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Escape from Foster Care
August 28, 2009 permalink
Four brothers ages 3 to 9 had enough of their Pennsylvania foster home and escaped. They were picked up by police while attempting to hitchhike back to their dad.
Young Foster Kids Found Hitchhiking In 'Escape' Attempt
Jeannette Kids Tell Police They're Trying To Get Away From Abuse
POSTED: 2:36 pm EDT August 27, 2009, UPDATED: 12:54 pm EDT August 28, 2009
JEANNETTE, Pa. -- Police in Westmoreland County are investigating after four foster children -- all under the age of 9 -- were found hitchhiking to escape an allegedly abusive home.
Drivers in Jeannette alerted police to the boys -- ages 9, 7, 5 and 3 -- trying to catch a ride on Route 130. Police said the kids had apparently climbed a chain-link fence to get out.
"The 9-year-old explained that they were trying to hitch back to Pittsburgh to be with their dad, and that all of them were tired of being abused at their foster home," Jeannette Police Officer Justin Scalzo said.
The children had been placed with two sisters, Sharon and Shirley Baker, on Harrison Avenue in Jeannette.
Channel 4 Action News' Jennifer Miele reported the children told police they were being abused and had to leave the home.
When police found the children, they said that the 3-year-old was wearing a soiled diaper and no shoes, and that all four children were dehydrated and hungry.
Police shared photos with Channel 4 Action News that show marks found on the 3-year-old's back.
"The 9-year-old said he wanted to show me his brother's back, and when he lifted up his shirt, there was definitely signs of abuse," Scalzo said. "To me, it looked like he was beaten with some kind of object."
The children told police they were locked out of the home daily and ordered to stay in the yard, only coming inside at meal time. Although the yard is fenced in, neighbors told police the kids easily climbed in and out, Miele reported.
"Where are the parents at? How do you not know four kids are missing from your house?" Scalzo said. "Even if they are playing in a fenced-in back yard, how do you not have supervision out there? How do you not hear them playing?"
According to the criminal affidavit, a neighbor told police that she saw the boys climb the fence and go onto the road. The witness said she told Sharon Baker that the boys can get over the fence and said Baker just looked at her and went back inside, the affidavit said.
The boys were taken to the police station, where firefighters gave them something to drink and Scalzo's wife fed them dinner.
Nearly six hours went by with no phone calls from the foster parents and no help from the child services agencies in Westmoreland or Allegheny counties or the council of the Three Rivers American Indian Center, which placed the boys with the Baker sisters.
"I didn't get any help until 11 o'clock that night, and the boys didn't get out of here until near midnight," Scalzo said. "I want to say I'm disappointed with all three agencies. I was in the middle of conducting the investigation, and now I have to switch roles and care for these kids."
The Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families said it's investigating why Three Rivers, a subcontractor, took so long to get there.
Three Rivers did not return calls for comment from Channel 4 Action News.
The Westmoreland County Children's Bureau had no comment.
The boys -- as well as their 1-year-old sister, whom they had to leave behind when they decided to hitchhike -- have all been removed from the Bakers' custody and placed in new foster homes.
"I'm really not surprised," neighbor Courtney Wagner said. "They keep those kids out all day."
Both of the Bakers have been charged with endangering the welfare of children. Allegations of physical abuse are still being investigated.
When asked for comment at their home, one of the Bakers told Channel 4 Action News that it should be ashamed of its report and then closed the front door.
Source: Pittsburgh Channel
Client Gives Birth to Social Worker's Baby
August 28, 2009 permalink
From the Twilight Zone: When Milwaukee social worker Peter Nelsen was assigned to the case of mother Theola Nealy, she engaged in sexual relations with him to avoid losing her children. Later she gave birth to their baby girl. When social services took all three of Nealy's children, father Peter Nelsen got custody of their daughter.
Woman Says She Got Pregnant By Social Worker; He Has Child
State Representative Calls For Investigation
POSTED: 5:16 pm CDT August 28, 2009, UPDATED: 5:53 pm CDT August 28, 2009
MILWAUKEE -- A social worker who was supposed to be helping a Milwaukee woman got her pregnant instead, the woman said. Now, she's fighting to get her daughter back.
The baby's father was assigned to investigate a child neglect complaint about the woman's other children.
The agency said the social worker broke rules by having sex with a client and but then placed the child with him after they removed the baby from her mother's home.
"I missed her birthday. He had her," Theola Nealy said.
Nealy's daughter, Melina, turned 1 year old in the custody of her former child welfare worker, who is also the baby's father.
"He started coming over, and it evolved into sex, and I told him I did not want to have sex," Nealy said.
Nealy said she had sex with the social worker to make sure Child Protective Services would let her keep her kids. She said when she became pregnant, he told her to have an abortion. After she refused, Protective Services soon removed her kids from her home.
"He's paying me back for one not having an abortion, and two, he took her just to get me back because he knows that's what hurts me the most," Nealy said.
Professional rules forbid sexual relationships with current and formal clients. The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare said the social worker no longer works there.
"Any serious violation of professional licensing rules or standards would preclude continued employment at the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare." according to the agency.
WISN 12 News found Melina in the arms of her father and the former social worker. Child welfare placed her with Peter Nelsen after they removed Nealy's children from her home.
"Well, certainly my relationship was inappropriate. I admit that. I'm sure," Nelsen said.
Nelsen is headed to court to fight for permanent custody of Melina.
"She's the love of our lives. She means everything to us," Nelsen said.
"Do you think it was a crime what you did?" WISN 12 News reporter Colleen Henry asked.
"State statutes I suppose would say so," Nelsen said.
"Do you think you're going to go to prison?" Henry asked.
"I would certainly hope not. It's been 11 months," Nelsen said.
The District Attorney's Office told 12 News it will not file criminal charges against Nelsen because the sex was consensual, and it's not a crime for a social worker to have sex with a client. That news devastated Nealy.
"He should go to jail," Nealy said.
The agency said it reported Nelsen to licensing regulators. It won't answer questions about why Melina and her brother and sister were removed from their mother's home, or given the circumstances, whether placement with her father is appropriate.
The case has prompted a request to Wisconsin's attorney general to investigate. Whitewater state Rep. Steve Nass said an impartial investigation is necessary.
Source: WISN Milwaukee
Addendum: Two years later the mother still does not have her children.
Mother impregnated by caseworker sues
Federal complaint names 2 state agencies, child's father as defendants
A child welfare worker who impregnated an emotionally troubled woman he had investigated for child abuse ordered the woman to get an abortion or she would lose everything, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court and an interview with the woman's attorney.
"He said, 'If I have to lose everything, then you have to lose everything too,'" the attorney, Joy Bertrand, quoted the woman as saying.
The woman - Theola Nealy - refused to have an abortion.
Within weeks, Nealy's two children - a daughter then 5 years old and a 3-year-old son - were taken into state custody. Years later, those children have not been returned.
And the baby fathered by the caseworker - now almost 3 years old - continues to live with her father, Peter J. Nelsen.
"Nelsen was assigned to protect the most vulnerable among us, and he preyed upon them," Bertrand said.
Nealy's story was brought to light by an article in the Journal Sentinel in August 2009.
"Everything that I love is gone," Nealy told the paper at the time.
Neither Nelsen nor Nealy could be reached on Monday.
According to the federal complaint, Nelsen was assigned by the state-run Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare to investigate an allegation of abuse involving Nealy's two children during the summer of 2007. Nelsen concluded the allegation could not be substantiated.
The bureau received another allegation later that summer. Although another bureau social worker initially was assigned to investigate, Nelsen told Nealy that he had taken over the case and that "he would handle it," the complaint says. Nelsen again concluded that the allegation could not be substantiated.
But after the abuse allegations had been resolved, the complaint says, Nelsen continued to visit Nealy's home. The visits became daily. The complaint quotes Nelsen telling Nealy, "I know everything about you," and "I've read your entire file."
Nelsen, a 12-year veteran of the bureau, told Nealy he had the power to arrest parents suspected of abuse or neglect, the complaint says.
Nelsen had sexual intercourse with Nealy three times during the fall of 2007, and Nealy became pregnant, the complaint says.
"Ms. Nealy was coerced into having sex with Nelsen, due to the control he had over her children's custody and placement," the complaint says.
Nealy discovered she was pregnant in November of that year.
According to the complaint, Nelsen demanded she get an abortion. The complaint quotes Nealy telling Nelsen, "I'm not going to kill my baby."
"Within weeks of Ms. Nealy refusing to abort her child," the complaint says, "Milwaukee police officers and BMCW social workers seized her two children."
In April 2008, before the child was born, Nealy told her Wisconsin Works caseworker that her "social worker" had impregnated her and gave the caseworker Nelsen's name, the complaint says.
Wisconsin Works provides financial support to parents with dependent children. Both Wisconsin Works and the bureau are administered by the state Department of Children and Families and, according to the complaint, the agencies share data and information.
Nonetheless, the complaint says, bureau caseworkers remained assigned to Nealy's case as it made its way through Children's Court.
The complaint alleges that bureau caseworkers "attempted to intimidate (Nealy) from complaining about Nelsen's conduct, by threatening to terminate her parental rights."
Once the child was born, the complaint says, Nelsen unilaterally decided to keep the girl.
"When Ms. Nealy begged Nelsen for the return of her child," the complaint says, "Nelsen replied, 'You don't need to have her,' and, 'You have to do what I say.'"
Nelsen resigned from the bureau in April 2009, about eight months after the infant was born.
A few days after the Journal Sentinel story ran that August, the complaint says, three bureau social workers went to Nealy's home.
"They demanded to know why she was causing trouble and demanded that she 'drop the case' against Nelsen," the complaint says.
The complaint seeks unspecified damages against Nelsen, the bureau and the DCF.
A statement emailed from a DCF spokeswoman Monday said the department had not yet received the lawsuit.
"The actions of Mr. Nelsen are completely unacceptable," the statement says.
The statement also says that "the Department immediately took action to terminate his employment when his inappropriate behavior was discovered."
But though the DCF was required to report Nelsen's behavior in a timely fashion to the state licensing board, a subsequent investigation by the Journal Sentinel found that it did not do so until after it was contacted by the paper.
Nelsen's social work license was at last revoked in September 2009.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 28, 2009 permalink
The Bayne family in British Columbia has lost their three children for nearly two years, without any justification. The youngest child has a genetic disorder that mimics shaken baby syndrome. Their story was previously reported here on August 2, and it appears in a YouTube video with a local copy (flv). You can assist the Bayne family by signing their online petition.
CCAS Fails Economics 101
August 28, 2009 permalink
Former CCAS ward Navena has been granted a scholarship to study economics at McMaster University. The problem? It is for $2000. How much of a university education can she get with that? A less fortunate student got $1500. In 2006 another CAS charged taxpayers $8260.56 to care for a healthy teenager for two weeks.
Hope for former Crown wards
By BRETT CLARKSON, SUN MEDIA, Last Updated: 27th August 2009, 4:53am
Nevena is thinking of becoming a family lawyer. David wants to be a paramedic.
The students are just two of 97 former Crown wards who last night were the recipients of post-secondary scholarships awarded by the Hope For Children Foundation.
The scholarships, valued at a total of $195,000, were given out to young adults who were formerly in the care of the Catholic Children's Aid Society. The ceremony took place at Hart House at U of T.
Nevena, 18, will be studying political science and economics at McMaster University in Hamilton this fall with the help of her $2,000 scholarship. Ultimately she wants to attend law school and work in family law -- a career inspired by her experience with the Catholic Children's Aid Society.
For Nevena, school was a distraction from her tumultuous family life. She became a Crown ward at 16 after enduring an abusive family life. And although the scholarships provide an obvious financial help, they're also a morale booster, she said.
"There's a lot of children that know what they want to do and have goals and don't know how to achieve them," Nevena said. "These scholarships not only help financially, but really do help them have confidence in their goals and believe that there's somebody looking out for them."
David, 22, will be attending the paramedic program at Humber College in the fall with the help of his $1,500 scholarship.
"It helps a lot because it's basically impossible to go to school full time and pay your expenses," David said.
All of the scholarship money is donated by individual and corporate donors, said Mary Bowyer, executive director of the Hope For Children Foundation.
Source: Toronto Sun
August 27, 2009 permalink
Here are some parts of a discussion showing how justice is obstructed, by requiring motions to be filed on forms, then refusing to supply those forms. The family does not use a lawyer because, like most families in protection cases, they have already spent more than they can afford on lawyers. We don't know whether the mother wants to be identified by name, so it is left out.
Well my husband was in Sudbury last week at the court. He asked for the status 64 review forms and all he got was the sheets of rules about a status 64 review from the court, which of course we already have and knew about. He specifically asked for the forms to do one and was refused the forms and was told, if you tell us what forms you want then we will give them to you. Of course he didnt know, thats one of the reasons why he made a trip across the country, to get them.
Unless someone can actually get all and the correct forms to do one no one has a chance in hell of getting a status 64 review through the Ontario court system. Talk about corrupt and to go online to where all the forms are is useless unless you know exactly what forms you need and if no one will tell you then you are f%$#^d.
At least here in BC they are actually helpful and held accountable when you ask for forms for something.
After another person suggested the website: Family Law Rules Forms, the mother continued:
Pppffftttt.. we know where to get the forms online, we just dont know all the forms or which ones we need and no one will tell us.
John Dunn added:
Also, about the clerks that's right. Imagine being at a desk where thousands of law suits happen each day and each one is looking to blame something on someone else. The clerks would get sued each day for offering the wrong form by mistake, saying the wrong thing, it would be an endless stream of firings and court appearances and they would never be at work.. so this is why they are not allowed (even if they know) to offer anything.
Sad, but true. There should be a lawyer at each counter to answer such questions.
Source: email exchange on afterfostercare, August 27, 2009
August 27, 2009 permalink
Opposition to child protection spans the entire political spectrum. While the most vocal opposition in Ontario comes from the NDP, here Nancy Schaefer, former state senator in Georgia, speaks to the World Conference of Families in Amsterdam, Netherlands. You can see it on the Eagle Forum of Georgia webpage, or our local copy (flv)
August 25, 2009 permalink
Dutch child protectors are seeking custody of thirteen-year-old Laura Dekker, who wants to sail around the world solo starting at age fourteen, making her the youngest person to do so. If she goes, she will be embarking with eight years sailing experience. Child protectors claim she is too young for such a danger and (in other news reports) suggest her social development will be impaired by the trip. A Dutch judge is contemplating whether to revoke parental custody and so end the expedition. What would the judge do with his teenaged countryman Anne Frank? Or the little Dutch boy who saved his country by holding his finger in the dike?
Court asked to block Dutch girl, 13, from sailing alone around the world
Agence France-Presse, August 25, 2009
THE HAGUE — Dutch child protection agents urged a court Monday to stop a 13-year-old girl from pursuing her dream of becoming the youngest person ever to sail around the world solo.
Social workers want to strip Laura Dekkers’ parents, who support their daughters plans, of parental rights and have her declared a ward of the court to stop the girl from setting sail.
"It means that her parents will temporarily lose the right to make any decisions concerning their child," court spokesman Paul van Daalen told AFP.
Laura and her father Dick Dekker were present for the hearing behind closed doors, he said.
A children’s judge in Utrecht in the central Netherlands was expected to rule this week, the spokesman said.
Born on a yacht off the New Zealand coast during a seven-year world trip by her parents, according to Dutch press, Laura plans to become the youngest ever sailor to navigate around the world in her 8.3-metre-long Hurley 800 named Guppy, financed by sponsors.
The slender, blonde girl who reportedly lives with her father on a yacht in the central Netherlands, hopes to achieve this feat in two years and continue her schooling through Internet correspondence.
"Since I was 10 years old, I’ve known that I would like to sail around the world," she has told Dutch television. "I want simply to learn about the world and to live freely."
Her father approached authorities in July for an exemption for Laura from obligatory schooling. The request was refused.
In a recent written report to parliament, education deputy minister Marja van Bijsterveldt-Vliegenthart said "a solo voyage around the world would not be in the best interests of the child".
Newspapers report that Laura got her first yacht at the age of six and spent the summer of her 11th year sailing for seven weeks on her own.
"We realize that it is a dangerous undertaking," Dick Dekker has told the Gelderlander local newspaper.
"But a court which knows nothing about Laura will decide. We would not let our child do something of which she was not in complete control."
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Addendum: A Dutch court has ended Laura's plans.
Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 17:31 UK
Dreams scuppered for Dutch sailor girl
By Rob Kievit, Radio Netherlands Worldwide
Laura Dekker says she is more of a doer than a dreamer, but with her plans to become the youngest ever person to solo circumnavigate the globe now in tatters, she will be left to ponder what might have been.
With the Dutch child protection agencies declaring her trip too dangerous, she and her 8m (26ft) yacht Guppy will be confined to dock.
It is a devastating blow for the teenager who lives to sail.
"My parents have sailed around the world, they know what can happen and that it's not always fun, but because I want to do it so much they agreed and supported me," Miss Dekker told Dutch television earlier this week.
"They've taken good care of me for 13 years, so I don't know why people suddenly think they are not doing a good job."
She was not at the hearing that torpedoed her hopes on Friday. Advised to stay away as the constant media pressure was taking its toll, she spent the day sailing instead.
But it is not as if she needed to prove her commitment to the sport.
Miss Dekker was born on a boat - in New Zealand - and when she was just 6 years old, she had already mastered control over her single-handed Optimist dinghy and was criss-crossing lakes back in the Netherlands.
Aged 10, she moved up to a 7m boat and was honing her skills in the waters of Friesland. It was here that she encountered her first problems with the outside world, with lock-operators not always willing to allow passage to such a young girl in charge of a boat on her own.
Unperturbed and supported by her family, she spent the following summer sailing in and around the islands on the Wadden Sea and shortly after she revealed her big dream to take to the high seas and become the youngest person ever to go around the world.
Supportive but sceptical, her father told the aspiring record-breaker that she would have to prove herself first.
Intensive lessons on navigation and safety followed and then her father, Dick Dekker, dropped the news that Miss Dekker would have to sail to England and back on her own first to show him what she was capable of.
"So long on the open sea with wind, rain and waves - that will soon end any ideas of sailing the world," recalls Dick on his daughter's website.
Signs of trouble
Of course the opposite proved true and the compulsion to take on the biggest sailing challenge of all was stronger than ever, despite the fact that Miss Dekker was only 13.
But the trip to England was an omen in another sense - once Miss Dekker arrived in the UK, she was detained by the port authorities and taken into care.
The local authorities judged it too dangerous for a 13-year-old to be at sea alone and they sought to scupper the return leg. They telephoned Mr Dekker and asked him to accompany his daughter on the trip home.
When Mr Dekker refused, the English authorities in Lowestoft placed Miss Dekker in a children's home.
Miss Dekker wrote about this obliquely on her website too. "In England I met a couple who run a children's home," she wrote. "They were very kind and showed me many nice spots in England."
Ultimately, Mr Dekker travelled to the UK to collect his daughter.
But when he allowed Miss Dekker to sail back on her own anyway, the British police contacted their Dutch colleagues, who alerted the social services' youth care bureau.
And with the family then firmly on the radar of social services in the Netherlands, the next step was Friday's ban by the child protection board.
Miss Dekker has indicated she may emigrate to New Zealand and set off from there. Having been born there, she has a New Zealand passport.
Reportedly there are no legal obstacles there to minors embarking on lengthy sea journeys, although children in New Zealand, too, are required to attend school.
But emigration does not seem to offer a way out. Ms Dekker could expect to be treated by New Zealand's child protection bodies in the same the way as she was treated in the Netherlands, New Zealand authorities were quoted as saying in Dutch daily newspaper de Volkskrant on Friday.
The deputy chief executive of the New Zealand Child, Youth and Family agency, Ray Smith, said he did not think it was sensible for a 13-year-old to sail solo around the world.
"I think most people would share that view," he told the New Zealand Herald.
For the time being, then, it looks as though all avenues have been exhausted and Miss Dekker will have to join her 13-year-old Dutch counterparts returning to school after the summer break.
Addendum: Laura is in permanent state wardship until next summer.
Dutch court blocks 14-year-old's solo sailing record attempt
Laura Dekker put under guardianship of authorities until July, but she could still set record for youngest solo circumnavigation
A Dutch court today barred a 14-year-old girl from attempting a world record for sailing solo around the world, placing her under the guardianship of child protection authorities until July.
The decision by judges at Utrecht district court means Laura Dekker, who was first blocked from attempting the trip in August, will remain with her father but her parents will have to check with child protection officials about any major decisions in her life.
Mariska Woertman, a spokeswoman for the family, who were not in court, said the teenager was "disappointed that the court does not have faith in her to leave now." Woertman said the way was now open for Dekker to begin the voyage next summer, meaning she could still set the record for the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe alone.
The title is currently held by Mike Perham, a 17-year-old Briton, who completed the trip in August. The Utrecht court's initial decision against Dekker shortly after that sparked a debate in the Netherlands about whether officials should be allowed to circumscribe such parentally approved adventures.
Dekker's parents – both of whom are experienced sailors – are separated. While her father is a keen advocate of the trip, her mother has expressed concern given Dekker's age. The court said today that the mother agreed to the voyage "so long as she has assurances about the safety measures. At the moment, as far as she is concerned, they are insufficient."
The court said that while Dekker's sailing skills were adequate and a psychological report concluded that the voyage would not harm her social or emotional development, there were questions about safety and her ability to continue her schooling while at sea.
During a private court session this week, Dekker said she planned to delay the trip at least until May and would be guided by an experienced sailor in a separate boat.
"The good news … is that we have established Laura is capable of making this voyage," said her lawyer, Peter de Lange. He said Dekker could still set the record despite the enforced delay, "but the record is not her primary goal. Laura just wants to sail."
A fortnight ago, a 16-year-old Australian girl, Jessica Watson, sailed out of Sydney harbour on a planned solo global circumnavigation.
Source: Guardian (UK)
Addendum: Laura was arrested and forcibly returned to the Netherlands after an escape.
The girl with the shattered dream: runaway Laura brought back home
December 22, 2009 - 8:52AM
A 14-year-old Dutch girl barred from sailing around the world solo has returned under police escort from the Caribbean island where she was found after running away from home, police said.
Police now reportedly planned to quiz Laura Dekker to find out if she had an adult accomplice to travel to the island of St Maarten, in the Netherlands Antilles.
A family spokeswoman believed the pressure of a court battle over her solo sailing quest had gotten to the teen. In October, a court prohibited Dekker from setting off on an around-the-world solo yacht trip for at least eight months.
"We think we know the reason," Joost Lanshage of Bureau Youth Care told the Daily Mail.
"She had a dream and it fell apart - that round-the-world trip. In the end she collapsed under the weight of the attention that generated and the dream being shattered. She is looking for some order."
Dekker flew back from St Maarten accompanied by a policeman and was expected in Amsterdam today, police said.
She was spotted on the island on Sunday by a resident who had followed media coverage of her disappearance from her home near the central Dutch city of Utrecht.
On her arrival in Amsterdam, Dekker would be questioned by police and a representative of the child protection services, said the police spokesman for Utrecht, Bernhard Jens. Dutch police said it was not possible for minor to fly overseas unaccompanied.
"We are going to ask her how she went over there," he said. "The child protection services will then decide if she can go home or not."
St. Maarten police spokesman Johan Janchi Leonard said Dekker arrived on the island on Thursday from Paris. She flew out Monday dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. She was carrying several bags, a small suitcase and a guitar.
It remained unclear if she had any plans to use the island, half of which is part of the Netherlands Antilles, as a start point for a sailing voyage. There were unconfirmed reports she had withdrawn 3500 euros ($5620) from her bank account.
But the Utrecht children's court prohibited her from setting off on her solo quest, citing safety concerns. It also placed the teenager - whose father Dick Dekker supported her ambitions, but whose mother expressed doubts - under the protection of child care officers until July 1 next year.
Her parents have since divorced and Dekker lives with her father. Instead of calling authorities when she went missing, her father called her mother who in turn informed police on Friday.
A 17-year-old Briton, Mike Perham, in August became the youngest person to complete a solo voyage around the world, albeit with assistance. He spent 156 days at sea.
Agencies and Arjun Ramachandran
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Addendum: A court extended Laura's supervision after a rival young circumnavigator had to be rescued in the Indian Ocean.
Court will keep supervising Dutch sailor, 14
AMSTERDAM — A 14-year-old Dutch girl who wants to become the youngest person to sail solo around the globe will remain under state supervision for another month, a court ruled Thursday, days after a California teenager was rescued during a similar attempt.
The decision by the court in the southern Dutch city of Middelburg meant another frustrating delay for Laura Dekker, who has gone into intense training to persuade the authorities she is capable of undertaking the risky venture.
Dekker was made a ward of the state last year after her plan to set sail aboard her small yacht raised concerns over her physical ability and her social development if she is isolated and out of school for months. She was then 13.
Child welfare authorities asked the court for a two-month extension of Dekker's guardianship.
The dangers she would face were highlighted this week when a 16-year-old California girl, Abby Sunderland, ran into trouble on a solo attempt when powerful waves snapped her mast in the Indian Ocean, prompting a tense 20-hour rescue mission.
Sunderland was rescued two days after the alarm was raised, in a land and sea operation that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars — much of it borne by the Australian military who spotted her thousands of miles from the nearest land.
At a hearing Monday, Dekker's lawyer Peter de Lange argued that she has been working to meet 14 conditions imposed by the court nine months ago.
She has obtained a first aid diploma, practiced functioning with a lack of sleep, and arranged to follow schoolwork via Internet, he said.
Last weekend she made a solo trip to England and back — 22 hours each way — to show her command of her small yacht and its seaworthiness.
Dekker's father, with whom she lives, has approved of her attempt, while her mother has objected. The couple are separated.
Last December Dekker ran away from home and traveled alone to the Caribbean. Upset by court-imposed rules and with her grades slipping, she fled with about $5,000 to the Dutch territory of St. Maarten using her New Zealand passport. She was discovered and flew home several days later.
Under Dutch law, Dekker is considered a minor until she is 18 years old.
Last year's ruling to put her under the guardianship of state authorities meant she could live at home but her parents must consult child protection authorities about all major decisions in her life.
The unofficial record as the youngest round-the-world sailor belongs to 16-year-old Australian Jessica Watson, who completed her voyage in May.
Source: The Associated Press, hosted by Google
Addendum: As of July 27, 2010, Laura is free to commence her round-the-world trip. The website mentioned in the article is LauraDekker.nl de Jongste solozeiler ter wereld!
Who is Laura Dekker?
Laura Dekker, the Dutch girl who won a 10-month legal battle on Tuesday in her bid to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, was born on a similar sea voyage 14 years ago.
"Sailing is my life," the bubbly, blonde teenager writes on her website, sprinkled with photos of her yacht, sailing instruments and images of the sea.
"As soon as I get on my boat, something inside me changes. Then I really feel what living is."
A Dutch court on Tuesday denied a request by child protection authorities to place her under their supervision for a further year until August 2011 to stop her imminent departure.
A clearly elated Dekker later addressed journalists from around the world with remarkable ease at the harbour of Den Osse, in the southern Netherlands, where she lives on a boat with her father, Dick, and dog, Spot.
"I simply want to see the world, different cultures, and to acquire life experience," the slender, vivacious girl said.
"I like to travel. I don't like staying in one place for too long."
Dekker was born in New Zealand during the third of a seven-year, around-the-world sea journey and spent the first four years of her life at sea with her parents.
"I was four when I first stood at the helm on my own," she writes.
She set sail on her first, six-week solo holiday to the northern Dutch province of Friesland at the age of 11.
Her boat, an 11.5 metre-long (about 38 feet) jeaneau gin fizz ketch, is named Guppy.
"This boat is my second home. Guppy means everything to me," Dekker says on her website.
She describes herself as a sailor "first of all", and says that other people perceive her as stubborn.
"I follow my own head. And if I'm determined to do something, then I'll make sure that I make it happen."
In tenacious style, Dekker fought the state's attempts to kill her dream, addressing the courts' concerns one by one such as learning first aid and sleep management techniques.
She plans to continue her formal education via the Internet while at sea.
Shortly after the authorities thwarted her initial departure last year, the headstrong youngster ran away to the Dutch Caribbean island territory of Sint Maarten (St. Martin) in December. Police had to escort her back home.
She says she understands people's concern about her age, "but I would like to show other young people what you can achieve if you really have a dream".
Dekker describes her hobbies as windsurfing and snowboarding. She does not watch much television, and when she does it would be a film "involving water".
"When I'm not surfing or sailing, I am to be found at the harbour working on my boat," she says.
She is an avid sailing magazine reader, and "I like Donald Duck".
Dekker says she has found the media attention in recent months hard to understand.
"I couldn't believe that everybody is interested in me," she writes.
"I'm just a person with a dream."
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Girl, 10, handcuffed and locked in a cell for six hours
August 24, 2009 permalink
Ten-year-old Shannon Blake tries to pet a man's dog, then spends six hours in a jail cell.
Girl, 10, handcuffed and locked in a cell for six hours
By Sophie Freeman, Last updated at 11:42 AM on 24th August 2009
The father of a 10-year-old girl who was arrested, handcuffed and locked in a cell for almost six hours has criticised police for being 'heavy-handed'.
Shannon Blake was apprehended by police and taken to a police station in the back of a van after she slapped a man who shouted at her in a park.
She then went through the ordeal of having a mug shot and finger-prints taken before she was locked in a tiny cell with just a bucket for a toilet.
Her father, Michael Blake, claims he wasn't even told she had been arrested until two hours later - and was then refused access to see her.
The 55-year-old lorry driver, from Tiverton, Devon, believes his daughter - who was given a formal reprimand for assault - should have been brought home instead.
He said: 'It seems absolutely ridiculous, she was treated like a criminal. I never received any information about it until more than two hours later.
'They locked her in a cell with a bucket if she wanted to use the toilet.
'They took her shoes away and the strings of her trousers.
'They finger-printed her and took her photo and then gave her a sandwich and half a cup of cold tea.
'It's absolutely appalling they can treat a 10-year-old in that way - what they did was really heavy-handed.
'What are they doing putting cuffs on a young girl? They should have just brought her home to me and I would have dealt with it.'
Shannon was arrested at 3pm on Tuesday after she slapped a man following an argument concerning his dog at a park in Tiverton, Devon.
Michael claims Shannon, who has never been in trouble before, attempted to stroke the unnamed man's pet but was shocked when he shouted at her.
Mr Blake said: 'Shannon had been playing in the BMX park when she went to stroke this man's dog.
'He shouted at her so she slapped him and gave him a push. My daughter has never been in trouble before. She's a bit of a tomboy but that's it.'
But police say they received a 999 call from a member of the public claiming that up to 20 youths were attacking a man who had been walking his dog.
Shannon was arrested with two boys aged 16 and 15 and taken to Heavitree Road Police Station in Exeter, Devon.
Mr Blake claims he was not informed his daughter had been arrested until 5.15pm and when he arrived at the station was not allowed to see her.
Shannon was eventually returned home at 8.45pm after spending almost six hours in the hands of police and received a formal reprimand.
A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said officers handcuffed Shannon after an assessment of the situation.
'We had a call from a member of the public that a man who had been walking his dog had been attacked by a gang of up to 20 youths,' said Alan Mobbs.
'An initial report was that one of the youths had a stick in his hands.
'Handcuffing a 10-year-old is never done as a matter of routine. A decision was made by the officer at the scene, based on the girl's demeanour, likelihood of escape and likelihood of injuring someone else.
'The officer that made the decision considered it serious enough to use the handcuffs.
Mr Mobbs said Shannon was detained in an adult cell because there was no other secure accommodation for her.
'If there's the right sort of accommodation available (a young person) would be detained in a cell specifically for juveniles, closer to custody staff. It was busy so she had to go in a cell.
'You put drunks and people making a noise to the back of the custody blocks. You put juveniles near custody staff so they can be supervised closely.'
But Mr Mobbs said that, despite being further away from custody staff, Shannon had 'regular checks'. He added that Mr Blake was not told about his daughter's detention straight away due to the sheer volume of cases the police station was dealing with that day.
'It's not something we delay on but with a busy custody centre, sometimes it takes a while to get hold of the relevant people.'
Following her arrest, Shannon was reprimanded for an assault and a 15-year-old boy was also reprimanded for a public order offence.
A 16-year-old boy was charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, for allegedly using threatening or insulting words or behaviour. He was bailed until September 2.
Source Daily Mail (UK)
Inside Family Court
August 24, 2009 permalink
British reporter Ed Saunt took advantage of a new policy opening family courts to the press, though with heavy restrictions on what could be reported. He gives a rare look at the courts from the family's point of view. The predominant experience is waiting. The negotiations occur out of the presence of the parties, and when children's lives are altered, they never find out the reasons.
Lifting the lid on the closed world of our family courts
Aug 24 2009
In the wake of the horrific death of Baby P after failures in the care and social work system in Haringey and the subsequent trial of his killers, the Government announced that family courts were to be opened up to the press. Two years and two weeks after Baby Peter Connelly died ED SAUNT became the first journalist to attend a care hearing at Richmond Magistrates Court.
THIS is a story about a brother and sister being taken into care. It was almost a story about how – despite Baby P, despite the Government pledging to make family courts more transparent – it is still virtually impossible for the press to scrutinise a care hearing.
When I arrived at Richmond Magistrates Court – which deals with care orders from Richmond, Kingston and Hounslow councils – to be told by an usher that the media were barred from family court proceedings, it was clear open justice was still an unfamiliar concept.
After I explained the change in the law and she had made some phone calls, she apologised, said I could sit in the courts if the magistrates agreed and explained I was the first journalist to have visited Richmond's family court.
I told her the case I was interested in, which was a typically complicated one which involved a local authority applying for an interim care order for two teenagers whose mother is a drug user.
I was asked to wait in the holding area with the nervous mums and dads and difficult children and it was here that I first learned one of the main frustrations of the care system – delays. I waited and waited as around me tempers frayed and mothers sobbed.
“The communication here is unacceptable, we've been waiting ages,” one woman fretted. Another had brought a book – the title The Black Hole seemed apt somehow. This clearly was not her first time.
A sense of anguish and emotion pervaded the halls around the court in contrast to the bolshy arrogance that is part-and-parcel of the adjacent criminal courts.
Finally, after almost two hours waiting, the parties were summoned to court. I counted four lawyers in addition to four others who I guessed were social workers.
When I entered I was told the lawyers for the local authority, the mother, one of the children and the current guardian had ceased hostilities and come to an agreement. But not over the children – they had asked the magistrates to exclude me from proceedings.
After representations from one of the lawyers – accompanied by sneering from the others – and my arguments, the magistrates decided that opening the courts to the press was pointless if they then omitted journalists from individual cases and allowed me to stay.
The lawyers looked furious and later refused to give me their names but by now it was almost lunchtime and barely a mention had been made of the reason we were there – the children.
When things finally began to move forward the court heard the two teenagers had been living with a guardian but at this hearing the council involved – which cannot be named for legal reasons – was looking to move them into care in another county ahead of a permanent custody hearing next month.
We broke for discussions between the parties and an early lunch at 12.30pm with chair of the magistrates Mr Prior adamant that something should be agreed on our return at 1.45pm.
When they returned and asked for more time, Mr Prior was losing patience. “You have been asking for time since 10am,” he said. “It's now almost 2 o'clock and we are not making any progress.”
In the subsequent discussions, it became clear the children were likely to be separated, their mother – who struggles with learning difficulties – broke down. Inconsolable, she stormed out of the court and, after another recess and much crying, shouting and screaming, it was agreed that she should be taken home.
Her lawyer said: “Mother was understandably very upset. It came as a bit of a shock to her that the local authority is planning to move the children to separate placements.”
As further adjournment followed and I had a chance to probe the parties involved it became clear that the lack of scrutiny has allowed these courts to fall into a comfort zone that makes the prospect of another Baby P a frightening possibility.
The lawyers complained about their casework, the magistrates bemoaned the fact that different advocates represent each party at every hearing in a case and more than 10 people on the public payroll spent a full day deciding the destiny of two children for two weeks.
The majority of the discussion was done outside of court away from the magistrates – whose main job seemed to chivvy proceedings along and and look over documents drawn up in their absence. Very little was said in court and the merits of taking the children away were barely mentioned.
One would hope scrutiny of these proceedings that the new laws allow will help throw light on the problems faced but the impression this visitor was given was not one of a system eager to change but an operation frightened of its own reflection in the mirror.
At the outset I said this was a story about two children. So, what became of them? As suggested earlier, they have ended up miles from home and miles apart. Why? I'm afraid I can't tell you. No one in that court room was prepared to say it out loud.
Source: Hounslow Chronicle
August 23, 2009 permalink
On April 8, May 6 and June 10 Chris Carter distributed a WRFU newsletter by hand in Waterloo Ontario. Those newsletters were enclosed verbatim on this website. The Waterloo Children Aid Society, its workers, some judges and a psychiatrist were described by harsh words including: illegal, offensively manipulative, sadistic, perverted, repulsive, dirty, severe and perverted, fraudulent, dirty, criminal, maliciously, brutalization, rape and destruction, filthy, disgusting, aggressively fraudulent, arrogant, elitist, abusive, violent rape, perversions, offences, violations, fraudulence, malicious prosecution, violent child abuse, sick, slickest, brutalize, demoralize, torture, anger. Dufferin VOCA does not use this kind of language to describe social services, except in an occasional instance, such as Easter Grinch Donna Lennon where a few of them apply. Just in case that was not clear, we enclosed a disclaimer before the posting of the harshest of Mr Carter's newsletters. Criticism of the WRFU kind is harmless, since no one takes it seriously. Children's aid is attempting to use the WRFU newsletters as a pretext to shut down the real information and opinion on Dufferin VOCA.
Since five persons have objected to having their names associated with Mr Carter's language, we have anonymized the names in the letters. More significantly, the material on this site has been reorganized so that, once search engines complete their next crawl, the names of the workers will not appear in searches pointing to this site. That should remain the case unless the litigation becomes so notorious that news of it spreads across the internet.
New Zealand Votes No to Overprotection
August 21, 2009 permalink
Voters rarely get an opportunity to express an opinion on the junk-science policies of child protectors, but New Zealand voters just did. The New Zealand legislature criminalized parental spanking in 2007. Opponents organized a referendum and voters chose by a seven to one margin to decriminalize spanking. Pronouncements from the government suggest they intend to ignore the wishes of the voters.
The main effect of spanking bans is not on criminal prosecutions — the article below says New Zealand has had only one, and that was withdrawn. Instead, it gives social services a pretext to grab just about any child. If governments really want to protect children, they should leave parents alone and concentrate on spanking by non-parents, such as teachers. Owing to the Cinderella effect, they unleash unrestrained abuse when they discipline a child.
Smacking referendum: PM pledges new approach Doc
4:00AM Saturday Aug 22, 2009, By Simon Collins
Options for changing New Zealand's approach to smacking children will go to the Cabinet on Monday after New Zealanders voted by 88 per cent that a smack should not be a criminal offence.
The vote declared last night in the non-binding, citizens-initiated referendum on the question "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" was 88.1 per cent "No" and 11.9 per cent "Yes".
It was muffled by a low turnout of 54 per cent, including 0.3 per cent who spoiled their votes, so even the huge "no" vote fell just short of half of the enrolled electors.
Prime Minister John Key said in Australia - where he is on an official visit - that voters had said strongly that "they don't want good parents to be criminalised for a light smack".
His own view was that the law was "working as it is now".
But on Monday, he would take to the Cabinet "options which fall short of changing the law but will provide comfort for parents about this issue".
He would not say what they were.
Yes Vote spokeswoman Deborah Morris-Travers said her coalition had been talking to the Government about "non-legislative ways that we could clarify police practice and police guidelines".
The current law, passed in May 2007, was a compromise agreed by Mr Key and Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark which gave the police discretion not to prosecute cases of "inconsequential" force against children.
Police guidelines issued soon afterwards state that "while smacking may in some circumstances be considered inconsequential, a prosecution may be warranted if such actions are repetitive or frequent and other interventions or warnings to the offender have not stopped such actions".
Mr Key's repeated statements that a "light smack" should not be criminalised, which he has said consistently since before the 2007 law change, suggest ministers may give police advice that they can disregard even repetitive or frequent "light smacks".
Police say they have taken only one prosecution for "smacking" in the first 21 months since the law was changed, and it was withdrawn when the main witness declined to give evidence.
Twelve prosecutions were made for other "minor acts of physical discipline".
Ms Morris-Travers said it was "comforting" that the Government did not plan to change the law.
She said New Zealand was still the only English-speaking nation that had banned physical punishment for children and other countries were watching to see if the ban would be reversed.
"If we were to go backwards, I think it would be embarrassing for New Zealand."
But Kiwi Party leader Larry Baldock, who organised the petitions that forced the referendum, told about 40 jubilant supporters at Ellerslie last night that he would settle for nothing short of repealing the ban on parents using physical force for correction.
Family First director Bob McCoskrie said parents did not want "comfort".
"Parents don't want to be pampered, they don't want to be fluffed around. They want a law change," he said.
"He [Mr Key] needs to listen. He was elected with a 45 per cent mandate. He's got an 88 per cent mandate to change the law."
The law allows parents to use force to prevent harmful, criminal, offensive or disruptive behaviour and to perform "the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting".
But it says none of those provisions justifies the use of force for correction.
Four police reports have said the law change has had "minimal impact on police activity".
Children's Commissioner John Angus said he would advise the Government to keep the current law.
"I have looked at the police statistics, and fears that the new law would mean police would investigate lots of families and lots of parents would be prosecuted have proved unfounded," he said.
The 54 per cent turnout in the referendum compares with 79.5 per cent at last year's general election, 44 per cent in the 2007 local body elections and 80.3 per cent in the only previous postal referendum, on compulsory superannuation in 1997.
Source: New Zealand Herald
Man Convicted for Defending Son
August 20, 2009 permalink
When a bear kills another animal, or even a man, molesting her cubs, does she have a mental disorder? Most people understand that this is an instinctual defense of her own offspring.
An article today from Australia shows how this simple fact of life is not recognized for humans. A man was convicted of a crime for attacking a worker taking his son. Child protectors desperately need these laws, otherwise most of their workers would be killed. It just shows how child protection is incompatible with normal human life.
Man guilty of attack on FACS worker
August 20th, 2009
A MAN charged with attacking a child protection worker when she took his oldest son into care has been found guilty.
The man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - was charged with aggravated assault, and pleaded not guilty to a jury in the NT Supreme Court.
The jury found he grabbed Family and Children's Services child protection worker Jane Kennedy, ripping the buttons off her shirt, when she said she was taking his 13-year-old son into care overnight.
The man will be sentenced at a later date.
Source: Northern Territory News (Australia)
Mother Charged, Keeps Baby
August 20, 2009 permalink
An unnamed Ottawa mother who left her baby in her car while she ran into a store has been charged with a crime, but children's aid will not be taking her baby girl. This time children's aid applied some common sense. The criminal charges may keep mom in jail for some time, or take money from her finances. That is supposed to help her take better care of her child. In a similar case in Halifax, police took no action against a mother.
Child welfare officials won't seize Rockland baby left in car
By David Gonczol, The Ottawa Citizen, August 20, 2009
OTTAWA — The mother of a four month old girl left unattended in a sweltering car in Rockland on Monday will not have her daughter taken away from her by child welfare officials.
Prescott Russell Services To Children and Adults has completed its investigation and has concluded the child is not in danger if she remains with the mother.
Isabelle Marcil, communications co-ordinator for the child welfare agency, said a case worker assigned to investigate the incident has concluded that leaving the infant in a sweltering car was a "very isolated" incident for this mother.
The agency had never had any contact with the mother before this incident.
"While the investigation shows that it was a very bad judgment call from the mother, we just realized there is no fear at all for the baby's safety, so we are going to close the investigation," said Marcil.
The case worker visited the home of the mother and met with her and her family and concluded the child was in a safe environment.
"The case worker is still going to get involved with the mother and meet with her for a few weeks just to go over safety measures concerning children, but otherwise we feel very safe as to the child's safety," said Marcil.
"It was a very bad judgment call and she strongly realizes that now," said Marcil.
She said that in the course of the investigation the case worker wanted to know how the mother would react to other hypothetical situations involving her daughter and wanted to be reassured the mother has taken safety measures inside her own home for the safety of her infant daughter.
Marcil said the incident has served as a reminder for all parents to never leave children unattended under any circumstances.
"No matter how short the trip is or how quickly you are going to do an in and out or how safe you believe your child is in the car if you are just stepping a few feet away, you just absolutely never leave a child in a vehicle no matter what the temperature is. Its not only a question of weather, in this case it was, but in case of kidnapping its a really big no no that we try to advocate no matter what - even if the child is sleeping. Even if you think you can see them from the store always take them with you," said Marcil.
She said the investigation by Prescott Russell Services To Children and Adults is separate from the criminal investigation being conducted by Ontario Provincial Police. She said her organization was only concerned with the on-going safety of the child in the care of the mother.
Police on Wednesday had still not announced whether they would lay charges in the matter and were expected to discuss the investigation with a Crown attorney in L'Orignal.
At noon on Monday an employee left her work at the Jean Coutu, on Laurier Street, in Rockland, and discovered a crying infant in the back seat of a car that had all the windows rolled up. The temperature at the time with the humidex was over 40 degrees Celsius and the distressed child was red faced and drenched in sweat.
The woman removed the child through an unlocked door and was proceeding to take it into the air conditioned Jean Coutu store to provide the child with some relief from the heat. The woman was then confronted by the returning mother, a woman in her early twenties, who demanded that the employee, Annie Landreville, hand over the child.
Landreville gave the child to the mother and called police while the mother left the scene. The mother was tracked down by OPP on Monday night who have indicated that criminal charges might be laid in the matter.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Nova Scotia mom cleared in similar case
The Ottawa Citizen, August 20, 2009 11:01 AM
OTTAWA — A Nova Scotia mother was cleared of criminal wrongdoing Thursday in a case of baby abandonment striking similar to the one which resulted in charges against a Rockland area mother.
In the Nova Scotia case, the woman was accused of leaving a seven-week-old infant in the backseat of a pickup truck outside a shopping mall near Halifax, on Tuesday afternoon. A passerby called 911 after finding the baby alone and crying in the truck, according to CBC News.
Police estimate the child was left unattended for about 15 minutes. The baby was checked at a Halifax hospital and sent home.
The RCMP discussed the case with the provincial Child Provincial Services, but decided not to press charges.
The mother told police she had taken her older son for an emergency dental appointment and thought the baby was at home with her husband.
"The investigators deemed there was no criminal intent," RCMP Cpl. Joe Taplin told the CBC.
The decision came the same day that the Ontario Provincial Police charged a Rockland-area mother with charges of abandoning a child and failure to provide necessaries of life to a child after she left her three-month-old daughter in a car parked outside a Rockland Jean Coutu pharmacy. The temperature at the time was 32 C.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Six Nations Meeting with CAS Canceled
August 19, 2009 permalink
Six Nations clan mothers have recently mobilized over the CAS issue, urging families to get in touch with them at the newly established Haudenosaunee Child Services. A meeting arranged with Brantford children's aid this week was canceled by the Six Nations council.
Public meeting on children cancelled
Posted By SUSAN GAMBLE, Posted August 19, 2009
A controversial public meeting between the Children's Aid Society and the Six Nations community has been cancelled.
The meeting was set to take place Wednesday night and had been advertised in the local papers and with community posters.
It grew out of frustration on the part of the Six Nations clan mothers who complained they were hearing about native children being removed from the community rather than being placed with willing extended family members.
A spokesperson for the clan mothers said they were notified of the cancelled meeting at the end of last week.
But Andy Koster, executive director of the Brant Children's Aid Society, said he was also notified of the cancellation.
"It was a Six Nations decision," said Koster in an email message.
"I know that we are still planning to meet with Six Nations council to clarify some erroneous statements that have been made publicly and to talk about the services that our staff at Native Services Branch provide for the community."
Koster said his agency is open to hearing advice from the chief and council.
"We can all deal in a positive and constructive manner with concerns or questions that individuals and groups on Six Nations may have for us."
According to a message from Chief Coun. Bill Montour, the elected council cancelled the meeting last week because the council wants to "hear from both sides before holding a community meeting."
The clan mothers have recently mobilized over the CAS issue, urging families to get in touch with them at the newly established Haudenosaunee Child Services.
Source: Brantford Expositor
Travel for CANGRANDS
August 19, 2009 permalink
Grandmother and advocate Betty Cornelius has obtained a travel voucher good for a Via Rail round trip for four persons between Toronto and Montreal. She is auctioning it to raise money for CANGRANDS. As of today the high bid is $400. The winner will be announced on August 29.
Please share with your e pals and co workers! Present bid is $400.00.
VIA Rail donated CANGRANDS a Promotion Travel Certificate! This is good for one round trip from Toronto to Montreal for 4 passengers. This certificate has a 1104.00 value.
This open auction gives you the opportunity to bid on this Promotion Travel Certificate from now until Aug. 28, 2009. All proceeds from this auction will help promote CANGRANDS as well as assist kinship families to attend our annual CANGRANDS conference.
This VIA travel certificate auction information (is good anytime accept Easter Thursday to Easter Monday or Christmas Dec 15 to Jan 5 this certificate is good up to August 30, 2010.
Please send your bid to: firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your name and phone number. I will notify you if and when someone out bids you!
The winner will be notified on Aug. 29 when I get home from the 8th annual CANGRANDS conference.
CANGRANDS NATIONAL KINSHIP
RR# 1 Mc Arthurs Mills, Ontario, K0L2M0
Source: email from Betty Cornelius
Escape from Youthdale
August 19, 2009 permalink
The story told by a recently escaped inmate of Youthdale (pdf) makes it sound like Youth Gulag. Physical abuse is routine, and children are under surveillance 24/7. What little outside communication is allowed is closely monitored, children are kept computer illiterate to further block communication. Staff confiscate money and belongings and lock up children's shoes at night to thwart escapes. Children are force-fed mega-doses of drugs. The child reporting is the one victimized by Donna Lennon, the Easter Grinch, in earlier stories on May 15, and June 2, 2006.
Source: email from Canada Court Watch
Convoluted And Puzzling
August 18, 2009 permalink
That is how a judge described Alberta's children's services. Its structure allows officials to defy the law and the courts without anyone being held accountable.
'Bunker mentality' of Children's Services lambasted by lawyer
By Andrea Sands, Edmonton Journal, July 26, 2009
An Edmonton lawyer who represents hundreds of one-time foster children says a judge's scathing comments about Alberta Children's Services show the department is more focused on protecting itself than protecting children.
"I think that the judge has really seen how the government operates," said Robert P. Lee, who represents more than 400 former foster children in two class-action lawsuits against the province. "It's a bunker mentality (in Children's Services). It's, 'Do whatever you can to defend yourself and deny accountability.' "
Lee was reacting to a decision released Thursday by Justice Jean Cote of Alberta's Court of Appeal. In that decision, the senior judge said the department's organization is "extremely convoluted and puzzling" with an administrative structure that creates opportunities for officials to deny responsibility. Cote also invited the attorney general to investigate the "disturbing" conduct of Children's Services staff who failed to return a boy to his foster mother despite a court order to do so.
On June 23, Cote convicted director of child services Richard Ouellet of contempt for failing to ensure his staff obeyed the court order to return the boy.
Ouellet wanted the case reopened after his conviction, arguing that he was not directly involved with the file and the court order should have been delivered to those who were. However, Cote ruled that Ouellet was ultimately responsible for doing nothing while his staff ignored the order and tried to "wiggle out" of obeying it.
The judge also indicated that, next time, "those higher up" might have to answer for similar mistakes.
Lee said he hopes the recent decision will bolster his efforts to win compensation for former foster children, especially in a class-action lawsuit that was launched in 2002. In that case, Lee is arguing the government did not have the legal right to keep about 600 kids in care, but failed to return them to their parents.
"If you read the (Cote) decision, that judge is really mad at what they're doing and how negligent the whole system is...And so it's very similar to our case. I think it's almost identical. It's a situation where the government does not have lawful authority over the child," Lee said.
"In the recent case, they kept the child on the reserve rather than giving him back to the foster parents, and in the 600 kids' case -- in my class action--they kept custody of the kids in foster care rather than giving them back to the parents."
Muriel Stanley Venne, president of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, said she hopes the recent decision forces more accountability in the department. Stanley Venne, who works with women whose children have been taken into government care, said she sees the damage done to families when decisions are dragged out in the courts.
"These are children, and they don't stop growing," she said.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Dungeons for Kids
August 18, 2009 permalink
Here is a glimpse inside the jails for children in Britain. While kids suffer irreparable harm by spending their formative years in dungeons, politicians boast about new juvenile detention centres or pretend they are protective of children.
Young offenders are being held in 'dungeons', says child jail report
David Batty, The Guardian, Monday 17 August 2009
Young offenders are detained in "modern-day dungeons" where they suffer injuries from forced physical restraint, strip searches and are denied access to showers and toilets, a damning report on the state of child jails says today.
The report by the Howard League for Penal Reform, which examined the findings of inspections of 15 jails holding children, found "dire conditions" across the system. At the privately run Ashfield jail in Gloucestershire, near Bristol, which holds male youths aged 15-18, prison inspectors found that inmates were denied toilet breaks during journeys to and from the jail and some boys said they were forced to urinate in a plastic bag.
There was also an unacceptable use of strip searching, with inmates routinely stripped on arrival at the jail and every two months after that.
"Children being taken back and forth to court are not allowed a comfort break and must urinate in a plastic bag," Frances Crook, director of the Howard League, said of the jail, run by the company Serco.
"The court could be anywhere in England – Bristol, London, Manchester. It could be a four-hour or longer journey to London and the staff in the vans are not trained to deal with children. So they arrive at court or back at Ashfield in a very distressed state. And once they're back at Ashfield they're strip searched."
Serco did not respond to requests to comment on the report. The lack of toilet breaks on journeys to court was also identified in an earlier prison inspectorate report in 2006.
Jails condemned in the Howard League audit include Cookham Wood, in Borstal, Kent, where inspectors in February found more than a quarter (26%) of boys felt unsafe with many unwilling to leave their cells because they feared being bullied or getting into a fight. More than a third (35%) of inmates said they had been physically restrained.
At Castington prison in Northumberland, inspectors in January found that seven young people suffered broken wrists while being forcibly restrained and there were another three cases of suspected fractures. Less than half of the staff had been vetted by the Criminal Records Bureau to check they were safe to work with children, and showers could only be used twice a week.
At Wetherby prison in West Yorkshire, inspectors found boys were routinely strip searched, even when it was known they were victims of sexual abuse, less than a fifth of inmates could shower every day and some were locked in their cells for 21 hours a day.
At Werrington prison in Staffordshire, inspectors in 2008 found forcible strip searching was carried out with no evidence of authorisation by a governor and in two incidents where boys' clothes were forcibly cut off, staff failed to try to gain their compliance.
Crook said the report showed that extraordinary squalor and institutional brutality were endemic in young offender institutions.
She said: "There is a systemic problem," she said. "It's not a case of a bad apple in the barrel – all the apples are bad. Our legal teams talks to 40 or 50 children in young offender institutions across the country every month and the common complaints we hear are allegations of being raped by their cellmate, arms being broken during restraint by staff and being held in solitary confinement.
"We keep children smelly and dirty, idle and frightened, bored with education and cooped up in modern-day dungeons. And we expect them miraculously to pupate into responsible citizens.
"In reality, these young people leave prison more damaged and more dangerous than when they first went in. It is frankly shocking that we treat children in this way in the 21st century."
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "The National Offender Management Service takes full account of all inspections carried out by Her Majesty's Chief Inspectorate of Prisons and endeavours to address all recommendations made in their reports.
"Regimes provide education, training and healthcare and have arrangements in place to safeguard and promote the welfare of young people in its care, including strategies for child protection, suicide and self-harm prevention and violence reduction.
"Work is continuing on raising the quality of the services provided and developing new initiatives that will help further ensure positive outcomes for all the young people."
Source: Guardian (UK)
Culture of Suspicion
August 18, 2009 permalink
The London Sunday Times mentions some of the effects of a culture that treats every adult (especially men) as a potential child abuser. Most children have never played outside and adults fear to help children in distress. Parents cannot attend a sporting event to watch their children compete — there might be a child abuser among them. Any aggrieved child can turn an adult's life upside down with an accusation of abuse. The article omits the sad case of two-year-old Abby Rae, who died after a stranger feared to help her.
From The Sunday Times, August 16, 2009
We approach others’ children at our peril
There’s just one element of the stories of my childhood that fascinates my own children. It’s not the absence of mobile phones, or the idea of a world before the internet. It’s the fact that so many of my small crises ended in the same way: with my being rescued by the kind intervention of an unknown man. Whether I was a nine-year-old being kicked to the ground by a gang of girls in the park, a 14-year-old lost in the Welsh hills on a walking holiday or a 12-year-old who had taken a bad fall from a horse and couldn’t ride home, it was adult men who stepped in without hesitation to stop the fighting or give me a lift or bandage my grazed arms.
I might as well be telling my children about life with the Cherokee Indians. This isn’t a world they know, where children expect to explore by themselves and where passing men and women are the people you turn to when things go wrong. Their generation have been taught from the time they start school that all strangers may be dangerous and all men are threats. So children have become frightened of adults, and adults – terrified that any interaction of theirs might be misinterpreted – have become equally frightened of them.
When my offspring and their friends have been mugged on buses, or attacked on the street by teenagers, no one has helped. Every passing adult has looked the other way. The idea that it’s the responsibility of grown-ups to look out for one another’s young is disappearing fast. That isn’t making our children safer. It’s making their lives more fearful, more dangerous and more constrained.
Last week the charity Living Streets reported that half of all five to 10-year-olds have never played in their own streets. Almost nine in 10 of their grandparents had played out and so had many of their parents, but now children were kept inside, imprisoned by the twin fears of traffic and paedophiles. As the Play England organisation has found, parents keep them in because they believe that if they aren’t watching over their child, no other adult will do it for them. Older children, too, are affected. Two years ago research by the Children’s Society showed that 43% of parents thought children shouldn’t be allowed out on their own until they were 14.
What began 25 years or so ago as an understandable desire to raise awareness of child abuse is turning into something extremely destructive – an instinctive suspicion of any encounter between grown-ups and unrelated children. It has happened without any political debate or rational discussion. It’s starting to poison our society. And with every passing month it’s getting worse.
Last month in Bedfordshire, 270 children from four primary schools had their annual sports day without the normal audience of proud parents watching them compete. All adults except teachers were banned. The reason? The organisers could not guarantee that an unsupervised adult might not molest a child. They preferred the certainty of ruining the pleasure of hundreds, and the instilling of general paranoia, to the phenomenally slight possibility of a sexual attack.
This is part of an insidious new orthodoxy that’s taking hold: that only authorised adults have any business engaging with children. It is no longer just about sexual abuse. In Twickenham last month the mother of a five– year-old who was being bullied decided to talk to the offender. She knelt by his chair and asked him politely to stop. The next day she was banned from the classroom for doing something that would have been regarded as rational and responsible behaviour at any other time in the past century.
Much worse was to happen a few days later to Anisa Borsberry, from Tyne and Wear, whose 11-year-old was being bullied by agroup of girls. She, too, asked the bullies to stop. In retaliation, and knowing what a powerful weapon this was to use against an adult, the girls claimed Borsberry had assaulted them. Within hours they admitted lying. Nevertheless, the accusation of assault against a child is regarded as so serious that Borsberry was handcuffed in her home and held in police cells for five hours before hearing that no further action was being taken.
Or there is the case of Carol Hill, the Essex dinner lady threatened with dismissal for telling a mother she was sorry her daughter had been tied up and whipped in the playground. Normal, empathetic human behaviour, you might think. That wasn’t the school’s reaction. Hill was suspended for breaching “pupil confidentiality”.
In every one of these cases a woman has been punished for daring to do what adults have always done in every society: uphold norms of behaviour by talking about them. But it has blown up in their faces because new unwritten rules about engaging with children are apparently being invented every day. The extent of society’s neurosis means the consequences of approaching children are becoming alarmingly unpredictable.
That’s as true for professionals as for anyone else. Traditionally, teachers have been thought of as potential mentors for children or confidants for those in distress. Increasingly they are being warned away from that role and told to keep their distance by schools. Nowhere is that made clearer than in a draft advice guide for teachers issued this spring by the Purcell school for young musicians.
The guide begins by telling staff: “Some adolescents experience periods of profound emotional disturbance and turmoil when they may be unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. They may even be temporarily insane. They can thus present a danger to even the most careful of teachers.” This is child as wild animal; one that may bite at any moment. Teachers are told not to talk to pupils after coaching sessions, but to “usher them out of the room in a brisk nononsense manner”. They are told never to text pupils from their private mobiles, but to buy a second one for school use. This “should only be used for arranging appointments; chit chat should be avoided”. Nor can a teacher ever be alone with a pupil in a car, except in case of medical emergency, when the child must be seated in the back, a written record made of time, date and place and a telephone call made to the pupil’s parents to justify it.
The guide concludes that these procedures must become second nature, as any child may accuse a teacher and “your accuser could be of unsound mind”. It finishes with this chilling sentence: “It is helpful to think of current pupils as clients, rather than friends, as a doctor does.”
That these norms are taking hold is a sign of a sick society. What we are creating here is mass mutual distrust. First, children were warned about adults; now adults are being warned about children. It is bad for all of us; bad for our humanity, our happiness and our sense of belonging to anything but a narrow, trusted group. It is also disastrous for any hope of improving social mobility or social cohesion. The effects of this coldness and detachment will be worst for those who need adult guidance and contact most: those children who are growing up without strong social networks around them.
The Labour government appears to understand none of these dangers. Obsessed with physical safety, it is bringing in a screening authority this autumn, one that will cover perhaps one in four adults. It won’t acknowledge the psychological and social disaster that’s unfolding now, nor the pointlessness of much of the exercise. Most abuse is, after all, carried out in the home, and determined abusers will always evade the rules. David Cameron has made some of the right noises by saying children’s behaviour should be a matter for all adults. It will take extraordinary determination to dismantle the walls of suspicion that we have begun to build.
Source: The Times (UK)
Statement of Claim
August 18, 2009 permalink
Peter Ringrose thinks the damage done to him and four associates by the WRFU newsletters is $500,000. Here is a copy of his statement of claim, incomplete because a page is missing.
To make it easier to understand the suit, here is a list of all postings this year on the subject of Waterloo Children's Aid.
Girl Has Dad Arrested
August 16, 2009 permalink
A Florida man piqued with his daughter threw a slice of pizza at her. He was arrested as a felon. There won't be any more parental respect in this family. The expand link comes with a music video (flv). Send it to a media player or cancel.
Police: Man assaulted daughter with a slice of pizza after racial tirade
The man allegedly threw pizza at the back of the girl's head after a shouting match.
Staff report, Published: Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 6:01 a.m., Last Modified: Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 11:42 p.m.
Sometimes throwing pizza is a crime.
That was the allegation that resulted in the arrest of a 38-year-old Gainesville man early Friday morning. The man, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim, is charged with child abuse without great harm, a felony.
Sometime after 10 p.m. Thursday the man told his daughter to turn the music off on the computer. According to an Alachua County Sheriff's Office report, he said something like: "Get off the computer you [racial slur]-loving [sexist insult]."
The girl, whose age was not immediately available, refused and fired back with some crude language of her own.
"The defendant then intentionally threw a slice of pizza at the victim, striking her in the back of the neck, against her will," according to the report by Deputy Nick Vickers.
The girl called 911 and her father was arrested.
Source: Gainesville Sun
Island Pond Anniversary
August 16, 2009 permalink
Twenty five years ago anti-cult activists in collusion with state authorities hatched a plan to break up a religious group living in Island Pond Vermont. They obtained a warrant and removed 112 children, all bused to a courthouse in Newport. The effort ended the same day when a judge decided there was no evidence of abuse.
Twenty four years later, the raid on the FLDS ranch in Eldorado Texas dragged on for two months before the children were returned. In 1984 there were still judges who grew up before political correctness, and the children went into the courtroom. In today's family courts, the children are never present, judges schooled in women's studies just look at papers.
The National Examiner has assembled a narrative, YouTube videos and the judge's opinion. The video, shot twenty years after the event, includes the recollections of the then children. Thanks to a reader for pointing out this story.
Land of the Midnight Sunbath
August 16, 2009 permalink
While social services chants "best interest of the child", children sleep cuddled up next to the garbage.
Nunatsiaq Online, NEWS: Iqaluit August 11, 2009 - 4:52 pm
Two young boys found sleeping on the streets
“Of course we are going to intervene”
Iqaluit RCMP say the city resident who spotted two young boys asleep outside the Northmart early in the morning last July — and took their picture — did the right thing in notifying police.
“Of course you should call the police. And of course we are going to intervene,” Staff. Sgt. Leigh Tomfohr told Nunatsiaq News.
He added that police were unable to act immediately on this particular call, which came in from Amanda Eegeesiak at 7:00 a.m. on July 26, because they were in the middle of dealing with another incident.
But he said they did respond as soon as possible.
Eegeesiak took a picture of the little boys sleeping on the ground, and sent it in to Nunatsiaq News, along with her concerns.
“What is Iqaluit coming to?” her mother, Evie Eegeesiak, asked in an email to the newspaper. “Why are there little boys and girls sleeping on the streets of Iqaluit? Who do you call if the RCMP won’t come and help?”
The temperature that night in Iqaluit ranged from about 16 to 19 degrees Celsius, Environment Canada records show.
Tomfohr noted that when police did arrive at the scene, one of the boys had already departed.
The officers were familiar with the other boy because they had dealt with him on several occasions. He cannot be identified because of his age. Tomfohr said he is under 10.
They woke him up and took him home. They also notified social services of the incident, which Tomfohr said is the normal protocol when there’s no immediate sign of criminal activity.
“We have dealt with him on a steady basis. This young lad basically doesn’t want to be at home and there is not much his mother can do about it,” he said.
Social Services is conducting a follow-up investigation, he explained, which is also standard procedure. Should they find any evidence suggesting abuse or neglect, they will bring it back to the police and the two organizations will conduct a joint investigation.
Tomfohr said that any person in Iqaluit who knows of a child in danger, or being neglected or abused, should either phone the police, if it’s an emergency, or social services.
The emergency line for the police is 979-1111.
Social services can be reached during office hours at 975-7250 or after hours through the fire-department’s dispatch line at 979-5650.
Source: Nunatsiaq News
August 15, 2009 permalink
When Angela Wileman's husband had a drinking problem, she made the mistake of asking social services for help. They made the vague charge of "emotional abuse" and put son Lucas on track for adoption. Angela fled the UK with Lucas and spent years on the run. Since she is finally free of legal restrictions, the press can tell the whole story with names. Angela's experiences resemble less fortunate women who return to their husbands after finding shelters even more abusive.
This mother went on the run across Europe after social workers tried to snatch her son. Her crime? Letting him see her husband shout at her...
By Sue Reid, Last updated at 1:04 AM on 15th August 2009
Angela Wileman never thought this day would come. She wraps her arms around her seven-year-old son Lucas, as if she cannot let go. 'I have fought to keep him and I have won. At last we can stop running away,' she says with relief in her voice.
Sitting in the garden of her home, with toys strewn on the lawn, this English mother is still stunned that earlier this week she eventually triumphed against social workers planning to seize her son and hand him to new adoptive parents.
For two years she has played a cat-and-mouse game as the British authorities spent thousands of pounds chasing her around Europe, decrying her as a bad mother and threatening to put her in prison. An MP is now demanding an investigation into the waste of taxpayers' money by Devon social services.
Terrified of losing Lucas, Angela fled first to Spain and then Sweden. She now lives in County Wexford, Southern Ireland. The authorities in each of the countries deemed her a perfectly good mother to her son and let her keep him.
But it had been a very different story back in Britain, where Angela, 33, fell foul of a disturbing new tactic by social workers.
In the past ten years there has been a 50 per cent rise in the number of parents who, just like her, have been accused of 'emotionally harming' their children. A quarter of forced adoptions happen after social workers allege that the child has been the victim of emotional abuse - far more than instances of sexual abuse or cruelty.
Last year, 6,700 'emotionally harmed' children were placed on the protection register. There were 2,600 registrations for sexual abuse and 5,100 for physical abuse.
Parents who social workers say might shout at, or even loudly reprimand, their children in the future have been branded as potential emotional abusers and had their toddlers or newborn babies removed from them.
'Emotional harm' is the latest buzz phrase in the social workers' lexicon - one that can condemn almost any family. Yet it has no strict definition under British law.
Yesterday, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Angela spoke for the first time about her historic battle with British social services.
Her ordeal began when she approached them to seek help for her alcoholic husband. Events took an extraordinary turn when she was accused of emotionally harming Lucas by allowing him to witness her husband's violent behaviour towards her.
She has always denied such a thing. Lucas himself said to social workers that he had never seen his mother hurt by his father.
But suddenly Angela, a middle-class estate agent whose father is a successful businessman, found herself fighting to keep Lucas, who was handed to foster parents and prepared for adoption.
A church-going Roman Catholic with a university degree, Angela came within a whisker of losing her son. Only a decision earlier this year by the High Court in Dublin to throw out an abduction case brought by Devon social workers has kept her family together.
As a result, Devon County Council this week finally withdrew its care order on Lucas and therefore Angela is free to tell her heartbreaking tale for the first time.
So, what was Angela Wileman's so-called crime? The answer is that she fell in love with the wrong man. She married Matthew, the owner of a decorating company in her home town in Leicestershire. It was a happy match for the first two years - until he began to drink.
'If he was stressed, he would hit the bottle, shout and then occasionally hit me,' Angela recalls. 'We had everything a family would need or want. We both had good jobs. I drove a new BMW. I bought designer clothes for myself and the children.'
But, in 2003, when Lucas was one, Matthew slapped her. Fatally, she contacted social services to report his domestic violence and ask for help to stop him drinking. They began to monitor the family.
In 2004, Matthew was given a two-year probation order because of his behaviour and sent on a course to help stop his domestic violence. He moved out of the family home. Yet social workers refused to believe that Angela was not still with him or that Lucas had not seen his late-night tirades.
Angela refutes this: 'Lucas has no concept of his father's behaviour. He was two when he last lived under the same roof as Matthew. How could he remember anything?'
Social workers warned that if Matthew returned home Lucas would have to go. So in 2006, Angela decided to move hundreds of miles from the Midlands to a small village in Devon, near where her accountant mother lived.
She got a good job at the local estate agents and rented a house. But in October that year, Matthew decided to follow his now estranged wife and set up home in a town 20 miles away.
Consequently, Devon social workers said Lucas must be removed from Angela 'just in case' his father turned up. 'When I heard that Matthew was in Devon, I contacted the police and the social services myself,' she recalls now. 'I said he was not visiting us and that Lucas was completely safe with me.'
Nevertheless, social workers obtained a court order to take Lucas into care.
'They arrived at his nursery school on a Friday afternoon and took him away to a foster family. The nursery staff argued that I was a good mother. Lucas was crying for me as the social workers dragged him into their car.'
The little boy would ring Angela and beg to be taken home. He was sent to three foster homes and three different schools in a matter of months. Disoriented and deeply unhappy, he could not understand why he was not allowed to live with his mother.
It was then that Angela made a fatal mistake on the advice of the 'guardian ad litem' (an independent social worker appointed in adoption proceedings to look after the interests of the child).
'She said that I should make a home with Matthew for the sake of Lucas. She thought that the courts would return Lucas if he lived with his mother and father, and social workers monitored what was going on.
'I was desperate to get my son back. Matthew went to the doctor to seek help about his drinking and they put him on anti-abuse medication.
'In the end, I agreed to try to rebuild our relationship. We had separate homes at first. But then Matthew lost his job and I said he could move in with me just before Christmas in 2006. I was trying to mend my marriage, so, of course, I slept with him. I wanted to get my son back,' she says simply.
Angela duly became pregnant by Matthew in early 2007. Soon afterwards, she realised the guardian's plan was useless.
'Eleven different judges had heard our case by then. I was seeing Lucas less and less. The social workers were deliberately chipping away at the amount of time I was allowed to be with him. They said, and put in writing, that they were getting him ready for adoption.
'He would cry for me. On his fifth birthday I was not allowed to visit him.'
A video clip (recorded on Angela's mobile phone) of one of her few meetings with her son at a council 'family centre' shows Lucas screaming 'No, no, no' and then throwing himself to the floor as a social worker tries to lift him up, before the front door is slammed in his mother's face as she tries to say goodbye.
'He was wetting the bed. At school he said was going to run away "back to Mum". They put a lead on him to stop him escaping at playtime.'
As she explains: 'I was horrified at the thought of losing Lucas. It got worse when I told the social services I was pregnant and they immediately threatened they would take the new baby when he was born.'
Angela began to plan her secret escape abroad - not even telling her mother. She made her move one day in June 2007, while Lucas was on a day out with relatives.
She bundled him into her car and caught a ferry from Portsmouth to France. From there, she drove to Malaga in southern Spain and set up house secretly on the Costa del Sol.
There, Angela began a new life. She rented a five-bedroom house with a pool. She hired a nanny so she could get a job renting out holiday villas. Lucas went to a local school and she began divorce proceedings in Spain against her husband back in England.
It was at this point that she gave birth to Marco.
'After one day in hospital, I went home, because Lucas had developed a dreadful fear of me being away for more than a few hours after his time with the fosterers.'
When her estranged husband found out where Angela was living - she suspects through the divorce papers or via a friend - he went to see her new son.
Angela alerted the local police and took out an injunction in the Spanish courts to stop him visiting the family.
In time, life got better. As she explains: 'Lucas had friends. He learned to swim, to go skateboarding, to ride a bike. He was settling down at last and was happy.'
But then, one day in August last year she got a call from the Spanish police. They had been sent documents by the international police force, Interpol, from Devon social services and the powerful International Child Abduction and Contact Unit in Chancery Lane, London.
The unit is empowered to send teams of social workers across the world to find children taken out of the UK jurisdiction. Most of these incidents involve children in custody wrangles, where one parent has snatched a child and gone abroad. But others involve cases where a parent has run away with a child to avoid them being forcibly adopted by British social services.
The abduction unit had traced Angela after she registered Lucas at a Spanish school and with a doctor.
The papers accused her of kidnapping Lucas and said that he should be sent back to England and into care. If she didn't comply, Devon social workers theatened to travel to Spain to seize him. Angela was warned that if she ever returned to Britain she would be arrested by police for child abduction.
She was also told to attend court the following Monday so the 'rights of custody and return of the child' could be enforced under European law.
Angela recalls: 'I went straight down to the police station. The officers apologised because, of course, the Spanish authorities had no concerns about me caring for my own son. Lucas could hear my conversation with the officers. He cried because he was frightened of being taken again.
'That night, back at our house, he had a nightmare. He was so scared. Why would anyone want to put a child through that when I am a strong, independent and loving mother and we were a happy single-parent family?'
Angela felt her only choice was to plan a second secret escape.
The next day she gave most of their possessions to friends and set off with five suitcases of the boys' clothes and toys. In the evening she crossed the border to France, before taking a flight to Sweden.
Once there, she sent a handwritten statement to the Spanish and English authorities stating: 'It makes no sense to fly my son with people he fears back into care with strangers. I still do not understand how my thriving son can be taken from me on the assumption that he might suffer emotional harm in the future. Dragging him into care caused him to suffer more emotional harm than anything he ever suffered at home.'
But soon Angela was penniless. She could not speak Swedish, so could not find work. And when she applied for a passport for baby Marco at the British Embassy in Stockholm the Devon social workers were soon on her trail again.
Realising that she would have to move quickly, she decided to try Ireland. So just before Christmas last year she moved on, again secretly.
Although she contacted the Irish authorities to claim child benefit, they never threatened to take Lucas or Marco away. 'In fact, they have done everything to keep us together,' she says.
But the British abduction unit and social services tracked her yet again because of the benefits claim.
Devon social services says it has a 'duty of care' to all children in the county and refuses to comment in detail on Angela's case. But John Hemming, a Lib Dem MP who advises such families, says he knows of 15 mothers now on the run.
Calling for the investigation into Devon's behaviour, which he estimates cost £100,000, the MP said: 'How can anyone in their right mind think that seizing a child for adoption from a decent mother is a good thing for the child? This is happening every week in Britain on the basis of accusations that parents are "emotionally harming" their children.
'So much money and time is squandered on badgering them that social workers don't have the resources left to find the real abusers of children such as Baby Peter.'
The Mail has spoken to Matthew, who has now stopped drinking. He confirmed that he'd had problems because of his alcohol-induced violent behaviour towards Angela, but said this was all in the past.
One of the reports on Angela Wileman by Devon social workers states: 'There is nothing to suggest that this mother is anything other than capable of meeting her son's physical needs. All concerns have been based on the volatile and sometimes violent relationship towards her by her husband.'
It is a testimony to Angela. Today, as she faces the future with hope she still looks back with anger. 'Why would anyone want to rip a small boy away from his mother and give him to strangers?'
As Lucas bounds out of his mother's arms, he says simply: 'I want to stay with my mummy because I love her.'
Now, at last, he has got his wish.
Source: Daily Mail
August 14, 2009 permalink
Peterborough Ontario home day-care provider Erin Everett cared for a baby whose parents both worked for children's aid. When the baby developed a brain hemorrhage they blamed Mrs Everett. The get 'em mentality among CAS workers is strong enough to override the findings of the Goudge Inquiry and American law and worldwide science repudiating shaken baby syndrome. The prosecutor is pursuing a case that in the end may just be another claim on Ontario taxpayers to compensate Everett for a frivolous prosecution.
Home day-care provider shook baby
JUSTICE: Woman pleads guilty to aggravated assault after one-year-old shaken with enough force to cause brain hemorrhaging
Posted By GALEN EAGLE , EXAMINER COURT WRITER, Posted August 13, 2009
A local couple's nightmare played out in court yesterday as a day-care provider admitted to shaking and seriously injuring their one-year-old daughter.
Erin Everett, 30, pleaded guilty in Ontario Court of Justice to aggravated assault.
The busy courtroom became silent as Crown attorney Kelly Eberhard began her narrative.
She introduced the victim's parents as a couple who married in 2004 but struggled for years to have children. Against the odds, the couple conceived and gave birth to a healthy baby girl in April 2007, court heard.
In February 2008 the working couple began searching for a day-care service, settling on the private operation Everett ran from her home.
Everett, who was pregnant at the time, had operated the daycare for about one year, court heard.
In addition to her two children -- ages two and four -- Everett looked after three other toddlers including the victim.
"She generally had care of children while watching her own," Eberhard said.
On March 28, 2008 Everett learned her husband was poised to go on strike, which would strain the family's finances, Eberhard said.
"Ms. Everett was having a very stressful morning," Eberhard said.
Her stress was compounded when her own children began acting up and the one-year-old victim began to cry, court heard.
"The accused snapped," Eberhard said. "She put (the baby) in the air and began to shake her with force."
After shaking the baby, Everett walked upstairs, placed her in a playpen and left her alone.
"She couldn't bring herself to check the victim," Eberhard said.
Hours past before Everett checked the baby, at which time she appeared fine, Eberhard said.
The next day, the victim's mother noticed a change in her daughter's behaviour.
"Her daughter seemed a little bit off," Eberhard said. "The child seemed lethargic and lazy."
The victim was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a cold, but her symptoms worsened the following day.
She was rushed to Peterborough Regional Health Centre where a CT scan showed brain hemorrhaging.
"It showed she had been bleeding from the back right side of the brain," Eberhard said.
The baby was flown to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, where further testing revealed severe retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes, and neck fractures.
The injuries were characteristic of baby-shaking syndrome, Eberhard said.
Police began investigating and questioned both parents, who both work for the Children's Aid Society, court heard.
Everett denied shaking the baby when officers questioned her April 6, 2008 and offered to take a polygraph test.
"Ms. Everett specifically stated that she did not think she could have injured the child," Eberhard said.
Three days later Everett's husband informed police his wife had confessed.
Late that evening she waived her right to be silent and told police she shook the child.
"She told police she had snapped," Eberhard said. "She admitted to putting her in the play room and not checking on her."
Everett cried while Eberhard read the statement of facts yesterday.
Mr. Justice Rhys Morgan asked her if she agreed with the allegations.
"You agree that you did shake (the baby)?" Morgan asked.
"Yes," she replied.
Her lawyer, James Hauraney, asked for a pre-sentence report and Morgan adjourned sentencing to Oct. 1.
Outside the courtroom, the victim's parents hugged each other.
The couple said their child has recovered from her injuries, but doctors do not know if there will be any long-term effects.
"She's doing really well," the girl's mother said. "She's our little miracle."
Source: Peterborough Examiner
Good Dad, Sloppy Grandma
August 14, 2009 permalink
Surrey British Columbia police have seized an eight-month-old baby from a home they called disgusting. But in a video interview by the Surrey Leader a neighbor says the baby was well cared for, and did not even live in the home. The father left the baby with his mother for an hour while running errands. How many homes have a storage shed that looks like the one in the enclosed story?
Baby seized from 'dirty and dangerous' B.C. home
By David Karp, Vancouver SunAugust 11, 2009
SURREY, B.C. — An eight-month-old baby boy was seized from a "disgusting" home in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey last week after he was found among drug paraphernalia, cigarette butts and sharp objects, RCMP said Tuesday.
RCMP officers visited the home Friday to investigate a report of stolen property.
Inside, they found a baby crawling among paint balls and numerous tools.
The baby's parents were out when police arrived, and the two adults in charge of watching the baby were smoking and "showed no care" for the boy, RCMP said in a news release.
"They were just people that were staying in the residence and watching over things while the parents weren't there, but not really interested in taking care of the child," said RCMP Cpl. Holly Marks.
The officers said the house was "disgusting" and had no electricity.
Officials from the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development were called and seized the baby boy.
On Tuesday afternoon, a man who answered the door to the home confirmed the ministry had taken his nephew.
He said he was stressed and "trying to get my happiness back."
The man later left the home to yell obscenities and threats at members of the media who were photographing and filming the property.
The yard of the home was littered with garbage, including a tent, a washing machine, a condom, a coffee cup lid, a large sign on the ground advertising a garage sale, and three toilets.
A friend who was visiting the house Tuesday afternoon said the baby has good parents who are trying their best.
The man said that despite the mess in the yard, the house is clean on the inside.
He noted some residents of the house smoke marijuana, but they do it outside and not around the baby.
The property developer said there are currently six or seven people living at the residence.
"They are not paying a single penny. We've sent them a legal letter to clear the property," said Rana Khaliq.
The residents hold a garage sale every weekend to sell the items around the yard, he said.
August 13, 2009 permalink
William N Grigg, who blogs regularly on the erosion of civil rights in the United States, had his own encounter with the child protection monster. He followed the best advice available: at the first sign of danger, get your children to another jurisdiction. Sadly, most families are not as well prepared as the Griggs, and even after advised to do so, few families remove their own children until it is too late.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
"Grab some clothes and get into the van, now."
For an instant, that directive, and the tone in which it was issued, had the opposite of its intended effect: Korrin and our five older children, momentarily paralyzed by shock, looked at me in alarm. There was something in both the tone of my voice, and the expression on my face, that was new and a little frightening. None of them had seen my "game face" before. They were seeing it now.
Just seconds earlier, Korrin and I had been confronted on our doorstep by two very nice, well-dressed women who informed us that an anonymous "child endangerment" complaint had been filed with the Child Protective Services.
One of the visitors was a social worker we've known for several years, and consider a friend. The other was a stranger who introduced herself as a CPS investigator. She intended to inspect our home and speak with our children.
After being summoned to the doorstep, I had ushered our children into our house and closed the door behind me. Short of being removed by force, there was no way I was going to permit a CPS investigator to have access to our home as long as our children were vulnerable to government abduction.
"You seem like a conscientious and well-intentioned person," I quietly told the investigator, "but this is an adversarial situation, and I can't allow you to have access to my home in the absence of a warrant, and until I've consulted with legal counsel."
Although this clearly wasn't the response she had expected or desired, the investigator retained her professional composure.
"Well, that is your right," she replied. "I must advise you that I will consult with law enforcement and return later today."
"I understand," I said, shooting a quick glance at the slender silver digital recorder the investigator wasn't successfully concealing in her left hand. "I also want the record to reflect the fact that I didn't consent for our conversation to be recorded."
The investigator nodded in assent, her brows pulling together ever-so-slightly as if in puzzlement. She and her associate returned to their car and drove away. As they turned the corner I turned to Korrin and our children and ordered -- yes, it was an order, not a request -- them to get in the van.
"Don't bother packing," I told them in syllables drawn taut with urgency. "Just grab a couple of things and get in the van." The kids, suddenly understanding that we were at Def-Con One, quietly and quickly did as they were told.
Minutes later we were headed out of Payette County, beyond the jurisdiction of the local police and Sheriff, en route to a pre-designated safe house.
Yes, we had -- as Foghorn Leghorn might put it -- made plans to deal with just such an emergency.
Earlier this year, I met with a handful of close and trusted friends to discuss various crisis scenarios -- from the systemic breakdown of the commercial food distribution network to the possibility that one of us might find his family targeted by the CPS. Those meetings were the idea of a good friend who is a very well-informed and astute survivalist. Relatively little was accomplished at those meetings, but as recent events testify, what little was done proved to be indispensable.
One of the participants at those gatherings (we chose a local club whose owner is defying an asinine local smoking ban; we refractory individualists need to support each other) very generously offered his home as a temporary refuge for my children in the event that the CPS came after my family. From there, working through communications cut-outs, we could make arrangements for Korrin and our children to stay in the homes of other reliable people who share our convictions.
When the balloon went up, we knew what to do. I spirited our family to my friend's house, casting frequent glances in the rear-view mirror.
"This reminds me of that movie `Not Without My Daughter,'" commented my genius son William Wallace, our family's resident cineaste. There was no undertone of eagerness or excitement in his voice; William was scared. So was Isaiah, who quietly explained that in cases of this kind children are often taken from their parents.
That was a hard thing to say, but it needed to be said. Not surprisingly, this terrified our girls, six-year-old Katrina and four-year-old Sophia. Although he has the reflexive aversion to girls of any kind that typifies an eight-year-old boy, Jefferson wrapped his arms around Katrina and comforted her as she cried.
Once we crossed the county border, I relaxed a little bit and gave some instructions to Korrin and the kids. I told Korrin that it was important not to call our home, since caller ID would reveal the location of the safe house. I would contact them through an intermediary, and if she needed anything she was to call that person. I told the kids that they would be safe with our friends until I came to get them, but that if people from the government arrived they were to be courteously uncooperative.
The plan was for me to return to our house, tidy it up, and deal with the CPS and the police. This might mean I could face obstruction charges if they insisted on seeing Korrin and the children, I explained, so there was a possibility I would be in jail by day's end. They had to be prepared for that possibility, because I would not give the CPS an opportunity to seize our children.
Once at the safe house I called a friend who agreed to be my cut-out. Then we gathered for prayer and I went back home by a different route.
Please, Dear Lord, I prayed silently as I neared our house, don't let it be a crime scene already. To my relief, nobody was there.
About forty minutes later, following a minimal investment of effort, the house was tidied up. We're messy, but not unclean; no parent would be surprised to see the clutter we deal with, given that we have six small children, and no honest person would consider our unremarkable untidiness to be a threat to our children's health or well-being. But I'm well aware of CPS enforcement actions that have resulted in charges being filed against parents whose homes aren't as antiseptic as a NASA white room.
Roughly a half-hour later, while speaking on the phone to my mother, I saw a city police car drive slowly by our house, turn around, and park in front of our walkway. From it emerged a young man, clean-cut and squared away, who strode up to our front door.
Well, here we go, I thought. I was wrong -- and the day took an even stranger turn.
"Who owns the vacant lot?" the young police officer politely inquired.
"Do you mean the lot next to our house?" I asked.
"No, the one behind it," he persisted.
"That's not a `lot,' it's our back yard," I pointed out, gesturing for him to come with me to look through a nearby gate.
"Who owns this property?" asked the officer. I explained that we were renters, not owners.
"Well, there are some weeds in the backyard that apparently need to be taken care of," the officer began, his tone suggesting that he had expected to see a much bigger problem than the one confronting him. Sure, there is a row of weeds along the rear fence line of our yard (which occupies a significant fraction of an acre), but it wasn't the Amazonian jungle he had anticipated.
"I suppose the weeds along the fence line need to be cut down," the officer observed, "but that's really the responsibility of the property owner." I assured him that I intended to attend to the weeds, whether or not that was my legal "responsibility," simply in the interest of living in a presentable home. The officer took down my publicly available contact information, gave me a polite nod, and departed, leaving me to contemplate an unsettling question:
Why would a police officer visit me with a complaint about overgrown weeds that are not visible from any of the streets that run by our house? He couldn't have seen them from the street. Clearly, he was responding to a complaint from someone who had recently been in our backyard.
That fact may prove to be the critical clue in identifying the person who also hot-lined our family to CPS to report that our children were "endangered" by the untidiness of our living space.
Less than a half hour after the first police visit ended, an unmarked police car arrived and decanted the CPS investigator and the largest officer on the roster of the Payette City Police force -- a genial man-mountain with a tonsured head, Van Dyke beard, and a ready smile. Seeing him, I simply had to chuckle: Yes, of course they'd send him.
The plainclothes officer identified himself. I replied that I had met him a couple of years earlier when he, along with practically the entire population of Payette, helped us find then-five-year-old Jefferson when he went missing. (Jefferson was found sleeping peacefully in his fortress of solitude, a secret space he created behind the headboard of a hide-a-bed.)
"I told her" -- the officer began, gesturing to the CPS investigator -- "that I've been in your home, and it seemed perfectly OK to me. But we have to clear up this complaint."
Since Korrin and the kids were safe, I had no objection. I invited them in an busied myself paying bills.
"Are Korrin and the children not here?" asked the CPS investigator. I told her, quite truthfully, that they had been invited to spend the afternoon at a friend's house.
About two minutes later the CPS worker and policeman were done. They explained as they left that the matter was closed but that I should contact Health and Welfare in the event that we "need any services."
"When we spoke this morning, you were very respectful," the CPS worker commented. "You did hold out for your rights, which is appropriate, but you treated me well, and I appreciated that." I smiled and said something to the effect that I try to treat people well.
This episode turned out much better than it could have.
What if I hadn't been working at home, and Korrin -- who suffers from a chronic condition that leaves her exhausted and bed-ridden most of the time -- hadn't been able to stave off the CPS before the house had been tidied up?
What if the CPS investigator had seen something -- anything -- "aberrant" in the behavior or appearance of our children, and decided that prudence required a more detailed examination?
What if we had been dealing with the kind of CPS investigator hard-wired to find evidence of abuse or neglect? Granted, we were blessed on this occasion to deal with someone who was sincere, polite, reasonable, and professional. That generally isn't the case in situations of this kind.
What if some combination of circumstances had resulted in a judicial order to appear at a "show cause" hearing, a procedure that almost always leads to some kind of catastrophic government intervention?
Once again, none of those things -- or dozens of others, many of them worse -- happened. This time. To us. But all of those terrible things have happened to families just like ours, because someone, for reasons only that person will know, filed an anonymous complaint with the child "protection" bureaucracy.
It's been said that one can't be a credible sportswriter unless he's actually played the games he covers, or a music critic without knowing how to play an instrument or carry a tune.
After more than two decades of writing about the disruption, or outright destruction, of families by the child welfare bureaucracy, I can finally consider myself qualified, albeit in a limited sense, to pronounce upon that subject. That's a credential I could have done without.
Posted by William N. Grigg at 8:47 AM 43 comments Links to this post
Source: William N Grigg blog August 12, 2009
August 13, 2009 permalink
Florida's child protectors have finally admitted the obvious: they administer psychotropic drugs to children, not for their benefit, but to control their behavior. The pretense of psychiatric care and prescription is a sham. They were compelled to make the admission following the embarrassing suicide of seven-year-old state ward Gabriel Myers.
Posted on Wednesday, 08.12.09
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN & FAMILIES
Child-welfare panel: Drugs misused on foster kids
Florida's mental health system for foster kids relies far too often on drugs, with little oversight, according to a draft report on the suicide of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers.
BY CAROL MARBIN MILLER, cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com
Admitting for the first time what critics have claimed for years, state child-welfare authorities say caregivers for children in state custody frequently use powerful mind-altering drugs to manage unruly kids, rather than treat their anger and sadness.
A panel of child-welfare experts, including two top administrators from the state Department of Children & Families, examined the death of a 7-year-old Broward foster child who was on psychotropic medications -- without the required consent -- when he hanged himself in a Margate home.
The panel's report, expected to be released publicly later this month, says child welfare authorities too often rely on the potent medications to manage abused and neglected children -- but fail to offer psychiatric treatment to help them overcome the trauma they suffered.
``Psychotherapeutic medications are often being used to help parents, teachers and other child workers quiet and manage, rather than treat, children,'' the report says. It adds: ``We have not clearly articulated the standard of psychiatric care expected for children in state foster care.''
Gabriel Myers hanged himself from a detachable shower hose April 16 at a Broward foster home. He had been in foster care since the previous June, when his mother had been found slumped in her car, surrounded by a stash of narcotics.
After The Miami Herald reported that Gabriel had been given several psychiatric drugs linked by federal regulators to potentially dangerous side effects, including suicide, DCF Secretary George Sheldon appointed a work group to study the care given to the boy, as well as the agency's overall reliance on mind-altering drugs.
Sheldon said Wednesday that serious questions arose over why so many children in state care are on psychotropic medications -- and why so many claim they feel fine once the drugs are discontinued.
``There was a lot of evidence presented to the work group -- from kids and from folks in the system -- raising a lot of concern over the purpose of these drugs,'' Sheldon said.
Sheldon cautioned that the draft of the report is not final and ``is subject to a lot of change'' after work group members review and tweak it.
An overarching theme of the work group's discussions, and of the draft report, was the lack of a parent figure -- or ``champion'' -- for Gabriel, who the report said had become ``overwhelmed'' by change and disruption. While the youngster's life crumbled around him, caseworkers took copious notes and documented each new development.
But the report says, ``there was no sense of urgency driving the agencies and individuals responsible for the welfare of Gabriel Myers,'' and ``no one person stepped forward to act as his parent.''
Though Gabriel was in regular contact with agency-referred therapists and a psychiatrist, the report says, the ``intensive therapy'' was aimed almost exclusively at preventing the reoccurrence of sexually inappropriate behaviors that may have resulted from his molestation when he was a small child in Ohio.
``Gabriel Myers was not provided specific and upfront therapy to deal with identified trauma, possible post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression,'' the report says.
The use of psychiatric drugs among children in state care is widespread.
Records updated by DCF last week show that, among children in state care aged 6-12, more than 22 percent are being given psychiatric drugs.
Almost one-third of the adolescents aged 13 to 17 are on psychiatric drugs, the updated records say.
Among the adolescents, close to four in 10 children in licensed foster care are on such drugs.
The smallest percentage of adolescents taking psychiatric drugs, 12 percent, live with relatives or family friends.
For almost a decade, children's advocates have maintained that Florida has used potentially dangerous psychiatric drugs as ``chemical restraints'' on children who endured hellish abuse and neglect -- and act out, sometimes violently, as a result.
``It's heartening that they are admitting what has long been the agency's dirty little secret,'' said Coral Springs attorney and children's advocate Andrea Moore, who told a DCF Broward administrator in 2001 that doctors were concocting mental health diagnoses for foster kids to justify using unnecessary drugs.
Among the report's other findings:
- Foster children being administered psychiatric drugs with federal ``black box'' warnings of potentially dangerous side effects are not ``adequately monitored'' by foster parents, doctors or caseworkers. The children are not well-informed or involved in decisions about their medication.
- Caregivers for the state's foster children are not required to report adverse incidents arising from psychotropic medication.
- Psychiatrists and pediatricians ``often lack [a] medical history'' for the foster children they treat, ``yet still prescribe medications.''
- Biographical, medical and educational information contained in the Florida Safe Families Network, DCF's statewide child-welfare database, is ``frequently incomplete and inaccurate.''
- A ``significant'' number of dependent children have been given psychiatric drugs without the informed consent of a parent or judge, as state law requires. ``Too often, parents and/or the court are unaware of critical issues involving medications, procedures are not followed, and documentation requirements are ignored.''
- Mental healthcare for foster children is ``fragmented,'' poorly funded and often does not include caregivers, who receive little to no training. Disabled children in state care often are excluded from mental healthcare because Medicaid will not pay for therapies specially geared to children with intellectual impairments.
- The state has failed to implement recommendations from prior task forces that studied the deaths of foster children or the use of psychiatric drugs. Indeed, DCF has failed to even assign ``responsibility'' or ``accountability'' for implementing such reports.
``Let's just hope they don't put this on a shelf and ignore it like all the other reports,'' Moore said.
Source: Miami Herald
Boy Dies Without a Name
August 12, 2009 permalink
A three-year-old crown ward has died in the custody of Hamilton CAS. The reporter provides a litany of negative information about the natural parents but unlike the American press, Canada protects the dead boy from emotional harm by concealing his name. And in contrast to natural parents Ashiqur Rahman and Jane Elizabeth Gomes, police did not immediately jail Dominic Verticchio or the boy's foster parents.
Toddler born addicted to cocaine dies in his crib before he could be adopted
August 12, 2009, Susan Clairmont, The Hamilton Spectator
It was to be the toddler's second chance at a good life.
And he was so close.
Arrangements were being made for the thriving little boy to meet the family who hoped to adopt him. The family who wanted to love him. And his baby sister.
But it wasn't to be.
On Sunday night, as the sky cracked with lightning, the child was placed in his crib by the only mother and father he has ever known -- the foster parents who have nurtured him since he was two weeks old. They are a warm, soft-spoken couple who have opened their home to children in need of protection for nearly 45 years.
On Monday morning, they went to his crib. And he was dead. One month shy of his third birthday.
There is nothing suspicious. No foul play or accident. Homicide investigators were called, as is always the case when small children die unexpectedly. An autopsy has been done, although it will be months before all the lab tests are complete.
Just last week, the boy, who I cannot name because he was a Crown ward, had a checkup with his doctor. Everything was fine. Better than fine. He was happy and healthy and meeting all his milestones, according to Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton. That was wonderfully good news because the boy did not start out as a healthy baby.
He was born addicted to cocaine.
For the first two weeks of his existence, the boy was kept in hospital to undergo detox treatment.
When he was released, it was into the care of the foster parents.
So the exposure to cocaine in utero is one reason why the boy was seized by the CAS. But there are many other reasons. Reasons the boy's own birth parents listed for me yesterday.
Let's start with dad.
"I wasn't exactly a good person when I was young," he says. He begins to rhyme off his criminal record that began when he was a youth: gun charges, torture, unlawful confinement, assaults, uttering death threats ...
He fathered two boys more than a decade ago. Both were seized and became Crown wards.
He worked as a roofer and a welder for a while. But industrial noise caused hearing loss in one ear, he says, and now he is on disability.
He used to do cocaine. But says he is off it now.
Four years ago, he met the mother of the son he has just lost.
"I delivered him at home on the couch," he says. He named the boy in memory of his own father. The boy died seven years to the day after the grandfather he never met.
Now the mother.
She was born a conjoined twin. The other twin did not survive.
She has epilepsy and suffers grand mal seizures. She self-medicates with marijuana, she says. She used to do cocaine, but insists she is clean now.
She, too, had two sons from a previous relationship. Got pregnant with the first one when she was 18. Both were seized and put up for adoption.
The cocaine use continued well into her pregnancy with her deceased son. She lost him to CAS immediately.
Then she got pregnant again. Her daughter -- who shares the same father as the boy -- will turn one in October. She, too, was seized at birth and has always lived with the foster family.
In February, the children were made Crown wards with no access. The birth parents -- she is 23, he turns 32 today -- had no further contact with their son and daughter or the CAS until yesterday, when homicide detectives tracked them down to deliver the terrible news.
Tracking them down was a challenge. The couple live out of their truck.
"A healthy boy just mysteriously died," the father says. "It kind of hurts when you hear it."
Their son would have been better off if they'd been allowed to keep him, he says.
"They apprehended them from the hospital based on bull... grounds. They didn't give us a fair shake ... They make us look like idiots."
The mother wants her daughter back from the foster home. She figures she'll be safer that way.
"My son died in a place where they said he'd be safest. I think I could be an excellent mother. We're not bad people. We're just misunderstood."
Though the CAS is under no legal obligation to do so, it is arranging for the mother and father to have a private visitation with their son.
"We have a moral and ethical responsibility," says Verticchio.
And then there are the devastated foster parents. The ones with a lifetime of commitment to helping children. The ones with the empty crib.
Susan Clairmont's commentary appears regularly in the Spectator. email@example.com 905-526-3539
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Addendum: A parent comments: CAS is being human. They are letting parents visit with dead child, even though they don't have to LEGALLY. WOW, MIGHTY BIG OF EM!!! An alternative view is that with this move Hamilton CAS saves on burial expenses. Still another reader points out that the family that has been fostering for 45 years must be pushing 70, an age that usually disqualifies kinship care.
Couple Accused of [ undisclosed ]
August 12, 2009 permalink
Here is another case that has the classic marks of false accusation. A seven-week-old girl, Aurora Breakthrough, is dead and the parents, both impoverished students from Bangladesh, are in jail. Over two weeks after the girl's death, prosecutors cannot say what the parents did, but are hoping an autopsy will reveal evidence justifying the arrests.
One of the abuses revealed by the Goudge inquiry was that within hours of the death of a child investigators approached bereaved parents asking trick questions designed to incriminate them, and when getting the answers they wanted, jailed the parents immediately. Judge Goudge suggested, as an act of humanity, that interrogation should be delayed past the bereavement period, even at the cost of loss of evidence. In the Aurora Breakthrough case, there was no respect for the parents, they were jailed almost immediately and have now been forbidden to talk to each other.
Court forbids couple charged in baby death from talking to each other
Halifax pair to stay in jail until next court date in September
By STEVE BRUCE Court Reporter, Wed. Aug 12 - 12:40 PM
Pictures from other news reports:
A young Halifax couple accused of assaulting their infant daughter, who died later in hospital, have been prohibited from communicating with each other.
The Crown requested the order this morning, when lawyers appeared in Halifax provincial court on behalf of Ashiqur Rahman and Jane Elizabeth Gomes, both 23.
Just as they did two weeks ago, Mr. Rahman and Ms. Gomes chose to remain in the holding cells in the basement of the courthouse while duty counsel requested a three-week adjournment.
They return to court Sept. 2, possibly for a bail hearing. They'll remain in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth.
The couple, former Acadia University computer science students originally from Bangladesh, have applied to Nova Scotia Legal Aid for full-time lawyers. Should they qualify, one would likely be represented by a legal aid staffer while the other would be given a certificate for a private lawyer.
Mr. Rahman and Ms. Gomes were arrested and charged with aggravated assault July 24 after staff at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax reported a serious case of child abuse.
Paramedics had gone to the couple's Gottingen Street apartment the night before in response to a call about a seven-week-old baby.
The infant, Aurora Breakthrough, died in hospital July 27.
It's expected that more serious charges could be laid against one or both parents, but that hasn't happened yet.
“The investigation continues,” Crown attorney Denise Smith said today outside court.
“Until such time as that investigation concludes, the charges will remain as they currently are.”
Asked if there's anything new in the probe, the prosecutor replied: “Nothing I can tell you.”
The authorities are still waiting for the autopsy report, she said.
A no-contact order “is fairly standard or commonplace in cases where two people are accused of the same crime,” Ms. Smith said.
“The reason is so that the persons don't have an opportunity to speak to one another and in any way hamper the prosecution of the matter or the ongoing investigation.”
Source: Halifax Herald
Addendum: As of September 2, prosecutors are still holding the parents in jail while waiting for evidence.
Parents of dead baby don't have lawyers yet
By STEVE BRUCE Court Reporter, Wed. Sep 2 - 4:01 PM
Nova Scotia Legal Aid hopes to have lawyers appointed soon for a young Halifax couple accused of assaulting their infant daughter, who died later in hospital.
Ashiqur Rahman and Jane Elizabeth Gomes, both 23, were transported to Halifax provincial court from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth on Wednesday but were allowed to remain in the courthouse holding cells while a legal aid representative requested an adjournment until Oct. 14.
Peter Mancini told the court that the couple both qualify for legal aid. The plan, he said, is for the commission to provide a staffer for one of them and a private lawyer for the other.
Outside court, Mr. Mancini said it's not unusual for it to take "a little bit of time" to arrange counsel.
He said lawyers should be in place in time for pleas to be entered Oct. 14.
Mr. Rahman and Ms. Gomes were arrested July 24 and charged with aggravated assault after staff at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax reported a serious case of child abuse.
Paramedics had gone to the couple's Gottingen Street apartment the night before in response to a call about a seven-week-old baby.
The infant, Aurora Breakthrough, died July 27.
It's expected that more serious charges will be laid, but the Crown is still waiting for the autopsy report.
Mr. Mancini said he couldn't comment on how the couple, former Acadia University computer science students originally from Bangladesh, are holding up.
“I've just had brief conversations with them,” Mr. Mancini said.
Mr. Rahman and Ms. Gomes are banned from communicating with each other. They remain in custody.
Source: Halifax Herald
DHS Meth Lab
August 12, 2009 permalink
Oklahoma police have busted a meth lab, located in the offices of Tulsa child protectors. Do you think the head of DHS will be arrested for possession?
Meth Lab Found In State Building In Tulsa
OHP: Lab Found In State Services Building
POSTED: 1:54 pm CDT August 11, 2009, UPDATED: 1:59 pm CDT August 11, 2009
TULSA, Okla. -- Tulsa police and Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers said a meth lab was found in a stairwell of the State Services Building in downtown Tulsa.
OHP Lt. George Brown called it the most brazen location he's ever seen a meth lab.
The lab was found about 10 a.m. Monday by groundskeepers and investigators believe it was built after the building closed Friday. It was found at the bottom of the stairwell in an area hidden from easy view.
Authorities say a police hazmat team was able to remove the lab without disrupting business at any of the state offices.
The building houses agencies ranging from the Department of Human Services to child support offices.
Source: KOCO Oklahoma City
Ouellet Sentenced, Sort Of
August 12, 2009 permalink
Top Alberta child protector Richard Ouellet, who defied a court order to return a child to his foster mother, has been sentenced to eight days in jail. Or not. There is an alternative for community service. Does coming to work in the ministry office count as community service?
Jail term for Alberta official's contempt conviction
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | 8:04 PM MT, CBC News
A top government official in the Alberta Children and Youth Services Department was sentenced Tuesday to eight days in jail for contempt of court.
Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Jean Côté said Richard Ouellet, a director in the department, could avoid going to jail if he completes 40 hours of community service.
Ouellet was convicted of contempt in June for failing to return a child in government care to his original foster family, after a court had ordered him to do so.
Côté last month refused Ouellet's request to throw out the conviction.
In Tuesday's sentencing, Côté said the community work must be for an Alberta charitable organization or municipal government and cannot be in the area of child protection.
"I found no wilful or improper intent by Mr. Ouellet," the justice wrote in a six-page decision, noting that Ouellet was "very careless and possibly poorly advised."
The justice also ordered Ouellet to pay the legal costs for the lawyer who represented the foster mother throughout the contempt hearings.
The child was returned to his foster mother a day before the contempt of court hearing, and the judge said if that had not happened, "Mr. Ouellet might well have gone out the courtroom by a different door."
A government spokesperson said the message from the courts has been heard loud and clear.
"As a Ministry, we believe in the importance of complying with court orders and we will be taking steps to ensure this doesn't happen again. We are working with [the department of] Justice to review our procedures and protocols around this to make sure this isn't going to happen again," said Stuart Elson, Alberta Children Services spokesperson.
Ouellet has been removed from his director's position and temporarily reassigned. He is on holidays until the end of August and could not be reached for comment.
CAS Grabs Young Arsonists
August 11, 2009 permalink
In social-worker-speak they will "work with" two children who set a series of fires in Sudbury. There is not enough published for comment yet, but if the behavior continues it is bound to be in the news again.
Two kids linked to rash of fires set Aug. 6; too young to be charged
Posted August 11, 2009
Two kids younger than 12 have been linked to three of six suspicious fires set Aug. 6, Greater Sudbury Police announced Tuesday.
Because the children are so young, they cannot be held criminally responsible; however, “social agencies have been called in to work with the individuals and their families,” police said in a release.
The fires were set from 2 to 6 a.m. on Notre-Dame Avenue, Elm Street, Lorne Street, Dell Street and Mountain Street.
“The fires caused minor damage, though there was definitely potential for extensive damage and serious injuries,” police said.
Investigators located a suspect on Aug. 6 “and the investigation has since linked three of the fires to two young persons under the age of 12.”
The investigation is continuing.
Source: Sudbury Star
August 11, 2009 permalink
Actor Chuck Norris, who protrayed a Texas Ranger in the movie Lone Wolf McQuade, analyzes the Obama health care plan and finds that it provides for social services to watch every young child.
Dirty Secret No. 1 in Obamacare
by Chuck Norris
Health care reforms are turning into health care revolts. Americans are turning up the heat on congressmen in town hall meetings across the U.S.
While watching these political hot August nights, I decided to research the reasons so many are opposed to Obamacare to separate the facts from the fantasy. What I discovered is that there are indeed dirty little secrets buried deep within the 1,000-plus page health care bill.
Dirty secret No. 1 in Obamacare is about the government's coming into homes and usurping parental rights over child care and development.
It's outlined in sections 440 and 1904 of the House bill (Page 838), under the heading "home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children." The programs (provided via grants to states) would educate parents on child behavior and parenting skills.
The bill says that the government agents, "well-trained and competent staff," would "provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains ... modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices," and "skills to interact with their child to enhance age-appropriate development."
Are you kidding me?! With whose parental principles and values? Their own? Certain experts'? From what field and theory of childhood development? As if there are one-size-fits-all parenting techniques! Do we really believe they would contextualize and personalize every form of parenting in their education, or would they merely universally indoctrinate with their own?
Are we to assume the state's mediators would understand every parent's social or religious core values on parenting? Or would they teach some secular-progressive and religiously neutered version of parental values and wisdom? And if they were to consult and coach those who expect babies, would they ever decide circumstances to be not beneficial for the children and encourage abortions?
One government rebuttal is that this program would be "voluntary." Is that right? Does that imply that this agency would just sit back passively until some parent needing parenting skills said, "I don't think I'll call my parents, priest or friends or read a plethora of books, but I'll go down to the local government offices"? To the contrary, the bill points to specific targeted groups and problems, on Page 840: The state "shall identify and prioritize serving communities that are in high need of such services, especially communities with a high proportion of low-income families."
Are we further to conclude by those words that low-income families know less about parenting? Are middle- and upper-class parents really better parents? Less neglectful of their children? Less needful of parental help and training? Is this "prioritized" training not a biased, discriminatory and even prejudicial stereotype and generalization that has no place in federal government, law or practice?
Bottom line: Is all this what you want or expect in a universal health care bill being rushed through Congress? Do you want government agents coming into your home and telling you how to parent your children? When did government health care turn into government child care?
Government needs less of a role in running our children's lives and more of a role in supporting parents' decisions for their children. Children belong to their parents, not the government. And the parents ought to have the right -- and government support -- to parent them without the fed's mandates, education or intervention in our homes.
Kids are very important to my wife, Gena, and me. That's why we've spent the past 17 years developing our nonprofit KICKSTART program in public schools in Texas. It builds up their self-esteem and teaches them respect and discipline. Of course, whether or not they participate in the program is their and their parents' choice.
How contrary is Obamacare's home intrusion and indoctrination family services, in which state agents prioritize houses to enter and enforce their universal values and principles upon the hearts and minds of families across America?
Government's real motives and rationale are quite simple, though rarely, if ever, stated. If one wants to control the future ebbs and flows of a country, one must have command over future generations. That is done by seizing parental and educational power, legislating preferred educational methods and materials, and limiting private educational options. It is so simple that any socialist can understand it. As Josef Stalin once stated, "Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed."
Let's Talk About Tasers
The Taser and Men’s Rights
August 11, 2009 permalink
Tasers are not life-saving alternatives to deadly force, but are routinely used as portable torture devices to enforce instant compliance with police orders. Two articles enclosed.
Published on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 by Salon.com
Let's Talk About Tasers
Like Glenn, I write a lot about civil liberties, which have been at the heart of the national conversation since the beginning of the War On Terror and the expansion of the national security state. But my interest in civil liberties predates 9/11 and until then was usually pointed at the far more prosaic issues of police and prosecutorial misconduct (and the inevitable conclusions any study of those things brings to the issue of the death penalty). Nowadays, the theme of civil liberties seem to be a sub-plot to a James Bond flick rather than "To Kill A Mockingbird." And yet, I think the two are intertwined much more closely that we think. In our apparent acceptance of torture as a legal method of interrogation, the bar of civilized official behavior has been lowered to the point where we are accepting torture in everyday life as if it's nothing. Indeed, we are using it as a form of entertainment.
I'm speaking of the ever more common use of the Taser, an electrical device used by police and other authorities to drop its victims to the ground and coerce instant compliance. The videos of various incidents make the rounds on the internet and you can see by the comments at the YouTube site that a large number of Americans find tasering to be a sort of slapstick comedy, the equivalent of someone slipping on a banana peel, with a touch of that authoritarian cruelty that always seems to amuse a certain kind of person. "Don't tase me bro" is a national catch phrase.
Tasers aren't benign however. They kill people. Nobody knows exactly why some people die from being tasered, and they certainly don't know how to tell in advance which ones are at risk. But there have been hundreds of deaths similar to the one below, which nobody can adequately explain:
A Detroit teenager who police say fled a traffic stop Friday died after being subdued with a Taser. He is the second Michigan teen to die following a Taser stun in less than a month. Warren Police say they don't know why the 15-year-old bailed out of a Dodge Stratus he was riding in during the stop on Eight Mile near Schoenherr, leading officers on a half-block chase that ended in an abandoned house on Pelkey in Detroit. The car was stopped for having an expired license plate. In the scuffle, officers shocked the teen one time with a Taser, police said. Shortly after, he became unresponsive and died.
Taser International has successfully defended themselves in lawsuits by attributing the deaths to drug use and if that doesn't work do to the fact that drugs were not present in the victim, they rely on an unrecognized medical condition called "excited delirium", a disease that only afflicts people who die in police custody. Juries apparently find this convincing. Taser has only lost one case.
But that isn't the real problem, although it may eventually be the path by which tasers are banned for use in civilized countries. As awful as the possibility of death is, tasers would be a blight on any free people even if they weren't so often deadly. Tasers were sold to the public as a tool for law enforcement to be used in lieu of deadly force. Presumably, this means situations in which officers would have previously had to use their firearms. It's hard to argue with that, and I can't think of a single civil libertarian who would say that this would be a truly civilized advance in policing. Nobody wants to see more death and if police have a weapon they can employ instead of a gun, in self defense or to stop someone from hurting others, I think we all can agree that's a good thing.
But that's not what's happening. Tasers are routinely used by police to torture innocent people who have not broken any law and whose only crime is being disrespectful toward their authority or failing to understand their "orders." There is ample evidence that police often take no more than 30 seconds to talk to citizens before employing the taser, they use them while people are already handcuffed and thus present no danger, and are used often against the mentally ill and handicapped. It is becoming a barbaric tool of authoritarian, social control.
Last week there were three taser episodes that made the rounds on the internet. (There may have been more, but these were the three most discussed.) The first was of a drunken, belligerent man at a baseball game who after 41 seconds of discussion was tasered while sitting in his seat. Indeed, the video shows that the taser threw him down onto the cement steps where he rolled down several. Since this scene must have happened literally thousands of times over the years, you have to wonder what they must have done in the past. Somehow I doubt they pulled out a gun and shot them.
The second incident was this sad tale of a man who allegedly refused to come out of a store restroom. Police blew pepper spray under the door, kicked it open and instantly tasered the man. It was only afterward that they discovered he was deaf. Police tried to book the man anyway, but the magistrate refused to accept the charges.
It was the third incident, however, that should get civil libertarians' serious attention. It featured an Idaho man on a bicycle who happened to ride past a police stop in progress on the side of the road. He had nothing to do with the stop, but was pulled over by the police and told to produce his ID. He said, correctly, that he had no legal obligation to produce ID and the police insisted he must. The situation escalated and he demanded that they call a supervisor to the scene when the police said they were going to arrest him. He ended up being tasered seven times -- you can hear him moaning in pain on the tape at the end. (In an especially creepy moment, the police try to confiscate the tape of the incident.) (DeLoyd Scott).
Now, many people will say that he should have just showed his ID, that it's stupid to confront police, that like Henry Louis Gates you get what you deserve if you mouth off to the cops. And on a pragmatic level this is certainly true (although I would reiterate what I wrote here about a free people not being required to view the police in the same way they view a criminal street gang, which is to say in fear.) But the fact remains that there is no law against riding a bicycle without ID, and there is no law against mouthing off to the police. Certainly, there can be no rationale behind using a weapon designed to replace deadly force seven times against someone under these circumstances.
These are just three incidents that happened last week. There's nothing special about them. They happen every day. Even this horrific scene, which is so shockingly authoritarian (excuse the pun) that it makes you feel sick, is not unusual:
A former Southern Virginia University and Brigham Young University adjunct professor of political philosophy and jurisprudence, Dr. Lowery entered the Utah Third District courtroom alone on November 22, 2004, to make oral argument before Judge Anthony Quinn. Two Salt Lake County Deputy Sheriffs sat at the back of the courtroom, one on each side of the door. Other deputies were in the foyer of the courtroom. No members of the public were present.
Dr. Lowery suffered from major depression, bipolar disorder, paranoia disorder, delusional disorder, and psychotic disorder. Judge Quinn granted one of Dr. Lowery's motions made under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title II, which allowed for reasonable modifications of court rules, policies, or practices in order to accommodate Dr. Lowery's multiple mental disabilities.
Near the end of his oral argument, the traumatic content of the argument moved Dr. Lowery into moderate mania, and he characterized a previous crabbed ruling by Quinn as "bullshit."
Impatient for the speech to end, Judge Quinn took that as an opportunity to order the bailiffs to take the professor into custody and cool him off.
The plaintiff's state of agitation was caused by his mental disabilities. The deputy sheriffs' approach only caused the situation to escalate. As five or more Salt Lake County deputy sheriffs/bailiffs seized Lowery from behind, he shouted, "I am cooled off; I deserve to be heard. I deserve to be heard, your Honor, and you are violating my access to due process at this very moment. I am not violent and --"
Judge Quinn interrupted him with ordering the bailiffs to take Dr. Lowery to a holding cell. A split second later -- unclear whether following the judge's orders or acting on his own accord, a bailiff sent 50,000 volts of incapacitating electricity into the lower back of the unsuspecting professor. As the courtroom video shows, nothing in Dr. Lowery's behavior suggests that the bailiffs had any reasonable motive to believe they or the judge were in physical danger.
Yet the taser gun fired more than once.
The repeated electric shocks blew Dr. Lowery over the podium, and he landed face down on the floor, with two bailiffs on his back. The electric blasts caused Dr. Lowery's bowels to empty twice. He screamed, "Help me!" while he complied with a bailiff's order to stay on his belly, neither capable nor willing to offer resistance. Then, suddenly, he went unconscious.
Remembering they were still on camera, the bailiffs shouted at Dr. Lowery to not resist again (though his resistance was only instinctive) and threatened him with more electrocution. When they realized that he could no longer hear them, they dragged the man across the floor, put him in a chair, and massaged his heart. One bailiff called for paramedics. [...]
Since no one but the victim and the abusers were in the courtroom, this crime remained unknown to the public until recently.
(Read on if you can stomach it.)
Representatives of the government torture innocent citizens into unconsciousness, on camera, in United States courtrooms with tasers. They use them on prisoners and on motorists and on political protesters and bicycle riders, on mentally ill and handicapped people and on children And it's happening with nary a peep of protest.
America's torture problem is much bigger than Gitmo or the CIA or the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The government is torturing people every day and killing some of them. Then videos of the torture wind up on Youtube where sadists laugh and jeer at the victims. It's the sign of profound cultural illness.
Source: Common Dreams
Originally on salon.com, but no longer available there.
The Taser and Men’s Rights
November 20th, 2009, By Harry Crouch
By Steven Jones, Member, National Coalition For Men, November 20, 2009
The Taser is a weapon widely used by American police without much regulation or oversight. Many widely varied ‘rights’ organizations, from the NAACP ot Amnesty International, have found reason to dislike the Taser and to demand that the Federal Government issue guidelines for its use or ban it outright. The biggest complaint is that it is aggressively marketed as ‘non-lethal’, and yet has killed over 300 people, mostly men. With each death, Taser International has offered endless excuses as to why it must have been something other than their weapon that killed the victim.
My complaint with the Taser relates to men’s rights specifically. And I have been shocked that virtually no one, including Amnesty International, has had much of anything to say about this specific issue. Taser International, in the user’s manual that comes with every Taser, states the following, “application of the Taser to the genitals is PARTICULARLY EFFECTIVE.” Taser openly encourages the use of the weapon on the groin. For the stun gun mode, or “drive stun” mode, Taser strongly encourages that it be rammed into the genitals of a person before shocking the genitals with 50,000 volts, resulting in severe burns and destruction of the tissue and nerves in most cases. Impotence is a known side-effect of the Taser due to its destruction of nerves and tissue in the penis when used as directed by Taser. In fact, a police officer sued Taser for causing his own impotence after he was shocked with a Taser while qualifying to carry one.
Even worse, Taser International, upon purchasing the patent over 10 years ago, altered the design. Originally the Taser had 1 laser site which showed where the uppermost dart would strike the victim, while the lower dart would strike approximately 8 - 12 inches below that, before shocking the victim with 20,000 volts. The darts were smooth and could be easily removed. Police complained that the weapon didn’t hurt people enough, and that the darts could be pulled out by the victim before they were incapacited.
Taser International solved all of these complaints by putting fishhook-like barbs on the speared projectile, making it very difficult to remove them without ripping flesh. The upped the voltage to 50,000 volts. And they increased the angle at which the lower projectile fires to cause it to strike before the waist and as near to the genitals as possible. But they did not add a second laser site to show the user where the lower dart will strike, making it difficult to avoid shooting the genitals if the shooter does not wish to. The vast majority of the time, when the Taser is fired at a man from the front and the laser site it focused in the area of the solar plexus just below the sternum, as instructed by Taser, the lower dart harpoons the genitals almost every time, before sending 50,000 volts through the testicles, up the spine, into every organ the nerves of the testicles are connected to, which includes the stomach, kidney and heart, and finally into the upper projectile.
In most instances, the testicles are only bruised and slightly burned. There is a little blood either from the hole it makes in the penis or the scrotum. And if the person was only Tased for the minimal 5 seconds from a single Taser gun, there is often no permanent physical damage other than burns. This, of course, says nothing as to the psychological damage of being sexually tortured in a situation in which the man is almost always unarmed and non-violent and often has his friends or family present to witness his sexual torture.
In some instances, such as that of Tavares Browning, the genitals are left with 3rd degree burns, no nerves or feeling of any kind, and no functionality at all. Tavares was shot by 3 cops at once. The first Taser speared his testicles. The second slightly missed and speared his groin area. The third speared his wrist as his hands dropped involuntarily to his harpooned genitals and blocked the dart. 100,000 volts was passed through his genitals at the same time, dropping him helplessly to the floor. At this point, a fourth office ran over to him and rammed his Taser into Tavares groin, using the drive stun mode which produces a very wide electric flame between all points of contact and burns whatever it is touching. In Tavares case, there were 4 points of contact, all in his groin, with one inside his scrotum and 3 contacting the genitals. The result was that his entire genitalia were burned to a crisp. His abdomen, groin area, and upper tights, along with this genitals, were left with no nerves at all and thus no feeling of any kind.
This was done to Tavares because he owned $1900 in back child support, was unemployed and unable to pay, and was afraid of the police, so he hid in his room when they came to take him to jail.
Each of the 3 officers testified that they were not aiming for Tavares’ groin when firing their Tasers through his window. They simply aimed where they had been instructed, the solar plexus, and had no idea where the lower projectile was going to spear him.
When the Taser is fired at a man from a position below his chest, that is from a kneeling position or when the shooter is below the victim, the Taser will spear the genitals nearly 100 percent of the time. Also, the further away from the victim the shooter is, the higher the percentage of shots that will spear the genitals.
The Taser spears the genitals so often when fired from the front, and does enough damage, that almost all police departments which require an officer to be shot with their own Taser before being allowed to carry it, instruct the officers to turn their backs. There is a graphic example of what happens when they fail to do this here:
Federal law prohibits the use of torture. It would seem obvious that the application of electric shock, especially when combined with a projectile that literally harpoons the testicles and enables the shooter to hook a man’s testicles on the end of a line like a fish, constitutes torture, and specifically sexual torture. This should not be legal. But federal law never defines specifically what torture is. Thus, police and private citizens are free to harpoon men’s testicles and electricute them as much as they please with minimal excuse.
It isn’t widely acknowledged in the United States, although it is widely known worldwide in the medical community, but you can, in fact, kill a man by injuring his testicles. The most common cause of death is listed as “neurogenic shock.” In India there was a string of copycat spousal murders in which angry wives waited for their husbands to go to sleep and then grabbed and squeezed his testicles until he died. There are numerous documented cases of men and boys dying after having their testicles grabbed and squeezed, or kicked and ruptured, or otherwise injured. The pain is severe enough to cause shock and ultimately death. In the U.S., we have been given the impression, through movies and television, that no matter how badly a man’s testicles are injured, he cannot die. But this is a lie.
Police officers who were Tazed in the genitals described the experience as feeling as if someone had grabbed both of their testicles and began repeatedly banging them together, or repeatedly squeezing them again and again, each time the Taser pulses. They said the pain is utterly unbearable. It is my belief that many of the men who have died as a result of the Taser, died because the shock of being electrocuted through the genitals is simply unbearable. The human heart cannot withstand this in many cases.
The Taser is powerful enough to bring down any man or woman without torturing the genitals. We, as citizens, cannot allow our government or anyone to have the authority to harpoon a man’s testicles and torture them with electric shock. This is the ultimate human rights violation. It is also one step below allow castration. Further, the Taser is used without trial and in circumstances in which even the threat of deadly force is prohibited. Thus, a situation in which an officer cannot even show a handgun is a situation in which they can draw their Taser and spear and destroy a man’s genitals. Police are permitted to sexually torture and mutilate American men who are unarmed, non-violent, and may be guilty of nothing more than saying “no” to an officer, or not following the officers instructions quickly enough to satisfy the officer. Any show of resistance, including moving too slowly or not understanding what was said, is currently considering justification for police use of the Taser, and your genitals are considering not only a legal target, but a primary target.
I have been writing to my representatives asking that federal law banning the use of torture on American citizens be amended to specifically define the application of electricity to the genitals as torture, and to prohibit it. This does not outlaw Tasers or stun guns. It only outlaws the use of them on the genitals. I think this is reasonable. Further, I thin it unreasonable that it isn’t already illegal to do this.
Source: California Men's Centers
August 11, 2009 permalink
Manitoba is undergoing a foster care panic, increasing the number of children taken from their parents and held in foster care. Since foster care is far more hazardous than parental care, this will produce increased levels of child abuse in the province.
Number of kids seized from Man. parents rises
By Mia Rabson, Winnipeg Free Press, August 11, 2009 7:01 AM
OTTAWA — The number of Manitoba kids in care has jumped 10 per cent in the year since the provincial government changed its law in an attempt to make sure nothing trumps safety in determining what is best for a child.
As of March 31, 2009, there were 8,629 children in care in Manitoba, up 792 kids, or 10.1 per cent over the same date the year before.
It is the largest single increase in one year in the past decade, a significant climb for a system that has seen the number of kids in care jump every year but one since at least 1999.
Claudia Ash-Ponce, executive director of the province's Child Protection Branch, said there has been an increased level of vigilance by social workers since the provincial government amended the Child and Family Services Act last year.
"Our system is cautious and is being increasingly cautious," said Ash-Ponce. "We are working with children's safety being paramount."
The amendments ensured considerations of culture and family ties should only be looked at after the safety of a child has been assessed and used as the determining factor on whether the child should be taken into care or not. Before, safety was just one of a number of factors being considered.
In addition to the number of kids in care, there are 9,898 families being monitored by child-welfare authorities, meaning social workers are visiting children still living with their families to ensure their safety and working with parents to improve family life and children's well being.
That number is also up over 10 per cent, an increase of 924 families in one year.
Manitoba's child-welfare system has been under the microscope in the last several years after several high-profile cases of kids being murdered when the system was supposed to be protecting them.
Since the deaths, the system has repeatedly been scrutinized, and serious problems have been uncovered in a number of child-welfare agencies. The province's children's advocate conducted several major investigations and made hundreds of recommendations for improvements including better funding, better staffing and better standards to assess the risk of a child.
Four agencies are still undergoing operational, financial or other reviews for accusations of financial mismanagement, lack of adherence to standards and poor decision-making practices.
The province is also still waiting for a new funding agreement with Ottawa, which is responsible for aboriginal kids living on reserves.
But the federal government only spends about 78 cents for every dollar spent by the province on child welfare for non-aboriginal children and aboriginal kids living off reserves.
August 11, 2009 permalink
Here is a profile of father Donald Tenn, who protested on a construction crane in Ohio for four days in 2008. Note the level of incivility by the judge, who refused to let Tenn speak in his own case.
Abducted child's father faces prison for peaceful protest
August 9, 6:34 AM, Family Rights Examiner, Teri Stoddard
Donald Tenn, the Sacramento father who traveled to Washington DC recently for a rally to confront President Obama on his "fathers need to step up" comments, will be in a Columbus, Ohio courtroom Monday morning on charges related to his 4 day protest on a 175' construction crane last year.
Tenn was a stay-at-home daddy until Shannon Phillips took their daughter to Illinois on what was described as a vacation three years ago. After her arrival Phillips announced that she had no intention of returning to California, or of allowing Madison to return. When Tenn reminded her that California law prevents parental move-aways Phillips filed her first of many false charges of domestic violence against Tenn.
At one point he had hope. One judge refused a restraining order and scolded Phillips for her antics. But after Tenn had one visit with Madison in Illinois Phillips renewed her campaign of false allegations.
He writes on his website dedicatedtomadison.com:
I had finally received a California court order for visitation with my daughter. I was certain it would be enforced by the police in Illinois.
But Moultrie County States Attorney Marvin Hanson ignored the California Court order. He told police to no longer assist Mr. Tenn in his efforts to visit his daughter. He even went out of his way to contact the California state court. He was looking for a restraining order so he could arrest me!
There have been no consequences for any of Phillips' illegal activities. She has not only been allowed to keep custody of Madison; she's also hiding Madison from Tenn, against court orders.
Phillips, like many women is allowed to break the law and perpetrate fraud upon the court and tax-payers. Studies show that one million allegations of domestic violence filed each year are unnecessary or false. The Violence Against Women Act has continued to fund Phillips' crimes, travel and legal fees through battered women's shelters, including WEAVE in California and DOVE in Illinois.
Tenn has had family court judges in both Illinois and California refuse to address his custody and visitation concerns, each telling him to go back to the other state to file in that family court. And when they did address him, he says, his attempt to protect his daughter and her best interest was not their concern.
By phone recently he said:
I've been yelled at by judges three times for saying that I was there for my daughter. If you get a traffic ticket you're given several minutes to plead your case. Like most dads I thought if I just tell the truth everything will get sorted out. But go to family court and you aren't allowed to speak.
Sacramento County family court Judge John Winn got so upset when I told him I was there for my daughter the baliff walked over to the judge to calm him down.
When I told Judge Thomas Cecil that I believed the restraining order to be mutual, he yelled at the top of his lungs he was so angry.
Tenn, who is now President of Fathers 4 Justice in the United States, spent the 4 days on a 175' construction crane in a thunderstorm. He and Paul Fisher, who had come down earlier, hoped to draw media attention to their plight, and that of millions of fathers across the country.
He went on:
I don't know how they're getting away with this. The judges are breaking the law. They don't care. I'm a good and loving daddy. I don't deserve this. Madison doesn't deserve this.
Asked if there is a war on fathers Tenn said:
I hear the same story from fathers in every state. I've traveled the country and have seen it myself. I challenge anyone to sit in any family courtroom, in any city, in any state, for one hour on any day of the week. They will see that the war on fathers is real.
When Tenn, who has years of tower climbing experience and Fisher unfurled their banner, they didn't know what reaction their presence would cause when the sun came up and the construction crew came on site. They were happy to see they had the support of the workers. They were even told that the crane itself wouldn't be needed for a couple of days.
With news reporters present, not ten minutes after Tenn's descent, workers had the crane up and running. He's being charged thousands of dollars for a safety inspection that from the looks of it was never done, along with federal vandalism charges that could land him in prison for 18 months. Tenn is hoping for a sympathetic jury.
Source: National Examiner
Mother Strikes Back
August 11, 2009 permalink
Chris Carter supported a mother who appealed her case the the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) with some success. The board may be of some real use.
There are many forms of litigation besides family law in which one party is acting as a well-funded bully attacking defenseless victims. One effective way to defeat the bully is to bring the case to a point where the bully is compelled to answer awkward questions. Often this leads to dismissal of the case by the bully. The mother in today's story got CAS to default on answering questions, though lack of legal skill left her unable to get the case dismissed.
I came into contact with a local mother who was being maliciously prosecuted by the CAS RMW.
Fortunately her children were returned to her at a risk hearing a couple of months ago, subject to an eight month CAS RMW supervision order.
The mother is a true Canadian and, consequently, has a healthy and deep belief in our rights to certain civil liberties.
As such she decided to pursue some justice via a CFSRB hearing.
As usual the CAS RMW argued that the CFSRB, as per Legislative limitations, couldn't exercise its jurisdiction (the complained about issues were before the Court... very common CAS position... the CFSRB doesn't usual accept the CASs argument as legit and the oral hearings are conducted).
I was also able to attend her CFSRB hearing as her support person and, I'm proud to say, she comported herself impressively.
(I had to go to Court and get the terms of the Peace Bond I'm under re: my interaction with the CAS RMW and its workers amended...three amendments so far and counting and the Peace Bond was only signed Nov. 18/08...the other two amendments include:
- me being allowed to have direct contact with the CAS RMW and its workers at my own CFSRB hearing coming up...my second CFSRB Oral hearing against the CAS RMW
- me being allowed to have direct contact with the CAS RMW and its workers at [this is laughable] THE CAS RMW'S OWN "INTERNAL COMPLAINTS REVIEW PANEL". Neddless to say, I don't think that particular hearing will proceed.)
In fact she did so well that the CAS RMW pulled out of the proceedings — refused to produce its workers for cross-examination (completing "Summons to Witness" forms-docs. which would've compelled the CAS RMW workers to appear, serving them and doing up the Affidavit of Service was a little too much for the mom, for me, for anybody other than Lawyers so she had to let it go)
Source: email from Chris Carter, August 10, 2009
August 9, 2009 permalink
An article enclosed below from the Economist points out that sex abuse registries have become useless owing to inflation with trivial cases. It alludes to the vigilante death of William Elliott, convicted of having sex with a teenaged girlfriend when he was 19. Instead of protecting children, the sex-offender registries are a danger to them.
A similar problem exists with child abuse registries, also inflated with useless names. Chris Carter found this gem on the OACAS website: Achieving a Better Balance (pdf, local copy), dated November 2004. This document criticizes many CAS procedures, including their operational reviews, and suggests abolition of the child abuse registry.
from page 6
The Child Abuse Registry
The OACAS Board recommended that the Ministry dismantle the Child Abuse Register. It is not used consistently because the information it provides is not reliable. Better and more useful information is available from the Fast Track System.
from page 11
Child Abuse Register
The resounding response from agencies regarding the Child Abuse Register is that it should be discontinued and removed. Most agree that it is not necessary or helpful given the establishment of the Fast Track System, which allows provincewide checks for any protection concerns at the point of investigation. Little statistical research or information about child abuse has been provided through the Child Abuse Registry and the CAR focus on verified cases of child abuse is seen as of minor relevance given the Child Mortality Task Force finding that neglect rather than abuse is the greatest contributor to vulnerability. A consistent criticism is the low standard for registration making the value of the contents of the Register questionable. CAS staff have been dissatisfied with the documentation requirements and unresponsive call-back time in respect of requests for information from the Registry and see no value in retaining it.
This registry continues in use, in spite of the fact that it is regarded as useless by its proponents, and even after a law enacted, but never proclaimed, abolishing it.
Unjust and ineffective
Aug 6th 2009 | HARLEM, GEORGIA, From The Economist print edition
America has pioneered the harsh punishment of sex offenders. Does it work?
ONE day in 1996 the lights went off in a classroom in Georgia so that the students could watch a video. Wendy Whitaker, a 17-year-old pupil at the time, was sitting near the back. The boy next to her suggested that, since it was dark, she could perform oral sex on him without anyone noticing. She obliged. And that single teenage fumble wrecked her life.
Her classmate was three weeks shy of his 16th birthday. That made Ms Whitaker a criminal. She was arrested and charged with sodomy, which in Georgia can refer to oral sex. She met her court-appointed lawyer five minutes before the hearing. He told her to plead guilty. She did not really understand what was going on, so she did as she was told.
She was sentenced to five years on probation. Not being the most organised of people, she failed to meet all the conditions, such as checking in regularly with her probation officer. For a series of technical violations, she was incarcerated for more than a year, in the county jail, the state women’s prison and a boot camp. “I was in there with people who killed people. It’s crazy,” she says.
She finished her probation in 2002. But her ordeal continues. Georgia puts sex offenders on a public registry. Ms Whitaker’s name, photograph and address are easily accessible online, along with the information that she was convicted of “sodomy”. The website does not explain what she actually did. But since it describes itself as a list of people who have “been convicted of a criminal offence against a victim who is a minor or any dangerous sexual offence”, it makes it sound as if she did something terrible to a helpless child. She sees people whispering, and parents pulling their children indoors when she walks by.
Punish first, think later
The registry is a gold mine for lazy journalists. A local television station featured Ms Whitaker in a spot on local sex offenders, broadcasting a helpful map showing where she lives but leaving the specifics of the crime to each viewer’s fearful imagination. “My husband’s family saw me on TV,” she says. “That’s embarrassing.”
What Ms Whitaker did is no longer a crime in Georgia. The state’s sodomy laws, which in 1996 barred oral sex even between willing spouses, were struck down by court rulings in 1998 and 2003. And since 2006, thanks to a “Romeo and Juliet” clause in a sex-crimes law, consensual sex between two teenagers has been a misdemeanour, not a crime, if one partner is underage but no more than four years younger than the other.
The Romeo and Juliet clause was not retroactive, however, so Ms Whitaker is stuck on the register, and subject to extraordinary restrictions. Registered sex offenders in Georgia are barred from living within 1,000 feet of anywhere children may congregate, such as a school, a park, a library, or a swimming pool. They are also banned from working within 1,000 feet of a school or a child-care centre. Since the church at the end of Ms Whitaker’s street houses a child-care centre, she was evicted from her home. Her husband, who worked for the county dog-catching department, moved with her, lost his job and with it their health insurance.
Thanks to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Centre for Human Rights, a group that campaigns against rough justice, Ms Whitaker won an injunction allowing her to return home. But her husband did not get his job back, and now works as a labourer. The two of them are struggling financially. And Ms Whitaker is still fighting to get her name removed from the registry. “When you’re a teenager, you do stuff,” she says. “You don’t think you’ll be paying for it when you’re nearly 30.”
Every American state keeps a register of sex offenders. California has had one since 1947, but most states started theirs in the 1990s. Many people assume that anyone listed on a sex-offender registry must be a rapist or a child molester. But most states spread the net much more widely. A report by Sarah Tofte of Human Rights Watch, a pressure group, found that at least five states required men to register if they were caught visiting prostitutes. At least 13 required it for urinating in public (in two of which, only if a child was present). No fewer than 29 states required registration for teenagers who had consensual sex with another teenager. And 32 states registered flashers and streakers.
Because so many offences require registration, the number of registered sex offenders in America has exploded. As of December last year, there were 674,000 of them, according to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. If they were all crammed into a single state, it would be more populous than Wyoming, Vermont or North Dakota. As a share of its population, America registers more than four times as many people as Britain, which is unusually harsh on sex offenders. America’s registers keep swelling, not least because in 17 states, registration is for life.
Georgia has more than 17,000 registered sex offenders. Some are highly dangerous. But many are not. And it is fiendishly hard for anyone browsing the registry to tell the one from the other. The Georgia Sex Offender Registration Review Board, an official body, assessed a sample of offenders on the registry last year and concluded that 65% of them posed little threat. Another 30% were potentially threatening, and 5% were clearly dangerous. The board recommended that the first group be allowed to live and work wherever they liked. The second group could reasonably be barred from living or working in certain places, said the board, and the third group should be subject to tight restrictions and a lifetime of monitoring. A very small number “just over 100” are classified as “predators”, which means they have a compulsion to commit sex offences. When not in jail, predators must wear ankle bracelets that track where they are.
Despite the board’s findings, non-violent offenders remain listed and subject to a giant cobweb of controls. One rule, championed by Georgia’s House majority leader, banned them from living within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop. This proved unworkable. Thomas Brown, the sheriff of DeKalb county near Atlanta, mapped the bus stops in his patch and realised that he would have to evict all 490 of the sex offenders living there. Other than the bottom of a lake or the middle of a forest, there was hardly anywhere in Georgia for them to live legally. In the end Georgia’s courts stepped in and suspended the bus-stop rule, along with another barring sex offenders from volunteering in churches. But most other restrictions remain.
Sex-offender registries are popular. Rape and child molestation are terrible crimes that can traumatise their victims for life. All parents want to protect their children from sexual predators, so politicians can nearly always win votes by promising curbs on them. Those who object can be called soft on child-molesters, a label most politicians would rather avoid. This creates a ratchet effect. Every lawmaker who wants to sound tough on sex offenders has to propose a law tougher than the one enacted by the last politician who wanted to sound tough on sex offenders.
A self-defeating pillory
So laws get harsher and harsher. But that does not necessarily mean they get better. If there are thousands of offenders on a registry, it is harder to keep track of the most dangerous ones. Budgets are tight. Georgia’s sheriffs complain that they have been given no extra money or manpower to help them keep the huge and swelling sex-offenders’ registry up to date or to police its confusing mass of rules. Terry Norris of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association cites a man who was convicted of statutory rape two decades ago for having consensual sex with his high-school sweetheart, to whom he is now married. “It doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make him a threat to anybody,” says Mr Norris. “We spend the same amount of time on that guy as on someone who’s done something heinous.”
Money spent on evicting sex offenders cannot be spent on treating them. Does this matter? Politicians pushing the get-tough approach sometimes claim that sex offenders are mostly incorrigible: that three-quarters or even nine out of ten of them reoffend. It is not clear where they find such numbers. A study of nearly 10,000 male sex offenders in 15 American states found that 5% were rearrested for a sex crime within three years. A meta-analysis of 29,000 sex offenders in Canada, Britain and America found that 24% had reoffended after 15 years.
That is obviously still too high. Whether or not treatment can help is disputed. A Californian study of sex offenders who underwent “relapse prevention”, counselling of the sort that alcoholics get from Alcoholics Anonymous, found that it was useless. But a meta-analysis of 23 studies by Karl Hanson of Canada’s department of public safety found that psychological therapy was associated with a 43% drop in recidivism. Some offenders—particularly men who rape boys—are extremely hard to treat. Some will never change until they are too old to feel sexual urges. But some types of treatment appear to work for some people and further research could yield more breakthroughs.
Publicising sex offenders’ addresses makes them vulnerable to vigilantism. In April 2006, for example, a vigilante shot and killed two sex offenders in Maine after finding their addresses on the registry. One of the victims had been convicted of having consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 19. In Washington state in 2005 a man posed as an FBI agent to enter the home of two sex offenders, warning them that they were on a “hit list” on the internet. Then he killed them.
Murders of sex offenders are rare, but harassment is common. Most of the offenders interviewed for this article said they had experienced it. “Bill”, who spent nine months in jail for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old when he was 27 and is now registered in North Carolina, says someone put up posters with his photograph on them around his district. (In at least four states, each offender’s profile on the online registry comes with a handy “click to print” function.) The local kids promptly stopped playing with Bill’s three children. And someone started leaving chopped-up sausages on his car, a possible reference to castration. Bill and his family moved house.
Jill Levenson, of Lynn University in Florida, says half of registered sex offenders have trouble finding jobs. From 20% to 40% say they have had to move house because a landlord or neighbour realised they were sex offenders. And most report feeling depressed, hopeless or afraid.
“Mike” spent a year and a half behind bars for statutory rape after having sex with a girl who said she was 17, but was two years younger. He was 22 at the time. Since his release, he has struggled to hold down a job. Once, he found work as a security guard, but his probation officer told him to quit, since the uniform lent him an air of authority, which would not do.
He is now unemployed, and lives in a flophouse in Atlanta between a jail and a strip club. The area is too desolate to have any schools or parks, so he is allowed to live there. His neighbours are mostly other sex offenders and mentally ill folk who talk to themselves. “It’s Bumville,” sighs Mike. His ambition is to get a job, keep it and move out. Any job will do, he says.
Several studies suggest that making it harder for sex offenders to find a home or a job makes them more likely to reoffend. Gwenda Willis and Randolph Grace of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, for example, found that the lack of a place to live was “significantly related to sexual recidivism”. Candace Kruttschnitt and Christopher Uggen of the University of Minnesota and Kelly Shelton of the Minnesota Department of Corrections tracked 556 sex offenders on probation and found less recidivism among those with a history of stable employment.
Some bosses do not mind hiring sex offenders, if they know the full story and the offender does not seem dangerous. But an accessible online registry makes it all but certain that a colleague or a customer will find out about a sexual conviction. Sex offenders often report being sacked for no apparent reason. Mike had a job at a cake shop. His boss knew about his record. But one day, without warning, he was fired.
Publicly accessible sex-offender registries are intended to keep people safe. But there is little evidence that they do. A study by Kristen Zgoba of the New Jersey Department of Corrections found that the state’s system for registering sex offenders and warning their neighbours cost millions of dollars and had no discernible effect on the number of sex crimes. Restricting where sex offenders can live is supposed to keep them away from potential victims, but it is doubtful that this works. A determined predator can always catch a bus.
Laws that make life hard for sex offenders also affect their families. A survey by Ms Levenson found that 86% of family members felt stressed because of registration and residence rules, and 49% feared for their own safety. “It’s very difficult,” says Bill. “Pretty much all the things that make you a good father are now illegal for me to do.” He cannot take his children to a park, a pool, or a museum. He cannot be at any of their school events. And his children are ostracised. “The parents find out I’m registered and that’s it,” he sighs.
The penalties for sex offenders who break the rules can be severe. In Georgia the first time you fail to provide an accurate address or register annually with the county sheriff to be photographed and fingerprinted, you face ten to 30 years in prison. The second time: life. Yet because living on a public sex-offender registry is so wretched, many abscond.
Some states have decided that harsher sex laws are not always better. Iowa has sharply reduced the number of sex offences for which residency restrictions apply. Previously, all Iowan sex offenders who had abused children were barred from living within 2,000 feet of a school or child-care centre. Since where offenders lived was defined as where they slept, many would spend the day at home with their families and sleep at night in their cars at a highway rest stop. “That made no sense,” says Corwin Ritchie of the Iowa County Attorneys Association. “We don’t try to monitor where possible bank robbers sleep.”
The Iowan politicians who relaxed the law gave themselves cover by adding a new rule against “loitering” near schools. Mr Ritchie thinks the new rules are better, but he would rather get rid of the residency restrictions entirely and let probation officers make recommendations for each individual offender.
Nationwide, the trend is to keep getting stricter. In 1994 Congress ordered all states that had not yet done so to set up sex-offender registries or lose some funding. Two years later it ordered them to register the most serious offenders for life. In 2006 it passed the Adam Walsh Act, named for a six-year-old boy who was kidnapped and beheaded, broadening the categories of offence for which registration is required and obliging all states to upload their registries to a national database. States had until this summer to comply with that provision. Some objected. In May they were given another year’s breathing space.
Other countries now seem to be following America’s lead. Hottest on its heels is Britain, where the sex-offenders’ registry includes children as young as 11. The British list is not open to the public, but in some areas parents may ask for a check on anyone who has unsupervised access to their child. France, too, now has a closed national directory of sex-offenders, as does Austria, which brought in some American-style movement restrictions on sex offenders earlier this year. After the disappearance in Portugal in 2007 of Madeleine McCann, a British toddler, some European politicians have called for a pan-European registry.
Human Rights Watch urges America to scale back its sex-offender registries. Those convicted of minor, non-violent offences should not be required to register, says Ms Tofte. Nor should juveniles. Sex offenders should be individually assessed, and only those judged likely to rape someone or abuse a child should be registered. Such decisions should be regularly reviewed and offenders who are rehabilitated (or who grow too old to reoffend) should be removed from the registry. The information on sex-offender registries should be held by the police, not published online, says Ms Tofte, and released “on a need-to-know basis”. Blanket bans on all sex offenders living and working in certain areas should be abolished. Instead, it makes sense for the most dangerous offenders sometimes to face tailored restrictions as a condition of parole.
That package of reforms would bring America in line with the strictest laws in other rich countries. But few politicians would have the courage to back it. “Jane”, the mother of a sex offender in Georgia, says she sent a letter to her senator, Saxby Chambliss, urging such reforms. “They didn’t even read it,” she says. “They just sent me a form letter assuring me that they were in favour of every sex offender law, and that [Senator Chambliss] has grandchildren he wants to protect.”
Source: The Economist
Secret CAS Board
August 9, 2009 permalink
The board meetings of Sudbury CAS are de facto held in secret, since they refuse to disclose the time and place of the meetings to parties interested in attending.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Sudbury CAS Keeping Board Meetings Secret from Public
The Foster Care Council of Canada has received an e-mail message from a citizen of Sudbury who informed us of the fact that he has been asking for years when the Society's Board of Directors holds meetings that the public can attend and that the Society has refused to respond to him.
His e-mail read as follows:
"For two years I have been asking Sudbury CAS when they hold their monthly meetings....still no relpy. I requested info under FIA, the Ministry's (Mary-Lou Daniels) wrote me and said "we just fund them""
The Council will intervene and seek a response from the Society regarding the following information:
- the schedule for the monthly Board of Directors meetings
- whether the public can attend
- how the public can attend
- if there are any limitations to members of the public attending such monthly Board meetings
Posted by afterfostercare at 7:57 AM
Source: Foster Care News (John Dunn), August 9, 2009
Teens Forcibly Drugged.
August 9, 2009 permalink
Canada Court Watch reports two stories of teenagers forced to take psychotropic drugs while under care of children's aid. Since no names are used, it is impossible to tell whether they are the same person, but the experiences are commonplace.
Are children in care of CAS agencies being forcefully medicated so that CAS can collect more tax dollars?
(August 3, 2009) Canada Court Watch was involved with a story involving a child in the care of the Durham CAS who was being medicated when it was not necessary. The story was covered by CBC news and can still be viewed on its website under the video "finding normal." Segments of video materials taken by Canada Court Watch during this case were aired on National TV in which the boy described being sexually abused and drugged while in care of the CAS. As a result of intervention by outside advocates, the boy was removed from the CAS, taken off the drugs and given back to his family and is now doing fine outside of the CAS. Had outside help not been a factor, chances are that this boy would still be in care of the CAS and likely still on drugs.
Another older boy has recently come forth to report to Canada Court Watch that he too has been forcefully fed a cocktail of powerful mind altering drugs by the CAS when he feels he did not need them. The teen reported that even though he told the CAS doctor that he did not need these drugs, the prescribing doctor would not listen to him and told him that he should take the drugs because all the other kids in care were taking them. The teen said he got the impression that the doctor was prescribing medication at the request of CAS workers and not based on the real need to prescribe such powerful medications. Once prescribed medication by the CAS doctor, the teen described how 200 pound workers would would wrestle teens to the ground and then sit on them while they put the pills in the mouths of kids in care and then forced water into their mouths.
The teen has reported that as soon as he got out of care and stopped taking the drugs that he felt much better almost immediately. While the CAS administered drugs made him drowsy and unable to get up in the morning, he now wakes up alert at normal times. He does not feel dizzy and sick like he did while in CAS care. The teen claims he was never told why he needed the drugs nor ever told of the short term or long term health risks. He was told to take the drugs or that the medication would be forcefully put down his throat by thugs at the CAS facility. The teen believes that his natural growth has been stunted by the drugs he was forced to take while in the care of CAS.
It is known that CAS agencies receive significant amounts of tax dollars for having children in care. More money is obtained when these kids are put on medication. The question must be asked, are children being prescribed unnecessary medication so that the CAS agencies can collect more tax money from the Province of Ontario?
If readers know of any person who feels that they were subjected to unnecessary prescribed medication while under the care of a CAS agency and who would be willing to go public with their story, then please have them send details and contact information, including phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Canada Court Watch, August 3, 2009
Breaking news - Teen claims he was subjected to years of abuse while a Crown Ward for the York Region Children's Aid Society!
(August 4, 2009) A teen who has been under the care and control of the York Region Children's Aid Society has written a scathing letter to the Executive Director of the society, Mr. Patrick Lake, in which he describes years of abuse by workers while he was a Crown Ward. The teen described how he and other children are being medicated by force without their consent, in spite of them being over the age of 14. The teen described an environment of assaults, threats and intimidation being used on a daily basis against children in the care of CAS. One of the facilities which the York Region CAS had this teen held captive was Youthdale Treatment Centre. In follow-up to this story, Court Watch has found a public blog where other former residents of Youthdale have reported similar stories of abuse as well, including forced medication by injections at the facility. Photo to the left is the actual bag containing the cocktail of powerful medication which the teen was forced to take against his wishes and without the prescribing doctor telling him what the medication was for what the side effects of the medication were. More information about this breaking story will be released as soon as it becomes available.
Are children in care of CAS agencies being forcefully medicated so that CAS can collect more tax dollars?
Source: Canada Court Watch, August 4, 2009
Workers Steal Baby, Lose Jobs
August 7, 2009 permalink
Two stories about Caesars Windsor. In the first, a woman left her baby girl in her car to play in the casino, checked on the girl an hour later, continued playing for another half hour until security found the baby and called police. Children's aid took the baby. In the second, more than a hundred employees of Caesars Windsor were laid off. No members of the CAW union seem to have noticed a connection between alienating customers by stealing their children, and loss of business. A real business provides daycare for its customers.
Baby left as mom gambles
6-month-old in car at parking garage for 11/2 hours
Trevor Wilhelm, The Windsor Star, Friday, August 07, 2009
Police and child protection workers rescued a six-month-old infant early Thursday after her mother allegedly abandoned her in a car and went "on a roll" gambling at the casino.
When Caesars Windsor security discovered the little girl around 12:30 a.m., she'd been locked alone in the vehicle about an hour and a half and was "sweating profusely," police said.
"After she turned the baby over to CAS she asked if she could go in and cash in her chips," said Sgt. Brett Corey. "They asked her why she left the baby in the car as long as she did and she said 'I was on a roll at the table.'
"Common sense dictates that infants of that age or any age need to be afforded the necessities of life and should be under constant supervision. It's certainly troubling and concerning to us that somebody would consider a gambling addiction more important than their own child. That's why we're treating it as seriously as we are."
The 32-year-old Tilbury woman is banned from Caesars Windsor property, under threat of arrest if she ever returns, and is facing charges of criminal negligence and child abandonment. The Children's Aid Society seized the baby. She appears to be OK, police said.
Corey said the woman parked the car and left her baby girl there at 10:55 p.m. Wednesday. Video surveillance shows she came back to the car around midnight.
"Doesn't open the vehicle, just looks in the window, sees the baby and goes back into the casino," said Corey.
A security officer making the rounds in the parking garage discovered the infant around 12:30 a.m. when he noticed her little hand moving. By the time police arrived, the casino had paged the woman and she was at the car holding the baby.
"She admitted to having a gambling problem," said Corey. "Her husband was unaware that she was at the casino. She had told him she was elsewhere with the baby."
The casino denied her request to go back and cash in her winnings.
"We're just appalled by this situation," said casino spokeswoman Holly Ward. "We never ever want to see this happen."
She said casino security monitors the parking garage for any potential problems, but she added the onus to make sure kids are safe lies with the parents.
"I think it should be clear this a parenting issue, it's not a casino issue," she said.
"This is a parenting issue, and we're not in the parenting business. And frankly, it's very unique that this actually happened here."
But it wasn't the first time such a thing occurred in Windsor, at the casino and elsewhere.
In Oct. 2004, the CAS took one-year-old, five-year-old and seven-year-old siblings into protective custody after the older child called 911 to say their mother left them at home while she went to play bingo. Police could hear crying from outside the house.
In May 1998, two Michigan women abandoned nine children in a car while they gambled at the interim casino. In July 1997, cleaning staff at the Compri Hotel found four children, aged seven, six, four and one, alone in a room while their parents gambled in the casino.
Earlier that year police found a seven-year-old and an infant who was still bottle-fed alone in a car. It was so cold the car windows were frosted over.
Two years before that, a Scarborough woman left nine- and five-year-old children alone in a room at the Quality Suites Inn while she went to Casino Windsor. The CAS showed up after the desk clerk got a call from a crying child.
"When you have one case, that's too many," said Tina Gatt, manager of public relations and prevention for CAS.
"We have seen situations like this that have played out in the media in the past around kids left in cars, and the casino has been sighted as the location for some of those."
But she said it's much more common to get calls about parents leaving young kids unsupervised at home or alone in a car while shopping.
"Supervision in general is an issue that we contend with all the time," said Gatt. "Parents think their kids are old enough or it's safe enough or they just don't have the means to find appropriate child care or other provisions."
Leaving kids in a car is particularly dangerous during the summer, she said.
"This is concerning this time of year because it's hot," said Gatt. "We advocate against leaving your pets in the car. We can't leave children in the car either.
"There are just so many variables that are a risk to the child's safety. Just don't do it."
email@example.com or 519-255-6850
Source: Windsor Star
Caesars Windsor lays off 100 workers
By Dalson Chen, The Windsor Star, July 28, 2009
WINDSOR, Ont. -- More than 100 workers at Caesars Windsor were laid off Monday, and the union that represents them fears more job cuts are coming.
“We’re working with casino management … to try to save as many full-time jobs as we can. But if business doesn’t pick up, I suspect there are probably going to be more layoffs farther down the road,” said Rick Laporte, president of CAW Local 444.
All the people who received notice of their indefinite layoff worked in the casino’s food and beverage department.
Laporte said he believes the situation is the result of diminished business at Caesars Windsor because of the new U.S. passport requirement at the border.
“Obviously, they’re reducing hours at their restaurants,” Laporte said.
“The business has shifted to the weekend. During the week, it’s very slow at the casino, at this point.”
Asked what department he believes might be hit with layoffs next, Laporte replied: “I think you’re looking at the whole casino in general. Obviously, when you have less people coming to the casino, it’s going to take less people to service it. Whether it be gaming staff, food and beverage staff, or whatever. Even the hotel is down.… It’s concerning, all around.”
Caesars Windsor spokeswoman Holly Ward said 68 full-time and 33 part-time employees were laid off Monday.
While Ward acknowledged that casino business has been “softening,” she described the layoffs as part of the casino’s “restructuring” to meet the demands of a changing business environment.
“We anticipated this would happen,” said Ward, pointing to such factors as the economy, the exchange rate, and the passport requirement.
Caesars Windsor eateries Augustus Cafe, Artist Cafe, Legends Sports Bar and Market Buffet will have new weekend-focused hours effective July 28. Neros, the casino’s steakhouse, will have new hours effective Aug. 3.
Despite the layoffs, Ward said the casino’s revision of its restaurant hours has created 19 new positions: three full-time and 16 part-time.
Asked if further “restructuring” could lead to more layoffs, Ward said none are planned at the moment, and she’s not in a position to speculate.
But Laporte said he fears the job situation will get worse before it gets better. He predicted that casino business will slow even more once the summer season ends.
However, Laporte quashed rumours that the contracts for unionized casino workers will be renegotiated. “The casino has not come to us and asked us to open up our collective agreements, at this point in time,” he said.
Chris Edwards, executive director of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association, said other downtown businesses also immediately suffered after the new passport rule at the border came into effect on June 1.
“Right away, we saw a big dip in our downtown traffic,” Edwards said.
But Edwards added that, so far this month, he’s noticed an encouraging number of downtown customers from the U.S., and he hopes it’s a sign that people are growing accustomed to the border change.
Laporte echoed Edwards’s sentiments.
“Everybody’s hope is that (potential U.S. customers) eventually go out and get a passport, and decide to come back to Caesars Windsor,” Laporte said. “It might be a slow process to get everybody on board.”
Joseph Rino, a CAW Local 444 member who has worked at the casino for 13 years, was still awaiting confirmation on Monday about his status as a server in the Artist Cafe
Rino said he was told not to come in for his Monday afternoon shift, and he must report to the human resources office today.
“How are you supposed to be prepared for something like this?” asked Rino, a 36-year-old father of two.
Source: Windsor Star
Cop Abandons Kids
August 7, 2009 permalink
Many parents have been arrested and lost custody of their children for running into a store while a child remained in the car. A Memphis Tennessee TV station found a case of a policeman doing the same thing. See it on clip syndicate (html) or our local copy (flv).
Family Detention Center to Close
August 6, 2009 permalink
The T Don Hutto Residential Facility near Austin Texas will be closed. In the past it served as a prison for immigrants, including a Canadian boy Kevin Yourdkhani held there in 2007.
Obama Ends Family Detention, Hedges on Immigration Reform
— By Sonja Sharp | Thu August 6, 2009 2:59 PM PST
President Obama announced today a tiny sliver of his much anticipated and long forgotten plan to reform immigration policy: The US will stop detaining families at T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a CCA prison near Austin, TX that holds exclusively immigrants. I've never been to T. Don Hutto, but I did hang out in one of CCA's non-criminal detention facilities in New Jersey, the hub for undocumented immigrants snagged coming in or out of one of the New York Metro airports. Here's what I saw.
It looked, not surprisingly, like a prison. And it was run like a prison, if a prison had window-walled dormitories instead of cell blocks: breakfast at 7, dinner at 5, showers with no curtains and toilets with no stalls. The inmates all wore gray uniforms (including gray hijabs for Muslim women, since Muslims make up a third of the inmate population there). Mostly they made paper flowers and played dominoes while waiting for the other shoe to drop. Legally, it should take a maximum of three months. But lawyers who represent immigrants say the three month maximum detention limit is a myth.
About 400,000 immigrants go through non-criminal detention a year; 32,000 are held at any given time. Some are kept in local jails cheek-to-jowl with violent offenders. Others are shipped to privately-run facilities specially built for them, hundreds of miles from where they were picked up. Every year, some die.
Once upon a time (in 2006) people facing deportation didn't go to prison at all. Instead, they awaited trial at home until they were either cleared to stay or sent packing. Given our country's notorious prison congestion, you'd think there'd be more of a push to let law-abiding non-citizens keep doing their thing through months' long deportation proceedings. And if you think undocumented immigrants are a drain on our national resources, you'd be shocked to learn how much we spend locking them up.
Unfortunately, even as reforms are implemented, more people, not fewer, will be headed to lock-up. In a world where CHP officers and local cops can start deportation proceedings from their cruisers, who would expect to see less?
Source: Mother Jones
Man Dies from Protection
August 5, 2009 permalink
When his family tried to discipline Leo Perez at age 13, Yakima Washington police and social workers intervened. From that day forward Leo used the threat of the cucuy (Spanish for social services boogeyman) to control his parents. He descended into gang life resulting in his death at age 20.
From the YakimaHerald.com Online News.
Families at a loss over kids in gangs
By MELISSA SÁNCHEZ, Yakima Herald-Republic
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Dozens of somber young men surrounded Lala Perez, their wet eyes fixed on the pile of fresh dirt at her feet.
Any one of them could have been her son.
But Leo Perez wasn't there with his homies. He didn't hear his mother's plea, the one he'd ignored so many times.
"If you could only look into a mother's heart and see the sorrow, you wouldn't keep behaving the way you do," she said, her voice breaking. "I want this to serve as a lesson, an experience.
"You need to change for your own good."
It was too late for her son. He'd just been buried.
Leo was shot in the chest May 18 in an alley less than a block from his home on North Third Street. The 20-year-old died the following night.
A day after the funeral, as relatives and friends recited the rosary inside his home, Daniel Perez wondered whether it could have ended any other way for his son.
"What were we supposed to do? We talked to him and talked to him and he never listened," he said. "Ever since he was little, he was rebellious. You just can't take that out of somebody."
His words reflect the frustration of many immigrant parents in the Yakima Valley.
Police say at least 500 known gang members live here. Most were born here, but in many cases their parents are immigrants, police and social workers say.
As immigrants, they don't always understand rules that they sometimes see as undermining their authority at home. And they don't know where to turn for help.
It's a situation not often seen or understood by critics who look at the recent spike in violence and blame parents for their children's involvement in gangs.
Long before their son's death, the Perezes say they'd already lost him to the gang life. They point to an evening about seven years ago when their authority over their fourth-born child began to crumble.
He was about 13 and had lied about having friends over, they say, so they took turns hitting him with a belt. Police came. State social workers opened an investigation.
In the end, the Perezes were not charged with abuse. But the investigation took months and involved family counseling. Leo took advantage of the experience, they say.
"If you hit me, they'll throw you in jail," Lala said her son would tell them. "He felt so protected by the law that it became easy for him to do as he wanted after that."
In Spanish, the word for "boogeyman" is "cucuy." That's how some Latino immigrants view social workers, said Alex Santillanes, who teaches parenting classes through Barrios Unidos, an anti-gang ministry.
But this "cucuy" is used by children to scare parents.
"These kids are smart. They're using the system against the parents and they know it," Santillanes said. "Often parents were trying to do the best they could to try to get this kid out of a gang ... (but they've) already been traumatized by CPS workers, the police department, the court. They don't want to go through that again."
Many immigrants are here illegally and sometimes equate police with immigration authorities.
Families in any community -- immigrant or nonimmigrant -- often fear social workers, said Doug Savelesky, a supervisor with Child and Family Welfare Services in Yakima.
But the fear is more real for immigrants, he said. Many immigrants, after all, come here illegally and can confuse government agencies with immigration authorities.
"We don't ask citizenship status in any manner," Savelesky said. "If it does come up in our social work, it's nothing we report to any outside agency."
Parents don't always know that. And many children -- who often serve as interpreters for the family -- learn to play on their parents' fears, said Santillanes.
"How can you discipline without fearing you're going to be chastised?"
The question is one Leo's parents say they probably wouldn't have asked in Mexico.
They grew up in southwest Mexico, where they say physical discipline taught them to respect and obey their own parents. There, what happened within a family stayed in the family; police rarely interfered.
"I know that in Mexico it's different," said Angela Guardiola, a social worker for teens in Child and Family Welfare Services. "There are rules and laws, like there are here. But I don't think they are as enforced in some of the rural towns because of the distance of some of the offices."
Leo's parents -- who are here legally -- immigrated as teenagers, met in the Yakima Valley and raised eight children on modest agricultural wages.
They had so many children, Lala explained, "because it's what God wanted" -- a nod to her Catholic faith. They worked long hours, often double shifts, in orchards and packing houses to support the family.
As a boy, Leo was a star soccer player who for years held on to trophies from an undefeated season in a junior soccer league. His parents rarely were able to attend his games.
"My parents would try to go," said his older brother Martin, 21. "But when they didn't have time or were working, they just couldn't. They worked a lot, especially during the summer, and that was when Leo played."
Weeks before he died, he spoke resentfully of those days, his girlfriend said.
"He told me his parents never went to his games," said Isabel Torres, 18. "He didn't think his mom loved him."
His mother said she regrets not spending more time with her son. She remembers how he helped pay bills and talked about becoming a better man. He provided for his girlfriend and their young son, taking them on regular shopping trips to Seattle. His siblings remember playfully teasing him for regularly leaving sweatshirts at other people's homes.
But what Leo did outside their home his parents could never be certain. He didn't tell them. He stopped asking for permission to leave, regularly skipped classes and eventually dropped out of school.
He joined a gang as a young teenager, rose through the ranks and was calling the shots by the time he died at age 20. His criminal record was lengthy -- some minor assault and burglary convictions, as well as a few pending charges.
He had no major felony convictions. But Yakima police -- from those patrolling the streets at night to the chief -- knew who he was.
"It was destined to happen to this kid," said Chief Sam Granato. "I don't know how else to put it, but I remember making that prediction to him.
"When you think you're the best and the quickest, there's always going to be someone who is better and faster."
Leo's community corrections officer, who supervises close to 40 gang members in Yakima County, considered him an important "businessman" within his gang. Authorities say Leo ran a gang house, owned bulletproof vests and modern guns, and made daily dope runs to King County.
Leo lived fast in the months leading up his death. He was on the run -- wanted on multiple warrants for violating probation -- and rarely stayed long at his parents' home. He'd wear a "disguise" to avoid being caught: shades and a dark blue baseball cap imprinted with the letters DEA.
Throughout the Valley, schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, libraries and police departments offer free parenting classes, in English and Spanish. They can be intensive, two-hour groups that meet twice a week for several weeks.
They're for parents to learn about drugs, gangs and violence before the problems even enter the household, said YPD's gang awareness educator, Officer Dave Cortez.
"It's the same as locking your doors and windows at night," he said. "You don't wait until you're broken into before you do that."
Recently, Cortez sent 2,000 invitations to the parents of children in Yakima schools for such a class. Fewer than two dozen attended.
"It's not like the services weren't here," said Cortez, a former gang unit cop. "It's not as difficult as you might have thought."
Classes can teach parents the difference between spanking a child, which is legal, and child abuse. Or how they can get help from the courts through youth-at-risk petitions when situations get out of hand.
But that information doesn't always reach those who need it.
"We are very frustrated with the gang issues," said Guardiola, the social worker. "In my teen unit, I have a lot of children who are involved with gangs. If there are resources out there, I'd like to get more involved."
Ralph Berthon, field administrator of Yakima County's community corrections office, said anti-gang resources in the Valley need to be better coordinated.
"That's what we can make out of Leo's death," he said, "to get that message to parents who are going nuts out there about what they can do for their kids."
When Leo died, his family turned to the Catholic Church for comfort.
At the funeral Mass, hundreds of people -- many of them gang members from across the Valley -- poured into St. Joseph's Catholic Church in downtown Yakima.
"I do it mostly for the family," said The Rev. Michael Pope, who oversaw the service. "I don't want to condone gang life."
His Mass celebrated hope in the Resurrection. But because he's conducted so many funeral Masses for dead gang members, the Jesuit challenged Leo's homies.
Violence is a sign of weakness, not strength, Pope told them. War should be the last option. And Leo's death was the senseless end to a life that could have been so much greater.
"Where does heaven begin? After death?" he asked in Spanish, which most of those in attendance understood. "No. It can begin right now. Just as during our lifetimes we can create heaven here on Earth, so too can we create hell.
"Which would you prefer?"
At that, a half-dozen young men -- all in red, some with bandanas, most tattooed and one with a ponytail and shaved head -- stood and walked out.
A few nights earlier, the mother of one of Leo's homies stopped by the Perez house. Afraid for her own son's life, the woman asked Lala Perez if she could counsel her boy.
Leo's mother said she'd think about it.
The words finally came to her at Leo's burial, and the homies stood quietly as she implored them to leave the gang life. Whether they listened is another story.
* Melissa Sánchez can be reached at 509-577-7675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Yakima Herald
Sexual Predator Insanity
August 3, 2009 permalink
Paul Elam reports on a case in which hysteria over child-abuse destroyed a teenager.
Sexual Predator Insanity
By Paul Elam | Aug 3, 2009
At sixteen, Ricky Blackman was fairly typical of teen-age boys. He loved sports, especially basketball and football, and played them well enough to have realistic hopes for a scholarship. He liked socializing and hanging out with his friends. And girls—of course there were always the girls.
His Middle American upbringing produced unsurprising ambitions. He dreamed of serving his country in the Navy after school, and ultimately of a career in law enforcement. He was, by all accounts, a healthy and well adjusted young man.
Skip ahead three years, and you’ll find Ricky and his life have changed radically. He takes private instruction in web design because he isn’t welcome on a campus. He no longer trusts the law he once wanted to serve, and, when in the presence of young women, he panics and withdraws. In fact, his life, once so full of promise and hope, is now little more than a daily struggle to survive, and a challenge to even find reasons for doing so.
While Ricky’s view of the world has changed since his younger days, it is nothing compared to the way the world’s view of Ricky has changed. He has become the ultimate pariah and outcast. He is, at least in the eyes of most, pernicious persona non grata; human refuse hardly worthy of life itself.
It all started before his seventeenth birthday. Ricky was at a local hang out for teens and met a girl there. Amanda was from his area, said she was fifteen years old and they seemed to have much in common. They began seeing each other, and eventually had sex on two occasions.
The encounters would undo the rest of his life.
Like many young people trying to impress someone they like, Amanda lied to Ricky about her age. She later told Ricky’s mother, Mary Duval, that she was only fourteen, and pled with her not to let Ricky know. Mary promptly told her son of the confession, and he cut off the romance immediately. They found out later that she still wasn’t being entirely honest.
Later Amanda, a runaway, became involved with the police, who discovered her prior ties with Ricky. She admitted the sexual relationship to the police during questioning. She also admitted that she had lied to Ricky about her age. After evaluating the situation, Amanda’s parents weren’t interested in pressing charges and the police weren’t interested in making an arrest. Until, that is, the Dallas County (Iowa) District Attorney’s office got wind of the case.
Shortly after Ricky turned seventeen, he was questioned by the police. His mother was present, and it was her instinct to remove Ricky from the interview. But she had just undergone surgery on her eyes and was disoriented due to the post-operative medications she was taking, so she allowed Ricky’s then-stepfather to handle things. Unfortunately, the stepfather wanted the matter quickly resolved, and signed a waiver for the police to question him without legal counsel.
The police had something they wanted Ricky to sign as well.
It was a simple statement that he had, in fact, had sexual relations with Amanda. Ricky was apprehensive, but he signed. It was, after all, the truth. And in Ricky’s world, the truth served an honest person well.
“Sorry to tell you,” the police officer told Ricky after he had signed the statement. “Amanda admitted she lied to you about her real age, but she was only thirteen.”
It probably wasn’t the tactics Ricky envisioned, when he thought of becoming a police officer: Get a kid to sign a confession, and then tell him what he just confessed to. Ricky’s naiveté took a hard blow. But it was only the first of many times that the real world would land on him like a Mack Truck.
The officer told him that the case would be sent back to the D.A., and that it might come to nothing since Amanda had confessed to lying about her age. He also advised him, in a rare moment of clarity and honesty from the system, that it could go either way.
The Arrest Made the Papers
Ten days later, Ricky was handcuffed in front of his friends and taken to jail. He was charged as an adult with two counts of third degree sexual abuse, a felony. In an almost artistic manipulation of timing and the system, police and prosecutors used laws applying only to juveniles to garner evidence and a confession, and then used it all to charge him criminally as an adult.
He was threatened with twenty years in prison (more time than he’d yet been alive), but that was only the beginning of a two-pronged assault on his life. When the arrest made the papers, complete with Ricky’s full name, address, and the nature of the charges against him, the community in which he had lived and thrived turned on him in an instant.
When Ricky and Mary went food shopping, cashiers in one line at a local grocery store refused to check them out, forcing them to go to another line while other customers glared. His younger brother, who was nine at the time, was badgered and humiliated at school.
Duval read the writing on the wall, and immediately made plans to take Ricky and his brother to Oklahoma in hopes that they could put the matter behind them. Unfortunately, the move would have to wait until the Dallas County Prosecutor’s Office was done with him.
That process began with a rare, upbeat moment that seemed to promise a partial reprieve. The prosecution offered a deal with Ricky that almost seemed reasonable, given the circumstances. He would plead guilty to one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, a class D felony, which would be expunged from the records if he satisfied the terms of his two-year probation. He would not have to state a felony on job applications, and, because of the adjudication, he would not be placed on a sex offenders’ registry.
It seemed like the best offer possible, all things considered, and Ricky agreed to the plea.
Ricky and his mother took their seats in the courtroom. Then, just minutes before the hearing was scheduled to begin, the state appointed attorney advised them that there had been a recent change in Iowa law.
Any plea arrangement Ricky made would be contingent on being placed on a sex abuser registry for ten years. Both Ricky and his mother erupted in tears at the news, causing a commotion in the courtroom. It took some time for them to compose themselves.
The “recent” change in the statute had happened, they would discover, nearly a year earlier, but right now, Ricky had just moments to decide whether or not to take the deal.
He didn’t want to be placed on the registry. He didn’t think it was right. But to fight it was risking two decades behind bars; a place where young men, especially those not hardened by criminal life, were sure to find out what real sexual deviance and assault are all about.
It was a double blow for Duval, who had lost her eyesight entirely, just five weeks before the hearing. Now she could lose her son.
Ricky took the deal, but almost ran into another snag with the court. The prosecution wanted Ricky to state on the record that he had lured the girl to his home for the purpose of having sex. The request was clear. In essence they wanted Ricky to commit perjury, a real crime, so they could have on the record a phony allocution to something he never did. Blackman, with courage almost unimaginable for his age and the circumstances, refused. He told the court that the sex was what they both wanted, and he wouldn‘t make a statement to the contrary.
They entered his statement into the record and closed the case. Ricky had received the adjudication, and they were now free to move away from Iowa.
It was something Ricky couldn’t wait to do. The promise of getting away and making a fresh start almost made the situation bearable.
A Fresh Start
The state of Oklahoma, and some of its citizens, had other plans.
They’d had no idea when they moved, but Oklahoma law required Ricky to register as a sexual offender for life. And because of the age difference between him and Amanda, he would be listed as a Level Three Offender, which labels him as violent and dangerous, and his crime as “aggravated.” He was placed on the sexual offender registry, and, as a result, Ricky’s life has been affected in ways that most of us cannot imagine.
Since moving to Oklahoma he has been kicked out of school, ousted from public parks, and verbally abused by neighbors and strangers. One neighbor shouted obscenities and videotaped him whenever he stepped outside his door. The same man came to their home and told Mary Duval he would not quit bothering them till she took her “child rapist” away. He was not interested in the facts surrounding Ricky’s case. He had seen everything he needed to know about Ricky Blackman on the “Offender Registry.”
Ricky cannot live or go within 2,000 feet of schools, parks or any other establishments where children are known to be present, and this forces him to live as far from town as possible. It also means he cannot attend his younger brother’s football games, or go almost anywhere where he could make and maintain friendships. He cannot even attend church unless he informs the clergy there that he is a sex offender and gets their permission.
Now that Ricky is off probation, his younger brother can have his friends in the home while Ricky is there. But most parents don’t want their children in a home with a registered sex offender. And the reality is that children around Ricky do present a dangerous vulnerability… for Ricky. Any allegation against him, even the most patently false, could have disastrous results.
His probation officer had him dismissed from the school system, saying, according to Duval, “He is a liability to them.” He was denied G.E.D classes because they were offered on a school campus, and the State Board of Education denied him online classes because he was on the registry.
Ricky was eventually allowed to take G.E.D. classes, at a local police station.
He now lives his life in near solitude, helping to take care of his mother and trying to sort out how he is going to make something of the rest of his life. He had a job in a fabrication plant, but was “laid off” when his employers discovered his history. Effectively in prison, Ricky will remain that way for the rest of his life unless something changes.
Ricky and his mother are both involved in trying to effect those changes. They have both taken the story public, and Duval has an on-line radio program to raise awareness of what the registry actually does. She has managed to get the story covered by some television stations and newspapers. She also has an internet petition demanding changes in the laws. Primary among those demands is that the states recognize the difference between sexual predation and consensual sex between teens.
In many places, including Oklahoma, the law sees no such difference, and consequently makes no legal distinction between someone who lures a child into a car and rapes them and someone like Ricky Blackman.
The Court Knew Better
It was a difference, however, that the prosecution in his case was apparently able to see, even as they held twenty years in prison over the young man’s head in order to coerce a guilty plea. It was the prosecution that recommended to the court that Blackman receive two years probation with deferred adjudication. In that recommendation, they advised the court that this course of action would be sufficient to rehabilitate the defendant.
One only need consult a mental health professional with experience dealing with sexual offenders to learn that the nearly universal perception is that recidivism for sexual offenders is high. In my considerable time in the field, it was the general consensus of clinicians that predators were untreatable, and that incarceration was the best option. (There is research that disputes all this, but in Blackman’s case, it was always perceptions that guided events, not reality.)
That being said, prosecutors are generally less generous than psychotherapists. With their recommendation to the court, the prosecution openly acceded to what everyone else in that courtroom already knew.
Ricky Blackman was not a sexual predator.
Ricky Blackman was just a kid that had sex with a girlfriend he thought was a year younger than him.
Ricky Blackman had no business being there in the first place.
At this point, though, it was too late. Blackman was caught up in a system largely devised by politicians clamoring to quell public fears about the safety of children. Fanning the flames of public outrage, and sometimes lighting them, lawmakers run for office against each other on platforms largely consisting of “tough on crime” one-upmanship. One ever more draconian measure after another is offered up as a sales pitch to a panic-ridden, woefully ignorant public that will sign on to whatever sounds the most extreme.
The result is laws that not only fail to protect our children, but in the case of Blackman and others, have actually started destroying them. Elected politicians, like prosecutors and judges, fearful of being seen as soft on crime, force people like Ricky through the legal gauntlet without compunction. They have become robotic assassins, creating unthinkable collateral damage in a war that is supposedly being waged in the public’s best interest.
Meanwhile, children are no safer on the streets than they have ever been.
His Whole Life in Front of Him
It is perhaps fitting to point to the silver linings in this story. Duval, the loss of her sight notwithstanding, has emerged as a dogged and tireless advocate for her son, and for bringing problems with the sexual offenders registry to the public’s attention.
Ricky has found some focus for the future as well, though it took some hits and misses. He wanted to get a law degree and work to change the system for the better, but he won’t be allowed to practice law anywhere, because of the registry. Now he takes private lessons in web design, a profession suited for someone who has little reason to leave the house. He also wants to reach out to young people and caution them about the hazards and consequences of teen sex. The jury remains out on whether that can ever happen.
These are thin consolations, lending neither redemption nor solace. Even if Mary Duval had not lost her eyesight, she would never again see the Ricky she knew before all this happened. Her life is, and will be, consumed with trying to find justice for her son. She openly admits this may never happen.
Ricky, at nineteen, is supposed to have his whole life in front of him. When he should be looking forward to the time he will marry and have children of his own, his path looks to be marked by a single set of footprints. His ideas on women are not what they used to be.
“I don’t trust them,” he says. “When I see one looking at me I just walk away.”
Still, he is a young man with a message, albeit forged in the fires of adversity. It is a message that assaults the complacency in which we all too often and too easily find comfort.
“Anybody who looks at the registry should not judge people just for being there,” he says, “There are lots of people that don’t belong. People like me. There are even people that had to pee so bad they went outside and the next thing you know someone takes a picture with a cell phone and they end up on the registry too.”
Right alongside the child rapists.
Little at this point would ameliorate the damage done to this family. The Kafkaesque tempest that overtook them three years ago still darkens every horizon and pummels the simplicity out of life that they used to take for granted. It rattles their doors and windows, as though trying to shake loose the last of their dignity. And it has swept away hope for the future, leaving behind only the solemn, desperate need for peace.
We love to think that justice is blind. But we also pray that those who administer that justice are people of vision. When systems become so twisted that the letter of the law strangles its spirit, then justice cannot exist. It will die as surely as the dreams of a teen-age boy when the world caves in around him.
Saving Gotham (Alberta)
August 3, 2009 permalink
Albertans have heard a long string of failings from their child protection system.
The province faces a class action lawsuit on behalf of adults who were mistreated while they were children in foster care.
In recent years five Alberta foster children have died, four anonymously. They are:
|Caleb Merchant||13 months||Nov 26, 2005||Edmonton|
|Alberta Kafka||3 years||Jan 27, 2007||Edmonton|
|Edmonton toddler||3 years||Jan 13, 2009||Edmonton|
|Girl Hobbema||13 months||March 28, 2009||Hobbema|
|Edmonton Brawler||17 years||April 24, 2009||Edmonton|
Earlier we said baby Tsuu died when life support was turned off, but he survived. Alberta is now searching for a home for a child over 50 percent brain-dead. Again, we request anyone with knowledge of these cases, especially the names, to get in touch with Dufferin VOCA, email: [ rtmq at fixcas.com ].
In May two provincial wards killed Susan Trudel and Baldur Boenke In June a sixteen-year-old provincial ward killed Curtis Osterlund. In June Richard Ouellet, director of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act's child intervention section, was found in contempt for failing to return a child to the foster home ordered by a court.
So what has Alberta done to correct the problems? Nothing. Instead, it has cooperated with CTV to produce a three-part news documentary Protecting Edmonton's Innocents glorifying the child protectors. The broadcast occurred in late July and was posted to YouTube on July 31. The three parts are ,  and , with local copies at ,  and , all in flv format. An early scene shows the police/social worker dynamic duo rushing out in the CARRTmobile to save Gotham City from the nefarious child abuser. They nab partiers and a sex offender, yielding a four-year-old boy, then drunk drivers yielding two more children. The interviews are all with police, social workers and court staff, none with affected parents or foster children, making the story as credible as a comic book.
Part two introduces the Zebra Child Protection Centre. A girl actress with a blurred face plays the role of a foster child being interviewed by a friendly social worker. They can't show a real foster child, because she would be screaming for her mother.
Part three depicts the new child-friendly courtroom, where children face a barrier and never see the accused. Repeating what we said on the same innovation in Bermuda, a traditional legal protection is the right to confront your accuser. This means when a witness gives damaging testimony, he faces the accused in the courtroom. It limits perjury because a person who feels comfortable badmouthing another out of his presence will be inhibited from lying to his face. It may not matter to the hardened criminal but it is a big factor for immature witnesses. A little girl may say, after coaching, "Daddy put his finger in my wee-wee", but she will be much less willing to lie to daddy's face: "You put your finger in my wee-wee". Eliminating this protection produces more convictions and less justice.
Continuing the zebra metaphor:
Zebras are also notoriously difficult to catch. They have evolved superb early-warning mechanisms , such as peripheral vision far superior to other horses. Often bad tempered, they grow increasingly antisocial with age and once they bite, they tend not to let go. A kick from a zebra can kill — and these creatures are responsible for more injuries to American zookeepers each year than any other animal. — Jared Diamond
More Indians Fed Up With White Men
August 2, 2009 permalink
Mothers on Ontario's Six Nations reserve have banded together to end the removal of their children to non-native families.
Six Nations clan mothers make 'history'
Posted By SUSAN GAMBLE Posted July 29, 2009
Six Nations clan mothers, fed up with reports of native children being removed from their extended families, have formed an advocacy group.
The clan mothers, traditionally a group that rarely meets or issues statements, have mobilized over this issue in a way that's a first for the community.
"This is history," spokesperson Gwen Styres said Tuesday. "This has never happened before."
Clan mothers are associated with the traditional matriarchal society that once characterized all of Six Nations. They rise up in families through bloodlines and being acknowledged by their relatives, but tend to keep their advice within their own families.
During the early stages of the land claim dispute in Caledonia, five or six clan mothers gathered to advise the protesters.
But, in this case, all the official clan mothers living on Six Nations -about 15 of them -have come together in agreement.
"A lot of our children are going to non-native homes," says one clan mother, a woman who asked that her name not be used out of respect to the clan system.
"They don't need to be in foster homes. They need to be in family homes."
According to Styres, who is considered a "runner" for the clan mothers, taking their message to the community and bringing feedback to them, the Six Nations branch of the Children's Aid Society is ignoring viable kinship homes where children would be welcome.
The clan mothers met with CAS officials in June, presenting a list of concerns and inviting CAS executive director Andrew Koster to set up a future meeting with the women to discuss child welfare.
On July 4, the women were issued a letter of support by the Confederacy Council.
While they don't recognize the elected band council, the clan mothers plan to meet with that group today to inform them of the situation.
Koster said that the CAS is taking seriously the views of the clan mothers and has already responded to them.
The clan mother and the two runners interviewed by The Expositor said they have received nothing addressed to them, and specifically nothing from Koster.
Last week, the clan mothers issued a statement saying all correspondence to them must come though Styres as a spokesperson and they will only deal with Koster in this matter.
"We want to protect the children and keep them within the community with family members," said the clan mother.
She likened the problem to the residential school situation where children lost their identities when they were plucked from the community to be kept in outside schools.
The clan mother also noted that due to a tremendous staff turnover at the Six Nations branch of the CAS, many of the workers, who were once mainly Six Nations members, are no longer there.
Koster said the branch office has a staff of 24 who serve reserve children and clients. Another 10 staff take care of off-reserve aboriginal clients in the city.
He said all the staff are from Six Nations or have aboriginal heritage, but the clan mother disagreed.
"Some of them just happen to have a status card but that doesn't make you a native person. Some of them are natives but from a different culture than us."
Koster said Brant CAS has been "an invited guest" on Six Nations since 1978 and doesn't want to interfere with issues that can be best resolved through dialogue between community members and various leadership groups.
That's why the CAS had native services branch manager Karen Hill respond to the group since she manages all the day-to-day operations in the department.
"Karen Hill and her staff at native services branch are completely open to further dialogue," said Koster
A second runner, who uses her native name of Kawennano:ron, said there are certain situations in which the clan mothers won't get involved. For example, the group won't be able to help if there are parents who are dealing with addictions or major problems that mean they need healing for themselves.
The group also wants to support native CAS workers.
"In writing, we've advised CAS we are willing to attend meetings regarding employee issues since the staff has no union and no one to represent them," said Kawennano:ron.
"Previous employees have been denied a support person."
How to contact
Six Nations clan mothers have set up an office for Haudenosaunne Child Services at 2144 Onondaga Rd. on Six Nations.
The group is inviting citizens to forward documents to it regarding children who have been taken into protective custody
The group can be contacted by mail at P. O. Box 436, Ohsweken, by email at email@example.com or by telephone at 905-765-0350.
Source: Brantford Expositor
August 2, 2009 permalink
Children's Secretary Ed Balls announces a plan to put surveillance cameras in thousands of British homes to spy on (he calls it support) families. In case you think some standards of modesty will prevail, Britain has already installed a CCTV camera in a couple's bedroom. The system will be two-way, so from time to time it will talk back, advising families how to exercise, clean, dress children or make love.
SIN BINS FOR WORST FAMILIES
Thursday July 23,2009, By Alison Little
THOUSANDS of the worst families in England are to be put in “sin bins” in a bid to change their bad behaviour, Ed Balls announced yesterday.
The Children’s Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes.
They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.
Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.
Around 2,000 families have gone through these Family Intervention Projects so far.
But ministers want to target 20,000 more in the next two years, with each costing between £5,000 and £20,000 – a potential total bill of £400million.
Ministers hope the move will reduce the number of youngsters who get drawn into crime because of their chaotic family lives, as portrayed in Channel 4 comedy drama Shameless.
Sin bin projects operate in half of council areas already but Mr Balls wants every local authority to fund them.
He said: “This is pretty tough and non-negotiable support for families to get to the root of the problem. There should be Family Intervention Projects in every local authority area because every area has families that need support.”
But Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is all much too little, much too late.
“This Government has been in power for more than a decade during which time anti-social behaviour, family breakdown and problems like alcohol abuse and truancy have just got worse and worse.”
Mr Balls also said responsible parents who make sure their children behave in school will get new rights to complain about those who allow their children to disrupt lessons.
Pupils and their families will have to sign behaviour contracts known as Home School Agreements before the start of every year, which will set out parents’ duties to ensure children behave and do their homework.
The updated Youth Crime Action Plan also called for a crackdown on violent girl gangs as well as drug and alcohol abuse among young women.
But a decision to give ministers new powers to intervene with failing local authority Youth Offending Teams was criticised by council leaders.
Les Lawrence, of the Local Government Association, said they did “crucial” work and such intervention was “completely unnecessary”.
Source: Sunday Express
Addendum: For readers who think our interpretation is an exaggeration:
Disturbing the Peace
On the inalienable right to "excessively noisy sex"
Brendan O'Neill | August/September 2009 Print Edition
“Unlike Winston, she had grasped the inner meaning of the Party’s sexual puritanism. It was not merely that the sex instinct created a world of its own which was outside the Party’s control and which therefore had to be destroyed if possible. What was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war-fever and leader-worship.”
So wrote George Orwell in 1984, his dystopian vision of a future where mankind’s every thought, desire, and bodily tingle would be policed by the powers that be. Orwell imagined a Junior Anti-Sex League that spied on kissing and cavorting adults, and a ruling Party that sought to squash the “sex impulse.” The heroes of his nightmarish tale had to sneak off to a wood in order to explore each other’s bodies in a bit of peace and quiet.
It turns out that Orwell was suffering from premature speculation. It was not in 1984 that a major Western government made the “sex impulse”—the grunting, groaning sex instinct—into a police matter; it was in 2009. Here in the U.K., to add to our existing panoply of Orwellian measures—5 million closed-circuit TV cameras that watch our every move; “speaking cameras” that warn us to pick up litter or stop loitering; the government’s attempt to recruit child spies to re-educate anti-social adults—we now have the bizarre and terrifying situation where a woman has been arrested for having sex too loudly. In modern-day Britain, even the decibels of our sexual moaning can become the subject of a police investigation.
At the end of April, Caroline Cartwright, a 48-year-old housewife from Wearside in the northeast of England, was remanded in custody for having “excessively noisy sex.” The cops took her in after neighbors complained of hearing her “shouting and groaning” and her “bed banging against the wall of her home.” Cartwright has, quite reasonably, defended her inalienable right to be a howler: “I can’t stop making noise during sex,” she told The Daily Mail. “It’s unnatural to not make any noises, and I don’t think that I am particularly loud.”
Pleasurable groaning and bed banging are common noises in crowded towns and cities across the civilized world. Most of us deal with them by sticking a CD in the stereo. Those who complain are normally told to stop being prudish or to have a discreet chat with the creators of the offending sex sounds. So how did Cartwright’s expressions of noisy joy become a police case, scheduled to be ruled on at Newcastle Crown Court, one of the biggest courts in the north of England? Because, unbelievably, Cartwright had previously been served with an anti-social behavior order (ASBO)—a civil order used to control the minutiae of British people’s behavior—that forbade her from making “excessive noise during sex” anywhere in England.
That’s right. Going even further than Orwell’s imagined authoritarian hellhole, where at least there was a wood or two where people could indulge their sexual impulses, the local authorities in Wearside made all of England a no-go zone for Cartwright’s noisy shenanigans. If she wanted to howl with abandon, she would have to nip over the border to Scotland or maybe catch a ferry to France. It was because she breached the conditions of her ASBO, the civil ruling about how much noise she can make while making love in England, that Cartwright was arrested.
This case sheds harsh light not only on the Victorian-style petty prudishness of Britain’s rulers, who seriously believe they can make sexually expressive women timid again by dragging them to court, but on the tyranny of anti-social behavior orders themselves, which were introduced by our authoritarian Labour government in 1998. Anyone can apply for an ASBO to stop anyone else from doing something they find irritating, “alarming,” or “threatening.”
Local magistrates’ courts issue the orders, sometimes on the basis of hearsay evidence (which is permissible in ASBO cases). In short, the applicant for an ASBO does not have to go through the normal rigors of the criminal justice system to get a civil ruling preventing someone he doesn’t like from doing something he finds “alarming” or “dangerous.” Once you have been branded with an ASBO, if you break its conditions—by having noisy sex in your own home, for example—you are potentially guilty of a crime and can be imprisoned.
The ASBO system has turned much of Britain into a curtaintwitching, neighbor-watching, noisepolicing gang of spies. The relative ease with which one can apply to the authorities for an ASBO positively invites people to use the system to punish their foes or the irritants who live in their neighborhoods. ASBOs have been used to prevent young people in certain areas from wearing hoods or hats (they look “threatening”), to ban a middle-aged couple from playing gangsta rap (the expletives offended workers and children at a nearby kindergarten), and to prevent a 10-year-old boy from having contact with matches until he turns 16, after he was found to have started a fire.
And now, prudish people who previously would have been told to “put up or shut up” over their neighbors’ noisy sex have been empowered to turn one woman’s private affairs into a very public trial. This, too, is Orwellian: the creation of new layers of spies and inter-communal suspicion.
In Orwell’s dystopia, “the sexual act, successfully performed, was rebellion.” So it is in Wearside in 2009, where the excessively noisy exploits of Cartwright and her possibly very talented partner are a form of rebellion against the arbitrary and interventionist nature of the ASBO-wielding authorities. They are screwing for liberty.
Brendan O’Neill (Brendan.ONeill@spiked-online.com) is the editor of Spiked.
Source: Reason Magazine
Ϟ WE Ϟ CAN'T Ϟ HEAR Ϟ YOU Ϟ COMMUNICATE Ϟ
Support for Baynes
August 2, 2009 permalink
The Bayne family is in the press, this time because councilor Marvin Hunt is taking up their cause. We also have a press release (pdf) about a recent demonstration. From the beginning it has been clear that this family's children were seized not for their welfare, but as retaliation for the press exposure sought by the parents.
Surrey councillor joins critics of child ministry
By Robert Freeman - Chilliwack Progress, Published: July 27, 2009 2:00 PM, Updated: July 30, 2009 8:20 AM
Surrey councillor Marvin Hunt is personally stepping into the fight of a former Hope couple to regain custody of their children seized more than two years ago by the B.C. Children’s Ministry.
And Hunt is not alone among the doctors, social workers and others imploring the ministry to follow its own rules and return the three children.
Hunt said he will join a demonstration Thursday outside Premier Gordon Campbell’s office in support of Paul and Zabeth Baynes.
“I find it beyond belief that these kids are still within the care of the ministry,” Hunt told The Progress last Wednesday.
Hunt said as a politician he always looks for the missing pieces in government policies that create such problems, but in this case “all of the pieces of legislation are in place.”
“But what we have ... is an absolute abuse of the system here,” he said. “There is no point in time where the system has lawfully worked through the paper process on behalf of these people.”
Hunt said he does know the remedy, but questioned whether some in the ministry “should be in this type of work.”
He noted that at one point the children were returned to the care of the grandparents, but were re-apprehended by ministry staff, apparently miffed because the couple “broke trust” and went to the media with their story.
Retired social worker Ray Ferris said the ministry is “blatantly breaking” the province’s child welfare legislation, and showing “a complete lack of ethics” in its dealings with the Hope couple.
“They’ve gone so far, they’ll get egg on their face if they back-track now,” he said.
A review is supposed to occur when any child is held in care longer than 12 months, but Ferris said the Baynes’s were never asked to take part in a review, so only the ministry’s view was reported.
The two boys, now aged three and four, and a 19-month-old girl, were apprehended by the ministry in September, 2007 because the couple was suspected of shaking the girl and causing a head injury.
The Baynes believe the injury was caused when their youngest son tripped and fell on their daughter’s head.
Dr. Peter Stephens, one of eight doctors prepared to testify on the Baynes’s behalf, said shaken-baby cases are driven by politicians who don’t want to appear “soft” on crime, and by social workers who rely on the opinion of doctors unaware of chronic subdural hematoma.
“People like the Baynes are collateral damage in the war on child abuse,” he told The Progress in a telephone interview from his North Carolina home.
He said the baby girl’s head injuries were not caused by being shaken, but by the lack of oxygen to her brain caused by a chronic subdural hematoma.
Nobody knows for sure how these chronic conditions start, Stephens said, but they could begin as early as birth and a “minor bump in the bathtub” trigger a re-bleed.
Whoever is last seen with the child when the brain damage is finally discovered, is the one who is mistakenly blamed, he said.
Zabeth Baynes said the ministry’s allegation that she’d shaken her baby and caused the injuries “came as a complete shock” so the couple decided to look for experts in the field.
She said the doctors were not chosen because of their opposition to the “shaken-baby” syndrome, but for their research in the field.
“We did not shake our baby, we knew that,” Baynes said, and the doctors were sent the medical files for review.
The ministry is not commenting on the case because it is before the courts.
But Minister Mary Polak said in a statement last month that social workers “make judgment calls that most of us cannot imagine ... with the prime motivation to keep children safe.”
“There are going to be isolated cases in which questions will be raised about those decisions,” she said, but the ministry makes executive summaries of case reviews public “to ensure accountability and strengthen and enhance practice.”
Source: Chilliwack Progress
Strip or Go to Jail
August 2, 2009 permalink
British social worker Christopher Hardman ordered young offenders to pose for him topless. Workers in this position generally can get their wards jailed for non-compliance. Since he has been fired, there is now a job opening for another man who loves applying the force of law on attractive young ladies.
Social worker accused of persuading girls to pose topless
Jul 31 2009 by Barry Gibson, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
A SOCIAL worker has been accused of persuading girls to pose topless.
Former Kirklees Council employee Christopher Hardman faces a misconduct hearing next week.
He is accused of using his position as team manager at the Youth Offending Team to persuade the girls to pose for photo-shoots.
The General Social Care Council will hold a misconduct hearing into the case in London from August 4 to August 7.
Hardman is alleged to have texted the young women using various fake names including Sue, Ayesha, Jane Attwood and Peter Jennings and pretending to be from Vamp Model Agency.
Most of the girls allegedly targeted were young offenders. They can’t be named for legal reasons.
Hardman is accused of sending letters and texts to Ms A between November 5 and November 10, 2005. He is alleged to have encouraged her to attend nude, topless and lingerie photo-shoots for money.
Hardman is also accused of encouraging the girl to lie about her age and discouraging her from telling her parents about the modelling.
Hardman is alleged to have used his position in the Kirklees Youth Offending Team to obtain Ms B’s address, place of work, mobile number and home phone number.
He is accused of paying the young offender £50 to attend a photo-shoot on October 26, 2005.
Hardman also faces allegations about Ms C, another young offender.
The social workers is accused of obtaining her contact details and sending her texts and letters encouraging her to attend lingerie shoots for money.
Hardman is accused of persuading Ms C and another girl to pose together topless.
Hardman allegedly obtained contact details for Ms D. The social worker is accused of persuading the young offender to pose topless at two photo-shoots.
Hardman allegedly obtained contact details for Ms E and persuaded the young offender to attend a photo-shoot.
Hardman is also accused of contacting Ms H through her mother and persuading the girl to attend photo-shoots in September and October 2006.
The misconduct hearing will also consider the fact that Hardman was cautioned for possessing cannabis on February 10, 2006.
The charges relate to the period from 2003 to March 2007, when Harman was team manager at the Youth Offending Team in Kirklees.
A council spokesman said yesterday that Kirklees was unable to comment on the case at this stage. However, the spokesman revealed that Hardman had not worked for Kirklees since 2007.
A three-person panel will hear the case at the General Social Care Council’s head office in London next week. Hardman could be struck off if he is found to have committed misconduct.
The General Social Care Council is the professional standards body for the country’s 80,000 social workers. The council hears 15 to 20 misconduct hearings every year.
Source: Huddersfield Daily Examiner
Walk for Children
August 1, 2009 permalink
Tamara Malcolm is walking from Winnipeg to Ottawa to draw attention to native children, including herself, separated from their parents. In spite of an apology from the prime minister, the practice continues today.
There is more on this walk at the Foster Care News entry for July 31, 2009, or on the Facebook page WALKING FOR THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE GENERATIONS OF ABORIGINAL CHILDREN.
Winnipeg Free Press
Protest trek Ottawa walk targets native child welfare
By: Staff Writer, 1/08/2009 1:00 AM
Starting today, Tamara Malcolm is going to let her feet do her talking.
The 26-year-old Anishinabe woman will be walking to Ottawa from Winnipeg to show support for aboriginal mothers and children hurt by the child welfare system.
A powwow dancer who practises traditional spirituality, Malcolm's odyssey begins at 11 a.m. today at Arlington Street and Selkirk Avenue. Her first stop will be the Manitoba legislative building, where she will listen to stories from people adversely affected by the system.
"I'll be collecting people's letters and concerns along the way," Malcolm said in a brief interview as she scrambled to prepare for her trek, which will cover the 1,681 kilometres between Winnipeg and the nation's capital.
She has already garnered about 1,300 messages on her Facebook page from Canadians interested in her journey.
In a letter sent to the media, Malcolm said she is originally from Ebb and Flow First Nation but now lives in Winnipeg.
"The purpose of my walk is to help begin the healing process for aboriginal families who have been affected by their children being put in care," she wrote.
"It is believed the current child welfare system is not working and there are more aboriginal children in care than there ever were children in residential schools. So the system needs to change.
"What inspired me to do this walk is that at five years of age, I was told that I could not live with my family and I did not want to be away from the only thing I was born into, and that was my family."
Malcolm said the date of her arrival in Ottawa depends on the number and length of the encounters she has along the route.
She will be joined by a number of other walkers and participants riding in a support vehicle.
A statement from the Southern Chiefs Organization said one of the participants will be Métis elder Melba Sanoffsky, 70, who had her children taken in the infamous "Sixties Scoop." Aboriginal kids were plucked from their homes to be raised by non-native families, often in the U.S.
The awareness walk is already drawing support from organizations in Ottawa.
John Dunn, executive-director of The Foster Care Council of Canada, said he is moved by Malcolm's journey because he spent 16 years bouncing around 13 different foster homes.
"We support what she is doing," Dunn said from Ottawa. "It's important the people who are affected by child welfare speak out and get their issues heard.
"Usually, when you hear about it in the media, it means someone has died. One of the biggest problems in child welfare is that the only people who focus on the issues are the people who have been affected by it. We'd like to bring it out to the public."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2009 B4
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Repeal the Child and Family Services Act
July 31, 2009 permalink
The Anishinabek Nation wants to develop a legal alternative to the Child and Family Services Act that is more protective of Indian children. The matter will be discussed in a two-day meeting August 5 and 6 in Thunder Bay Ontario.
Many palefaces are the allies of the Indians in this quest, and will gladly support their efforts. It would be nice if all advocates for reform could join together in this cause.
New law proposed to protect Anishinabek children
By SooToday.com Staff, SooToday.com, Thursday, July 30, 2009
New law being developed will protect Anishinabek children
The Anishinabek Nation is taking the first step in developing an Anishinabek Nation child welfare law.
Union of Ontario Indians’ Social Services Director Adrienne Pelletier says that she encourages all Anishinabek to become part of the creation of a child welfare law.
“It’s important that we get as many people as possible to these consultation sessions,” says Pelletier. “Everyone has experience with or knows about child welfare in their community. It’s time to get involved and participate in our children’s future.”
Currently, child welfare in Ontario is governed by provincial law under the Child and Family Services Act.
“Adequate standards of care” established by Ontario is primarily based on mainstream society standards only, with little or no consideration or notions of the importance of extended family and the whole community to Anishinabek.
Thunder Bay is the first of eight consultation sessions.
Others will be held in Wikwemikong, Chippewas of the Thames, North Bay, Chippewas of Rama, Red Rock, Sault Ste. Marie and Toronto.
What: Thunder Bay consultation session for the Anishinabek Nation child welfare law development.
Who: Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare, Union of Ontario Indians Director of Social Services Adrienne Pelletier, community members.
Where: Travelodge Airlane on Arthur Street West, Thunder Bay.
When: August 5 and 6 - 9 a.m.
The Anishinabek Nation formed the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949.
The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario.
The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.
A Power Thing
July 31, 2009 permalink
Pam Roach comments on Washington state child protection. Social workers in the past have disparaged this kind of criticism by suggesting that the critic needs a psychiatrist, but in this case the critic is a well-informed state senator.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Lilly Will Cry On Friday....
Lilly will see her grandparents for one hour at Lions Park in Mt. Vernon where her visit will be. This is the same park that the grandmother helped build. She was the Lion's "Member of the Year" for her service.
Toward the end of the "supervised visit" Lilly will start to cry. There is no comfort for these tears. And what a slam to have "supervised" visits for these good people who raised her until age three when the department took her because of a faulty report filed by a person who had promised Lilly to someone else.
Last week, Lilly tried hiding under the swing to keep from having to leave. Lilly wants to go home with her grandparents. She cries when she is forced to leave. "She'll eventually 'get over it'" is how the adults involved in this theft view it. Self preservation will help harden her...the human mind will begin to protect her...she will run out of the ability to feel sad at the loss of her GPs.
In the home study on Lilly's grandparents there was nothing in it that, by law, would give CPS the authority to take Lilly...but they did anyway. The grandparents (the Willards) were told there would be a quick adoption and it would be all over in six weeks. They called me. Their own State Senator refused to help them. I spoke with him personally while we were on the floor of the Senate.
I found out that Lilly had great-grandparents on the father's side and I called them. They are politically influential and wealthy. I knew that they could keep this child from being adopted out. I was right about that. But, they have decided they want the child for themselves.
By the way...CPS should have contacted the GGPs when they decided to take Lilly in the first place but didn't. CPS does not look for relatives when they have someone who wants what they can deliver.
I told Susan Dreyfus that I thought Lilly would do fine with either the GGPs or the GPs. "The question is not where the child would do the best. The question is: Having lacked any legal cause for taking the child, where should she now be placed?"
(Please see previous PRR on "Values Clarification." Sometimes it is called "Situation Ethics." This is a way of making decisions based on moral relativism. Decisions are based on what is believed to be best, not what is legal. Elitists love it!)
Grandma used to say: "Two wrongs don't make a right." Well, I'm a grandma many times over and now I can say it: Lying, taking, wrongly placing...is not corrected by giving this child to anyone other than the mother or the grandparents.
CPS has caused a terrible situation. The GPs have been written off. Lilly will have no contact with the good (though not wealthy or well connected) grandparents who love her and raised her as soon as the placement is complete. The department is working to place with the GGPs.
The GGPs had seen 2 month old Lilly at their grandson's funeral...and according to the GPs only twice after that. They met in a restaurant when Lilly had birthdays. So, the GGPs saw Lilly 3 times in three years. Now the GGPs have befriended the foster woman. So, when they go out of town Lilly stays with the foster woman! It is a winner take all war between relatives for this child. Apparently, there is no desire to ever have the GPs see Lilly again........Is that in the child's best interest? What happens when the GGP's leave Lilly orphaned? So angry are some in CPS that they actually advise that Lilly go with the foster woman instead of the GPs when and if Lilly is a minor when the GGPs die or are incapacitated.
NOTE TO CPS: YOU COULD HAVE A MONTH OF OBAMA BEER MEETINGS AND NEVER FIX THIS MESS YOU HAVE CAUSED BETWEEN GOOD PEOPLE. WHY DOESN'T CPS ADMIT THEIR MISTAKES AND JUST CORRECT THE PROBLEM?
(Answer: It is a power thing. It has nothing to do with fear of being sued. Remember, PRR Reader...the taxpayer pays...they couldn't care less about the costs. It is about the POWER.)
In the case of Lilly the department has never been right about ANYTHING, really.
Because the grandparents are fighting to keep the baby they raised...they are hated by everyone and every entity involved except me and the judge. The judge and I are just trying to do our jobs as we see them. CPS high-ups are trying to cover their posteriors!
I think the new director is really not happy with the way things have been. She is willing to address these situations with adjustments to the law.
Posted by State Senator Pam Roach at 11:27 PM
Friday, July 31, 2009
Lilly With Grandparents...Right Now...As I Write...
In the sunshine, in a public park, in Mt. Vernon, WA...a little girl and her good grandparents are meeting for an hour. Some state worker intrusively looks on to monitor the preschool teacher grandma...as though she is a felon. In seven months...this will be the seventh hour of "visitation" allowed by the state.
Please take a moment to contemplate how it must feel to have the state take a child based on a false report...a report that the department is currently redoing.
Posted by State Senator Pam Roach at 12:48 PM
Source: Pam Roach blog July 30 and 31, 2009
July 30, 2009 permalink
When Oklahoma foster mother Joycelyn Louis did not get obedience from her nine-year-old ward, she branded him with a potato masher. A gruesome video is included with the article below (local copy swf). In the story, there is no suggestion to hold DHS accountable for the abuse.
Woman accused of branding child with potato masher
BOBBIE MILLER REPORTING
MIDWEST CITY -- It's one of the worst cases of child abuse Midwest City Police say they've ever seen. A foster mother accused of branding a child all over his body.
Chief Brandon Clabes, Midwest City Police Department, said "You know how painful it is when you just get a minor burn. Can you imagine this poor, little 9 year old being repeatedly branded by a woman who's supposed to be taking care of him & loving him?"
Midwest City Police say the 9-year-old boy suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns from his foster mother as a punishment.
Clabes said, "The foster mother accused him of stealing money from her. At that point she took this potato masher, heated it on the stove to where it was red hot & branded him."
The boy told police he then went back to his bedroom, started crying and then the 72-year-old foster mother Joycelyn Louis told him "I'm not finished with you" and continued to burn him. She then allegedly told him, if anybody asks, "say you were accidentally burned."
The foster mother refused to talk with police, but on the affidavit we see she told a DHS worker, "the child would not listen so she she heated the potato masher on the stove and pressed it lightly to his skin on his arms."
The boy is in DHS custody. Police are waiting for a warrant for Louis' arrest. We went to her house and family-owned business to talk to her, but her family said she did not want to talk to us.
Addendum: The accused, Joycelyn Louis, died in April 2010 from congenital heart failure before she could come to trial.
July 30, 2009 permalink
A Florida man has discovered a way to get his daughter back from child protectors. He was killed by a hit-and-run driver, now Florida wants to restore his parental rights. Reading between the lines suggests child protectors may find it easier to get their hands on his money by getting him back in the picture legally.
Dead father may get custodial rights
Published: July 28, 2009 at 12:31 PM
A Florida court is being asked for the first time to give custodial rights of a child to a father who is dead, experts say.
A decision by a Broward County, Florida, judge to strip a father of his parental rights to his pre-teen daughter because he was a crack addict is being appealed after the man, identified only as C.A., was killed by a hit and-run driver, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.
A state appellate court is now considering that it might be in best interests of the child to retain her ties to her dead father because his estate could be in line for a large legal settlement, child welfare advocates say.
"I have never seen either the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, or its successor, the Department of Children and Families, terminate parental rights and then reverse themselves," and certainly not after a parent has died, Paolo Annino, director of the Public Interest Law Center at Florida State University, told the Herald.
"We want to do what is in the best interests of children," added Mary Cagle, DCF's top child welfare attorney. "When the father died, we stepped back to see what was in the best interests of these children."
Source: United Press International
July 29, 2009 permalink
Almost buried inside this story is that fact that Sylvie Cooper, who stole gifts from Santa Fund baskets in North Bay Ontario, was herself a foster parent.
Santa's helpers sentenced to house arrest
Posted By DAVE DALE, THE NUGGET, Updated July 29, 2009 hours ago
Two women who stole Christmas vouchers and presents from Santa Fund baskets they volunteered to deliver in 2008 will serve six months house arrest and perform 60 hours of community service.
Katherine Trahan-Lachance, 34, and Sylvie Cooper, 38, pleaded guilty Tuesday to theft, uttering a forged document and possessing stolen property.
Ontario Court Justice Jean-Gilles Lebel said this kind of breach of trust calls for jail time, but he took into account the time and expense saved by their guilty pleas, while also noting they showed remorse and had otherwise clean records.
To say this cries out for a term of imprisonment is being trite," said Lebel, adding there's no clearer example of breaching the public's trust.
Lebel told the women the victims of their crime include the Santa Fund organizers, the families who depend on the baskets, those who donate to the popular charity and their own family members facing chastisement.
The judge said the house arrest conditions include abstaining from alcohol or drugs not prescribed by a doctor, and only leaving their home for medical, employment or educational reasons, as well as the needs of their children.
He said they will be sent to jail if they break the conditions.
Crown attorney Paul Larsh told the court Cooper and Trahan-Lachance split up the vouchers and coupons they took from sealed envelopes included with baskets of food and presents.
One basket, Larsh said, was also not delivered at all, leaving the mother of two children who was expecting it to wait the entire day for the delivery before calling organizers to ask if it was en route.
Trahan-Lachance and Cooper forged a delivery report stating this person received the basket, while getting nine other recipients to sign a document that said they received everything despite the missing vouchers.
The total value of the gifts, food and vouchers taken was $622, Larsh said, adding that Cooper tried to redeem some of the coupons at Zellers while Trahan-Lachance gave some of the presents to her own children.
This conduct is just so wrong on so many levels," Larsh said, describing how people who donate to the charity may feel less inclined to do so and recipients, already humbled by their needs, may not want to be involved.
Larsh said he hopes the pair are ashamed of their actions and suggested the court needs to send a message that this type of behaviour is not tolerated."
Defence counsel for the pair outlined how sorry their clients were for their actions, and agreed the crime calls for a punishment befitting general deterrence," but asked for house arrest of 60 to 90 days.
Cooper's lawyer, Jim Maher, said the mother and foster parent had volunteered to deliver baskets for the past four years.
Killian May, lawyer for Trahan-Lachance, said she is a mother of four who has earned diplomas and academic certificates since graduating high school.
May said she didn't try to spend the Zellers gift certificates worth $30 each and cut them up after admitting her criminal deed to her husband.
He said her family was strapped for cash" prior to
Christmas 2008 and likely would have received a Santa Fund basket herself had she asked for one.
This stigma will stay with her indefinitely . . . frankly, she won't be trusted now,"May said, telling the court there were death threats against her made on the Internet following reports of the criminal charges.
Lachlan McLachlan, co-chairman of the Santa Fund, said the length or type of punishment imposed by the court wasn't as vital as the public knowing this issue was dealt with by the justice system.
I'm certainly glad they were brought in front of the court and the judge explained the consequences of their actions," McLachlan said, adding it was a very disturbing" incident. It's not so much the penalty, it's having them realize this is not acceptable in our society . . . It's just good to know it's over," he said, extending appreciation to police for a speedy investigation.
The Santa Fund organizers were told of the missing vouchers on the evening they were delivered Dec. 23, allowing them to cancel them at Zellers.
Cooper tried to cash some Dec. 26, court was told, but they were already flagged by the identification system used.
The 10 Santa Fund recipients affected by this crime received everything they were supposed to get and the stolen items were recovered.
McLachlan said Santa Fund recipients will now receive their envelope of gift vouchers prior to the baskets being delivered so they can do their shopping well before Christmas.
Source: North Bay Nugget
Luxury for Adopters
July 29, 2009 permalink
Here is another story on the squandering of assets by Imagine Adoption, this one based on interviews with director Alan Brown. While the agency was failing financially, the husband and wife management team drew $320,000 in annual salary, ran up $300,000 in expenses and drove luxury vehicles at the agency's expense. This is just like children's aid, according to the report of Ontario's Auditor General. What is different is that when children's aid runs out of money, the province covers the deficit with a supplemental appropriation.
Imagine Adoption board member speaks out on bankrupt Cambridge agency expenses
July 28, 2009, By Brian Caldwell, Record staff
CAMBRIDGE — The husband and wife who headed a non-profit Cambridge adoption agency that went bankrupt two weeks ago earned a combined total of $320,000 a year.
Susan Hayhow, executive director of Kids Link International Adoption Agency and two related organizations, had an annual salary of $180,000.
Her now-estranged husband, Rick Hayhow, made $140,000 a year as chief financial officer of Kids Link — which operated as Imagine Adoption — and the Saint Anne Adoption Centre until he resigned in April after it came to light that his wife was in a relationship with another employee.
Their six-figure salaries were the first indications of trouble for two members of the agency’s board of directors who later went to police with allegations of hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper expenses.
“Everybody has to live,” said Alan Brown, one of the volunteer directors who raised concerns. “There’s a reasonableness to everything. But when I heard those numbers, I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ ”
On top of their salaries, the couple both drove vehicles leased to the agency — Susan a $72,000 Lexus and Rick a Nissan Pathfinder worth $42,000.
Brown said the two directors did a check of the agency’s finances and turned up more than $300,000 in suspect expenses starting in early 2007.
Included were the purchase of a $3,000 horse and a $2,700 saddle, a one-week, $13,000 hotel stay in New York last Christmas, two trips to Disney World in Florida, clothing purchases from Holt Renfrew and extensive work at the couple’s Cambridge house, such as the installation of a $13,500 wrought- iron fence.
“It’s absolutely insane,” said Brown, who spoke publicly Monday for the first time since the agency collapsed. “There are tons of ridiculous purchases.”
Bankruptcy trustees have been working with government officials to complete about 40 adoptions, mostly from Ethiopia, that had reached the stage where Canadian families were matched with children.
Clients who hadn’t reached that step have been lobbying the province — which licenses international adoption agencies — to help see their cases through as well.
Representatives of about 400 families are scheduled to meet Tuesday with Deb Matthews, the minister of children and youth services.
Many of them have invested months of time and $20,000 or more in the hopes of adopting needy children from overseas.
“There were all manner of expenses (to the agency),” Brown said. “When the families see the list of what was bought … it’ll make them sick.”
Part owner of a software development company in Cambridge, Brown said he had known the Hayhows for about eight years when he became an Imagine board member in 2008.
About a year later, in May of this year, Brown said an emotional Rick Hayhow invited him to breakfast to discuss the breakup of his marriage.
Susan Hayhow had begun a common-law relationship with Andrew Morrow, the third director of Imagine and an employee of Global Reach Children’s Fund, the other related organization.
Brown said Rick Hayhow told him he had resigned because of the affair and that he been given a year of continued salary, plus the use of the Pathfinder, as severance.
Alarmed by the amounts involved, Brown said he contacted fellow board member Chris Hughes and they began going through financial records.
“The salary was a number that floored me when I first heard it,” Brown said. “I had no idea they were drawing those types of wages.”
Brown said they found numerous questionable expenses and determined Imagine was so strapped for money that bankruptcy was the only option.
Although the agency had about $500,000 in bank accounts, he said, the money was supposed to be held in trust for clients and couldn’t be used to pay the staff of 15 or meet other operating expenses, including $50,000 to $70,000 a month to run a transition home in Ethiopia for children matched with Canadian families.
“The reason we put it into bankruptcy was to protect the families,” Brown said. “If we hadn’t, they would have lost everything.
“We had to protect the remaining money that should have been in trust. The way the business was running, the monthly expenses would have consumed all of those funds in less than 90 days.”
Brown said the two directors consulted a lawyer and froze the agency’s bank accounts.
They also stopped paying Rick Hayhow his severance and took Susan Hayhow off the payroll.
Brown said he spoke out so affected families understand the nature and seriousness of concerns about the agency.
Hughes, a long-time trustee for the agency, could not be reached by The Record.
Brown said he also wants it known that he found no evidence of wrongdoing by other employees of the agency — including Valerie Goodyear, wife of Cambridge MP Gary Goodyear.
Brown said the agency never received any government money or preferential treatment.
“The Goodyears don’t have anything to do with it,” he said.
“None of the staff knew anything about the finances in the organization. That was all very closely held.”
Since the bankruptcy, the accounts of Saint Anne and Global Reach have also been frozen because money was flowing between all three organizations. Some directors and senior staff members also held multiple positions, raising conflict-of-interest concerns.
“The finances and the books are a disaster for all three of them,” Brown said.
Waterloo Regional Police are conducting a fraud investigation into Imagine after meeting with Brown and Hughes last week. The first meeting of the agency’s creditors is scheduled for Thursday.
Morrow has not returned repeated calls from The Record. Rick Hayhow and Susan Hayhow couldn’t be reached for comment.
Source: The Record (Waterloo Ontario)
Addendum: The clients have pitched in $4000 each to recapitalize Imagine Adoption.
Families agree to lift adoption agency out of bankruptcy
Natalie Alcoba, National Post Published: Monday, September 21, 2009
An international adoption agency that went bankrupt this summer is almost back in business after prospective adoptive families voted to each pay another $4,000 to get it operating again.
The proposal for Imagine Adoption was overwhelmingly endorsed on Monday by its creditors, including landlords that agreed to receive less than what they are legally owed, but still needs court and ministry approval for it to become official.
"I'm elated. It's really the best plan for all of us," said Christine Starr, whose adoption was in the final stages in Ethiopia when the Ontario-based agency suddenly went bankrupt in July. BDO Dunwoody was named trustee, and families banded together to try to salvage the outstanding adoptions.
There were 350 Canadian families adopting through Imagine Adoption when it went bankrupt.
About 250 voted in favour of a plan that would see them pay two installments of $2,000, and 20 voted against. Some who were unhappy with the proposal expressed their opposition by not voting, saying the plan offers no guarantee that people at the bottom of the list could complete their adoptions.
"There's enough money for two years but there's three years of operations," said Ingrid Phaneuf, who had her adoption file with Imagine Adoption. "I'm in the bottom third, which means I would put this money in and it would guarantee the adoption of these other families but not my own." New board members say the plan is designed to see all families through their adoptions, with the last year of a three year proposal drawing on money from new clients. Ms. Phaneuf, however, was skeptical that the agency would be able to attract more business, given all the negative publicity it has received. She will lose the $16,000 she has spent on adopting from Ethiopia and will try to adopt through the Children's Aid Society.
Ms. Starr, chair of Families of Imagine Adoption, a group that has been working to achieve completion of all the adoptions registered with the company, said the revived adoption agency would operate with much more oversight. There are eight people on the board of directors now, herself included, compared to three before. A trustee would be overseeing the process as well.
She said the approved proposal does not guarantee adoptions for anyone, but that has less to do with the process and more to do with international adoption as a endeavor. The goal is to make Imagine Adoption a viable agency that can continue to operate beyond these outstanding adoptions, she said.
"It's a victory. It allows us to take the next step in the journey," said Rob Eagleson, who also sits on the new board of directors. He and his wife adopted a little girl from Ethiopia last year. Mr. Eagleson said he did not expect any difficulty in obtaining court and ministry approval.
He said people have inquired about getting on a waiting list for Imagine Adoption.
Source: National Post
Upside Down News
July 29, 2009 permalink
In this upside down story, a mother and grandmother are characterized as kidnappers while the actions of the real kidnappers are called care. The story says the mother, Antasia Green,has a history of confrontations with the CCAS. Can anyone guess why?
Baby returned to care after being taken
From Saturday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Monday, Jul. 27, 2009 03:44AM EDT
A 10-month-old Toronto boy is back in the care of the Catholic Children's Aid Society after he was found missing from 900 Dufferin St. last night.
Toronto police issued a warning about a parental abduction after the boy was taken. They believe he was taken by his mother, Antasia Green, and grandmother, Veronica Johnson. The mother has a history of confrontations with the CCAS, police said.
About an hour after the notice, they found the women and the little boy in Brampton, where Ms. Green resides.
The boy was given back to the CCAS. Ms. Green is charged with abduction, while Ms. Johnson is charged with abduction and mischief. Staff
Source: Globe and Mail
Protecting Canadian Children
July 24, 2009 permalink
Protecting Canadian Children Book Launch
- Maureen Burke
- Sunday, July 26, 2009
- 2:00pm - 5:00pm
- Halton Naval Club, 2444 Industrial Street, Burlington. Ontario
Advocates of Children in Ontario are launching a collaborative effort featuring true stories of heartaches and families abused by CCAS/CAS of Ontario. There is no cost to attend. You can show support by purchasing the book. Dennis and I will be sharing our experience, along with others.
Until the lion tells his own story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter!! African proverb
Correction: The real host was Linda Plourde, and the time was 2-4pm. We hope no one was inconvenienced by the mistake.
It was a great turn out for the book event on July 26th, 2009.
Linda Plourde and the Protecting Canadian Children group event was well attended at the hall of around 80 -100 people.
Source: Mary Janiga blog August 11, 2009
July 24, 2009 permalink
A young Canadian woman, Rochelle Wallis, is being forcibly separated from her husband under a British law intended to halt forced marriages. In previous shotgun divorce cases, social workers operated furtively in private to avoid public scrutiny. Now they are getting arrogant enough to do it when the cameras are operating. The goons refer to their intervention as "help and support".
Forced marriage laws keep young couple apart - even though they love each other
A young wife faces being separated from her husband for two years under immigration laws brought in to protect Asian women from forced marriages.
Published: 7:00AM BST 24 Jul 2009
Rochelle Wallis, 19, who is Canadian, is due to be deported and banned from re-entering Britain until she is 21, because she married boyfriend Adam shortly after her visa expired.
The couple met in Canada more than two years ago and remained in close contact over the internet before she decided to visit him at his home in Aberystwyth, west Wales, in March of last year.
They decided to tie the knot and applied for permission from the Home Office a month before her visa ran out.
Arrangements for the wedding were delayed after authorities lost their passport photos. Permission was finally granted a week before the visa ran out but the couple were unable to arrange the nuptials at such short notice.
By the time they married a few weeks later and sent forms applying for Mrs Wallis to remain in the country, she had technically overstayed her visa.
The 19-year-old now faces the likelihood of being deported and prohibited from re-entering the UK until she turns 21 under immigration laws designed to protect young British Asian women from being subjected to forced marriages.
The Forced Marriages Act has increased the minimum age for spousal visas to 21 to reduce the chance of forced marriages.
The 18-month separation set to be imposed on Mr and Mrs Wallis was described as an "inconvenience" in a letter from the UK Border Agency to the couple's local MP Mark Williams.
In response, Mrs Wallis told BBC's Newsnight programme: "It's more than an inconvenience, he's ripping my marriage apart – he's taking the only thing I have and throwing it away."
The couple would be allowed to live as man and wife and find employment in any other European Union country.
Mr Wallis told the programme: "It's insane. We can go anywhere except my home country, where we got married, and where they gave us permission to get married."
A spokesman for the Home Office said: "Rochelle Roberts was refused permission to remain as a spouse because she came as a visitor and remained here illegally after her visa expired.
"The immigration rules are clear that those people who arrive as visitors and those that remain here illegally cannot remain in the United Kingdom as a spouse.
"Rochelle Roberts's age was not the reason her application was refused.
"As a measure to protect young people from being pressurised into sponsoring a spouse from overseas, we have raised the age for sponsorship for a marriage visa from 18 to 21.
"We considered carefully whether an increase in age from 18 to 21 would be proportionate in light of concerns that raising the age might discriminate against specific religious communities and could penalise genuine couples.
"Overall we believe there are various benefits outweighing the drawbacks."
He added: "Forced marriage leads to victims suffering years of physical and mental abuse and – in extreme cases – unlawful imprisonment and rape.
"It has no place in our society. That is why the Government is determined to do everything it can to stamp it out and to ensure that victims receive the help and support they need."
Source: Daily Telegraph
Addendum: On September 9 the marriage was broken up when the wife left Britain for Canada.
Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 16:51 UK
'It's ripping apart my marriage'
Rochelle Wallis from Canada has left the UK after being refused a spousal visa, despite being given leave to marry her husband Adam in November 2008.
The couple are the first to fall foul of unintended consequences of new anti-forced marriage legislation because Rochelle is under 21 - the age couple's can apply for a marriage visa.
Speaking to Newsnight's Justin Rowlatt at Heathrow Airport prior to her departure, Mrs Wallis gave her reaction to the letter she received from Home Secretary Alan Johnson about her case.
FLDS Case Ends
July 24, 2009 permalink
The FLDS mass child protection case is now officially closed. The last child in play, Merrianne Jessop, is to be placed with her aunt, Naomi Carlisle, while parents Merril and Barbara Jessop pay child support. Social workers and court appointed guardians are excluded from her life, as is her spiritual husband, Warren Jeffs.
FLDS custody case officially ends in Texas; alleged 'bride' dropped from court oversight
July 23, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY -- The nation's largest child custody case has ended quietly with a judge's order.
The battle for children from the Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' ranch in Eldorado, Texas, was over Thursday when a judge signed an order effectively ended court oversight of a 15-year-old girl. She was the last of the 439 children taken into state protective custody when Texas child welfare authorities raided the ranch last year.
"The court has stated that they will no longer continue to review the placement, progress and welfare of the child," said Valerie Malara, a lawyer representing the girl's mother, Barbara Jessop. "The attorney ad litem is dismissed out of the case, CASA's dismissed out of the case, and the state is out of the case as well."
The order, signed Thursday by 51st District Judge Barbara Walther, places the girl in the custody of her aunt. Her parents, YFZ Ranch leader Merril Jessop and Barbara Jessop, will have visitation. The aunt, Naomi Carlisle, can determine how much that will be.
A copy of the order, obtained by KSL Newsradio on Thursday, prohibited the girl from having any contact with FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.
The girl is alleged to have been married at age 12 to Jeffs. She was ordered back into foster care last year after Walther ruled Barbara Jessop failed to protect her from abuse. At one point, Texas Child Protective Services sought to have "permanent managing conservatorship" over the girl.
"I think it took everybody coming to their senses that this child belongs back with her family," Malara told KSL Newsradio. "Even though people may not agree with the FLDS doctrine, the child wanted to be back with her family and her community. Every other child had been returned except for (the girl)."
Approximately 439 children were removed from the YFZ Ranch in April 2008 when CPS responded on a call from someone claiming to be a pregnant, 16-year-old trapped in an abusive, polygamous marriage to an older man. The call is now regarded as a hoax, but authorities say that once on site they found other evidence of abuse.
Texas made a case of a culture of abuse at the ranch, with girls groomed to become child brides and boys groomed to be sexual predators. However, the children were all ordered returned to their families two months later when an appeals court and the Texas Supreme Court ruled the state acted improperly and that the children were not at immediate risk of abuse.
On Thursday, CPS officials stood by their actions.
"We believe all of these children are safer because of our intervention," DFPS Commissioner Anne Heiligenstein said in a statement. "The families now know that the state of Texas will not tolerate sexual abuse disguised as 'spiritual marriage.' These families also know that if abuse is reported again, we will respond."
While the custody case imploded, the criminal case moves forward. A dozen men, including Jeffs and the girl's father, Merril Jessop, were indicted on charges linked to underage marriages. Shocking photos of the girl kissing Jeffs were released in the custody case as CPS sought to show it had evidence of at least a dozen underage marriages.
Jeffs, 52, was convicted in Utah of rape as an accomplice for performing a marriage between a then-14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin. He faces similar charges in Arizona.
Some of the men charged in Texas appeared in court on Thursday, where Walther scheduled trials beginning this fall and stretching into 2010. The judge has yet to rule on a defense motion to toss the search warrants because of the hoax call.
Source: KSL Salt Lake City
July 24, 2009 permalink
Here is a new danger for foster children. If your parent was genuinely irresponsible, and you were raised by relatives or foster care, you can be required to pay for the upkeep of your derelict parent. Pennsylvania is enforcing a law dating back to Elizabethan times requiring adults to pay for care of their parents. Don Grant is in financial distress for not paying for his mother Diana Fichera, though she has as much income as he does.
Posted on Sun, Jul. 12, 2009
Monica Yant Kinney: If mom can't pay, adult child must
By Monica Yant Kinney, Inquirer Columnist
This one's going to blow baby boomers' minds. It concerns a little-known law dating to Elizabethan England suddenly being enforced with gusto in Pennsylvania. The law can force adult children to pay their parents' health-care costs.
If Mom and Pop can't pay, you pay. If they have the money but refuse to pay, you pay. If you don't, watch your credit rating sink under the weight of a legal judgment that will haunt you for life.
It happened to Don Grant. It can happen to you.
The Havertown man is nearly 50 and struggling to pay his mortgage and $100,000 in student loans incurred by his daughter, a recent Albright College grad.
Last year, Grant was sued because his mother, Diana Fichera, did not pay an $8,000 bill at a Delaware County nursing home, where she rehabilitated after surgery.
Grant went to court with his half-sister, who was also sued. He told the nursing-home attorney that he's estranged from his mother and that Fichera has income from Social Security plus two pensions.
The nursing-home lawyer told Grant that all would be resolved if Fichera paid up. When she again refused, the judgment was entered against the whole family.
Family strife costly
Grant says that his relationship with his mother "has always been strained" and that he was raised primarily by his grandparents.
"It was a big house in Drexel Hill," he recalls. "She lived on the second floor. We lived on the first. Sometimes, she'd show for dinner, sometimes not. She never did homework with us."
Grant says his mother has long overspent and mismanaged her money. Fichera declined to comment through her daughter, Grant's half-sister, who asked not to be named.
Public records show pages of judgments and liens against Fichera, 71, who receives a $1,434 monthly pension after working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 23 years. (Unlike wages, which can be garnisheed, Social Security and pensions are generally exempt from seizure.)
In 2006, the Wallingford Nursing & Rehab Center sued Fichera for not paying a $28,000 bill.
Two years later, she accrued another debt at Brinton Manor in Glen Mills. This time, the nursing-home lawyer got creative.
Old law, new use
Blue Bell lawyer Brian Scott Dietrich represents Brinton Manor, but did not return phone calls for comment. Pennsylvania State University law professor Katherine Pearson knew why as soon as I mentioned his name.
"There are three or four major lawyers in Pennsylvania who specialize in representing nursing homes and hospitals, and one of their favorite tools is Pennsylvania's filial statute. Dietrich is one of them," says Pearson, an expert on the arcane issue, also known as "support of indigents."
"These attorneys will bring suit against adult children even if the children live out of state and even if it's been years since they had contact with their parent."
The legal concept of requiring children to support their parents predates colonial America.
"It's a noble theory, a law to make families responsible for each other," Pearson notes. "It didn't work then, and it doesn't work now."
In fact, she adds, filial cases usually "end any real possibility of the family reuniting."
Pay now or pay later
Grant learned of Fichera's rehab debt in a letter from Dietrich's office in March 2008.
"I said, 'Don't contact me. I have nothing to do with her. You're barking up the wrong tree.' "
A month later, Grant was laid off. In August, he was sued.
By the time of the court hearing, Grant had found work for less pay at a firm that sells foreclosures. "I talked to a lawyer," he says, "but he wanted $400, and I didn't have it."
Representing himself was an expensive mistake. Grant never knew he had a narrow window to appeal. Now, it's too late.
"Most of the time, the nursing homes will still compromise and settle, but not always," Pearson says. "Once they have a judgment, they feel empowered."
So a hurt and angry son is left with a dilemma he can't afford: Go into debt to pay his mother's debt, or ignore it and brace for the worst.
"If I go to buy a car, it's going to affect my credit," he says. "If we try to sell the house, it will come up."
Needless to say, Grant no longer speaks to his mother.
"The worst part? She's got as much money coming in as we do," he says. "And I'm being held responsible for her irresponsibility."
Contact Monica Yant Kinney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-854-4670.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Cost Cutting Revoked
July 24, 2009 permalink
An investigator who does not wish to be quoted spoke to an MCYS staff person named Patricia about the cost-cutting meeting scheduled for July 29, 2009. Patricia said that Deb Matthews has sent out a letter dated July 17 canceling the meeting. A letter sent to Deb Matthews on July 5 (at same link as above) inquired whether she was interested in input from those outside social services. Not only is she uninterested, she evidently thinks we are not entitled to the courtesy of a reply.
Shaken Baby Lives On
July 24, 2009 permalink
A mother convicted of shaken baby has been given a non-jail sentence. Maybe the judge became skeptical after reading the Goudge report. Without names we cannot be sure, but this may be the same case reported on January 10.
Shaken-baby mom spared jail
Tot left blind and with brain injuries
Barbara Brown, The Hamilton Spectator, (Jul 23, 2009)
A mother who is to blame for her 13-month-old son's devastating brain injuries was sentenced yesterday to a conditional sentence of two years less a day, including six months of house arrest and community supervision.
Superior Court Justice David Crane said he struggled long and hard to arrive at an appropriate sentence for the 36-year-old mother of three children, whom he convicted in January of aggravated assault following damning testimony from several experts on shaken baby syndrome.
Crane found the mother called 911 in August 2006 after shaking the toddler so hard that he was left legally blind and with significant cognitive impairments.
Defence lawyer John Abrams said the Children's Aid Society banished the mother from the home, but later allowed her back under supervision and eventually permitted her to resume her role as primary caregiver to the injured boy and his two older sisters.
Abrams said child-protection workers took the position that the mother momentarily lost control and assaulted her child. However, she has co-operated with their demands to take parenting courses and counselling and has satisfied them that she no longer poses a danger to her children.
The lawyer said the boy attends a day-care centre for special needs children that is covered by his medical insurance, but his parents would not have been in a position to pay for full-time day care for their three children should the mother be sentenced to jail.
The father would have had to leave his job to take care of the children.
"The family is established in the community, the children are in school but they have no other family here to assist them," Abrams said.
The mother "faces severe consequences for her actions and momentary loss of control and will continue to face them every day for the rest of her life," he said.
The court heard the boy is improving but is not expected to ever be able to live independently and will require care for life.
The mother pleaded not guilty at her trial.
The father, who speaks better English than she does, reported to doctors and child-welfare workers that their child had been climbing on a chair a few days earlier and had fallen 30 to 60 centimetres to the floor.
The parents maintain the accidental blow caused the injuries to the boy's head. The couple did not qualify for legal aid and could not afford to hire an expert witness to counter the testimony of the medical experts hired by the Crown.
Assistant Crown attorney Janet Booy argued that a term of real jail was required in order to deter others from what courts have characterized as a "reckless loss of temper directed at a defenceless young child."
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Jack Hepworth Sues CAS
July 23, 2009 permalink
Jack Hepworth, whose involvement with children's aid spans two decades, has started a lawsuit against them for 100 million dollars.
Lawsuits totalling $100,000,000 filed against Ottawa Children's Aid Society and RCMP for obstruction of justice, malicious prosecution and cover-up which destroyed family!
(July 16, 2009) Lawsuits for one hundred million dollars have been recently filed in the Federal Court by Mr. Jack Hepworth (aka Justice Jack}. Court Watch is currently reviewing materials and evidence relevant to this case and more information will be made available to the public in the near future. During the course of this matter, Mr. Hepworth claims he has evidence which shows that documents which would have shown that the children's aid society acted maliciously and without just cause were removed from files and hidden away. Mr. Hepworth also claims that he has proof to show that important court files have gone mysteriously missing from the court. The children involved in this matter have also come forth and are in the process of filing their own lawsuits against the Ottawa CAS as well. This will be a very interesting case!
Readers who are interested in obtaining copies of the statements of claim against the Ottawa Children's Aid Society can submit their request in writing by email to Canada Court Watch at email@example.com
Source: Canada Court Watch
CAS Deports its Mistakes
July 23, 2009 permalink
Brazilian orphan Fatima Desrosiers was sent to Canada at age 12 by an adoption agency. She was not adopted, instead became a crown ward. As is common with crown wards, she became a dysfunctional adult. Now her criminal record is cause to deport her back to Brazil, where she has no family and cannot speak the language.
After 22 years in Canada, orphan ordered back home TheStar.com - GTA - After 22 years in Canada, orphan ordered back home
July 22, 2009, Nicholas Keung, IMMIGRATION REPORTER
At age 12, an adoption agency brought Fatima Desrosiers to Toronto from a Brazilian orphanage, with the hope of finding the abused child a home.
She was taken to the Don Mills area, where she met her prospective new mother. Desrosiers recalls a confrontation; the woman yelled at her, but at the time Desrosiers did not understand English. She also remembers the woman holding a knife and ordering her to leave.
Desrosiers ran out into the street, stopping what she thought was a cab. It was, in fact, a police cruiser and officers immediately placed her in the care of children's aid.
That was 1987. For years after, Desrosiers was a Crown ward, bouncing from foster home to group home, under a temporary resident permit.
She was never adopted or sponsored to become a permanent resident, and her numerous criminal convictions over the years – theft, drug trafficking, prostitution, assaults – meant she couldn't get landed status.
Now, 22 years after Desrosiers was brought here for a better future, she has been ordered to return to a country where she has no ties and no longer speaks the language.
"Fatima has never been clean long enough to get landed," lamented her immigration lawyer, Marshall Drukarsh. "This is an extremely rare situation, but she is probably the least to blame. She never chose to come here."
Desrosiers, 34, has vague memories of growing up in a small shack with 11 adults and seven children in Tiete, before she was removed and taken to an orphanage at age 5. She also recalls attending a São Paulo court with a woman to get papers to come to Canada.
"I didn't know any English. I wasn't even aware I was in a different country," said Desrosiers, whose immigration file shows she lived in at least 27 homes in Toronto, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Hamilton, Waterloo and Dunnville. She was never anywhere long enough to set roots and was always in trouble, which she attributes to behavioural problems caused by childhood abuse in Brazil.
"I have never stayed anywhere for a full year. I never really attended school. I can't read or do math," added Desrosiers, who has three sons and two daughters, none of whom lives with her.
Immigration officials cannot comment on Desrosiers' case, but a rejection letter in May said her application to extend the temporary permit was refused because she has failed to support herself financially as an adult – she lives on government assistance – and because of her lengthy criminal record.
These days, children adopted internationally arrive in Canada as permanent residents or citizens; in the past, children were brought on temporary resident permits while the adoption process was completed in Canada, said Drukarsh.
Desrosiers now lives in Belleville with a boyfriend. She says she is still battling post-traumatic stress disorder from the earlier abuse, but overcame her crack cocaine addiction 10 years ago and has lived a stable life in her one-bedroom apartment for 18 months. She feels she deserves a second chance.
Her last criminal offence was two years ago when she was charged with assaulting a boyfriend.
"I can't speak Portuguese. I don't know anybody or have any family in Brazil," she said. "To send me back is like putting me in an early grave."
Source: Toronto Star
Reforms Never Come
July 23, 2009 permalink
Ontario parents of severely disabled children are still being forced to surrender custody to their children's aid society in order to get the large amounts of care they need. This in spite of an unsuccessful class-action lawsuit with lead plaintiff Anne Larcade, and a promise by Minister of Children and Youth Services Marie Bountrogianni to end the practice, a promise broken when the minister was removed. Real reform in this area remains unlikely as long as children's aid is funded from appropriations. That process makes every CAS ward a source of revenue, revenue whose amount increases with the level of disability. While a healthy child can bring a mark-up (excess of appropriated funds over costs) of a quarter million dollars, the severely handicapped produce rates ten or twenty times as high. Too much temptation for CAS managers to overlook. Previous stories on the Larcade suit are at June 20, 2003, May 17, 2005, March 21, 2005, August 9, 2005 and November 24, 2006.
`Where's Ontario's humanity?' mom asks
Still no policy to ensure parents won't have to lose custody to get care for disabled kids
July 23, 2009, Tanya Talaga, Queen's Park Bureau
Single mother Anne Larcade eventually won long-term health care for her son Alex from the Ontario government after nearly losing custody of him to children's aid officials nine years ago because she could not afford to place him in a special group home.
Larcade was outraged after reading Monday's Star story on the plight of an Ottawa family faced with a similar problem – years after the province vowed to make sure parents would never have to give up custody rights to secure medical care.
"Where is Ontario's humanity?" Larcade said in an interview this week.
The Huntsville mother and a chorus of others are calling on the province to put an end to the situation once and for all by returning to the use of special needs agreements to ensure severely disabled children receive proper care and remain in the custody of their parents.
Matt and Ioulia Gallinger of Ottawa are trying to raise their severely disabled 11-month-old, Daria, at home, but fear they may not be able to in the long run because of a lack of provincial support for special-needs children. A brain injury during birth left Daria with severe cerebral palsy and developmental delays. She needs around-the-clock medical care.
The Gallingers say they've been told if they can't afford the bills, they can surrender custody of Daria to the children's aid society.
Larcade was the lead plaintiff in a $500 million class-action suit against the province that was dismissed in 2006 by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Larcade took the case to the Supreme Court of Canada, where it was also dismissed.
The Child and Family Services Act at one time allowed parents to enter special needs agreements with the government, under which they would retain custody of their children and still get specialized access to group homes and services.
The previous Conservative government put a moratorium on such agreements in 1999. Instead, ad hoc solutions and funding are scraped together by the government for individual families.
"There is no provision for care beside special needs agreements," Larcade said. "It is a grey wasteland for parents of frantic Internet research, doctors who don't know, services that are a fragmented map in disarray, and government people who say, `I don't know what to do.'"
Alex is now 19 and has lived in care for nine years under a special agreement, Larcade said. "He is autistic and mentally delayed, but yet is one of the most beautiful minds and human beings I have ever known. We would not have maintained custody save for the pressure on our story through the media which brought to bear a satisfactory, one-off, solution. The government said this would never happen to another family," she said.
Last month, Ontario Ombudsman André Marin revealed his office was contacted by 24 families, including the Gallingers, who feared they could be forced to relinquish custody because they can't afford their children's medical costs.
Four years ago, Marin found 150 families forced to surrender parental rights to children's aid societies to get around-the-clock medical care. The government stepped in, investigated each case and returned children to their families.
"The plight of children with special needs is a dark chapter in Ontario public policy," Marin told the Star this week. He has urged the government to reintroduce special needs agreements separate from child protection matters.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services remains committed to solving each case individually, and is not considering a return to special needs agreements, said ministry spokesperson Kevin Spafford. "This is the route we've chosen," he said.
The Gallingers have been offered short-term assistance from the ministry and can have a home caregiver until February, at which time Daria will be 18 months old and ready for daycare, Ioulia Gallinger said. But to go to daycare, Daria needs a specially trained aide or nurse, and there are no commitments from the government past February, said Matt Gallinger, a United Church minister.
Special needs agreements were put in place to deal with these cases and "nothing has replaced it," said Mississauga lawyer Laughlin Campbell, who nine years ago helped attain long-term government funding for Luca Rosati, a then 2-year-old severely disabled boy with cerebral palsy whose story was featured in the Star.
Source: Toronto Star
We Have Ways to Make You Talk
July 23, 2009 permalink
When Jennifer Kolbeck declined to testify in court, citing protection of the US constitution, she was served with papers removing her children from her custody as she left the courtroom.
Normal parents value their children more highly than anything at stake in a legal action. Under the duress of child removal, parents have to set aside truth in favor of family preservation. Any legal action using this kind of coercion becomes a sham. The occasional parent, such as Kolbeck, who defies the system becomes the example used to coerce others.
Witness invokes Fifth Amendment at Alamo trial
BY ANDY DAVIS, Posted on Wednesday, July 22, 2009
TEXARKANA - Under questioning Tuesday at evangelist Tony Alamo's trial, the wife of a fugitive described by authorities as Alamo's "enforcer" invoked her right not to incriminate herself. As she left the courtroom, she was served with documents from child welfare authorities seeking protective custody of her four children.
Jennifer Kolbeck, whose husband, John, is wanted in the beating of a teenage church member, was one of five members of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries who took the witness stand Tuesday to defend Alamo, who is charged with taking five underage girls across state lines for sex.
Testifying along with Jennifer Kolbeck were three women whom authorities have described as Alamo's wives and the man who drove a bus on a trip in which Alamo is accused of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Wearing a white jacket and slacks, a pink blouse and tinted eyeglasses, Kolbeck, who was born in the ministry, told jurors that one of the girls Alamo is accused of abusing went to live with him because she was "always in trouble" and because she had a "very bad problem with lying."
Under questioning by assistant U.S. attorney Candace Taylor, Kolbeck said she had driven that morning from a hotel in Shreveport. Asked where she had been before that, Kolbeck said she had been "driving all over the place."
"Is that because you're in hiding?" Taylor asked.
"Absolutely - hiding from harassment," Kolbeck said. She said she had been in Arizona, Oklahoma and California.
Asked why she is hiding, Kolbeck said, "I have no comment on that." That prompted a huddle between Alamo's attorneys and U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes. Afterward, Barnes said Kolbeck would be invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself and that all of her testimony would be stricken.
Authorities have been searching for John Kolbeck since October, when Fort Smith police obtained a warrant for his arrest on a second-degree battery charge in the beating of a teenage church member at a ministry warehouse.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services has also been searching for the Kolbecks' four children, ages 12 to 17, since November, when judges in Miller and Sebastian counties issued orders listing 128 children, including the Kolbecks', as being in danger of abuse because of their parents' association with the ministry. The Kolbecks also are the legal guardians of three other children named in the court orders.
As she left the courtroom Tuesday, Jennifer Kolbeck, accompanied by her attorney, was followed by a Miller County sheriff's deputy, an FBI agent and an attorney with the Human Services Department. In the courthouse lobby, a deputy served Kolbeck with the court papers.
Earlier Tuesday, ministry member Sharon Alamo, who prosecutors say is one of Tony Alamo's wives, testified that he had made trips to California to see heart and eye doctors, to work on business ventures such as starting a line of jewelry and recording gospel albums, and to buy a "hairpiece."
She said he traveled for a time in a motor home, then later in a bus, with several women and girls whom she described as his office assistants. Tony Alamo had a bedroom in the back of the bus, where she said suitcases and recording equipment were also stored.
During a trip in the fall of 2004, Sharon Alamo said, the air conditioning in the bus malfunctioned. Since the bedroom sits over the engine, the heat in the bedroom would have been "unbearable," she said, and Tony Alamo didn't spend much time in the bedroom during that trip.
She and the bus driver, ministry member Sanford White, said a 13-year-old girl was along for the trip, but they never saw Tony Alamo go into the bedroom with her, as the girl, one of Alamo's accusers, says he did.
Under questioning by assistant U.S. attorney Clay Fowlkes, Sharon Alamo said she had exchanged vows with Tony Alamo in 1989, but she said they are "not together right now" and stressed that they were never legally married.
"We were together for a while and after several years, we on our own determined to separate, yet we still work together and I live in the same home," Sharon Alamo said.
She also acknowledged that she and Tony Alamo lived with several other women and girls whom she had seen wearing wedding rings, but she did not know whether the other women and girls were Alamo's wives.
Two other women, Alys Ondrisek and Angela Morales, also testified on behalf of Tony Alamo, saying all of his trips were for church business or legal matters. Prosecutors have indicated that they are among Alamo's wives, but did not ask them Tuesday about their marital status.
After each one testified, Tony Alamo smiled and gave them a thumbs up.
Before finishing their case Tuesday morning, prosecutors played recordings of phone calls Alamo had made from the Bowie County jail annex of the Bi-State Detention Center in Texarkana, Texas, where he is being held without bail. In one of them, Alamo assured a member he was "still in charge" of the ministry.
Since a Sept. 20 raid on Alamo's compound in Fouke, child welfare authorities have taken 36 children into protective custody, saying they were endangered by ministry practices that include allowing underage marriages and beatings for violations of church rules. An additional 98 others are listed in court orders as being in danger of abuse, but authorities have been unable to find them.
Among those who were in the courtroom as Kolbeck testified Tuesday was Antavia Meggs, who signed over custody of her three children to the Kolbecks in 2007 but now wants them back.
As Jennifer Kolbeck took the stand, Meggs left the courtroom and went to a bathroom to cry.
"I thought she was out of the country with my kids, and here she is right in front of me," Meggs said.
Human Services Department spokesman Julie Munsell declined to say what action the department might take, citing a gag order in the case. Meggs said she doesn't hold out much hope that serving Jennifer Kolbeck will bring her closer to her children.
"I don't think she'll tell anybody anything," Meggs said.
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
July 23, 2009 permalink
A mother in Summerside, Prince Edward Island has been convicted of a crime for a show of displeasure toward the social worker who took her child from school. Social workers expect parents to thank them for kidnapping their children.
Last updated at 12:17 AM on 23/07/09
Sentence suspended for mom who slaps social worker print this article
The Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE – A Summerside woman has received probation for slapping a social worker who had taken her child.
The woman, in her late 30s, pleaded guilty in Provincial Court Wednesday to assault.
Her son had been picked up at school, under provisions of the Child Protection Act.
The woman and her husband became very upset and met with the worker and supervisor at the office. Just before leaving, the woman swore at the worker and slapped her in the face. No injuries were reported.
The court heard the woman had also been waiting to hear news on some family health issues and struggled with anxiety. She has no record and attended anger management sessions since the assault.
Judge Jeff Lantz considered the emotional nature of the situation. He also took into account the vulnerability of the social worker, agreeing workers deserve some degree of protection by the court.
Lantz suspended the passing of sentence and put the woman on probation for 18 months. The terms include not contacting the victim, writing a letter of apology, 60 hours of community service work and undergoing assessment, counselling and treatment for any mental health issues as directed. She must pay a $50 victim surcharge.
Source: Journal Pioneer (Summerside, Prince Edward Island)
July 22, 2009 permalink
The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that Allison Quets has no parental rights to her twins because of a document she signed in the post-partum period. Not only has she lost parental rights, she has also been stripped of her visitation provided for in the adoption agreement. Earlier stores are at: December 29, 2006, and in 2007, January 4, April 14, September 15 and December 18.
Published: Jul 21, 2009 01:40 PM, Modified: Jul 21, 2009 02:58 PM
Quets can't seek custody or visitation
By Michael Biesecker, Staff Writer
RALEIGH -- Allison Quets has no legal right to seek custody or visitation rights for the twins she gave up for adoption and later kidnapped to Canada, according to the N.C. Court of Appeals.
Quets appealed the earlier ruling of a Wake County judge that tossed out her lawsuit seeking parental rights over the children. The appeals court, which ruled unanimously, did grant Quets one measure of relief. The three-judge panel overturned the lower court’s sanction ordering Quets to pay the adoptive family's legal fees.
Quets, who lives in Florida, asked the court to uphold visitation rights she thought were guaranteed when she gave up Holly and Tyler, now 4, to an Apex couple. The appeals court ruled that agreement is not enforceable in North Carolina.
A former engineer with Lockheed Martin, Quets got pregnant through in-vitro fertilization and gave birth to the children in Florida in 2005.
She later said she was under duress when she allowed Kevin and Denise Needham to adopt them. In court earlier this year, she described her severe sleep deprivation after giving birth. Hours after signing papers giving custody to the Needhams, she wanted the children back.
Quets has cast herself as an advocate for the rights of birth mothers and has sought support for her cause via the Internet. The case attracted national attention in 2006, when, during a visitation, she fled with the children to Canada. She spent eight months in jail awaiting trial on kidnapping charges before she was freed on probation.
After the twins' birth in 2005, Quets filed suit in Florida asking for custody of the twins, and a judge granted her the right to visit on weekends while the case was being appealed. After she took the twins to Canada, the judge revoked those rights. Quets and the Needhams had originally settled on an open-adoption agreement allowing six visits a year and frequent updates, according to court documents.
firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 829-4698
Source: Raleigh News & Observer
July 21, 2009 permalink
There will be a yard sale to benefit Devon Sweeney on August 1 in Hamilton, details are in the expand block. Previous stories about this boy were, in 2008: May 9, May 12, May 13, May 13, May 18, June 13, and in 2009: January 10, January 20, January 23, January 26, January 27, January 29.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Update on Devon
I have been posting about Devon and the effects of chemotherapy on this 12 year old child for the past year. Having been forced by the Children's Aid Society to take this treatment against his wishes. He is still getting treatment at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto (questionable treatment) I am currently researching the effects of these drugs and their methods of treatment on this child and will follow up shortly with my conclusions, through professional opinions and Doctors statements.
Devon will be starting school again in September, at a modified level and pace, but nonetheless he will be going to school... Way to Go Devon!!
Devon has good days and bad days and the in home and in hospital chemotherapy does take its toll on a small body. His father is always by his side and is praying to the Creator that his son will be okay. Native teachings are a way of life in his home and traditional treatments through prayer, meditation and smudging ceremonies ensures his spiritual and physical needs are being met by both his Creator and family.
I received an email from the family. Phone numbers I have omitted to protect the privacy of the family but come out and see this family on August 1, 2009.
"ON AUGUST 1ST WE WILL BE HAVING A HUGE YARD SALE AT 365 MELVIN AVE.HAMILTON, ON... WE HAVE MANY ITEMS FOR SALE ... PROCEEDS FROM THE YARD SALE ARE BEING USED FOR DEVON'S CHELATION THERAPY ONCE HE IS FINISHED WITH PROTOCOL TREATMENT NEXT OCTOBER. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ... PLEASE CONTACT ME HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL THERE. FEEL FREE TO FORWARD THE EMAIL TO ANYONE YOU KNOW THAT MAY BE INTERESTED"
We are here to protect children and families from the Children's Aid Society.
Thank you for your support!!
Posted by Advocate at 11:34 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog July 20, 2009
I spent the day with Devon’s family for the garage sale on August 1, 2009 and they made almost $400 for the alternative therapy for Devon.
Source: Mary Janiga blog August 11, 2009
Another Sham Accusation
July 20, 2009 permalink
The recent Goudge inquiry suggested reforms to criminal prosecution of parents for the death of their own children. A case in North Bay shows that the same mistakes are still being made.
The police waited ten months to find an offense, the finding is supported by the Office of the Chief Coroner (source of dozens of past false accusations), the Deaths Under Five Review Committee (an organization dedicated more to covering up than revealing the truth) and the Centre of Forensic Sciences. The most damaging thing the cops can say is that the cause of death is consistent with drowning. Judge Goudge suggested banishing the term "consistent with" since it says nothing.
This young lady will probably get a duty counsel or legal aid hack and may well become the victim of an undeserved conviction.
Mother charged in baby's death
Posted By NUGGET STAFF, Updated July 18, 2009
A North Bay mother has been charged in the drowning death of her baby boy.
The 10-month-old child, Ivan Carmichael, died Sept. 8.
North Bay police said in a media release Friday that with the assistance of the Centre of Forensic Sciences, the Office of the Chief Coroner and the Deaths Under Five Review Committee, the cause of death was determined to be consistent with drowning.
Jennifer Carmichael, 23, of Judge Avenue, is charged with criminal negligence causing death and child abandonment endangering life under the Criminal Code of Canada.
She is scheduled to appear in court July 28.
Source: North Bay Nugget
The mother gets a criminal conviction and eight months house arrest.
Mom under house arrest for toddler's bathtub drowning
A mom is under house arrest for eight months for talking on a cellphone and fetching ice cream while her 11-month-old drowned in the bathtub.
Jennifer Carmichael, 25, pleaded guilty Jan. 31 to child abandonment in a plea agreement that dropped the more serious charge of criminal negligence causing death, according to court documents.
"In our society, infants who are less than a year old do require constant supervision, and people in charge of such vulnerable human beings must be reminded that this is absolutely essential," said Superior Court Justice Paul Rivard.
"Sentences which deter that abandonment of such children must be imposed."
Carmichael lived on Morin Street for a month with her son, Ivan, three other adults and a 14-month-old girl.
The mother put Ivan in the bath with the girl shortly before noon on Sept. 8, 2008, in hopes of exposing the boy to chicken pox so he would catch it and develop an immunity to it, said Crown attorney John Benson.
Both children were left unsupervised in the tub for about 10 minutes. She returned and found the boy face down in the water, and other adults in the house tried to perform CPR.
"This was a tragedy for her. It was entirely avoidable, of course, but it's a tragedy nonetheless," Benson said.
He said no other adult was charged with the responsibility of looking after the child.
Carmichael's lawyer Frank Falconi said she was under the impression another adult in the home was supervising the children.
He said Carmichael became pregnant after the drowning, and the Children's Aid Society apprehended the baby who was placed in her parent's care in Western Canada.
The maximum sentence for child abandonment is five years imprisonment.
The Crown recommended six to nine months under house arrest, and Carmichael's lawyer suggested less than that, noting she has abided by strict release conditions since her arrest in 2009.
The Centre of Forensic Sciences, the Office of the Chief Coroner and the Deaths Under Five Review Committee were part of the investigation, North Bay Police Service said in a new release at the time of Carmichael's arrest.
If Carmichael violates her house arrest, she could be returned to court and be ordered to serve the remainder of her sentence behind bars.
Source: North Bay Nugget
Foster Kids Jolted
July 20, 2009 permalink
The guardian of four foster children is suing over an incident in which three boys were tasered without provocation by the Jefferson County Illinois sheriff's office, while a girl who asked deputies to stop was handcuffed, threatened with a taser, insulted and dragged to a closet. Two of the children lost control of their bodily functions and messed themselves. Gotta let those foster kids know who's boss.
Lawsuit filed against sheriff, deputies
July 16, 2009 10:15 pm — By TESA CULLI, email@example.com
MT. VERNON — A federal lawsuit has been filed claiming that two Jefferson County deputies tased three children numerous times and assaulted another last year at the Southern 30 Adolescent Center.
The lawsuit was filed by the guardian of the four, who are identified as B.B., R.E., Z.P. and Megan Geisler, who is a foster child that does not live at the center. The lawsuit names Jefferson County, Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Deputies David Bowers and Lonnie Lawler as the defendants.
The incident allegedly happened on July 4, 2008, when law enforcement was called to help staff at the center control two 12-year-olds and an 11-year old — who are not the defendants — and in the common area of the center “acting out.” The lawsuit specifies the three defendants were not the youth that prompted the call to police, according to the lawsuit.
“Without any physical provocation and/or physical gestures from R.E., Deputy David Bowers physically pushed R.E. towards his bunk and shocked him repeatedly with a taser,” the lawsuit alleges. “R.E. was tased multiple times to multiple locations on his person, including, but not limited to, his neck. Deputy Bowers shouted to B.B. to lie down in his bunk and physically forced him to lie down. Without physical provocation and/or physical gestures from B.B., Deputy Bowers held B.B. down on his bed and shocked him repeatedly with a taser. While he was tasing B.B., Deputy David Bowers threatened to sodomize B.B. As a result of this repeated and excessive tasing, B.B. urinated and defecated himself. Deputy David Bowers was aware that B.B. urinated himself after the tasing.
“Shortly thereafter, Deputy David Bowers and Deputy Lonnie Lawler shouted at Z.P. to sit on the couches in the common room. Z.P. sat on the couches. Without any physical provocation and/or threatening physical gestures from Z.P., Deputy David Bowers ordered Deputy Lonnie Lawler to handcuff Z.P. While Deputy Lonnie Lawler was placing the handcuffs on Z.P., Deputy David Bowers began to shock him repeatedly with the taser. Z.P.was tased multiple times to multiple locations on his person.
“As Z.P. was being repeatedly tased, Megan Geisler pleaded with Deputy David Bowers and Deputy Lonnie Lawler to stop. Deputy David Bowers ordered Deputy Lonnie Lawler to handcuff Megan Geisler. Once in handcuffs, Deputy David Bowers approached Megan Geisler with his taser withdrawn as if to use it on her. Deputy David Bowers grabbed Megan Geisler by her arms, lifted her off her feet, and carried her through the male dormitory to a nearby closet. On the way to the closet, Deputy David Bowers lifted Megan Geisler off the ground, pressed her against a wall and choked her. While choking her, Deputy David Bowers said, ‘do you want to live or die bitch’ to Megan Geisler. Megan Geisler was then thrown into a closet. At this time she began vomiting and heaving.”
The lawsuit also contends that Jefferson County, the Sheriff’s Office and Mulch “caused deputies to believe that the excessive and unreasonable use of force would not be aggressively, honestly and properly investigated, with the forseeable result that deputies are more likely to use excessive force against plaintiffs and others in the future.”
Bowers and Lawler, as individuals have been sued for excessive force and excessive force/failure to intervene, for allegedly depriving the three youth of the rights, privileges and immunities secured by the Constitution “including but not limited to those secured in the Fourth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution” and acting with “willful and wanton disregard for the constitutional rights of plaintiffs.” The lawsuit states the three sustained physical, emotional and other damages as a result of the incident as well as “loss of freedom and liberty, bodily injury, pain and suffering, psychological damage, emotional distress” and asks the court to award undisclosed punitive damages, the cost of the lawsuit, attorneys’ fees and any other relief the court deems equitable and just.”
The two deputies are also accused of assault and battery, stating “the beatings and/or tasings, verbal abuse, and use of non-deadly force ... when defendants had no lawful authority to arrest plaintiffs when (they) were unarmed and did not pose a threat of death or grievous bodily injury, or bodily injury to defendants or others.”
Another count against the deputies is intentional infliction of emotional distress, charging Bowers and Lawler with intentionally beating or tasing and verbally abusing the youths that was done “with actual malice and wanton indifference to and deliberate disregard for human life and rights.”
Both deputies as well as Mulch and the county have also been charged with negligence in the civil lawsuit.
Mulch, in his official capacity as sheriff, as well as the county, is accused of, through policy and practice to “authorize certain police deputies, including defendants ... to cover up the use of excessive force despite the lack of probable cause to arrest. This policy and practice of Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch encouraged and caused constitutional violations by deputies.”
In addition, it contends Mulch “knowingly or with deliberate indifference failed to adequately train, direct, supervise, or control defendant deputies so as to prevent the violation of plaintiff’s constitutional rights” and Mulch “had a policy expressly authorizing the use of excessive force, including tasing, in unreasonable and/or unneeded situations.”
“This policy improperly authorized the use of more than the amount of force that would be reasonably necessary in the circumstances at hand, and allowed the use of such excessive force when no ordinarily prudent officer would do so in such situations.”
A demand for a jury trial has been filed in the case.
Source: Mt Vernon Register-News
Addendum: The suit has been settled, with the rogue officers remaining on the job.
Southern 30 lawsuit settled for $750,000
MT. VERNON — Settlement details in the federal lawsuit claiming two Jefferson County deputies tased three children and assaulted a fourth at Southern 30 Adolescent Center in July 2008, have been released in court documents.
The lawsuit was filed in July 2009 by the state-appointed guardian of the defendants. The lawsuit named Sheriff Roger Mulch and deputies David Bowers and Lonnie Lawler as defendants, and charged the two deputies with excessive force and excessive force/failure to intervene.
Earlier this year, a settlement was reached in the case, and once the settlement orders are accepted by the judge, the case is expected to be dismissed.
“The defendants have offered by and through their insurance carrier to compromise and settle any right of action which may exist against them ... in full satisfaction of any claims which the ward or the guardian of said ward may have growing out of the occurrence. Defendants have denied all liability,” the first settlement order on behalf of one of the youth states.
The settlement of “a global sum of 750,000” has been approved, and from that amount attorney fees of $350,000 will be deducted as well as court costs of $13,162.81.
“The attorney’s fees and costs are to be assessed in equal shares among the four plaintiffs, with the balance being distributed equally among the plaintiffs,” the order states.
The four defendants will receive, in a structured settlement from an annuity, $5,000 on June 1, 2012, at the age of 18; $30,000 on June 1, 2015, at the age of 21; $50,000 on June 1, 2019, at the age of 25; and $93,054.60 on June 1, 2024, at the age of 30.
“The court retains jurisdiction over this claim until the parties file a motion or stipulation to dismiss the case,” the order states. In a previous notice to parties, the court extended the date for entry of judgment to Aug. 30.
Source: Mt Vernon Register-News
Adopters Plundered Assets
July 18, 2009 permalink
An investigative report by the Globe and Mail suggests that Imagine Adoption was not the victim of an unexpected financial crisis, but that its management had been plundering assets for nearly a year in anticipation of bankruptcy. Cambridge MP and Canadian Minister of State (Science and Technology) Gary Goodyear attended the opening of the offices of Imagine Adoption, and his wife was an employee.
Bankrupt adoption agency owed money to 400 families
Financial records show potential parents paid up to $25,000 to Imagine Adoption
Toronto — From Friday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Saturday, Jul. 18, 2009 03:32AM EDT
Susan Hayhow's stonework century home in Cambridge, Ont., is the envy of her neighbours. With an indoor hot tub, manicured backyard and top-of-the-line appliances, it's perfectly appointed – much like Ms. Hayhow, who appears neatly coiffed and well-dressed in the dozens of photos posted to the websites of her adoption agency and charity. They show Ms. Hayhow during her frequent trips, handing out toys to children in Ecuador and posing in the lobby of the luxurious Sheraton hotel in Ethiopia's capital.
But Ms. Hayhow's financial records paint a very different picture of the 43-year-old's lifestyle – heavily in debt she is now dealing with the bankruptcy of her agency, which has left hundreds of adoptive families in the lurch.
Companies still owed money by Imagine Adoption include a swimming pool business, a home-renovation contractor and a landscaper that confirmed the work was done at Ms. Hayhow's private residence. Also owed money are 400 families, some of whom paid as much as $25,000 upfront to Imagine Adoption, which also operates as Kids Link International.
Ms. Hayhow and her partner, Andrew Morrow, 48, left for Ethiopia a week ago to assist at the transition home caring for 40 children matched with Canadian parents and have been in touch with the bankruptcy trustee. Last month, Ms. Haywood and Mr. Morrow took out a $500,000 mortgage at a rate of prime plus seven per cent on their home, currently assessed at $232,000. The couple had put the home up for sale with an asking price of just under $500,000, but took it off the market.
One adoptive mother said the agency seemed to be flourishing, moving from a smaller basement to a bright, storefront office just over a year ago. The agency was paying $7,000 a month for the new offices, but bankruptcy documents report the rent had not been paid in 10 months.
Sarah, who did not want her last name used, adopted twins from Ethiopia said shortly after she arrived home with the children, she received a letter asking for a $15,000 donation to another charity run by Ms. Hayhow called Global Reach Children's Fund.
“I was just astounded,” Sarah said. “I've never been asked for that kind of money.”
Global Reach Children's Fund operates in Ethiopia and Ms. Hayhow had been fundraising to build a complex called Faith Village that would provide such services as schooling, health care, and food. According to the charity's website, one unnamed family agreed to donate $400,000 last September. Photos posted in December show a poured foundation but there have been no updates.
Imagine Adoption was separate from the charity and maintained its own staff, which included Valerie Goodyear, wife of federal cabinet minister and Cambridge MP Gary Goodyear. Mr. Goodyear attended the grand opening of the agency's new offices last year.
He confirmed his wife, named as co-ordinator of the African adoption programs in an agency newsletter, was laid off on July 10 along with the other 15 employees.
“She was responsible for helping to place children with new families, and was not involved with the financial operations of the agency,” Mr. Goodyear said in a statement.
Deb Matthews, provincial minister for Children and Youth Services, said Thursday the province is working with the federal government to expedite paperwork for the children at the transition home in Ethiopia.
“Our highest priority is to get those kids here and in their homes as quickly as possible,” Ms. Matthews said.
There are also nine children in Ghana who had been matched with Canadian families. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services said the adoptions were suspended when it learned the orphanage, which is not operated by Imagine, was under investigation for child trafficking. Ministry spokesman Kevin Spafford said the orphanage was closed last month.
Ms. Matthews, whose ministry is in charge of licensing adoption agencies, says the province will be following the bankruptcy trustee's investigation of the finances of Imagine, which had a license in good standing.
“We're always looking at how we can improve services for families and this will be an opportunity to do that,” Ms. Matthews said. “We're obviously concerned.”
With a report from Stephanie Chambers
Source: Globe and Mail
Medical Examiner Clears Sheriff
July 18, 2009 permalink
Eight-year-old David Alex Cotten died May 25 by hanging. He was at the time in the custody of foster father Kam Sandstrom, a reserve deputy with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department in Tennessee. Below are three articles, the first from the press just after the death, the second a statement by the boy's father, and the third an unbelievable news report of the state medical examiner clearing the foster family of responsibility. According to the father, he asked for temporary help from DCS, but they would not give the children back. After he realized he could not get his kids, he cooperated with termination of his rights on the promise that his children would go to his parents, but DCS reneged on that promise. The family does not trust the Sheriff to fairly look in to the case because the foster father is a member of the department. The reporter shows only the foster family's side of the story, never quoting the real family. The father's story shows clearly that the family did not, as suggested in the press, abandon the children.
Boy, 8, found hanging from tree in Rutherford Co.
Posted: May 27, 2009 8:21 PM GST
RUTHERFORD CO., Tenn. - The strangulation death of an eight-year-old foster child in Rutherford County is being investigated by local and state officials.
Alex "Charlie" Cotton was found hanging from a tree with bailing wire around his neck Monday.
His foster father, Kam Sandstrom, who is a reserve deputy with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department, told investigators he had been fishing with him and his two other foster children that day.
He said Charlie was sent to a nearby barn as punishment for being hyperactive.
According to the police report, Sandstrom said he checked on Charlie about 15 minutes later, and the boy yelled from the barn that he was okay.
He sent the other boys to look for him a short time later and they could not find him.
The boy was finally found, hanging from a nearby tree.
He was pronounced dead a short time later.
The state medical examiner found the cause of death to be "ligature strangulation."
Questions still remain about the manner of the boy's death.
Investigators do not know whether it was suicide or foul play.
When asked if an eight-year-old child could commit suicide, Dr. Bruce Levy told News 2, "I am not a child psychiatrist. It is my understanding that a child of only eight years of age may not be capable of forming the intent, having the understanding of life and death to commit suicide."
Levy said the investigation into the boy's death will look at autopsy findings, the initial report investigation from the scene Monday and his family history.
The brothers of the boy have been taken out of the foster care of Sandstrom, which is standard procedure in such situations.
Levy said the investigation could be complete by the end of the week.
Dear Robert, I wanted to try and give you a brief rundown on some of the things that have taken place over the last few years in the custody war for my children. I guess maybe about six years ago my wife and I separated and I was left with my three children in fear of losing my job because I had no assistance from anyone. I asked DCS for temporary help and after a few weeks would be able to get them back, not knowing any laws or how DCS worked. I quickly learned that they would not be giving them back to me so easily. They put me through a series of tasks to get them back and after many months of completing all their tasks, a month or so before I got my boys back I allowed their mother to come back into the picture and with only a few days left she walked out again after we were to get them back. DCS decided that I couldn't raise my children on my own so they decided not to allow me to have them. This is pretty much how it all started in the first year and there have been many times in court, and many years of ether myself or my parents trying to get them in their full custody and I fully supported them in doing so because I knew that they would not give them to me and when we went back to court to try and get them placed with my parents. The judge put my parents on a foster parent path, he wanted them to complete a long list of thing including path classes. He also said his intentions were to reunite the boys with there bio family, so after they did all this spent thousands of dollars of their own money they they did not have, we went back to court in hopes that this would end the current foster parents reign and stop DCS, and did it take an insane turn for the worse, when the judge started saying what seemed like he was going to give my parents custody he was silenced by the DCS attorney [Chris Carlton] he was told that he no longer had jurisdiction in this case and could not comment about it, meaning that I guess the day before court the foster family filed for an adoption in another county, also because I was willing to give up my rights to pave the way for my parents, my rights were taken against my will and because I no longer had rights my parents did not either. This was in April 2006. Also after my rights were taken my attorney weirdly decided he could no longer represent me, so me and my grandmother without representation went to appeal the termination of my rights and of course without the money or representation to do so my appeal time expired. Since the my ex-wife came back into the picture and has tried with the help of my parents and failed a few times to get them they removed her right and she appealed. Thats sorta where we are at now. My parents have also contacted the local media for help and they have only distorted the facts to were it seemed to be not in our favor and also my son Alex also was killed he was found hanging by bailing twine in a tree, the examiner of the autopsy said he died from ligature strangulation which is not cause by hanging but is most commonly referred to as being a cause of death in children, women and the elderly in homicide cases where people strangled them with a wire and the examiner also said on TV that he did not believe Alex was capable of doing this to himself. We cannot get any answers. There was never an obituary and no one will tell us anything. They would not even let my family come to the funeral. We desperately need help and will be most grateful for anything you can do to help us get Bryan and Joseph back to this family and help us in getting answers about Alex so that he can be laid to rest. David Cotten
Source: email from David Cotten, July 14, 2009
Child's Strangulation Death Ruled Accidental
8-Year-Old Boy May Have Been Swinging With Rope Got Tied Around Neck
Reported by Jeremy Finley, POSTED: 4:59 pm CDT July 17, 2009, UPDATED: 7:01 pm CDT July 17, 2009
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- New details may lift a shadow of doubt that has been hanging over a foster family in Rutherford County.
A child in the custody of a foster family died from a hanging in late May, but the medical investigation came to the conclusion that the death was a tragic accident.
The state's chief medical examiner, Dr. Bruce Levy, told the Channel 4 I-Team that 8-year-old Alex Cotten's death in late May was a "tragic, accidental death."
Cotten and his brothers went to live with his foster family, the Sandstroms, after investigators found their biological parents were not providing the children with enough food.
Alex's father gave up his parental rights, and his mother later lost hers the week before the child died.
Just before his body was found, Alex had been reprimanded by his foster father, leading to the question of if the boy had taken his own life.
The medical examiner says no.
"We literally believe he was just playing with a rope like kids might do and just got caught in this tragic situation," said Levy.
Levy asked Rutherford County investigators to go back to the scene. While they were there, they discovered the twine rope had knots in it and was tied to the tree with piece of wood, like a makeshift swing. But there were no knots to indicate a noose.
"We believe while he was swinging that the rope tangled around his neck. It's just tragic," said Levy.
Levy believes the foster family is in no way to blame for the boy's death.
"I think understanding that this is a tragic accident is important. In my experience, I'm not sure that these people will feel better because of it because it's a tragic loss either way," said Levy.
The Sandstrom family didn't want to comment but said they were in the process of adopting Alex and his brothers when the incident happened.
A Rutherford County Sheriff's Department representative said this case isn't yet closed.
Source: WSMV Nashville
More Indians Chase White Men
July 18, 2009 permalink
Yukon's first nations are fed up with baby stealing in the name of protection, and want control of child welfare services.
Yukon First Nations want control over child welfare
Last Updated: Friday, July 17, 2009 | 11:44 AM CT, CBC News
Several Yukon First Nations are demanding more control of child welfare services by taking the territorial government to court.
The challenge, heard by the territorial court earlier this week, was prompted by an incident at the Whitehorse General Hospital. First Nations officials say a newborn was recently taken from its mother and placed into government care.
First Nation lawyers are trying to intervene and are demanding a say in that case.
"People cannot be going to the hospitals and taking children from their mothers as they're born. It's unacceptable," Carcross Tagish Chief Mark Wedge told CBC News on Thursday.
The Carcross Tagish is part of a coalition, along with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, the Ta'an Kwach'an Council and the Kluane First Nation, that is pushing to take over child and family services in their communities.
Wedge said such services were promised to them as part of their land-claim and self-government agreements.
"I think it's important for the Yukon citizens and Canadian citizens to know that again, in this day and age, especially after the prime minister gave the apology [to former students of residential schools] and … Premier Fentie has been saying he's working with the First Nations, that they're not," he said.
"They're not working to actually implement these agreements in a good way."
Wedge said his First Nation has developed its own legislation to take over child and family services, but the Yukon government has refused to pay for it.
Kwanlin Dun Chief Mike Smith said he is looking into taking over child and family services in his First Nation, too.
"Just can't be bare bones," he said. "It has to be a service that's equivalent to what's provided to all Canadians."
A territorial court judge has adjourned the case to consider the First Nations' challenge. There is no word on when a court ruling will be made.
Smith said he predicts a long and costly legal battle against the territorial government.
"Why are we always pushed in this corner, and why are we always having to go to court?" he said.
"They don't care about children. They only care about their jurisdiction."
Child Protectors Laid Off
July 17, 2009 permalink
British Columbia's Prince Rupert region will have six fewer child protection workers to harass families.
Child protection workers laid off due to budget cuts
Written by Citizen staff, Thursday, 16 July 2009
Child protection workers in Terrace, Prince Rupert and Kitimat have received word that six full-time positions will be eliminated in their region because of provincial government budget cuts.
Staff who work with vulnerable children and families at risk were told by their managers the cuts are necessary to ensure that the office can balance the costs of front-line social workers with the money allocated by the Campbell government to pay for salaries.
It's anticipated that child protection and guardianship services across the north will face similar cuts.
"Poverty is at the root of most child protection cases," said Darryl Walker, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union. "With rising unemployment and more people on welfare, the economic downturn has put even more pressure on families, particularly in northern communities like Terrace."
Walker said he has written the new minister of children and families Mary Polak seeking a meeting to raise concerns about the proposed cuts, and to make the case for the Liberals to step up investment in social programs to help British Columbians deal with the economic crisis.
Source: Prince George Citizen
July 17, 2009 permalink
Frank Hatley broke up with his girlfriend just after she gave birth to a child that was not his, as confirmed by two DNA tests. He was nevertheless assessed child support. He paid from his salary until last year when he lost his job and his home. He continued to pay what he could from his unemployment benefits, but that was not enough for the state of Georgia. He was committed to jail where he has been for over a year, with no prospect of raising the money to free himself. The case has no influence over child welfare, since the "child" is now twenty two years old.
Court knew man jailed for a year for non-support was not child's father
By BILL RANKIN, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7:13 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Frank Hatley has languished in a South Georgia jail for more than a year.
The reason? He failed to reimburse the state for all the public assistance his “son” received over the past two decades.
The problem? Hatley is not the biological father -- and a special assistant state attorney general and a judge knew it but jailed Hatley anyway.
“I feel bad for the man,” Cook County Sheriff Johnny Daughtrey said Tuesday. “Put yourself in that man’s shoes: If it wasn’t your child, would you want to be paying child support for him?”
Daughtrey said he hopes a hearing Wednesday will resolve the matter. Hatley has been held at the county jail in Adel since June 25, 2008, costing the county an estimated $35 to $40 a day.
Even after learning he was not the father, Hatley paid thousands of dollars the state said he owed for support. After losing his job and becoming homeless, he still made payments out of his unemployment benefits.
Hatley’s lawyer, Sarah Geraghty of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said two independent DNA tests -- one nine years ago and one just a few days ago -- prove he is not the biological father.
“This is a case of excessive zeal to recover money trumping common sense,” she said. “What possible legitimate reason can the state have to pursue Mr. Hatley for child support when he does not have any children?”
It may be difficult for Hatley to get out from under the court order, said Atlanta family lawyer Randall Kessler, who is not associated with the case. “It’s definitely unfair,” Kessler said. “But at the same time, he’s dealing with a valid court order.”
Russ Willard, a spokesman for the state attorney general, said if Hatley can show at the hearing that he is indigent, the state will not oppose his release.
Willard said Hatley could have applied to the state Office of Child Support Services to request that he be relieved of his obligations. He said Hatley has not made such a request.
According to court filings, Hatley was never told that he could have a court-appointed lawyer if he could not afford one. Geraghty said she only recently took on Hatley as a client after the sheriff asked her to talk to Hatley about his predicament.
Geraghty said Hatley had paid a total of $9,524.05 in support since April 1995, but records of payments before that time are not available.
In the 1980s, Hatley had a relationship with Essie Lee Morrison, who became pregnant, had a baby boy and told Hatley the child was his, according to court records. The couple never married and split up shortly after Travon was born in 1987.
In 1989, Morrison applied for public assistance through the state Department of Human Resources. The state then moved to get Hatley to reimburse the cost of Travon’s support, and Hatley agreed because he believed Travon was his son.
But in 2000, DNA samples from Hatley and Travon showed the two were not related, according to a court records.
With the help of a Georgia Legal Services lawyer, Hatley went to court and was relieved of his responsibility to pay future child support. But he still had to deal with being a deadbeat dad when it was assumed that he was really the dad.
Homerville lawyer Charles Reddick, working as a special assistant state attorney general, prepared an order requiring Hatley to pay the $16,398 he still owed the state for child support.
The Aug. 21, 2001 order, signed by Cook County Superior Court Judge Dane Perkins, acknowledges that Hatley was not Travon’s father.
After that, Hatley paid almost $6,000. But last year he was laid off from his job unloading charcoal grills from shipping containers. He became homeless and lived in his car. Still, Hatley made some child support payments using his unemployment benefits.
By May 2008, he apparently had not paid enough. In another order prepared by Reddick and signed by Perkins, Hatley was found in contempt and jailed. When he is released, the order said, Hatley must continue making payments to the state at a rate of $250 a month.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Addendum: Frank Hatley was freed, possibly more the result of publicity than law.
Childless man freed after serving time for child support violations
updated 12:47 a.m. EDT, Thu July 16, 2009, By Mariano Castillo, CNN
(CNN) -- Frank Hatley spent the past year in jail for being a deadbeat dad. But there's one problem -- Hatley doesn't have any children. And the "deadbeat" label doesn't fit the 50-year-old either, his supporters say.
After a hearing, Hatley was released from the Cook County Jail in south Georgia Wednesday afternoon, with the help of the Southern Center for Human Rights.
Superior Court Judge Dane Perkins ruled that Hatley was indigent and should not be jailed for not being able to make child support payments. Perkins postponed a decision on whether Hatley should have to make any more back payments on child-support for a child who is not his.
In June of last year, a judge ordered Hatley to jail for failing to reimburse the state for public assistance that was paid to support his "son," who, as the court was aware, is not actually his son.
Hatley's attorney Sarah Geraghty, who filed a motion for his release, called it a case of "blatant unfairness."
Hatley is a hard-working man who demonstrated his desire to pay what the court said he owed, even making payments from his unemployment checks, Geraghty told CNN.
On top of that, "the state has no legitimate reason to pursue Mr. Hatley for child support -- he doesn't have any children," she said.
The story dates back to 1986, when Hatley had a relationship with Essie Lee Morrison. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son.
Morrison told Hatley that the child was his, but the couple ended their relationship shortly after the boy's birth, according to court documents. The couple never married and never lived together, the documents state.
When the boy turned 2, Morrison applied for public support for her son. Under Georgia law, the state can go after the non-custodial parent to recoup the assistance.
For 13 years, Hatley made payments to the state until learning, in 2000, that the boy might not be his biological son. A DNA test that year confirmed that there was no chance he was the father, according to court documents.
Hatley returned to court and was relieved of any future child support reimbursement but was ordered to pay more than $16,000 that he had owed the state before the ruling.
Latesha Bradley, an attorney who represented Hatley in that hearing, told CNN the argument for keeping Hatley liable for the back payments was that he had signed a consent agreement with the office of child support services. The court agreed that Hatley had to comply with the consent agreement for the period that he believed the boy was his son.
Court documents show that Hatley for the most part continued to make payments. He was jailed for six months in 2006 for falling behind on payments during a period of unemployment, but afterward he resumed making payments and continued to do so even after he lost another job in 2008 and became homeless, court records state.
Last year, he again became unable to maintain the payments and was once again jailed.
The circumstances of Hatley's arrest didn't feel right to many, including Cook County Sheriff Johnny Daughtrey.
"I knew the gentleman's plight and didn't know how to help him," Daughtrey told CNN.
About two months ago, when attorneys from the Southern Center for Human Rights visited his jail, Daughtrey alerted them to Hatley's case.
July 16, 2009 permalink
Five hundred Canadian families have lost part of the $25,000 fee for adoption of a child following the bankruptcy of Kids Link International Adoption Agency, known as Imagine Adoption.
Families hit by agency's collapse
Kate Dubinski, The London Free Press, July 15, 2009
Shannon Warren's voice breaks as she tries to explain why she and her husband want to adopt a child from Ethiopia.
"For as long as I can remember . . ." she starts, the emotion preventing her from finishing.
"She wanted to adopt for so long," her husband Matthew said.
"There are six million children in Ethiopia that need a home that we could give."
The Ingersoll couple are among 500 families from across Canada devastated and caught in limbo after their Cambridge-based international adoption agency declared bankruptcy Monday.
Called Kids Link International Adoption Agency, the agency operates under the name Imagine Adoption.
It helps people adopt children from Ethiopia, Ghana and Ecuador.
"We wanted to be parents. We knew adoption and international adoption wasn't for the faint of heart, but we wanted to do it," Shannon Warren said yesterday.
"We've invested so much of our emotions into how to raise a child that's adopted. There hasn't been a day that's gone by in the last two years that we haven't thought about this."
The Warrens started their adoption process about two years ago, getting the necessary Canadian and Ethiopian documentation before being told about six months ago they'd get their child very soon.
"Blind-sided. Heartbroken and dumbstruck. Just baffled that this could have happened," Matthew Warren said of their emotions after learning about the bankruptcy. "We have come to love Ethiopia; we know all about the culture, the food."
The Warrens and other couples started hearing rumours about something being wrong at the agency late last week. A notice posted on the Imagine Adoption website from a bankruptcy trustee, BDO Dunwoody says the agency's board of trustees met July 10 and decided "it was clear that the funds in the bank accounts are not sufficient to service the families in the Kids Link Program."
Agencies like Imagine Adoption act as conduits between families who want to adopt a child and orphanages or other agencies in foreign countries
Canadian couples pay the government-licensed agencies for help with paperwork, finding credible orphanages and to guide them through the bureaucratic process, both in Canada and abroad.
The news about Imagine Adoption has floored couples waiting to be matched with children, those who already had matches and others who have gone abroad to pick up their kids.
"For ourselves, this could be our only chance to adopt," said Shannon Warren.
The couple has spent $15,000 to $20,000 for the process, and can't afford to start over.
Many couples are also worried for the children waiting for families in their home countries in orphanages."They're not going to have food, shelter or staff to look after them," Matthew Warren said.
Kate Dubinski is a Free Press reporter.
Source: London Free Press
Boy Crippled by CCAS Ward
July 15, 2009 permalink
Drew Lee is permanently crippled with a brain injury inflicted by Alexander Carloni, a former ward of CCAS. Here is another case showing that incompetent child protection injures more that just the child and his own family.
Three years for brutal beating
Drew Lee left brain-injured by Carloni's attack
Carmela Fragomeni, The Hamilton Spectator
The family of Drew Lee, a boy brutally stomped on in an unprovoked attack while walking home, is outraged his attacker was given three years in prison for causing Drew permanent brain damage.
Alexander Carloni, 21, was sentenced this morning in a Hamilton courtroom filled with tears from both Lee and Carloni’s families.
Carloni was given two-for-one credit for the two and a half years he spent in custody awaiting trial, so that his sentence is equivalent to about eight years.
Drew was attacked three years ago at about 9.50 p.m. Aug. 5, 2006 on his way home from having attended an outdoor concert with a friend at Gage Park, just blocks from his home.
“We as a family are not satisfied with the sentence Carloni received,” Drew’s mother Amber told reporters outside the courthouse. “My son Drew Lee was handed a life sentence with no chance for parole.”
Justice Jane Milanetti said earlier in court there is no sentence she could give Carloni that would be adequate for Drew and his family. Drew has been left significantly compromised, physically, emotionally and intellectually and he will never be the same, she said.
To Carloni, Milanetti said it was up to him to “walk the talk” of the remorse he expressed yesterday and to follow through on turning his life around.
Carloni’s sentence includes a prohibition for life of possessing firearms and a requirement he provide DNA to include in the country’s national DNA data bank on criminals.
Carloni pleaded guilty in May to aggravated assault and assault with intent to commit robbery.
Amber Lee delivered a heart-wrenching victim impact statement yesterday during the sentencing hearing of Alexander Carloni, 21, the man who destroyed the life of her once outgoing and gregarious son.
With Drew, now 16, silent beside her, Lee listed the typical teenage activities her son will never experience. Parties, part-time jobs, playing videos and going to the mall with friends among them.
"Getting your beginner's licence, taking a date to the prom, sneaking a drink, sharing your first kiss ... sounds pretty normal, a rite of passage and innocence for an average teenager," she continued.
"My son, Drew, was viciously robbed of all those opportunities and more that we and millions of other teenagers and their families take for granted."
Drew, then a Grade 8 student at Adelaide Hoodless Public School, was walking home alone along Main Street East at about 9:50 p.m. after attending an outdoor concert with a friend. He was less than two blocks from home when Carloni, then 18, grabbed him by the shirt and demanded money.
When Drew didn't have any, Carloni dragged him into a parking lot, punched him in the face and knocked him to the ground and repeatedly stomped on Drew's head.
Lee said at 9:45 that night, she and her eldest son went out looking for Drew and passed a scene of police cruisers and flashing lights 12 times before finally stopping to inquire.
Lee received a police escort to the hospital where Drew lay with severe head injuries in a coma.
"No parent should ever have to see their child as we saw Drew. There are no words to convey the feeling of helplessness, confusion, fear, praying desperately and bargaining desperately with a higher being to please, please let my son live."
She spoke of the agonizingly slow and painful recovery to where Drew is now, "displaying stroke-like symptoms."
He has permanent brain damage and continues to struggle with his speech and his ability to walk. His mother says he still faces a number of surgeries and treatments.
Carloni, his head down for most of Lee's statement, then addressed the court. He called his past decisions poor. He spoke of his drugs and alcohol abuse and expressed remorse.
"I haven't been able to get Mrs. Lee's pain out of my mind," he said. "I am disgusted in my actions and how I hurt Drew ... I do not deserve pity and wouldn't blame the Lee family for hating me."
Carloni pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and assault with intent to commit robbery in May after Milanetti declared a mistrial of his case before judge and jury in which he initially pleaded not guilty.
His lawyer, Joseph Fiorucci, said that Carloni was put into the care of the Catholic Children's Aid by his mother from ages 14 to 17 because of his violent behaviour and outbursts at home.
Carloni has taken drugs, including ecstasy and crack, and has been in and out of custody, which accounts for why he has never had a psychiatric assessment, Fiorucci said.
Assistant Crown attorney Brent Bentham said Carloni has an extensive criminal record of assault, threats and violating probation, as well as a severe and unaddressed substance abuse problem.
The Crown and defence have jointly asked for a three year penitentiary sentence. Giving Carloni two for one credit for the two-and-a half years in pretrial custody, the total sentence would be equivalent to eight years.
Milanetti will rule on the sentence today.
-- with files from Barb Brown, The Hamilton Spectator
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Liars and Sinners
July 14, 2009 permalink
In language that sounds more like an unmoderated internet discussion than a politician, senator Pam Roach describes her state's child protectors as liars and sinners. At least little Lilly will grow up with family as a result of the senator's intervention.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Lilly Is With Her Paternal Great-Grandparents
Lilly will NOT be adopted by a foster adopt single woman as is so often the scenario with CPS. I like to think I had something to do with that.
Lilly will go either to her maternal grandparents who raised her from birth to age 3 before the department illegally took her from her family...
or, she will go to her paternal great-grandparents who are caring for her at this time...
or, there is an outside chance that she will go back to her mother who was tricked into terminating her rights by the department.
One week ago Friday, July 3, 2009, we found out that Lilly was learning to spell her "new" last name...the name of the great-grandparents. Last week the department told the greats that placement did not necessarily mean permanency with them. The department told them that, in my opinion, to project the appearance of fairness. In reality...the department has decided to give the child to the great-grandparents! But, they have to take it step-by-step to avoid further criticism.
The first home study, that was full of lies, was the reason that the child was taken from the grandparents.
Since the department has acknowledged that the first home study on the grandparents was flawed..."the opinions of mankind" (that is taken from the Declaration of Independence) force them to at least finish the second home study before they assign the child.
Hello...the fact that a new home study was ordered...and that they took the child because of the first home study... opens the government to liability. If they do the right thing and return the child to the grandparents or the mother, then taxpayers will have to pay less in the end. This family and child have been harmed by the department's actions.
I called DSHS Sec. Susan Dreyfus to tell her I thought it was down-right cruel of the department to be doing another in-home study of the maternal grandparents, get their hopes up after having been lied about in the first report...only to have them learn that the new in-home study was just another sham. Our conversation lasted one hour.
Posted by State Senator Pam Roach at 3:48 PM
The SINS of DSHS...Against Lilly...Her Family...And All Of Us
There are many outcomes of the department's illegal actions. Let's just look at how they have torn this little family apart:
First Lie: CPS told the mother that if she terminated her rights to Lilly then her parents could adopt her.
This was the first rouse. It was tried in the Stuth Case. The Stuth's came to me in February of 2008. The department told them that if their daughter terminated her parental rights then they would be able to adopt their granddaughter. The Stuths saw this only as a way to speed up the taking. They were right. Their daughter did not terminate allowing for more time to save her daughter from the state. Do not trust the department. Once you terminate they swoop in and place the child immediately with a pre-selected foster-adopt. The child had been promised to someone else! They ask for termination so they can make an easy take!
Second Lie: CPS wrote an in-home study full of lies and never saying one good thing about the grandparents. They lied to a judge...essentially!
This study was the basis of the taking! This totally biased study was done after a 20 minute visit to the home. CPS never asked the grandparents anything about all the bad things they planned to report. No explanations, not one rebuttal allowed. (And, with no standing the grandparents must lawyer-up to stop the machine!) If the GPs had rights to rebuttal they could have removed the claim that they had stolen a computer from Swedish Hospital. (I never could figure out how anyone could do that in the first place. I keep coming up with the visual of a wheel chair and the grandpa bundled up with a blanket and white wig....)
Third Sin: There was never a claim or accusation that the child was in any danger, physical, sexual, emotional, nothing...Lilly was taken without legal cause!
She was taken by a false report that never even claimed that the child was in danger! It is hard to elaborate on that one! They wanted this taking done quickly. How many other babies have been stolen this way? We need to know. Susan, you need to be asking some questions.
Posted by State Senator Pam Roach at 5:51 PM
Source: Pam Roach blog July 13, 2009
July 14, 2009 permalink
An articulate mother explains at length what happened when she left her children in the care of two twelve-year-old girls.
Guilty as Charged
Her biggest crime was trusting her own parenting.
by BRIDGET KEVANE
On Saturday, June 16, 2007, I was charged with endangering the welfare of my children, a criminal charge that, in the city where I live, Bozeman, Montana, can lead to imprisonment in the county jail. The Montana Code 46-16-130(3) states that a parent can be charged with this offense if she “knowingly endangers the child’s welfare by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.”
Typically, prosecution is pursued when an adult supplies a child younger than eighteen with drugs, prostitutes the child, abandons the child’s home, or engages in sexual conduct with the child. A violation of duty of care is described as cruel treatment, abuse, infliction of unnecessary and cruel punishment, abandonment, neglect, lack of proper medical care, clothing, shelter, and food, and evidence of bodily injury.
I was charged with this crime because I dropped my three children and their two friends off at the Bozeman Gallatin Valley Mall.
Bozeman is a small town known for its quality of life, striking physical beauty, easy access to the outdoors, and great public schools. It is also known as a safe community. The mall is considered a family place where kids trick-or-treat in October to escape the cold, and groups of children meet friends, shop, eat and see movies. It is a popular activity both during the long Montana winters as well as the summer months.
The mall is a safe place. There are no signs posted at the mall saying that children cannot be left unattended. No child has ever been kidnapped or molested at the mall. And yet, I was charged as a criminal for dropping children there without my direct supervision.
My oldest daughter, Natalie, and her friend, were both twelve at the time, going into seventh grade. The girls, who had known each other since they were three years old, had attended a babysitting class sponsored by the local hospital for girls eleven and older. The class teaches CPR, infant care, responsible behavior and more. They both also had enough experience babysitting other people’s children that I trusted having them supervise the other kids at the mall—Ellie, eight, Matthew, seven, and my younger daughter, Olivia, who was three.
An outsider, or someone used to a bigger, more crowded way of living, might be shocked to know that I left children that young in the care of two twelve-year-olds. But these kids were a pack. They grew up together in a neighborhood full of children. They walk to and from their local schools together, play together, and frequently spend time at each other’s homes.
My husband and I are particularly good friends with two families that live near our home. We parents depend on each other for support and mutual child care as much as our children depend on each other for friendship. As our kids have grown older, an implicit agreement has formed among us: Our children will wander to each other’s homes, and it is our job to informally supervise them and keep each other aware of their whereabouts. As we all live within less than half a mile from each other, much time is spent going from one house to the other, to the park, or walking around the nearby university, where I am a professor of Latin American and Latino Studies.
So when the older girls asked if they could go to the mall that Saturday, I said yes, if they took the younger kids with them. On that particular day, I was exhausted. The children wanted an activity, and I wanted a couple of hours of quiet and rest.
Why was I exhausted? I have three kids, a dog, a cat, a hamster, and a fish named Oscar. I have a husband who had started his own company and was working on weekends. I teach classes, write books and articles, and am chair of my department. I love my job, for one reason because it has given me the flexibility to be home for my kids every day after school. I oversee violin, swimming, and art lessons; I drive my kids around; I think about what I can make for dinner, and I wonder how early I can get to bed. In other words, like many mothers, I work two jobs, and sometimes that catches up with me.
I’ve come to look differently on my exhaustion that day, now that all this has taken place. I made a choice, and I believed it was the right choice: I let my daughter take over. I gave her a responsibility so I could have a break. I had no reason to doubt my daughter. I believed then and continue to believe today that the girls were aware and responsible enough to handle their younger siblings.
The plan was for the kids to have lunch and walk around a bit. I told the older girls the rules. They could not leave the younger kids unsupervised. They could not make a ruckus. They had to behave. Olivia, the three-year-old, had to stay in her stroller. When I called my husband and the other mother to let them know the plan, there was no hesitation on their part. My husband was at his office down the street from the mall, less than five minutes away. I would be at home with my cell phone, and my daughter had her cell phone in case they wanted to be picked up early.
I dropped the group off at roughly one forty-five p.m. and said that I would pick them up at four for the barbeque we were going to that night. It was to be an afternoon activity, as simple as that.
About an hour later, my husband, who was home by then, received a call from the police telling me that we had to come down to the mall immediately. My first thought was that the kids had made a scene, that they had knocked something over, that they had run about recklessly. We jumped into the car.
When I walked into the mall, the children were all in an enclosed security office behind a glass wall, smiling, eating candy, and talking to a security guard and some Macy’s employees. I smiled and waved to them, relieved that everything appeared fine.
That feeling was quickly about to change.
As soon as we entered the office, I was confronted by two Bozeman city police officers. One told me that what I had done was completely unacceptable in his opinion and that he was going to arrest me for endangering the welfare of my children. I asked him if there was a mall age limit that I was not aware of. He told me to be quiet. I tried to explain to him that I had faith in my daughter’s skills and in the safety of the mall, and that I was not an endangering parent. As I tried to keep talking, desperate to clear up what was obviously nothing more than a huge misunderstanding, he warned me that if I “went crazy” on him, he would handcuff me right in front of the children and take me away to jail for the night. He said he had called child services already. They would either arrive at the mall shortly or get his report and be visiting my home this week to check in.
My husband tried to reason with the officer, emphasizing that this was a first-time mistake and asking if we could be set free with a warning, some lesser charge. But the officer simply kept repeating that what I had done was a crime.
I was completely stunned, unable to grasp what was unfolding right before my eyes. I sat down, scared, exhausted, and confused, and didn’t utter another word. We were allowed to take the children home, but I was told I had to hire a lawyer and appear in court on June 21.
As we drove home, the younger kids chattered about their adventure, oblivious about what had just transpired. My husband asked some pointed questions, and details began to emerge: Olivia liked the candy the store employees gave her and said the ladies were nice; Matthew said the employees asked strange questions; Ellie wondered why all the kids had been taken away to the Macy’s office.
Natalie and her friend, both visibly shaken, were mostly quiet except to say that they had not been allowed to call us. I sensed that they understood the bigger implications of what had happened and were not only worried about repercussions but also about their first encounter with the police. “Are we in trouble?” Matthew asked. No, we replied. Then he asked, “Are you in trouble, Mommy?” The question lingered in the air without an answer.
Guilt, a nagging feeling that always resided somewhere within me as a working mother, began to surface. Was I a bad mother? Had my judgment been so completely off? The two police officers, so much younger than I, had been so certain that I had committed a crime against my own children. They had not a shred of doubt. Maybe they were right; maybe in my at-times-frantic daily juggling act, I had lost the ability to care for my children. I had been discovered! My children would be taken from me! And how was I going to explain this to my friends, who had entrusted their children to me? Shame, guilt’s partner, took root as well.
When we arrived home I went straight to my room and lay down on the same bed on which, a few hours earlier, I had hoped for a couple of moments of peace.
Details of the incident became clear later. The kids had gone into Macy’s after lunch; it was to be the final stop of the afternoon. Natalie and her friend decided to try on some shirts and left the three younger kids in the purse section by the cosmetics counter—which, it’s true, was against the rules that I had laid out for them.
While the girls were in the dressing room, some Macy’s employees spotted the three younger kids and called mall security. When Natalie and her friend returned less than five minutes later, all the kids were taken away to Macy’s administrative office where they were held until the arrival of the city police. The kids–who were now being treated as victims of abuse–were not allowed to use their cell phones to call me, because I was now considered a negligent mother.
In making their decisions, the mall police and city police relied upon the statements of four Macy’s employees who worked the cosmetic counters, though it became clear later in written statements that some of the workers were not even in the store at the time, and that others had badly misestimated the younger kids’ ages to be two, three, and four (rather than three, seven, and eight). The rest of the employees’ stories vary wildly in time, place, and their perception of what actually happened.
At any point in the course of events, the Macy’s employees, the mall security guards, the police, or the city prosecutor could have chosen to view my decision to drop my children off at the mall as an innocent moment of faulty judgment. They could have slapped me on the wrist, or warned me, “Don’t do that again,” or settled for any number of lesser charges. After all, there is no law in Bozeman against dropping your children off at the mall.
But instead my actions were considered criminal neglect, “violating a duty of care.” Why? As the pretrial procedures dragged on, I began to feel I was caught in a culture war, or perhaps several wars—town vs. gown, native Montanan vs. outsider, and working mother vs. working mother.
The city attorney made no secret of the fact that her own parenting choices informed her decision in backing up the police officer. She told my lawyer in their first meeting that she also had a daughter and would never have left her at the mall. She also said she believed professors are incapable of seeing the real world around them because their “heads are always in a book.” Her first letter to my lawyer ended on a similar theme: “I just think that even individuals with major educations can commit this offense, and they should not be treated differently because they have more money or education.” Despite the fact that Montana professors are among the lowest paid in the nation, and that undoubtedly the prosecutor has a law degree herself, she nevertheless categorized me as someone trying to receive special treatment.
My lawyer and I came to understand that, more than anything, the city attorney wanted me to plead guilty, to admit that I had “violated a duty of care.” She wanted me to carry that crime with me for the rest of my life, a scarlet A that would symbolically humiliate me, teach me a lesson, and remain etched in my being.
I now realize that her pressure—her near obsession with having me plead guilty—had less to do with what I had done and more to do with her perception of me as an outsider who thought she was above the law, who had money to pay her way out of a mistake, who thought she was smarter than the Bozeman attorney because of her “major education.” This perception took hold even though I had never spoken one word to her directly. Nor did I ever speak in court; only my lawyer did. I was visible but silent, and thus unable to shake the image that the prosecutor had created of me: a rich, reckless, highly educated outsider mother who probably left her children all the time in order to read her books.
And that’s how I became defendant Bridget Anne Lieb (my married name), charged with a crime by the State of Montana, Case no. TK-07-03739.
The prosecutor was right in one respect. I am an outsider. My parents—my father born in Iowa from poor Irish immigrants, my mother raised by Russian Jewish parents in a small town in Wisconsin—left the United States in the late Fifties, never to return. I was born in Italy and raised in Puerto Rico, one of eight children.
As kids, we were frequently left to our own devices, with the older children often left in charge of the younger ones. In many ways, I raised my youngest sister, walking her around the neighborhood, taking her to the local neighborhood store, and more. My mother was certainly around quite a bit, but many times she was not able to attend to all eight of us, each about a year apart, each with our own separate needs and demands on her time. She, like many mothers, believed in the power of allowing her children to gain independence by depending on themselves. Although I cannot speak for my siblings, I certainly believe that I derived not only a sense of independence from this practice but a sense of confidence in my ability to manage and make my own decisions.
During the months between my arrest and the deferred prosecution agreement that my lawyer eventually worked out, I began to feel that I was being reprimanded for allowing my daughter to develop that sense of responsibility, and, equally important, to come to the realization that sometimes failure is the best teacher of all. Certainly, she had failed when she made the decision to walk into that dressing room, and had the police not intervened, I would have been angry with her, and she would have known that what she had done was wrong. We both would have gained experience. Instead, we got caught up in the legal system and wound up learning a different, sadder lesson: that self-sufficiency is shrinking in today’s culture.
I saw this illustrated in the parenting class I ended up taking as part of the deferred prosecution agreement. Listening to the questions from the other parents (all of whom were there voluntarily, as far as I could tell) it became clear to me that there's less room than there used to be to parent by instinct and to trust oneself, as my mother did. Our culture has attempted to find a prescription for parenting, and many people want to believe in the prescription rather than in making their own daily judgments.
At every turn, the parents in the class asked questions that I believe they could have been able to figure out on their own. Should I leave my child in timeout for less time if he yells out “I’m sorry”? Should I not give my child dessert if she doesn’t finish her meal? Should I let him play with his food or take it away when he does that and not give him any more? Should I let my child cry for twenty minutes or thirty? Should I close the door when my child goes to bed or leave it open? Should I tell my child I am angry or give her the silent treatment? Please tell me how to raise my children.
I, on the other hand, had trusted my own instincts and trusted the way I had been brought up when I made my decision on that fateful day: It was fine to drop the kids off at the mall. Did I learn from this? Absolutely. I learned it’s not okay to drop the kids off at the mall, not in Bozeman, Montana, anyway. But I also learned that I am more fiercely attached than I realized to my way of parenting. My temperament, my juggling, my choices: I would not let someone tell me how to raise my children.
Had I been willing to plead guilty, the whole case would have been settled in a month, with a fine of roughly eight hundred dollars and a permanent record. Instead, I chose to plead not guilty, causing the case to go on for more than a year and cost us thousands of dollars. I found support for my decision from my own mother, whose simple statement was the only one that made sense to me during the whole year: If I did not defend myself, she told me, no one would.
My lawyer gave the prosecutor many options to choose from for punishment, ranging from hundreds of hours of community service to taking a parenting class to admission of a mistake. But he could not give her the guilty plea that she so wanted.
I love my children. I would die for them. I have done my best as a working mother, balancing raising them with my job, making sure that I am home when they return from school, being with them on a daily basis. I am by no means a perfect mother. I get angry, I yell, I can be sarcastic, short-tempered, and inaccessible. Yet my children know I love them. They are safe and secure with me—and, I still believe, they are safe and secure in places I allow them to go without me, their friends’ houses, our neighborhood, and, once, the mall.
I got through the year during which the case dragged on quietly, not sharing with anyone what had happened—not only because the judge had placed a gag order on the case, but also because I felt a deep, deep shame. Here I was, someone who had been successful for almost thirteen years raising children and having a job—indeed, someone who was admired by others in this balancing act—and I was being accused of failing.
The exhaustion of being a working mother while trying to raise a wonderful family had caught up with me. At times, I found myself thinking that six months in jail might be just what I needed.
In anticipation of my impending trial, my lawyer set up a mock jury in a conference room at his firm. My daughter and I were called to the witness stand and asked to describe what happened to the best of our knowledge. My lawyer thought the four mock jurors would come quickly to a decision. They ended up discussing and fighting over the case for what felt to me like an eternity.
The jurors were meant to be representative of a broad spectrum of parents in Bozeman, which they were—but they also turned out to illustrate a microcosm of the parenting culture wars. At stake was what constituted good parenting and whether or not I was guilty as charged. We could hear their loud voices from the office’s kitchen where we were waiting.
I finally was called back in with my lawyer. What followed was one surprise after another. First there was the Montana rancher who practically guffawed when he heard the charges against me. At twelve years old, he told us, he was cutting wheat on a tractor and independently working a farm. There was the child therapist who was appalled yet forgiving. There was the father of one who was unforgiving, and there was the older homemaker who was oddly angered by my statement that I considered Bozeman a safe community. “There was a murder here last year,” she exclaimed. In the end, the mock jurors told me that if I wanted to win a real trial, I’d have to cry and show remorse, or at least show some emotion.
Two things happened at that moment: I realized that I was so guarded about the incident that no true emotion was showing, not to strangers or to my friends or even to my husband. And I realized I could never go to trial. My lawyer worked out the deferred prosecution agreement, and I began my service.
At first I felt angry about the show the mock jurors had wanted me to put on, but I now realize that the only way to truly explain my story is through an emotional lens. I do feel guilty about what happened. Not because I committed a crime according to the legal definition, but because no parent has confidence that they have been completely successful, ever.
For all the times that I was not the “good” parent, I am guilty; for all the times that I did not respond perfectly to my children’s needs, I am guilty. For all the times that I’ve not given them enough of me, I am guilty. For feeling constantly torn between so many daily demands, trying to make it all work, but knowing that I sometimes fall short, I am guilty.
But of knowingly putting my children in harm’s way by letting them go to the mall alone? Not guilty.
I finished the rewrites of this essay on Mother’s Day, 2009. I welcome the irony. On the day where mothers are celebrated nationally, I was writing about being a bad mother. But in the end, I was a bad mother who defended myself and finally found the strength to realize that I am proud of my mothering instinct, mistakes and all.
Source: Brain, Child
One Girl, Two Mothers
July 14, 2009 permalink
Two different parents are claiming the same girl, now living in Hamilton Ontario. Mother Carol Ann Cozzi says the girl is her daughter Brianna born in Islip New York in October 2002. But the state of Texas claims she is their ward Bejohna Peres born in October 2003. The mother has her daughter's birth certificate, and she does not look like a skilled document forger. Hamilton CAS has seized the girl, and the two child protectors are now squabbling over rights. Do you think a judge will order the girl cut in half, to see which claimant chickens first?
A case of mistaken identity: mother
Daniel Nolan, SPECIAL TO The Hamilton Spectator, (Jul 11, 2009)
A woman says authorities have made a terrible case of mistaken identity by confusing her daughter with a young girl missing from Texas.
Carol Ann Cozzi, 40, says she came to Hamilton last month from the United States, looking for a computer job and a new life for her and her daughter, Brianna, after she failed to find a well paid job in Houston.
Instead, she says, she's losing sleep, hardly eating, talking to the FBI, lawyers, police and the U.S. Embassy after her daughter was taken from her Thursday afternoon because authorities believe she is Bejohna Peres, who has been missing from Houston, Texas, since May 2007
"I don't understand how this can happen," Cozzi said last night at the east Mountain townhouse of friend Diana Wolf, where she has been staying since coming to Hamilton.
"This is a nightmare. It's not real. I don't know when I'm going to see her again. I'm a law-abiding person. How can this happen?"
The Children's Aid Society of Hamilton is investigating. Police called the CAS after being informed that Bejohna, 5, was reported to be in Hamilton by the Virginia-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The centre has a picture and details about Bejohna on its website.
"We're in the midst of investigating that," CAS executive director Dominic Verticchio said. "We're working with the officials down in Houston, Texas, and there's a lot of similarities. We haven't quite confirmed the fact if it is the same child, but we need to confirm this with the folks down in Texas. There's too many similarities that it causes us a great deal of concern, both for us and the Texas child protection authorities."
He said the CAS hopes to conclude its investigation by the first part of next week. A court order exists to have Bejohna returned to Texas.
Cozzi, who says she's been offered a job in Caledonia, said she showed authorities Brianna's New York State birth certificate when they showed up to inquire about her identity at the townhouse complex. The green piece of paper indicates her daughter was born Brianna Michelle Cozzi on Oct. 20, 2002 at 2:18 p.m. in Islip, N.Y. It says her mother is Carolann (sic) Cozzi and that it was filed Nov. 20, 2002. No father is listed because Cozzi says the last time she spoke to him was the day she told him she was pregnant with Brianna.
Bejohna, who the center and Houston police say may be in the company of her mother, was born Oct. 24, 2003. Bejohna, a ward of the State of Texas, has been missing since May 2, 2007.
Police have taken a DNA sample from Brianna to compare it with one of Bejohna in Houston, but Cozzi said she's been told it won't get to Texas until Monday. She says she's also allowed police to fingerprint her to compare with prints of the mother. She says she was only able to see her daughter for one hour yesterday and no arrangements have been made for her to see her on the weekend. She says, however, Brianna is holding up well.
"She seems like she's doing OK, but she wanted to come home," Cozzi said. "I had to tell her this was an adventure. She got a really cool ride in a police car, but she didn't know she'd be away for the weekend."
According to Cozzi, she worked at a computer networking job in North Babylon, Long Island, for 11 years, but lost her job last year. She said a friend recommended she come look for a job in Houston, so she and Brianna went to Texas in August 2008. They lived there for about nine months and then came to Hamilton on the advice of Wolf, just stopping in Manhattan for a few hours on the way.
She says she was not in Texas in May 2007 and that she has given authorities the name of the school that Brianna was going to at that time -- the Marion G. Vedder Elementary School in North Babylon, N.Y. She's urged authorities to call the school to verify her information.
Wolf, who got to know Cozzi and her daughter over the Internet a couple of years ago, doesn't doubt her friend's sincerity. She calls what happened "ridiculous" and "scary."
"There is nothing that doesn't fit," said Wolf, who works for a Mississauga computer firm. "I knew them in New York and I knew them in Texas.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Addendum: This article, almost certainly about the same case, says that the judge made the rare decision to return the girl to her mother at the first court hearing.
Judge returns girl to woman
Evidence 'incomplete,' he tells CAS
Susan Clairmont, The Hamilton Spectator, (Jul 15, 2009)
A judge has ordered the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton to return a little girl to her "mom" while DNA tests determine if she is a girl abducted from the United States.
Justice Donald Gordon wasted no time in making his decision yesterday in his family law courtroom.
"The evidence is lacking. It's incomplete," he said, chastising the CAS for apprehending the six-year-old girl without adequate proof she is the missing U.S. child.
Court documents show the international investigation was sparked by a neighbour in Hamilton who wishes to remain anonymous. Gordon said that makes the information "hearsay," and he is not willing to accept it as evidence.
Lawyers Ian Corneil and Victoria Loh, acting on behalf of the woman and girl, didn't even get a chance to make their case to the judge.
The matter was before Gordon because the CAS must appear before a judge within five days of seizing a child. The CAS asked that the child remain in care.
The 'mom' burst into tears when Gordon said the child would be home last night.
"I'm going to make vanilla pudding for my baby," she said outside the courtroom a few minutes later.
None of the lawyers in the courtroom -- even one who was there just to watch the highly unusual case unfold -- expected the judge to order the child be returned immediately. For a judge to make an order like that on the very first court appearance after an apprehension is extremely rare. Everyone, including the 'mom', was prepared for the CAS to keep the child for two more weeks -- the length of time it will take to compare the DNA of the girl in Hamilton to DNA on file for the missing girl.
Also last night, DNA swabs were to be taken of the woman and girl and sent to a Hamilton-area lab to determine if they are indeed mother and daughter. Those results should be ready Friday.
But that will still not solve the mystery. The child abducted in the United States is believed to be with her mother, who lost custody but ran off with her daughter two years ago before child protection agencies could take her.
I cannot identify the woman or the child, due to a publication ban. The ban is opposed by the woman who wants the public to know the whole story of what she and the girl have been through.
They arrived in Hamilton recently from the U.S. and are American citizens.
In court, the CAS said the girl allegedly told a neighbour things that match up with a missing child case detailed on many American-based websites. The girl supposedly said she used to have a different name -- the same name as the missing girl.
"They don't call me that anymore," she was quoted as saying.
The child allegedly listed the U.S. cities she once lived in which matched up with the abducted girl. She apparently gave the name of a woman who used to cut her hair and the name is the same as that of the missing girl's grandmother.
The social security numbers provided by the woman "are being investigated by U.S. authorities," said the CAS lawyer.
The CAS also cited the fact the woman did not cry when the girl was taken into custody and Hamilton police said the child seemed "rehearsed" in her responses to their questions.
Court heard the woman in Hamilton agreed to be fingerprinted to compare with prints on file in the U.S. from the missing child's mother.
The prints did not match.
However, the CAS argued yesterday the American prints may not really have been taken from the abducted girl's mother and therefore prove nothing.
Federal and local police and child protection agencies in the U.S. and Canada have been trying to sort through pieces of identification, family photos and legal documents to determine who this child is. It appears the DNA comparisons due in two weeks are the key to everything.
In the meantime, the judge has ordered some conditions: the woman and child cannot move away and must allow unscheduled visits by social workers.
Despite all this, the woman says she still intends to make Hamilton her permanent home.
"I left the U.S. to come here because I thought it would be a safe place to raise my daughter."
Susan Clairmont's commentary appears regularly in The Spectator.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Addendum: The DNA test proves the connection between mother and daughter. Don't expect an apology from Dominic Verticchio for separating mother and daughter for five days, or holding up mother's job offer.
Mystery girl's DNA closes case for agency
Susan Clairmont, The Hamilton Spectator, (Jul 18, 2009)
They are mother and daughter. DNA proves it.
With that, the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton is closing its case on the girl it seized from her mom after a tip she might be a child abducted from the southern U.S. The girl spent five days in a foster home.
Serotech Laboratories Ltd. in Burlington completed its comparison yesterday of cheek swabs from the girl and woman in Hamilton. The results show they are mother and daughter.
The CAS now says it is satisfied the girl in Hamilton is not the girl abducted -- possibly by her own mother -- two years ago in the U.S.
"Our investigation has come to an end," says CAS Hamilton executive director Dominic Verticchio. "There should be no more need for our involvement."
The results came one week after a fingerprint comparison showed the woman in Hamilton is not the same person who is the mother of the missing American girl. Still, a CAS lawyer questioned that conclusion in court this week. The lawyer presented no evidence to back this up, but suggested the fingerprints on file in the southern U.S. may not really belong to the abducted child's mom.
The final -- and most definitive -- test is still being done. DNA from the Hamilton girl is being compared with filed DNA from the abducted child. Those results are expected by the end of the month.
Even though the mother knew all along what yesterday's results would be, she was still elated.
"You are a god amongst men," she told the lab employee who delivered the news. "Now, I have the proof in writing that a court will accept."
A publication ban does not allow me to tell you who the mother or daughter are. Even though the mother wishes to be publicly identified. And even though the child is no longer in CAS care and no wrongdoing has been found.
The six-year-old American girl and her mom came to Hamilton a month ago to stay with a friend with the possibility of moving here permanently. It is their first time in Canada.
On July 9, the child was apprehended by the CAS and placed in care after a neighbour -- whose identity has been protected by the CAS -- claimed he overheard the child call herself by a name different from the one she is known by. The neighbour did his own online sleuthing and came to believe the girl may be a child shown on many websites featuring images of missing kids. He then phoned police in the U.S.
Police and child protection authorities on both sides of the border struggled to determine if the pair in Hamilton were really who they claimed to be. Documents handed over by the woman didn't satisfy many of the authorities, who suggested they might be forgeries.
On Tuesday, the case went before a judge in Hamilton's family court. He ordered the girl be immediately returned to the woman we now know is her mother. The judge cited "hearsay" and lack of evidence for his decision.
The CAS says it understands the "pain and frustration that the mom must have experienced" when her daughter was apprehended. But the agency was just following its mandate, Verticchio says.
The missing child is a ward of the state she was abducted from, he says, and "there were too many similarities" for the CAS to dismiss the possibility this was her. Therefore, it was the CAS's legal obligation to take her into care until her identity could be established.
Verifying the mother's documents was difficult, Verticchio says. The child's birth certificate was a photocopy with no official seal. The mother and daughter had no passports.
"If she had a passport, it would have been over on Day 1," he says.
"We sent documents to the U.S. Consulate and they weren't being definitive to us whether they were real or not."
Other parents might read of this situation and worry they could find themselves trying to prove their children are really theirs.
"Can this happen to any of us? The answer is absolutely not," Verticchio says. Most parents have a wealth of birth, medical, dental and school records related to their child, he says.
Ian Corneil, lawyer for the mom, sees it differently.
"I don't think there's anything she could have done differently," he says. "It's kind of terrifying, actually ... that the CAS could take her child away based on some neighbour's anonymous allegation."
The mom herself is remarkably diplomatic. Even though her daughter was taken away, neighbours are gossiping about her and an employer who she says was about to offer her a job is now holding off until the final DNA results.
For the most part, she loves Hamilton. And still wants to live here. She says she would like to make peace with the whistle-blowing neighbour. And of the CAS, she says, "Their motivation was good but it does not mean they have perfect judgment."
Most of her contempt is aimed at the American embassy, which, she says, never gave her the benefit of the doubt.
While things seem to be looking up for the mom and daughter, there is no happy ending to this story.
There is, after all, still a little girl who is missing.
Susan Clairmont's commentary appears regularly in The Spectator.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Child Artist Detained
July 13, 2009 permalink
The art of twelve-year-old Californian Alice Fuzi Wang will be exhibited next month in Korea, where her family plans to visit. Last month her family took her to Nebraska to be honored in an international art competition. What happened? She got into a squabble with her thirteen-year-old brother. The parents stopped the car and spent 20 minutes calming them down. Bystanders saw the incident and Nebraska seized both children. They have been in Nebraska foster care for a month, and to be sure, the hack that Nebraska appointed as guardian of the children wants the family passports seized. Ten family friends traveled from California to Nebraska in support of the Wangs at a court hearing. Only newspaper publicity after a month of detention caused an improvement in the family's condition. Nebraska now plans to send the children back to California, but still under control of California child protectors. We enclose two news articles below, there is also a commentary on Richard Wexler's blog for July 12, 2009.
Dear Mom and Dad, We love you a lot. Remember that. We know you're doing everything you can to bring us back home and we are very thankful. Love you a lot.
Palo Alto parents fight for children's return from Nebraska foster care
By Patrick May, Mercury News, Posted: 07/07/2009 06:16:41 PM PDT, Updated: 07/08/2009 09:02:50 AM PDT
A Stanford University physicist and his wife, whose kids have been held in a Nebraska foster home for more than a month after an ugly family altercation, will appear this morning in a courtroom outside Omaha, hoping to persuade a judge to let their children come back home.
The bizarre chain of events began when the couple — Suwen Wang, a visiting scholar at Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, and his wife, paralegal Charlotte Fu — traveled to Nebraska last month so their 12-year-old daughter, Alice, could be honored in an international art competition. On June 6, a witness told police the parents had hit their son, 13, while their car was parked on a road outside Omaha.
"This is an Orwellian nightmare," said Larry Markosian, a computer scientist at NASA/Ames Research Institute and longtime friend of Wang and his family.
"Every family occasionally has difficulty raising kids, especially teenage boys. I don't know what happened. But we know they are a loving and kind family and we see no reason whatsoever to keep these kids in a foster home so far from the community they grew up in."
Both Wang and Fu deny striking their son.
According to police, a witness saw Fu get out of their car and punch the boy, sitting in the back seat, in the face several times. The couple's Omaha attorney, Michael Nelson, said "there was an incident with their son. He was needling his sister, and they pulled over to discipline him," he said. "He used an expletive to his mom, but beyond that I can't go into specifics."
Nelson said the incident lasted "probably for 20 minutes or so, as they lectured the son. A witness made the call after watching from their front lawn."
No formal charges
After the boy allegedly pushed his mom away, police said, Wang turned around from the front seat and also hit him several times in the face. Nelson said the boy was not treated for any injuries. Wang and Fu were arrested and kept in jail for two nights before posting a $250 cash bond each, said Nelson, adding that they had not been formally charged in the abuse case.
Wang and Fu declined to comment to the Mercury News about the incident. The Mercury News is not naming the boy because of the nature of the case.
But according to accounts in the Omaha World-Herald, the responding officer said Fu had blood on her face from a cut on her nose and that the children appeared to be upset.
The couple and their attorneys hope to persuade the judge to allow Nebraska child-welfare officials to work with their California counterparts and speed the children's return back home.
Alice's paintings clinched the North American division of the 2009 International Children's Painting Competition and the parents hope she'll be able to travel to South Korea for an Aug. 17 ceremony where the worldwide winner will be announced.
Nelson suggested that the parents' ethnicity may be playing a role in the case. "The parents and children are all U.S. citizens," said their attorney. But the court-appointed guardian for the children is trying to take away their passports.
"These are people of Chinese descent, and it's as if authorities see some dark cloud here or fear there's something more to this than this one incident."
However, the Omaha paper referred to "California documents" that state Wang and Fu have "a 'previous history of domestic violence,' explaining that the father restrained the mother after she threatened to leave during a 2008 argument."
In an interview with the Omaha paper, Fu seemed to be making a special plea to authorities on her daughter's behalf, saying "this whole thing has nothing to do with Alice. She has become the ultimate victim." And traveling to South Korea "would be a lifetime opportunity for her. It would be devastating for her to not go."
Kathie Osterman with Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services said her agency "is working with California to get the kids back home. I don't know what the time frame might be, because there are a lot of people to work with on this."
Paul Sullivan, the Cass County deputy attorney handling the matter, did not return phone calls for comment.
Osterman could not say how unusual it was for authorities to remove children from parents visiting from another state and hold them for weeks so far from home. She did confirm that the court order required the foster family to monitor the children's e-mail and telephone calls with their parents.
And it was details like that that have rallied dozens of supporters to the parents' side, including 10 who have made the trip to Nebraska for today's court hearing.
Nebraska officials said they are simply carrying out a court order meant to protect the children. But Markosian, who is the boy's assistant scoutmaster and who helped organize a news conference Tuesday evening at the Omaha Children's Museum, said Nebraska was guilty of overkill.
"These kids are very much involved in the Palo Alto community, with Boy Scouts, art and Chinese lessons," said Markosian. "And they are being ripped away from not only their family but from their whole community."
Markosian on Tuesday read aloud from an e-mail he says Alice sent June 17 to her parents.
"Dear Mom and Dad," it said. We "love you a lot. Remember that. We know you're doing everything you can to bring us back home and we are very thankful. Love you a lot."
Markosian said the girl signed her e-mail with 10 exclamation points.
Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689.
Source: San Jose Mercury News
Palo Alto kids will be returned to Santa Clara County; may not go home
By Patrick May, firstname.lastname@example.org, Posted: 07/08/2009 05:23:40 PM PDT, Updated: 07/09/2009 09:53:19 AM PDT
Two Palo Alto children taken from their parents last month and put in a foster home after a family fight near Omaha will be returning to the Bay Area after Nebraska authorities agreed Wednesday to turn over the case to child-welfare officials in Santa Clara County.
The parents — Stanford University physicist Suwen Wang and his wife, paralegal Charlotte Fu — still face misdemeanor criminal charges in Nebraska for allegedly striking their 13-year-old son in the face during an altercation, said their attorney, Michael Nelson. Both deny hitting the boy and will plead not guilty to charges of assault, child abuse and disturbing the peace, said Nelson.
The boy and his sister, 12-year-old Alice Fuzi Wang, should be back in their home county in a matter of days following a judge's approval of the multiagency agreement at a Wednesday court hearing in Nebraska. Where they'll go after that, however, is still up in the air.
"They're residents here so we want them back," said Carol Robinson, Santa Clara County's lead deputy county counsel for the child dependency unit. After a social worker completes an investigation, she said, the children could be placed in one of several places.
"Obviously our first choice is to return them home to their parents," said Robinson. "If we can't do that, then our second choice is a relative or what we call a nonrelative extended family member. Based on news accounts, I think this family has a lot of strong friends and they'd absolutely be considered for that under our rules."
Neither parent would comment on the case. Sharon Silverman, a longtime family friend who lives in Kensington and once worked as an attorney with Fu, said the family was emotionally drained but thrilled to be getting their children back after being separated since the incident on June 6 in Plattsmouth, Neb.
"This has been an exhausting situation for them," said Silverman, one of about 10 friends who traveled from the Bay Area to support the family during Wednesday's court hearing.
"They're very, very happy. It's the very best outcome for this. They're coming back to California which is where they belong."
Wang and Fu had taken their family to Omaha because their daughter was being honored in a United Nations-sponsored international art exhibit. During a short road trip, they pulled over to the side of the road and an altercation broke out. According to police, a witness saw Fu get out of the car and punch her son in the face several times. Nelson said the boy had been "needling his sister, and they pulled over to discipline him." The father then struck the boy in the face, a witness told police.
According to Nelson and accounts in the Omaha World-Herald, the responding officer said Fu had blood on her face from a cut on her nose and that the children appeared to be upset. The parents were arrested and spent two nights in jail before being released on bond.
Wang and Fu are still hoping their daughter can travel next month to South Korea as part of the international art contest that first brought her to Omaha. It's unclear whether Santa Clara County child-welfare officials will allow the family to travel out of the country.
In an interview earlier this week with the Omaha World-Herald, Fu called Alice "the ultimate victim" in this case and said that traveling to South Korea "would be a lifetime opportunity for her. It would be devastating for her to not go."
Neither the county attorney handling the criminal matter in Nebraska nor officials with that state's Department of Health and Human Services returned calls seeking comment.
Patrick May may also be reached at 408-920-5689.
Source: San Jose Mercury News
Addendum: The family has been reunited in California, but must still jump through hoops (counseling). Nebraska is continuing its efforts to convict the parents of a crime.
Nasty feelings linger
The case of the Stanford physicist who temporarily lost custody of his kids in Nebraska in June after allegedly punching his son during an argument back there took a happy turn for the family when authorities back there and in Santa Clara County agreed to turn the kids back over to him and his wife -- but the bad feelings linger.
Physicist Suwen Wang and his wife, Charlotte Fu, will be receiving family counseling as part of the agreement for them to get their 12-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son back. Unpersuaded that everything is now peachy and settled, however, Nebraska authorities have not dropped misdemeanor criminal charges against the couple -- disturbing the peace -- for the June 6 incident in which a witness allegedly saw them punch their son in a car as the family was headed to the airport after seeing an award-winning painting exhibit by 12-year-old daughter Alice Wang. The couple deny doing so.
The whole issue of the witness, who called authorities and got the ball rolling against the family, still has Wang's attorney fuming. Nebraska law is more stringent than California law on such matters, he said, and out here the police probably would have investigated a bit further before tossing the parents in the clink and the kids into foster care. Which is what happened back in Nebraska.
And which leads us to the comment here by the local lawyer that admittedly probably does not accurately describe the facts in parts east, but certainly reflects his frustration.
"This whole thing in Nebraska was overblown," said attorney John Forsyth of San Francisco. "When some inbred sitting on her porch drinking a bottle of red eye with two hound dogs can call 911 and get your kids taken away, it's a good thing to come back to the land of the enlightened."
Authorities in Nebraska aren't talking, citing confidentiality in cases involving children.
Posted By: Kevin Fagan (Email) | July 15 2009 at 11:26 AM
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Ringrose Sues Carter and McQuaid
July 11, 2009 permalink
Addendum The WFRU newsletter dated June 10 and posted here June 12 has been purged of the material deemed objectionable by Mr Ringrose and associates.
Doctors Jail Their Mistakes
July 11, 2009 permalink
The collapse of the science underpinning shaken baby syndrome leaves the American legal system with a troublesome legacy. What should be done with the thousands of people already convicted on this now-discredited theory? The US is still generating 200 shaken baby convictions per year, and the number of false convictions for shaken baby dwarfs the number of homicide exonerations recorded in the few past decades.
Analysis of other sources not in the enclosed article suggests that the tort system contributed to the epidemic of shaken baby cases. In the litigation-prone USA, doctors with an injured baby face ruin from lawsuits once the aggrieved family comes before a sympathetic jury. Doctors have been forestalling ruin by preemptively accusing the parents of a crime. Vaccine injury is a one medical error that doctors slough off on the parents as shaken baby.
The article below by a journalist is based on the work of Deborah Tuerkheimer (pdf).
Monday, June 22nd, 2009 6:28 am
Mistaken diagnoses of Shaken Baby Syndrome may have sent thousands of innocent people to prison, according to a new study
Exclusive to The Crime Report
In October, 1995, when police charged Audrey Edmunds, a Waunakee, Wis. day care provider, with the murder of a seven-month-old girl who had been left in her care, prosecutors said she had shaken the baby to death.
A medical expert testified at trial that the child had suffered critical injuries that were the hallmarks of Shaken Baby Syndrome. A jury convicted Edmunds and she was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
At the time the case was unremarkable—one of thousands of successful prosecutions during the past 30 years of parents and other care-givers who have been found guilty of charges ranging from manslaughter to murder, based on findings of what is known as the triad—retinal hemorrhage, bleeding in the brain and brain swelling. Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is one of the few instances in the criminal justice system where the diagnosis is the basis for prosecution.
Last year, however, in a remarkable turnaround, one of the physicians that testified against Edmunds told a judge that he was no longer confident that the injuries were inflicted by Edmunds and that they could have occurred many hours before the baby was dropped off.
Edmunds was granted a new trial by a judge who ruled that the testimony “shows that there has been a shift in mainstream medical opinion.” In effect, the scientific foundation of the syndrome had been undermined to the extent that a new jury would probably have a reasonable doubt about Edmunds’ guilt.
The case was dropped and Edmunds was freed.
That was good news for Edmunds—whose freedom is the result of work done by the Wisconsin Innocence Project—but what about the thousands of others convicted during the past two decades as a result of the same medical testimony that put Edmunds behind bars?
A soon-to-be-published analysis of shaken baby cases and recent developments in the medical community by University of Maine School of Law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer presents persuasive evidence and raises troubling questions about whether many of these convictions were of innocent people who were found guilty on the basis of faulty science. The analysis is scheduled to be published in September by Washington University Law Review.
Tuerkheimer, who is joining the DePaul University College of Law faculty on July 1, points to new research in the United States and abroad showing that a variety of circumstances, including something as seemingly innocuous as falls from a short height, can cause fatal head injuries that appear very similar to injuries routinely diagnosed as SBS.
If research shows that the physical conditions that once automatically resulted in a prosecution could actually have been the result of an accident, the implications are enormous.
“Given the scientific developments…we may surmise that a sizeable portion of the universe of defendants convicted of SBS-based crimes is, in all likelihood, factually innocent,” Tuerkheimer writes, adding that a far greater number of defendants among the group were likely convicted on legally insufficient evidence.
“While we cannot know how many convictions are ‘unsafe’ without systematic case review, a comparison of the problematic category of SBS convictions to DNA and other mass exonerations to date reveals that this injustice is commensurate with any yet seen in the criminal justice arena,” Tuerkheimer writes.
Keith Findley, a clinical professor of law and co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, who headed Audrey Edmunds legal team, said, “The system is sending people to prison based on findings of beyond a reasonable doubt when in many of the cases the only evidence is medical evidence on which many medical experts…have a substantial doubt.”
He added, “This is not about being opposed to child abuse prosecutions. No critic of SBS theory wants anyone to get away with child abuse, but when the diagnosis becomes the entire basis for the prosecution, that’s problematic.”
In a 1974 medical journal article, American pediatric radiologist John Caffey described what would become SBS, saying, “Our evidence, both direct and circumstantial, indicates that manual whiplash shaking of infants is a common primary type of trauma in the so-called battered infant syndrome.” The first appeal of an SBS-related criminal conviction was reported in 1984, according to Tuerkheimer’s research.
During the next five years, there were less than two reported appellate decisions per year. While counting reported appellate decisions is a decided undercount since the majority of convictions do not result in such rulings, Tuerkheimer notes that beginning in 1990, the number of appeals grew rapidly. There were 74 published appellate decisions from 1990 to 1994; 160 from 1995 to 1999; and 315 from 2000 to 2004. And the upward trend is continuing: the first half of the current five year period—from 2005 to June 20, 2008 shows 259 opinions. Approximately 1,500 babies are diagnosed with SBS each year, but no information is collected to analyze how many of these cases result in criminal prosecutions, and of those how many prosecutions are based solely on the SBS triad.
Questions about the SBS diagnosis have emerged over the past two decades, but the critical debunking of the theory began in earnest following the 1997 prosecution of Louise Woodward, a 19-year-old British au pair. Woodward was charged with the murder of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen while he was in her care in his home in Newton, Mass. Dubbed the “Nanny Trial,” the case was the subject of intense media scrutiny in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
The prosecution presented testimony that the boy’s injuries were the result of violent shaking and his head hitting a hard surface. Defense experts testified the boy’s injuries could have occurred days earlier. Woodward was convicted of second degree murder, but the judge later reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter, noting the possibility of another cause for the SBS symptoms.
Wisconsin law student Molly Gena, who was part of the Edmunds defense team, wrote an article for the Wisconsin Law Review in 2007, noting that “there is no consensus among medical professionals as to whether the symptoms that have traditionally been attributed to SBS are necessarily indicative of intentional shaking.”
Earlier this year, for example, two British pathologists, in a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Developmental Pathology, found that SBS symptoms can be found in babies before they are taken home from the hospital for the very first time. The Daily Telegraph in London quoted the pathologists as reporting that the symptoms can occur without violent shaking.
Dr. Irene Scheimberg told the newspaper, “When there is no evidence of physical abuse, apart from the hemorrhaging, we may be sending to jail parents who lost their children through no fault of their own.”
Closer to home, Dr. Bruce Gross, a Fellow of the American College of Forensic Examiners, writing earlier this year in The Forensic Examiner, noted that studies have called into question the SBS triad as the result of only violent shaking. “The prevailing notion is that the injuries ‘characteristic’ of SBS are equivalent to those seen in a 35 mph automobile accident in which the infant victim was unrestrained, or a fall from a two –story building. Yet, research (including biomechanical analysis) has shown that, although fortunately not the norm, infants and toddlers can and do die from falls as short as 1-4 feet.”
Gross added, “In brief, biomechanical research suggests that basing the diagnosis of SBS only on the presence of the triad of symptoms lacks scientific certainty.”
Tuerkheimer writes that despite the potential for a large number of wrongful convictions, the United States criminal justice system “has yet to respond to new scientific realities.” Investigations of past SBS-based prosecutions have been undertaken in both the United Kingdom and Canada. “When viewed in global perspective, our continued adherence to a prosecution template that rests on discredited science is particularly jarring,” Tuerkheimer writes.
Findley, of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, said that in the wake of the Edmunds case, he has been inundated by requests from scores of defense attorneys for information about the case. “I am hearing anecdotally that defense lawyers are getting acquittals or cases are being dropped once they bring in evidence calling SBS into question,” he said.
Indeed, earlier this year, a jury in Iroquois County, Illinois, acquitted day care operator Connie Rieken of first degree murder in the 2005 death of a six-month-old boy who had been left in her care.
Defense attorneys Kenneth Leshen and Scott Sliwinski presented testimony from experts that suggested the baby’s injuries could have been the result of being dropped by his father days earlier.
One of the prosecution’s chief witnesses, Dr. Jill Glick, of the University of Chicago, testified that the baby was the victim of violent shaking, basing her diagnosis on the classic SBS triad of symptoms.
However, Rieken denied shaking the baby and there was no testimony from anyone that she had abused the baby in any way, according to Sliwinski.
The jury acquitted Rieken after about three hours of deliberation.
In her article, Tuerkheimer calls for a comprehensive inquiry, perhaps by the National Academy of Sciences, which recently issued a broad criticism of forensic science in the courts.
“SBS from inception to current iteration is fully embedded in the domain of the law,” Tuerkheimer writes. “This reality creates a special kind of urgency: around the country, murder convictions are resulting weekly from evidence that is a source of significant scientific controversy…To date our system has failed.”
Maurice Possley is a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author who left the Chicago Tribune in 2008. He was a visiting lecturer at the University of Michigan Law School in 2009 and in the fall will begin work at the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law.
Source: The Crime Report
Indians Chase Away White Men
July 10, 2009 permalink
The Constance Lake First Nation has banned children's aid workers from its territory. CAS workers entering the reserve will be treated as trespassers, and if any children are removed from the community it will be considered a kidnapping.
It would be nice if getting rid of CAS was that easy for the rest of us.
First Nation Bans Children's Aid Workers
Constance Lake First Nation, ON, -- Ontario Children’s Aid Workers are being prohibited from entering a First Nation Community. Constance Lake First Nation Chief and Council have passed a resolution banning all members of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services from their territory. Chief Arthur Moore says; “If for any reason a representative enters onto Constance Lake Territory, they will be treated as trespassers, and if any children are removed from the community it will be considered a kidnapping.”
Moore explains that First Nations culture and rights have not been taken into consideration when Children’s Aid Societies deal with aboriginal child welfare matters. Moore has been working closely with Kunwaniamano, a child and family services organization, to ensure the delivery of a program that would fulfill the needs of First Nations. However, the agency has still not received designation as a Children’s Aid Society by the province, and as a result, is unable to provide the services for Constance Lake First Nation.
At a meeting back in March, Chief Moore says, “the Jean Sauvé Children’s Aid Society agreed for the Kunwaniamon agency to look after my community’s child welfare services under Anishnaabe Abinooji Family Services, who does have the specific designation. The agreement included a transition phase to transfer services by June 1st , 2009.”
To date, the Jeanne Sauvé organization has not transferred the services, and is now resistant to do so. In 2008, statistics show 23-hundred First Nation children from reserves were put into care. Chief Moore says, “It is time for First Nation communities to take control of their governance and their child welfare.” Moore takes great issue with workers who come into our communities and take children without consultation.
Making reference to the “Sixties Scoop” Moore says; “We are capable of looking after our own children.” The Sixties Scoop was a term given to an era that saw the removal of a large number of aboriginal children from their families, being placed into the care of non-native families in the 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s. This process came to an end in the mid 80’s when Ontario Chiefs passed a resolution against it.
The Child and Families Services Act, carried in 1984, ensured that native adoptees in Ontario would be placed within their extended family, with another aboriginal family, or with a non-native family that promised to respect and nurture the child’s heritage and culture. Moore says, “this cannot happen with current CAS programs not respecting First Nations culture; our children are vanishing into provincial care.”
The Chiefs of Nishnawbe Aski Nation passed a resolution in March of 2006 in support of Kunuwanimano being mandated as a Children’s Aid Society. Chief Moore states that until Honourable Minister Deb Matthews designates Kunuwanimano as a Children’s Aid Society, Ontario CAS workers will remain prohibited from Constance Lake First Nation.
Source: News Ledger, Thunder Bay
Soo Foster Teen Strangles Boy
July 9, 2009 permalink
A Sault Ste Marie foster teen is in the news for trying to kill a boy in a group home and a month later threatening to kill his foster family. There have been two other Soo foster teens in the news this year: In February a foster girl ran away with a man who was acting as a father, not a lover, and in June a boy trashed his foster home.
Troubled teen pleads guilty to serious charges
COURT: Threatens to kill foster family, self
Posted By FRANK DOBROVNIK, THE SAULT STAR, Updated July 8, 2009
A 15-year-old pleaded Tuesday to trying to strangle another boy with zip-tie cord, as well as threatening to slaughter his entire foster family and himself.
The assault took place at a Sault Ste. Marie group home May 10, Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni heard. Crown prosecutor David Kirk said the accused, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was throwing a Frisbee around the backyard with another resident when he suddenly brandished a two-foot-long cord, such as that used to secure computer cables together, started "pulling tight and lifted him off the ground," Kirk said.
"He said he wanted to see what it felt like to put a cord around (the victim's) neck."
He eventually let go and the victim ran inside to tell the group home workers, who called police. He was reluctant to talk to officers, "probably because (the offender) was hanging around the area. As soon as they got him away from (him), he told them what happened," Kirk said.
The youth pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon.
The second incident, to which he pleaded to uttering death threats and failing to comply with probation, occurred June 24 at his foster family's cottage on the North Shore. Kirk said he was angry at his foster father for making him change his shorts, "which were inappropriate because they had pictures of naked women on them."
He stormed to the dock, where he told an unidentified woman it would make him happy to "stab (the man) with a barbecue fork and then watch him laying on the ground, bleeding out and gurgling." He told the woman he would then "have to kill everyone in the house and hang himself."
Police were called and, because the latter part of the threat could be construed as suicidal, admitted him to hospital for assessment.
Buttazzoni agreed to a presentence report before considering penalty, on Aug. 28. However, he said the accused, who did not get bail, was in effect in custody.
Source: Sault Star
Harm in Foster Care
July 9, 2009 permalink
On March 3 Bruce Children's Aid seized two children for their protection. The protection included drugs clonidine and Concerta for twelve-year-old Catherine and a prolapsed rectum for three-year-old Nicholas.
Jul 6, 2009 8:22 PM
Please help us
We are writing this email to voice our concerns with the Bruce Children's Aid Society and their lack of help in our case. We had our children taken from us in March/03 and are currently fighting in the family court system to try to get them back. We are also working with them in any way to show them that we are serious about being the best we can be in order to have our children back in our care.
Their concerns were family violence and marihuana smoking. My husband is attending Men's Group in hope of showing everyone he is serious about being the best parent he can be. We are both attending drug addiction counselling to try to quit smoking marihuana Ivan smokes to relieve stress in order to keep his epilepsy at bay. I smoke to relieve her anxiety issues. We have been making a concerted effort to quit and wean ourself off this drug. I have tested negative once in a drug test, and my husband is willing to be tested also.
Our 12 year old daughter Catherine has A.D.H.D. and O.D.D. and is having a very stressful time with the whole ordeal of being taken from her home, her room, her stuff and her family.She has just been taken out of her 2 foster home since she has been in care in March/03. She is regressing to the point of defecating in her pants and is now hitting out at her foster family. The CAS has also put her on Clonidine plus Concerta in order to supress her so that she behaves in her foster home. She should be sent home before it is too late and more damage is done to her.
Our 3 year old son Nicholas now has a prolasped rectum which occured once he got into foster care. I was having a supervised visit at CAS when he had to defecate and I noticed his prolasped rectum. We are being told this is because he is constipated which never happened to him in his real home. We are concerned that this is because of a possible sexual interference which occured since he left our home.
We have asked our worker repeatedly what we have to do to satisfy CAS so that our children may return to our care. She has been non-commital and we are feeling that the CAS system is doing more harm to our children than helping them. My husband is suffering from heart disease and diabetes and we feel that the stress is going to kill him before we see our children back in our care. We need a goal to work towards. Please help us with our situation.
Our email is [ kips34 at hotmail.com ]
Kip and Marian
Source: A & E TV Children's Aid Society Corruption message board
July 7, 2009 permalink
Those legal aid lawyers who give away children without opposition are on strike for more pay. Why aren't thousands of people demonstrating in support of our lawyers?
Lawyers join legal aid boycott
Barbara Brown, The Hamilton Spectator, (Jul 3, 2009)
Hamilton criminal lawyers have joined the Ontario legal aid boycott that began last month in Toronto and has spread to Steeltown, Kingston and Thunder Bay.
Members of the local Criminal Lawyers' Association say they are tired of waiting for Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley to prop up the cash-starved legal aid plan and address inequities in the criminal justice system.
"We took this step reluctantly," said Robert Gee, past president of the Hamilton Criminal Lawyers' Association.
"The Hamilton area has been hard hit by the recession. Just (Wednesday), National Steel Car announced 600 layoffs. The newly unemployed and the middle class depend on a program that can't meet the demands on it."
Gee said the province has poured a lot of money into policing and prosecuting guns-and-gangs cases in the past decade, while on the other side of the justice scales, government-funded legal aid lawyers have seen their pay eroded by inflation and stagnant funding.
Forty lawyers from Hamilton, who handle 100 per cent of the local criminal cases, say they will no longer accept legal aid certificates for serious cases such as homicides and prosecutions under guns-and-gangs legislation.
"Ontario has a two-tier legal system and we want the public to know that. You need to fund social programs in tough times or they fail their promise," Gee said.
Frank Addario, provincial president of the association, has said that in the past 20 years legal aid lawyers have had their pay go up 15 per cent, compared with 83 per cent for judges and 57 per cent for Crown attorneys in just the past 10 years.
While legal aid lawyers get $97 an hour, there are restrictions on the hours they can bill for different types of legal proceedings. They are permitted only two hours for legal-aid bail hearings, for example, but after interviewing a client, reviewing the disclosure of evidence, rounding up family members to post bail and then actually running the hearing in court, the lawyer can end up spending 10 hours on the file.
"Do the math," said Gee. "You end up working for $19 an hour."
Fundamental equality of justice is directly affected by underfunding, said Gee. While the Crown pays $200 for a report from a forensic psychiatrist in a murder case, legal aid allows the defence only $130 for its expert witness.
Jeffrey Manishen, who has more than 30 years of criminal law experience, said unrealistic fee schedules and the stress of defending serious criminal charges caused him to stop taking legal aid homicide cases several years ago.
He said the plan no longer pays for travel time and mileage for out-of-town cases and regularly declines to pay for hours that have been spent in defence of criminal charges. "My only hope is that the tariff will be reviewed and increased to make this course of action by many dedicated and experienced criminal lawyers unnecessary."
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Prominent Family Attacked
July 5, 2009 permalink
Impecunious critics of child protection sometimes assert that a privileged class is protected from the abuses of social services by money and status. Today's story is of a British family whose father was sufficiently prominent that his children required precautions against kidnappers for ransom. When the parents came to retrieve their children after school they were instead confronted by social workers and police. After dad repeatedly asked the social worker to identify herself he was arrested and sectioned, a British term meaning put in a mental institution on the word of a doctor. At a court hearing on the fate of his children, he was not allowed to speak on account of his purported mental illness. For ordinary parents, sectioned means gone forever, but this prominent victim was able to get out of detention in ten days. But six weeks into the case social services still has custody of all three children. And the judge who shut him up? He was chairman of the trustees of the mental hospital detaining dad.
Is the state guilty of child kidnap?
Social workers are still too keen to split up families, says Christopher Booker.
By Christopher Booker, Published: 6:07PM BST 04 Jul 2009
One of the most disturbing features of life in modern Britain has been the extraordinary powers given to social workers to seize children from their parents, too often – when those powers are abused – supported by the police and family courts. What makes this still more alarming is the legal bar on reporting these episodes, supposedly to protect the children, which again too often works to protect the social workers themselves at the expense of the children.
Details of yet another shocking case, which comes to its climax in a county court in eastern England this week, have recently been placed in the House of Lords Library. This follows a comprehensive investigation carried out on behalf of the family by Lord Monckton of Brenchley, who, as a hereditary peer, does not sit in the Lords, but has passed his dossier both to an active life peer and to this column.
Until six weeks ago, Mr and Mrs Jones, as I must call them under reporting restrictions, lived happily with their three young children, two sons and a daughter, aged under 13. Mr Jones, a business consultant, is related to various European royal families and his brother is a senior Army officer seconded to the UN. If he has one weakness, as he admits, it is to refer to these connections, as he did to the heads of the schools attended by his two older children, saying that he was particularly concerned for their security. He asked that he could be allowed to drive into the school grounds when picking up his daughter, because he did not want to leave her waiting, potentially vulnerable, in the road outside.
The headmistress agreed to this, but, concerned about other children's safety, contacted the local police, who in turn passed on their concerns to social services. The result of this was that, on May 18, when Mr and Mr Jones, accompanied by their younger son, arrived at school to pick up their daughter, they were met by a group of strangers, one as it turned out a female social worker. She asked, without explaining why or who she was, whether he was Mr Jones. When she three times refused to show him any ID, he was seized from behind by two policemen, handcuffed and put under arrest.
He was driven by a policeman to a nearby mental hospital where he was told that, because of "a number of concerns", he was being detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and "sectioned" under S.2 as of "unsound mind". His wife, it turned out, had been similarly arrested, for loudly protesting at the handcuffing of her husband and the forcible seizing from her arms of her young son. The three children had been taken into care by social services.
Mrs Jones was allowed to return to an empty home that evening. Mr Jones was permitted to attend court two days later, to hear the magistrates grant an interim order for the children to remain in the care of social services. Because he was "sectioned", he was not allowed to speak. The chief magistrate, it later emerged, was chairman of the trustees of the mental hospital in which he was being detained.
On May 28, Mr Jones appeared before a mental health tribunal which, after hearing all the facts relating to his case, gave him a complete discharge. He returned home to his wife and immediately contacted his MP, a local MEP, lawyers and others he thought might be able to help, one of whom set in train the investigation by Lord Monckton that led to this story appearing here.
Despite the finding of the tribunal, the social workers have remained determined to hold on to the children, with a view to their care being determined in a county court on Wednesday. The voluminous dossier setting out this extraordinary sequence of events not only includes lengthy statements from Mr and Mrs Jones but copies of detailed statements by the social worker and policewoman most closely involved in the case (along with a good deal more circumstantial evidence).
The only reason offered in these documents for the abduction of the children is Mr Jones's "delusional belief system" that special care should be taken of his children because of their elevated family connections. The only harm done to the children is their very evident unhappiness at being separated from their parents.
It must be hoped that the court this week recognises how grotesquely this tragic case has been blown out of all proportion, and rules that a loving family should immediately be reunited.
Source: Daily Telegraph
Cut CAS Costs
July 5, 2009 permalink
Ontario's Minister of Children and Youth Services, Deb Matthews, continues her low-profile leadership, positioning herself mainly as a poverty-fighter. Last week she addressed a letter to the leaders of all of Ontario's children's aid societies, inviting them to a meeting on July 29 in Toronto:
The Commission is responsive to concerns I’ve heard from CASs about funding and their ability to meet the ministry’s changing requirements for child welfare and to the ministry’s concerns related to significant variations between CASs in the costs of services and the unsustainable rate of expenditure growth.
July 5, 2009
Ministry of Children and Youth Services
56 Wellesley Street West
Toronto ON M5S 2S3
Tel.: (416) 212-7432
Fax: (416) 212-7431
submitted through web form
Subject: Commission to Promote Sustainable Children’s Aid Societies
On June 25 you addressed a letter to Ontario's children’s aid society board chairs expressing your concerns over growth in costs and inviting them to a meeting with you on July 29 to provide input.
Many outside of the social services system may be able to help by providing ideas to reduce costs while sustaining, or even enhancing, the welfare of children. Do you also welcome input from them?
I regret that owing to the short time frame, I am unable to communicate through the more businesslike Canada Post.
Robert T McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Mattawa Ontario P0H 1V0
Addendum: With a delay of ten weeks, here is the response:
collapseMinistry of Children and Youth Services Minister's Office 56 Wellesley Street West 14th Floor Toronto ON M5S 2S3 Tel. : 416 212-7432 Fax: 416 212-7431Ministère des Services à l'enfance et à la jeunesse Bureau de la ministre 56, rue Wellesley Ouest 14e étage Toronto (Ontario) M5S 2S3 Tél. : 416 212-7432 Téléc. : 416 212-7431
SEP 14 2009
Mr. Robert T. McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Dear Mr. McQuaid:
Thank you for your letter regarding the sustainability of children's aid societies in Ontario. Let me begin by saying that I appreciate your concern for the well-being of children and youth in our province and your interest in contributing ideas towards promoting sustainable children's aid societies.
While the Commission has not yet been appointed, once they are, I would encourage you to contact them directly to share your input. The ministry will be posting this information on our website as it becomes available.
Thank you again for sharing your concerns about the child welfare system.
More on Baber Child-napping
July 2, 2009 permalink
Here is more on the abduction of two children by school principal Stephen Baber, one post from the father Attila L Vinczer, the other from John Dunn. The incident took place on December 4, 2008. The police are striking back at the father for the video posted by Canada Court Watch.
Attila L. Vinczer Says:
June 12th, 2009 at 8:07 am
I for one am not that takes anything over the head, not even once!
My children were kidnapped by a school principal for two hours while CAS/CPS attempted to take my children from me on December 4, 2008!!!
On December 4, 2008 my children were unlawfully detained by the school principal Mr. Stephen Baber at the mere phone call of a CAS/CPS worker who later extorted a signature from me. Mr. Jim Maloney and his immediate supervisor Ms. Sandy Griffiths would not release my children back to me unless I signed an agreement which was the slippery slope to my ex wife effecting having a Court Ordered custody arrangement changed.
She (ex wife) may have been attempting to cause me grief not realizing the HUGE trouble it would cause, especially for the children who were locked in the principals office for nearly two hours under lock and key such that one child urinated and defecated in his pants while the other was crying for his daddy!!!
Yes this happened right here in Canada last year just before Christmas!
Here is a link to a video interview of the boys and myself about this tragic occurrence.
I managed to keep my children after two hours of struggling with CAS/CPS. I went to the police who did not even do a single thing to assure the safety of my children and to reunite them with their lawful custodial father!
Currently there is a criminal investigation by the local police and charges could be laid against all those who participated to violate my children’s rights, my rights the Criminal Code of Canada and the Canadian Charter of Rights which forbids anyone to do what this foolish principal and the Child Protection workers did!
Source: Glenn Sacks
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Police Investigating CAS and School
The following letter is a follow up letter from the parent involved to the story whereas a couple of children were allegedly locked in a principals office at the request of a CAS worker in order for the worker to get a document signed by a parent.
Over the last two days my children and I have been interviewed at the police station in Newmarket. On Tuesday my two children were interviewed each for about 20 minutes by a female officers who I was told was specially trained in interviewing children. Yesterday I was interviewed by Detective Orourke, badge number 396, for about an hour and a half.
All of us were interviewed while being recorded by video and audio devices. In addition, a stenographer was present behind a one way darkened window who typed in addition to the audio.
I gave my accounting as best as I could from memory of which I believe I gave a good detailed accounting. I was reminded of the charges of mischief, misleading justice and investigation should I be found to be lying and that the very video could be used against me should that be the case. I was also told that should I change my statement it would be unusable.
I could not understand the relevance about the detective inquiring about the video that is up on Canada Court Watch. It has nothing to do with a man who assaulted, kidnapped, unlawfully detained and locked my children in a room and refused to allow my children to leave with me after school! I asked if I did anything wrong by having the video on the Internet to which Detective Orourke told me it was not illegal nor immoral to do so.
Detective Orourke has told me that all the school staff have been interviewed and all the CAS staff that were involved in the ordering of my children being held at school. I mentioned in my interview that even Mr. Patrick Lake, the Executive Director of the York Region Children's Aid Society felt that what the Principal Stephen Baber did was wrong! While at the Annual General Meeting of CAS another senior CAS employee said that leaving the children without an adult in the room was wrong.
Detective Orourke told me that the Crown Attorney will be reviewing all the testimonies and will determine consistency and will determine if there has been a criminal act committed and that I will be contacted in 2-3 weeks. That would mean by July 14-21 we should know how this matter will be moving forward.
I believe there is an abundance of evidence that a crime has been committed by Stephen Baber and even CAS staff. Should the authorities not lay charges, I will lay them and push this matter forward! I will not allow this incident to be swept under the carpet!!!
Further, as I may have mentioned, a civil lawsuit is in the midst of being launched against Principal Baber seeking damages in an amount yet to be determined for each of my children and myself. I am not expecting to be awarded much money for damages, nor is this lawsuit driven by greed for cash. The lawsuit is driven by the need to bring this principle before the courts and hold him accountable for his ill actions and to send a VERY STRONG message that should school staff violate the rights of children and or parents, they will be held accountable!!!
I will be sending copies of relevant material to as many trustees and other school officials as I can including the video clip on Court Watch. In addition to that, a press release will be issued I think at the time of launching the Civil Lawsuit within the next week or two.
Source: fostercarenews for July 2, 2009
Addendum: Police have not prosecuted the school principal and refuse to give a copy of their interview to the father.
York Regional Police now claim to be qualified to determine what is in the best interests of children
(October 29, 2009) Police officers are sworn to uphold the law and to protect the citizens in the communities they serve by enforcing the law. Yet, it seems that the York Regional Police have gone even further and now feel that they have the qualifications and authority to determine the best interest of children ahead of parents. This is a privilege that only a court of competent jurisdiction can determine after a fair and impartial hearing. In a recent letter to a York Region parent, the York Regional Police told that parent that they outrank the parent in making decisions concerning what is in his children's best interests.
The parent was attempting to obtain the video recorded statements of his children done by police after his children had been unlawfully locked up alone for over two hours in the office of the principal at the children's school. The York Regional Police told the parent that they would not charge the school official person responsible and that they had determined that it was in the best interest of the children that he as the parent, not have access to the video in which his children were providing testimony after having a crime committed against them by school officials. The parent wanted to have access to the video not only because it is his right under Freedom of Information Legislation but also because he believes that the York Regional Police conducted a flawed investigation and don't want the parent to be able to view the tape. Parents have obtained similar interview tapes from other police forces in Ontario without problems so why is the York Regional Police not giving this parent the information about his children that he is entitled to as the parent and guardian of his children? Even the children in this case agree that their father should be able to get a copy of their interview.
If the York Regional police have nothing to hide, then why do they not want to release the interview tape? To say that a parent cannot obtain a copy of their own children's disclosure it utterly ridiculous. How is the public trust in the police going to be maintained when police think that they have more authority over children than parents?
Source: Canada Court Watch, October 29, 2009
Addendum: Father Attila Vinczer has fought long and hard for a copy of the police records on his case, with some success.
Attila Vinczer Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario issues Order.
INTERIM ORDER MO-2558-I Appeal MA09-402 - York Regional Police Services Board
This order is HUGE in that it is now case law and will enable others to more easily obtain police records of their children who are under the age of 16 and in the lawful custody and care of that custodial parent.
While some may consider this a victory, I see it as a significant step in the administration of Justice ensuring the rights of the public are met and protected. Here is a chronology of events leading up to the Order.
I must stress that nobody should attempt to engage in such endeavours unless they are unequivocally apt to do so for a failed attempt will achieve a negative ruling and will then be used to deny access or a provision for others given whatever the issue may be! It took me about 160 hours of serious work to deal with this matter, 13 months to conclude it and 14 months to get the records I am entitled to.
On September 18, 2009 I made a request for the York Regional Police to furnish me with all information pertaining to an investigation of my children being unlawfully locked up and detained by Principle Stephen Baber of Prince Charles Public School in Newmarket, Ontario. They provided all information while refusing to provide the police video interview of my children. http://vimeo.com/5023797
On November 23, 2009 I submitted a request for the Information and Privacy Commissioner to intervene. The York Regional Police dug in their heels DEEP and refused to cooperate and refused to provide the police video interview of my children, siting that it is not in their best interest for me to possess it, insinuating that I would put the video up on the internet for public display based strictly on speculation. There was absolutely no basis for their claim as my intentions are not only in the best interest of my children, but it is the publics best interest also!
On October 26, 2010 The adjudicator issued the following order;
- I order the Police to disclose the videotaped interviews of the appellant's two sons by providing him with a copy of the interviews by November 25, 2010.
- I order the Police to exercise its discretion under section 38(b) of the Act and to provide both the appellant and me with an outline of the factors it considered in exercising its discretion by November 16, 2010.
- I remain seized of this matter in order to deal with any issues stemming from the exercise of discretion by the Police.
- In order to verify compliance with the Order Provision 1, I reserve the right to require the Police to provide to me with a copy of the records disclosed to the appellant, upon request
Anyone that is in need of obtaining police records of their custodial children can use the Interim Order MO-2558-I to be replaced by a Final Order which will probably be MO-2558-F. I will provide the number of that Order and the particulars thereof as soon as I get it.
Can't Pay Rent
July 2, 2009 permalink
Yes, it's true. Florida DCF was evicted from its premises when they could not afford to pay the market rent on their offices. So what happened to the overcrowded kids who sleep overnight in the office?
DCF Kicked Out Of Its Westside Office
Out-Of-State Landlord Fails To Renew Lease On Storefront Office
POSTED: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, UPDATED: 2:11 pm EDT July 1, 2009
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Children and Families was told suddenly to vacate its Westside office, catching the agency and those who show up for food stamps or other service scrambling for where to go.
A news release sent at 7:44 p.m. Tuesday announced that the closure, effectively immediately, was "beyond the control of the Department of Children and Families."
DCF spokesman John Harrell said the agency had been negotiating with the landlord to renew its lease on the storefront office on 103rd Street.
Harrell said DCF had operated in the storefront location on 103rd Street for about 20 years, but the ownership of the property recently changed hands. The state was negotiating with the new landlord, which was asking for a 20 percent. DCF had countered that was too much in tight economic times and negotiations were ongoing as recently as Monday.
Tuesday -- the day the lease expired -- DCF was told they had to be out by the end of the day.
"We were stumped by this, by the quickness of the decision by this out-of-state landlord," Harrell said. "This is not what we wanted; we want to provide with the best possible service and we wanted to be in that office for a longer period of time."
DCF stationed employees outside the storefront providing forms to people seeking food stamps, directing them to other offices around town or suggesting that they apply online at its Web site.
[ list of alternative offices omitted ]
Child Protector in Contempt
July 2, 2009 permalink
Alberta child protector Richard Ouellet has been found in contempt for failing to return a baby to his mother when ordered by a court. This is the same child we identified as baby Tsuu. Since life support was turned off in March, Mr Ouellet cannot repair his contempt by resurrecting the baby. The story fails to clarify whether the baby died in March or is still clinging to life. Anyone outside the bureaucracy would be facing attempted homicide charges for the same act.
Alberta official cited for contempt of court in foster-care case
By Karen Kleiss, Edmonton Journal, July 2, 2009
EDMONTON — A high-ranking director in Alberta's Department of Children and Youth Services has been cited for contempt of court after he failed to return a child to a foster mother despite being ordered to do so by the province's top court.
On June 23, Appeal Court Justice Jean Cote found Richard Ouellet guilty of contempt of court in the case of a little boy who was pulled from his foster home after allegations of abuse.
In a decision dated Jan. 30, Alberta's Court of Appeal upheld a lower-court decision and ordered the boy returned to the foster mother, who had cared for the child, identified only as A.O., since he was a baby. Children's Services did not comply.
Ouellet is the director of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act's child intervention section, and he reports to the assistant deputy minister of quality and standards. In that role, he has authority to apprehend children, and to consider placement options such as foster care and adoption. He delegates that authority to front-line caseworkers, but remains "ultimately accountable" for their actions, department spokesman Trevor Coulombe said.
Coulombe added that Ouellet has been working in the field of child intervention for more than three decades. He has been reassigned to other duties while the matter is before the courts.
Cote has not yet filed a written judgment explaining his June 23 decision, but he's expected to sentence Ouellet in the coming months.
Source: Calgary Herald
Addendum: A court document (local copy, pdf) on the contempt of Ouellet casts doubt on whether this is the same case as baby Tsuu. The court refers to a foster home in remote northern Alberta, and says Ouellet returned the child to the foster mother on June 22, several months late. Possibly the Calgary Herald inserted a photo in its July 2 story above from another case.
July 2, 2009 permalink
The Gary Putman award has gone to Sue Snider, vice-president of Child Find Canada, vice-president of Child Find Ontario and chair of Child Find's Dufferin chapter.
Orangeville Citizen, Local News, July 2, 2009
Snider wins Gary Putman Award
Sue Snider, 2009 winner of the Gary Putman Award, received the award at the Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCFS) annual general meeting, held on Wednesday, June 24.
DCFS said Sue was chosen from numerous nominees for her passion about community safety, particularly when it comes to children.
Ms. Snider is the Vice- President of Child Find Canada, Vice-President of Child Find Ontario and Chair of Child Find's Dufferin Chapter. She is deeply involved with issues surrounding missing children and the development of prevention techniques to avoid such tragedies. The work she does for this organization is entirely on a voluntary basis. Sue is also the Executive Director of Safe Communities in the Hills, whose mission is to help people come together in the community to create a sense of awareness, understanding, support and leadership to implement local programs to eliminate injuries and suffering.
Safe Communities in the Hills accomplishes its mission through a variety of events such as: mock disaster scenarios targeting youth; fall prevention clinics; community information booths; car seat clinics; safe medication disposal site; and street proofing programs. In order to execute these events, a great deal of collaboration with community service providers, innovation, organization and creativity is required. Sue is the only paid staff person with Safe Communities and as such is entirely responsible for ensuring these events run smoothly, and is often the only person organizing and running the events.
Sue is also the Deputy Mayor of Mulmur and as such a member of County Council. Through countless hours and a variety of initiatives, Sue has worked to better the security of children and families in Dufferin County.
"Sue Snider clearly demonstrates her commitment to our community, our families and our children in Dufferin County through her dedication, enthusiasm, commitment, and ability to work collaboratively and innovatively with numerous community groups as well as her countless volunteer hours ", said Trish Keachie, Executive Director of DCFS.
The Gary Putman Award was created to recognize a member of the Dufferin County community who has made a significant contribution in the areas of child safety and wellbeing, children's mental health, developmental support services and/or community education and awareness.
Mr. Putman led Dufferin Child and Family Services for 29 years before retiring as Executive Director in November 2007.
In recognition of Gary's efforts and dedication to the children and youth of Dufferin County, an agency award, to be presented annually, has been created in his honour.
DCFS congratulated all the nominees for the award.
They include: Adam Diamond, YouthCan Program Coordinator; Laurel Hunter, "Just Me and the Kids" founder; Michelle Edwards, COPING, Facilitator; Laura Gilroy, The Association of Parent Support Groups in Ontario for Dufferin, President, and John and Elyse Johanis, Johanis Karate School.
ACLU Champions Baby Theft
July 1, 2009 permalink
The large amounts of money funding baby-theft under pretext of protection are the greatest danger to children today, easily surpassing accidents and disease. One ray of hope for children is budget cuts necessitated by the current economic downturn. So how does the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) react to the cuts? They have sued in federal court to keep funding for children's services. Later press reports say that the judge ruled on Monday in favor of the ACLU (and against the children). The ACLU's pretext? The welfare of children, of course.
Budget Cuts Endanger Lives of Children in Child Welfare System, ACLU of Illinois Tells Federal Court
CHICAGO, June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Budget cuts forced by Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly endanger the safety and lives of children in the state's foster care system. The draconian budget cuts set to go into effect on July 1st severely impair the ability of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to ensure the well-being and welfare of vulnerable children in their care and violate a federal court agreement that is responsible for transforming the previously-troubled agency. These charges form the basis of an emergency motion filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois seeking to enforce critical terms of the consent decree monitored by the U.S. District Court in Chicago. Judge John Grady will hear arguments in support of the ACLU of Illinois' efforts to enforce the decree on Monday, June 29th at 5:00 p.m. in Room 2201 of the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago.
"The Governor and the legislature need to understand that this state's budget cannot be balanced on the backs of its most vulnerable residents - children in foster care," said Benjamin Wolf, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU of Illinois announcing the filing of the complaint. "This state recognized when it agreed to the consent decree that the child welfare system was a disaster, and they agreed to specific steps to reform DCFS. Now is not the time to retreat from that commitment and derail this important process."
In recent days, the full impact that the 50% cut in DCFS budget will have on safety and well-being of children in foster care in Illinois has become clear. The Governor's Chief of Staff estimated, as an example, that the caseload of DCFS staff workers' will more than triple, from 15 children (at present) to as many as 50 children. Likewise, the budget cuts nearly double the DCFS investigator caseloads, from 11 active investigations to 20 active cases at any one time. Both of these figures violate the consent decree and place children at risk since caseworkers and investigators do not have the time and attention to focus on the needs of an individual child.
Taken together, these cuts and others will put DCFS in violation of federal law and the consent decree, according to the ACLU of Illinois. That view is shared, apparently, by the current Director of DCFS, Erwin McEwen. In a June 5, 2009 letter describing the impact of the budget cuts, Mr. McEwen wrote the Director of the Governor's Office of Management and Budget declaring that the cuts place DCFS "in violation of the law and Consent Decrees regarding services to protected classes of Illinois citizens," and that DCFS would "fail in its ability to reasonably insure the safety of the children and families we serve."
The ACLU today asked federal district court judge John Grady to enforce the terms of the decrees currently in place, and ensure that children under the care of DCFS are protected and get the necessary services and safety they require. The decree grew out of negotiations around a case filed originally in 1988, and now called B.H. v. McEwen. The process of implementing the consent decree is hailed by foster care experts and others across the nation as a success, transforming the DCFS from an agency that mishandled cases, lost control of children in their care, and failed to provide adequate resources, into an agency with critical checks and balances and outside evaluators to assess the adequacy of its performance. The ACLU makes clear in the filing today that this progress is threatened by the budget cuts at DCFS.
"No one wants to return to the dark days of the 1980s and 1990s when the newspapers were filled with stories about children under the care of DCFS - and who should have been under the care of DCFS - being neglected and abused," said Heidi Dalenberg of the Chicago office of Schiff Hardin, a cooperating counsel on the case.
"Whatever difficulty results in our state from the inability of the Governor and politicians to agree on a way forward with the budget, these most vulnerable children should not bear the brunt of the harm caused by these political disagreements," added Dalenberg.
SOURCE ACLU of Illinois
Source: ACLU press release
Alberta Kafka Appeal
July 1, 2009 permalink
It's official. There is an appeal in the Alberta Kafka case.
Edmonton foster mom appeals manslaughter conviction
By Ryan Cormier, edmontonjournal.comJune 30, 2009
EDMONTON — A foster mother sentenced to three years for the death of a child in her care is appealing her conviction and asking for a new trial.
On June 5, the 32-year-old nurse was convicted of manslaughter in the death of a three-year-old boy living in her home.
After 52 days of foster family experience, the woman and child were alone in a bathroom when he suffered a blow to the head and lost consciousness. The trauma and swelling were so severe that immediate medical treatment would not have saved him, court heard.
The foster mother testified that the boy had woken up in the middle of the night and needed to use the bathroom. The squirming boy leaped from her arms and struck his head on the toilet bowl, she testified.
While Crown prosecutors argued that it was murder, the woman’s defence maintained it was an accident.
The Crown had asked for a sentence of 10 to 12 years, while the defence argued for one to three.
Defence lawyer Brian Beresh said the sentence was fair, but called the jury’s decision to convict a “compromised verdict.”
The foster mother, who is currently being held at a Saskatchewan healing lodge, is arguing that two witnesses were allowed to testify outside their expertise and that the Crown should not have been allowed to introduce prior acts as evidence.
Defence lawyer Peter Royal is handling the appeal.
Neither the foster mother nor the deceased child can be identified.
Source: Edmonton Journal