocence. Owners who wish to contest often find that the cost of hiring a lawyer far exceeds the value of their seized goods. Washington, D.C., charges up to twenty-five hundred dollars simply for the right to challenge a police seizure in court, which can take months or even years to resolve.

The tangled nature of the process became clear when I spoke to Nelly Moreira, a stout, curly-haired custodian who lives in Northwest D.C. Moreira relied on her 2005 Honda Accord to drive from her early-morning job, cleaning Trinity Washington University, to her evening job, cleaning the U.S. Treasury Department. In March, 2012, her son was driving her car when he was pulled over for a minor traffic violation, and, after a pat down, was found to have a handgun. He was arrested, and her car was seized. Moreira, who grew up in El Salvador, explained in Spanish that she received a letter in the mail two months later asking her to pay a bond of one thousand and twenty dollars—which she took to be the fee to get her car back. Desperate, she borrowed cash from friends and family to cover the bond, which is known in D.C. law as a “penal sum.” If she hadn’t, the car would have been auctioned off, or put to use by the police. But all that the money bought her was the right to a complex and slow-moving civil-forfeiture court case.

She was left struggling to make her car payments each month as her Honda sat in a city lot, unused and unsheltered from the elements. The bond, the loans, and the public-transportation costs added up. “There were days I didn’t have a good meal,” she told me in February, sitting beneath her daughter’s quinceañera portrait in her narrow fuchsia-painted row house.

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia won the release of Moreira’s car last summer, and in May filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of approximately three hundred and seventy-five car owners like Moreira. Describing the policy as “devastating for hundreds of families who depend on their cars for many of the urgent and important tasks of daily life,” it called for higher standards of proof and the end of penal-sum fees. At a public hearing on July 11th, D.C.’s attorney general, Irvin Nathan, acknowledged “very real problems” relating to due-process rights. But he warned that millions of dollars raised by forfeiture “could very easily be lost” and “an unreasonable burden” placed on his office if the reforms supported by the Public Defender Service were enacted. He proposed more modest changes that would leave the current burden of proof untouched.

“We all know the way things are right now—budgets are tight,” Steve Westbrook, the executive director of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, says. “It’s definitely a valuable asset to law enforcement, for purchasing equipment and getting things you normally wouldn’t be able to get to fight crime.” Many officers contend that their departments would collapse if the practice were too heavily regulated, and that a valuable public-safety measure would be lost.

But a system that proved successful at wringing profits from drug cartels and white-collar fraudsters has also given rise to corruption and violations of civil liberties. Over the past year, I spoke with more than a hundred police officers, defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and forfeiture plaintiffs from across the country. Many expressed concern that state laws designed to go after high-flying crime lords are routinely targeting the workaday homes, cars, cash savings, and other belongings of innocent people who are never charged with a crime.

When Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson complained to the county in the hope of retrieving their savings, they got another surprise. Lynda Russell, the district attorney, told them she had warned “repeatedly” that they did not have to sign the waiver, but, if they continued to contest it, they could be indicted on felony charges. “I will contact you and give you an opportunity to turn yourself in without having an officer come to your door,” she wrote in a letter mentioning the prospect of a grand jury. Once again, their custody of the kids was threatened. Boatright and Henderson decided to fight anyway.

When out-of-town drivers who felt victimized by a Tenaha forfeiture called local lawyers for help, their business wasn’t always welcomed. “That’d be like kicking a basket of rattlesnakes,” one defense lawyer warned a forfeiture target. Often they were referred to a defense attorney named David Guillory, in nearby Nacogdoches. Guillory is a broad-faced man with blue eyes and the gregarious, cheerful disposition of a Scoutmaster. (He is, in fact, an assistant Scoutmaster of local Troop 100, and keeps the “Handbook of Knots” by his desk, near heaps of legal briefs.) He moved to Nacogdoches seventeen years ago and set up shop as a small-town civil-rights lawyer. He specialized in cases around the state that made neither friends nor profits: mostly, suing policemen for misconduct.

By the time Boatright and Henderson spoke with Guillory, he was already acquainted with what he refers to as “the Tenaha operation.” Several months earlier, he’d received a call from a plump-cheeked twenty-seven-year-old man named James Morrow, who worked at a Tyson plant in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, slicing chicken strips for prepared foods. “He told me a pretty startling story,” Guillory recalls. In August, 2007, Tenaha police pulled Morrow over for “driving too close to the white line,” and took thirty-nine hundred dollars from him. Morrow told Guillory that he was on his way to get dental work done at a Houston mall. (The arresting officers said that his “stories of travel” were inconsistent, as was his account of how much money he had; they also said they detected the “odor of burned marijuana,” although no contraband was found in the car.) Morrow, who is black, was taken to jail, where he pleaded with authorities to call his bank to see proof of his recent cash withdrawal. They declined.

“They impounded my car, and they impounded me, too,” Morrow told me, recalling the night he spent in jail. When he finally agreed to sign away his property, he was released on the side of the road with no money, no vehicle, and no phone. “I had to go to Wal-Mart and borrow someone’s phone to call my mama,” he recounted. “She had to take out a rental car to come pick me up.” For weeks, Morrow said he felt “crippled,” unsure of what to do. He says that a Tenaha officer told him, “Don’t even bother getting a lawyer. The money always stays here.” But finally he decided “to shine a big ol’ light on them.”

After Morrow was steered to Guillory, he took a day off from his job and arrived at Nacogdoches with stacks of old bank files to prove where his money came from. “He knew how hard he’d worked for that money,” Guillory told me, “and every dime was taken from him.” Guillory decided to find out if what had happened to Morrow was more than a fluke. He was taken aback by the scale of what he uncovered. It was a baroque small-town scandal, but it was also a story with national reach. He wondered how many people across the country felt “crippled,” as Morrow did, by statutes so little known yet so widely used.

In West Philadelphia last August, an elderly couple named Mary and Leon Adams were finishing breakfast when several vans filled with heavily armed police pulled up to their red brick home. An officer announced, “We’ll give you ten minutes to get your things and vacate the property.” The men surrounding their home had been authorized to enter, seize, and seal the premises, without any prior notice.

“I was almost numb,” Mary Adams, a sixty-eight-year-old grandmother with warm brown eyes and wavy russet hair, recalled. When I visited her this spring, she sat beside her seventy-year-old husband, who was being treated for pancreatic cancer, and was slumped with exhaustion. A little earlier, he had struggled to put on his embroidered blue-and-yellow guayabera shirt; his wife, looking fit for church in a green jacket, tank top, and slacks, watched him attentively as he shuffled over on a carved-wood cane to greet me. Leon explained his attachment to their home in numerical terms. “1966,” he said. “It’s been our home since 1966.”

Mary had been working as a truck-stop cook in segregated South Carolina when she met and married Leon—a man from “way out in the woods, just a fireplace and a lamp”—and followed him north. Leon had been hired as a cook at the Valley Forge Music Fair, outside Philadelphia, where James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and the Kingston Trio would one day perform. After renting a room in the city, the Adamses found a sweet little two-story house within their budget, five miles from Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell. It had a narrow covered porch that reminded Mary Adams of the country.

The home served the Adams family well over the next half century, as Leon took a job as a steel-plant worker, and later as an elementary-school janitor, and Mary worked as a saleswoman at Woolworth and, eventually, as a patients’ care assistant at Bryn Mawr hospital. (“I treated every patient as a V.I.P., whether you were in a coma or not!”) More recently, the home has helped the couple ease into their retirement. “I love digging in the dirt,” she said, referring to their modest, marigold-lined front yard, and “sitting on the porch, talking to neighbors.”

Their home also proved a comfortable place to raise their only son, Leon, Jr.—so comfortable, in fact, that the young man never quite flew the nest. At thirty-one, slender and goateed, Leon, Jr., occupied a small bedroom on the second floor. When his father, who had already suffered a stroke, fell ill with cancer, he was around to help out. But, according to a report by the Philadelphia Police Department, the younger Leon had a sideline: on the afternoon of July 10, 2012, he allegedly sold twenty dollars’ worth of marijuana to a confidential informant, on the porch of his parents’ home. When the informant requested two more deals the next week, the report said, he made the same arrangements. Both were for twenty dollars, purchased with marked bills provided by police.

Around 5 p.m. on July 19th, Leon, Sr., was in his bedroom recovering from surgery when he was startled by a loud noise. “I thought the house was blowing up,” he recalls. The police “had some sort of big, long club and four guys hit the door with it, and knocked the whole door right down.” swat-team officers in riot gear were raiding his home. One of the officers placed Leon, Jr., in handcuffs and said, “Apologize to your father for what you’ve done.” Leon, Jr., was taken off to jail, where he remains, awaiting trial.

The police returned about a month after the raid. Owing to the allegations against Leon, Jr., the state was now seeking to take the Adamses’ home and to sell it at a biannual city auction, with the proceeds split between the district attorney’s office and the police department. All of this could occur even if Leon, Jr., was acquitted in criminal court; in fact, the process could be completed even before he stood trial.

Mary Adams was at a loss. She and her husband were accused of no crime. Instead, the civil case was titled Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. The Real Property and Improvements Known as [their address]. For years, Mary had volunteered for the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee, and as a block captain she always thought that civil forfeiture was reserved for crack houses and abandoned eyesores. Now her own carefully maintained residence was the target.

The Adamses had a lucky break on the morning of their eviction notice: when an officer observed Leon’s frail condition, he told them that they could stay in the house while the forfeiture proceedings advanced. This gave them some time to figure out how to fight. “We had no money,” Mary told me, so they couldn’t hire a lawyer. But they learned of a free “Civil Practice” clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, run by Louis Rulli, where students help indigent homeowners challenge civil-forfeiture claims.

“It was an area of the law that was under the radar and very prone to abuse,” Rulli told me when we met at his clinic, in a wing of the law school with a separate entrance and an air of potted-plant competence reminiscent of a doctor’s office. Beside him sat Susanna Greenberg, a colleague, and Julia Simon-Mishel, who had worked on the Adamses’ case as a law student. Rulli noted that the system is designed to defeat anyone who isn’t an expert in navigating its intricacies. “These are affirmative defenses—you lose them if you don’t raise them,” he said. “Even lawyers don’t know about these defenses unless they’ve worked on forfeiture specifically.”

The public records I reviewed support Rulli’s assertion that homes in Philadelphia are routinely seized for unproved minor drug crimes, often involving children or grandchildren who don’t own the home. “For real-estate forfeitures, it’s overwhelmingly African-Americans and Hispanics,” Rulli told me. “It has a very disparate race and class impact.” He went on to talk about Andy Reid, the former coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, whose two sons were convicted of drug crimes in 2007 while living at the family’s suburban mansion in Villanova. “Do you know what the headline read? It said, ‘The Home Was an “Emporium of Drugs.” ’ An emporium of drugs!” The phrase, Rulli explained, came directly from a local judge. “And here’s the question: Do you think they seized it?”

Beth Grossman, the chief of the city’s Public Nuisance Task Force, which includes the forfeiture unit, says she’s seen the statute used to transform drug-ridden communities that had few other means of recourse against dangerous local dealers. “Our mission is not to take houses and to auction them,” she told me. Although the city auctioneer reports that about a hundred properties are successfully seized and sold each year, Grossman says the city prefers to work out settlements that would allow families to stay in their homes. “Our mission comes from a place of public safety and providing a good quality of life for our law-abiding citizens in Philadelphia.” The Philadelphia D.A.’s office has declined to comment on the specifics of the Adamses’ case, but Tasha Jamerson, its spokesperson, told me, “It’s not us making decisions, willy-nilly. . . . It’s the law. We’re following the law.”

Whether this should be the law—whether, in the absence of a judicial finding of guilt, the state should be able to take possession of your property—has been debated since before American independence. In the Colonial period, the English Crown issued “writs of assistance” that permitted customs officials to enter homes or vessels and seize whatever they deemed contraband. As the legal scholars Eric Blumenson and Eva Nilsen have noted, these writs were “among the key grievances that triggered the American Revolution.” The new nation’s Bill of Rights would expressly forbid “unreasonable searches and seizures” and promise that no one would be deprived of “life, liberty, or property, without due process.” Nonetheless, Congress soon authorized the use of civil-forfeiture actions against pirates and smugglers. It was easier to prosecute a vessel and seize its cargo than to try to prosecute its owner, who might be an ocean away. In the ensuing decades, the practice fell into disuse and, aside from a few brief revivals, remained mostly dormant for the next two centuries.

Forfeiture in its modern form began with federal statutes enacted in the nineteen-seventies and aimed not at waitresses and janitors but at organized-crime bosses and drug lords. Law-enforcement officers were empowered to seize money and goods tied to the production of illegal drugs. Later amendments allowed the seizure of anything thought to have been purchased with tainted funds, whether or not it was connected to the commission of a crime. Even then, forfeiture remained an infrequent resort until 1984, when Congress passed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. It established a special fund that turned over proceeds from forfeitures to the law-enforcement agencies responsible for them. Local police who provided federal assistance were rewarded with a large percentage of the proceeds, through a program called Equitable Sharing. Soon states were crafting their own forfeiture laws.

Revenue gains were staggering. At the Justice Department, proceeds from forfeiture soared from twenty-seven million dollars in 1985 to five hundred and fifty-six million in 1993. (Last year, the department took in nearly $4.2 billion in forfeitures, a record.) The strategy helped reconcile President Reagan’s call for government action in fighting crime with his call to reduce public spending. In 1989, Attorney General Richard Thornburgh boasted, “It’s now possible for a drug dealer to serve time in a forfeiture-financed prison after being arrested by agents driving a forfeiture-provided automobile while working in a forfeiture-funded sting operation.”

There were high-profile success stories. The federal government seized a four-hundred-acre Montana ranch tied to the Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, and laid claim to the bank accounts of assorted Wall Street con men. But tales of abuse also emerged. In 1992, a California drug task force shot and killed a reclusive millionaire named Donald Scott during a raid of his Malibu ranch; by some accounts, police were searching for marijuana plants (none were found) as a pretext to seize Scott’s two-hundred-acre property. “Unfortunately, I think I can say that our civil-asset-forfeiture laws are being used in terribly unjust ways,” Henry Hyde, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, declared in 1997, “and are depriving innocent citizens of their property with nothing that can be called due process.” Three years later, Congress passed the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA), requiring that federal prosecutors prove “a substantial connection between the property and the offense,” and allowing people who can prove themselves “innocent owners” to keep their property.

But civil-forfeiture statutes continued to proliferate, and at the state and local level controls have often been lax. Many states, facing fiscal crises, have expanded the reach of their forfeiture statutes, and made it easier for law enforcement to use the revenue however they see fit. In some Texas counties, nearly forty per cent of police budgets comes from forfeiture. (Only one state, North Carolina, bans the practice, requiring a criminal conviction before a person’s property can be seized.) Often, it’s hard for people to fight back. They are too poor; their immigration status is in question; they just can’t sustain the logistical burden of taking on unyielding bureaucracies.

Victor Ramos Guzman, a Pentecostal Church secretary from El Salvador, who lives in the U.S. under temporary protected status, is typical in all these respects. A year and a half ago, he and his brother-in-law were driving along Interstate 95 near Emporia, Virginia, en route, documents show, to buy a parcel of land for their church. When a state trooper pulled them over for speeding, Guzman and his brother-in-law disclosed that they were carrying twenty-eight thousand five hundred dollars in parishioners’ donations. Although the trooper found no contraband, he seized the cash. By reporting the case to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Guzman was in the country legally, but he spoke little English), the state police could gain up to eighty per cent of the seizure through the federal Equitable Sharing program.

“We could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the money was church money from parishioners’ donations,” David Smith, who was a deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office during the Reagan Administration and now defends the policy’s targets pro bono, told me last January. Only after he intervened were the funds returned. “But these were people who didn’t have the means to fight back. They weren’t well-to-do. They didn’t know any senators or congressmen, they weren’t citizens. They had no voice.” For the people who hoped to take on the Tenaha operation, the challenge was to bring claims like these into public view.

David Guillory started his research by driving his cluttered red Volkswagen Jetta to the Shelby County courthouse, in Center, Texas, where he examined the ledgers that listed the past two years of the county’s legal cases. He wanted to see “any case styled ‘The State of Texas versus’ anything that sounds like a piece of property.” The clerk began hauling out one bulging accordion file after another.

“The eye-opening event was pulling those files,” Guillory told me. One of the first cases that caught his attention was titled State of Texas vs. One Gold Crucifix. The police had confiscated a simple gold cross that a woman wore around her neck after pulling her over for a minor traffic violation. No contraband was reported, no criminal charges were filed, and no traffic ticket was issued. That’s how it went in dozens more cases involving cash, cars, and jewelry. A number of files contained slips of paper of a sort he’d never seen before. These were roadside property waivers, improvised by the district attorney, which threatened criminal charges unless drivers agreed to hand over valuables.

Guillory eventually found the deal threatening to take Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson’s children unless the couple signed away their money to Shelby County. “It’s like they were memorializing the fact that they were abdicating their responsibility to fight crime,” Guillory said. “If you believe children are in sufficient danger that they should be removed from their parents—don’t trade that for money!” Usually, police and prosecutors are careful about how they broker such exchanges. But Shelby County officials were so brazen about their swap-meet approach to law enforcement, he says, “they put it in the damn document!”

Patterns began to emerge. Nearly all the targets had been pulled over for routine traffic stops. Many drove rental cars and came from out of state. None appeared to have been issued tickets. And the targets were disproportionately black or Latino. A finding of discrimination could bring judicial scrutiny. “It was a highway-piracy operation,” Guillory said, and, he thought, material for a class-action lawsuit.

But that was a daunting prospect. “Class actions involving race discrimination are extremely hard to win,” Guillory said. “Most of them go down in flames.” What’s more, the Tenaha case wasn’t against a private concern. It involved, in Guillory’s analysis, “a government entity that enjoys the benefit of most doubts, and a D.A. who enjoyed the most gold-plated kind of immunity there is: absolute prosecutorial immunity.” That was why, he thinks, authorities in Tenaha had managed to keep their dirty work largely obscured from public view—“shitting in high cotton,” he calls it.

Still, Guillory liked the idea that the case could shed light on broader public-policy issues. At the University of Texas, in Austin, where Guillory attended college and law school during the nineteen-eighties, he had been eager to get involved in electoral politics; his roommate was Paul Begala, who became a prominent Democratic political consultant. Guillory worked where he felt his labors were needed, far from the public eye. But he was drawn to litigation that could help spark reform, even if the odds were not in his favor.

Guillory began exchanging notes with his weekly lunch buddy, a slender, scruffy-bearded fellow civil-rights lawyer named Tim Garrigan. Garrigan, who is taller, grayer, and less salty than Guillory, suspected that Tenaha’s roadside deals reflected a broader trend of “policing for profit.” Over Szechuan chicken, he agreed to join Guillory in bringing a lawsuit, and, on July 24, 2008, the two men filed a class action against Shelby County and Tenaha authorities, with James Morrow listed as the lead plaintiff.

Within a few weeks, the lawyers had received calls from other Tenaha forfeiture victims. In addition to Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson, the suit was joined by a handful of others—among them an African-American woman from Akron, Ohio, named Linda Dorman, who had forty-five hundred dollars taken from her and a passenger; and a young Mexican-American, Javier Flores, who turned over twenty-four hundred dollars. The suit accused the mayor of Tenaha and other town and Shelby County officials of operating “an illegal practice of stopping, detaining, searching, and often seizing property from citizens,” and doing so “not for any legitimate law enforcement purpose but to enrich their offices and perhaps themselves.” The practice was discriminatory, the suit alleged, and in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution, “at least.”

Tenaha, population 1,170, is a sleepy stretch of East Texas that smells of its three main industries: cattle, timber, and poultry. The only sit-down restaurant for miles, the Whistle Stop, has a Texas Narcotics Officers’ Association sticker on the front door, along with a sign that reads “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone.” Inside, when a newcomer sits down to order lunch on a workday afternoon, locals crane their necks to get a better look. Next door is the town’s main tourist attraction, the Tenaha Antique Mall, where a cashier spends her days staring at a rusty “Barry Goldwater for President” sign and stacks of vintage Coca-Cola bottles; she sells her own tea cakes on the side, in small ziplock bags.

The town’s racial geography feels like a throwback, too. White residents live in homes that range from sturdy brick façades to ramshackle trailers; black residents tend to live in “the Quarters,” where the roads are a lumpy mess of silt and rocks, and some houses have limited access to the sewage system. For years, young people of both races have been emptying out of Tenaha.

“There’s not much for our children to do but leave,” Marie Crawford, a genteel former city councilwoman, told me recently, as we drove around town in her burgundy van. She has a silver-straight bob and wore a graceful maroon shawl. When we reached the stretch of U.S. 59 that runs into Main Street, we found ourselves trailing a truck stuffed with chickens, which shed tiny white feathers on Crawford’s windshield like a sudden snowfall. “I take it that’s abandoned?” I asked, pointing to a shack with splintery boards for windows.

“People live there,” she said. “That’s what kills me.”

Tenaha’s mayor and city marshal were understandably receptive when, in the fall of 2006, Barry Washington, a former state trooper from Carthage, Texas, arrived and told them that his drug-interdiction skills could be put to good use along its section of Highway 59. As he later explained at a town-hall meeting, money from thugs could pay the town’s bills. Handsome and imposing in cattle-rancher boots, Washington was, at age fifty, among the most decorated officers in state history. One of the first black troopers to rise to prominence, he had helped pioneer drug-interdiction programs along Texas highways in the nineteen-nineties, earning grip-and-grin photos with George W. Bush and other politicians, and a congressional tribute in 1996.

It wasn’t immediately obvious why a man so accomplished—a two-decade veteran of the Department of Public Safety—was interested in taking a sleepy job in a sleepy town. His explanation was simple. He’d been lying in bed one night in Carthage, soon after leaving his old job, when he looked up to see a light burst through his bedroom ceiling. “And it’s like I’m in a trance,” he later recalled. “And God tells me, ‘Go to Tenaha, Texas.’ And I get up the next day, and I laugh about it, until I find out that God may be serious, so I end up in Tenaha.”

The town was well placed for an interdiction program. Although U.S. 59 hardly seems like a highway when it goes through Tenaha (the speed limit changes from seventy to thirty-five), the route connects Laredo, on the U.S. border with Mexico, to Houston, and then stretches fifteen hundred miles to the Minnesota border with Canada. Each year, millions of pounds of drugs make their way north, and millions more flow back down in cash. Much of this goes to support Mexico’s brutal drug cartels—the sort of organized criminal networks known to decapitate innocents and dissolve rivals in vats of lye. At the Texas Department of Public Safety, Washington was among the first officers in America to use new techniques to sniff out cash, which resourceful smugglers were concealing inside dolls, bowling balls, piles of rotting fish, and all manner of cunningly hidden compartments.

In Tenaha, Washington quickly began bringing in drug money. According to a former colleague, he made heavy use of “pretextual traffic stops,” focussing on out-of-state rental cars. Early on, he caught a man driving a sleek motor home filled with five hundred pounds of pot. The district attorney confiscated the vehicle, and the town auctioned it off for twenty thousand dollars.

Locals still describe with awe a stop Washington made nine days before Christmas in 2006. He pulled over a blue Nissan driven by a droopy-faced, curly-haired woman with big brown eyes, for “following too closely” behind a large truck. “She talked slow,” Washington jotted in his police report, “and . . . batted her eyes very sleepy like.” She also seemed, in the face of interrogation, “very nervous.” Washington noticed that festive red-and-green Christmas packages sat stacked on the back seat. “Children’s toys,” the woman said. But, when the gifts were unwrapped, Washington found an early holiday present for the city: more than six hundred and twenty thousand dollars in cash.

Within six months, the program had amassed almost $1.3 million in seized profits, some of it taken from so-called “smurfs”—often well-dressed, friendly-looking people who carry money for cartels, depositing it at banks in small amounts to avoid detection. A profit-sharing agreement was drawn up to split the proceeds among the district attorney’s office, the Tenaha marshal’s office, and the county constable.

But Marie Crawford, the councilwoman, had begun to notice a few things that didn’t sit right with her. “The lady with the Christmas packages, she was in jail for one night, and then they let her right out,” Crawford told me. It affronted her sense of justice that someone who appeared to be a major money launderer was swiftly released and never hit with criminal charges. Something similar happened with a Nashville man found to be transporting more than eighty-one thousand dollars and a large stash of cocaine in the trunk of his Chevrolet, and another mule hauling ninety-five thousand dollars.

“Hey, I’ve got kids and grandkids, I want drugs off the street,” Crawford said. “But all we were doing was taking their money and sending them on down the road.” At the same time, the new forfeiture corridor seemed also to ensnare people who had no involvement with the drug trade. After speaking to a local judge, Crawford learned that letters of complaint had been arriving from drivers across the country. She sent copies along to Tim Garrigan and David Guillory, whose class-action lawsuit was well on its way.

“Dear Honorable Mayor,” wrote an Arkansas man who described having his car torn apart on the roadside in a futile search for drugs. “I felt humiliated, helpless, and painful for the way I was treated.” He enclosed photographs showing his car’s ravaged interior. A man described how, on his way back from a grandchild’s preschool graduation in Louisiana, he “had been violated, stripped of my dignity before my daughter and grandchildren.” Another driver said that he was stopped so often on his monthly drive through Tenaha to visit a sick relative across state lines that he kept a tape recorder in the car, hoping to capture police misconduct.

The lawyers figured that such misconduct had already been recorded. In Tenaha, the police station and cars were outfitted with video-surveillance equipment. And Boatright, for one, said that on the night of her detention Washington told her that the whole thing was being captured on film. Garrigan had requested footage of traffic stops made by Washington and his partner, along with related video from the station, but got nowhere. Then, after the Tenaha lawsuit caught the attention of the national media, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice launched its own criminal investigation into the alleged abuses. Several months later, in October, 2009, large stacks of optical disks were finally turned over. Garrigan and Guillory now had hundreds of hours of digital footage to sort through. Garrigan hired a colleague’s adult son to sit at a large oval wood-veneer table with a laptop and a supply of Starbucks, sorting through it all. (He’s still at it.)

Curiously, most of Barry Washington’s traffic stops were absent from the record. In those instances where Washington had turned on his dashboard camera, the video was often of such poor quality as to be “useless,” Garrigan says. There was hardly any footage of his clients, including Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson.

In James Morrow’s case, a sliver of video was identified from Constable Randy Whatley’s camera feed, which captured part of the man’s detention by the side of the road. Washington could be heard instructing Whatley, “Would you take your K-9? If he alerts on the vehicle, I’m gonna take his mama’s vehicle away from him, and I’m gonna take his money.”

“Oh, yeah,” Whatley replied. “O.K.”

“I’m gonna take his stuff from him,” Washington repeated.

The rest of the video was mostly muted, and a judge later deemed it “somewhat obscured by the placement of Washington’s car between the camera and Morrow’s car.”

Some useful footage turned up that involved one of their original plaintiffs, a soft-spoken man named Dale Agostini, who was born in Guyana and was the co-owner of an award-winning Caribbean restaurant in Washington, D.C., called Sweet Mango. In September, 2007, he and his fiancée had had their infant son taken from them hours after Barry Washington pulled them over for “traveling in left lane marked for passing only,” according to the police report. No evidence of drugs or other contraband was found, and neither parent had a criminal record. Even so, Washington seized a large sum of cash that Agostini, who has family in the area, said he’d brought with him to buy restaurant equipment at a local auction. Lynda Russell, the district attorney, then arrived at the scene, sending Agostini and his fiancée, a nursing student at the University of Maryland, to jail for the night.

In police surveillance footage, Agostini can be heard pleading with Russell, “Can I kiss my son goodbye?”

Afterward, Russell dryly recounted to a colleague, “I said no, kiss me.”

“I hope you won’t paint it like it’s all bad,” Simon Porter, a former East Texas narcotics officer based in Titus County, implored when we spoke. More than seventy per cent of seizures in Texas are “administrative” cases, which means that they are never contested by the owner—owing to guilt, Porter maintains, more than to the difficulties of fighting back. “When it’s done right, civil forfeiture is one of our most valuable tools,” he said.

The rise of civil forfeiture has, in some areas, proved of great value. It allows the government to extract swift penalties from white-collar criminals and offer restitution to victims of fraud; since 2012, the Department of Justice has turned over more than $1.5 billion in forfeited assets to four hundred thousand crime victims, often in cases of corporate criminality. Federal agents have also used forfeiture to go after ruthless migrant smugglers, organized-crime tycoons, and endangered-species poachers, stripping them of their illicit gains. Global Witness, the anti-corruption group, recently cheered the Justice Department’s civil-forfeiture action targeting the son of Equatorial Guinea’s dictator, which sought his Malibu mansion, Gulfstream jet, and some two million dollars’ worth of Michael Jackson memorabilia, including a bejewelled white glove.

Yet only a small portion of state and local forfeiture cases target powerful entities. “There’s this myth that they’re cracking down on drug cartels and kingpins,” Lee McGrath, of the Institute for Justice, who recently co-wrote a paper on Georgia’s aggressive use of forfeiture, says. “In reality, it’s small amounts, where people aren’t entitled to a public defender, and can’t afford a lawyer, and the only rational response is to walk away from your property, because of the infeasibility of getting your money back.” In 2011, he reports, fifty-eight local, county, and statewide police forces in Georgia brought in $2.76 million in forfeitures; more than half the items taken were worth less than six hundred and fifty dollars. With minimal oversight, police can then spend nearly all those proceeds, often without reporting where the money has gone.

“When you allow the profit incentive, that’s when you start getting problems,” Porter said. “It’s like the difference between serving in the Army and working for Blackwater.” The Blackwater model wasn’t endemic just in Tenaha. In Oklahoma, a Caddo County district attorney hired a private company, Desert Snow L.L.C., to train a local drug-interdiction task force. Although the company’s contractors were not certified law officers, they reportedly interrogated drivers and took up to twenty-five per cent of the seized cash, even in cases where no contraband was present. Last month, after a county judge denounced the contractors’ role as “shocking,” the district attorney suspended the practice.

During my time in East Texas, a police officer told me that if I ventured beyond Shelby County I’d learn that Tenaha was far from an outlier in the region. When I looked through courthouse records and talked with local interdiction officers in nearby counties, I saw what he meant. In Hunt County, Texas, I found officers scoring personal bonuses of up to twenty-six thousand dollars a year, straight from the forfeiture fund. In Titus County, forfeiture pays the assistant district attorney’s entire salary. Farther south, in Johnson County, I came upon a sheriff’s office that had confiscated an out-of-state driver’s cash, in the absence of contraband, in exchange for a handwritten receipt that gave the traveller no information about who had just taken his money, why, or how he might get it back.

If the war on drugs was an immense boost to forfeiture programs, the post-9/11 era has also seen the practice—and the profits—reach into the domestic war on terror. One of the lesser-known provisions of the Patriot Act was a section overturning several of CAFRA’s protections for property owners when they are the subject of terror investigations, however preliminary. Local jurisdictions followed suit. Shamoon Yousif, an Iraqi-American grocery-store owner in Maricopa County, Arizona, knows what this can mean, having had the contents of his life seized as “substitute assets” for shoplifting and related crimes initiated by his brother, after an investigation started by the F.B.I. Joint Terrorism Task Force.

A Coptic Christian who left Iraq at the age of nineteen, Shamoon Yousif thought he was living a classic American immigrant story: after years of saving, he managed to open a grocery store, in Mesa, Arizona, and then a second, in a rougher neighborhood. When his wife learned that she had metastatic breast cancer, he asked his brother Sami to take charge of the second store. According to investigators, his brother, who had a gambling habit, took to shelving goods purchased at a steep discount from “boosters,” mostly addicts who shoplifted liquor, cigarettes, and clothing like jeans and sweaters from big-box stores.

Early one morning in May, 2008, police charged into Shamoon’s house, and began the government seizure of most significant items the family owned—Shamoon’s home, his car, his two stores, his bank accounts, the jewelry of his recently deceased wife, his children’s cell phones, and more. The fact that the dirty money in Sami’s store was “co-mingling” with clean money from legitimate sales justified the charge of “money laundering.” What’s more, reliance on a steady group of boosters and Sami’s stashing of several bottles of liquor in the house elevated the case to “racketeering,” which opened up Shamoon’s home to civil forfeiture under the Arizona Racketeering Act. Because civil suits do not come with the right to a lawyer, Shamoon would have no money with which to defend himself.

Did he know what his brother was up to? “I thought it possible Shamoon Yousif was being deceived,” the lead officer on the case, Sarah Thrower, of the Phoenix Police Department’s Homeland Defense Bureau, conceded. But she and her colleagues concluded that, because Shamoon was a competent businessman who, as she wrote in a police report, “took all legal responsibility” for the income generated by both stores, he “knew or had reason to know” about his brother’s dealings.

Eventually, a recent law-school graduate named Jean-Jacques Cabou heard about the case, found the details galling, and offered his services. “Forfeiture cases like these are almost impossible to fight,” he told me earlier this year, after he’d devoted hundred of hours to the case. “It’s the Guantánamo Bay of the legal system.” As he sorted through Shamoon Yousif’s case records, Cabou noticed something odd. The investigation had drawn on resources from the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center—a so-called “fusion center” in Maricopa County meant to integrate mundane local crime data with federal intelligence streams, in search of clues about terrorism plots. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano once hailed the fusion-center initiative as “one of the centerpieces of our counterterrorism strategy.” It has since lost lustre. Last fall, a Senate report concluded that these centers have produced mostly “irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting.” A Senate aide involved in the report told me that investigations prompted by the local centers often veer toward prospects with lucrative cash-seizure potential.

This may be how a case that involved petty thefts of sweaters, jeans, and bottles of Jack Daniels gained the aura of a counterterrorism investigation. Shamoon Yousif, with Cabou’s help, finally reached a settlement with the state attorney general, which allowed him to keep his home and stores as a debtor to the state. Shamoon says, “Why’d we settle? Because I’ve got no money left. I owe thousands and thousands to my cousins, to my friends, to the bank.” Today, he works fourteen-hour days, and turns over the bulk of his monthly salary to a RICO fund. In recent years, Maricopa County’s fund has been censured for its controversial outlays. It sponsored an anti-immigrant radio host’s book tour promoting “Another Man’s Sombrero: A Conservative Broadcaster’s Undercover Journey Across the Mexican Border.” It also helped to support Christian evangelist programs like the “Missionettes,” which aims to “win girls to Jesus Christ . . . to teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded.”

About a year after the Tenaha suit was filed, its lawyers got a major break. On a quiet July afternoon in 2009, a woman entered the foyer of Garrigan’s one-story law office, which was situated beside a liquor store and a car wash touting “Good Looking Girls for a Good Cause.” She held an unmarked manila envelope in her hand and asked to speak with Garrigan. When he came out, moments later, the woman was gone, but she’d left behind the envelope.

Over the previous year, Garrigan—a vintage-motorcycle enthusiast who can be found wearing New Balance sneakers, Levi’s, and soft old T-shirts on days when he has no court appearances—had received a handful of letters from tipsters with pen names like A Concerned Citizen and A Pissed-Off Voter. “I am just a citizen who knows right from wrong,” one note began, accompanied by seventeen pages of documents about the forfeiture program. “People don’t have the money, or are afraid to fight [Lynda Russell] because they will be put in jail and lose their jobs,” another read. But Garrigan was particularly struck by the contents of the unmarked manila envelope. It included chain e-mails that Russell had forwarded. “Be proud to be white! It’s not a crime YET . . . but getting very close!” one read. A second joked, “Danger: you are entering a no Obama Zone. Mention his name and I’ll drop you where you stand!” More revelatory was a nine-page spreadsheet listing items funded by Tenaha’s roadside seizures. Among them were Halloween costumes, Doo Dah Parade decorations, “Have a Nice Day” banners, credit-card late fees, poultry-festival supplies, a popcorn machine, and a thousand-dollar donation to a Baptist congregation that was said to be important to Lynda Russell’s reëlection. Barry Washington, as deputy city marshal, received a ten-thousand-dollar personal bonus from the fund. (His base salary was about thirty thousand dollars; Garrigan later confirmed reports that Washington had received a total of forty thousand dollars in bonuses.) This material could provide crucial background as the lawyers prepared to depose Washington.

What was happening in Texas was consistent with a larger pattern. States that place seized funds in a neutral account, like Maine, Missouri (where proceeds go to a public education fund), North Dakota, and Vermont, have generally avoided major forfeiture-abuse scandals. Problems seem to arise in states—such as Texas, Georgia, and Virginia—with few restrictions on how police can use the proceeds. Scandals, too, emerge from the federal Equitable Sharing program, which allows local police to skirt state restrictions on the use of funds. In Bal Harbour, Florida, an upscale seaside village of thirty-three-hundred residents, a small vice squad ran a forfeiture network that brought in nearly fifty million dollars in just three years. The squad travelled around the country, helped to arrange money-laundering stings in far-flung cities, then divided the cash with the federal agencies involved. Last year, the Department of Justice shut down the operation, ordering the village to return millions in cash. But much of it had already been spent: on luxury-car rentals and first-class plane tickets to pursue stings in New York, New Jersey, California, and elsewhere; on a hundred-thousand-dollar police boat; and on a twenty-one-thousand-dollar drug-prevention beach party.

Another case involves a monthly social event that had been hosted by the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit. In the midst of festivities one evening in late May, 2008, forty-odd officers in black commando gear stormed the gallery and its rear patio, ordering the guests to the ground. Some in attendance thought that they were the victims of an armed robbery. One young woman who had fallen only to her knees told me that a masked figure screamed at her, “Bitch, you think you’re too pretty to get in the mud?” A boot from behind kicked her to the ground. The officers, including members of the Detroit Police Department’s vice squad and mobile tactical unit, placed the guests under arrest. According to police records, the gallery lacked proper city permits for after-hours dancing and drinking, and an old ordinance aimed at “blind pigs” (speakeasies) and other places of “illegal occupation” made it a crime to patronize such a place, knowingly or not.

After lining the guests on their knees before a “prisoner processing table” and searching them, the officers asked for everyone’s car keys. Then the raid team seized every vehicle it could find, even venturing to the driveway of a young man’s friend nearly a mile away to retrieve his car. Forty-four cars were taken to government-contracted lots.

Most of those detained had to pay more than a thousand dollars for the return of their cars; if payment wasn’t made promptly, the car would become city property. The proceeds were divided among the offices of the prosecutors, police, and towing companies. After the A.C.L.U. filed a suit against the city, a district court ruled that the raid was unconstitutional, and noted that it reflected “a widespread practice” by the police in the area. (The city is appealing the ruling.) Vice statutes have lent themselves to such forfeiture efforts; in previous years, an initiative targeted gay men for forfeiture, under Detroit’s “annoying persons” ordinance. Before local lawyers challenged such practices, known informally as “Bag a Fag,” undercover officers would arrest gay men who simply returned their glances or gestures, if the signals were deemed to have sexual connotations, and then, citing “nuisance abatement,” seize their vehicles.

Detroit Police Department officials have said that raids like the one on the Contemporary Art Institute are aimed at improving “quality of life.” The raids certainly help address the department’s substantial budgetary shortfalls. Last year, Detroit, which has since filed for bankruptcy, cut the annual police budget by nearly a fifth. Today, “blind pig” raids around the city routinely result in the confiscation of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of cars.

Because forfeiture actions tend to affect people who cannot easily fight back, even those who feel wronged seldom contest the seizures or seek public notice. “There’s no telling how many Tenahas there are,” Vanita Gupta, a deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told me. Early on, she took an interest in the suit that Guillory and Garrigan were putting together, and her office joined in the effort. “It’s very hard to document,” she said, noting that many people targeted by the practice are too intimidated to talk. “These cases tend to stay in the dark.”

The deposition of Barry Washington was scheduled for May 3, 2010, at the Nacogdoches County Courthouse, a squat, red-roofed building with all the grandeur of a budget motel. Tim Garrigan would be handling it. In the grand-jury room, Washington was flanked by a team of defense lawyers whom Garrigan and Guillory had confronted dozens of times, often in cases involving prisoner abuse.

The deposition was critical for the case, but Garrigan had no confidence that it would go well. The previous night, preparing in his office surrounded by large stacks of pretrial exhibits, he had felt encouraged by the evidence they had. But he and Guillory knew, from decades of suing police for alleged misconduct, that evidence could be hard to deploy. On the witness stand, Garrigan felt, law-enforcement officers tended to “look like choirboys, Boy Scouts.” He’d compiled a basic outline of questions he wished to ask, but his main goal was to remain fluid, adaptive and attentive to Washington’s testimony.

Things started out on a friendly note. Washington, who wore his Tenaha deputy city marshal’s uniform—faded bluejeans, a khaki Western shirt, a silver belt buckle, and a glittering badge—spoke of his twenty-four years of service with the Department of Public Safety, and his long-term work as a mentor of high-school youth. When asked about the many awards he’d won as a state trooper, Washington said, “Do I have to name them all?” Soon, he was listing accolades; over the years, he’d received letters of praise from Senator Phil Gramm, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Janet Reno, and others.

But, as the morning wound on, the deposition turned a corner. “God didn’t make me a piece of junk,” Washington said. “He made me to go out there and do my job.” He explained his interdiction strategy, which relied on pulling over out-of-state cars for minor traffic violations, then looking for indicators of drug trafficking.

“And what are these indicators?” Garrigan asked.

“Well, there could be several things,” Washington explained. “The No. 1 thing is you may have two guys stopped, and these two guys are from New York. They’re two Puerto Ricans. They’re driving a car that has a Baptist Church symbol on the back, says ‘First Baptist Church of New York.’ They’re travelling during the week, when most people are working and children are in school. They’ve borrowed this car from their aunt, and their aunt is back in New York.” Profile factors like these, Washington explained, could help justify the conclusion that the two men’s money was likely tainted by crime. But also, he said, “we go on smells, odors, fresh paint.” In many cases, he said he smelled pot. In other cases, things smelled too fresh and clean, perhaps because of the suspicious deployment of air fresheners.

Later, the discussion turned to specific traffic stops. Garrigan asked about Dale Agostini, the Guyanese restaurateur who wanted to kiss his infant son goodbye before being taken to jail for money laundering. Why did Washington think he was entitled to seize the Agostini family’s cash?

“It’s no more theirs than a man on the moon,” Washington said. “It belongs to an organization of people that are narcotics traffickers.”

“Do you have any evidence, any rational basis to tell us that this money belonged to an organization of narcotics traffickers?” Garrigan asked. “Or is that more speculation?”

“I don’t have any evidence today,” Washington said.

Garrigan asked about an iPod that was also taken from Agostini’s car. “What was your basis for taking that away from them?”

“Well, it’s in the car, and all those things can be looked at,” Washington explained. “Because if they’re using any of those items in the process of travelling to do something that’s illegal, then you can take all of those things. Even if it’s a pillow that they lay their head on.”

“Is there any limit?”

“No. President Reagan says there’s no limit. It’s time to get serious about this thing. And I think that’s how some of our laws are the way they are, is because it’s time to fight the war on drugs and say, ‘Let’s fight them,’ instead of just saying we’re going to do it.”

Garrigan was relieved. Washington, rather than hiding behind legalistic justifications, proudly outlined his vision of forfeiture: that its scope was boundless, that mere “indicators” were enough to trigger it, and that warfare was an apt analogy for the pursuit of cash, cars, and even iPods from drivers whom he deemed suspicious. If that were a fair characterization of Texas policy, a judge’s sympathy for the plaintiffs seemed likely. So did a public outcry for reform.

“Did you find any drugs?” Garrigan asked.


“Is there any evidence that they were buying drugs, instead of looking at restaurants in Houston?”

“No, not yet.”

“Do you, for some reason, think people driving up and down 59 owe you an explanation for why they might have money?”

“Sure they do.”

After the deposition, Garrigan was elated. “If I could bottle up the feeling I had when I left, and use it for bad days?” he told me. “That would be great.”

Over the next year, legal proceedings taking place far from Shelby County were threatening the case. The Texas district judge presiding over the suit said that he wouldn’t certify the class of plaintiffs until the United States Supreme Court had announced its decision in the case of Wal-Mart v. Dukes, a class-action suit pressing claims of sex discrimination on behalf of the retail chain’s 1.5 million current and former female employees. Wal-Mart’s position was that the class of plaintiffs was impractically broad. In June, 2011, the Supreme Court agreed, tossing the class of plaintiffs out of court. Two months later, the Texas district judge issued a fifty-six-page ruling that certified the Tenaha plaintiffs after all. In light of the Wal-Mart decision, the judge would not allow the plaintiffs as a class to ask for money: compensatory or punitive damages were out. But the plaintiffs could at least seek “declaratory and injunctive relief”—a legal finding of fact in their favor, and a reform of the forfeiture program.

Garrigan remembers beginning to read the opinion, then jumping up in excitement, pacing around his big oval table, laughing, and reading more. “I couldn’t sit still. I had to read a paragraph, walk around with a crazy grin on my face, and then sit down and read another paragraph.” It wasn’t just that the judge had certified the plaintiffs; his description of the facts indicated that he would be receptive to their complaints.

Facing the prospect of a long, arduous trial, Tenaha and Shelby County officials agreed to settle, though they denied wrongdoing. Earlier this month, the settlement was examined for fairness by a district judge, and upheld. “What we’ve asked the court to approve is a deal that requires the defendants to basically clean up their act,” Guillory told me, and have “better training in place to insure people’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.” Recently, I met with Guillory at his new office, at Lone Star Legal Aid, a nonprofit run out of an old clapboard house that used to be a bordello, and he took me through the settlement’s details. The town and the county have agreed to twenty-one policy changes, including using video and audio recordings to capture “all traffic stops,” allowing canine sniffs only “when a police officer has reasonable suspicion of criminal activity,” and training police in “compliance with racial profiling laws.”

Inspired in part by the class action, Texas legislators banned the use of roadside waivers and modestly restricted the use of forfeiture funds: no more poultry-festival supplies, unapproved bonuses, or popcorn machines. Still, neither the settlement nor the law reduces the formidable obstacles for owners who want their property returned, or changes the fact that law-enforcement budgets can depend upon forfeiture revenue. The victory was distinctly partial. “As soon as the news hoopla died down, so did the debate,” Guillory told me.

“What stands out to me is the nature of how pervasive and dependent police really are on civil-asset forfeiture—it’s their bread and butter—and, therefore, how difficult it is to engage in systemic reform,” Vanita Gupta, of the A.C.L.U., says.

As plaintiffs from around the country waited to learn whether the settlement was to be upheld, they travelled back to East Texas to offer depositions and make individual claims. Some returned simply to watch Barry Washington give his own account of what took place on Highway 59.

Earlier in the spring, Dale Agostini, the restaurant owner, flew in from D.C. to hear Washington being deposed in an action to decide whether he would enjoy immunity from individual lawsuits. “It was the most heart-wrenching thing,” he told me, of his travels back to East Texas. “I had to pay for a friend to fly down and drive me there. I just don’t want to be driving there alone.” James Morrow, the poultry-plant worker, drove over from Arkansas. “I feel kind of proud,” Morrow told me. “After I got started, there wasn’t any stopping. It’s been long and tedious. But now they can’t go around doing that to people.”

Today, Barry Washington works as a safety supervisor for Shell Oil. He is building a chapel on his own time, and plans to launch a ministry camp for kids there. He seems to have no regrets about any of his roadside seizures. A friend and drug-interdiction colleague named Cleve Williams told me, “With everything that I know about Barry as a person, what he stands for, I don’t believe for a minute that he’s done anything wrong.” Although Washington declined to be interviewed at any length for this story, he did say that he “provided a great service to this nation,” and stressed the importance of taking drug trafficking seriously. “There’s a good side and a bad side, and the good side will always win,” he told me. “Jesus knows who’s done what, and what was fair and what was unfair. And I would never do anything to embarrass Him. And that’s it. That’s the end of the story.”

Lynda Russell, meanwhile, has consistently refused to testify, pleading the Fifth, and declined to be interviewed. Her faith in the power of forfeiture, too, appears unshaken. After the county and the state decided not to provide her with legal representation, she asked to use the county’s forfeiture fund to finance her own defense.

Earlier this summer, in Philadelphia, I joined Louis Rulli and Susanna Greenberg in the high-ceilinged corridor outside Courtroom 478 of City Hall, as they prepared to make their case for the Adamses’ home. Gradually, respondents filed in, almost all without lawyers: a mother fighting for her property, with two young girls playing hushed clapping games beside her; a teen-age boy trying to recover the cash taken from his car. When the assistant D.A. assigned to the Adams case arrived in court, he discovered he had the wrong set of folders; he’d confused their home with another one being forfeited on the same street. Rulli and Greenberg would have to return next month. “These cases often take years,” Rulli said, shrugging.

For Mary and Leon Adams, the lengthy process has taken a toll. “With this hanging over our head, it’s devastating,” Mary Adams had told me earlier. Her husband’s health has turned into something of a full-time job for her—she now prepares him dishes of carrots and spinach, instead of the soul food she used to make, and, in between court appointments and legal meetings, she brings him to the hospital for blood transfusions. The lawyers are hopeful that they will reach a resolution with prosecutors soon. Still, she took up selling Avon products door to door to help pay the bills and prepare for the worst-case scenario of being evicted while her husband is in the advanced stages of pancreatic cancer. She wasn’t going to sit around feeling sorry for herself, she told me. “I’m good to go,” she said. “I’m not six feet under.”

“I don’t even know what I’d do, being without a home in my condition,” Leon Adams said later, his voice a raw whisper. “It’s scary, just even thinking about it.”

In Houston, Jennifer Boatright still has anxious flashes of that night by the side of the road, and she can no longer drive the corridor without noticing that her stomach “does a flip.” I joined her one evening as she cleaned up after a Steak Night. She put foil-wrapped potatoes into a cooler beside a stack of glinting cook-off trophies while recounting the details of her evening in detention in Tenaha. She marvelled at the “banquet tables in the room filled with phones, Playstations, watches . . . stuff they stole from people like us,” and her voice tightened when she described the moment when her older son, Jonathan, feared he was going to be sent to foster care.

“For a long time, Jonathan had this mentality about cops: they’re not good, they’re all bad,” she said. “I don’t want him to have that perspective.” Sometime last year, she stopped showing up at events tied to the lawsuit—she didn’t want her kids to get the wrong idea about police, whom she considers heroes in every other context. Jonathan remains “terrified” when he sees police, so an officer friend comes over sometimes in uniform and drives Jonathan around in his squad car. She has also insisted that the family keep up the tradition of visiting wildflower trails—this year, Boatright took pictures of her younger son, Jacob, now seven, romping around in a field of bluebonnets.

But she’s not sure that the campaign is working. As I prepared for a return trip to Tenaha, Jacob, who’d followed us throughout the night, tapped me on the hip and handed me a drawing that he’d made with a black felt-tipped marker. It featured a ship helmed by two bandits, brandishing a skull-and-bones flag, a sword, and wide smiles, with two faceless captives aboard. “Pirates,” he said. ♦

Source: The New Yorker

Girl Abused

May 5, 2009 permalink

A Winnipeg father says his daughter was abused in foster care, and her custodian, Fisher River Child and Family Services, did nothing for a month while the abuse continued. Since there are no names in the story, there will be no follow-up.



Dad claims daughter abused in foster care

By DEAN PRITCHARD, SUN MEDIA, Last Updated: 5th May 2009, 6:33am

A Winnipeg man is suing the province, alleging his daughter was sexually abused in foster care weeks after he tried to have the girl removed from her foster home.

In a statement of claim filed in court last month, the man alleges he alerted an Intertribal Fisher River Child and Family Services worker in September 2008 that his 13-year-old daughter was possibly being sexually abused by her foster father and asked that she be removed from the home.

The father claims his daughter reported a foster child in the home had been touched "in a sexually inappropriate way" by her foster father. The girl's father, says the lawsuit, believed the girl was talking about herself.

The worker, says the lawsuit, "did nothing to remove (the girl) from the placement, and did nothing apart from requesting (the girl's father) obtain further information from her."

Did not interview girl

The worker did not interview the girl or explain why she would not remove the girl from the foster home, says the lawsuit.

"Examination would have disclosed to any reasonably trained observer ... that (the girl) was being sexually abused," says the lawsuit. "In not so acting, the (foster father) was enabled to perpetrate the sexual assaults of (the girl)."

The lawsuit alleges the girl was repeatedly sexually assaulted until Oct. 18, when she reported the abuse to her father. The man reported the allegation to Fisher River CFS, which then removed the girl from the foster home.

The girl is currently in the care of her biological father, said his lawyer Norm Rosenbaum.

A spokesperson for Fisher River Child and Family Services could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Source: Winnipeg Sun


May 5, 2009 permalink

Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represents Angels in Waiting, supplier of helpers/spies for octomom Nadya Suleman, now is finding a new excuse to encroach on her family — child labor laws.



Gloria Allred: Octo-Mom May Be Violating California State Child Labor Laws

Monday May 4, 2009

Gloria Allred and Nadya Suleman
Gloria Allred and Nadya Suleman

Attorney Gloria Allred believes Nadya Suleman may be violating a number of California state child labor laws by booking numerous jobs for her newborn octuplets.

At a press conference Monday, Allred announced that she and child advocacy group "A Minor Consideration" have filed a petition in Orange County Superior Court to protect the financial interests of the babies and to appoint a guardian over their estate.

Meet the octuplet babies

"Rather than chose to provide her children with a normal life, their mother, Nadya Suleman, has chosen to commercially exploit them," Allred said. "We believe that the babies are entitled to remuneration since most of the compensation appears to be use of their images."

The goal, she added, is "to be sure that the babies receive their fair share of payments" and that their payments "be placed into separate accounts for them and preserved for them as required by law."

The guardian can hire a professional agent for the babies -- different from Suleman's rep -- even if Suleman will not benefit from opportunities herself.

See Octo Mom's family album

Allred -- who represented "Angels in Waiting," the non-profit nursing agency that Suleman severed ties with this year for allegedly "spying" on her -- also went on to detail the "number of California labor laws" they suspect Suleman, 33, of violating.

When filming or photographing children, a nurse and credentialed studio teacher must be present, Allred said.

By law, children -- ages 15 days to six months -- also can only be at the place of employment for two consecutive hours (between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. or between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.). Infants can't work any more than 20 minutes each day.

See what the octuplet mom does all day

Suleman may be "potentially endangering the health, welfare and safety of children," Allred added.

A hearing date is set for June 22.

Said Allred, "This could be avoided if Nadya Suleman agrees with that appointing an independent guardian for estate of the octuplets to represent and protect their interests."

Source: US Magazine

Help Wanted

May 5, 2009 permalink

The retirement of Peter Ringrose has created a job opening for an executive director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Children's Aid Society. Responsibilities include:

Persons with the special qualities needed can apply at the location in the ad below.



Executive Director,


Posted Apr 25, 2009

Job Category:
Government Agency
Company Url:


Family and Children's Services of the Waterloo Region provides protection services and promotes the well being of children, youth and families in our community. The Agency employs over 500 staff and has operating budgets in excess of $48 million. We offer a professional environment that values continuous learning and staff development.

Due to an upcoming retirement, the Agency has the position of Executive Director available. The position reports directly to the Board of Directors and provides leadership to a team of senior staff in the delivery of the Child Welfare Services to the Waterloo Region. As the successful candidate, you will advocate with the Ministry for required funding and resources to provide child welfare services to the community, build awareness and understanding of and support for child welfare and child well being in the community, build strong, collaborative relationships with community partners, ensure staff are provided with necessary resources to achieve the vision and mission of the Agency, demonstrate and encourage creative approaches to service delivery.


  • MSW or Master's Degree in a relevant field such as Public Administration;
  • Demonstrated experience in a senior leadership position, including direct reporting to a Board of Directors.
  • Demonstrated experience in directing organizational change in a rapidly changing environment;
  • Proven skills in partnership building and collaborative practice; and
  • Progressive experience in child welfare, other social service or human service organization.

Please submit resume on or before May 15, 2009 to:
Family & Children's Services of the Waterloo Region
200 Ardelt Avenue, Kitchener, ON N2C 2L9
All applications received will be acknowledged.

Our Vision:
A community where all children can grow up being safe, healthy, and loved.

Our Mission:
Finding the way forward with our community to protect children, to support all children and strengthen families, and to develop a caring environment for children.

Our Agency:
Family and Children's Services is the Children's Aid Society for the Waterloo Region. We are incorporated as a charitable, non-profit social service agency working under the authority of Ontario child welfare legislation.

Our Community:
The Waterloo Region is a municipality of approximately 500,000 people and is situated 100 km west of Toronto, Ontario and is one of the most prosperous areas of Canada offering many exciting opportunities in the fields of education, culture and recreation.

As seen in The Record on Saturday April 25, 2009 ( 5359417R)

Originally Published in The Record

Apply Via Email

Source: Workopolis

Shrink Gets a Dose of His Own Medicine

May 5, 2009 permalink

Professional therapist Brian Leckie has been ruined by false allegations that drained his $115,000 retirement savings and left him bankrupt.

False allegations routinely generate referrals to, and income for, psychiatrists, therapists, physicians, lawyers and social workers. Much of the money in Mr Leckie's retirement account may have come through the same process that destroyed him.



Justice for an innocent man

By MARK BONOKOSKI, Last Updated: 3rd May 2009, 5:25am

BELLEVILLE -- Brian Leckie, whose award-honoured crisis-counselling career goes back more than 30 unblemished years, calls it "a therapist's worst nightmare."

And he is far from wrong.

Two troubled Bancroft-area women -- one purportedly a drug-troubled victim of domestic abuse; the younger co-accuser a "friend" with issues of her own -- put their focus on Brian Leckie, get him charged with two counts of sexual assault and then, before the ink is figuratively dry on his criminal indictment, they launch a civil-action suit to take a run at his money.

Except that it was based on fiction.

In a Bancroft provincial court the other week, Judge Stephen Hunter acquitted Brian Leckie on all charges, and admonished his accusers for having "no credible" legs on which to stand -- the court's transcripts leaving no doubt. But the damage had already been done.

Both the Bancroft Times and the local Belleville Intelligencer wrote of the charges being laid, but little if anything of his charges being dismissed.

There are, after all, no press releases on acquittals.

In a radio commentary for the Haliburton Broadcasting Group, and its collective of Moose-FM stations, I threw more fuel on the flames burning Brian Leckie following the OPP's press release on his charges by writing that he was a counsellor at Bancroft's Crisis Intervention Centre at the time of the alleged assaults, and that his two alleged victims -- both women in their twenties -- were reportedly his clients.

"While we must presume the man's innocence until proven guilty," I reported, "one must nonetheless pine for the two women who, if the facts bear out, were basically re-victimized at the very place where they sought refuge from whatever crisis it was that had turned their lives upside-down."

Well, as it turns out, one should instead be pining for Brian Leckie who, at the age of 63, had his own life suddenly turned upside-down by two women whose allegations were determined in court to be bogus.

And it cost him big-time.

Brian Leckie's professional CV is almost operatic. A fulltime counsellor with Victim Services Canada, working out of the Quinte Health Care here in Belleville (with a satellite office in Bancroft), the former professor for the faculty of psychiatry at McMaster University Medical Centre is a registered traumatologist specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), critical incident stress management, workplace harassment ... et cetera, et cetera.

On top of that, he has served as trauma counsellor with the RCMP, the national intelligence service, and the Hamilton-Wentworth emergency response team.

His career has been long, and seemingly selfless.

Following 9/11, for example, he took a leave of absence and went to New York as a volunteer trauma counsellor and was honoured by the New York Police Department with a Commendatory Recognition Award.

"Maybe, with all my professional experience and my hundreds of cases, a red flag should have come up when it came to these two women, but it didn't," he admits.

"Even looking back, I would not have expected this."

Brian Leckie chokes up twice, once when telling how he was called into the Bancroft OPP detachment, thinking it was to discuss a local domestic abuse investigation, and then finding himself charged with sexual assault.

The second time is recounting the costs -- the tarnishing of his good name, and the loss of virtually every dime he had to defend himself in court.

His lawyer fees, in fact, took all of the $115,000 he had socked away in RRSPs.

"No matter how bogus the charges, you need a competent lawyer to defend you," he says.

"If I did not have those RRSPs, I would likely be in jail today," he says.

"As a result, I am now bankrupt -- with an outstanding legal bill of $26,000 for those two days in court, including $6,000 for an expert witness.

"I was suspended from work for six months at Quinte Health Care because of this," he says. "I wonder how many innocent people are in jail today because they do not have the funds to hire a competent lawyer?

"Being innocent gets you nowhere if you are represented by legal aid. It's too great a risk," he says. "Legal aid lawyers, for the most part, don't give a rat's ass.

"And that, too, is the sorry truth."

Not surprisingly, especially with his name being dragged through the mud, and with the whispers around him turning into screams, Brian Leckie has now been diagnosed with the same condition he treats -- post- traumatic stress disorder.

"This has devastated me," he admits, sitting there in his seventh-floor apartment, pulling out one defence file after another ... talking about his own trauma.

"At one point, I honestly thought I was going to jump out the window," he says. "Colleagues gave me those disapproving downward looks at if they believed the allegations against me must have been true.

"Only the ER nurses seemed to give me the benefit of the doubt, because they've seen it. They've seen the lies and the accusations that come through emergency rooms.

"They see it all the time."

Today Brian Leckie is back on the job at Quinte Health Care, but never again will he treat female trauma victims.

"All it takes is one false allegation, and it's all but over," he says. "I sit here as proof of that."

And nor will he ever return to Bancroft.

"Never again," he says. "Never, ever again."

As for the two women who brought this upon him, their names continued to be protected by a publication ban.

Today, therefore, is just another day.


Source: Toronto Sun

Gay Adoption

May 5, 2009 permalink

A mother in Somerset, England let her two sons see their father. Their punishment? Social services took the two boys and placed them for adoption with a gay couple.



Family in 11th-hour legal battle to halt brothers' adoption by gay couple

By Sue Reid, Last updated at 8:03 PM on 04th April 2009

Two young brothers face adoption by a gay couple despite the desperate protests of their mother, grandparents and extended family.

The grandparents, an aunt and an uncle have all offered to give the boys, aged six and nine, a loving home but they say social workers have turned them down without explanation.

In the past few days the boys were introduced to the male couple in preparation for a formal adoption next month. But yesterday, in what is thought to be the first case of its kind, the children's middle-class family began an 11th-hour legal battle to halt the adoption.

boys' mother with her parents
The boys' mother with her parents - they have launched a court battle to stop the adoption

The grandfather, a sports coach in his 60s, said: 'The boys thought they were getting a new mummy and daddy, not a daddy and daddy. We are not homophobic, but we feel strongly this adoption is against our family's Christian values.'

The grandmother, also in her 60s, added: 'Our grandsons are being forcibly taken from a family who want them dearly. We are worried they will be indoctrinated into a different lifestyle. This is social engineering by the state.'

The brothers have been in foster care for two years. Social workers began to monitor their mother when she suffered post-natal depression after the birth of her first son though there is no suggestion that she has harmed or neglected the children.

The boys were placed on the 'at risk' register four years later after her husband hit her.

Social workers claimed the 38-year-old mother had allowed them to be 'emotionally harmed' because one of the boys witnessed his father physically abusing her.

The couple later separated and the mother took out an injunction to stop her estranged husband coming to the family home. However, she relented and agreed to let him see his sons. When this was discovered, social workers took the children into care in March 2007.

She says: 'The boys kept saying they missed their father. I made a mistake by letting him back to see them. But that does not mean I should lose my sons for ever.'

Her estranged husband has now moved to a different part of the country. The mother argued in a Somerset family court that a homosexual household is not a suitable environment for her sons.

Her 40-year-old brother, who has a wife and child, has also offered to bring up his nephews. He believes it is not in their best interests to be handed over to strangers when they have loving relatives.

brother brother
The brothers - they cannot be identified, though social workers showed their faces on an adoption website

The case had to be heard in a closed court to prevent identification of the boys. It will fuel concern over the increase in gay adoptions, actively promoted by Left-wing ministers and councils.

The uncle said he had discussed the matter with gay friends. They are worried, too. They warned that male relationships do not always last very long.

'They asked about the long-term future of the couple who want to adopt my nephews. Will they stay together? Are they in a civil partnership? What happens to the children if they split up?'

Social workers insist that the boys badly need a stable home where there is no risk of the adults breaking up in the future.

However, none of the 20 male couples in England who adopted children in the year up to March 2008 had formally cemented their relationship in a civil partnership, according to government figures.

In what the family claim is 'bullying and blackmail', Somerset social workers apparently warned the mother - before she knew the sex of the couple involved - that she must agree to the adoption quickly or the boys might have to go to different homes because of a shortage of adoptive parents. She reluctantly consented because she felt her sons should be kept together.

Weeping, she said: 'I would love to look after the boys myself and think I am quite capable, especially with the support of my family.

'I was dismayed to find they are going to a single-sex couple. Social workers just dumped the truth on me. I was called to their office about the adoption procedures, and they said the boys' new parents would be a single-sex couple.'

Although the Daily Mail may not identify the boys, the social workers openly advertised them for adoption in an internet magazine, Be My Parent, where it is thought the gay couple saw them.

The advert showed the smiling brothers sitting together on a bench, their faces not obscured, and gave their Christian names along with descriptions of their character.

The words and picture were removed only when the mother was told about them by friends and complained to the social workers. The mother was equally astonished to find social workers taking a video of her heartbreaking one-hour 'farewell meeting' with her boys at a children's centre in February.

The social workers said it would be a 'memoir' for their birth family. As yet, they have not received it. At the final meeting, says the mother, she put on a brave face for the sake of her sons. 'I wanted their last memory of me to be happy.'

The last words the elder boy said to her were: 'I know I won't see you again, Mummy.' She answered: 'It's not going to be for ever, I promise.'

She said: 'I gave them a wooden fort with some knights. I gave them a collage of family pictures and sang them a song from their favourite Disney film, Brother Bear 2. I really tried not to cry.'

She has been told she can write to her sons twice a year, in May and October.

Social workers say the family will not see the boys again until they are grown up. The gay couple have insisted the children are permanently parted from their relatives as a condition of the adoption.

The boys have been sent to two different foster homes in two years, which their mother says has coincided with a number of emotional problems. She is particularly worried about her elder son.

'Will he innocently copy any intimacy he sees between the two men?' she asked. 'What happens if he tries to hold another boy's hand at school? He will be bullied. He could be teased. It will make life so much more difficult for him.'

When the grandparents offered to take both boys, social workers gave them no reason for turning them down. Their age was not cited as a barrier.

Then their aunt, who is in her early 40s, offered to care for the elder boy, if the younger were looked after by his grandparents.

The family agreed that the brothers would be together at weekends and in the holidays, either at their grandparents' home overlooking fields in the Home Counties, or the aunt's home less than an hour's drive away.

This plan also failed to gain acceptance. The aunt says: 'We are not drinkers or smokers. We are emotionally stable homeowners and taxpayers. We love these boys, and yet we were not allowed to give them a good life within their own family.'

The family say that they will continue their legal battle as long as they are financially able.

'Emotional harm' became part of the social workers' lexicon some years ago. It is now the catalyst for 27 per cent of all English adoptions, a far higher proportion than that triggered by sexual and physical abuse.

Critics say it means children can be 'forcibly' adopted if there are parental rows or even a future likelihood of them while a child is under 18.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: 'We cannot comment on individuals. However, all our cases go through a lengthy legal process. All stakeholders are consulted and the final decision is made by the judge.'

Meanwhile the uncle has contacted Mail Online to thank readers for their support and insist the family will continue their fight to keep the boys.

'The family are overwhelmed,' the uncle said.

'I can't tell you how much this support means to us. We're going to fight with everything we have to give these boys the childhood they deserve,' he added.

Source: Daily Mail

Soo Runaway

May 2, 2009 permalink

A Sault Ste Marie Ontario teenaged girl was determined to leave her foster home, by hitchhiking if necessary. Instead she ran away with a distant acquaintance, whose interest in the girl was paternal, not sexual. He is being treated as a kidnapper. There is no word on the current whereabouts of the girl.



Timmins man convicted of abuducting child from foster home

COURT: Man tells judge he regrets taking the 15-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie

Posted May 1, 2009

A Timmins man was convicted Thursday of child abduction for transporting a 15-year-old girl from her Sault Ste. Marie foster home to the northern city.

Gregg Thrones, 47, pleaded guilty to the offence, which occurred in February, when he appeared in a Sault Ste. Marie courtroom.

Ontario Court Justice John Kukurin reserved his decision about sentence until Monday, after hearing testimony and legal arguments at a lengthy hearing.

The Crown called for a nine-to- 12-month jail term.

The defence asked the judge to impose a sentence of one-day time served, or alternately a conditional or intermittent sentence.

Kukurin heard the girl, whose mother once had a short relationship with Thrones, went missing from her foster parents' home on Feb. 22.

The teen left a note, indicating she had gone to the YMCA, and urged her foster parents to "please trust I'm not going to do something stupid."

When they couldn't locate the girl at the Y, and after finding MSN messages to her on their computer, they contacted police, prosecutor Bill Johnson said.

A Feb. 17 message clearly was from Thrones and talked about coming to the Sault, the assistant Crown attorney said.

The couple had concerns she was meeting Thrones, who wasn't to have contact with her, and told police his relationship with the girl didn't seem normal to them.

Thrones picked up the girl at the Station Mall and they drove to Timmins, where police located them the following day.

The girl told officers she considered Thrones a father figure and that she didn't want to go back to the Sault.

"She couldn't comprehend what he had done wrong," Johnson said.

In an interview with police, Thrones said the girl begged him to take her back to Timmins and was threatening to run away to the United States.

On Thursday, he testified that he was worried and the thought of this "pretty gutsy" girl hitchhiking was driving him crazy.

"I feel stupid for what I did. I wasn't thinking with my brain. I was thinking with my heart," he told his lawyer Ross Romano.

"I'm very sorry, very regretful."

During cross-examination by Johnson, he disagreed that his relationship with the girl was very unusual.

"I think it's a very loving, trusting bond and I consider her to be like my daughter," Thrones said. "I do what I do because of how much I love this child and care for her."

Romano argued that his remorseful client, who has been in custody since his arrest, has served sufficient time when credited two-for-one.

"There's no sexual impropriety here," the defence said.

"This goes to his fatherly affection towards this daughter he feels her to be."

Romano suggested that if the judge thought more custody was warranted that he impose a conditional sentence to be served in the community or a 60-to-90- day intermittent sentence to be served on weekends.

He proposed these sentences so that Thrones, who suffers from numerous medical problems, can continue treatment for them.

Noting the victim was a vulnerable child, Johnson asked the court to consider nine-to-12 months, less the "dead time" the accused has had in pre-sentence custody.

He cited the need for denunciation and deterrence.

The community has to be assured of the protection of children, the assistant Crown attorney said.

The Crown and defence agreed that Thrones should also be placed on probation for the maximum three-year period.

Source: Sault Star


Jail for Sick Children

May 2, 2009 permalink

Kaylee Wallace was born with a birth defect, Joubert Syndrome. Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children scheduled Kaylee to become an organ donor, but when her life support was turned off, she continued to breathe on her own, canceling the transplant.

On Wednesday, parents Jason Wallace and Crystal Vitelli tried to take Kaylee to a new hospital, but children's aid and hospital security blocked any effort to remove her.



Kaylee's dad praises Sick Kids

By TAMARA CHERRY, SUN MEDIA, Last Updated: 12th April 2009, 7:28pm

In what was expected to be a statement expanding on concerns raised last week about their daughter's hospital care, baby Kaylee's father instead expressed appreciation for Sick Kids staff today.

Kaylee, who was born with a rare brain malformation called Joubert Syndrome, was ruled out as a heart donor for Lillian O'Connor when she was taken off her breathing machine ahead of a possible transplant Tuesday night and continued to breathe on her own.

Her parents, Crystal Vitelli and Jason Wallace, had decided they wanted their daughter's heart to go to Lillian, whose story had been chronicled in the Sun, after they said they received a grave prognosis on their daughter's condition.

On Friday, Vitelli told reporters she and Wallace were speaking with lawyers in light of developments over the last week.

"The comments that were made made my wife and I feel pressured into making decisions that may not have been in the best interest of our daughter for our position," Wallace said outside the downtown Toronto hospital today.

"Without going into detail about that, we'll just simply say that we addressed it with them and there has been an apology that we were made to feel that way and that moving forward, it's not going to happen again, and Kaylee has a right to care as much as any other child in this institution has.

"They're being much, much better now," Wallace said with a laugh. "We really appreciate that. And again, Sick Kids is an amazing hospital."

Sick Kids would not comment on Wallace's statements today.

The initial prognosis given for Kaylee "turned out not to be the case," Wallace said. "She's proven everybody wrong, right? It may be that Joubert is such a confusing syndrome that it confused them, even the best in the world."

When reached by phone earlier today, Wallace said he would not be making a public statement, as, "The little one has got some more problems, so we're more concerned with what's going on with her."

Both Kaylee and Lillian, who was born with a congenital heart defect, remain in "stable condition and in the care off the neonatology intensive care unit," Sick Kids spokesman Judy Noordermeer said.

Kaylee's parents received support and criticism from media across the continent after stepping outside the hospital several times throughout last week to talk to reporters about their situation.

Source: Toronto Sun

Parents stopped from taking Kaylee to another hospital

April 30, 2009, Henry Stancu, Staff Reporter

The father of baby Kaylee tonight backed away from his plan to breach doctors' orders and flee with the sick infant from the Hospital for Sick Children.

Late Thursday afternoon, Jason Wallace and his wife Crystal Vitelli told reporters they were going to take Kaylee to a hospital in Newmarket regardless of Sick Kids' position on the matter.

Extra security staff patrolled the baby's ward to prevent that from happening.

The incident is the latest in an ongoing dispute between the parents and hospital staff and officials.

Thursday evening he said, "She's my baby and I'm taking her out of here. I'm afraid for her safety if she stays," outlining his plan to remove the baby in a car seat and dash out of the hospital.

In the afternoon Wallace said a children's aid society case worker was en route to the hospital to help him remove Kaylee, but when that case worker didn't arrive Wallace said he was going to take Kaylee, "in an hour if they don't show up".

When asked why he didn't want to wait to have Kaylee moved from Sick Kids to hospital in Newmarket in an official transfer he said; "We don't want to wait, we want her out of here now."

A security officer said Kaylee was under constant guard and the parents would not be able to leave with her.

"He's already been told we won't let that happen and if he tries police will come and arrest him," the guard said.

About an hour after reasserting his plans, Wallace had spoken to both hospital officials and a CAS representative and this time he was told if they tried to remove Baby Kaylee the parents faced arrest and their daughter would be placed in the care of the CAS.

"It's not going to happen," Wallace said about an hour later, before leaving the hospital without Kaylee.

"I have to abide by that and we'll see what we can do tomorrow," he added.

About 24 hours earlier the couple filed a complaint with Toronto police alleging a nurse at the hospital had assaulted Vitelli on April 17, and they also alleged their daughter had been assaulted by nursing staff on two other occasions.

Sick Kids would not comment on the incident.

Source: Toronto Star

Addendum: Back in the news over a year later.



Baby Kaylee's kidneys failing

Baby Kaylee
Baby Kaylee is seen in this May 2009 file photo.
(STAN BEHAL, Toronto Sun)

Baby Kaylee’s saga continues.

The parents of the little girl who made international headlines last April called the media to talk about their daughter’s failing health Wednesday — but instead spent most of their time talking about a domestic violence incident and the role of the Children’s Aid Society in taking their second child last weekend.

Jason Wallace, 34, and common law partner Crystal Vitelli, 21, were voluntarily providing information to the CAS about any changes in their lives.

When the couple informed CAS they were separating, a meeting was called. Vitelli said the CAS workers didn’t show up on time and when they did show up and Kaylee’s parents had already left, the police were called.

Both Wallace and Vitelli were arrested and nine-month-old Savanna was taken into foster care.

“We live in a society where we should be free but (there is) this kind of harassment and behaviour,” Wallace said. “When (CAS workers) simply just go above that and use Gestapo-type of tactic and say, ‘you police must move on this,’ and then they kick in our door.”

Both parents were released and their daughter returned to them by Monday.

Kaylee suffers from a rare brain disorder called Joubert’s, a malformation of the brain stem.

As for Baby Kaylee, who suffers from a rare brain disorder called Joubert’s, she has been back in the hospital since Jan. 25. Her kidneys are failing and she still requires a ventilator, she is also fed through a tube 20 hours a day.

She needs a kidney transplant in the next four months or dialysis to keep her alive.

Neither of her parents are eligible to donate one of their kidneys because they both have health complications.

“We would like the public to stand forward and say that they would be willing to fight...with us to get her on the (transplant) list,” Wallace said. “Or they wish to help out a child and they could be interested in donating one of their kidneys,” Wallace said.

Source: Toronto Sun

CAS Strike Vote

May 1, 2009 permalink

Brant CAS workers have voted to strike. How much pay does it take to pull a baby from mother's breast while she is still groggy from childbirth?



CAS workers vote in favour of strike

Posted By Susan Gamble, Expositor Staff, Posted April 30, 2009

Unionized workers at the Brant Children’s Aid Society have indicated they’re prepared to walk off the job if the agency doesn’t change a no-negotiation stance.

Andrew Hunter, a national representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said a vote 100% in favour of strike action is a clear message from the 100 CAS employees that they are unhappy.

“There are some very serious issues at stake,” Hunter said Wednesday.

While the agency has offered a four-year deal with a 2% increase in wages and benefits each year, the employees are looking for coverage on legal issues.

Currently, the agency will pay for legal costs if a worker is criminally charged by a parent. But if the family sues the worker in civil court, their fees won’t be covered.

Second, if the worker is driving their own car while transporting a child in care and has an accident, they are likely to find themselves not covered by insurance and liable for both the vehicle and injuries to the child.

“These employees need business insurance and to be covered for legal liability,” said Hunter.

He said the province could help pay for the increased costs that coverage might exact.

The situation is going to a conciliator but no date has been set for a meeting at this point.

Hunter said that after at least one meeting, either side has the option to walk out or lock out after 17 days.

“If there’s a strike, all the managers would have to take over the functions of the agency and I assume some extraneous functions would be dropped.”

Children’s aid societies are not considered essential services but they are mandated by law.

Hunter said there won’t be a strike as long as the CAS is willing to at least talk about proposals being put forward by the union.

“Right now they’ve said they don’t want to talk about (the issues), and that’s not even bargaining.”

The CAS could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Source: Brantford Expositor

earlier news