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Happy New Year!

December 31, 2012 permalink

This is our opportunity to review some of the significant events of the past year in Canadian child protection.

In April 2009 Canadians were horrified by the abduction and murder of school girl Tori Stafford. This year the killers were brought to justice. The woman who hit Tori with the fatal hammer blow was Terri-Lynne McClintic, an adopted girl herself and a foster child for part of her childhood. Links: [1] [2]. She was not the only CAS graduate to kill. Shawn Cameron Lamb ended the lives of three young women.

In July Malachi Beaudry died after less than two days in Sudbury CAS care. Links: [1] [2]. Another Sudbury foster child died in December, but so far his name has not been released.

Robert Horsburgh was a former foster parent who became a Dufferin CAS board member. In 1975 he sexually molested his foster daughter. Former Dufferin CAS executive director Gary Putman knew about the crime, but failed to notify police or prosecutors. Mr Putman's inaction helped to delay justice in this case for thirty five years. Links: [1] [2].

The campaign for ombudsman oversight of the MUSH sector, including children's aid societies, made progress this year. Many newspapers published editorials supporting the proposal. [1] [2] [3] [4]. Other support came from MPP Jeff Leal. In his annual report ombudsman André Marin repeated his request for MUSH sector authority, and made note of the public efforts in his support. On June 12 MPP Monique Taylor introduced bill 110 providing for oversight. This bill made more progress than any previous legislative efforts in this direction on October 4 when it passed second reading by the legislature. Legislative efforts were cut short on October 15 when premier Dalton McGuinty announced his resignation and prorogued the parliament.

In Ontario, there were many rallies critical of family law and supportive of legislation for ombudsman oversight. Click for list of rallies. The CFFLR group based in Sarnia was an addition to the opposition this year.

The press gave coverage to children's aid societies, other than the puffery coming from the agencies themselves. Links: [1] [2] [3] [4].

The Quinte region was the subject of a chain of trials and news articles relating to abuse of foster children. Links: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]. In the final news item [10] Bill Sweet, executive director of Prince Edward CAS, retired and his society was merged into the Highland Shores CAS, itself the creature of a merger on April 1.

In British Columbia the MCFD agreed to return Ayn Van Dyk to her father after a year and a half away. Links: [1] [2] [3]. But remember, with child protectors you can never be sure until the child actually comes home.

Chris Carter continued his multi-pronged opposition. On Feb 21 he was arrested for his efforts in support of a family in Chatham. He was released two days later. In other efforts he got important disclosures using freedom of information requests. [1] [2] [3] [4].

In a case that got world-wide attention, on February 22 four-year-old Nevaeh Sansone drew a picture of a gun. Father Jessie Sansone was arrested, strip-searched and his home was ransacked before police realized the gun was a four-year-old's fantasy. Want to see the picture? We were told it was drawn on a whiteboard and quickly erased. In June father Jessie got a partial apology.

For the upcoming year of 2013, we hope for better but fear for worse. At least prospects for legislation for ombudsman oversight of children's aid societies appear to be good.

Happy New Year 2013

Security for Judges

December 28, 2012 permalink

British judges are unhappy with courthouse security. They want separate corridors and washrooms so they won't be able to encounter litigants. They claim their security is endangered by the emotional problems of the parents before them.


  1. an act or the commission of an act that is forbidden or the omission of a duty that is commanded by a public law and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law; especially : a gross violation of law
  2. a grave offense especially against morality

Source: Merriam-Webster

A half-century ago, kidnappers got the death penalty. At that time, Merriam-Webster's two definitions both applied to the act. Today, kidnapping is conducted with the power of the state and the law has been twisted out of shape. Judges who think parents have an emotional problem should take time to examine who is really committing the grave offense against morality. Parents coming into family court are treated as criminal according to definition one, but it is the courts who are committing the crime in definition two (2). To add insult to injury, victims of crime (2) are required to address the perpetrators with terms of honor. The real wonder is that there are so few acts of violence against the courts and other functionaries of this twisted law.



Family judges seek protection from parents in 'unsafe' courts

Dangerously inadequate security arrangements during family cases leave officials vulnerable to attack, say judges

Nicholas Crichton
District judge Nicholas Crichton says 'emotions run high' during family court cases and can trigger violent outbursts.
Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Family judges across England say they fear being attacked by angry or disturbed parents because security in court is often dangerously inadequate.

It is rare for judges to raise their concerns publicly, but a number have taken the unusual step of speaking out to criticise security at the principal registry of the family division (PRFD) in central London, and also at district courts around the country.

In one incident, a female judge was seriously injured in an attack. Judges also told of parents shouting threats at them, as well as throwing books and cups.

"I have been threatened," one judge told the Guardian, speaking under condition of anonymity. "A very angry father stood up and shouted antisemitic threats at me. Another father threw a cup of water across the courtroom. Another parent threw a book, but fortunately I was too far away for it to reach me."

A second judge, also speaking anonymously, said of the PRFD: "I'm constantly, constantly exposed when I work there. There's no security in the courtroom. None. Sometimes we are in the courtroom alone with a parent. Most commonly, we sit with a clerk, who, in my experience, is always an elderly woman. If anything went wrong, believe you me, she would not be the one defending me.

"We shouldn't have to walk in the public corridors of a building where we have just removed someone's child for ever," the judge added. "At the PRFD, there are no private corridors for judges at all, which means we have to walk through public waiting areas and corridors when moving between courtrooms, entering and leaving the building. We can't even go to the loo without passing through a public area. I feel uncomfortable every time I have to do it. I'm very aware of the constant risk."

A third judge who has worked in the PRFD and courts across London said: "Most district judges, even those doing highly charged family cases, do not have courtrooms at all but hear the cases in their chambers with the public sitting around the table, and they don't have anyone in the court room at all. I have never understood why it is thought that they are less at risk than the higher judiciary."

One circuit judge, who sits in county and crown courts and also in the family division in London, said security arrangements were inadequate. "These are the most volatile, sensitive courts in the land, and one of these days there's going to be trouble in them. The risks are not being addressed properly and unless someone starts considering the security properly then it's a disaster waiting to happen. It will take one serious incident and someone will wake up to the fact that the system is not safe for family judges."

The Guardian has learned of a recent incident when a female judge was seriously injured by an aggrieved parent in the courtroom. The judge has confirmed the violent and deliberate attack but preferred not to give details.

"While it's true that you can't exclude a chance of an attack … the question is whether the essential issue of us judges being hidden away from the public is being complied with, and the answer is, it's not," said a judge who hears cases in the PRFD. "The second question is how protected we judges are when in the courtroom," she said. "The answer to that question is, again, that we're not. The only thing we can do is try to pick out cases with potential violence … and transfer them to the Royal Courts of Justice."

Judges said county courts often do not have a courtroom and a retiring room for district judges. This forces them to hear cases in their chambers, with those involved often sitting uncomfortably close, while the lack of a retiring room means judges have nowhere to go to go if it became necessary to escape an aggressive parent.

"If anything happens, the only place to run is through an adjoining door between my court and that of the other district judge," said a family judge at a court in outer London.

"People blow up in court, of course they do, we're taking their children away. We do have security in my court but they consist of very elderly men and a couple of young girls. The fact that it has not happened so far doesn't mean that it won't."

Another said: "No judge should ever have to sit without a clerk or usher in the courtroom but that is happening all over. It is very bad at the PRFD at the moment."

District judge Nicholas Crichton, founder of the family drug and alcohol court at Wells Street family proceedings court in central London, who was given a CBE in this year's Queen's birthday honours list, said it was a "recipe for flashpoint" to compel judges to walk through public areas and share corridors. Crichton said it was unfair to put anxious parents under the added stress of close proximity with the judge ruling on their case. "Emotions run high. These parents are coming to court feeling criticised about how they treat their children and terrified they're going to have their children removed. That's a pretty toxic mix, but they're not criminals. Everything they have read in the paper and on TV leads them to be frightened of coming to court."

Crichton created an informal regime in Wells Street to reduce the risk of violence. "I'm not going to tell you that we've never had violent incidents here," he said. "We have, but they're few and far between because we have designed a system where parents feel respected from the moment they enter the building."

There are no publicly available statistics for the number of attacks on judges, but a spokesman for the judicial office at the Royal Courts of Justice said: "While we have noticed no recent increase in the level of significant incidents, security continues to be treated as a serious issue. The judiciary monitors security regularly, with input from a broad range of judges in different locations and courts."

A spokesperson from her majesty's courts and tribunals service said: "HMCTS takes the issue of security within courts extremely seriously. Our security system is continually monitored to ensure that it is effective and proportionate and mitigates against risks faced."

Source: Guardian (UK)

A follow-up in February. This time the Guardian defends judges who enjoin litigants from posting criticism on the internet.



Justice ministry under pressure to curb attacks on family court judges

  • Official records reveal 26 incidents in a year, including assaults
  • Parents in custody disputes spit and throw chairs at judges

Judges dealing with sensitive issues – including child custody – in the family courts have had hate mail sent to their homes, been physically attacked and been victims of attempted assaults in court buildings, according to information obtained by the Guardian.

In the 12 months up to January this year, 26 incidents were recorded, including one direct threat to life and three physical attacks. The Guardian understands – from another source – that one of these involved a judge who required hospital attention after being knocked to the floor and beaten by a parent over whose case she was presiding.

Family judges recently took the highly unusual step of admitting widespread concerns about their safety to the Guardian but this is the first time official details have been disclosed listing the actual risks faced by judges in England and Wales.

Despite the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) saying it had "a robust security and safety system to protect court users and the judiciary", families whose cases were being heard were able to throw chairs and water at judges. Other judges reported being spat at. Six received abusive or threatening correspondence.

There are likely to have been more attacks than official records reveal, however. Judges said they were reluctant to speak out publicly about the violence they encountered in the courts or make official complaints for fear of increasing the threats.

"It is part of judges feeling exposed and unprotected, I suppose," said one judge speaking anonymously. "We all have what is meant to be a hotline to the police in case of trouble but I'm not sure it works. A judge told me he rang it and absolutely nothing happened. It was not a hotline at all in his experience.

"There is also a problem of people putting horrible stuff on the net, including threats. Judges have made orders for them to stop but I don't know if they do."

A number of freedom of information requests submitted by the Guardian revealed that at least five district judges have received threatening correspondence in the past year related to hearings they have presided over. One letter was sent to a judge's home address, three messages were posted on social media sites and one abusive email was received – the last two incidents suggesting the writers were able to discover and access the judges' private email addresses and social media pages, such as Facebook.

Family courts deal with parental disputes over the upbringing of children; local authority intervention to protect children; decrees relating to divorce; financial support for children after divorce or relationship breakdown; some aspects of domestic violence and adoption.

Another judge told of an incident in which a judgment was secretly taped. "A man who promised me he was not recording the hearing did so, then posted the recording online," said the judge.

"His page was full of stuff about a judge, not nice, not me. I warned that judge and made a lot of it because I thought he was a threat. A high court judge made orders about it."

Any subsequent breaking of a court order could lead to the offender being sent to prison or fined.

The HMCTS refused the Guardian access to reports regarding the incidents and said it was not known whether any of the perpetrators' actions were reported to the police or how many cases went on to criminal proceedings.

But, said another judge: "The trouble is that no one will do anything about it. Clearly, that is not right and in my view the Ministry of Justice or the attorney general should do something but I'm not aware of it happening. If the case is still ongoing, the judge running the case can deal with it, but if the case is over, and it is often when a final decision is made that these things happen, then in my experience nothing happens."

However, another judge said: "For over a decade, I have been interfering in people's lives in the most drastic sense and I've not been seriously abused or threatened. Perhaps that is surprising?"

The HMCTS said it took security within courts extremely seriously and had "a robust security and safety system to protect court users and the judiciary".

"This system includes mandatory bag searches, metal detectors and surveillance cameras, as well as court security officers who have legislative powers to protect all those in the court building. The powers of the court security officers include the ability to restrain and remove people from the building should there be a need," it said.

"Our security system is continually monitored to ensure that it is effective and proportionate and mitigates against the risks faced."

Source: Guardian (UK)

Girl Missing

December 27, 2012 permalink

Paige Wilkes-Herntier
Paige Wilkes-Herntier
ran away from group home
click for larger image

A mother pleads for word about her fourteen-year-old daughter who ran away from a group home in Belleville Ontario on December 15. The girl's description is enclosed along with the mother's name and phone. Anyone knowing of Paige's whereabouts should notify her mother directly or indirectly. Phone calls now go through a computer exchange, facilitating tracing. If you prefer anonymity, make indirect contact through Canada Court Watch or fixcas. We are not sure it would be helpful to notify CAS.



Linda Reynolds

Doris-Ann Wilkes
December 22

PLEASE HELP!! One week ago today Saturday December 15,2012 @ 12:10 pm, our daughter Paige Wilkes-Herntier AKA Ashley Philips (on Facebook), ran away from the group home that she has been living in, in Belleville, Ontario. Paige is 14 years old and is about 5'2 and approximately 130-140 pounds. She is a very smart and beautiful young lady who we love very much and need to know that she is safe and ok. We are very much so concerned about her safety and wellbeing. If anyone knows anything about her where abouts or have seen her please contact the Belleville City Police or myself with an inbox message or my cell at 613-483-0937. We need to find her soon. She has been gone far too long now and need your help to find her.

Paige if you can see this please contact someone to let them know that you are ok and safe. WE are ALL so worried about you. Please come home and we will be there to support you through this time. LOVE MOM & FAMILY xoxoxoxo

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

Breaking Apart Families

December 27, 2012 permalink

Michael Coren spoke to Michael P Clarke in a program titled Breaking Apart Families (mp4) on Sun News. Pat Niagara captured the video on December 26. The same two spoke previously in October.

Diaper Rash!

December 27, 2012 permalink

John Bell Fox has posted two pictures of Ontario's finest investigating a case of diaper rash. Watch the brave crime-fighters preparing to unwrap the hazardous material surrounding the crime scene. Photos: [1] [2].

Source: Facebook

hazardous diaper change

Profane Christmas

December 27, 2012 permalink

A mother with children under Ottawa children's aid care received a warm Christmas card signed by her two children. What's wrong with this picture? The children are too young to understand what a Christmas card is. The greetings are fake, signed by a social worker. To simplify wishes-in-bulk, CAS used a French language card for an English language family.

Click for the Christmas card. Expand for a form letter accompanying the card and comments by Jane Scharf who found this profane greeting.



Ottawa CAS logo

The Children's Aid
Society of Ottawa
La Société de l'aide
à l'enfance d'Ottawa


The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton Liaison Services facilitates non-identifying exchanges between birth and adoptive family members where this is part of the openness agreement made when a child is placed for adoption. The Society supports all forms of openness as there is much research and practice experience to indicate that openness is in the best interest of adopted persons.

The number of annual exchanges and the specific items exchanged (letters, cards, pictures, gifts) are defined through a Liaison Agreement created at the time of the adoption placement. The Liaison Agreement also establishes when the exchanges can be expected. The adoptive parents, as the legal guardian of the child(ren), determine these details in discussion with the adoption worker based on what is most meaningful and beneficial to the child(ren). The adoptive parents will receive all agreed upon correspondence from the birth parents through Liaison Services. It is expected that the adoptive parent will share the material with their child(ren) as they deem beneficial and age-appropriate for the child(ren). Copies of each exchange are stored in the liaison files. Your child(ren) may retrieve this material from the Society when they are adults.

We recommend that the adoptive and birth parents use first names in these correspondences and send general, non-identifying updates to one another, including how the child(ren) enjoy school and activities they are participating in, general health and a glimpse into one another's interests and personality. All appropriate material received is forwarded to the intended recipient.

Please address all correspondence to Liaison Services, Adoption Unit, Children's Aid Society of Ottawa / La Societe de l'aide a l'enfance d'Ottawa, 1602 Telesat Court, Gloucester, ON K1B 1B1. If you are dropping off your exchange in person please leave at the front desk or in the mail room. Drop-offs and pick-ups may be done Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. or Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If the mail room is closed Security will assist you. All appropriate material received is forwarded to the intended recipient. Please notify Liaison Services, Adoption Department when your address or phone contacts change or to revise the Liaison Agreement. This will help ensure these exchanges continue in a timely manner.

Thank you for participating in this valued program.

N Collins signature

1602 cour Telesat Court • Gloucester • ON • K1B 1B1
Tel/tél: (613) 747-7800 • Fax/téléc: (613) 747-4456 •

Jane Scharf

Just when I thought I saw it all with CAS another outrage hits. This time it is in form of a Christmas card to a mother who had both her children abducted by fraud by CAS. The card is from a random CAS worker who the mother doesn't know and the card to the mother says: "to our birth mother...we pray for you every day and we love you." These are infants who would not even know what prayer is. Tucked into the card is a form letter not addressed to the mother but signed by the random Ottawa CAS worker N. Collins and it goes on about how the CAS believes in openness and how the mother can send non identifying material to the CAS and they will keep it in file until the children are adults. All contact with her children was cut off in April and this is the first the mother heard of this so called policy. I screamed over this SO CALLED MERRY CHRISTMAS CARD WHERE THEY ALSO MENTION THAT THEY PRAY "THAT GOD WILL BLESS YOU RICHLY IN THE UPCOMING YEAR. The expression belly of the beast comes to mind.

Source: Facebook

Preying on the Disabled

December 26, 2012 permalink

When Victoria Bristow's two boys had a rare disability, British child protectors accused her of making up their condition in order to obtain help with looking after them (Munchausen) and tried to take custody. Now she has won her case with a rare apology.



Mother wins apology after council tries to take her disabled children away

A mother who spent a year fighting to stop social services taking her disabled twins into care after she was accused of making up a condition which made them unable to walk has won an apology from her local council.

Victoria Bristow with Thomas and Daniel
Victoria Bristow and her twins Thomas, left, and Daniel

Thomas and Daniel Bristow, both now three, are unable to walk because of a rare muscle disorder called hypotonia.

But their mother Victoria Bristow said the council had never provided the help that she needed to look after them and after she asked for it repeatedly they tried to take the children away.

She said she was accused of making up their condition in order to obtain help with looking after them, and it was only after a year-long legal battle that the local authority backed down, in October this year.

Mrs Bristow said doctors had confirmed the boys were "permanently functionally disabled" but the council believed they would get better with a course of physiotherapy.

The 36-year-old, from Norwich, has now received an apology from Norfolk County Council but she said it was still failing to provide enough help for them.

The former care worker said she was struggling after the birth of the boys in 2009, being poorly after suffering two major haemorrhages, and that the council were unable to provide any help.

When the twins were 14 months old and unable to stand up or even bear weight on their legs, Mrs Bristow and her husband Paul, who works in Norfolk council’s HR department, became concerned and saw doctors about their condition.

“They have got low muscle tone which kind of means they are a bit like rag dolls,” she said. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital said it was “a rare form of spinal muscular atrophy”.

She and her husband, 34, who suffers from arthritis, were struggling increasingly to carry them up and down the stairs. But she said the council had doubts about the condition.

“There was the thought that the boys’ disability was down to our parenting style somehow,” she said, explaining that they had been criticised for withdrawing the children from physiotherapy which was not helping.

Mrs Bristow said when an assessment finally took place social workers expressed concern that the children might be at risk, partly due to her mental health. She said she suffers from a mild form of depression.

“The assessment concluded that due to my mental health and because they didn’t understand why the boys were disabled, they felt they were at risk of neglect, and needed to be taken into immediate foster care, with no plans for reuniting with us.”

The Bristows learnt of the conclusion in a letter delivered in October last year, and for a year lived with the fear that the boys would be taken away if the council obtained a court order.

Mrs Bristow said she “was accused of trying to use their disabilities to gain services’ attention”.

“The idea is the parent makes up an injury to gain attention. They were accusing me of making up the boys’ disabilities. Actually, we hadn’t recognised the extent of their disabilities. They are very disabled little boys.”

She added: “I couldn’t bear the thought of losing my children so I researched the law and I fought like crazy.”

After months of delay, the case was concluded in her favour.

Mrs Bristow said: “We have never ever deliberately harmed them in any way at all.”

She said she now planned to support other families in similar situations.

Lisa Christensen, director of children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said it was not possible to “comment in detail” on cases involving children as the information was confidential.

But she added: “I can say in general terms that social workers have a very difficult job to do and can justifiably be criticised if they fail to respond in cases where concerns have been raised.”

She also said that the council provided a “range of support” to disabled children but that in some cases there was a “difference of opinion between the parents and the agencies involved about the level and nature of services provided”.

“In this case we have acknowledged and apologised for mistakes made and are anxious to work with the family in the interests of the children.”

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Kids Want Dad (and Mom) for Christmas

December 25, 2012 permalink

A British survey of children's Christmas wishes shows that "dad" is number ten on the list. "Mum" was lower down at position 23. The Daily Telegraph story is enclosed, here is a similar wish by Baby LK (mp4).



A 'dad' is tenth most popular Christmas list request for children

A 'dad' is tenth most popular Christmas list request for children with youngsters happy to forgo the latest iPad, toy or new pet, a survey has found.

When it comes to Christmas, it might be safe to assume children will ask Santa for an extensive list of toys, games and treats.

But a survey of their typical lists for Father Christmas has shown many have more serious concerns, requesting "a dad" instead.

A study of 2,000 British parents found most children will put a new baby brother or sister at the top of their Christmas list, closely followed by a request for a real-life reindeer.

A "pet horse" was the third most popular choice, with a "car" making a bizarre entry at number four.

Despite their material requests, the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a "Dad".

The survey, of consumers at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City, found children aged three to 12 years also wanted a dog, chocolate and a stick of rock.

Traditional hopes for a white Christmas were represented by a wish for "snow" in ninth place, with sensible youngsters also requesting a "house".

Of the top 50 festive requests, 17 related to pets and animals, with some imaginative children hoping for a donkey, chicken and elephant.

iPhones and iPads also appeared on the list, with some quirky children asking for the moon, a time machine, a pond cover and beetroot. One child asked for Eva Longoria and another wanted Harry Styles from One Direction.

A request for a "mum" reached number 23 on the list.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Merry Christmas

December 24, 2012 permalink

Fixcas wishes all a merry Christmas. That includes the many readers enjoying the holiday with family, and those who have been separated from family at this season.

In the spirit of Christmas, here is a British story of a man separated from his family after he saved his daughter's life. It took him five years to clear his name. This year he will be celebrating his first Christmas with his family.



First Christmas with his girls for father wrongly jailed for child cruelty

  • Family broken up in 2007 when Ben Butler was accused of abusing child Ellie
  • Mr Butler was forced to share jail cell with a convicted child abuser
  • Parents say reuniting with kids is like 'suddenly having grown up twins'
  • The girls and their parents are enjoying their first Christmas as 'a proper family'

With their two smiling daughters cuddled up on his knee and his loving partner by his side, Ben Butler looks every inch the contented father.

But such scenes of simple domestic bliss are a new experience for all of them - after the family was ripped apart when he was wrongly jailed for child cruelty.

It took three years to clear his name and two more for he and the girls' mother Jennie Gray to win back Ellie and Isabella after a series of legal battles.

Ben Butler and Jennie Gray
Despite advice from others, Miss Gray remained true to the father of her children and now her concitions have paid off in getting her family back

The four had never all lived together - and the two beautiful little girls had not even met each other until a few weeks ago after each being put into separate foster care as babies.

Now the sisters are joined at the hip, excitedly rushing up to 'daddy' and 'mummy' to ask if they can have another chocolate from their advent calendars or to show them their festive drawings of angels, stars and candles.

As the happily reunited family look forward to their first Christmas together - just one of the many milestones they were previously denied by their unjust ordeal - Mr Butler and Miss Gray, both 33, say it is 'like suddenly having grown-up twins'.

And the doting parents are delighted Ellie, five, and three-year-old Isabella are settling in so well after their return to the family home.

Mr Butler said: 'I worked out I've spent more than six months of my life in criminal and family courts over this. All we ever wanted was to be a family, but it was all so draining, there were times I thought it would never happen.

'But we knew we had to keep fighting, fighting and at last here we are back together - just like it should have been all along. We are trying to catch up on the lost years but are Ellie and Izzy are a joy.'

The ordeal began in February 2007 when Mr Butler, a removals man, saved then seven-weeks-old Ellie's life when she stopped breathing while he was looking after her - only to be accused of harming her.

He cleared her airway after she collapsed and rushed her to hospital. But doctors found head injuries similar to those caused when a baby is deliberately hurt by being shaken.

Mr Butler, of Sutton, South West London, insisted he had not harmed Ellie. Miss Gray, who was not living with him then, supported him.

But the couple were arrested and he was charged with grievous bodily harm and cruelty. Ellie, despite going on to make a full recovery, was taken in to foster care.

While awaiting trial the Family Court ruled Mr Butler could see Ellie twice a year for four hours.

Miss Gray, a graphic designer, was allowed contact with her baby six times a year for two hours at a time.

Miss Gray said: 'I was told at one point that if I went against Ben it would be to my advantage and I'd have more chance of getting my daughter back. It's outrageous.'

At his Croydon Crown Court trial in March 2009 Mr Butler was convicted. Given an 18-month sentence, he was forced to share a prison cell with a convicted child abuser.

He said: 'I was put with sex offenders. I never spoke to the guy I shared a cell with - it's like being put in a mental hospital when you're not mental. It was just a horrible, dirty feeling where everyone is on a different wavelength.' After three and a half months behind bars,

Mr Butler was released pending appeal.

Brought together by the nightmare engulfing their lives, he and Miss Gray started seeing each other again.

She became pregnant with Isabella and, by now 'terrified' of the social workers, tried to keep her birth secret. But Isabella too was also taken into foster care aged six months - and social workers wanted her to be adopted.

Mr Butler's conviction was quashed in 2010 after fresh medical evidence showed Ellie's injuries were caused by a traumatic birth and it was also highlighted how if they had been caused by shaking her full recovery 'would not have been expected'.

It further turned out that Ellie had a cyst in her throat which Mr Butler had pushed out of the way when he cleared her airway after she collapsed. The cyst is clearly visible on a scan taken in hospital, but it was not shown to the original jury.

It then took another two years of battling in the Family Court for the parents to persuade judges and social workers that Ellie, who had been allowed to live with her grandparents, Miss Gray's parents, and Isabella, should be returned to them.

Finally, in October this year, High Court judge Mrs Justice Hogg praised the couple as she ruled the two girls should be allowed to go home.

She said: 'The last five and a half years must have been an extraordinarily difficult time for the parents ... [They] have weathered the storm. They have each been resilient and determined, and shown tenacity and courage... I wish the parents well: they too deserve joy and happiness.'

The couple had at last achieved their dream, but were understandably anxious how their daughters would cope. Isabella came home first, then Ellie a short while later on November 11, to their new matching pink bedrooms.

Ellie is so attached to her grandparents and had been away so long they were worried if she would settle - or be jealous of the little sister she had never met.

Miss Gray said: 'We started building them up about each other and put a picture of each other next to their beds. Their first meeting came when we took them bowling, one of Ellie's favourite things.

'We thought it would be difficult and they wouldn't be able to connect quickly. But they gave each other a kiss and they were very good with each other.

'The bond has grown between them. They play so well together and do everything together. It's so cute. Ellie helps put Izzy's shoes on and tries to do her hair for her.

'We're learning so much so fast about them, things like what their favourite colours and toys are - Ellie loves Minnie Mouse and Izzy Tinker Bell - that it's like suddenly having grown up twins.'

Mr Butler said: 'I hadn't seen Izzy for two and a half years but she was calling me 'daddy' from the first time we met again. Now you wouldn't know she'd been away. Her foster carers are lovely people and we thank them for all they did.

'But what happened to us was all so wrong. My trial came down to medical opinion only and the medical evidence just didn't add up.

'We've not had a normal life for nearly six years and the pressure has been immense. We've missed out on so many things, like seeing our daughters' first steps and some birthdays.

'Now we're just looking forward to seeing them grow up with us, taking them places and enjoying normal, everyday things. That's all we ever wanted - to be a proper family.'

Source: Daily Mail

certificate: CAS is naughty

Zero-Tolerance for Boys

December 22, 2012 permalink

Did you ever hear of a boy growing up without toy guns, or pictures of guns? In New Jersey, a boy's picture of a weapon got him into the Haborfields Juvenile Detention Center.

If 'chemicals that when mixed together, could cause an explosion' is a crime, I'm pretty sure everyone's cleaning cabinets are evidence just waiting to be found. Bottle of Coke and Mentos... BRB, someone knocking at the door."

Source: Slashdot

Baking soda, bleach, fertilizer, pool chemicals, can of gas, Diesel fuel ...



Superintendent: Drawings Of Weapons Led To New Jersey Student’s Arrest

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) – Every school in America is on edge this week, but behavior by a student at Cedar Creek High School Tuesday had school officials on alert.

The Superintendent of the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District said around 2 pm Tuesday, a 16 year old student demonstrated behavior that caused concern.

A teacher noticed drawings of what appeared to be weapons in his notebook. School officials made the decision to contact authorities.

Police removed the 16-year-old boy from Cedar Creek High School in Galloway Township Tuesday afternoon after school officials became concerned about his behavior.

The student was taken to the Galloway Township Police Department.

Police then searched the boy’s home on the 300 block of East Spencer Lane and found several electronic parts and several types of chemicals that when mixed together, could cause an explosion, police say.

The unidentified teen was charged with possession of a weapon an explosive device and the juvenile was placed in Harbor Fields.

The Superintendent, Dr. Steven Ciccariello put a phone message out to parents Wednesday morning.

“This is a perfect example of a teacher implementing her training. She saw drawings that appeared disturbing to her and alerted school officials,” he told Eyewitness News.

The New Jersey Education Association said teachers are now routinely trained to watch for these kinds of warning signs.

“Without the proper training, things can slip through the cracks,” said NJEA Spokesperson Kathy Coulibali, “If somebody feels insecure about whether or not is this really something that should be reported, we don’t want that kind of gray area.”

As a precaution, bomb-sniffing dogs swept the school, but nothing was found. Authorities say that students and teachers at the school were never in any danger nor were any threats made.

The student was placed in Haborfields Juvenile Detention Center.

Source: CBS Philly

Kids 4 Adoption

December 22, 2012 permalink

Ontario opposition leader Tim Hudak wants to advertise every child available for adoption on the internet. In addition, he wants to pay a reward to children's aid societies when they place a child with an adoptive home.

The payment of bonuses to adoption agencies produced a policy disaster in Britain. To meet the adoption targets, agencies ignored their large pool of unadoptable foster children, and began targeting pregnant women for child removal even before giving birth. For a chilling example, listen to social workers speak to Vanessa and Martin Brookes (wmv) in a recording removed from YouTube by social services legal action. Here is another case with more belligerent parents (flv), also removed from YouTube.

With this proposal Mr Hudak joins the long parade of politicians showing how clueless they are about family law. The biggest problem with foster care is not a deficit of adoptions. It is the large funding provided by the legislature that serves as an incentive to separate children from mom and dad.

But listing all adoptable children might do some good. Ontario's crown wards would come out of the shadows with at least some public mention of their existence. It would be possible to check the numbers coming out of the OACAS, and when a crown ward died, CAS would have to account for his disappearance.



Ontario Tories want all children in need of adoption to be listed online

The Progressive Conservatives want to make it mandatory for Children’s Aid Societies to list all of the children in care who need parents on the Adopt Ontario website.

Only about 155 of the 7,600 children in Ontario looking for a family are actually listed on the website the government set up to help them find a permanent home.

Opposition Leader Tim Hudak says the Children’s Aid Societies have no incentive to list children on the adoption site because they get paid for each child in their care.

Mr. Hudak wants to force the societies to list Crown wards in their care on Adopt Ontario and change the funding formula so they are rewarded for finding kids new homes, not for keeping them.

The Tories also want to provide funding to adoptive parents, between $8,000 and $15,000 per year depending on special needs, to help get more children into full-time families.

PC children’s critic Jane McKenna says the current system is fragmented and ineffective, leaving a growing number of kids on waiting lists.

Source: Globe and Mail

Addendum: The full document is PATHS TO PROSPERITY - a fresh start for children and youth (pdf). Of its 21 pages, two are devoted to pictures of PC leader Tim Hudak. It has no instances of father and only one of mother — it uses primarily the generic parent, possibly to be inclusive of same-sex parents. The suggestions come in the form of eleven paths, set out in headlines and developed in the text. The path to place all children for adoption on the internet is one of them. Most of the paths are the common bureaucratic suggestion of reorganizing so that lines of responsibility are altered. The only other path that seems to be more than repeating old ideas is number four:

Allow Ontarians to invest in the future success of their community and youth through Social Impact Bonds. The government should use a “pay-for-success” model that only pays out if goals are reached, reducing the burden on taxpayers while improving results for our youth. Children win, investors win and the government wins.

This is the way governments fund public improvements like toll roads, sewers and sports stadiums. So far it has not been applied to child care. It is doubtful it will help even if implemented. The problems in child protection come not from inadequate funds, but from too much funding.

There is no suggestion for more transparency or real oversight of children's aid societies, such as by giving the provincial ombudsman the authority to look into children's aid cases. Ontarians can expect little real improvement in child protection from the election of a PC government.

adoption by internet

Recording, But only for Our Side

December 22, 2012 permalink

Ontario's courts are allowing electronic recording and communication devices in courtrooms, but only for lawyers and accredited journalists. The list of journalists is not complete, but it will surely include the Toronto Star and exclude Canada Court Watch and Fixcas. The article is silent on parties recording their own case.



Ontario Superior Court OKs tweeting, but only by journalists and lawyers

Ontario’s Superior Court has established a policy on tweeting in court, paving the way for journalists and lawyers to use electronic devices, but banning members of the public from doing so.

Ontario becomes one of the last provinces to establish such a policy, though it doesn’t appear to apply to provincial or appeal courts.

The directive, which comes into effect on Feb. 1, says that electronic devices in silent mode can be used discreetly in courtrooms by counsel and journalists to transmit “publicly accessible live communications” unless the judge orders otherwise.

Members of the public won’t be allowed to use electronic devices — defined as computers, personal electronic and digital devices, as well as cellphones and smartphones — unless the judge says they can.

The rules say the device being used can’t interfere with the court recording equipment, which can occur in some courtrooms.

Anyone allowed to blog or tweet in court is responsible for adhering to any publication bans or other restrictions and photographs and video continue to be banned.

British Columbia and Saskatchewan both brought in new policies last month allowing “accredited journalists” and lawyers to use electronic devices in trial courts, with Saskatchewan even specifying that they may tweet from the courtroom.

With no specification of “accredited journalists” provided by the Ontario Superior Court in its rules, it remains unclear how court staff will determine who falls under their category of “media or journalists.”

The B.C. courts tried to head off any disputes about who was deemed accredited by putting the issue right to journalists. The court formed a committee of newspaper and broadcast journalists in the province and they were given the task of deciding who to accredit.

A group of judges and other members of the justice system recently proposed a set of national guidelines to remedy the current patchwork of policies. The Canadian Centre for Court Technology’s proposed guidelines go farther than them all, suggesting that anyone attending an open court hearing be allowed to use electronic devices set to silent or vibrate mode unless the presiding judge specifically rules otherwise.

Many provinces allow anyone to use such devices in appeal courts, as fears about witnesses and juries are largely moot there.

Ontario had seen judges in several high-profile cases attempt to tackle the issue.

Tweeting was allowed at the trial of former Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien, who was ultimately acquitted of influence peddling. It was allowed in London, but only in an overflow courtroom, at the trial of Michael Rafferty, who was convicted of abducting, sexually assaulting and murdering eight-year-old Victoria Stafford. It was banned outright in Kingston at the so-called honour killing trial of the Shafia family.

Source: Toronto Star

Pope Denounces Same-Sex Marriage - NOT

December 21, 2012 permalink

Here are some headlines from today's print press:

  • Pope attacks gay marriage
  • Pope signals inter-faith alliance against gay marriage
  • Pope denounces gay marriage as 'people manipulating their God'
  • Pope Benedict Takes Anti-Gay Marriage To New Level
  • Pope Delivers Fiery Christmas Speech Denouncing Gay Marriage

Fixcas took the time to find and read Pope Benedict's actual words (in expand block), and he said nothing of the sort. The words marriage and same-sex do not appear in the text, nor is marriage discussed even in other words. He starts by noting the attack on the family made up of father, mother, and child. He goes on to criticize the way people, especially in the West, disregard the masculine and feminine roles provided by their nature and assume arbitrary roles based on preference. Further along the pope notes that children, no longer an intrinsic part of the family, are instead obtained through acquisition of right. He doesn't mention family courts, but that is where to go to get rights to a child.

In political correctness, defending mom and dad and the kids gets construed as an attack on same-sex marriage.




Dear Cardinals,
Brother Bishops and Priests, Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is with great joy that I meet you today, dear Members of the College of Cardinals, Representatives of the Roman Curia and the Governorate, for this traditional event in the days leading up to the feast of Christmas. I greet each one of you cordially, beginning with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whom I thank for his kind words and for the warm good wishes that he extended to me on behalf of all present. The Dean of the College of Cardinals reminded us of an expression that appears frequently during these days in the Latin liturgy: Prope est iam Dominus, venite, adoremus! The Lord is already near, come, let us adore him! We too, as one family, prepare ourselves to adore the Child in the stable at Bethlehem who is God himself and has come so close as to become a man like us. I willingly reciprocate your good wishes and I thank all of you from my heart, including the Papal Representatives all over the world, for the generous and competent assistance that each of you offers me in my ministry.

Once again we find ourselves at the end of a year that has seen all kinds of difficult situations, important questions and challenges, but also signs of hope, both in the Church and in the world. I shall mention just a few key elements regarding the life of the Church and my Petrine ministry. First of all, as the Dean of the College of Cardinals mentioned, there were the journeys to Mexico and Cuba – unforgettable encounters with the power of faith, so deeply rooted in human hearts, and with the joie de vivre that issues from faith. I recall how, on my arrival in Mexico, there were endless crowds of people lining the long route, cheering and waving flags and handkerchiefs. I recall how, on the journey to the attractive provincial capital Guanajuato, there were young people respectfully kneeling by the side of the road to receive the blessing of Peter’s Successor; I recall how the great liturgy beside the statue of Christ the King made Christ’s kingship present among us – his peace, his justice, his truth. All this took place against the backdrop of the country’s problems, afflicted as it is by many different forms of violence and the hardships of economic dependence. While these problems cannot be solved simply by religious fervour, neither can they be solved without the inner purification of hearts that issues from the power of faith, from the encounter with Jesus Christ. And then there was Cuba – here too there were great liturgical celebrations, in which the singing, the praying and the silence made tangibly present the One that the country’s authorities had tried for so long to exclude. That country’s search for a proper balancing of the relationship between obligations and freedom cannot succeed without reference to the basic criteria that mankind has discovered through encounter with the God of Jesus Christ.

As further key moments in the course of the year, I should like to single out the great Meeting of Families in Milan and the visit to Lebanon, where I consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation that is intended to offer signposts for the life of churches and society in the Middle East along the difficult paths of unity and peace. The last major event of the year was the Synod on the New Evangelization, which also served as a collective inauguration of the Year of Faith, in which we commemorate the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago, seeking to understand it anew and appropriate it anew in the changed circumstances of today.

All these occasions spoke to fundamental themes of this moment in history: the family (Milan), serving peace in the world and dialogue among religions (Lebanon) and proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ in our day to those who have yet to encounter him and to the many who know him only externally and hence do not actually recognize him. Among these broad themes, I should like to focus particularly on the theme of the family and the nature of dialogue, and then to add a brief observation on the question of the new evangelization.

The great joy with which families from all over the world congregated in Milan indicates that, despite all impressions to the contrary, the family is still strong and vibrant today. But there is no denying the crisis that threatens it to its foundations – especially in the western world. It was noticeable that the Synod repeatedly emphasized the significance, for the transmission of the faith, of the family as the authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint of human existence. This is something we learn by living it with others and suffering it with others. So it became clear that the question of the family is not just about a particular social construct, but about man himself – about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human. The challenges involved are manifold. First of all there is the question of the human capacity to make a commitment or to avoid commitment. Can one bind oneself for a lifetime? Does this correspond to man’s nature? Does it not contradict his freedom and the scope of his self-realization? Does man become himself by living for himself alone and only entering into relationships with others when he can break them off again at any time? Is lifelong commitment antithetical to freedom? Is commitment also worth suffering for? Man’s refusal to make any commitment – which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering – means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his “I” ultimately for himself, without really rising above it. Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.

The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.

At this point I would like to address the second major theme, which runs through the whole of the past year from Assisi to the Synod on the New Evangelization: the question of dialogue and proclamation. Let us speak firstly of dialogue. For the Church in our day I see three principal areas of dialogue, in which she must be present in the struggle for man and his humanity: dialogue with states, dialogue with society – which includes dialogue with cultures and with science – and finally dialogue with religions. In all these dialogues the Church speaks on the basis of the light given her by faith. But at the same time she incorporates the memory of mankind, which is a memory of man’s experiences and sufferings from the beginnings and down the centuries, in which she has learned about the human condition, she has experienced its boundaries and its grandeur, its opportunities and its limitations. Human culture, of which she is a guarantee, has developed from the encounter between divine revelation and human existence. The Church represents the memory of what it means to be human in the face of a civilization of forgetfulness, which knows only itself and its own criteria. Yet just as an individual without memory has lost his identity, so too a human race without memory would lose its identity. What the Church has learned from the encounter between revelation and human experience does indeed extend beyond the realm of pure reason, but it is not a separate world that has nothing to say to unbelievers. By entering into the thinking and understanding of mankind, this knowledge broadens the horizon of reason and thus it speaks also to those who are unable to share the faith of the Church. In her dialogue with the state and with society, the Church does not, of course, have ready answers for individual questions. Along with other forces in society, she will wrestle for the answers that best correspond to the truth of the human condition. The values that she recognizes as fundamental and non-negotiable for the human condition she must propose with all clarity. She must do all she can to convince, and this can then stimulate political action.

In man’s present situation, the dialogue of religions is a necessary condition for peace in the world and it is therefore a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities. This dialogue of religions has various dimensions. In the first place it is simply a dialogue of life, a dialogue of being together. This will not involve discussing the great themes of faith – whether God is Trinitarian or how the inspiration of the sacred Scriptures is to be understood, and so on. It is about the concrete problems of coexistence and shared responsibility for society, for the state, for humanity. In the process, it is necessary to learn to accept the other in his otherness and the otherness of his thinking. To this end, the shared responsibility for justice and peace must become the guiding principle of the conversation. A dialogue about peace and justice is bound to move beyond the purely pragmatic to become an ethical struggle for the truth and for the human being: a dialogue concerning the values that come before everything. In this way what began as a purely practical dialogue becomes a quest for the right way to live as a human being. Even if the fundamental choices themselves are not under discussion, the search for an answer to a specific question becomes a process in which, through listening to the other, both sides can obtain purification and enrichment. Thus this search can also mean taking common steps towards the one truth, even if the fundamental choices remain unaltered. If both sides set out from a hermeneutic of justice and peace, the fundamental difference will not disappear, but a deeper closeness will emerge nevertheless.

Two rules are generally regarded nowadays as fundamental for interreligious dialogue:

1. Dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at understanding. In this respect it differs from evangelization, from mission;

2. Accordingly, both parties to the dialogue remain consciously within their identity, which the dialogue does not place in question either for themselves or for the other.

These rules are correct, but in the way they are formulated here I still find them too superficial. True, dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at better mutual understanding – that is correct. But all the same, the search for knowledge and understanding always has to involve drawing closer to the truth. Both sides in this piece-by-piece approach to truth are therefore on the path that leads forward and towards greater commonality, brought about by the oneness of the truth. As far as preserving identity is concerned, it would be too little for the Christian, so to speak, to assert his identity in a such a way that he effectively blocks the path to truth. Then his Christianity would appear as something arbitrary, merely propositional. He would seem not to reckon with the possibility that religion has to do with truth. On the contrary, I would say that the Christian can afford to be supremely confident, yes, fundamentally certain that he can venture freely into the open sea of the truth, without having to fear for his Christian identity. To be sure, we do not possess the truth, the truth possesses us: Christ, who is the truth, has taken us by the hand, and we know that his hand is holding us securely on the path of our quest for knowledge. Being inwardly held by the hand of Christ makes us free and keeps us safe: free – because if we are held by him, we can enter openly and fearlessly into any dialogue; safe – because he does not let go of us, unless we cut ourselves off from him. At one with him, we stand in the light of truth.

Finally, at least a brief word should be added on the subject of proclamation, or evangelization, on which the post-synodal document will speak in depth, on the basis of the Synod Fathers’ propositions. I find that the essential elements of the process of evangelizing appear most eloquently in Saint John’s account of the calling of two of John the Baptist’s disciples, who become disciples of Jesus Christ (1:35-39). First of all, we have the simple act of proclamation. John the Baptist points towards Jesus and says: “Behold the Lamb of God!” A similar act is recounted a few verses later. This time it is Andrew, who says to his brother Simon “We have found the Messiah” (1:41). The first and fundamental element is the straightforward proclamation, the kerygma, which draws its strength from the inner conviction of the one proclaiming. In the account of the two disciples, the next stage is that of listening and following behind Jesus, which is not yet discipleship, but rather a holy curiosity, a movement of seeking. Both of them, after all, are seekers, men who live over and above everyday affairs in the expectation of God – in the expectation that he exists and will reveal himself. Stimulated by the proclamation, their seeking becomes concrete. They want to come to know better the man described as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist. The third act is set in motion when Jesus turns round, approaches them and asks: “What do you seek?” They respond with a further question, which demonstrates the openness of their expectation, their readiness to take new steps. They ask: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus’ answer “Come and see!” is an invitation to walk with him and thereby to have their eyes opened with him.

The word of proclamation is effective in situations where man is listening in readiness for God to draw near, where man is inwardly searching and thus on the way towards the Lord. His heart is touched when Jesus turns towards him, and then his encounter with the proclamation becomes a holy curiosity to come to know Jesus better. As he walks with Jesus, he is led to the place where Jesus lives, to the community of the Church, which is his body. That means entering into the journeying community of catechumens, a community of both learning and living, in which our eyes are opened as we walk.

“Come and see!” This saying, addressed by Jesus to the two seeker-disciples, he also addresses to the seekers of today. At the end of the year, we pray to the Lord that the Church, despite all her shortcomings, may be increasingly recognizable as his dwelling-place. We ask him to open our eyes ever wider as we make our way to his house, so that we can say ever more clearly, ever more convincingly: “we have found him for whom the whole world is waiting, Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and true man”. With these sentiments, I wish you all from my heart a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year. Thank you.

Source: Vatican

penguin family

Mother Threatens Lawyer

December 21, 2012 permalink

A mother unhappy with the way her family was treated by CPS threatened a CPS caseworker and left a voicemail for her own lawyer Carmen Smith: "I'm coming up there with a gun to blow your head off." Brianna Koonsman has been accused of terrorism.



Woman threatens own lawyers and CPS caseworker

Brianna Koonsman


A 25-year-old Waco woman is facing a felony retaliation charge following a Tuesday night phone call to a local law firm. Brianna Koonsman already had terroristic threat charges filed against her, but now charges have become more severe.

According to the affidavit, Koonsman had made two previous threats in late October and mid-November which caused an upgrade in charges. Koonsman was going through court proceedings for child custody.

She left threatening voicemails for the CPS caseworker and several threatening voicemails to attorney Carmen Smith. Authorities asked Koonsman about the voicemails, and she admitted to her actions. Koonsman was then charged with two counts of Terroristic Threat, and she turned herself in on November 11.

Dissatisfied with Smith's role in the case, Koonsman left her attorney with three more voicemails on December 18.

In the voicemails, Koonsman identifies herself and says, "I'm coming up there with a gun to blow your head off."

Waco police arrested Koonsman at her home, and sent her to McLennan County Jail. She has posted the $10,000 bond, and has been released from jail.

Source: KXXV-TV

Dead Man Talking

December 21, 2012 permalink

When Ohio social worker Kim Vechiarelli was assigned the case of teenager Jimmy Higham, she filed a report saying she went to the home where Jimmy lived with David Sharpe and Jennifer Snyder, interviewed all three and closed the case. How did the family find out she was lying? On the day of the interview, Jimmy had already been murdered and Sharpe and Snyder had moved.



Caseworker can not claim immunity

YOUNGSTOWN - A caseworker for Mahoning County Children Services who falsely reported that a child she was supposed to visit was fine but was already dead can not claim immunity from a civil suit.

The 7th District Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that caseworker Kim Vechiarelli can not be granted immunity in a civil suit brought by the estate of Jimmy Higham for his death.

The court also overturned a trial court's decision denying immunity to CSB Director Denise Stewart and caseworker Erin Davis.

Higham, who was 16, was drowned and then cut up by David Sharpe sometime in June 2001 and the body parts were thrown into a landfill. Police did not learn of his death until Sharpe's girlfriend, Jennifer Snyder, confessed that Sharpe had killed the teen.

Snyder and Sharpe are serving prison sentences for Higham's death. Higham's estate sued in 2009, alleging improper screening and placement and monitoring, negligence, falsification of reports, negligent hiring and supervision and wrongful death.

Higham was sent to live with his father, then a family friend temporarily in 2000, but his father refused to take custody of the teen and he then lived with Snyder, who was a friend of one of the father's ex-wives. Juvenile Court awarded custody of Higham to Snyder in October 2000, as Davis handled the case for CSB then. Background checks noted both Sharpe and Snyder had criminal backgrounds.

A relative also called CSB and complained that Higham was being abused. On June 18, 2001, CSB received a complaint that Sharpe had been arrested for abusing Snyder four days before and that Sharpe was abusing Higham, which was when Vechiarelli was assigned to the case.

On Nov. 2, 2011, Common Pleas Judge Lou D'Apolito denied requests by Davis, Vechiarelli and Stewart for immunity as political subdivision employees.

However, the appeals court ruled that Stewart should be granted immunity because there is no evidence that she acted recklessly or in bad faith and that Davis did not knowingly place Higham at harm.

The opinion states that Vechiarelli was assigned to interview Sharpe and Snyder after police think Higham was killed, and she tried to contact the couple, but they had moved.

Instead, Vechiarelli falsely reported that she had met with all three, and that everything was fine, and she closed the case. She also at first told Youngstown detectives in 2007 that she had interviewed the three but changed her story when confronted with evidence that Higham was already dead when she received the case, and that she had also shredded all her notes when she changed positions at the agency.

A spokeswoman for CSB said Thursday Vechiarelli no longer works for the agency.

In her appeal, the appeals court noted Vechiarelli did not dispute any questions of recklessness on her part but instead focused on the fact that her conduct could not have caused harm to Higham because he was already dead and that the estate does not have standing.

The appeals court said issues of date or death or standing do not address the question of why Vechiarelli should be granted immunity, which is why the appeals court refused to overturn D'Apolito's decision on her immunity.

Court records show the case was stayed last December pending appeals court action.

Source: Warren Tribune Chronicle

Baby Snatching - Eyewitness Account

December 20, 2012 permalink

Alfredine Linda Plourde was present for the removal of a baby from its young parents. Her eywitness account is enclosed.



Alfredine Linda Plourde

Since 2007, I have been in contact with countless of families involved with Children’s Aid. I have seen it all. I have heard it all. From infant and child apprehension right through to the death of a child held in foster care.

On Wednesday, December 19, 2012, I was asked by a young mother to support her during the apprehension of her young baby. I have had few bad hours in my life, but this was to be one of my worse hours in my life to know I was powerless to do anything to protect that little innocent baby. I witnessed this apprehension by the Child Protective Services (Family and Children’s Services in Niagara). The image of this process will burn into my soul forever. It was shrouded in silence, no media to report details, nor questioning of the workers. All supported heavily by a special detachment team, medical professionals, nurses and hospital staff, security guards, and three police officers. They have a built a huge network with a legal basis for acts of inhumanity by creating the “Enabling Act” which allowed them to do whatever they want.

No surveillance video available for anyone to conduct investigation. I was unable to intervene, even though we came in peace and were not breaking any laws. We were three people witnessing the horror of apprehending children at birth first hand, and to support the young mother. We had camera but were not allowed to use it. We had a video cam were not allowed to use it. To witness the agony and the despair of the young couple with my own eyes, and the atrocities and the destruction of family right here in my own country was almost too much to bear. I felt like I was a prisoner caught up in warfare.

That innocent baby victim had little choice but to experience the same horrors at his parents, as they are specific targets increasing countless number of child victims by the big corporations especially since Bill 179. And so many families have been tarred by a reputation that was undeserved.

Source: Facebook, Protecting Canadian Children

Forever Fostered

December 18, 2012 permalink

Two foster girls murdered their foster mother Evelyn Miranda last year in New Mexico. Now a prosecutor is offering to let Desiree Linares be sentenced to foster care, where she was anyway, until age 21 as long as she will testify against the other girl, Alexis Shields.



Teen Murder Suspect Pleads No Contest

LAS CRUCES – One of two girls who, at the age of 15, allegedly bound and suffocated their foster mother, Evelyn Miranda, in her Hondo Valley home has pleaded no contest to the 2011 killing.

Desiree Linares, now 16, entered the no-contest plea Thursday in front of Judge William Brogan in state District Court in Alamogordo.

According to defense attorney Jesse Cosby, Linares, a Roswell native, will be sentenced as a juvenile under terms of the plea agreement. That means that rather than face decades of prison time if sentenced as an adult, Linares will be placed in the custody of the Department of Children, Youth and Families until she reaches the age of 21.

Cosby said the plea agreement could still be withdrawn by his client if the judge does not agree to sentence Linares as a juvenile.

“Until the judge accepts the disposition, the plea is still tentative,” Cosby said. “We want to resolve this case. The plea is a reasonable plea in our opinion, so we’d like to move forward with it.”

The trial for the other teen charged in the case, Alexis Shields of Mescalero, is scheduled for August. Linares must testify as a key witness in the trial against Shields under terms of the plea agreement, Cosby said.

Twelfth Judicial District Attorney Diana Martwick could not be reached for comment, nor could prosecutor Reed Thompson.

Ruidoso Downs resident Ima Jean Miranda, the victim’s sister-in-law, said she was stunned by the prospect of Linares receiving a juvenile sentence.

“Both girls were involved in this, and yet one girl will walk away in six years when she turns 21,” Ima Jean Miranda said. “How can you take a life and in six years be free to do anything you want, just because you’ll testify against the other?”

In 2011 Shields and Linares were each indicted on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, auto theft, tampering with evidence, larceny and three counts of conspiracy in connection with Miranda’s death.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in the case, Shields told police she placed Miranda in a chokehold while Linares tied the victim’s hands and feet with electrical cord. Then, police said, Shields placed a pillow over Evelyn Miranda’s face and held it down until the victim stopped breathing.

The two girls then fled from Miranda’s home in the woman’s Honda minivan, taking her laptop computer and cellphone. They were captured less than a day later at a friend’s home in Carlsbad.

Miranda provided treatment foster care, an enhanced level of foster parenting for youths with emotional or behavioral problems, through a Mesilla Valley Hospital program. Shields had been at Evelyn Miranda’s house for three weeks, and Linares a little over four days, when the killing occurred.

In brief comments, the victim’s son, Ismael Miranda, said he wanted both girls to face adult sentences.

Sentencing for Linares is scheduled for late January, Cosby said.

Source: Albuquerque Journal

Addendum: Shields has plead guilty.



Alamogordo: Teen pleads guilty in foster mom's death

Alexis Shields
Alexis Shields sits in court on Monday. She pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her foster mother, Evelyn Miranda, 53.
John Bear/Daily News

Alexis Shields pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree felony murder in 12th Judicial District Court for her part in the 2011 death of her foster mother in San Patricio.

Shields, now 17, faces a maximum 15 years in prison followed by five years of supervised probation for her part in the death of Evelyn Miranda, 53, who was found dead at her home on June 8, 2011, by her nephew.

Both Desiree Linares and Shields, who were 15 at the time of Miranda's death, are still being held in juvenile detention facilities.

The issue of competency with Linares has suspended all proceedings under the rules of Children's Court until an evaluation on her is completed.

In February, Children's Court Judge Bill Brogan vacated Linares' trial because of competency and a mental retardation evaluation scheduled to be done on her.

Shields pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder during the commission of a kidnapping in a plea agreement with the state.

Under the plea agreement, Shields pleaded guilty to the charge in exchange for the state dismissing all the remaining charges of third-degree felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping or alternative fourth-degree felony conspiracy to commit robbery; first-degree felony robbery; first-degree kidnapping; third-degree robbery and third-degree tampering with evidence.

Shields is expected to be sentenced next year after a pre-sentencing report is completed.

Deputy District Attorney John P. Suggs said Shields will be sentenced as an adult.

"Even though she was a juvenile at the time the act was committed, she is going to be sentenced as an adult," Suggs said. "The total sentence that Shields faces is 30 years. The maximum, pursuant to the agreement, amount at sentencing is 15 years. Essentially both parties have stipulated in the plea agreement that she won't earn meritorious reductions for that 15 years. It will be a flat 15 years, but it's up to the judge, of course. The judge can go anywhere from probation to 15 years in prison. If we would have gone to trial, it could have been anywhere from zero to 30 years."

He said with Shields pleading guilty and taking responsibility, she is now looking at a maximum of 15 years in prison.

"The remaining 15 years could be suspended and be placed on up to five years of supervised probation," Suggs said. "She does receive credit for the amount of time that she's been in detention awaiting trial and sentencing since her arrest. All of Shields' sentence will be served in a New Mexico Corrections Department facility. It's not a juvenile facility."

He said there's been a number of issues that have arisen during the case.

"The defendant's statement to police was suppressed by the court," Suggs said. "It was a significant blow. That was our strongest piece of evidence. This case got delayed when Judge Brogan retired. We've had this agreement in place for some time, but just getting it before a judge has been difficult. Judge Angie K. Schneider had to recuse herself from the case. We went through all these delays while Shields was in custody. We were potentially concerned with speedy trial claims. I think it was a good outcome given the difficulties that we had, especially with the suppression issue."

He said in Linares' case, the state is waiting for a determination of whether she is competent to stand trial.

Suggs said once competency is established in Linares' case, the state will move forward.

"One way or another, we're going to have a motions hearing on Linares' competency issue," he said. "After the judge makes their decision on whether or not Linares is competent to proceed, we will proceed accordingly."

According to 12th Judicial District Court records, Miranda died of asphyxiation.

Miranda took in troubled or challenged teens through Mesilla Valley Hospital's Treatment Foster Care program.

She was a foster parent for both Linares and Shields, who was 15 at the time, in her San Patricio home.

Miranda has two grown children and operated a San Patricio business, Hair Styles by Evelyn.

On June 8, 2011, Miranda was found dead and the girls were missing from the home. The girls were found later that night in Carlsbad and taken into custody by deputies with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Eddy County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Marshals.

In 2011, 12th Judicial District Attorney Diana Martwick said the girls were considered "persons of interest" nearly immediately.

"They had not been in (Miranda's) home long," Lincoln County Undersheriff Robert Shepperd said at the time. "One had been there for two weeks. The other had been there for three days."

While the teens were arrested at a residence in Carlsbad, the car they used to flee from San Patricio was found in Roswell.

In 2011, Shepperd said the two probably went on to Carlsbad because at least one of them had a boyfriend there.

Source: Alamogordo News

Addendum: Shields is sentenced to ten years behind bars.



17-year-old girl sentenced in foster mom's death

Shields sentenced for her part in Evelyn Miranda's 2011 murder

Alexis Shields and Anna Aragon
Alexis Shields, left, and her attorney Anna Aragon await the beginning of Shields' sentencing hearing on Wednesday in District Court.
John Bear—Daily News

A 17-year-old girl who smothered her foster mother in 2011 will spend about 10 years in prison.

Twelfth Judicial District Judge James W. Counts on Wednesday sentenced Alexis Shields to 30 years in prison but suspended 17. Shields will receive credit for the 999 days she has spent incarcerated since the June 2011 death of Evelyn Miranda.

Counts said before passing sentence that Shields may not be a monster but had committed a monstrous act before concluding that she required a lengthy period of incarceration.

During her often incoherent statement, Shields said that she did not want to be perceived as "infamous" but added she had taken responsibility for her actions.

"I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy; I'm just asking for forgiveness," she said. "I am very sorry from the bottom of my heart."

Shields codefendant, Desiree Linares, still faces murder charges.

At the beginning of a three hour, emotionally charged sentencing hearing, Celina Miranda described her mother-in-law Evelyn as a woman dedicated to the foster child care system and someone who would spend her own money to buy clothes for her charges, who often came to her with shoes two sizes too small or bras that didn't fit.

Often facing Shields, Miranda also spoke of the pain Evelyn's death brought upon the family and the suffering they have endured because of it.

"It is fortunate that we do not have to hear the gruesome details in a trial," Miranda said. "It's hard to look at pictures of her. I miss her so much."

Deputy District Attorney John Sugg said at the beginning of the hearing that all too often a case becomes about the assailant and not the victim.

"This case is about Evelyn," he said. "It is about her family."

The prosecution called for a lengthier 15-year sentence. They characterized Shields as unremorseful, a manipulative girl who has preyed upon other inmates at a juvenile detention facility and smothered Evelyn Miranda with a pillow after helping to bind her arms and attempting to knock her out with a rubbing alcohol-soaked rag.

Conversely, witnesses for the defense, said that Shields — a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe — is a troubled girl who was taken off the reservation and left at house where she knew no one and fell under the "coaching" of others.

Shields defense attorney Chico Gallegos asked Counts to consider a suspended sentence, arguing that with proper support, Shields would be able to turn her life around.

Shields' other defense attorney, Anna Aragon, said given the possible range of sentences, Counts' sentence was well reasoned and well thought out.

"We certainly would have liked to have seen a few more years knocked out," she said. "Not the entire time, I think that would have been a bit unrealistic but perhaps another two or three down."

Sugg said he thought the sentence was fair and just considering the fact that Shields was 15-years-old at the time of the murder.

"It was a horrific crime obviously and Evelyn was a great person," he said. "If it wasn't for Desiree and Alexis being 15 at the time, I think it should be an easy sentence — they both need to spend the rest of their lives in prison."

Source: Alamogordo Daily News

Abducted Children Returned from Zimbabwe

December 17, 2012 permalink

Two children held in Zimbabwe in defiance of courts in both countries have been returned to their mother Biatra Muzabazi in Canada. Contrast this with the case of Christopher and Alexander Watkins, who remain in Poland though courts have given Canadian father Stephen Watkins full custody.



Toronto family reunited after children held in Zimbabwe

Two young children are back in Toronto after a summer vacation in Zimbabwe turned into an international tug-of-war over their custody.

Biatra Muzabazi, the children’s mother, thanked Toronto police and all the other agencies involved in bringing her children home at a news conference Monday morning.

“You made it possible to be with my kids for Christmas,” she said.

Muzabazi said the incident began when her children Shane, 4, and Rene, 7, went to visit their father’s relatives in Zimbabwe in April.

At the end of the summer, it became apparent that her estranged husband’s family did not intend to send them back to Canada when the children were enrolled in a Zimbabwean boarding school.

The school allegedly helped keep details of the children’s whereabouts from Zimbabwean authorities.

Toronto police investigators notified Foreign Affairs, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Missing Children Services and Interpol. The Ministry of Attorney General Ontario Central Authority office was also involved in the case.

Eventually, Muzabazi flew to Zimbabwe to try and bring her children back to Canada.

At that point, police say one of her husband’s relatives took the children from the school and went into hiding.

Last week, the children were finally brought to the Canadian embassy in Harare. The family returned to Toronto on Thursday.

Source: Toronto Star

Terrorist Toddlers

December 16, 2012 permalink

Immigrant families arriving in Canada with dubious credentials get separated, placing fathers, mothers and children in separate facilities. The children go to specialized detention centres surrounded by security fences where they are permitted to see their parents only on supervised visits. All ages are detained from newborns to teenagers. Canadians can sleep soundly knowing that they are well protected from terrorist children.



Detention centres no place for migrant children, critics argue

Canada out of step with push to keep migrant children out of detention centres

CBC News has learned that over the past year 289 migrant children have been held in detention centres in Canada, many of whom were under the age of 10.

The numbers, provided to the CBC by the Canada Border Services Agency, include children held with parents seeking asylum in Canada and also deportees waiting to leave. Detention is usually based on one of two grounds: either the CBSA is not satisfied with a person's proof of identity, or an officer believes the family is at risk of absconding.

detention statistics
These statistics cover minors detained for the fiscal year 2011-12. Courtesy of Canada Border Services Agency.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says that the detention of children is a last resort and the facilities are appropriate. “They are not jails, and in the case of the Toronto one, for example, the main one, it’s a former three star hotel with a fence around it."

The rooms are clean, in good repair and brightly coloured. Still, the Toronto facility is surrounded by razor wire, ringing even the playground. There are bars on the windows, guards in the hallways and surveillance cameras throughout.

Mothers and children are in a separate section of the facility and children can visit with their fathers only during designated times.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, president of the Canadian Paediatric Society, told CBC’s Diana Swain that children in detention can suffer lasting effects.

He says studies have shown that many of the immigrant children “have sleep disturbances, others have separation anxiety …some have full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The Canadian Paediatric Society is among those calling for the federal government to create separate facilities for families outside of detention centres.

'Worst week of my life'

A young woman, who spent a week at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre with her mother when she was 17 in 2008, told the CBC, “It’s not just that week. It stays with you all your life. It is horrible. I don’t think anyone deserves to be in a holding centre. It is jail. It was the worst week of my life.”

Four years after being detained, the young woman says, “I am still very scared when I see a police officer. I hear someone knocking really hard and I think of what happened. I have flashbacks. Any letter from immigration scares me."

Toronto Immigration Holding Centre
A new bedroom is shown at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre. The shortest stay for a child at one of these centres in 2011-12 was one day; the longest stay was 70 days.
Mary Sheppard/CBC

Another woman who was in detention in Toronto with her six-year-old Canadian-born daughter for five months in 2009-10 says, “There was bullying and lots of frustration, more than in a normal neighbourhood. There were too many children. It was awful, just awful.”

Her daughter did not go to school for the five months in detention, though she did have some art classes and the mother says she spent a great deal of time helping her daughter through the ordeal. “She would ask me questions constantly about why she was there and I had to keep diverting her attention away from it.”

Children's best interest the priority

The Canada Border Service Agency, which is responsible for ensuring refugee claimants have their documents in order and leave the country if their claim is denied, says officers carefully consider the best interests of the children.

CBSA points out that in 2011-12, the 289 children were detained on average for 6.6 days and represented 3.1 per cent of all CBSA detentions.The shortest stay for minors in this time period was one day and the longest was 70 days.

Toronto Immigration Holding Centre
The Toronto Immigration Holding Centre includes this playroom, as well as a small schoolroom where children have access to a teacher if they are there for longer than a week.
Mary Sheppard/CBC

In a visit to a Toronto holding centre this week, officials told CBC News they had 10 families — mothers and children — and that they needed to use a new addition that is close to completion.

As part of the McGill study, Cleveland, a lawyer and professor of psychology, interviewed more than 20 of the Tamil refugee claimants from the MV Sun Sea, which docked at Esquimalt, B.C., in 2010. Twenty-five of the claimants were in detention with children, several of them for more than six months.

“The men and the women were separated, and for them this was a really big thing, being separated, since they were travelling as a family. In levels of trauma, it is pretty off the charts.”

Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act, which was fully enacted this week, means that when people arrive as a group such as the hundreds of Sri Lankans who arrived in British Columbia on the Sun Sea, they may be held for up to a year before their case is decided.

Kenney says that "Parents in those cases can choose to either put them in the care of children welfare agencies or keep them with them." This option is also offered to other migrant families, many of whom do not want to place their children in foster care.

Toronto Immigration Holding Centre
A fence surrounds the recreation area at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre.
Mary Sheppard/CBC

Bill C-31 also lowers the age of a minor from 18 to 16 if the minor is part of a group designated as irregular arrivals by the minister. A 16-year-old boy, for example, could end up in the men’s section of a provincial prison and be treated as an adult male prisoner.

The numbers supplied by CBSA do not include Canadian-born children of a parent under a detention order. A Canadian study done for the UN Refugee Agency notes, “for example, if a female asylum seeker travelling with her two-year-old daughter is detained, the daughter will probably not show up in CBSA statistics. CBSA’s rationale is that the daughter is not personally detained and could theoretically leave at any time.”

In 2010, Nick Clegg, the U.K.’s deputy minister, announced an end to detention for child migrants in Britain. “We are ending the shameful practice that last year alone saw over a thousand children, a thousand innocent children, in prison.”

The co-ordinator for the Global Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children, Jeroen Van Hove, says that the U.K., Belgium, France, Sweden and Japan are among the countries that have stopped locking families into detention centres when they claim refugee status.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child finished in October a 10-year review of how Canada treats its children and how well governments are implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It chided Canada on several fronts, including the demand that Canada stop detaining child refugee claimants.

The committee said it is "deeply concerned about the frequent detention of asylum-seeking children … being done without consideration for the best interests of the child."

If you have any information on this story or other tips, please email

Source: CBC

Good Cop

December 16, 2012 permalink

When a mother would not cooperate by relinquishing her children, Ohio social worker Michael Brendemuehl argued with her. His police escort advised him to desist, but he continued yelling at her. The policeman issued the worker a summons for disorderly conduct.



Children Services caseworker off job for now

Incident reviewed

MANSFIELD A Richland County Children Services caseworker will not be allowed to return to work during an investigation of a Friday incident.

Mansfield police Friday issued a summons for disorderly conduct in lieu of arrest to Michael Brendemuehl, 28, after he refused to stop arguing with a mother who did not want to let her children stay with another family member. The agency was investigating the welfare of the children and the mother, according to the police report.

According to the police report, the caseworker yelled at the woman several times, questioning her mental state. The officer then ordered him into his cruiser.

Brendemuehl, 28, was ordered by police to call his supervisor and to stop arguing with the woman and conclude his business outside the woman’s residence in the 100 block of West Third Street, as the argument was deemed “fruitless” by the officer.

The officer reported he told Brendemuehl if he did not have a court order, he needed to leave. The caseworker continued to talk to the woman, despite being asked to cease his actions and leave as there were residents walking in the vicinity within earshot, according to the police report.

Elayna Rizor, director of human resources and legal counsel for Richland County Children Services, provided this statement through the agency’s spokesman: “We are aware of an incident that occurred Friday evening involving a Children Services case worker. The incident is under investigation. And the case worker involved will not return to work until it’s completed. We will have no further comment until the investigation is finished.”

The officer was at the residence following up on a burglary investigation when the Children Services caseworker arrived, according to the police report.

Earlier in the day, a Children Services employee contacted police to check on the family. The agency had received a call from the childrens’ school suggesting something might be wrong at the home because the mother said she was keeping the children out of school to “let God cleanse their body and take care of them.”

The Children Services employee in the morning was unable to make contact with the mother and returned to the residence in the afternoon to find the window in the front door smashed out and unlocked, according to another police report.

The police report noted that a PlayStation 3 and 11 PlayStation games were stolen, total value of $599, from the residence.

Source: Mansfield News Journal

Unmerry Christmas

December 15, 2012 permalink

While Arizona CPS reduces services so staff can enjoy Christmas, parents are being denied visits with their children. Even when visits are court ordered.



9OYS Investigation

"They're not being honest": CPS voicemail message pokes holes in agency's public statements

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Few things are colder than keeping kids away from their parents who have a right to see them. That's exactly what appears to be happening in Arizona right now. CPS maintains these cuts aren't really cuts at all and aren't impacting service.

"I miss my family. I miss my family and I miss my baby."

They're the words of a mother doing what she can to get her baby daughter back. She asked 9OYS not to reveal her name fearing retaliation from CPS, the agency she says is being dishonest.

"I'm angry that they talk about being honest, that's a big thing with them. Be honest, be honest, and they're not being honest," she said.

And she has the proof to back up those claims, a voice-mail from her CPS caseworker, left on her phone.

The caseworker says, "Wanted to let you know there's a big agency wide problem with visits, umm all of our contracting agencies are ending their contracts with us."

The caseworker puts the blame on agencies like Aviva, but according to Aviva it's actually CPS who told them and 10 other agencies in Pima County to stop supervised visits.

Back on December 7th, CPS administrators told 9OYS "nothing's changed" when it came to supervised visits. Administrator Deb Harper went as far as saying, "I think there's miscommunication that we're stopping all visitations."

But the voice-mail goes on to say, "So there's going to be no more supervised visitation at all. We're going to have to work it out on our own."

A direct contradiction to what CPS had been telling 9OYS all along.

"They're misleading the public," this mother said. "I don't think any of us should have our visits cut if we're doing what CPS is asking. We should be allowed to spend time with our kids whether it's 2, 4, 6, or 10 hours. We should see our children."

But the CPS contradictions don't end there. This mother is court ordered to see her child three times a week. This is what CPS told 9OYS about that.

"The department is mandated to meet court orders," Harper said.

But the reality is CPS is violating those court orders and the voice-mail proves it once more.

"Starting this Saturday, this will be your only visit starting this week. There's just nothing we can do right now. Hopefully something gets figured out. I'm not sure when, so please be patient."

As Christmas approaches, patience is wearing thin. How can CPS just cut back visits, despite standing court orders. Parents don't understand why CPS says one thing, but does another even in the face of mounting media scrutiny.

"They're above the law," this mother said. "They make the rules and that's not fair."

So for now, her child's toys go unplayed with, a vivid reminder she will be seeing her daughter less. The family reunion they've been working so hard to achieve, delayed.

"The visits for us were huge," she said. "We looked forward to them, and now they're gone and my daughter is the one paying the ultimate price."

9OYS reached out to CPS for the last two days to request an interview. That request was not granted. But they did send us a short response, maintaining CPS will not violate any court orders. They also asked for the name of the woman who came to 9OYS so they could correct the problem. That woman did not want us to pass on her name. She says she just doesn't trust CPS, so 9OYS didn't.

Source: KGUN-9

Addendum: After a public outcry administrators retreat. But keep in mind that public statements rarely match private actions for this kind of agency.



CPS will restore child services cut due to 'misunderstanding'

Arizona child-welfare administrators plan to restore most services to children and parents in the coming weeks, saying an internal "misunderstanding" led them to inadvertently cut visitation and other standard programs.

New budget-tightening policies implemented over the past couple of months threatened to keep children in foster care longer and make it harder to reunite families, and they led agencies to lay off dozens of workers. The abrupt policy changes also delayed or reduced supervised visitation, parenting training, transportation and other services, in violation of court orders.

The state Department of Economic Security last week denied reports from service providers and its own internal memos obtained by The Arizona Republic that blamed program reductions on a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall within Child Protective Services.

But on Friday, following a Republic story about the service cuts, DES Director Clarence Carter told a group of contractors and child-welfare advocates that he has reversed the policies and that most services will resume as soon as the changes are explained to CPS managers and new referrals are sent to providers, perhaps by next week.

Carter acknowledged that a "malfunction" led middle managers to go too far in reducing services, those attending the meeting said. Some agencies hadn't received referrals for family mentors, known as parent aides, in months.

"Unfortunately, a misunderstanding within the DES resulted in staff and providers believing that adjustments below historic norms were required," DES administrators said in a letter to service providers and a statement sent to The Republic. "That was not DES' intent and is not accurate."

Non-profit agency administrators came to the Friday meeting armed with budget numbers and details about laid-off workers and waiting lists of families they were unable to serve whose children were in foster care. They said they were encouraged that Carter immediately acknowledged the problem and vowed to fix it.

"We were very glad for them to just come out and say that they made a mistake ... and they're going to correct it," said Emily Jenkins, president and CEO of the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers, which represents child-welfare and behavioral-health agencies.

CPS had drastically reduced the use of parent aides, who had been supervising most weekly visits between parents and children removed from their homes because of suspected abuse or neglect. Other reductions included services that help ease reunification when children move back home and those intended to keep children in their homes.

Regular visits are fundamental to reuniting families, and child-welfare experts said the service reductions and delays threatened to lengthen the time children stay in foster care and jeopardize their ability to return home or become legally available for adoption. The reductions also led some providers to lay off an estimated 40 to 50 workers.

"It's unfortunate that some people have already been laid off. And it's going to take some time to turn it around," Jenkins said.

The DES is projecting a $35 million budget shortfall at CPS, about $27 million of it because a growing number of foster children are being cared for in groups homes and crisis shelters, which costs the state up to four times as much as placing them with foster families.

Officials said last week that they will use $20 million in federal block-grant funding to fill part of the gap.

The state has seen a 25 percent increase in the number of children in foster care this past year -- hitting a record 14,200 last month -- as worker caseloads continue to be two and three times state standards.

Service providers said they had notified the DES months ago that referrals for parent aides were outpacing the budget, as state officials tried to serve hundreds of parents who had been waiting for services ordered by judges in dependency court as conditions to reunite with their children. In Maricopa County, those referrals stopped abruptly in October, and in Pima County, they were cut by about two-thirds.

A new CPS policy required most new cases to go through the state-funded Families FIRST substance-abuse program so parents could begin treatment before other services were put in place. Now, parents will again be allowed to simultaneously start treatment and receive parent-aide services, including supervised visitation.

"What I'm hoping is that it meets the needs ... so we hear less from parents saying, 'I haven't seen my kids in several months,' " said Ron Carpio, a vice president for TERROS, which runs Families FIRST in Maricopa County. "They have a right to see their kids."

Anna Keating, a court-appointed special advocate who advises Juvenile Court judges about what foster children need and how they're doing, said her daughter was a parent aide until she was laid off last week.

"Looking at this from a purely financial perspective, I just can't imagine how something like this could happen, that you'd have such gross miscommunication within an organization," said Keating, a former Honeywell financial officer. "That's the part that I find astonishing."

Beyond the internal-communication problems, child-welfare advocates say more focus should be placed on child-abuse prevention and early intervention. Arizona is bucking a national trend of placing fewer children in foster care, and a shortage of foster homes here means more children will live in group homes and shelters.

Carter has requested an additional $50 million for the coming fiscal year, primarily for 200 new caseworkers and foster care and adoption funding to keep pace with projected growth.

"A 4-year-old should not be spending his second Christmas in a shelter because there's nowhere else for him to go," Jenkins said.

Source: Arizona Republic

bare Christmas tree

Munchausen by Force Majeure

December 15, 2012 permalink

A British family willing to be identified by pictures but not by name lost their children for a year and a half on account of allegations of Munchausen by proxy. Twenty policemen seized their children, but there was never any evidence presented against them.



Social workers tore me from my babies for a year: Nightmare of innocent mother accused of harming son

  1. Fourteen police officers swooped on her house at 6am to take her children
  2. Judge blasts heavy-handed raid as he says family must be reunited
Devastation: Mother Kealy had her children taken away after being wrongly accused of cruelty

A loving mother had her children taken away from her in a dawn raid on her home after being wrongly accused of cruelty.

The three terrified youngsters watched as she was handcuffed before they were each put into separate cars and taken into foster care.

It took 19 months for the devastated family to be reunited – when a judge exonerated the parents and strongly criticised the social workers and police responsible for the appalling error.

Judge Nicholas Marston said social services, who had accused the parents of deliberately causing symptoms of illness in their disabled son, acted on claims ‘based on misunderstandings’ or which were ‘just plain wrong’.

The couple were wrongly alleged to have given 12-year-old Kane medicine to induce symptoms of digestive, nervous system and growth problems, as well as the fact he is on the autistic spectrum.

Social workers accused them of Fabricated or Induced Illness by carers (FII), also known as Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy.

The 6am police swoop, which involved 14 officers descending on a quiet Hampshire cul-de-sac, was described by the judge as ‘utterly disproportionate’ and ‘itself abusive of the children involved’.

The children’s father, who had left for work as an engineer at the time of the raid, was also later arrested on suspicion of neglect. Parents Kealey and Andy, who wish to keep the family surname secret, were never charged but say they have been ‘destroyed’ by the ordeal.

Kealey, 39, who had a nervous breakdown brought on by the arrest and has since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, said: ‘I didn’t see my children for over a year. I wasn’t allowed to speak to them. It was torture.

‘You see mums crying when they wave their kids off on a school trip. There aren’t words to describe going a year without seeing your babies.

‘We are broken. The old me is gone. It is very hard for the children because they see a very different mum.’

Younger days: Kealy was alleged to have given Kane (right) medicine to induce symptoms of digestive, nervous system and growth problems

Although his parents have now regained full custody, Kane is voluntarily staying in foster and respite care because Kealey is currently too ill to care for him. Andy, 47, lost his job on his arrest and has since had to take up a new position abroad, meaning he gets to see the children only every three or four months.

He said: ‘Social services were more interested in proving we were wrong than giving Kane care.

‘They thought we had managed to convince 30 doctors over Kane’s lifetime. They said we had given him medicine to induce the problems, but he had the problems before he had the medicine so I don’t know how they worked that out.’


Munchausen's syndrome by proxy is a form of abuse in which a parent seeks medical attention for invented or faked symptoms of disease in their child.

In the most extreme cases, the parent will actually inflict harm on their child to support their claims.

The rare mental disorder is now also known as Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII). But there have been complaints from parents who have had their children seized after being wrongly accused of making them ill.

It has been suggested that Beverley Allitt, who was convicted of murdering four children and trying to kill nine others, showed symptoms of the disorder.

She injected some of her victims with insulin at a Lincolnshire hospital in the 1990s and received 13 life sentences for the crimes in 1993.

The arrests, in July 2010, were triggered after staff at Bursledon House specialist children’s centre in Southampton, where Kane was undergoing treatment, told social services that he was not showing all the symptoms his parents described and they concluded it was a case of FII.

Once in care, the children were unable to see or speak to their mother for a year and were allowed to see their father only on weekly three-hour supervised visits.

Kane was kept separately from his sisters Carris and Marly, then 14 and eight, for four months, before they were all sent to a foster family 60 miles from the family home in Farnborough, with a daily two-hour round trip to school.

Carris, who is now 16, had been predicted 14 A*s at GCSE, but left school with only two passes. She took herself out of care as soon as she turned 16 last summer and returned to her family.

At a four-week hearing at Portsmouth County Court in February, Judge Marston praised Kealey and Andy for being ‘caring, loving’ parents and criticised Hampshire County Council for failing to prove any of its claims.

In his judgment, he said: ‘What happened here is that a picture was painted before the facts were properly analysed, indeed before many of the facts were actually known, and then the facts were made to fit the picture.’

John Coughlan, Hampshire County Council’s director of children’s services, said that the council had acted with the ‘best motives’, adding: ‘It is our duty as a local authority to secure the wellbeing of children.’

Detective Superintendent Nigel Lecointe, head of the public protection department of Hampshire Constabulary, said he accepted his officers’ actions had been ‘perceived to be heavy-handed’ and ‘had a significant long-term effect on the family’.

Source: Daily Mail

Sex for Vengeance

December 15, 2012 permalink

A woman in a family court case found the sure way to win: a sexual affair with the judge. Geniene La’Shay Mott is now pregnant with the child of Wayne County Michigan Circuit Court Judge Wade McCree Jr. At least she had the satisfaction of seeing her ex put in jail by her lover/judge.



Married Detroit judge allegedly slept with child-support plaintiff, let her help choose ex-husband’s sentence [VIDEO]

A Wayne County, Michigan Circuit Court judge is on administrative leave following a report that he impregnated a woman who was a plaintiff in a child-support case before him, and allowed her to help choose the sentence he would impose on her ex-husband.

WJBK Fox-TV2 in Detroit reported that Judge Wade McCree Jr. carried on a lengthy affair with Geniene La’Shay Mott, who sued her ex-husband for child support, after the case was concluded.

“It went from being a summer fling and just something to do to falling in love, promises of marriage, me getting pregnant, us buying a house together, name it,” Mott told WJBK-TV.

McCree, who specialized in sex misconduct cases, made headlines in April for “sexting” a shirtless photo of himself to a female co-worker. When WJBK-TV confronted him with the picture then, he replied, “Hot dog! Yup, that’s me.” (RELATED: Detroit judge sexts nearly nude picture to court bailiff, says “I’ve got no shame in my game”)

Mott said Thursday that she is pregnant and McCree is the father. She also claimed she and the judge “have sex in his chambers very often. … On his desk, in the chair, the couch, you name it.”

She showed WJBK-TV hundreds of text messages the two exchanged, including one in which the judge seemed to acknowledge the ethical line he was crossing.

“My Judicial Tenure Commission has me nervous, as you might expect,” McCree wrote in one. “I have to be real careful until this matter is put to rest… you are the complaining witness on a case that is before me.”

“Naturally if it got out that we were seeing each other before your B.D.’s [baby daddy] case closed, everybody could be in deep (expletive). Why you want to spend time with a man like me remains a mystery, but if you’ll have me… then as Bill Withers said, ‘use me up!’ SMOOCHES.”

According to the Detroit TV news report, Mott had a check McCree wrote from his dead mother’s estate to help her pay for a house for the two to share. She also had text messages in which McCree plotted with her on the sentence he would later impose on her ex-husband for failing to pay child support.

“OK, SO LET’S GO WITH WHAT YOU PROPOSED… GO 2 JAIL (150 DAYS), RELEASE UPON PAYMENT OF $1,500,” the text message read.


Mott said that after the sentencing, she went back to McCree’s judicial chambers and had sex with him.

The relationship reportedly came to light after Mott told McCree she was pregnant.

The judge had filed for divorce from his wife on Oct. 11, but she found out about the baby — and reportedly wouldn’t grant the divorce unless Mott aborted her pregnancy.

When Mott refused, WJBK-TV reports, McCree got cold feet. His divorce case was dismissed Nov. 28. Then he reported to the Wayne County, Mich. prosecutor that Mott was stalking and extorting him.

WJBK-TV reporter Charlie Duff showed the text messages to Mott’s ex-husband, Robert King.

“He’s basically listening to her to set me up, I mean a set up,” King said. “I can’t believe this, man. This is my life right here. They’re playing with my life.”

“And she’s pregnant? Wow. What, he’s going to be put on child support? Wow.”

Source: Daily Caller

Wade McCree
These pictures are not from the story above, but from judge McCree's earlier scandal when he sexted pictures of himself to his staff.

Addendum: Two years later the Sixth Circuit court court ruled that victim Robert King cannot sue judge McCree.



6th Circuit, Judge of the Day

Shirtless Wade McCree May Be Heading To The Supreme Court

Judge of the Millennium Wade McCree has a special place in the hearts of ATL’s writers. The former Wayne County circuit judge had a penchant for disrobing for shirtless selfies and sex in his chambers, and was consequently disrobed by the Michigan Supreme Court.

On Monday, the Sixth Circuit correctly (if you mean “applying the law as it currently exists,” and “incorrectly” if you mean “adopting the better policy”) held that Judge McCree is immune from a civil suit brought by a man McCree slapped with a tether and high child support payments. The man’s complaint is that while Judge McCree was coming down hard on him, Judge McCree was also coming down hard on the child’s mother — specifically sexting her from the bench and carrying on an affair that ultimately ended in an abortion. The man and his lawyer are seeking an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Is absolute judicial immunity a doctrine worth keeping? Probably not…

In a sense, Wade McCree’s story is a microcosm of everything wrong with the city he calls home — a cocktail of arrogance and extraordinary legal loopholes designed to keep victims locked out of the courts.

Last week, I was in Detroit to see firsthand what happened when a city watched Robocop, a movie about its own dystopian future, and said, “I’ll bet we can one-up that corporate-run hellhole!” Today, in bankruptcy, Detroit has pulled it off. Except without their own Robocop. As much as they’re trying.

This wasn’t always Detroit. Detroit used to act like it had a trademark on “The American Dream” before it got derailed. There are a lot of contributing factors to Detroit’s decline, but one of them was assuredly an arrogance that tethering the entire economy to one industry was going to pay dividends forever.

A generation ago, the House of McCree was doing much better too. The Judge Wade McCree at the center of this story is the son of another Judge Wade McCree. The elder McCree served as Solicitor General and was the first black person to sit on the Sixth Circuit. His son followed in the profession with decidedly less luminous results. The reliability of his father’s brand buoyed the younger McCree’s political fortunes. The younger McCree acted as though his judicial pedigree would allow him to proposition bailiffs and sleep with litigants with no consequences.

And to some extent he was right. While McCree lost his judgeship and was subsequently suspended without pay for 6 years — a remedy the Michigan Supreme Court imposed because they honestly thought McCree could easily win reelection despite the scandal — the Sixth Circuit held that Judge McCree couldn’t be sued for any harms he caused while on the bench, regardless of a now-established record of impropriety.

The doctrine of judicial immunity is enshrined in Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 335, 348 (1871):

If civil actions could be maintained… against the judge, because the losing party should see fit to allege in his complaint that the acts of the judge were done with partiality, or maliciously, or corruptly, the protection essential to judicial independence would be entirely swept away.

Now, one might think allowing judges to render decisions while boning the other side would undermine faith in the judicial system more, but the Supreme Court didn’t think that way. How convenient. Judges crafted an undemocratic immunity entirely for their own benefit that cuts the victims off from meaningful remedy?

How does McCree’s cloak of absolute immunity play into Detroit’s ills? Well, speaking of undemocratic solutions, the powers that be in Michigan were dealt a blow when voters struck down the so-called Emergency Manager law that allowed the state government to overthrow democratically elected leaders. So a month after that vote, they just re-passed the law. Chutzpah. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, formerly of Jones Day, used his power to offer sweetheart deals — rejected and ultimately reduced by Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes — to Merrill Lynch and UBS while seeking a release to shield the banks from liability for suspiciously bad deals that helped push Detroit over the line into bankruptcy. Merrill is now owned by Bank of America, which is a prominent Jones Day client. I’ll let you work out the appropriate equivalency of millions in billables and f**king in chambers.

Could the people of Detroit have gotten some recompense for these deals? We’ll never know. Whether by judicial fiat or legislating over the top of a public vote, the right of victims to have their day in court got short-changed.

Is there any solution? There have been some cracks in the armor of judicial immunity over the years. Justice Powell argued that absolute judicial immunity should not be defended when the legal system provides no alternative remedy to the aggrieved. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 369 (1978) (Stewart, J., dissenting). The recent Kids-for-Cash scandal — where Pennsylvania judges trumped up sentences to put kids in privatized juvenile prisons in exchange for kickbacks — would seem like a good case study in how absolute immunity could fail to make victims whole. Stengel, Absolute Judicial Immunity Makes Absolutely No Sense, 84 Temp. L. Rev. 1071 (2012). Thankfully, a judge agreed — determining that parts of the kickback conspiracy exceeded protected “judicial acts.” Judge McCree’s actions are more solidly judicial acts. So the victim of his sexy-time-influenced jurisprudence has to hope the Supreme Court constructs a new standard that carves out exceptions for judicial acts influenced by certain benchmarks of corrupt behavior. It would be a good move for shoring up the credibility of the justice system so it probably won’t even get cert. I mean, SCOTUS can’t be bothered to apply ethical rules to itself.

As for the city’s hopes, the people of Michigan could have a referendum and overturn the Emergency Manager law. Oh, wait, they did that already. I guess they just have to trust that Kevyn Orr has the best interests of the city’s people at heart.

Shutting off the poor people’s water was a good start.

You know the drill, the McCree decision is reprinted in full on the next page….

And thanks to Westlaw for providing resources for researching this article.

Source: Above the Law

Connecticut Shooting

December 14, 2012 permalink

A gunman opened fire today at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, killing 27 people, including 20 young children. The school was for kindergarten to grade 4, one entire kindergarten class is unaccounted for. This is not the place for the gory details of the killings, refer to mainstream news sources for that. What is of interest here is child protection and family law. Among the victims of now-dead shooter Adam Peter Lanza, age 20, was his mother Nancy, a teacher's aide at the school. According to early reports the shooter's son was also killed. It could be a family broken up by the family law system. And it is time to comment on the security theater at American schools. Students are routinely humiliated in searches that demand submissiveness, but when a real threat appears there is no security in sight.

Eight hours after the shooting the press is reporting that the shooter had a personality disorder. Could he have been prescribed psychotropic drugs? More as soon as there is enough news to be worthy of comment.

Still on the same day of the shooting, the press has already found out that Adam Lanza's parents were divorced and that Adam was on medication. No drugs are yet named. The early news that he had a son was incorrect.



Adam Lanza is recalled as a ‘rambunctious kid’ with family problems

Adam Lanza was his name.

Adam P. Lanza, 20, obscure in life, infamous in death.

A really rambunctious kid, as one former neighbor in Newtown, Conn., recalled him, adding that he was on medication. He was a son of an accountant and a schoolteacher. A family member told investigators that he had a form of autism, a law enforcement official said.

And he will long be remembered.

On Friday morning, police say, he shot and killed his mother in their home. And then, carrying firearms and an abundance of ammunition, he drove to Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School and started shooting. By the time he turned one of the guns on himself, police say, he had killed 20 children, many of them kindergartners, and six more adults.

Adam Peter Lanza — a new addition to a dreadful list, the roster of killers who targeted students: Seung Hui Cho at Virginia Tech (32 dead); Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine High in Colorado (13 dead), Charles C. Roberts IV at a little Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania (five dead). The litany of massacres goes on.

As scores of investigators worked Friday to piece together what happened at the school and why, the barest details of Lanza’s life began to emerge.

His parents, Nancy and Peter Lanza, separated about a decade ago, and his mother, a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook, remained in the family’s home with her sons, Adam and Ryan Lanza, according to Ryan Kraft, 25, who was a neighbor.

The separation hit the children hard, Kraft recalled.

When Nancy Lanza would go out to dinner with friends, she sometimes relied on Kraft to watch Adam Lanza, who was too boisterous for Ryan Lanza to manage. “He would have tantrums,” Kraft said. “They were much more than the average kid [had].” Yet he was not prone to violence, Kraft said.

“The kids seemed really depressed” by the breakup, Kraft said of the Lanza brothers. Ryan Lanza, 24, now lives in Hoboken, N.J. Police questioned him Friday, but law enforcement officials said he was cooperating and is not suspected of having anything to do with the shootings.

For several hours Friday, authorities and the news media misidentified the shooter as Ryan Lanza, who, like his father, is an accountant, a law enforcement official said.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a friend of Ryan Lanza’s as saying that Lanza works for Ernst & Young. “He [is] a little shy, but very nice and sweet,” the friend, Katie Colaneri, 24, of Hoboken, told the Journal.

Nancy Lanza put the best face possible on her domestic troubles, the former neighbor said. “Nancy was really pleasant,” Kraft said. “She would come by the house and have a glass of wine with my mom.” The couple’s divorce was finalized in 2009, according to court records.

Beth Israel, who lived for a time on the same street as the Lanzas, recalled Adam Lanza as withdrawn but not threatening in any way.

“Overall, I would just call him a socially awkward kid, I don’t know, shy and quiet. Didn’t really look you in the eye,” Israel said in a telephone interview Friday night. “Just kind of a weird kid, maybe. I can’t tell you any specific incidents why [I thought so],” she said.

At a vigil in Newtown, a man of about Adam Lanza’s age was visibly distraught. “I knew Adam in high school,” he said, declining to give his name. “He always seemed like a quiet type. He was never really sociable. When you try to communicate with him, he would just kind of like have one- or two-word responses.

“He was a wicked smart kid, he excelled in everything,” the man said. “He graduated high school three years early.”

The man defended Adam’s mother and objected to some reports about her. “I know her. My family knew her. She was a respectable collector [of guns]. She used them responsibly. It’s not her fault that any of this happened.”

At the vigil, Catherine Urso said her son went to high school with Adam Lanza, who “was very remote, reclusive.” Lanza and his friends, she said, “always gathered alone in a corner in the school.”

A law enforcement official — who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is far from finished — said Adam Lanza fatally shot his mother in her home, then drove in her car to the school where she worked.

He had two semiautomatic pistols and a .223-caliber rifle, law enforcement officials said. He apparently used only the handguns, which were later found in the school. The rifle was found in the vehicle.

Peter Lanza, a vice president and tax specialist at GE Energy Financial Services, is remarried and lives in Stamford, Conn., according to the Stamford Advocate. When he arrived home Friday and was approached by a reporter, the paper reported, he appeared “surprised and horrified” and declined to comment on the massacre.

A woman who is a close friend of Peter Lanza’s became highly emotional in a brief telephone interview Friday. “His son was doing wonderfully,” she said of Adam Lanza. “This is inconceivable. Peter adores his children. His son was doing so well.”

Source: Washington Post

Sidebar: A tearful president Barack Obama addressed the country on television to express national sorrow for the dead Connecticut children. On Monday, December 17 the Washington Post reported that today nine young Afghan girls were killed in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar Province when one of them set off a landmine while collecting wood. There were no tears from Mr Obama about this tragedy.

Addendum: Four days after the shooting it turns out Lanza's mother wanted him committed to a psychiatric famility.



EXCLUSIVE: Fear of being committed may have caused Connecticut gunman to snap

NEWTOWN, Conn. – The gunman who slaughtered 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school may have snapped because his mother was planning to commit him to a psychiatric facility, according to a lifelong resident of the area who was familiar with the killer’s family and several of the victims’ families.

Adam Lanza, 20, targeted Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown after killing his mother early Friday because he believed she loved the school “more than she loved him,” said Joshua Flashman, 25, who grew up not far from where the shooting took place. Flashman, a U.S. Marine, is the son of a pastor at an area church where many of the victims' families worship.

“From what I've been told, Adam was aware of her petitioning the court for conservatorship and (her) plans to have him committed," Flashman told "Adam was apparently very upset about this. He thought she just wanted to send him away. From what I understand, he was really, really angry. I think this could have been it, what set him off.”

A senior law enforcement official involved in the investigation confirmed that Lanza's anger at his mother over plans for “his future mental health treatment” is being looked at as a possible motive for the deadly shooting.

Flashman was told Nancy Lanza had begun filing paperwork to get conservatorship over her troubled son, but that could not be confirmed because a court official told such records are sealed. The move would have been necessary for her to gain the legal right to commit an adult to a hospital or psychiatric facility against his will. A competency hearing had not yet been held.

Adam Lanza attended the Sandy Hook School as a boy, according to Flashman, who said Nancy Lanza had volunteered there for several years. Two law enforcement sources said they believed Nancy Lanza had been volunteering with kindergartners at the school. Most of Lanza's victims were first graders sources believe Nancy Lanza may have worked with last year.

Flashman said Nancy Lanza was also good friends with the school’s principal and psychologist—both of whom were killed in the shooting rampage.

"Adam Lanza believed she cared more for the children than she did for him, and the reason he probably thought this [was the fact that] she was petitioning for conservatorship and wanted to have him committed," Flashman said. "I could understand how he might perceive that—that his mom loved him less than she loved the kids, loved the school. But she did love him. But he was a troubled kid and she probably just couldn’t take care of him by herself anymore."

The Washington Post reported that the distraught mother had considered moving with her son to Washington state, where she had found a school she thought could help him. Either way, according to Flashman, Nancy Lanza was at her wit's end.

A separate neighborhood source also told that Nancy Lanza had come to the realization she could no longer handle her son alone. She was caring for him full-time, but told friends she needed help. She was planning to have him involuntarily hospitalized, according to the source, who did not know if she had taken formal steps.

Multiple sources told Adam Lanza suffered from Asperger’s syndrome , a form of autism, and other unspecified mental and emotional problems.

Adam Lanza has also been described by those who knew him as highly intelligent, and a spokesman for Western Connecticut State University told The Associated Press he took college classes there when he was 16, earning a 3.26 grade point average and excelling at a computer course.

Alan Diaz, 20, who was friends with Adam Lanza at Newtown High School, said the Lanza he knew was ill-at-ease socially, but not a monster.

"He was a wicked smart kid," Diaz told by email. "When I first met him, he wouldn't even look at you when you tried to talk to him. Over the year I knew him, he became used to me and my other friends, he eventually could have full conversations with us.

"I've heard him laugh, he has even comforted me once in a hard time I had," Diaz said. “A big part of me wishes I never dropped contact with him after he left high school, felt like I could have done something."

Flashman said nobody will completely understand why Adam did what he did.

“No one can explain Adam Lanza besides God and Adam Lanza, and I don’t even think Adam Lanza could explain Adam Lanza, to be honest with you.”

Source: Fox News

Supervisors Alter Reports

December 13, 2012 permalink

Debbie De Gale, a witness at the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry, has disclosed that reports by caseworkers in child protection cases are routinely altered by supervisors.

Fixcas will continue to pay little attention to the Sinclair inquiry, except for interesting disclosures such as this. Phoenix Sinclair died after returning from foster care to her real mother. The inquiry can reach only one recommendation: keep kids in care longer.



Phoenix Sinclair assessment altered, says CFS worker

Child and family services workers lost track of girl, inquiry hears

Phoenix Sinclair
Phoenix Sinclair is shown in a family photo released by the Commission of Inquiry looking into her 2005 death.
Phoenix Sinclair inquiry

A Winnipeg child welfare worker has told an inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair that her assessment of the little girl had been altered.

Debbie De Gale, who worked in the crisis response unit at Winnipeg Child and Family Services (CFS) in 2004, testified on Monday that she took a call in May of that year from a person who was concerned that Phoenix was back in the care of her mother, Samantha Kematch.

De Gale told the inquiry that upon reviewing the family's file, De Gale said she determined that the child faced a "severe risk" of neglect and indicated that a CFS response was required within 24 hours.

But De Gale said her supervisor, Diana Verrier, changed her report to lower the risk and loosen the CFS response period to 48 hours.

"They proceeded to show me my report, and I said that report has had to have been altered because I recall other details of things that I did on this particular case that are not in the report," De Gale told the inquiry.

The original document that was filed by De Gale was entered as evidence at the inquiry.

Assessments changed regularly, De Gale says

De Gale testified that Verrier regularly altered the response times on her safety assessments in 2004 without consulting her.

Debbie De Gale
CFS worker Debbie De Gale told the inquiry on Monday that her supervisor regularly altered response times on her safety assessments without consulting her.

De Gale said she recalls "telling her I would appreciate her not doing that to my reports and that if she wanted something changed, she needed to come discuss it with me."

Verrier seemed to appreciate the feedback at the time, De Gale said.

But Kris Saxberg, a lawyer representing Verrier and CFS authorities, tried to poke holes in De Gale's testimony during cross-examination.

"It's also the case that your supervisor's entitled to change it, correct?" Saxberg asked De Gale, who replied, "No."

"You don't believe your supervisor's entitled to change it?" Saxberg said.

"Not my report," said De Gale.

"Well, isn't your supervisor ultimately responsible for determining what the response time is?" Saxberg asked.

"Yes," De Gale replied.

The inquiry heard earlier on Monday that CFS officials were unaware in April 2004 that Phoenix was living with Kematch — the same woman who would help kill the girl.

The revelation at the inquiry is the latest evidence that social workers were frequently unable to monitor the child before she was beaten to death at the age of five in June 2005.

'Some discrepancy' identified

"There was some discrepancy with regards to where this child should be placed and who should have custody," said a social assistance case worker, who cannot be identified under a court-ordered publication ban.

The inquiry is examining how Manitoba child welfare failed to protect Phoenix, who was taken days after her birth from her parents, Samantha Kematch and Steve Sinclair.

Kematch and Sinclair had violent pasts and substance abuse problems and were so uninterested in being parents that they didn't buy baby clothes or supplies before the girl's birth.

The inquiry has already been told that Phoenix spent her first few months in foster care, but was returned to her parents, who increasingly left her in the care of friends.

Over the ensuing years, social workers were frequently unaware of who was taking care of the girl and failed to inspect the homes where she was living.

In April 2004, Kematch, who had been out of the picture for months, showed up at the home of Rohan Stephenson, a family friend, and took Phoenix.

Social workers had told Stephenson he was not to give Phoenix to either of her parents — or anyone else — without telling them, but he ignored the warning.

Mom sought welfare payment increase

Kematch's actions only came to light, the inquiry was told Monday, because she applied to have her welfare payments increased by listing Phoenix as a dependent living with her.

The social assistance case worker checked into the family's file and found out that Kematch was not supposed to have Phoenix.

In May 2004, the case worker alerted social workers at Winnipeg Child and Family Services who had dealt with the family, but got mixed messages.

"Sorry to keep bugging you, but other people from the agency are really confusing me," the worker wrote in an email, released at the inquiry, to intake worker Lisa Mirochnick.

"They state that their files say nothing about the child not being allowed to stay with mother Samantha Kematch, but I do believe you told me that the child is to not to be in the mother's care."

Social workers investigated, but an internal review by the Winnipeg agency showed they didn't manage a face-to-face meeting with Kematch until July.

The following spring, Phoenix was beaten to death by Kematch and her boyfriend Karl McKay.

The couple's murder trial was told Phoenix had been subjected to horrific abuse and neglect. She had been shot with a BB gun, forced to eat her own vomit and had been frequently confined to a makeshift pen on the concrete basement floor.

Her death went undetected for nine months.

Source: CBC

Iran Dares to Criticize Alberta

December 13, 2012 permalink

An article in the Iranian press criticizes Canada for taking aboriginal children at a high rate using excessive force based on ambiguous laws and nebulous claims. The child protection system abuses the children sexually, psychologically, and physically or profits from their adoption.

In a second enclosed article the National Post counters with a rebuttal. After quoting a government official laughing at the accusations, it goes on to smear reporter Joshua Blakeney by associating him with the 9/11 truthers. The rebuttal gives no hint what really happens to children in Alberta foster care.

Perhaps the headline on the Alberta story should be: Alberta kills aboriginal/foster kids at high rate. Here is a list.



Alberta takes aboriginal kids from parents at high rate

Child-protection services take children away from their aboriginal parents, at a comparatively high rate, in Canada’s western province of Alberta, Press TV reports.

“It is a business…thirty two officers took the children at gun point. Treated us like terrorists…they said you are not getting your children back,” said an aboriginal woman whose children were taken from her by Canada’s counter-terrorism forces.

Studies suggest that the Alberta government is seizing children at an alarming high rate. Whereas the government of Japan takes only 17 children per 10 thousand and the government of the Canadian province of Ontario 64 per 10 thousand, the Alberta government takes an astounding 111 children per 10 thousand.

Many native Canadians believe the country’s family law is often ambiguous with nebulous allegations of neglect for parenting serving as justifications for the state-sanctioned removal of children.

They say there is a profit motive behind what they call kidnapping of their children by the so-called child protection services.

“It definitely is a money making scheme because a lot of native children have been sold into adoption,” another native Canadian woman told Press TV.

Recently, the UN has strongly condemned Canada's record on children's rights, and accused Ottawa of systematic discrimination against aborigines and immigrants.

According to reports, Canada has forced thousands of aboriginal children into ghastly boarding schools where they have been abused sexually, psychologically, and physically.

Meanwhile, more than 600 aboriginal women and young girls are missing in the country amid reports of rape, mutilation, and murder against female aborigines.

Source: Press TV (Iran)

Iranian media report claims Alberta police abduct, traffic Aboriginal children for profit

veiled woman

Iran’s state-owned English-language news network is broadcasting inflammatory reports alleging that Alberta is dispatching counterterrorism squads to abduct First Nations children and sell them to adoption agencies.

In a report that aired Monday, Press TV claims the province is using child protective services as a front to traffic First Nations children for monetary gain.

Canada’s aboriginal advocates dismiss the story as pure fiction.

“I have never heard of that — never heard of that,” said Cindy Blackstock, an associate professor at the University of Alberta and executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.

With an uncharacteristic laugh, a spokeswoman with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development similarly denied the Iranian charges.

In Monday’s report, headlined “Alberta takes aboriginal kids from parents at high rate,” Joshua Blakeney, Press TV’s Calgary correspondent, interviews two anonymous women, dressed in crude head coverings and interviewed in shadow.

“Some upset parents allege that there is a profit motive behind what they refer to as Canada’s so-called child protective services,” Mr. Blakeney says.

Press TV snapshot

Over images of the Vancouver Police motorcycle drill team, Mr. Blakeney asserts the abductions are the work of INSET, a multi-agency anti-terrorism squad that was launched in Alberta last June.

“This time it was the same thing … they took the children at gunpoint; treated us like terrorists … and ever since they said ‘you’re never getting your children back,’” said one of the women, who claimed her “aboriginal children” were taken by a squad of 32 heavily armed officers.

Amid B-roll of kindergarten classes, waving flags and an unrelated press conference by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the report shows crayon drawings, allegedly by abducted First Nations children, with written pleas of “Help me! Now!!”

“It definitely is a money-making scheme, because a lot of native children have been sold into adoption, but it is also used as an assimilation program [and] a genocidal program,” said the second woman.

Born in Surrey, U.K., Mr. Blakeney came to Canada as a graduate student at the University of Lethbridge and in 2010 secured a $7,714 Province of Alberta-backed scholarship to pursue “9/11 truther” theories that the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks were a government conspiracy to justify the War on Terror.

In addition to working as a correspondent for Press TV, Mr. Blakeney regularly contributes to Veterans Today, an online sounding board for conspiracy theorists.

“Israel’s fingerprints are all over 9/11,” reads a March 2011 post by Mr. Blakeney.

Mr. Blakeney did not respond to requests for an interview.

Although Canada is not a traditional target of Iranian propagandists, the country has increasingly been lambasted in Iranian state media after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird severed diplomatic ties to the country in September, calling Iran “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.”

In October, Tehran hosted a delegation of fringe Canadian aboriginal leaders including Terrance Nelson, the former chief of Manitoba’s Roseau River First Nation.

In a Press TV appearance, Mr. Nelson and another former chief told Iranian interviewers that Canada was trying to “exterminate” aboriginals, citing the country’s 600 missing and murdered aboriginal women as an example.

Aboriginal children are overrepresented in Canadian child-welfare programs — but the problem is usually attributed to a litany of systemic aboriginal social issues, rather than a conspiracy orchestrated by Ottawa.

“The factors driving aboriginal children into care have been well-known for 15 years; it’s poverty, poor housing and substance abuse,” said Ms. Blackstock, blaming the problem on a deficit of social services available on First Nations reservations.

“The federal government provides significantly less funding on reserves than for all other Canadians … but I have never in my life heard of any military undertones to this,” she said.

Source: National Post

MUSH Oversight Coming Says Marin

December 12, 2012 permalink

Speaking in Sudbury, Ontario ombudsman André Marin said expansion of his mandate to the MUSH sector is inevitable.



Reach to expand: Ombudsman

André Marin
Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin

Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin believes it's a matter of when, not if, the Province of Ontario gives his office the authority to oversee institutions in the so-called MUSH sectors.

They include municipalities, universities, school boards, hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, police services and children's aid societies.

Ontario can't afford not to bring those organizations under his purview, Marin said in an editorial board meeting Tuesday with The Sudbury Star.

He was in Sudbury to speak to Greater Sudbury council at its invitation.

Marin was sharply critical of council earlier this year for not co-operating with his investigation into closed door meetings, calling Sudbury's council one of the least co-operative he has ever worked with.

Ontario is the only province where the MUSH sectors don't fall under an ombudman's oversight.

“Every other province can afford it,” Marin told The Sudbury Star.

In Ontario, the provincial government transfers $16 billion a year to hospitals, said Marin.

“That's larger than our national defence budget, and there's no outside checks and balances. If you have a problem with a hospital, where do you go?”

People unhappy with the treatment of loved ones can appeal to a hospital's chief executive officer or patient advocate “who's on the payroll of the hospital,” said Marin.

If you complain to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care about hospitals and nursing homes, they'll “send you back to those places,” said Marin.

He spoke with Premier Dalton McGuinty about ombudsman oversight over the MUSH sectors before the release of his annual report in the spring. In that report, he called again for the province to extend his office's jurisdiction to the MUSH sectors.

Marin said the premier told him at that time: “'Andre, it's not a question of if, but it's a question of when you go there. Let's start talking about it.' So, there was real genuine movement to go in that direction,” Marin told The Star.

“Now, of course, the legislature was prorogued. In politics anything can happen, but we did enter the discussion over which letters of MUSH have priority.”

Marin told McGuinty he believes the Children's Aid Society, hospitals and long-term care residences are because they care for the most vulnerable members of society.

The “child protection system, hospitals, long-term care, all deal with very vulnerable people with no place to go. So those are the three letters that have precedence, in my view.”

When asked what it would take to get the province to add those responsibilities to his list of duties, Marin said: “I think this is something the public wants very much and, again, if you look at the experiences of all the other provinces, everybody else can afford it. Why can we not afford it in Ontario?”

Marin said officials with the MUSH sector had long opposed ombudsman oversight, but he has seen them soften that position in the last year or so.

“I think they recognize it's inevitable,” he said.

Representatives of his office have been asked to speak to conferences held by Children's Aid Societies and to hospital executives.

“People sense it's inevitable and it's going to come, so they might as well start getting with the program,” Marin told the Star. “So, I'm pleased to hear that. We've only been fighting for it for 37 years, so it's a good evolution.”

Earlier this week, Dr. Denis Roy, president and chief executive officer of Health Sciences North, said he would not object to the ombudsman having oversight of his institution.

In Quebec, where Roy practised medicine for decades before coming to Sudbury three years ago, people unsatisfied with hospital care could appeal to Quebec's version of an ombudsman.

“I've lived through it, so it wouldn't bother me,” said Roy. “I think perhaps one would be fine.”

Roy said he was asked the same question when Ontario included hospitals in freedom of information legislation this year, something that has been done in his native Quebec for five or six years.

“What I'm saying is, I've had to live through it, and despite the turmoil at the beginning, it calms down and nothing happens afterwards unless something (serious) happens.”

Source: Sudbury Star

Phantom Secretariat

December 11, 2012 permalink

The archives stored on the fixcas website contain a (small) history of an Ontario body known as the Child Welfare Secretariat.

A few years ago we found the website of the Sparrow Lake Alliance, now gone from cyberspace. But we captured the membership list as of 2006. In that list, Bruce Rivers listed his affiliation as Child Welfare Secretariat.

In 2004 minister of children and youth services Marie Bountrogianni mentioned the Child Welfare Secretariat in an exchange in the Ontario legislature. She was expecting a report from Bruce (Rivers) of the CWS at the end of December.

In January 2005 minister Bountrogianni referred to the Child Welfare Secretariat again. At that time a five-year statutory review of child and family services was coming due. A press release from the minister said that the newly established Child Welfare Secretariat has been consulting with the child welfare community during the past year to review key parts of the child protection system. Anticipating the announcement, fixcas sent a letter with suggestions to the ministry on December 6, 2004. On February 3, 2005 minister Bountrogianni addressed a letter to Robert T McQuaid (at the same link) saying that the suggestions had been forwarded to Bruce Rivers, Executive Director of the Child Welfare Secretariat.

A document issued by the ministry of children and youth services in July 2005 titled Child Welfare Transformation 2005: A strategic plan for a flexible, sustainable and outcome oriented service delivery model (pdf) introduced the Child Welfare Secretariat. The Sponsoring Assistant Deputy Minister was Trinela Cane and team members were Shelley Acheson, Jennifer Gallagher, Elaine Kennedy, Anna Mazurkiewicz, Sally McGowan, Kevin Morris, Jim Phillips, Bruce Rivers, Susan Rudnick, Chris Steven and Nico Trocmé.

On July 22, 2011 a letter on the letterhead of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services was address to Ms Yvonne Craig. It was signed by Josephine Fuller, Interim Director, Child Welfare Secretariat.

Here is what the government of Ontario says now on its own website:


General Inquiry: 416-314-9462
Fax: 416-326-8098
3rd Flr
101 Bloor St W
Toronto ON M5S2Z7


The Child Welfare Secretariat is responsible for the policies, legislation and programs supporting Ontario's child protection services. The child welfare system helps children and youth who have been abused or neglected to grow up in a safe, stable, caring environment and become successful adults. The Secretariat works with Ontario's 53 children's aid societies and community partners to make the child protection system responsive to the needs of children, youth and their families receiving care.

or select one of the following


Source: Ontario government

In December 2012 we learn the truth about Ontario's Child Welfare Secretariat: it never existed! Yes, the government really says that. In a letter to Chris Carter denying his freedom of information request, Cate Parker says: According to the Child Welfare Secretariat, there is no listing or index of records concerning a charter and/or mandate. So either the Ontario government acts like the CIA (eliminate this foreign president without leaving a paper trail) or the Child Welfare Secretariat never existed. It was a phantom to divert attention from the inaction of policymakers.


The White House

December 11, 2012 permalink

The White House, Dozier School for Boys
The White House

For a century delinquent children in Florida were sent to the Arthur G Dozier School for Boys. In recent decades survivors have been telling stories of atrocious beatings and deaths at the school. Punishments were administered to boys in a building known as "The White House". Last year the state closed the school with the assertion that 31 persons were buried at the site, all accounted for, 29 children and two adults. Now archaeological research by the University of South Florida has ascertained that the site has fifty buried bodies. There are hints of more in other parts of the site.

This gruesome tale will be repeated in some form by the next generation as they unearth the atrocity of the children dying now in the custody of child protection agencies. In Ontario alone a hundred children a year die in the care of children's aid societies with barely a trace of public accountability.

We could not download the video from the Tampa Tribune, but here is another from ABC news: YouTube and local copy (mp4).



USF researchers find 19 more graves at Dozier School for Boys

graves at Arthur G Dozier School for Boys
Anthropologists say there are at least 50 graves at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. A state report says about 31.
Tampa Tribune

Researchers from the University of South Florida say there are at least 50 graves on the grounds of a former Panhandle reform school – higher than a state estimate of 31 graves – and that a second cemetery is likely to exist.

Anthropologists and archaeologists from USF have spent months conducting field work, scientific analysis and ethnographic research at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, which has been the subject of investigations into abuse allegations and suspicious deaths. The school, which opened in 1900, was closed last year.

A USF report contradicts a previous state report that said the identities of all 31 people buried at the school cemetery were confirmed.

"We've always known the day would come when this type of information would come out," said Bryant E. Middleton, who was sent to Dozier in 1959. "And to me, it's going to provide some closure, it's going to provide some emotional relief, and a lot of satisfaction knowing there is a good chance now that state employees who perpetrated these crimes against these children may be held accountable."

Jerry Cooper, sent to the reform school in 1961, also praised the USF investigation. "We have been on the right purpose here all along, and that's why we're not going to stop," Cooper said. "We want to know what happened to these kids."

Children were originally committed to the school for serious criminal offenses, but state law was later amended to include those convicted of minor incidents such as truancy.

Middleton and Cooper are among the so-called "White House Boys," a group of men who claim they were lashed unmercifully with a leather strap in a cottage known on the campus as the "White House" in the 1950s and '60s. Cooper said he barely survived a 135-lash beating in the White House.

Inmates also told of rape, isolation, hog-tying and other atrocities. Some said they saw boys led away, never to return. And they remembered a graveyard, eventually grown-over and containing 31 unmarked crosses made of pipe.

Several White House Boys and the members of a family attempting to find out what happened to their son attended a news conference announcing the results of the investigation today at USF.

"A major part of what anthropologists do is to give voice to people who are voiceless," said Christian Wells, an associate professor at USF who participated in the investigation. "Certainly in this case, these boys and many of these families today don't have the social or political influence to have that voice."

Former Gov. Charlie Crist ordered an investigation into the Dozier school in 2009 after the White House Boys, many now in their 60s, and others told their stories to newspapers. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated, concluding that there was no foul play and that the 31 graves contained the bodies of 29 boys and two adults who were accounted for.

But Erin Kimmerle, a USF assistant professor of anthropology who has worked around the world examining grave sites, applied for and was granted an archeological permit from the state Division of Historical Resources. She also received permission from the state Department of Environmental Protection to access the historic land. Historic cemeteries are considered valuable cultural resources and Florida statutes provide protection for them and mandate rights of families to have access.

Kimmerle's group used ground-penetrating radar equipment to search for "anomalies" in the soil at what is known as the Boot Hill cemetery on the school site. If an anomaly was recognized, researchers would dig a surface trench to confirm that different types of soils were mixed in the trench, indicating the ground had been disturbed in a manner similar to the digging of a grave.

Her group did not exhume any bodies or remove body parts, in keeping with the scope of the USF permit.

Antoinette Jackson, a USF associate professor of anthropology who is also participating in the investigation, said the history of "wholesale segregation" in the South and at the school suggest that there is likely another burial area on the grounds.

"I'm very excited about the next step in this process," Jackson said. "That's a big question for me. I have very limited knowledge of any cemetery being integrated in that time period because segregation was so complete."

The USF group's 118-page report recommends additional ground-penetrating radar work in the area; exhumation and autopsies to determine cause of death and identification; additional research of historical documents; and further interviews with family, employees and others with knowledge of the school.

That could lead to the discovery of more graves on the Dozier school property. But further investigation would require the intervention of an authority such as the state attorney's office, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Governor's office, or a private lawsuit seeking exhumation of graves.

Kimmerle said her group will have "continued discussions" with those authorities. She said the USF group "would be happy to (continue the work) if they ask us."

Source: Tampa Tribune

Addendum: Excavation has unearthed 55 bodies. Corpses were buried in the same location as household trash.



USF researchers unearthed 55 bodies from Dozier, more than state claimed

TAMPA — The men who ran the Florida School for Boys buried George Owen Smith quickly, without the dignity of a permanent headstone, before his family could drive up from Auburndale. Their official story was that the spry 14-year-old had crawled under a house nearby and died. His sister Ovell, 12 at the time, never believed it.

"None of that rang true," said Ovell Krell.

Seventy-three years later, she still wants to know what happened, and where he's buried.

Researchers from the University of South Florida are trying to help. They announced Tuesday they have exhumed the remains of 55 boys who died at the notorious state-run reform school in the Panhandle town of Marianna.

That's 24 more than the 31 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found during a cursory investigation in 2009 on orders from then-Gov. Charlie Crist. The FDLE relied on incomplete school records and did not use ground-penetrating radar to map the cemetery.

The number even exceeds USF's earlier estimate of roughly 50, which was based on ground-penetrating radar.

Among the unidentified remains — many of which appear to have been buried unceremoniously, somewhat haphazardly and at varying depths — anthropologists found thousands of artifacts they hope to date and compare to school records to help determine the identities of the boys buried. They found belt buckles, zippers, coffin hardware, buttons, bottles of embalming fluid and a marble in a boy's pocket. They found more modern debris, signs that part of the cemetery had been used as a dump. They also found remains under a road, under a tree and spread throughout surrounding forest. Only 13 were found in the area marked as a cemetery with pipe crosses, which is on a forgotten corner of campus.

The team, led by forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle, who has called the project a "humanitarian effort," began work in early 2012. The tedious excavation didn't begin until August, after the university cleared political hurdles and won approval from Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. "This has always been about fulfilling a fundamental human right," Kimmerle said.

They hope DNA from the families of those known to have died at the school will also shed light on the identities of the remains. USF and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office have collected DNA from about a dozen families and are trying to track down more relatives of the dead.

The anthropologists will return to campus soon to continue to search for a purported second cemetery.

The state closed the facility in June 2011 after a century-long cycle of scandal and short-lived reform. The school, 60 miles west of Tallahassee, was founded in 1900 and was once the largest of its kind in the nation. It has been known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys, the Florida School for Boys and the Dozier School for Boys. Over the years, kids were locked in irons, beaten with a leather strap in a building called the White House, locked in isolation for as long as three weeks and hog-tied.

In October 2008, five former wards went public with stories of extreme physical and sexual abuse at the hands of guards. They were featured in a Tampa Bay Times series called For Their Own Good. More than 500 men have come forward with similar stories of being abused by staff at the school, according to a lawyer with Masterson & Hoag, the St. Petersburg firm representing the men.

Troy Tidwell, one of the few living guards accused of abuse, refused to talk to the Times but admitted in a deposition to spanking boys. He normally gave them 8 or 10 licks with a leather strap, he said.

Hundreds of men say that's a lie.

"They made me sit on a boy to hold him down because he couldn't take it," said Arthur Huntley, 68, still haunted by the memory. He and his brothers spent years at Dozier in the 1950s for skipping school. He wasn't surprised that researchers found far more graves than school records reflect. "We were always suspicious, because guys would run away and never be seen again," he said. "What are they trying to hide?"

Some Jackson County residents have fought the effort at every turn. When FDLE released its report in 2009, which concluded there were 31 graves, local historian and blogger Dale Cox touted his own corresponding research and said the media should apologize. "They printed wild accusations of murders and secret graves with no supporting evidence," he said, according to a Jackson County Times article headline "FDLE Confirms: No 'Mystery Graves' at Dozier." "Now they should make up for it."

Cox has since revised his estimate to 55.

"As far as Marianna and Jackson County are concerned, our community has been vindicated," he wrote Tuesday in a blog post headlined "USF confirms: No Mass Grave at Dozier School."

"The media will never say that and USF will never say that, but we know it and we can hold our heads a bit higher today."

Ovell Krell just wants her brother back. "It would be the answer to many a years of prayer," she said.

"I want to get him out of there and put him between my mother and daddy in Auburndale."

Source: Tampa Bay Times

Spreading Fear

December 11, 2012 permalink

Wendy McElroy suggests that it is not just social workers and child-care professionals who benefit from spreading fear of child abuse. The political class gains power from the same fears.



The Political Use and Abuse of Children

On December 7, President Obama signed the Child Protection Act of 2012. The act continues a political trend that harms children psychologically and endangers them physically — namely, the trend of fearmongering about child abuse.

Certainly, child abuse exists, but more than enough laws already exist to address the issue in all its manifestations. More than enough cameras and law-enforcement officers monitor the streets and the school system. Caution has become paranoia. And paranoia makes the state expand.

The psychological harm to children

On April 1, 2008, the New York Sun published an article by Lenore Skenazy, entitled “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone.” Skenazy’s son had been pleading with her to let him test his independence. She did not want to infantilize him into incompetence. So she dropped him off in downtown Manhattan at Bloomingdale’s with “a subway map, a MetroCard, a $20 bill, and several quarters, just in case he had to make a call.”

Skenazy explained her reasoning:

I trusted him to figure out that he should take the Lexington Avenue subway down, and the 34th Street crosstown bus home. If he couldn’t do that, I trusted him to ask a stranger. And then I even trusted that stranger not to think, “Gee, I was about to catch my train home, but now I think I’ll abduct this adorable child instead.”

All ended well — except for the response of readers. Fully half of them wanted to turn her in for child abuse; they branded her “America’s Worst Mom.” The other half applauded Skenazy for teaching the boy self-reliance rather than hobbling him in reaction to the extremely rare, random acts of pedophiles. After all, his best defense against a predator was to become street smart, with practical knowledge of his world.

Skenazy turned the experience and her parenting philosophy into the book Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry (2009) and a popular blog Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children. Skenazy’s is a refreshing one-woman protest against a society that erases the line between kindness and creepiness, leaving children unable to distinguish between the two.

But Skenazy does not lay blame correctly.

The hidden culprit

For decades, the government has deliberately crusaded to send society into a panic over child molesters, abusive parents, kidnappers, sex traffickers, and now bullies.

The government’s campaign of panic is a raging success. The elderly woman who bakes cookies for neighborhood children, the man who sits beside a girl in the only subway seat left, the parent whose son has bruises from a fall, anyone who volunteers to supervise kids — all of them are now suspected as child abusers. Many need to go through a police check, complete with fingerprinting, before they can access the privilege of volunteering to work with children. Men especially are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

Children have great political value. In the name of protecting children, state agencies break down the door that separates the private and public spheres. Every family is currently vulnerable to intrusion by Child Protective Services (CPS) acting on an anonymous tip; refusal to co-operate with them is seen as an indication of guilt. Pervasive monitoring of our personal communication is justified by the omnipresent possibility of child pornography.

Consider just one example. The “PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008” describes itself as, “An Act to require the Department of Justice to develop and implement a National Strategy [on] Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, to improve the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, to increase resources for regional computer forensic labs, and to make other improvements to increase the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute child predators.”

It could as easily be titled, “The Monitor Everyone All the Time in the Name of Children Act.”

A lucrative and politically powerful “child-abuse industry” has arisen. It includes psychotherapists, social workers, lawyers, expert witnesses, foster parents, media pundits, researchers, bureaucrats, police, and politicians. The industry operates with little transparency or accountability. Vague and elastic definitions of child abuse are used to justify its actions. The public view of child abuse is a battered, bleeding infant; the legal view is much broader, including any physical or emotional mistreatment or neglect of a child.

Two bitter ironies

The first bitter irony here is that the abuse hysteria actually endangers children. Although it purports to make children safer, the constant warnings only fill them with a suspicion and alarm that separate them from their surest defense against danger. The average person on the street feels a natural protectiveness toward a child in distress and would go out of their way to help them.

I remember crouching beside a little girl who stood alone in a department store, crying uncontrollably. I asked her, “Do you know where your mommy and daddy are?” The girl pointed in a direction where there was no one to be seen. I took her by the hand and wandered that way until we found her mother, who thanked me profusely.

That was years ago. Today, the mother might snatch the girl from my side and shoot an accusing glare my way. Today, I might well leave the little girl alone and go in search of a security guard or someone else to bear the risk of assisting.

Real dangers confront children, and not merely in the form of predators: getting hit by cars, falling from playground equipment, getting lost, swimming too far out. With the current hysteria, people who would otherwise help a kid might keep walking by. The child in need has become a dangerous stranger toward whom it is legally imprudent to extend a helping hand — let alone a hand that touches.

The second bitter irony is that, while proclaiming itself the protector of children, the state has become a massive child abuser. TSA agents routinely perform body searches that would be called child molestation if done by anyone out of uniform. CPS is notorious for removing children from families on flimsy grounds and then placing them in foster homes or institutions where they are harmed or worse. Public schools are starting to tag students with the same RFID chips used to monitor cattle. The juvenile courts spill over with minor drug offenders and other victimless criminals.


In a sense, the state is correct. There is an epidemic of child abuse, but the state is causing it. As a final bitter irony, the state is able to impose this broad net of social control so easily for the very same reason that the average person is a child’s best defense. The common man will protect a child, and so he is reluctant to protest any political measures he is told will provide that protection.

Source: Future of Freedom Foundation

OACAS Makes False Claim

December 10, 2012 permalink

The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies has realeased its Child Welfare Report 2012 (pdf). On page eight it makes the claim that children's aid societies lack the legal authority to protect youth over the age of 16. John Dunn unmasks the claim as an outright falsification. The authority is in the law now, but requires the consent of the person to be protected. What CAS really wants is authority to impose its services against the will of the beneficiary.



OACAS Spreads False Information in Child Welfare Report 2012

The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS) released a report titled 'Child Welfare Report 2012' wherein Recommendation #3 contains blatant lies to the public, to the Minister of Children and Youth Services, to the Media, and to MPPs, by spreading false information regarding Children's Aid Societies (CAS) inability to protect 16 and 17 year old youth.

In the recommendation, the OACAS knowingly, falsely claims that "Incredibly, Children’s Aid Societies are not permitted to protect children who come to their attention after their 16th birthday" and that "If a new case of possible abuse or neglect comes to the attention of a Children’s Aid and the youth is 16 or older, the agency is powerless to act."

Currently section 27 of the Child and Family Services Act already gives authority to CAS and to the courts to provide services to youth over sixteen if the youth want such services and enter into an agreement for such.

Section 27 reads as follows:

Consent to service: person over sixteen

A service provider may provide a service to a person who is sixteen years of age or older only with the person’s consent, except where the court orders under this Act that the service be provided to the person. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 27 (1).

Source: CFSA

If you read it carefully it basically says that a CAS and a youth sixteen or older, if the youth wants it, can enter into an agreement for services (foster care or other services). It also says that even if the youth does not want the services, if the CAS convinces the court that the youth needs it, the court has the power to order those services.

If the OACAS and the CAS were to win changes to the legislation as they are asking government to do, it would take away the older youth's choice entirely making it mandatory that the sixteen and seventeen year old youth go into foster care or receive forced services even if they don't want them.

Basically throwing away the UN convention on the Rights of the Child to be heard and / or considered in the decision making process concerning their lives.

John Dunn of the Foster Care Council of Canada has sent the following e-mail to the OACAS to ask for clarification on this issue and the OACAS refuses to respond to it.

Media Relations

According to the Home page of the OACAS, the OACAS and Ontario Children’s Aid Societies recommend raising the age of protection to 18 and they believe Children’s Aid should have the ability to intervene when older children are abused or neglected and be able to work with children and their families, and help them make connections in the community to access supports and services.

However, currently section 27 of the Child and Family Services Act already gives the Societies and the courts authority to provide services to youth over the age of sixteen as long as the youth wants to receive those services and gives consent. (See below)

Consent to service: person over sixteen

A service provider may provide a service to a person who is sixteen years of age or older only with the person’s consent, except where the court orders under this Act that the service be provided to the person. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 27 (1).

Can the OACAS please explain why they are lobbying the government to increase the age of protection to 18 when they already have the ability to do so under the current legislation if the youth consents to such services?


John Dunn
Executive Director
Foster Care Council of Canada

As an MPP, please ensure youth in care or under the eye of a CAS can continue to choose whether they want to be apprehended or not, or to receive services against their wishes by default. Currently the CAS can do so with checks and balances in place via the courts. Don't take away the choice of youth in care to stay at home if they so wish.

Source: Foster Care News, John Dunn

No One Loves You

December 10, 2012 permalink

After Sacramento County CPS fired social worker Blancho Brumfield, a newspaper got her file through freedom of information. She cheated by $35,000 on her timesheet, converted a state car for personal use and abused foster children in her own care. She and her husband locked children in a garage without food or water for long periods, encouraged the children to fight and ridiculed them by saying things such as they were foster children because no one loved them. Brumfield is continuing legal appeals to get her job back.



The Public Eye: Sacramento County fires Child Protective Services worker

Sacramento County has fired a Child Protective Services investigator because she allegedly abused children in her foster home, used a county car to commute to work each day and counted the commutes on her timecard, records show.

As The Bee reported earlier this year, the county hired Blancho Brumfield as an emergency response investigator in 2004, when she was under scrutiny by the California Department of Social Services for abuse reports at her Vallejo foster home.

In January of this year, one of Brumfield's former foster children called the county to say she shouldn't be working with children. The county placed Brumfield on administrative leave and launched an investigation.

The investigation raises a number of questions about the county's hiring of Brumfield and how it responded to the news about her background. The Bee obtained a copy of the investigation through a California Public Records Act request.

Brumfield was fired July 31. In its letter to Brumfield explaining the decision, the county cited an investigation by the Department of Social Services that was completed in 2005.

The department interviewed five of Brumfield's former foster children, and upheld allegations that she and her husband locked children in a garage without food or water for long periods, encouraged the children to fight and ridiculed them by saying things such as they were foster children because no one loved them, records state.

In its dismissal letter, the county cited its own investigation, which found that Blancho Brumfield stole public funds by using a county car to get to and from her CPS job each day and by including the commutes on her timecard. Her actions, both violations of county policy, cost the county about $35,000 in the two years reviewed, records state.

Brumfield did not return messages from The Bee. According to county records, she admitted using county vehicles to get to and from work and marking commutes as work time.

She denied at least some of the abuse allegations and tried to submit an old psychological exam of a former foster child to try to discredit his story. The county said she violated privacy law and ethical standards by doing so, and noted that she didn't dispute the state's findings when she lost her foster care license.

Brumfield is "not taking responsibility for her actions and continues to blame the child," a hearing officer wrote in a review of the case, adding that a request by her union representative to consider a child's state of mind was "outrageous."

Brumfield lost her first appeal of the decision, and will receive another hearing before an arbitrator next month.

The findings about her beg further investigation, child welfare advocates say.

"This casts a shadow over all the investigations she has done in her 7 1/2 years at the county," said Bill Grimm, senior counsel at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland.

Grimm estimates that Brumfield handled about 1,500 investigations at CPS, where she was assigned the most pressing cases of alleged abuse and neglect of children.

CPS Deputy Director Michelle Callejas said in an interview Thursday that the agency reviewed some of Brumfield's work and found no problems.

Callejas said she did not know how many cases were reviewed or how the agency reviewed her work, but was satisfied with the review.

In its dismissal letter, the county accused Brumfield of increasing community distrust of CPS, which has faced repeated criticism for systemic problems that have contributed to the deaths of children under its responsibility.

In the investigative records, the county repeatedly said Brumfield, the state and Brumfield's foster care agency failed to notify the county about her record of abuse.

But Grimm and Ed Howard, senior counsel at the Children's Advocacy Institute in San Diego, said Sacramento County had a duty to find out about her background.

Callejas said she doesn't know what the county did to check her references, but said employers are often limited about what they can say about a past employee.

A Department of Social Services spokesman said earlier this year that the department told the county about the investigation in 2004, after Brumfield was hired by the county.

But Callejas said the contact consisted of a state investigator wanting to talk to a social worker about the case and didn't include any effort to notify CPS management about Brumfield's involvement.

When a state official completed the abuse investigation in 2005, she summarized the findings and included a warning: "It should be noted that Blancho Brumfield is a Sacramento County Emergency Response Social Worker."

Nevertheless, when the state agreed to settle the case with Brumfield two years later and banned her from working in state-licensed facilities, it specifically exempted her work as a Sacramento County social worker. In records, the county said it wasn't informed about the agreement and would never have accepted it if asked.

At least one of Brumfield's supervisors was aware of her past record, though.

In a statement given to the county, Mary Ingram, now retired, said Brumfield told her about the abuse investigation. Ingram said Brumfield told her that she was "accused of slapping a child … all she said was that she was accused and not found guilty and by her choice she would not have foster children again."

Callejas said steps have been taken to prevent similar problems from happening in the future. The state Department of Social Services has agreed to notify the county about similar investigations involving CPS employees and will let the county search its licensing database to check on job candidates, she said.

The county also started using an FBI database to check for criminal records nationwide, she said.

Source: The Sacramento Bee

Serial Killing

December 9, 2012 permalink

Colette Prevost
Collette Prevost
Executive Director, Sudbury-Manitoulin Children's Aid Society

Source: Rainbow Schools

The count of children dying in the custody of Sudbury CAS this year has reached three. No details on the latest case yet.

Neil Haskett With great regret, another child has died in the "possession" of the Children's Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin dismal Foster care system. This death makes it at least the [third] child this year alone. One would suspect that with all these deaths, that the Executive Director Colette Prevost with the Sudbury CAS would be held to some sort of higher level of accountability for these children. But we know differently don't we?

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

High-Profile Killer is Foster Graduate

December 8, 2012 permalink

Ki-Suk Han
click for larger image

New York was shocked by the front-page photo of Ki-Suk Han just before his death. The man who pushed Han in front of the train was Naeem Davis who grew up in foster care in western Pennsylvania. Foster parents Jim and Ruth Scialabba have declined requests for comment.



Man accused in New York subway killing has Beaver County ties

Naeem Davis
Naeem Davis (front), the suspect in the New York Subway pushing case, arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, December 5, 2012. A New York man was arrested on Wednesday in the death of a subway passenger who was shoved onto the tracks ahead of an oncoming train at a station near Times Square earlier this week, police said. Davis, 30, was charged with one count of intentional murder, second degree, and one count of murder with depraved indifference, second degree, police said.
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Naeem Davis broke into homes and a school in Beaver County, stealing computers, cell phones and other items, and even bought laptops stolen from three Beaver Falls police cars, court records show.

“He reminded me of the type of guy where he knew he was going to get caught, but he liked the excitement of doing what he was doing,” said North Sewickley police Sgt. Jeff Becze, a Beaver Falls officer when he arrested Davis in 2002 on theft and related charges.

Police on Wednesday charged Davis, 30, a former Beaver County resident, with a crime that stunned New Yorkers, accusing him of shoving a Queens man onto subway tracks and into the path of an oncoming train, killing him.

The attack became all the more shocking after The New York Post ran a photo in Tuesday’s edition showing Ki-Suck Han with his head turned toward the train, his arms reaching up but unable to climb off the tracks in time.

Freelance photographer R. Umar Abbasi told NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday that he was trying to alert the motorman by flashing his camera and taking the picture.

He said he was surprised that people nearer to the victim didn’t try to help in the 22 seconds before the train struck.

“It took me a second to figure out what was happening. ... I saw the lights in the distance. My mind was to alert the train,” Abbasi said.

“The people who were standing close to him ... they could have moved and grabbed him and pulled him up. No one made an effort.”

Witnesses told investigators they saw Davis talking to himself Monday afternoon before he approached Han, 58, at the Times Square station, got into an altercation with him and pushed him into the train’s path. Police charged Davis, whom they described as homeless, with second-degree murder and related offenses.

Davis was taken into custody for questioning Tuesday when security video showed a man fitting the suspect’s description working with street vendors near Rockefeller Center. Police said Davis made statements implicating himself in Han’s death.

Han’s only child, Ashley, 20, said at a news conference Wednesday that her father was always willing to help someone. But when asked about why no one helped him up, she said: “What’s done is done.”

“The thought of someone helping him up in a matter of seconds would have been great,” she said.

Court records show Davis had addresses in Beaver Falls, New Brighton and Ohioville from 1999 to 2010 when he was charged in more than a dozen cases ranging from theft to vandalism.

According to a 1998 account in the Beaver County Times, Davis was born with fetal-alcohol syndrome and became the foster child of Jim and Ruth Scialabba of New Brighton, coming to them from Philadelphia when he was 7.

Members of the Scialabba family did not respond to a knock on the door for comment. One man went into and out of the New Brighton home but did not acknowledge reporters standing outside.

Donna Reisinger, the Scialabba’s next-door neighbor, said she remembered Davis but never knew him well.

“I remember him. It’s been quite a while since he lived with them. I have not seen him in years,” she said.

In 2002, Beaver Falls police charged Davis with buying three laptops stolen from police cruisers.

Becze said that when police went to the group home where Davis lived to investigate the thefts, he opened his room door, with the laptops in plain view.

“He said, ‘I was waiting for you guys,’” Becze said. “He wasn’t combative at all. I don’t remember him being violent.”

Davis pleaded guilty to a theft charge and was sentenced to one year of probation.

It was unclear why Davis was living in a group home. Beaver Falls police Chief Charles Jones didn’t return phone messages seeking comment.

Davis also listed a different group home in Ohioville in court documents charging him with stealing a purse and other items from the cars of people living nearby in 2003.

North Sewickley police said Davis entered Riverside Beaver County High School on Nov. 30, 2001, during a basketball tournament and stole computer equipment.

Beaver County President Judge John D. McBride sentenced Davis, who pleaded guilty to theft, to one to two years in state prison, followed by three years’ probation in that case and several others.

Davis served probationary periods or jail time on additional theft charges filed against him in 2002 and 2003.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Drugs Damage and Kill Children

December 8, 2012 permalink

The Toronto Star, Canada's voice of political correctness, has printed an article exposing the harm done to children by prescription psychotropic drugs. There is not much new here for fixcas readers, but the Star is bringing the message to the public. The scariest part, not mentioned by the Star: Every prescription written by a doctor for a child is mandatory. Parents who refuse to drug their children are compelled to do so under the doctrine of "medical neglect".



Adult antidepressants suspected in suicides of Canadian kids

David Juurlink
"The next time a girl is in your office crying that her boyfriend broke up with her, that’s not a reason to prescribe an antidepressant,” said Sunnybrook hospital's Dr. David Juurlink.

Powerful antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs approved only for use in adults are suspected of harming — in some cases killing — Canadian children.

Though Health Canada and the drug makers acknowledge the drugs are not approved for use in anyone under 18, doctors — often general practitioners with little psychiatric training — are prescribing these medications with little oversight.

Health Canada told the Star it has no jurisdiction to deal with the problem.

The regulator concedes the drugs may hurt kids but said it is up to drug companies to communicate the risks and doctors to safely prescribe the medications.

A Star investigation has found nearly 400 cases of children and teens suffering serious, sometimes fatal side effects suspected to have been caused by these drugs since 2002.

A 9-year-old boy’s breath shortened, stomach twisted and balance faltered before he died while on three different antipsychotics.

A 15-year-old boy experienced an irregular heartbeat and convulsed before killing himself while on antipsychotic Seroquel.

A 15-year-old girl on Prozac took her life in 2011.

Twenty-eight cases resulted in death, including the suicide of a 9-year-old boy three weeks after he started taking Zoloft, an antidepressant, in 2006. Convulsions and suicide attempts were among the most frequently reported suspected side effects.

“The prescribing of drugs falls within the practice of medicine . . . (Doctors’) professional judgment includes prescribing a drug to treat a condition for which it is not specifically authorized by Health Canada,” the country’s health watchdog told the Star.

Pfizer Canada, maker of Zoloft and Effexor XR, also an antidepressant, and three other drugs reviewed by the Star, said: “These medicines have not been approved for pediatric use by Health Canada. Pfizer Canada cannot recommend the use of any of its medications outside of product labelling.”

In about 35 per cent of the cases reviewed by the Star, kids 12 and younger were reported to have suffered serious side effects, including a 5-year-old girl who suffered seizures while on the antidepressant paroxetine (a generic version of Paxil), and a 6-year-old girl who experienced aggression, panic and personality disorder while on antidepressant Effexor XR.

“I am gobsmacked when I hear that. Why on Earth is a doctor putting a 5- or 6-year-old on a psychotropic drug? They’d better have a good reason,” said Dr. David Juurlink, head of the clinical pharmacology department at Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital and a drug safety researcher.

So little is known about how these powerful drugs affect youth that the product pamphlets say the pills are not recommended for those younger than 18.

Pfizer and other drug companies say a lack of “sufficient clinical experience” or proven “safety and efficacy” are reasons why the drugs are not approved for kids. GlaxoSmithKline, maker of antidepressant Paxil, said “clinical studies . . . failed to demonstrate efficacy.”

Yet doctors are allowed to prescribe these drugs in what is known as an “off-label” use of the medication.

Each of the nearly 400 adverse reaction reports reviewed by the Star is the opinion of the doctor, pharmacist or parent that a particular drug has caused a side effect. Patients’ names and locations are taken out of the reports to protect their privacy.

About 75 per cent of the side-effect reports reviewed by the Star were made by doctors and other health-care professionals, and done so voluntarily. Canada’s flawed federal drug safety law does not require doctors to report side effects, even serious ones.

Health Canada and drug companies say side-effect reports show only a suspected connection between the drug and side effect but no medical proof that one caused the other.

The Star’s data analysis showed antipsychotic risperidone was named as the suspected cause in nearly 70 serious side-effect reports — more than any other drug reviewed by the Star.

Paxil was listed as the suspected cause in more than 50 cases, including six deaths.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department slapped GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil, with $3 billion in fines following government allegations that, among other things, the company promoted the drug for use in kids while concealing evidence that it was ineffective.

Australian child psychiatrist Jon Jureidini, who has extensively researched Paxil’s safety and effectiveness in youth, said, “none of the antidepressant trials in children show any clinical advantage of the drug over a placebo. The ones that claim to have (shown such an advantage) have all got flaws in them, either scientific or in the way that they’re presented. That means we have no evidence at all to support the use of antidepressants in children.”

The problem is that many doctors, as well as Health Canada — which sends advisories and warnings about drugs to the medical community — do not know very much about the medications.

“We don’t know a lot about it simply because there is still a lot we don’t know about the brain. You will find fewer studies that look at this age group compared to adults with depression,” said Dr. Amy Cheung, a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook hospital who treats teens with depression. “There’s enough research data out there to show antidepressants are beneficial in the majority of teens with depression but in a small percentage of cases, patients can experience serious side effects.”

Some kids need the drugs. Dr. Cheung said she has seen children under 12 developing serious, debilitating mental illness such as anxiety, depression or schizophrenia and requiring medication.

Relying on their own experience practicing medicine, scientific journal articles and other sources, doctors can prescribe these drugs to kids. Many of the drugs are dispensed with pamphlets that warn of suicidal thinking and actions, and other possible side effects.

British Columbia’s government has issued guidelines for physicians diagnosing and treating children with depression. Doctors are directed to try “basic interventions” and therapy before resorting to prescribing pills.

In Ontario, however, neither the Ministry of Health nor the College of Physicians has a policy specifically on prescribing these unapproved drugs to children. (Non-regulatory professional associations such as the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry issue practice guidelines.)


  • More and more kids are taking these drugs. Health Canada estimates prescriptions of antipsychotic drugs to children and teens in Canada spiked 114 per cent from 2005 to 2009.
  • Health regulators around the world have published warnings that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal behaviour in kids and teens. The Star found these drugs were associated with 17 youth suicides and 28 suicide attempts in Canada since 2002.

To see a child psychiatrist can take more than a year in some parts of the province, and in less urban areas access to expertise is even more restricted, said Dr. Cheung, who added that talk therapy is often only available to those with private health insurance.

“Most family doctors have only a small proportion of their medical training focused on mental health compared to the training they receive in the diagnosis and management of physical illnesses,” she said. “But a large proportion of their child and adolescent cases are actually related to mental health issues.

“When a patient comes to you, depressed for three years and considering taking their own life, you try to do what you can for that teenager. Medication is one of the things you should consider as part of the treatment plan along with talk therapy.”

Depression experts urge caution when reviewing side-effect reports because depressed kids, before starting medication, are already at greater risk of suicidal behaviour. As a result, it can be difficult to tell whether suicidal thinking is caused by a teen’s depression or the drug used to treat the depression.

Still, doctors worry about their widespread use.

“The next time a girl is in your office crying that her boyfriend broke up with her, that’s not a reason to prescribe an antidepressant,” said drug safety expert Dr. Juurlink. “Doctors are part of the problem. We are way too free with our prescription pads. Partly we have a desire to do something helpful and partly we have a desire to get to the next patient.”

It is crucial that doctors closely monitor young patients, especially during the first few weeks of medication. “That’s when the “s--- tends to hit the fan,” Juurlink said.

In 99 cases, the Star found children and teens suffered suspected serious side effects a month or less after starting the drug. In one case, an 8-year-old boy developed facial spasms and his muscles began to involuntarily twist and contract three days after he began taking risperidone, an antipsychotic.

Overworked or inexperienced doctors, however, may not closely track their patients, or the patient may skip follow-up appointments.

“Medical clinics are often not set up to allow doctors to closely track patients who miss appointments. Doctors also cannot force teens to return for appointments,” Dr. Cheung said. “It is critical that families try to help ensure these teens make it to their appointments.”

A recent review of the effect of risperidone and other antipsychotics on children found an increased risk of weight gain and movement disorders when compared to kids on placebos.

Calgary doctor and researcher Tamara Pringsheim, who did the study with funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, said doctors and families of patients need to aggressively monitor kids on these powerful drugs.

“The most common reason an antipsychotic is being prescribed is not for schizophrenia but for ADHD,” she told the Star, adding that she has developed and is now promoting guidelines doctors should follow to detect side effects. “I felt physicians do need some guidance on how to keep it safe.”

Some countries take regulation of these drugs seriously.

In the GlaxoSmithKline case, the company pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from its failure to report safety data and “unlawful promotion” of certain drugs.

Part of the U.S. investigators’ case focused on the now infamous Study 329 on Paxil.

In a 2001 report, Study 329’s authors claimed their research showed Paxil was “generally well tolerated and effective for major depression in adolescents.”

The report became one of the most cited pieces of medical literature in support of antidepressants for youth, and an internal memo to Paxil’s sales representatives lauded it as a “landmark study” that “demonstrates REMARKABLE Efficacy and Safety (sic).”

But the results were skewed by selective reporting, said Dr. Jureidini, who co-authored a 2008 journal article on Study 329’s inaccuracies.

Study 329’s authors exaggerated findings on Paxil’s effectiveness and downplayed serious adverse reactions, Jureidini and his colleagues found.

Last year alone, Paxil was named the suspected cause of serious side effects in youth in eight reported cases.

“If you look at the science of Paxil, it says it shouldn’t be used at all in children,” Jureidini said. He said it’s “surprising and disappointing” that Canadian doctors are still prescribing the drug to kids and teens.

GlaxoSmithKline said Study 329’s authors “fairly presented the results” of the study and the company disputes “allegations that the … (2001) article on Study 329 was false or misleading.”

GSK said its plea with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding Paxil concerned only “some occasions when GSK sales representatives in the U.S. promoted the use of Paxil to physicians for patients under the age of 18, an unapproved use.

“The matters resolved as part of this settlement do not reflect the company we are today.”

In the U.K., the health regulator issued a blunt statement to doctors in 2003 that many antidepressants “are not suitable” for those younger than 18.

Many of the product pamphlets say the drugs “should not be used” by youth. Meanwhile, in Canada the language in the pamphlets distributed to doctors and patients is less forceful. They say the drugs are “not recommended,” “not indicated” or “not for use” in youth.

“The difference in language is probably a major deterrent,” said Dr. Juurlink. “When a doctor is told they should not do something, they generally don’t do it, or they think long and hard before they actually do. Simple changes in the wording are important.”

Several doctors told the Star that Health Canada is not doing enough to ensure drugs prescribed for unapproved uses are safe or effective.

Health Canada should track these off-label uses of drugs and check whether the unapproved treatments are medically sound, said Dr. Tewodros Eguale of McGill University.

Eguale led a recent study that found 11 per cent of roughly 250,000 prescriptions given to Quebec patients from 2005 to 2009 were for unapproved uses.

The study found antipsychotic drugs quetiapine and olanzapine were most often prescribed for unapproved treatments, such as depression and mood disorders, for which there is no strong evidence they are effective.

Without an effective treatment, a patient’s depression could worsen and lead to self-harm, he said.

Health Canada is “responsible for the safety and effectiveness of the drug and they’re also responsible for the general public’s health,” Eguale said. “It’s time to really look at the effect of when these drugs are used off-label.”

For Dr. Juurlink, the problem is more fundamental. “We would be facing a much less grave situation with regard to drug safety concerns if physicians were simply less eager to prescribe medications and patients less eager to take them.”

Source: Toronto Star

Blast at CAS

December 8, 2012 permalink

In a party game one player gives an improbable story, challenging his opponent to add a fact so it makes sense. Example:

A man walks into a bar and asks for a glass of water. The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says thank you and walks away.

For today's real life version of the puzzle, David Hutchins, a man unhappy with CAS, found a loaded shotgun and carried it on a Windsor street. A policeman arrested him and he was sentenced to three years. The judge said the mandatory sentence was unfair, and Hutchins really needed mental health treatment.

In the sample game, the man had hiccups. What is the fact that causes the Windsor story to make sense?



Man with shotgun gets three years

A 39-year-old Windsor man with mental health issues was sentenced Friday to three years in prison - the mandatory minimum - for having a loaded gun he found, a punishment his lawyer and even the judge suggested was too severe.

David Hutchins pleaded guilty to carrying a loaded shotgun on a Windsor street May 4, when police - acting on a tip that he had sent a text message indicating that he may be suicidal and upset with the local Children's Aid Society - arrested him.

Because the gun was a loaded prohibited weapon, Ontario Court Justice Guy DeMarco sentenced Hutchins to three years in prison, as the law requires, but suggested his hands were tied and that the punishment might be unduly harsh.

DeMarco recommended that Hutchins, who had no prior criminal record, receive psychological treatment while incarcerated.

"The tragedy is that there is a mandatory minimum, and this person is mentally ill," Hutchins's lawyer Christina Sweet said after the sentencing.

"The mandatory minimum isn't going to help him.

"I believe you could accomplish more by having him in the community where he's got a treatment order that ensures he's taking his medications on a regular basis."

Assistant Crown attorney George Spartinos, who read in the facts, told the court that Hutchins said he found the shotgun in a black bag on May 2 at the Ford Test Track.

Around 12: 30 a.m. May 4, Hutchins texted his wife to say he wanted to talk, that he wasn't thinking right, and to tell their children he loved them.

He also said the CAS was going to get "a blast."

Police found him at about 3 a.m. walking eastbound on Assumption Street at Moy, about three blocks from the CAS building.

Officers asked if he had a gun and he said he did, in his backpack. The gun had two shells in the chamber, while Hutchins had a clear plastic bag with three more shotgun shells.

He was arrested without incident.

"He was remorseful. He was not himself when that happened," Sweet said. "He wasn't taking his medications.

"But he was assessed and found fit to stand trial."

Sweet said her client, a father of two who works in construction, indicated that he actually was glad police stopped him, since he thought he might hurt himself.

But she considers the punishment disproportionate to the crime.

"A mandatory minimum undermines the ability of judges to use their discretion," Sweet said.

"Not everybody fits a stereotype. He's a really great guy. He really is."

Source: Windsor Star

I Am Not a Social Worker

December 8, 2012 permalink

Ontario's children's aid societies have sidestepped the registration requirement in the Social Work and Social Service Work Act by identifying staff on their business cards as "child protection worker". Only a small portion of CAS workers are registered with the College, as required by the act. See links to the college and a partial list.

Two images show a pre-printed form from Durham CAS. In the signature block, the form names the signatory as "Durham C.A.S. social worker".



Durham CAS agreement

Durham CAS signature block

Source: email from parent who does not want the child named

Use of title, social worker

46. (1) No person except a registered social worker shall use the English title “social worker” or “registered social worker” or the French title “travailleur social” or “travailleur social inscrit” or an abbreviation of any of those titles to represent expressly or by implication that he or she is a social worker or registered social worker. 1998, c. 31, s. 46 (1).


(2) No person except a registered social worker shall represent or hold out expressly or by implication that he or she is a social worker or a registered social worker. 1998, c. 31, s. 46 (2).

Source: Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998

Addendum: Later the same father posted an affidavit in which Wendy Traynor swears: I am a social worker employed by the Durham Children's Aid Society.

I am not a crook

Propaganda Lesson

December 8, 2012 permalink

In a brief four-minute interview FACS Niagara child welfare supervisor Bernardine Qua provides examples of several standard techniques of propaganda. The video is in the source link or local copy (flv).

  • Virtue words:
    adoption, specialized needs, kin community, opportunity, permanency, stability.
  • Managing the news:
    Ad nauseam:

    This interview is part of an endless campaign of media articles favorable to the adoption system.
  • Appeal to authority:
    Qua mentions legislation and the courts.
  • Lying and deception:
    Qua says FACS works diligently to reunite children with their birth families or extended family. Reality is that CAS leaves no stone unturned in its efforts to permanently separate children and parents.
  • Disinformation:
    • more is known about the older child.
      Not mentioned: adoption agencies typically conceal negative information about the adoption prospect.
    • courts are part of decision making, creating transparency.
      In real life, family courts are secret (confidential).
    • legislation requires permanent plans for children.
      Reality: most stay in foster (temporary) homes until age of majority.
  • Demonizing the enemy:
    Parents are tagged with the phrases: mental health, drug abuse, parental learning disability, lack of capacity to parent.
  • Thought-terminating cliché:
    We are about finding the right home for a child, not a child for a home.
  • Transfer:
    (Projecting the qualities of one person or group on to another). Qua tells the anecdote of the adopters who fell in love with the hearing-impaired blind boy. So all adopters are driven by charitable motives.

Background music does not appear in the list of techniques, but adds to the effect. Qua also uses her forum to pitch political correctness. Adopters can be single men or women, or same-sex couples (even traditional families!). Targeted subsidies are available to low-income adopters.

There is one attached comment from a real parent giving the other side.



FACS raising awareness of adoption and related issues

National Adoption month just ended in November, which is a time that helps build awareness of adoption and adoption-related issues.

Please view this video with Family and Children’s Services (FACS) Bernadine Qua, a child welfare supervisor at the Niagara Falls location.

One Comment on "FACS raising awareness of adoption and related issues"

“Why kids are in care?” Educate yourself. Investigate the 2 above websites.

The 47 CAS/FACS get 1.5 BILLION dollars each year in funding. 63% of that is for the salaries of the employees. It is child kidnapping for money organization.

There are approx. 50 civil lawsuits against CAS/FACS.

When my family files 51.

They took my 7 yr old child from a house and he was never in any peril or danger.

2 weeks later in CAS custody, he became a abuse victim.

They have not and will not, admit responsibility. In fact they have stated they did nothing wrong. All the people, the CAS office director, case worker, ocl lawyer, and foster home are still open and operating and being paid.

CAS/FACS is the most dangerous and funded child taking for paycheck organization in Canada.

Source: Bullet News Niagara

Grinch Strikes

December 7, 2012 permalink

British Columbia social worker Donna Fraser has sent out notice that foster children will not be receiving Christmas presents this year.



From: Fraser, Donna L MCF:EX []
Sent: December-03-12 3:03 PM
Subject: Christmas Gifts for James

Please be advised that due to cutbacks, MCFD will not be supplying Christmas gifts for children in care.

As parents and extended family, you are still expected to provide a gift for your child if you wish to do so.

Thank you.

Donna Fraser, B.S.W.
Child Protection Social Worker
Shop Steward
Ministry of Children and Family Development
Collaborative Response Team - EFD
#125 - 1165 Battle Street, Kamloops, BC V2C 2N4
Phone: (250) 371-3600 Fax: (250) 371-3647

Source: email

Maybe this story explains where the presents went.



David Rennie: Fired Salvation Army executive director surrenders to police

David Rennie
David Rennie, executive director of Salvation Army, seen in undated Salvation Army photo. photo

Nov 21, 2012 The executive director of a Toronto facility has been fired after an internal audit uncovered more than $2 million in missing toys, food and donations.

Former Salvation Army executive director David Rennie has been charged in connection with the theft of $2 million worth of toys from the Salvation Army’s toy and food distribution centre in Toronto.

Rennie, 51, was arrested after he turned himself in Monday morning. He faces charges of theft over $5,000, possession of property and criminal breach of trust. He was released on a promise to appear in court on Jan. 4.

“We’re alleging the thefts took place under David Rennie’s control and without the permission of the Salvation Army,” Det.-Sgt. Jim Gotell of 33 Division said at a news conference.

“We’re alleging that the toys were going to be redirected to other parties and sold for profit,” said Gotell.

Investigators identified Northern Sales Group, a company with a warehouse located at Weston Rd. and Steeles Ave., as a wholesaler involved in the redistribution scheme.

A team of detectives is looking for a second person of interest who is connected to Northern Sales Group.

“We’re making attempts to arrest him,” Gotell said.

Police have been investigating thefts — which occurred over two years — since Nov. 6, following an internal audit by the Salvation Army, Gotell said.

Rennie was on paid leave after an employee blew the whistle on the theft in August. He was fired last week.

On Friday, police uncovered a massive cache of goods — including nearly 150 skids of toddler playpens, porcelain dolls, chocolate bars and other items — at a warehouse in Brampton, where Northern Sales Group had cold storage space.

On Saturday, a second cache of goods police believe belong to the Salvation Army was uncovered at Northern Sales Group’s warehouse on Garyray Dr. in North York — a second of four search warrants executed in the last 72 hours.

The two other search warrants — at residences in Toronto and Durham Region — yielded documents that Gotell said police believe will assist in the ongoing investigation.

As for the recovered property, Gotell said police are working with the Crown Attorney’s office to have the items returned to the Salvation Army “as soon as possible” and in time for Christmas.

Police are currently working on an itemized inventory with photographs to provide to the Crown.

Source: Hamilton Spectator

Addendum: From the same source that forwarded the email, here is a retraction:



Dear Colleagues,

You may be aware that there are reports in social media that the Ministry will not be supplying Christmas gifts to children in care. This is not accurate and there has been no change to the current practice regarding gifts for children and youth in care. We would like to clarify the use of some discretionary funding for children in the care of the director under the Child, Family and Community Service Act.

The vast majority of our children in care are placed with foster care families and part of the maintenance payment they receive from the ministry is to cover presents for events and milestones in the child or youth’s life which would include holiday gifts.

For those children and youth where this is not the case then the child/youth worker has the ability and is encouraged to purchase a small gift. As has been the case in previous years, this purchase would be under the umbrella of recognizing milestones and other important events for a child or youth where the purchases of small gifts are allowed up to a maximum yearly amount of $100 per child or youth.

We would appreciate your assistance in reviewing this with your Community Service Managers, Team Leaders and Social Workers who are responsible for providing services to children and youth in care.

Doug Hughes
Provincial Director of Child Welfare
Bev Dicks
ADM Service Delivery

Source: Facebook, MCFD Campaign

Christmas grinch

Ayn Free

December 6, 2012 permalink

Ayn Van Dyk will be coming home. No exact date yet. Earlier articles: [1] [2] [3] [4].

Derek Hoare I have some big news, which will be difficult to explain in a single post, I will get online this weekend to elaborate. Ready... Ayn is coming home! an agreement was signed on Tuesday for her return. It is a sect 60 agreement with no finding of a need for protection. I cannot explain the flood of emotions we are experiencing. I am of course elated and will come online in a day or two, I'm tediously typing this on my phone but will spend much more time when I come on. Thank you so very much everyone.

Source: Facebook, Derek Hoare

Addendum: More in the press.



Autistic girl to be returned home to dad

Derek Hoare and Ayn Van Dyk
Derek Hoare is shown with daughter Ayn Van Dyk in an undated photo from a few years ago. Ayn, who has autism, was removed from Hoare’s care 18 months ago, and his battle to have her returned home is nearing the end.

Single dad Derek Hoare has spent 18 months fighting the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to return his autistic daughter home.

Last week, they signed an agreement to do so, just three days before the trial on the matter was to begin.

Hoare is now making plans to bring his little girl, Ayn Van Dyk, almost 11 years old, back where he has always said she belongs – with him and her two brothers.

Hoare said the ministry has agreed to pay for intensive in-home support for Ayn and one of her siblings, who also has autism.

The final details are being worked out, and then Ayn will return to her dad’s care.

“I think it’s going to go really, really well,” Hoare said, although he is angry that it took so long to get to this point.

Ayn was taken from school by MCFD representatives in June 2011 after Hoare refused to sign her over to their care. The removal came four days after Ayn had disappeared from her Mt. Lehman home for three hours, resulting in a search by the Abbotsford Police.

She turned up safely in a neighbor’s backyard, but Hoare believes the incident – and episodes at school – were used as examples that he could not properly care for her.

Ayn was placed in psychiatric care for several weeks for assessment, but has been in a foster home the majority of the time. The hospital evaluation concluded that Ayn showed no evidence of physical abuse or neglect.

Hoare’s battle then went before the courts – a process that he attributes as the main reason it took so long to settle the case. Court dates were adjourned several times, often resulting in delays of two or three months, with no recourse.

In January of this year, a trial date was set for Dec. 7.

Meanwhile, Hoare refused to visit his daughter without knowing if or when she would come home. He said a visit from him, without any answers, would have distressed her and set her back.

Instead, his ex-wife, who has publicly praised Hoare’s parenting abilities, maintained visitation and informed Hoare that Ayn carried his photo, spoke about him often, and asked about home.

Hoare’s story gained international attention, primarily through a Facebook page with almost 4,000 members, many of whom shared similar stories of their children with autism – and other disabilities – being removed from their care all over the world.

Hoare, who now lives in Chilliwack, described the last 18 months as a “nightmare.”

“The whole ordeal has been pretty traumatic and pretty eye-opening. I didn’t believe before that kids who are loved and cared for in their home can be taken away.”

Even though his fight is nearing the end, Hoare said the stories he has heard from others and the connections he has made have inspired him to continue the battle.

He wants to form an umbrella organization to push for legislative change and to “educate the populace.” He said, as the laws stand, it’s too easy for social workers to remove kids from their home without any scrutiny of their actions.

“I don’t plan on walking away from this issue … I don’t think this is how this should work,” Hoare said.

The MCFD has a policy of not commenting publicly on individual cases.

Source: Abbotsford News

Jeffrey Baldwin Inquest

December 6, 2012 permalink

A decade after his death Jeffrey Baldwin will be the subject of a coroner’s inquest. Years of following these carefully controlled ritualized charades allow us to read the result before the process even begins. The jury will recommend more power and more funding for Ontario's children's aid societies. The coroner could do us a service by naming the hundred children per year dying under children's aid watch. That might suggest leaving children with parents as a possible remedy.



Inquest called into death of Jeffrey Baldwin

Jeffrey Baldwin
Jeffrey Baldwin died Nov. 30, 2002, after grotesque starvation by his maternal grandparents.

TORONTO - The grotesque starvation killing of Jeffrey Baldwin by his murderous maternal grandparents will be scrutinized by a coroner’s inquest in the spring, the Toronto Sun has learned.

A starting date of April 8 has been set tentatively for the inquest, which is expected to last three months.

Last year, the province’s highest court ruled that Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman must spend at least 20 years and likely the rest of their lives in prison for the unimaginably cruel murder of their grandson.

The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the couple’s challenge of both their second-degree murder convictions and lengthy parole ineligibility terms.

Bottineau, 60, and Kidman, 59, were convicted of murder in 2006 by Justice David Watt for the Nov. 30, 2002, death of Jeffrey, who was just six weeks shy of his sixth birthday. Watt determined Bottineau must serve 22 years and Kidman 20 years before being eligible for parole.

In his comprehensive, six-hour judgment, Watt aptly summarized the appalling conditions that Jeffrey endured.

“The murder of Jeffrey Baldwin is an offence of indescribable cruelty and incalculable inhumanity,” said Watt.

“They are the antithesis of nurturing grandparents. This was a breach of trust of unfathomable dimensions.”

Bottineau and Kidman kept the boy and his older sister captive for years in a barren, unheated room, with a bare mattress covered in urine and feces, which Watt branded a “dungeon.” Jeffrey was fed from a dog bowl.

Jeffrey was a healthy 15-month-old baby who weighed 22 pounds when seized from his parents and handed over to Kidman and Bottineau by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society in 1998. Four years later, the emaciated child died weighing one pound less.

He died from the ravages of starvation, pneumonia and septic shock.

Bottineau and Kidman, both convicted child abusers from the 1970s, sought and received custody of Jeffrey and his three siblings after the CCAS investigated the children’s parents, Yvonne Kidman and Richard Baldwin, for allegations of abuse. No checks were done on the grandparents.

Background checks and assessments are now made of extended family members seeking custody of children, a CCAS spokesman said in 2006.

At their appeal, lawyers for Jeffrey’s grandparents argued their parole ineligibility periods were excessive when compared to those imposed against the father and stepmother who killed seven-year old Randal Dooley in 1998.

“If that is a case of extraordinary cruelty, where do we find the adjectives to describe this case?” Justice Robert Blair said during the proceedings.

Source: Toronto Sun

Missing Food Located

December 6, 2012 permalink

Alert reporters from the Toronto Sun have tracked down what happens to the food that does not make it to the foster kid's dinner plate [1] [2] [3]. It has been found at a posh professional development function for social workers at Toronto's Grand Hotel.



Cash-strapped child welfare sector puts out a nice spread at conference

Grand Hotel, Toronto
The Grand Hotel on Jarvis St. in Toronto.
Craig Robertson/ Toronto Sun

TORONTO - Chicken, beef, pasta, veggies and cakes of all sizes.

These were just some of the delights enjoyed by officials from Ontario’s cash-strapped child-welfare sector at a publicly-funded professional-development function at a fancy downtown Toronto hotel on Monday, according to a source who was at the event.

“They were complaining that there was no money from the government, but at the same time ... there was so much food, and most of it wasn’t even eaten,” said the source.

The event, hosted at the Grand Hotel, was spearheaded by Central Toronto Youth Services (CTYS) and paid for by Ontario’s Ministry of Children and Youth Services, CTYS executive director Heather Sproule told the Toronto Sun Wednesday.

The event, a leadership-development conference, featured a paid appearance by management consultant Margaret Wheatley and was a “valuable learning opportunity” for those officials from the child-welfare and child-and-youth services sectors who attended, Sproule said.

But Sproule would not divulge the cost of the event, Wheatley’s fee or the bill for the food and hotel.

“We decided ... to make the conference as efficient and economical as possible, so we brought a lot of people together in one location,” said Sproule, who said it was up to the ministry to divulge cost and budget of the event.

However, she was confident the cost was “in line” with that of other conferences of its kind.

As far as food goes, Sproule said a “typical continental breakfast” and a “typical lunch” was served to the 125 officials who attended the event free of charge.

Questions about the event put forth to the ministry were not answered.

Those in attendance included officials from the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and Youth Assisting Youth (YAY), as well as others. Officials from these two organizations, however, refused to give details about the event when contacted by the Toronto Sun.

Children’s Aid Society of Toronto spokesman Rob Thompson refused to give the name of the official who went on behalf of that organization. And an official from Youth Assisting Youth — who did not want his name published — refused to talk about the event out of fear it would jeopardize the organization’s funding from the province.

Child-welfare organizations across the province have been claiming to be cash strapped after the Ontario government announced it would make over $40 million in funding cuts to the child-welfare sector for 2012-2013 as part of its bid to tackle a $15 billion deficit.

Source: Toronto Sun

The next day two ministries committed more indulgence (and took more meals from hungry foster kids). Nobody would answer questions about the source of funding for the feast. One instructive comment follows the article.



Cash-strapped ministries serve themselves a feast

feast for social services
Ontario's social services ministry enjoy a turkey dinner, part of a professional development and staff recognition day at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre on Thursday.
Dave Abel/Toronto Sun

MISSISSAUGA - Two social welfare ministries in Ontario’s cash-strapped government treated staff to a day of bountiful eating, awards and a talk from an internationally best-selling author on Thursday.

Around 200 staff from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Community and Social Services gathered at the sprawling Living Arts Centre in Mississauga for a day-long event that included breakfast, an elaborate lunch, speeches and awards — all part of an employee appreciation day.

Those in attendance were treated to a breakfast menu that included fresh juices, yogurt, berries and melon, multigrain bagels with cream cheese and fruit preserves alongside “freshly-brewed coffee” and tea.

Around midday, staffers tucked into a “Christmas lunch” of turkey with gravy, apple stuffing, California mixed greens, rosemary-scented potatoes, rolls, cheesecake and raspberry coulis.

Coffee, juice and soft drinks were available throughout the event, and those in attendance were catered to by a banquet staff of at least 14 — most of whom were sharply dressed in bow ties, dress shirts and jet-black vests.

Thursday’s event comes less than a week after one of these ministries — the Ministry of Children and Youth Services — paid for an elaborate luncheon for officials from the province’s child-welfare sector — a sector that has been claiming to be strapped for cash since the Ontario Liberals cut over $40 million in funding to child welfare services earlier this year as part of its effort to tackle a $14 billion deficit.

Featured on Thursday was a guest speech by author Neil Pasricha, who wrote the bestselling feel-good book The Book of Awesome.

Vince Tedesco, a regional director for the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, told the Toronto Sun it was a day to recognize the efforts of certain staffers.

“This is to celebrate staff achievements and accomplishments in their work,” said Tedesco, who, when asked who was paying for the day’s festivities, abruptly ended the interview. “This is an event that helps celebrate achievements ... I don’t have any other comment,” he said before sitting back down at his table.

Bill, an employee with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, told the Sun from his seat at table 19 he had paid nothing to attend.

“Nobody has asked me for money,” he said with a laugh. “If they did, I wouldn’t be here.”

Questions posed to both ministries — such as what the event cost, who paid for it and the amount Pasricha was paid for speaking, for example — were not answered.

Source: Toronto Sun

[A user comment attached to the Sun website]

Closetothesource December 8

Here's what is missing from that article:

  1. Attendance by staff was mandatory. Many staff have expressed dislike for this event every year and still management continue this ego stroke for their own purposes.
  2. Any awards given to staff are not cash, only mere tokens of little value.
  3. There is no hiring of replacement staff during this event, work is simply not done until they return to their offices (which is supposed to be later that day).
  4. Events like this are mere pittance compared to the $30,000,000 the managers handed out to themselves in bonuses to and admittedly over staffed management team.

Placing the blame on the workers here is misguided at best. It's easy to point the finger at them when they have decent job security, pay and benefits, but the real problems start at queens park and are multiplied through middle and upper management.

Eliminate the salary and bonuses of redundant managers and they wings need to slash from the programs or cut much staff. And they have cut tons of staff over the last two years already, placing unrealistic workloads on an already over burdened front line workforce.

Addendum: A month later, the ministry drags its feet about disclosing the source of funding. Letter from Cate Parker to Chris Carter (pdf).


Vermont Epidemic of Fake Social Workers

December 6, 2012 permalink

In at least three separate incidents families in Vermont have been approached by impostors claiming to be social workers checking on their children.



DCF Imposters Target Vt. Families


Vermont State Police say they're investigating a bizarre series of people impersonating workers from the Department for Children and Families.

In some cases, police say the imposters knocked on doors, went into homes, and even checked out the children.

"It's just a series of unusual circumstances," says Karen Shea, DCF Child Protection & Field Operations director.

In the past month or so, police say imposters showed up at homes in St. Johnsbury, Lyndonville and most recently Sunderland Monday.

"They don't have much rhyme or reason in terms of location or why certain people are being targeted," says Shea.

Police say the culprits sometimes worked alone or in groups. In some cases, they went into the home and even checked out the child.

DCF says none of the families were actually being investigated by DCF.

DCF says it has 150 social workers who make thousands of home visits every year, sometimes completely unannounced.

So what should you do if someone knocks on your door and says they're from DCF?

"You can expect if someone from DCF arrives if they don't know you, they would identify themselves," says Shea.

Shea says workers carry state badges and you can ask to see it. She says if you're still suspicious call DCF.

"Or just call 911 if they have concerns about their safety," says Shea.

DCF says someone can't take your child without a court order. If the worker claims to have one, ask to see it.

More information about the incidents from Vermont State Police:

On October 29, the Vermont State Police received a report from the St. Johnsbury area in which a Caucasian female came to a residence at the Mountain View Apartments saying she was a DCF worker and was investigating a report of child abuse. The female suspect was granted access to the home; she inspected the child and left the premises without further incident. The female suspect was seen operating silver sedan, unknown make, model, or registration.

On December 1, the Lyndonville Police Department received a report in Lyndonville on Valley Lane that three woman (one African American and two Caucasian) came to the home claiming to be from "Human Services" (or "Home Health") and said they were "following up on a report that was made up the road". The male resident said the suspects inquired after the female resident, who was not home. When the female resident was not home, they left the premises without further incident. The suspects failed to show any identification and never exited their vehicle, which was described as a dark blue Ford Escape with New York plates.

Most recently, on December 3, the Vermont State Police received a report in Sunderland that three people (one female and two males) showed up at a residence on Phyller Dee Lane. The suspects advised the grandmother that the child's parents were under investigation by "child protection services". The suspects asked to search the residence and actually picked up the child for inspection. When the grandmother resisted their advances, the suspects insinuated that they may be back to take the child into custody and the child could go into foster care. The suspects then became nervous and left in two vehicles, one grey sedan and one maroon sedan, bearing unknown plates.

These incidents are under investigation by detectives with the VSP Bureau of Criminal Investigation. If anyone has information related to these incidents or suspects, please call the Vermont State Police at the St. Johnsbury Barracks (802-748-3111) or the Shaftsbury Barracks (802-442-5421). To submit an anonymous tip, send a text to "CRIMES" (274637) with keyword: VTIPS; or submit your anonymous tip online at


Ontario Drug Lab Fakes Results

December 4, 2012 permalink

Fixcas recently carried a report on Annie Dookhan, a Massachusetts lab technician who faked thousands of drug tests. Now Chemi Pharmaceutical Inc in Mississauga Ontario has been found by Health Canada to have faked its tests. So far there is no news that this lab tested samples for suspected crime or child abuse. The tests were of food additives and pharmaceuticals, to qualify them for Canadian distribution.



Health Canada suspends Mississauga lab over falsified drug test results

Health Canada says a Mississauga chemical testing laboratory falsified results in tests of food additives and pharmaceuticals including generic aspirin.

The lab, Chemi Pharmaceutical Inc., has had its licence suspended and Health Canada has halted sales of 53 products that need to be retested.

“In some cases the testing was not done at all, or it was done and the results — or the so-called results — were sent to the client before the testing was done,” said Sean Upton, a spokesperson for Health Canada.

The agency added that there is no indication anyone has become sick because of the falsified results.

Chemi said an employee who has since been fired is to blame.

The list of products identified by Health Canada is wide ranging. Some of the drugs included were from a Pfizer subsidiary to be used in pig and poultry feed; hypertension medications from Septa Pharmaceuticals; a generic form of aspirin produced by Quebec-based Pharmalab; and Deep Relief Ice Cold Pain.

Health Canada inspectors initially had concerns after a routine inspection at Chemi in October, and said they would be back for a surprise visit. Before they returned, a tip about falsified results came in on Nov. 21. The inspectors discovered the problems over the following two days.

Chemi president Mariana Stavrikov said the records were falsified by an employee who has been fired. She said he was not a longtime employee at the firm of 24 workers, but she would not identify him.

Stavrikov, who runs the company with her husband Emil, said the tipster was the person who falsified the tests.

“All the results that had been falsified were done by him ... What this shows is that one sabotager can sabotage the system,” Stavrikov said. “The products are safe. We’ve committed to retest all (the products).”

At least one company, Septa Pharmaceuticals, has cut ties with Chemi.

“Based on the notice we received from Health Canada (Monday) night, we have immediately ceased any relationship with Chemi Pharmaceutical and we are in the process of qualifying a new testing laboratory,” said CEO Devinder Kumar in a statement.

Health Canada said it has informed the RCMP about the falsified results and is now working to ensure none of the products reach the market without their final tests.

List of products tested by Chemi Pharmaceutical

As a precaution, companies that have had testing done by Chemi Pharmaceutical are being asked to temporarily halt sales of those products until their safety can be confirmed. Below is a list of products and substances that are affected by this request.


Bee Propolis
Royal Gelly Power




Ivermectin USP (Shandong)
Dexamethasone Base- Aventis
Benzyl Alcohol
Methyl Paraben NF
Oxytocin USP
Chlorobutanol Hemihydrate USP
Pyrantel Pamoate USP
Choline Chloride
Sorbitol Solution
N,Z Amine AS Casein.
Flunixin Meglumine USP
Oxytetracycline Dihydrate
Lincomycin HCI USP
Butamben USP




Plutonic F-108 (Lutrol F-108)
Tween 80,
Aerosol 200,
Propylene Glycol
Xylitol NF, Menthol




Dairy-Free Lactase Extra Strength
Ergoloid Mesylates
Super Papaya Enzyme


Septa- Amlodopine
Septa- Ciprofloxacin


Orphenadrine Citrate
NHP: Lactomax


Deep Relief Ice Cold Pain — Menthol products


Methylparaben Sodium
Sodium Alginate
Cetylpyridinium Chloride
Xanthan Gum
Aluminum Hydroxide Gel
Natural Peppermint Flavor
Calcium Carbonate

Source: Toronto Star

Nudists Threatened

December 3, 2012 permalink

Nudists engage in marginalized but harmless behavior, along with vegetarians, Amish, smokers, medical marijuana users and the obese. Child protectors treat them as easy targets. Today's story is about the naturist Hardock family in Bowmanville Ontario. The parents ran a nudist bed and breakfast, screening clients to be sure they were not coming for a sexual experience. CAS, without warning, interviewed their daughter at school with lots of sexual questions. When the girl got home she asked her dad to explain some of the questions. Nine-year-old Angelina wanted to know what an erection was.



Naked Truth: Bowmanville nudists angry over how Children's Aid questioned their daughter

Parents say daughter 'interrogated' in principal's office

Ron, Lan, Jennifer and Angelina Hardock
Naked Truth: Bowmanville nudists angry over how Children's Aid questioned their daughter. CLARINGTON -- Ron and Lan Hardock with with their children, Jennifer, 5, and Angelina, 9. Mr. and Mrs. Hardock run a naturist bed and breakfast, and are upset because Angelina was questioned by CAS workers while at school.
November 28, 2012 Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland

CLARINGTON -- For three years, Ron and Lan Hardock have quietly run a nudist bed and breakfast in Bowmanville. Then an anonymous complainant, concerned about the welfare of their two young daughters, brought Durham Children's Aid Society to their eight-year-old daughter Angelina's school.

On Thursday, Oct. 25 Angelina was called to the principal's office to speak to two strangers, her mother said. Her parents said she was scared she was in trouble as she was "interrogated" over her lunch hour and asked deeply personal questions by Durham Children's Aid Society workers, who Ms. Hardock said had done insufficient research into the nudist (or naturist) lifestyle.

"If someone goes to the school and asks your kids questions of a sexual nature, any parent would be concerned," said Mr. Hardock.

She said Angelina was uncomfortable with the workers, who reportedly asked her if she was ever naked, if her parents took pictures of naked guests, if she was ever left alone with guests and had ever been touched or been asked to touch another person's genitals. Angelina was asked if her friends knew her parents were nudists and if she ever had anyone over for sleepovers. She was asked about her younger sister Jennifer -- if she was comfortable around naked people and whether she still slept in a crib.

"They just grab your kids and ask them these (questions)," said Ms. Hardock. "I'm the mother. I do not want anybody to bother my kids. It's being violated -- our privacy. We're law-abiding citizens."

Mr. Hardock said his daughter told him she was given no choice about answering the questions or leaving the principal's office.

Durham CAS communications coordinator Andrea Maenza said via e-mail that the organization is unable to comment on any specific cases "that we may or may not be involved in" with anyone other than the family members who are directly involved.

"We do have an established protocol with all local school boards, and we are permitted by law to interview children at school," said Ms. Maenza.

The parents are also upset with school officials -- who they feel broke their trust by letting their daughter be interviewed alone, without phoning the child's parents.

"Student safety is our first priority and we have to follow the instructions of CAS," said Judy Malfara, Communications Officer for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.

The Hardocks say they were told by the CAS they came to the agency's attention through an anonymous complaint. After the school interview, a CAS worker arrived unannounced at their property and looked through the entire house before interviewing the parents. Ms. Hardock says she was asked about still breastfeeding her four-year-old daughter. The case worker also wanted to know about the couple's sex life while their youngest daughter slept in their room for the four months relatives were visiting from China.

After investigating the Hardocks, the CAS closed the case. The Hardocks were relieved but also angry about what their family had been put through.

"They're too powerful. I didn't do anything wrong. Why am I scared? I need to speak out," said Ms. Hardock. "They treat you already like a criminal."

Behind the parents' anger is fear. Ms. Hardock went from not knowing what the CAS was to learning her children could be taken away while at school, because there was a perceived risk of abuse and the onus would be on the parents to fight in court for their children's return.

"You should wait to see if the child has been abused. They try to jump in, in advance, and families could be impacted," said Mr. Hardock.

Mr. and Ms. Hardock wanted to officially complain about how their daughter was interviewed. Complaints against Ontario Children's Aid societies are submitted in writing to the Children's Aid Society in question, or by going to the provincial Child and Family Services Review Board. The couple would like to see CAS complaints handled by the Ontario Ombudsman, which investigates complaints against other provincial government organizations.

The Hardock's Bowmanville bed and breakfast is surrounded by a high wooden fence and gate. The naturists guests are comfortable with their bodies and like to be nude. Guests have to book at least a week in advance, provide ID and are screened by Ms. Hardock before they arrive to make sure they're not expecting a sexual environment.

"Any B and B would have the same concerns...if anything, naturist (bed and breakfasts) are safer. If someone is nude they can't hide," said Mr. Hardock. "Angelina has been around naturists most of her life. After (CAS) left, they asked about erections and I had to explain what it is. In all her years around naturists, she's never seen one."

Ms. Hardock said she doesn't force her children toward nudism. Unless it's quite hot, the little girls like wearing clothes and are dressed.

"This is very natural and they're thinking something evil," said Ms. Hardock of the CAS. "It's possible my kids now feel naturist is wrong. We raise our kids. It's our business."

Source: Metroland Durham Region

nudists greet Jehovah's Witnesses

Jumping out of Foster Hell

December 3, 2012 permalink

An Indiana starvation case came to public attention when a malnourished 17-year-old adopted boy weighing 93 pounds jumped from a second story window on November 23 to escape his foster prison. Two news articles are enclosed, the second gives the views of Christina Joiner, the real mother of three other adopted children in the home. She lost her children for having a messy home. Her children went from messy love to torture and starvation. The social services system has ruined four children, but the entire blame will fall on adoptive parents Larry and Nikki Russell.



Police: Parents arrested in abuse case that bordered on torture

Larry Russell and Nikki Russell
Larry Russell and Nikki Russell
(November 27, 2012)

Police arrested a Vigo County couple accused of tying up, beating and denying their children food in what investigators called one of the worst abuse cases they’ve ever seen.

The investigation started when police were called about a 17-year-old male seen walking near 3rd Street and 8th Avenue in Terre Haute. The teen was barefoot and told police he’d escaped from his foster parents by jumping from a second-story window.

Police said the boy weighed 93 pounds. He told them that his foster parents—39-year-old Larry Russell and 35-year-old Nikki Russell—tied him and his foster brothers to a metal bed. The teen told police he escaped the home to find help.

The boy lived in the home with four other children ranging from the ages of ten to 17, police said. One of the children was the biological child of the Russells. All five are in the care of the Department of Child Services.

The 17 year old described a series of harsh punishments that bordered on torture, police said. The teen said the Russells beat children, locked them in bedrooms, pulled their hair, bound them, denied them food and poured urine on them.

When interviewed by police, Nikki Russell admitted to some of the punishments, saying she’d tied up the 17-year-old boy while hitting him in the face. She said her husband padlocked the boys inside a bedroom. The punishment appeared to be for stealing food or bladder control problems, investigators said.

Larry Russell denied tying up the children but said his wife had duct-taped “pull-up” undergarments to one of the children.

The Russells face preliminary charges of criminal confinement and neglect of a dependent. They are due in court Wednesday.

Source: WXIN-TV Indianapolis

Mom ‘outraged’ at kids’ living condition

Department of Child Services gives no answer as to how unfit home was missed

TERRE HAUTE — The biological mother of three children found living in “prison cell” conditions with their adoptive parents in Terre Haute says she only gave up her children in hopes that they would have a better life.

“My kids deserve a great life. They deserve a great future,” Christina Joiner told the Tribune-Star last week.

Joiner, who had moved out of state for a few years but now lives in Monroe County, called the Tribune-Star after reading an online news story about the arrests of her children’s adoptive parents.

Joiner said that when she gave up her parental rights, she did not suspect that Larry and Nikki Russell would ever mistreat her daughter and two sons. The Russells stand accused of child neglect and criminal confinement in charges filed this week in Vigo Superior Court 6. Joiner said she met the Russells during visitations with her children, and they seemed to be caring parents who had a child of their own.

“I’m pretty outraged about it, because it involves my children,” Joiner said of the couple’s arrest. “I thought I was doing the right thing, and come to find out it wasn’t.”

Joiner’s three children are among the five children removed from the Russells’ home on North 12th Street on the day after Thanksgiving.

A 17-year-old boy adopted by the couple reported to police that he and his two adopted brothers had been beaten, tied to their beds and denied food and sanitary facilities while living with the Russells.

A subsequent investigation by Terre Haute Police found rope and duct tape in the bedroom where three boys had been reportedly confined by the couple. The door to the bedroom had been padlocked from the outside and the windows had been blocked to prevent the children from exiting the room, police report.

“I would really want to know how this was missed,” Joiner said, blaming the Department of Child Services for not knowing about or ignoring the conditions her children were enduring. “They put my kids in a worse situation than ever.”

While the children have been with the Russells for years, it is unclear when the alleged abuse began, and if DCS was involved in oversight of the family during that times.

Joiner told the Tribune-Star that DCS became involved with her as a parent in 2006 or 2007 due to repeated reports of filth in the home where the children resided with her. She said the children always had food and clothes, but she was urged by DCS to sign papers to terminate her parental rights.

Over the years, she said she has often wondered about her children. “Are they being taken care of? Are they playing in sports? What are they doing?”

But since she signed away her parental rights, she said, she has not been allowed to have any contact with the children.

The Department of Child Services has told the Tribune-Star that the Russells were not considered foster parents when they were arrested Nov. 23, and the children living with them were not foster children.

Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said an investigation has determined that four of the children removed from the Russell home on Nov. 23 had been placed with the couple as foster children, but those children had been adopted by the couple.

Stephanie McFarland, spokeswoman for the DCS, responded to questions from the Tribune-Star following the arrest of the Russells, who were initially represented by police as foster parents of the children in their home. She requested that the questions be submitted in writing.

In an email response, McFarland wrote that “federal and state laws strictly prohibit DCS from speaking about a case due to confidentiality of the children and other parties (siblings, etc.) involved.”

She said that the Russells did not have any foster children or wards of the state in their care when the couple was arrested.

She did offer “information regarding processes and procedures” of DCS.

“Once the court has granted adoption of a child to an individual or couple, the children are no longer wards of the state, and DCS no longer has legal authority to be involved with the family. The only time in which DCS could intervene is if it received a report of abuse or neglect — as in this case,” McFarland wrote.

When asked how a person with a criminal history can become a foster parent, she quoted foster care licensing guidelines and practices.

“Before anyone can become a foster parent, he/she/they must go through three background checks: an FBI background check; another with the state that checks for any history of substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect; and another against the sex-offender registry. In addition, prospective foster parents must go through a series of home inspections to assess the family and living conditions, and complete training. All of this can take six months or longer to complete. In addition, foster parents are reviewed annually to maintain their license. A foster-home license is good for four years.”

Larry Russell had been arrested in May on a charge of domestic battery. That arrest occurred after the adoption of Joiner’s three children in April. That case was deferred in September. He had also been arrested for domestic battery in June 1996. That case was deferred in December 1996, and the charges were dismissed in May 2000.

Nikki Russell had no prior criminal history, but she was the victim in a criminal recklessness case filed against her father in October 2002. In that case, Willie Nesbit Sr. was arrested for allegedly firing a shotgun in the direction of his adult daughter, Nikki. Nesbit pleaded guilty in 2003 and received an 18-month suspended sentence.

McFarland declined comment about the criminal history of Larry Russell, noting that the most recent domestic violence incident occurred after the adoption was finalized.

As to how DCS could overlook the children’s living conditions as they were found by police, no DCS comment was made.

However, McFarland did write: “When a child is in foster care, a DCS family case-manager is assigned to the case -- along with service providers, court liaisons (CASAs) and other community professionals who work with the family directly, often times in the home, and help to act as eyes and ears to what’s happening with the children. Case managers meet with the children directly at least once every 30 days, but DCS also gets reports and input from community professionals throughout the month regarding care and progress. That information is part of a case file that is also shared with the county court system. Part of every child’s foster care is a permanency plan, which is a plan to either safely reunite the children with their family of origin (where they were removed), to be placed in the care of a relative (who would act as a guardian), or to be adopted with court approval.”

Source: Terre Haute Tribune-Star

CAS Driver Abandons Baby

December 3, 2012 permalink

Here is a report at-length on a child abandoned by a driver for Brant CAS. It looks like the same case reported on Facebook by grandmother Helen Smith.



For What It's Worth

Case of forgotten infant conjures sage advice

A few years ago, a wily detective provided sage advice to me.

"Remember, Vincent, everything is not always as it seems."

His advice came to mind just over a week ago when I was given an assignment involving the Brant Children's Aid Society.

A grandmother called to complain about the CAS, saying that her infant grandson had been left alone in a car for more than two hours by a CAS volunteer.

The baby was under the care of the CAS but got visits once or twice a week with his grandmother. A volunteer CAS driver would pick up the child from his grandmother's house and deliver him to his foster family.

Anyway, the grandmother said, on one occasion the driver picked up the child but, instead of delivering him to his foster family, the driver forgot all about the child and instead went home. The vehicle was parked in the garage. And the child was left there as well until the volunteer discovered the mistake and returned the child to his foster family.

The child was not hurt.

The CAS, upon hearing about what happened called everyone involved with the child, including the grandmother, to a meeting and revealed what happened.

Quite properly outraged by what had happened, the grandmother called The Expositor. She said she wasn't getting answers from the CAS. How, after all, could the CAS legitimately call into question someone's parenting and caregiving skills when one of it volunteers left an infant alone in a vehicle parked in a garage for two hours?

I agreed to look into the issue. But these kinds of assignments are difficult. They mean interviewing people who are angry and are dealing with emotionally volatile situations. Let's face it, people are willing to accuse others of just about anything, especially when the care and custody of a child is at stake.

And there's another issue.

Public agencies - the CAS, hospitals, police - are bound by privacy legislation that puts severe constraints on what they can publicly say. Generally, they will not speak about specific cases. Instead, they only speak in general terms about their policies and how they usually handle certain situations.

I called the grandmother.

"So, how do you know this happened?" I asked.

"Because the CAS told me. They had this meeting and they told us what happened," she said.

"So, they didn't try to hide it from you. In fact, you wouldn't even know about it if they hadn't told you?"

"That's right" she acknowledged. "But there are still a lot of unanswered questions. How did this happen, what are they doing to prevent it from happening again and what have they done about the driver?

Those were just few of the questions she had.

She also informed me that a custody hearing involving the infant was coming up.

I called the CAS expecting to hear: "No comment."

Instead, I received a phone call from Andrew Koster, the CAS executive director.

He wouldn't mention any names and he was somewhat guarded in his comments.

But he acknowledged the incident, said it was a rare occurrence and that steps were being taken to make sure something like it never happens again.

"We hold parents to a high standard and, when something like this happens, we have to hold ourselves to the same high standard," he said.

"When something like this happens we have to be held accountable."

Volunteers for the CAS undergo a rigorous screening process, Koster added.

I held off writing a story about the situation because I wanted to hear what happened at the custody hearing.

The grandmother and her daughter are apparently pleased with the result of the custody hearing but they are still unhappy with the CAS. They want to see any reports that have been written by CAS staff concerning the incident. And they want to know what the CAS is doing differently and what changes, if any have been made, to prevent something like this from happening again.

They also want to know how it is that the child could be missing for two hours without anyone knowing.

They say they're not getting answers and will continue to press the CAS for more disclosure.

For what it's worth, I probably have a bit more confidence in public agencies, like the CAS, than most people. I have to believe they're doing what they can to make sure such a situation never arises again. And I'm quite sure they were as disturbed as anyone when they learned what happened to that infant.

So, why would I think the CAS is doing its due diligence following a case like this?

Well, it's not as if they denied what happened or tried to hide behind a no comment.

They acknowledged it and promised to do better.

Is there more they should be doing?

Source: Brantford Expositor

Protecting Vulnerable Children

December 1, 2012 permalink

In 1999 Ontario got a revised Child and Family Services Act, brought into law through an irregular procedure at Queens Park. The first reading took place on April 26, 1999. Seven days later, the legislature completed enactment in a marathon session jamming second and third reading into a single day. There was no roll-call on bill 6 as it was known. In a legislative love-in the deputy speaker (Bert Johnson) declared: "Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried. Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion". The day after enacting bill 6, the legislature was prorogued.

Normally, second reading can be delayed by weeks or months, and committee hearings take place after second reading to allow the public to comment and the legislators to educate themselves on the issues. With the breakneck speed of bill 6, the public had no chance to comment on the proposal, or even find out about it. Remember, the internet was in its infancy and the print media never showed complete bills.

Now through a freedom of information request Chris Carter has unearthed the genesis of the legislation. It is a document titled Protecting Vulnerable Children. A panel of eight experts, all within the social services system, submitted it to then-Minister of Community and Social Services Janet Ecker.

Legal scholars use the term adhesion contract for a one-sided agreement, the kind where one party to a contract has so much power that the other has no say about its terms. Examples are the contracts you agree to when getting tickets from an airline or a sports stadium, or the terms of a bank loan or credit card agreement. Ever try to renegotiate the fine print in one of them? In addition to being created entirely by one party, frequently every provision in the acres of fine print favors that party. The 1999 revisions to the Child and Family Services Act could be called an adhesion law. Every provision favored the social services system, there was nothing granting more rights or protections to families or children.

The paper contains 26 recommendations, suggestions for changes in legislation and seven items dubbed further considerations, non-legislative suggestions. The legislative changes, mostly enacted, were for more power for children's aid societies at every stage. The objective of family integrity was scrapped in favor of best interest of the child. Grounds for snatching protecting children expanded by a dozen items including the vague likelihood of risk or failure to provide adequate affection. Another provision was to institute crown-wardship solely on the ticking of the foster care clock (12 to 24 months depending on the child's age). The panel was concerned about parents getting adjournments, and proposed limiting adjournments to valid reasons only. (This provision has been unexpectedly turned on the child protectors by resourceful family advocates). For parents not complying with court orders the panel recommended a requirement to return matters to court as soon as there is non-compliance with court-ordered terms. The panel made no recommendation to return matters to court as soon as a children's aid society is in non-compliance with court-ordered terms. For gathering information the panel recommended extending the list of mandated reporters and expanding the powers of social workers to examine records without family consent. Even solicitor-client-privilege was to be abolished when it concerned a child. Child apprehension should be simplified by eliminating the need to get those burdensome warrants. Standards of evidence, already a sham before the legislation, were to be loosened further. Among the non-legislative suggestions is the ever-popular enhanced funding for social services. The Panel recommends that judges with an interest and expertise in child protection be selected to hear child protection proceedings. Could that by why so many newly-appointed judges have a stint with CAS on their résumé? But the panel went further, suggesting taking adjudication out of the courts and giving authority to tribunals consisting of persons with knowledge and expertise in the areas of child development, child protection and children's mental health. No more ornery judges between social workers and children.

Even after thirteen years Protecting Vulnerable Children is not a public document. The Ministry of Community and Social Services still asserts its privilege of redacting a few passages. We cannot see the full credentials of two of the eight panel members, or the titles of eleven court cases and six (coroner's) inquests cited as other background sources by the panel.

The full document is available as a photo-copy (pdf, 7 megabytes) and as an html page, Protecting Vulnerable Children, that can be indexed by search engines.

Addendum: Chris Carter followed up with a request to the ministry for copies of the documents listed as submitted to the panel in Appendix B. The reply from the ministry (pdf) says they are not in their files. Maybe the Archives of Ontario has them.

Addendum: A letter from Cate Parker to Chris Carter (pdf). dated February 19 adds a little. One case is unredacted so we can see the full citation: Ontario Court (Provincial Division): Reasons for Judgment, Catholic Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto and Lisa Marie O and Michael P, 1995. The case is on CanLII as Catholic Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto v. O.(L.M.), 1995 CanLII 6216 (ON CJ). It is a case of serial child abusers. The panel focused on the worst of the worst, ignoring the more usual kind of family in which mom and dad love their children.

The letter goes on to say:

First, the ministry has tried on several occasions to confirm if the disclosed record, which dates back to 1998, was publicly released along with the bibliography at that time. However, the ministry cannot definitively confirm that the disclosed record was publicly released in its entirety in 1998.

This non-committal bureaucratic waffling seems to mean that the document was never published before its appearance on fixcas, and corroborates that bill 6 was enacted in 1999 in a legislative ambush before the public could learn of its existence.

Addendum: A news article prepares the public for the adoption of bill 6. It is the story of a baby harmed because the CAS did not have enough power. This article was found on the internet, not on the Toronto Star website, so its provenance cannot be assured.




Child care workers visited her 48 times. And not one noticed she was dying

IN THE mathematics of misery, the life and near death of a tiny girl who can be identified only as baby McCutcheon is a case that doesn't add up.

Child-protection workers visited the dark-haired toddler 35 different times at her family's Acton apartment.

Other social workers met her 13 times. Medical professionals saw her on another 27 occasions.

Yet not one of these professionals sounded the alarm over the frail child's failing health.

Not one noticed she could barely stand. Not one noticed she was slowly starving.

Today, at age 5, baby McCutcheon is permanently disabled and unlikely ever to lead a normal life.

And the performance of the Halton Children's Aid Society - which still has her in its care - is being reviewed by police.

What went wrong?

At the time, baby McCutcheon was living with her mother - a woman with the mental age of a primary school girl, a woman who already had lost custody of five previous children because she couldn't care for them.

Nevertheless, the involvement of all those professionals should have assured baby McCutcheon's safety and well-being - in theory.

The key question police are attempting to answer was raised by Mr. Justice Kenneth Langdon of the Ontario Court, general division.

Langdon, who presided over the criminal trial of the child's father, said it was "a mystery to the court" how child-care workers could have visited the family 48 times and not noticed the child's failing health.

Indeed, in November, 1995, when the child was "mortally ill," one worker was even preparing a discharge summary so the little girl could be moved up to another program for older children, the judge said.

Two aspects of the girl's condition observed by the worker should have resulted in the child getting more help, Langdon said in his judgement.

First, the worker discovered that although the child was aged two years and eight months, she was actually functioning like a toddler aged 1 1/2 - or less.

She couldn't walk. She couldn't speak.

Second, the worker noted the little girl "seemed unwell."

It's unclear just how thin the child was at this time, but a few weeks later, in December, 1995, when she was admitted to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, doctors took photographs showing she was so malnourished that the skin on her thighs was hanging in folds.

Child-abuse experts at the hospital say the starvation didn't happen overnight. They believe the girl's poor condition was obvious long before she ended up in hospital.

This past July, Langdon sentenced the girl's father, James Wayne Clayton, 31, of Acton, to 21 months in jail for child neglect.

The mother, Maryanne McCutcheon, 38, of Barrie, is on three years' probation for the same offence. She has since undergone a tubal ligation so she will not have more children.

"The social agencies involved in this case would do well to study the history of this child with great care to see how it is that a life-threatening situation which was obvious . . . was not discovered by trained child-care workers," Langdon said in his 17-page judgement.

Halton Police Detective Sgt. Jackie Gordon says police are reviewing the court documents to determine if anyone besides the child's father was criminally negligent.

Gail Vandermeulen, acting director the Halton Children's Aid Society, has refused to discuss the baby McCutcheon file with The Star, citing the confidentiality provisions under Section 45 (8) of the Child and Family Services Act.

"I prefer to not be interviewed but instead have enclosed the attached press release," Vandermeulen says in a letter to The Star.

The four-page release cites Ontario's own child-protection law as one of the reasons why the society sees itself as innocent of any wrongdoing in the baby McCutcheon case.

Under provincial law, child-protection workers must "provide assistance in the least intrusive way and support the autonomy and integrity of the family unit," the release says.

This means child-care workers cannot take a child out of its home simply because of neglect - unless that neglect is so extreme the child can be proven to be in danger.

In the case of baby McCutcheon, the society says, it didn't have that kind of compelling evidence - initially, at least.

"The child had neither been observed by its staff, the medical professionals nor the child's development worker as being malnourished," the press release says.

So in spring, 1995, the society closed the baby McCutcheon file, satisfied all the legal requirements had been met.

"The society had proceeded in the least intrusive way while providing help within the family unit," the release says.

Who is ultimately responsible for the tragedy that befell the child born to McCutcheon and Clayton in February, 1993?

Could the child's fate have been predicted?

Today, McCutcheon lives in a tiny Barrie apartment with her fiancé, Al Jacques, an unemployed mechanic. The two are supported only by McCutcheon's monthly disability payment of $1,315.

In an interview with The Star, the childlike McCutcheon laughed, cried and rambled on about her children, her dead parents and the collection of clowns neatly arranged in her bedroom.

Jacques says he can't understand why, given her severe developmental delay, she was ever allowed to have responsibility for three young children. "She's a child in a woman's body," he says.

Jacques says he's dedicated to protecting McCutcheon from what he considers further abuse by the social and legal systems.

Slowly, he is learning the sad story of her life and how she had - and lost - eight babies.

Born on Dec. 17, 1959, Maryanne McCutcheon was the third of four children. The family lived in Angus, just west of Barrie. Her father was a maintenance man at a nearby military base, Her mother stayed home.

Most evenings were spent in the bar at the Simcoe Hotel in Barrie.

"I always remember them drinking," McCutcheon recalls.

She says she was sexually abused as a child and saw her mother being hit and verbally abused. At 15, she says, she was raped by eight 20- to 21-year-old males. One was charged and convicted.

At 16, she quit school and began a series of short-term relationships, mostly with men she met in bars. That period in her life is blurred.

McCutcheon had a child in Thunder Bay and three more in the Barrie area. She remembers moving around a lot over that time and having a fifth child, but she doesn't know the sex of the baby or when it was born.

She met Jim Clayton in a Barrie bar in 1992. He had worked in a gas station and as a cleaner, but was unemployed when he met McCutcheon.

The couple moved to Acton to live with Clayton's father, but after one particularly nasty fight McCutcheon moved in with her parents in Barrie.

Clayton pleaded with the pregnant McCutcheon to come back.

"He said I was going to have the baby soon and I should come back. I did go back, but I wish I hadn't," McCutcheon says.

On Feb. 17, 1993, McCutcheon gave birth to a girl at Georgetown hospital.

Worried that the developmentally delayed woman couldn't care for the infant, hospital staff called the Halton Children's Aid Society.

In the following weeks, case worker Joyce Page grew concerned about the baby and recommended that the tiny girl not be left alone with the mother.

"I tried to help them cope with the baby by getting other family members, like the grandmothers, involved . . . but basically things just didn't work out," says Page, now retired.

Page contacted the Simcoe County Children's Aid Society in the Barrie area and learned that none of McCutcheon's five previous children had been left with her. I'hree were taken into society care and adopted. The other two remained with former common-law partners.

Staff at the Barrie society told Page the children were taken from McCutcheon because of her transient lifestyle, her inability to provide adequate care and her excessive alcohol consumption."

Simcoe County workers also mentioned that McCutcheon was accused of shaking and threatening to harm her fifth baby and she was known to walk away from a child even though she had lots of support.

Page told The Star she does not know why the Halton society did not act on her recommendation that the child not be left alone with McCutcheon. And that's one of the questions society officials refuse to answer.

According to court records, the case was transferred from Page to two other society workers, Monica Radley and Carolanne Malenfant.

McCutcheon remembers these workers sitting and talking to her about once a week. Sometimes they gave her pamphlets and other printed information on infant care, but she couldn't read them.

"Sometimes there was no milk in the fridge and Jim would have to borrow money to buy it. . . but I would never tell the workers that," McCutcheon recalls.

The regular visits with the workers, she says "didn't help."

In the spring of 1994, Radley noticed the child wasn't eating well and seemed slow in her development.

Radley put the family in touch with Linda Barker of the Parent Infant Program run by the Halton Region social and community services department.

After conducting several tests early in 1995, Barker determined that the toddler was seriously developmentally delayed and needed to be placed in a special daycare program.

Meanwhile, the Halton Children's Aid Society closed the Clayton/McCutcheon file noting the "family was doing well," a conclusion largely based on the family's referral to a program to address the girl's needs.

But for reasons that remain unknown, no information about McCutcheon's five previous children was shared between the society and the Halton program, officials say.

Nor did society staff advise Barker of Page's recommendation that the child not be left alone with her mother.

This lack of what Halton officials now say was "critical' information, led to the tragic lack of follow-up.

For example, in September and October, 1995, when Clayton cancelled Barker's visits, no one in the Halton program phoned the family back to find out what was going on.

No one at the Halton program checked either to see if the child was being enrolled in the proper daycare program.

When Barker finally saw the child on Nov. 2, 1995, she wrote in her notes that the "child does not look well."

She recalls asking Clayton if it was perhaps not a good time to update the child's developmental assessment. Clayton told her to go ahead, saying his daughter had been coughing and sneezing for a few days.

Barker's tests that day indicated the child was about a year behind other children her age in development. What Barker didn't know, though, was that the little girl was getting progressively weaker and she was suffering from severe anemia. This medical condition should have been treated, but the child hadn't been seen by a medical doctor in several months.

Barker, however, accepted the father's explanation and left.

Had it not been for a chance meeting between the child and a hospital nurse six days later, baby McCutcheon might not be alive today.

On Nov. 8, 1995, shortly after McCutcheon gave birth to her eighth child, Clayton brought the little girl with him to visit the new baby and mother at Georgetown Hospital. It was during this brief visit that nurse Lucy Gilmore noticed that the little girl couldn't walk, couldn't even stand on her own.

"Most kids would be running around, making noise, pushing the buttons on the equipment, but she wasn't doing any of that ... I just felt something was really wrong," Gilmore recalls.

Gilmore phoned the Halton Children's Aid Society and society workers arranged for baby M and her two younger brothers to be seen by a doctor.

Both the little girl and her 1-year-old brother were found to be suffering from severe anemia and at the end of November the two were admitted to Guelph General Hospital for treatment.

The boy improved and was released, but the little girl's condition worsened. On Dec. 8, 1995, she was transferred to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children where she would undergo four operations - two of them life-threatening. Her spleen and parts of her bowel were removed.

According to hospital records, the child suffered from severe malnutrition and this, combined with the profound anemia, resulted in severe complications including the bowel damage.

Dr. Dirk Huyer, a child abuse expert at the Hospital for Sick Children, says her very poor eating habits and slow language development would have been obvious to the family earlier that fall. He is among several experts involved in this case who can't understand why the little girl wasn't given medical help sooner.

But Karen Chan, acting commissioner of Halton social and community services department, says it's "hard to allocate blame in the case."

"The child couldn't walk because she was developmentally delayed. We knew that, so for our worker it wouldn't have seemed unusual that she wasn't walking."

But Halton social workers didn't know about McCutcheon's other children, and had they known that, it would have made a big difference, Chan says.

Why didn't Halton have all the information? That can, in part, be blamed on the rules of confidentiality, Chan says.

Under the current law, the privacy provisions are somewhat unclear so staff at children's aid societies generally do not share information about cases to non-society workers, says Mary McConville, executive director of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies.

Why is the sharing of information so important?

Without it, each worker involved with baby McCutcheon "saw their own piece and only their own piece of the case ... the missed appointments . . . not putting the child into a child-care program and so on," Chan says.

"But the judge saw all the little bits put together to make up this case and we didn't see that at the time. All we saw was our missed appointments. We should have seen this was part of a bigger pattern of neglect."

Chan says that in light of what happened to baby McCutcheon, Halton has made some changes in the way its workers handle cases.

Halton social workers, for example, must now insist on a complete sharing of information regarding cases where other agencies and professionals also are involved.

The region's staff now must also insist on verification that medical and health-related direction given by workers is actually carried out by the family.

Some experts however, say that sharing information and monitoring families more closely are only two parts of a complex legal maze that desperately needs to be fixed in order to protect other children from sharing baby McCutcheon's fate.

An average of 25 children being supervised by children's aid societies are murdered or die in suspicious or accidental circumstances each year in Ontario.

But in a typical year, the societies look after about 150,000 children who are suffering from neglect or abuse.

It takes an average of 44 months to rescue a child, according to an analysis of 100 child protection judgements examined by The Star's Kevin Donovan and Moira Welsh.

During the past few years, several coroner's juries have placed the blame for the deaths and injuries of hundreds of Ontario children on the Child and Family Services Act, which fails to put a child's safety first.

In order to remove a child from a family, the onus is on the Children's Aid Society worker to prove that the child is at serious risk. Yet in many cases, such evidence doesn't present itself until the child is seriously ill or dead.

As a result, such juries have called for the complete overhaul of the child-protection system that would place the safety of abused and neglected children above the need to keep families together.

Social Services Minister Janet Ecker said last week that she will keep her promise to overhaul the Child and Family Services Act before Christmas,

Ecker said the upcoming changes will for the first time include and define "neglect" as a form of child abuse.

The new legislation also will expand the powers of child protection workers.

Addendum: A letter from Cate Parker (pdf) of June 19, 2014 unredacts nine more citations.

Addendum: The Archives of Ontario have no additional material.



Hi, Chris,

Thanks for your email.

I want to be clear that I cannot answer your questions with certainty, this is only my best guess.

I believe that it is most likely that the records no longer exist, because a) they never made their way into Ministry custody, or b) they were considered “transitory records” and were destroyed according to the appropriate records schedule.

In the case of scenario a), it could be that since this report was created by a panel external to government, the only document the panel submitted to the Ministry was the final report, and none of the working material, i.e. the submissions from the experts.

In the case of scenario b), a bit of background about government recordkeeping might be useful. Essentially, there are two types of government records: “business records” and “transitory records.” Briefly, business records are records that have ongoing business value or usefulness and are needed to ensure program accountability and support business needs. Transitory records are records that have no ongoing business value or usefulness beyond an immediate and minor transaction or the preparation of a subsequent record. In this case, it could be that all of the working material used and created by the panel was turned over to the Ministry upon completion of the report (the final business record), but, as per government recordkeeping guidelines, the working material was considered to be captured in the final report, and was therefore deemed transitory in nature and destroyed according to the appropriate records schedule.

Again, I do not know for sure what happened to the submissions, this is only my best guess.

As for whether the records do exist but might be in another location, I think the location information provided by the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) can be considered reliable, and as noted in the decision letter you attached to your email, two boxes of records were actually searched: the box suggested by MCSS (box 56B), as well as a second box located through our own search of the Archives’ collection (box 55B). After receiving your email, I did another search in the Archives’ database and discovered a copy of the report in box B852252; however, like the other two boxes, this box also only contained a copy of the report but did not contain any kind of submissions or presentations made to the panel.

Finally, to answer your question about fees regarding research, the Archives has a policy that we do not conduct research for clients. Therefore, we do not have any set rates, and I cannot give you an estimate. You are more than welcome to hire your own researcher and have them conduct a search at the Archives, but this is not a service we provide.

I hope I have answered all of your questions, but please feel free to be in touch if I can assist any further.

Kind regards,

X Information & Privacy Analyst

Archives of Ontario

Source: Facebook, Chris Carter

Boy Wets Pants
Parents Arrested

December 1, 2012 permalink

We are not making this up. After a boy wet his pants in Norway, authorities claimed his parents threatened him as a corrective measure. Both of them, Chandrasekhar and Anupama Vallabhaneni from India, were arrested



Norway Child Abuse: Charges False, Say Indian Couple's Kin

The criminal charges slapped against an Indian couple in Norway by police of "gross or repeated maltreatment" of their children are false, their family said here today.

Chandrasekhar Vallabhaneni, a software professional from Andhra Pradesh, and his wife Anupama have been remanded in custody and a judgement will be given in Oslo District Court on December 3.

Their seven-year-old son was found wetting his pants in the school bus which was reported to his father, who in turn "threatened" the child that he would be sent back to India if he repeated that again.

"It might be a false allegation (criminal charge) that they (police) are framing... I don't accept that," Chandrasekhar's nephew V Sailender told reporters after meeting Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy in the evening.

Shailandra along with Anupama's father Veera Bhadra sought Reddy's help to speed up the process of talking to the Norwegian government.

"We are not going in a negative way. We are going in positive way. We are hoping the best from the government, best from the lawyers and best from the neighbours," he said.

According to him, Reddy informed the family members that the chief secretary has already written a letter to the Centre seeking help.

Veerabharda said it is becoming difficult to convince his grandsons (sons of Chandrasekhar) as they are insisting on seeing their parents and not eating food.

Source: Outlook India

Garbage Fire

December 1, 2012 permalink

Integrated Child Development Services, Chitlapakkam India
click for larger image

The building of the Integrated Child Development Services in Chitlapakkam India was severely damaged when a fire spread from the adjacent garbage dump.

Source: The Hindu

There’s Money in them thar Ills

November 30, 2012 permalink

Jane Moore adds her editorial voice to criticism of Britain's out of control child protection system. She describes an "ugly, playing-God mindset and "tin-pot dictatorships more reminiscent of Stalinist Russia than a modern democracy" along with the strategic use of secrecy and monetary incentives.



JANE MOORE: Expose the tyrants of child protection

Rotherham couple UKIP foster children
Mistreated ... Rotherham couple

IT can no longer be ignored by those who purport to be in charge of this country that something is deeply rotten at the core of Britain’s social services.

Believe me, the case of the three Eastern European children removed from a loving home because their foster parents were members of UKIP is just the tip of the iceberg.

Lurking below, in the murky depths of our ferociously secretive “care” system, will be hundreds if not thousands of similar cases where a gross abuse of power has helped to destroy the lives of the very youngsters it was set up to protect.

Hopefully, they will now rise above the surface, expose the ugly, playing-God mindset, and prompt a dramatic overhaul of these tin-pot dictatorships more reminiscent of Stalinist Russia than a modern democracy.

Babies forced into adoption after being taken from mothers on a mere suspicion of “future emotional abuse”, fathers and paternal relatives denied access to children on nothing more than maternal hearsay, and prospective well-meaning fosterers and adopters subjected to the ridiculously stringent political correctness that is making the headlines right now.

All conducted under a cloak of secrecy that claims to be in the interests of the children involved but all too conveniently protects the increasingly warped system itself.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of frontline social workers doing a fantastic job in often deeply challenging, sometimes harrowing circumstances.

That they are so poorly paid indicates that their motives for choosing to do it are well-intended.

But even they must be despairing of the lucrative industry that has sprung up around what was once the noble and pure intent to protect children but has seemingly morphed into the far uglier whiff of political or financial self-interest.

Roger Stone, the Labour leader of Rotherham council, says that while membership of UKIP should not prevent someone from fostering, this was a “complex” case (aren’t they all?) involving legal advice and an external agency responsible for finding the foster carers. Sounds expensive.

It could well be an outfit like the National Fostering Agency, set up by two former social workers in 1995 and sold earlier this year to venture capitalists Graphite for an eye-watering £130million.

And by the way, it’s only the UK’s second biggest private fostering business.

In other words, there’s money in them there ills.

Then there’s the outreach workers, the “experts” paid to provide statements to the courts, the state’s legal advisers, the “independent” legal advisers, the guardians, the police workers, the court officials etc etc. All with a vested interest in “child protection”.

Little wonder then that, according to a Children In Need census, in 2007 the number of children and young people who were the subject of a Child Protection Plan was 27,900.

In 2011, it was 42,700.

Plenty of those will be genuine cases where the work of social services has proved vital, in the spirit of its original ethos to act in the interests of children.

But all too many will be based on nothing more than an unfounded suspicion, plunging one or both parents into a Kafka-esque nightmare, a punishment without crime.

And worst of all, those who suffer most are the children, emotionally damaged by the actions of self-interested zealots who affect to “care”.

We are used to case-centric inquiries such as the one surrounding the Baby P scandal, but it’s now time to shine a torch into the dark, secretive corners of the entire system to try to make its work and objectives more transparent while still maintaining anonymity for the vulnerable.

Source: Sun (UK)

Unadulterated Marxist Rubbish

November 30, 2012 permalink

The removal of children from a British family for membership in the wrong political party has brought critics out into the open. Harry Phibbs is a councillor for the London ward of Ravenscourt Park. In a blog post he rips into the social work trade, starting with their Marxist curriculum. For the other side, read Community Care.



Social work training is where the seeds of scandal are sown

Give me a student undertaking a three year social work degree, consisting of the most unadulterated Marxist rubbish, and I will give you a social worker who puts their warped ideology ahead of the interests of those they are paid to serve.

There are 22,050 children's social workers in England. Nobody can join them without a social work degree. Somebody who might have the most impressive practical experience is prohibited from joining unless they have first subjected themselves to the degrading thought control. Endless stuff about how they need to consider the individual cases they are dealing with in the "context" of how the capitalist system must be overthrown.

Frankly it is astonishing that there are as any good social workers as there are. I have met several who cheerfully admit to cynicism about all the nonsense they had to learn before being allowed to get on with their mission of saving children.

That does not alter the astonishing harm that is done by the requirement to have this qualification or the odious nature of its content.

The regulatory body for social workers is the Health & Care Professions. Its mushy Standards of proficiency includes plenty of code words from the Left:

5 be aware of the impact of culture, equality and diversity on practice

5.1 be able to reflect on and take account of the impact of inequality, disadvantage and discrimination on those who use social work services and their communities

5.2 understand the need to adapt practice to respond appropriately to different groups and individuals

5.3 be aware of the impact of their own values on practice with different groups of service users and carers

5.4 understand the impact of different cultures and communities and how this affects the role of the social worker in supporting service users and carers

6 be able to practise in a non-discriminatory manner

6.1 be able to work with others to promote social justice, equality and inclusion

6.2 be able to use practice to challenge and address the impact of discrimination, disadvantage and oppression.

Some may just shrug off these bland references. We're all against oppression, aren't we? Although a bit odd to see this in a job description. Supporting social justice? Didn't Iain Duncan Smith set up a think tank about it?

I'm afraid that if Mr Duncan Smith, or anyone else with his interpretation of social justice, decided to become a social worker and expressed himself honestly in his essays he would have difficulty qualifying. He might wish to avoid Liverpool Hope University where Dr Michael Lavalette is the Professor of Social Work. Dr Lavalette is a member of the Socialist Workers Party and runs their front organisation the Social Work Action Network. This consists of denouncing social workers that do their jobs rather than spending time on "solidarity", "collective action" and "building alliances."

What about those Conservatives seeking a career in social work choosing Bath University to secure the necessary qualifications? There it's Dr Mark Baldwin who is the senior lecturer. He is keen on:

Radical social work practice – history, current renewed interest and development within social work organisations and collective organisations. This includes an exploration of the re-emergence of interest in social work as a political activity and of community focused social work as a manifestation of a more radical practice.

Last year The Guardian offered some tips for social work students from Professor Peter Beresford of Brunel University:

Join the union, your professional association and get involved in the new College of Social Work. Build alliances with other professionals, work at strengthening the team you are in. Get their strength around you. Learn from the Social Work Action Network and build links with service users and their organisations.

Manchester University and the University of Central Lancashire sponsored a conference for their social work students to attend at Liverpool University with various far left speakers on how to link social work to assorted "struggles" involving the "Stop the War Coalition", the trade unions and resisting deportations. I think we get the picture.

A paper by Birmingham University about the history of their social work courses notes this type of thinking is well established:

The late 1960s and early 1970s was a period of global radical political action. This had an influence on social work education and practice. Radical social work texts emerged analysing the structural and political positions of social work clients and critiquing social casework as the dominant method of practice. The social work teaching at Birmingham moved in 1973 from a social casework focus to a ‘unitary model’ approach. An approach designed to educate students about the range of political, economic, social and personal systems which impacted on clients lives as well as the range of techniques and strategies needed to work with them.

If we are attempting to bring on the revolution the decisions of social workers suddenly become explicable. It is not about the needs of the individual but building collective resistance. The evidence is that children in care thrive at boarding schools. But could the social workers collaborate with the class enemy?

The social work preoccupation with an ethnic match in adoption has no basis of being in the interests of the child. But for the revolutionary left, racial antagonism is a means to bring about social change. Black identity is about the struggle, smashing the system. Why the social worker preference for constantly returning a child to their biological parent(s) to face more abuse rather than adoption? It's about the class system. It tends to mean returning a child to a council block rather than a new life in an affluent middle class home. How would that help speed up the crisis?

Let's remember that bursaries, financed by the taxpayer, to undertake these social work courses come to £70 million a year. This funding should cease.

I would be surprised if the Education Secretary Michael Gove regards the current arrangement for qualifying to be a social worker as entirely satisfactory. However there is the complication that the Universities Minister David Willetts is desperately craven.

What is needed is to end the ban on those without a social work degree practising as social workers. A local authority or agency should be able to take a broader view on who would do a good job. This might be a young recruit with a good degree in another subject (any other subject!) than social work who could then serve an apprenticeship before being given individual responsibilities. It might be a charity worker with a proven record of success. Or someone who has been a social worker abroad.

Very sensibly, free schools (and soon academies) are allowed to employ teachers without a formal teaching qualification from a Teacher Training College. If, for example, someone has been a fantastic teacher at an independent school for years but doesn't have Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) it's absurd to prohibit them from state schools. Similarly if a couple who have been exemplary foster carers for seven years decided they wanted to become social workers is that really less of a qualification than enduring years of indoctrination in Marxist theories?

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan it's not that those who have taken the social work degree are ignorant, "it's just that they know so much that isn't so." I repeat that many social workers are decent practical people who manage to some extent to forget the theories and get on with the job. Such "sell outs" are a grave disappointment to their old professors. Other social workers keep the faith rigidly maintaining all the dogmas inculcated in them without being distracted by reality.

Social workers should not have social work degree courses inflicted upon them.

Source: Conservative Home

Judge Muzzles Teen

November 29, 2012 permalink

A family court in Hamilton has found an unusual way of shutting up a teenager. In most family court proceedings, parties are heard only by affidavit. A teenager trying to put his case before the court found that judge Cheryl Lafrenière had spread the word among local lawyers to refuse to attest his affidavits.



Vernon Beck ‎(Nov 29, 2012)

It has been brought to the attention of Canada Court Watch that several legal officials including lawyers and legal professionals who have a sworn duty to promote the administration of justice have refused to witness the affidavit of a teenager because they felt "uncomfortable" with the contents of the teen's affidavit.

The teen's affidavit mentioned the name of Madame Justice Lafreniere of the Hamilton Court for obstructing justice by ordering staff at the courthouse to refuse to sign an affidavit from the teen should he come into the courthouse to have his affidavit sworn. Eventually, the teen did manage to find one ethical lawyer in Hamilton who did what he was supposed to do and witness the teen's signature.

It is not the role of legal professionals to be "screening" what witnesses put before the court. This in itself is an obstruction of justice.

The teen will be filing a complaint about his experience with the legal system and those professionals who have an obligation to witness affidavits. It is no wonder why many citizens in Canada are losing respect for the justice system in their own country. Court Watch will publish the complaint from the teen once it becomes available.

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

Querulous Paranoia

November 29, 2012 permalink

A mother skilled in the law was told by her barrister that she was incompetent to pursue her own case in family law because she suffered from querulous paranoia.



A barrister becomes the judge of her client's sanity

A mother is told by her supposed legal representative that she is not 'mentally competent'

A mother and her daughter have been fighting a care order - Child protection system tears two more happy families apart
A mother finds herself in the Kafkaesque position of being told by her own lawyer that she is mad
Photo: ALAMY

Imagine you are about to face an eight-day High Court hearing at which you will fight for what is easily the most important thing in your life. You are an intelligent woman, holding down a responsible job requiring extensive knowledge of the law – which you somehow manage to combine with devotedly looking after two small children.

Shortly before the hearing, you go to meet for the first time the barrister who has been chosen to represent you. You are astonished to be told that the barrister has spoken at length to the other side in the case and read through all their evidence, but not looked at your own, even though this factually corrects almost every point alleged against you. On this basis, without having met you, the barrister has diagnosed you as suffering from a psychological condition known as “querulous paranoia”, and says that you are not “mentally competent” to instruct her. She will therefore, in seeming contravention of the rule that barristers “must at all times protect and promote fearlessly” their “client’s best interests”, disregard anything you wish her to argue in court.

Having already represented yourself three times in front of judges, and won each time, you tell her that you do not wish to be represented by someone who proposes, in effect, to argue for the other side. At very short notice, you arrange to be examined by an eminent psychologist, with long experience as an expert court witness, who, after testing you for some hours, finds you to be entirely rational and competent. You lodge the correct papers with the court to say that you have “dis-instructed” your lawyers and wish to represent yourself.

The court staff agree with your lawyers that you cannot do this, even though you have found case law which states that where someone’s “mental capacity” has been called in to question, they must have the right to challenge this before a court “unfiltered by the discretion of public officials”.

In three years of reporting on the Kafkaesque world of our family courts, I have come across many extraordinary stories, but few more peculiar than this. The last time I wrote about the ordeal this mother has been subjected to by social workers for three years, it was to report on how, appearing for herself, she had persuaded a judge to lift a Prohibited Steps Order, imposed by another judge at the urging of social workers, which prohibited her from moving from her home, in a way which made it impossible for her to work. (Twice she lost highly paid jobs due to other bizarre demands made on her by the same social workers.) She was thus free to move with her children to be near another job, which pays her £350 a day.

The social workers where she now lives say they have no concerns over her competence as a mother and asked to take over her case. But the original social workers refused, continuing to impose demands with which she has, with difficulty, complied because she doesn’t want to give them any excuse to remove her children. Her solicitors, having agreed to a court hearing at the one time in a week when she had said she was unable to attend, wrongly informed the court that she planned to move to Scotland. The same lawyers then retained the barrister, from a chambers which specialises in representing local authorities, whom she is now told she has no right to “dis-instruct”, even though she had never instructed her in the first place. When this mother finally appears before the judge, it must be hoped he will give her every opportunity to put her side of this extraordinary story.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Father Needs Help

November 29, 2012 permalink



Friday, November 30, 2012
10:00am in EST
Superior Court 55 Main Street West Hamilton Ontario

There is a Dad that may be jailed tomorrow for trying to protect his children. The CAS is taking him to court. The child has been in hiding and can not see his family, friends or go to school because of the CAS. This is beyond an injustice. He needs all the support he can get. Not only could your support help him and his children but yours and other families as well.

Help protect and support our children.

There will be and is no reason for anyone to know your identity.

All supporters welcome!

Source: Facebook

Crown Ward

November 29, 2012 permalink

John Dunn has started publication of the Crown Ward. The first two editions are August 2012 and November 2012 (pdf).

Adoptive Mother Killed

November 28, 2012 permalink

In New Mexico adopted teenager Tony Day has killed his adoptive mother Sue Day and her adult daughter Sherry Folts. His further efforts to kill a foster baby were thwarted by a foster teenager in the home.



Teen admits to killing adoptive mom, sister

14-year-old charged in double homicide

TUCUMCARI, N.M. (KRQE) - A 14-year-old Tucumcari boy has been charged with killing his adoptive mother and sister.

The family has taken in more than 80 foster kids in the last seven years.

And CYFD says one of those other kids prevented the teen from killing the rest of the family.

Police are still processing the scene.

The victims' bodies are still inside the home and officials say there was a 9-month-old foster child inside when the murder happened.

State police investigated Tuesday afternoon that is about three miles west of tucumcari.

Monday night state police got a disturbing call.

They say 14-year-old Tony Day killed his mom, 67-year-old Sue Day and her daughter, his adoptive sister, 49-year-old Sherry Folts.

Police say the teen confessed when they arrested him Monday night.

“He did give us indication he stabbed Sherry Folts and shot Sue Day,” Capt. Ryan Suggs said.

CYFD says the family has fostered children for years.

They adopted Tony two years ago.

They also adopted another 16-year-old boy and were fostering a 9-month-old child.

CYFD says it's the 16-year-old who saved that baby's life.

“He basically wrestled with his adopted brother, taking him to the ground, knocked out his two front teeth and stopped him from what was about to go on,” CYFD spokesperson, Enrique Knell, said.

As police gather evidence neighbors can't believe what happened.

“We've never had any major problems in this area. There's no traffic…It's a dead end and this is highly unusual,” their neighbor, Charlie Aragon, said.

Charlie Aragon says sometimes he would give the boys a ride to school.

Just like police he has one question, why?

“Right now he hasn't given us any indication. No motives or reasons and we're still looking at that. It's hard for anyone to make sense of a crime like this,” Capt. Suggs said.

Tony Day is charged with two counts of murder.

He's being held without bond at the Quay County Jail.

CYFD says they've had complaints about the days and their foster children, but never found any evidence of abuse.

The baby girl is fine and staying with a different foster family.

Source: KASA

Politically Incorrect

November 25, 2012 permalink

A family in Rotherham England had their foster children removed because of their membership in the wrong political party. They belonged to the UKIP. One reason for the publication of this story is that the press prefers to write about foster families, but real families are more vulnerable. In the future, members of parties losing elections will lose their children as well.

Oops. Not just in the future. Check out the earlier case of Martyn and Toni McLeod, members of the politically incorrect English Defence League (EDL).



Foster parents 'stigmatised and slandered' for being members of Ukip

A couple had their three foster children taken away by a council on the grounds that their membership of the UK Independence Party meant that they supported “racist” policies.

The husband and wife, who have been fostering for nearly seven years, said they were made to feel like criminals when a social worker told them that their views on immigration made them unsuitable carers.

The couple said they feared that there was a black mark against their name and they would not be able to foster again.

Campaigners representing foster parents have described the decision as “ridiculous” and warned that it could deter other prospective foster parents from volunteering.

Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, described the actions of Rotherham borough council as “a bloody outrage” and “political prejudice of the very worst kind”.

Tim Loughton, the former children’s minister, said: “I will be very concerned if decisions have been made about the children’s future that were based on misguided political correctness around ethnic considerations.

"Being a supporter of a mainstream political party is not a deal-breaker when it comes to looking after children if it means they can have a loving family home.”

The couple, who do not want to be named to avoid identifying the children they have fostered, are in their late 50s and live in a neat detached house in a village in South Yorkshire.

The husband was a Royal Navy reservist for more than 30 years and works with disabled people, while his wife is a qualified nursery nurse.

Former Labour voters, they have been approved foster parents for nearly seven years and have looked after about a dozen different children, one of them in a placement lasting four years.

They took on the three children — a baby girl, a boy and an older girl, who were all from an ethnic minority and a troubled family background — in September in an emergency placement.

They believe that the youngsters thrived in their care. The couple were described as “exemplary” foster parents: the baby put on weight and the older girl even began calling them “mum and dad”.

However, just under eight weeks into the placement, they received a visit out of the blue from the children’s social worker at the Labour-run council and an official from their fostering agency.

They were told that the local safeguarding children team had received an anonymous tip-off that they were members of Ukip.

The wife recalled: “I was dumbfounded. Then my question to both of them was, 'What has Ukip got to do with having the children removed?’

“Then one of them said, 'Well, Ukip have got racist policies’. The implication was that we were racist. [The social worker] said Ukip does not like European people and wants them all out of the country to be returned to their own countries.

“I’m sat there and I’m thinking, 'What the hell is going off here?’ because I wouldn’t have joined Ukip if they thought that. I’ve got mixed race in my family. I said, 'I am absolutely offended that you could come in my house and accuse me of being a member of a racist party’.”

The wife said she told the social worker and agency official: “These kids have been loved. These kids have been treated no differently to our own children. We wouldn’t have taken these children on if we had been racist.”

The boy was taken away from them the following day and the two girls were removed at the end of that week.

The wife said the social worker told her: “We would not have placed these children with you had we known you were members of Ukip because it wouldn’t have been the right cultural match.” The wife said she was left “bereft”, adding: “We felt like we were criminals. From having a little baby in my arms, suddenly there was an empty cot. I knew she wouldn’t have been here for ever, but usually there is a build-up of several weeks. I was in tears.”

Her husband added: “If we were moving the children on to happier circumstances we would be feeling warm and happy. To have it done like that, it’s beyond the pale.”

The couple said they had been “stigmatised and slandered”.

A spokesman for Rotherham metropolitan borough council said last night: “After a group of sibling children were placed with agency foster carers, issues were raised regarding the long-term suitability of the carers for these particular children.

"With careful consideration, a decision was taken to move the children to alternative care. We continue to keep the situation under review.”

Ukip was once considered a single-issue fringe party but is now part of Britain’s political mainstream, with some recent national polls putting its support as high as nine per cent. Its manifesto includes a demand for Britain to pull out of Europe and to curb immigration.

It is also critical of multiculturalism and political correctness. It has a candidate in next week’s Rotherham by-election.

Mr Farage said: “I am outraged politically and very upset for them. I think this is the kind of thing where we need some sort of decree from a Government minister that Ukip is not a racist party.

“This is political prejudice of the very worst kind. It is just a bloody outrage.”

He pointed out that Ukip has a black candidate in the forthcoming Croydon North by-election.

David Goosey, the chairman of the trustees at Community Foster care, an independent fostering charity, said: “If this is accurate and there are no other extraneous matters that have concerned the authorities, then it is completely ridiculous and no self-respecting authority should be stopping people fostering on the grounds of their membership of Ukip.”

Rotherham metropolitan borough council’s equality policy states that it is committed to “promoting equality and good relations between people of different racial groups”.

Senior Tories have criticised “politically correct” rules requiring children to be adopted by families of the same ethnic background.

In March, David Cameron pledged to tackle “absurd” barriers to mixed-race adoption, while Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said last year that “Left-wing prescriptions” were denying children loving new homes.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Addendum: The Daily Mail gives details on the Rotherham foster family. The children are Slovakian, but not the Boórová family in an earlier notorious British foster case.



It's the social workers who are racist, say Slovak parents in UKIP fostering scandal: The Mail reveals the truth behind Thought Police furore - and it's more shocking than it seemed

  • Father of children in UKIP fostering row accused council staff of 'racism'
  • There are concerns at the number of children being taken away from East European migrant families for adoption or fostering
  • The issue is causing tension between the British and Slovak governments

By Sue Reid, PUBLISHED: 00:50 GMT, 7 December 2012 | UPDATED: 14:02 GMT, 7 December 2012

The birth parents of the children at the centre of the UKIP fostering row can today be revealed as a Slovakian couple who have had six of their offspring taken away by social workers.

Last night the father accused council staff of ‘racism’ and of destroying his family as he told how 20 police officers ‘raided’ their home to remove their last four children.

The authorities have also taken the couple’s grandchild (the baby son of their 17-year-old married daughter), bringing the total number now being looked after by the state from this one family to seven. Their ages range from five months to 11 years.

immigrants in Rotherham
Thousands of Eastern Europeans have moved to Rotherham, Yorkshire and the Slovakian couple at the centre of the UKIP fostering row have accused council staff of 'racism'

Settlers: Thousands of Eastern Europeans have moved to Rotherham, Yorkshire and the Slovakian couple at the centre of the UKIP fostering row have accused council staff of 'racism'

The parents, who are happily married and came to Britain five years ago, found themselves at the centre of national controversy after the staunchly Labour council in Rotherham, Yorkshire, discovered that it had sent three of their removed children to live with a foster couple who are UKIP members.

The furore blew up when social workers abruptly moved the children from the foster couple because they considered that their support of the anti-EU party, which attracted nearly one million votes at the last election, made them incapable of fulfilling the East European youngsters’ ‘cultural and ethnic needs’.

The astonishing decision was attacked by MPs from all political parties, and Rotherham social services were accused of acting like ‘Thought Police’.

Ironically, the council has also been criticised for failing to protect scores of young girls, some in care, who have been sexually abused by street grooming gangs, mainly of Pakistani heritage.

UKIP claimed the Slovak children’s removal from loving foster parents — who said they grew fond of the three and had bought them Christmas presents — was for blatant political reasons.

Now, the Mail can tell the story of the children’s birth parents — and reveal growing concerns at the number of children being taken away from Eastern European migrant families for adoption or fostering, at increasing expense to the state. The issue is causing rising tension between the British and Slovak governments.

Through friends, the parents of the Rotherham children say the irony is that despite the council’s fears of the UKIP foster couple being racist, it is the council which has picked on them because they are Roma, and social workers disapprove of their non-British ‘lifestyle’.

The Slovak father told friends: ‘It is the social services who have been racist against my family.’

However, social services are standing by their original decision to remove the Slovak couple’s first two children, made after one of their sons was found wandering the streets of Rotherham at two in the morning shortly after they came to Britain. The council then took their newly born grandchild into care this summer.

The remaining four children were seized in September when social workers deemed the family’s small terrace house was ‘overcrowded’ and infested with mice, said the father.

Social workers claim there are other concerns about the family, including suspicions that the father had physically abused some of the children. He, and their mother, have denied this.

Over the past five years since the EU’s borders were opened, more than 3,500 Eastern Europeans (including many Slovak and Czech Roma) have settled in Rotherham.

The council has encouraged them to adopt British ways by sending their children to school, putting them to bed on time rather than letting them play out on the streets and not smacking or hitting them as a punishment.

But, according to neighbours, the Slovak family’s children were happy and there were photos lovingly displayed around the house of them smiling and laughing.

Whatever the merits of the social services’ actions, the 46-year-old father is angry at the way his children have been separated from each other by the authorities and the brutal manner in which they were removed. The last ‘raid’ on their home saw council staff and police hustle the children into cars as they screamed for their 34-year-old mother, who was left crying in the street. Neighbours who comforted her said the scene they witnessed was ‘appalling cruelty to an ordinary family’.

The father says: ‘What has happened has broken my wife’s heart. She has talked of killing herself since her children were taken away. I would like to leave Britain, but I cannot desert my six children who are living in different groups with strangers.’

His married daughter, who has her own home in Yorkshire, said: ‘I have not seen my own baby boy since he was taken from me at a month old this summer.’

She insists her child was removed because she is Slovakian and the council disapproved of her lifestyle. ‘This was my first child and I looked after him well. The council said they wanted to assess how I cared for him when he was born because I am a teenage mother. They did so for a month, and then took him away against my will,’ the mother told a Slovakian TV reporter.

Neither she nor her parents can be named in order to protect the identity of their children.

The father of the six children has told friends: ‘I love all my children and would never hurt them. I came to Britain to work and make a better life for my sons and daughters. I never believed this could have happened to us.’

He has complained that he and his wife are allowed to visit their children only at a contact centre under supervision of social workers. It is believed they saw some of the children taken in September for the first time last week.

The couple first realised their own three children were at the centre of the ‘UKIP row’ when told by their lawyer a few days ago.

The fostering row and subsequent public outrage helped UKIP score its best-ever by-election result — coming second in last week’s poll in the staunchly socialist seat of Rotherham.

It’s clear that many of the local community are aware of the family involved. ‘We are scared that our own children will be the next ones taken by the social services,’ said one woman with a baby as she joined a group of other Slovaks at a social centre. The Eastern European community in Rotherham has held emotional meetings about the social services’ actions. Some Slovaks and Czechs claim that children are being removed on ‘any excuse’ to give to English parents for adoption.

The Slovak father, a handsome and articulate man, was contacted for comment by a Slovakian television station after his first two children were taken.

The TV station asked him to take part in a talk show highlighting how more than 120 children from 40 Slovakian families have been put into care by social workers in England. Some have been adopted and will never see their parents again.

However, the father refused to do so, hoping that he would get his children back. Indeed, he says he has been told he faces jail if he talks to the Press.

Meanwhile, the Slovakian Government has protested to the British authorities about the huge numbers of Slovak children being put into care by social workers, and last Friday a debate at the Council of Europe, which promotes human rights in all European countries, centred on the scandal.

A resolution was passed that said children are being removed by UK social services and family courts ‘against the will’ of their natural parents and in violation of the ‘right to respect of family life’ and the ‘principle of fair trial’.

It insisted that social workers should give ‘practical assistance’ to families in difficulties instead of their children being put into care which caused ‘irreversible damage’ to the entire family.

A sign of the diplomatic tensions between Slovakia and Britain came in September, when protesters filled the street outside the British embassy in the Slovak capital of Bratislava, waving placards saying ‘Stop legal kidnapping’ and ‘Britain thief of children’.

The demonstration coincided with a hearing at London’s Court of Appeal in which a Slovak grandmother — supported by the country’s authorities — pleaded for the return of her two young grandsons, who were seized from their parents in Britain two years ago after one of the boys was found to have a rash on his genitals.

Suspicions that he had been abused were later ruled out, but the boys have still not been returned to the family by Surrey Council social workers.

In another case this autumn, Slovak officials attended a court hearing in Kent that ended with five children being sent back to their extended family in Slovakia after being taken by social workers because their parents left them unsupervised while working night shifts.

The family courts operate in strict secrecy to protect the identities of the children involved. It means that evidence given by social workers and their hired medical experts cannot be publicly challenged.

Parents who talk publicly about what happens there — even to their MPs — have been sent to prison.

Last night John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who has questioned the courts’ secrecy and why 500 English children of all backgrounds are taken into care every week, said: ‘Few realise how many Eastern European children are being taken away by social services.

‘Of course, this has long been happening to English families. But many parents are innocent and do not deserve to lose their children.

‘It will be costing Rotherham Council £40,000 a year for each of the seven children they have taken in this case — a total of nearly £300,000 a year. The council has complained it is short of money.

‘If it feels there is something wrong with these Slovakian parents, why don’t they send the family back to Slovakia where the authorities there can judge for themselves? They will understand their culture and lifestyle.’

The UKIP-supporting foster couple refused to comment when the Mail told them that six children, plus a grandchild, had been taken from the Slovak parents.

Rotherham Council has said it will not comment on any individual cases of children it removes from families into care.

Source: Daily Mail

Addendum A blog post by UKIP candidate David Gale gives social workers reason to fear his party.



Judge in Jail

Kids for Cash Court Scandal

Judges will go to jailJudges and lawyers will go to jail if a new Police Commissioner has his way.

David Gale, UKIP’s candidate to become Derbyshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner, is setting out his stall to tackle what he says is corruption and criminality within the family justice system. Accusing judges and lawyers of routine involvement in perverting the course of justice, Gale says that where parents are encouraged to fabricate allegations and the court turns a blind-eye, there must be a formal criminal investigation.

Gale, who led a ground-breaking project to enable information sharing across agencies to protect vulnerable children, claims to have inside information: “I am shocked that professionals dealing with children are hushing up the wholesale abuse of the family justice system.”

Gale said, “I’ve received detailed accounts from professionals and parents both in Derby and further afield that large parts of the family justice system are being run like an organised crime racket. There is an epidemic of mothers being advised by their lawyers that if they make false statements against partners attesting to domestic violence they will be fast-tracked to legal aid, will be able to testify unopposed to gain a Non-Molestation Order, and will not be held to account even if their perjury is uncovered. Women are being advised of this legal mechanism as a means of severing the relationship between a father and his children.”

“Judges are routinely turning a blind-eye to uncorroborated, fabricated witness statements made by women seeking to abuse the legal process. The family law industry’s lawyers are milking this for all it’s worth, with judges in some cases allocating completely unnecessary court hearings that ramp up costs, acting like brokers in an insidiously corrupt scam that defrauds the public purse.”

Gale continued, “I will make it clear that the current response from police when presented with evidence of perjury ‘that it is a court matter’ will not wash. If evidence of a criminal offence committed within civil proceedings is presented to Derbyshire Constabulary officers, they will investigate it thoroughly. Those guilty of perjury should expect to go to jail, along with lawyers or judges who have participated in perverting the course of justice. It’s been eighteen months since Christopher Booker exposed the reality of the family justice system, citing it as “callous, corrupt and staggeringly expensive”. I see no evidence to suggest that the problems are isolated to just Children’s Services.”

“Increasingly, we’re seeing adolescent boys being left fatherless with positive male role-models being replaced in some cases by gang culture. There is a significant on-going cost to the public purse that continues long after unscrupulous legal professionals have dipped their snouts into the legal aid trough.”

“It isn’t the politically correct thing to do to identify women as potentially being the instigators of an abuse of domestic violence legislation but telling it like it is is not about being part of a popularity contest. I will have an amnesty for those women who come forward to testify on their lawyers’ illegal advice but I have a duty to the people of Derbyshire to root out this institutionalised corruption once and for all.”

Source: David Gale blog, November 12, 2012

Addendum Six months later Rotherham issues what it says is an apology, highly limited since it does not identify the family receiving the apology and they still claim to have acted in the best interest of the child.



Council which removed foster children after parents' Ukip membership was discovered finally apologises seven months on

  • Social workers took three Eastern European children away in November
  • Rotherham council originally said couple's affiliation with right-wing group meant they opposed 'multiculturalism'
  • It has now back-tracked saying reason for action was badly communicated
  • 'The council can confirm that membership of Ukip would not prevent any individual from being considered as a foster carer'
  • But council insists decision was still in the children's 'best interests'

A council has finally apologised over the way it handled a decision to remove three Eastern European children from foster parents who were members of Ukip.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council maintained that the removal of the siblings last November was in their 'best interests'.

But it also said membership of the UK Independence Party was not a valid reason to take foster children from their carers and the issue was badly communicated.

In a statement, the local authority said a detailed review had found that the action to remove the brother and sisters was in their best interests.

It added: 'However, we accept the impression left following media interviews on the morning of November 24 was that the removal of the children was solely because of the foster carers' membership of Ukip and the council apologises for this.

'As this is a child care case, legal reasons continue to prevent us from releasing further details. However, we know that there are important lessons the council must learn.

'As a consequence, the council has taken action to strengthen the way it makes decisions, communicates and shares information.'

The children, a baby girl, a boy and an older girl, were removed by social workers after the council reportedly received an anonymous tip-off about the foster parents' membership of the right-wing party.

Social workers reportedly said they were concerned about the children's 'cultural and ethnic needs'.

The head of children’s services in Rotherham defended the decision, saying that their affiliation to Ukip meant they opposed ‘multiculturalism.’

Joyce Thacker, Rotherham Borough Council’s director of children and young people’s services, said the children’s ‘cultural and ethnic needs’ did not fit with the parent’s ‘strong views.’

But in today's statement, Rotherham council clarified its position on party membership.

'The council can confirm that membership of Ukip would not prevent any individual from being considered as a foster carer in Rotherham and could not be a reason for removing foster children from a placement,' it said.

In November, the couple, a qualified nursery nurse and a former Royal Navy reservist, were backed by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Mr Gove said social workers had made 'the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons'.

He pledged to personally investigate the case, adding: 'Rotherham's reasons for denying this family the chance to foster are indefensible.'

The birth parents of the three children were later revealed to be a Slovakian couple who have had six of their offspring taken away by social workers.

The father accused council staff of 'racism' and of destroying his family as he told how 20 police officers ‘raided’ their home to remove their last four children.

He claimed social workers picked on the family because they are Roma and disapproved of their non-British 'lifestyle'.

As reported in the Daily Mail in December, the Slovak father told friends: 'It is the social services who have been racist against my family.'

The foster parents said they were planning legal action after their foster agency said the council had accused them of leaking information to the press about the children and their birth parents.

They told the Guardian in December: 'If Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council are accusing us of a breach of confidentiality and do not issue a formal apology in order to clear our name we may be forced to seek legal action to protect our future as foster parents.'

Ukip today said it did not wish to comment on the council's statement.

Source: Daily Mail

UKIP poster

Remembering Delonna

November 24, 2012 permalink

Delonna Victoria Sullivan tombstone
Delonna Victoria Sullivan
click for larger image
Delonna Victoria Sullivan tombstone

Marilyn Koren marked the second birthday of her late granddaughter by releasing 350 balloons. Delonna died six days after seizure by Alberta social services. Earlier stories on Delonna: [1] [2].



Child welfare deaths marked by baby's grandmother

Balloons in memory of Delonna Sullivan
Balloons are released outside the courthouse in Leduc, Alta. in memory of children who have died in government care.

The grandmother of a baby who died in foster care last year released 350 balloons Friday on what would have been the child's second birthday.

Marilyn Koren's granddaughter Delonna Sullivan was four months old when she died on April 11, 2011, six days after she was removed from her home in central Alberta and placed in foster care.

Delonna Sullivan
Delonna Sullivan died on April 11, 2011, six days after being placed in foster care.
Courtesy of Jamie Sullivan

Twenty-nine children have died while in government care since 2007. Koren released the balloons in front of the Leduc courthouse in their memory.

"After my granddaughter's death I had made myself a promise that I would do anything and everything within my power to save another child's life," Koren said.

Delonna was taken from her mother Jamie Sullivan by two social workers and an RCMP officer who had come to apprehend the children of an unrelated person who also lived in the home.

They ended up placing Delonna in foster care believing there was "disharmony in the home." Documents obtained by CBC News show that social workers believed Sullivan had an alcohol problem, an allegation she denied.

Since then, Koren and Sullivan have waged a battle to find out why the little girl died. They went to court to have a publication ban lifted on Delonna's identity so they could go public with her name and photographs.

They requested medical records that showed Delonna died as a result of cardiac arrest, even though an autopsy report recorded it as a sudden, unexplained death.

Koren wants the child welfare system to be more open and accountable.

"I made a commitment that, no matter what, I would do everything and anything within my power, to save another child's life through the advocacy work ... that I've been doing," she said. "And that another family doesn't have to suffer."

Source: CBC

Adoption Brush-Off

November 24, 2012 permalink

Today's comment about adoption expresses outrage at the difficulties in adopting a needy child. The author fails to understand the difference between what social services agencies say in public (please adopt) and what they want in reality (subsidies for foster children). There is no way a social services agency will part with a well-behaved special needs child, and his rich subsidy, to supply a child to an adoptive family. To avoid admitting their intentions, they make the adopters jump through hoops and pretend the parents were not good enough. An earlier article dealt at length with the brush-off.



Rage at the adoption red tape that denies a child a home

Why is so little being done for the 65,000 children languishing in the care system?

Friends of mine – a clever, funny, affectionate couple – are going through the Kafkaesque adoption process at the moment, with astonishingly good grace.

They are prepared – in fact, happy – to take a child, or indeed siblings, with learning difficulties, which ought to catapult them to the top of the queue. But no.

She is a therapist with an extensive background in children with special needs. Yet she has been told she must get more experience – with special needs children. He is on his second marriage and already has two children, whom he sees weekly – but he has been told he needs more experience with kids.

You couldn’t make it up. Which is partly why I was horrified, but not surprised, at new figures showing that seven out of eight would-be adoptive parents drop out of the application process, because they are either too daunted or turned down flat.

I can empathise with their heartbreaking disappointment. My husband and I were rejected for adoption in our own borough six years ago because we were “the wrong colour”.

Then, when we tried elsewhere, we were turned down because – well, to be honest, I have no idea. Because I was nervous and talked too much? Because we have a dog or too many books or any of the other fatuous reasons I thought were the stuff of urban myth but, on reflection, probably aren’t?

We already had a daughter who was healthy, happy and longing for a sibling, but after a series of miscarriages, hope had receded. We felt – damn it, we knew – we could provide a loving, stable, supportive home for a child in desperate need of one. But we never made it past the first interview.

Was I supposed to appeal against the decision? Write letters? Turn up at their office and plead? I have since discovered that, unofficially, tenacity is seen as a sign of commitment. Then again, too much tenacity and you will be written off as “controlling”.

The Government has pledged to reform the adoption process, but it’s no easy task: the number of children placed with new families was 20,000 a year in the 1970s. Last year, it had dwindled to 3,048.

I don’t want to tar all social workers with the same brush, but a friend who worked in the sector for two decades confirms that there is an institutionalised aversion to risk; initiative is frowned upon and inaction the fallback position.

That’s why Victoria Climbie and Baby Peter were left in harm’s way. I can’t think of any instance in which an adoptive couple carried out a similar crime.

There are currently 65,000 children languishing in the care system. When they emerge, it will be with shockingly low employment and life prospects. I do understand that placing children is a serious undertaking and that people wishing to adopt must be strictly vetted. But surely there is some latitude for common sense?

Yes, there is a possibility that someone who has willingly entered the (highly stressful, highly intrusive) application process might harm a child. But isn’t that far outweighed by the fact that children in the care system are virtually guaranteed terrible emotional damage?

And the longer they stay in a system where they are shunted from one setting to another, the harder it will be to place them.

Children unaccustomed to normality, affection and the banal rules of family life can find it hard to settle. Yet just 115 adoption placements went wrong last year. While that’s a tragedy for those involved, the crazy, entirely counter-intuitive response by social workers seems to be to vet would-be parents more slowly rather than to take kids out of care more quickly.

My husband and I went on to have another baby after two years, and so I am lucky to feel blessed rather than bitter. But I do feel very angry on behalf of others; children and parents, whose hopes of a future have been strangled in red tape. I’m sure most social workers go about their jobs with good intentions, but to quote an old saw, the road to hell is paved with those.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Abusive Placement

November 24, 2012 permalink

A British father is outraged that his two daughters were placed with foster dad Jeremy Goodwin whose fantasy was abusing children.



Foster dad is jailed for 783 paedo pics, Exclusive, By JAMES BEAL, Published: November 24, 2012

A DISGUSTED dad hit out last night after his daughters’ foster carer was jailed for downloading indecent images of children.

Warped Jeremy Goodwin, 47, was looking after the girls aged five and three when cops found 783 photographs on his home computers.

Among them were 141 in the most serious category. One showed a man abusing a six-month-old baby.

Royal Mail worker Goodwin was jailed for eight months. But the father of the two girls said: “The sentence is ridiculous. He has been in custody for three months and could be free next month if he only serves half his term.

“We have been told that the offences do not involve our children — but surely somebody has questions to answer.

“What that man did was truly disgusting. It is always people masquerading as good men that try to get close to children. It’s sickening.” Newport Crown Court, South Wales, heard that married grandad Goodwin had been paid by Caerphilly council to look after youngsters for five years.

Prosecutor Joanna James said: “He was accessing the images for two years but denied they were for his gratification. He could give no explanation why he felt compelled to look at them.”

But Judge Daniel Williams called Goodwin’s claim of a non-sexual motive “a lie”. He said: “Behind each image is a real crime upon a real child.”

Goodwin, who lost his marriage and job, admitted making indecent images of a child. He was banned from working with children for life and must sign the Sex Offenders Register. The council is reviewing the case.

Source: The Sun (UK)

Social Worker Rapes Lolita

November 23, 2012 permalink

An Australian social worker in a relationship with a foster mother rapes her ward. A higher-up may be protecting the accused by withholding his name.



‘Protector’ charged with rape of foster child

A DEPARTMENT of Family and Community Services employee whose job was to protect abused children is accused of repeatedly raping a foster child over a two-year period, Newcastle Local Court heard yesterday.

The harrowing allegations relate to a primary school-aged girl who the accused had access to via a relationship with the girl’s foster mother, a police statement said.

The sexual assaults, some of which carry maximum penalties of life imprisonment, are alleged to have occurred between early 2010 and as recently as November this year at various locations in the Newcastle area, the statement said.

The girl told police that after one of the rapes the accused allegedly said: ‘‘Don’t tell anyone or I’ll literally kill you. See that bat. That’s my hitting bat. I’ll hit you with that if you tell someone.’’

The Newcastle child abuse squad was alerted after the girl’s foster mother asked her and her brother whether they liked the accused, the statement said.

They said they did not.

The brother said he did not like that the accused always took his sister to the accused’s bedroom and would tell the brother to go away.

The girl initially denied this but later told the foster mother about the alleged assaults.

The foster mother then called the DoCS hotline and the accused was arrested and charged last Friday.

Defence solicitor David Malcolm said the accused had no relevant criminal history, the support of his wife who was in court and strong ties to the community.

Magistrate Roger Clisdell said the charges were extremely serious, but he was satisfied the accused no longer had access to the girl who had been moved to another foster family.

The accused, who appeared in court via audio-visual link from Cessnock jail, was granted strict bail including conditions that he not contact any of his colleagues to obtain the girl’s whereabouts.

Source: Newcastle Herald

Placement Fraud

November 23, 2012 permalink

What does a social service agency do with a problematic boy showing a history of sexual misconduct? Answer: Give him to an unsuspecting foster mother without warning her of the history. That way if a rape occurs, the foster mother can get the blame. That's the way it happened in Queensland Australia.



Family failed by a flawed system, but department blames mum for son's rape trauma

Qld sexual abuse system failure - LEGAL
Woman whose son was allegedly sexually abused.
Picture: Barnes Glenn Source: The Courier-Mail

IT'S a gut-wrenching case with a heartless twist that will leave you stunned.

A Queensland mother is suing the Child Safety Department for failing to reveal the sexual history of a foster child, 15, who allegedly raped her eight-year-old son.

But in a move that could leave the family financially ruined, the State Government is taking action against the mother, alleging she is partly responsible for the alleged rape because she should have been supervising the children and protecting her son.

And all this while the State Government conducts an inquiry into child protection that is aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable children - but which cannot look at this case because it is outside its terms of reference.

Child Safety Minister Tracy Davis failed to answer a series of questions about the tactics being used by Crown Law.

"As the matter is before the courts, we can't comment on any aspect of the case," she said.

The Courier-Mail can today publish a special investigation into the plight of a southeast Queensland family torn apart by its decision to take in a teenager who had been abandoned by his family and placed in state care.

The foster mother, who cannot be identified, had been looking for the teenager for about eight years because she knew of his plight.

She found him after contacting Child Safety, which then asked if she would become his foster mother.

An internal Child Safety review into the incident and a transcript of a meeting with Child Safety officers reveals the parents asked twice if the foster child had any history of sexualised behaviour. The mother told The Courier-Mail she asked the department because there had been rumours that the boy had been molested.

The review said a Child Safety officer told the parents, "it was not believed (the boy) had any current sexualised behaviour" and failed to tell them of reports of past sexual incidents.

The review found the parents were not given the full and frank information they were supposed to receive under the Child Protection Act and ordered staff undergo more training.

But Child Safety officers in southeast Queensland told the parents that their office could not be held accountable for a regional office failing to reveal the boy's history. The office put the onus on the parents by saying it was up to the family to write letters to the other office seeking answers.

The mother has told of her anger, embarrassment and sadness for her traumatised eight-year-old son. The mother said an older son had turned to drugs after believing he failed his younger brother. The mother is now unable to work and is receiving counselling.

She said Child Safety, which was spending taxpayer money pursuing her with lawyers, should be held responsible.

"I asked them (about his history) and I was lied to twice," she said. "I feel like an idiot for letting him into my house."

The Government informed the family it disputed claims that the department was negligent, and it would seek a contribution claim against the family.

"Should the State of Queensland be found liable to the claimant (the young boy) it seeks a contribution/indemnity from (the mother)," Crown Law wrote to the mother.

Crown Law claims the mother was aware of the foster child's sexualised behaviours and that she notified the department of concerns years before taking the teenager. The mother denies the claims.

Crown Law also states: "(The mother) failed to properly supervise (the foster child) by failing to establish and maintain a safe environment and appropriate supervision conditions for (her son) while she was the approved carer of (the boy).

The mother's lawyer said the Government was acting like a bully.

"In our view the state's claim against the parents is frivolous and vexatious and amounts to an abuse of process," the lawyer said.

"Given the extreme psychological trauma this family have already been put through because of the conduct of the state, it seems to us to be most abhorrent to aggravate that further by bringing claims without any real merit against the parents.

"This will require them to seek further legal representation, incur further legal costs and be unreasonably called upon to defend their actions as parents.

"We urged the state in the strongest possible terms to withdraw the contribution notices."

The Courier-Mail sought comment from the Justice Department but was referred to Child Safety.

A Child Safety spokeswoman said: "(We are) unable to comment. The Child Protection Act also prevents the department from commenting on matters involving a child in care."

This morning, it emerged that the case cannot be referred to an inquiry into the child protection system because it is outside its terms of reference.

A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said any case before the court cannot be referred to the inquiry, headed by Tim Carmody.

It appears Child Safety asked Crown Law to pursue a contribution claim against the mother of the alleged victim.

The Courier-Mail is waiting for comment from Child Safety Minister Tracy Davis, Mr Carmody and Children and Young People and Child Guardian Commissioner Elizabeth Fraser.

Source: Courier-Mail

Addendum: In the litigation, the Child Safety Department is avoiding responsibility by saying the victims and their mother were at fault. They failed to lock the daughters' doors. And the earlier abuse by the boy when he raped a three-year-old girl? That was the other foster mother's fault. They have a cop-out for everything.



Child Safety Department tells three sisters they shared blame for sexual assault by foster child

child safety
Date/Time: 2012:11:30 20:34:19
Source: The Courier-Mail

THREE sisters who were repeatedly sexually abused by a foster child have been told by the Child Safety Department they share the blame for failing to lock their bedroom doors.

The sisters are suing Child Safety for putting them at risk of the sexual offender, who two years earlier was convicted of raping a three-year-old girl.

But once again Child Safety has used taxpayer's money to take legal action against a mother, arguing she was at fault and should have better protected her children and should contribute to any court-ordered compensation.

Last week, The Courier-Mail revealed that Child Safety failed to tell a foster mother about the troubled sexual history of a 15-year-old foster child, who went on to allegedly rape her son.

She is now taking legal action, however, Child Safety said it was her fault for not supervising the foster boy and hit her with a contribution claim.

The State Government is refusing to comment on the cases even though Minister Jann Stuckey, when opposition spokeswoman, said placing the youth in foster care with young girls "was the last thing that should have occurred'.

"The Government has again failed children in care," Ms Stuckey said.

It comes as the sisters, frustrated by the time taking to get a legal resolution, are desperate for justice.

The foster boy was 15 years old when he "persistently" and "repeatedly" sexually assaulted them, then aged 17, 16, and 13.

He was sent to live with the girls in 2006 when their mother agreed to foster him.

Police records show the family said Child Safety told them that the boy posed no risk to them, and although he had "done something" to another child, it was the fault of the previous carer.

That "something" was the rape of a three-year-old girl.

Now aged in their 20s, the sisters say they are suffering a range of problems, including depression, nightmares, anxiety, decreased mobility, flashbacks and loss of employment.

The matter has been filed in the District Court and is progressing.

Child Safety's latest amended defence dated December 23, 2011 alleges the mother and victims contributed to their own ordeal.

"The alleged consequences were caused or contributed to by the negligence of (two of the sisters) in: failing to lock (their) bedroom door; failing to inform (their) mother of the acts ... (and) failing to tell (their mother) the foster boy was entering (their bedroom at night)."

However, a court heard the offender somehow was able to get into the girls' locked bedrooms.

In 2008, the offender was convicted of 14 sexual offences against the girls, but the sentencing judge let him out after just 204 days already served.

Judge Sarah Bradley said at his sentencing: "Clearly your behaviour had very serious consequences for all three of the girls.

"They obviously found each of the incidents terrifying and it has had serious and ongoing consequences and effects for them, both emotional and physical and in terms of their relationships with members of their family.

"Right from the outset, each of the girls made it clear that your advances were not welcome, but nevertheless you persisted in going into their rooms at night when they were asleep and sexually abusing them, even to the extent of - it's unknown how - but getting through doors that had been locked."

In their statement of claim, prepared by Shine Lawyers, the sisters argue that Child Safety knew the foster boy had a history of sexualised behaviours against other children, had sexually assaulted other girls, and that he was "likely to sexually assault or attempt to sexually assault and behave in an indecent manner" toward each of them.

And "placing the foster child with the plaintiffs ... exposed (them) to an unnecessary and unreasonable risk of psychiatric/psychology injury".

In an affidavit to police, the oldest girl said: "I can remember just before (he) came to stay with us, we had a visit from someone at the Department of Child Safety. He sat my sisters, mother and I down and he told us something about (him).

"He said that he had done something to a two-year-old child at his last placement at (location). He said that it was an exaggerated matter and that it wasn't as bad as it really was."

Source: Courier-Mail

Neglect by CAS

November 22, 2012 permalink

There is no way to know what really happened in this case, but authorities are showing no interest in checking it out.

Helen Smith I need some advice and help. My grandson who is 9 months old, and in the care of the Brantford Children's Aid was left in his carseat locked in a car parked for 2 hours or more alone because apparently CAS forgot he was in the car. The CAS didn't notify the police or mom that he was left in the car at the time it happened and CAS has been trying to sweep this under the table and want no external investigation. How can this occur? If a family left their baby in a parking lot while they shopped in a mall for a couple of hours the police would be involved and charges laid. So why is it okay the Brantford CAS can do this and nothing happens? I need to expose them to take responsbility of what happened to my grandson and thank God that the weather and temperatures were mild, they didn't even have him checked out by the doctors. They called it a unfortunate incident. Please I need some advice and help so this doesn't happen to other children in their care.

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

Here is a case in which two children were made crown wards after being left in a car for two and a half hours. The Children’s Aid Society of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo v. R.C. heard September 2, 2008.

baby in carseat

Wrong-Way Social Worker

November 21, 2012 permalink

Drunk driving Ohio social worker Jennifer M Kearney drove the wrong way on Interstate 90, killing Kenneth Stith. In her day job at the time, she investigated sexual abuse of children.



Former social worker gets 3 years in prison for drunken-driving fatality

Jennifer M Kearney
Jennifer M. Kearney
Cuyahoga County Jail

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A former social worker was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for striking and killing a motorcyclist while driving under the influence of alcohol and heading the wrong way on Interstate 90 last year.

Jennifer Kearney, 29, an Ohio State University graduate who investigated sex abuse cases for the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, was coming home from her second job as a bartender in downtown Cleveland when the accident occurred in the morning of July 1, 2011.

Her attorney, Kevin Spellacy, said after the hearing that Kearney does not remember going the wrong way on I-90.

Kearney delivered a tearful apology to the family and friends of the victim, Kenneth Stith. 54, of Akron.

"I pray that God will be with everyone involved and lighten their anguish," she said.

Albert Sammon, a friend of the Kearney family, spoke on Kearney's behalf and offered his sympathies to the Stith family. Sammon said he had a brother killed in a car accident in 1982 through no fault of his own.

"I know it's a devastating loss," Sammon said. "I think of my brother still 30 years later on a daily basis."

Stith was heading home from his job as a machinist with A.J. Rose Manufacturing Co. in Avon when Kearney struck his Harley-Davidson head-on near the West 98th Street exit.

Kearney pleaded guilty last month to vehicular homicide.

Stith's mother, Mary Stith, 82, said after the hearing that Kearney's family and her own have suffered from the tragedy.

"I could have been the mother on the other side of the fence," said Stith, who had nine children, seven of whom are still living.

As for Kearney, Stith said, "She's already paid. She's paid dearly. And she will continue to pay. It will never be over for her."

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ghoulish Help

November 21, 2012 permalink

Kim Shook-Advocate A friend called me this morning to give me an update on how they are doing since getting the children home. This friend informed me that they lost an immediate family member recently and that FACS Niagara offered to help, not the kind we would all think like maybe get grief counseling, for parent and children. NO THEY OFFERED TO TAKE THE CHILDREN BACK IN CARE. Now is that what is best for the grieving family to now lose the children yet again?

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

Foster Stabbing

November 20, 2012 permalink

In St Thomas Ontario a 17-year-old boy has stabbed a nine-year-old boy. A comment from a neighbor suggests that it may be a case of one foster child attacking another. Since there are no names in the article, it will not be possible to follow up.



Male charged in attempted murder of nine-year-old


Police report a nine-year-old St. Thomas boy is recovering from a knife wound to the neck today.

The St. Thomas Police Department issued a release Sunday afternoon with news a 17-year-old St. Thomas resident has been charged in the attempted murder of the boy, also a St. Thomas resident.

Police received an emergency call at about 11 p.m. Saturday evening in regards to an injured male at a Mitchell St. residence in St. Thomas.

Upon arrival, police located the nine-year-old boy who was bleeding profusely from a large cut across his neck which a representative from the department said in a followup interview was caused by a knife.

Emergency Medical Services transported the boy to St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital and then to London's Children's Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

He was in stable condition at the time of the release.

Police could not comment on what caused the incident; if either the accused or victim reside at the Mitchell St. residence and what their relationship is as the investigation is ongoing.

The release did say both parties are very well known to each other and it wasn't a random incident.

The 17-year-old has been arrested and charged with one count of attempt murder. He went to weekend video bail court and has been remanded in custody until Tuesday for a court appearance on St. Catharine St.

There were police vehicles on Mitchell St. throughout Sunday as police analyzed the crime scene.

A small group of neighbours across the street said they were alerted to emergency vehicles arrival Saturday evening but knew no more of the incident.

One young man, however, said the residence in question is home to a number of foster children, unconfirmed by police.

Both accused and victim are protected from identification due to their ages.

Source: St. Thomas Times-Journal

Teens Jailed for Family Squabbles

November 20, 2012 permalink

A news report from Memphis shows the police handling minor family squabbles that in normal families would be settled by the father. In every cited example the only parent mentioned is the mother. Here is a question we don't have the answer for: How many of the fathers were driven out of the child's life by the social services or family court system?



Memphis teens often jailed over family squabbles

Twin 16-year-old girls who fought with each other were in court Monday accused of domestic assault, the No. 1 juvenile crime in Memphis.

Last year, about 900 youths were charged with domestic assault. The next most common charge was disorderly conduct, brought against 665 minors.

Shelby County Juvenile Court officials, facing a federal mandate to reduce the number of youths who are jailed, say they need help from the teens' relatives as well as law enforcement.

Jerry Maness, director of court services, said national studies show that even one day in lockup can have a lasting negative impact on youths.

"Parents use law enforcement to discipline children," he said. "They want to teach them a lesson, but who do they think is doing the teaching down here?"

Some of the incidents that bring youths to court involve injury, but many are minor. Juvenile Court records for September show a 14-year-old girl was arrested for poking her brother in the face with her finger and throwing her shoe at him. A 17-year-old was hauled to a police precinct by her mother after refusing to obey and cursing. A 15-year-old was arrested after refusing her mother's orders to get out of bed and leave her friend's house.

Of 9,961 minors arrested last year, 33 percent were referred by their parents, foster parents or other relatives, according to a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which is working in Memphis and nearly 200 other jurisdictions across the nation to find alternatives to detention for disadvantaged youths.

The state's juvenile court system is focused on rehabilitating, not punishing, youth, and local court officials say exasperated parents or guardians should take responsibility for discipline. The mother of a 15-year-old had her son arrested in September for using her debit card to buy a shirt and hat, and another mother turned her son in for an old burglary case. But most, such as last month's case of a 16-year-old who hit his mother in the foot, were domestic assault cases.

Rick Powell, the head of the Juvenile Detention Center, said often the teens learn violence from their relatives. He recalled an incident in which several students got into a brawl and were arrested. Their parents arrived at the jail and got into their own fight in the lobby.

Of the 47 juveniles currently in lockup, 15 percent are jailed for domestic assault charges, Powell said. And more than one-third have two or more siblings who have also been previously arrested for various charges.

October arrests include teens who pushed their mothers after refusing to do chores or while trying to leave to see their boyfriends.

Of the youths brought to the jail last year, about 10 percent could have returned home earlier than they did, but their relatives refused to get them, Maness said.

"As a community, we have a problem," Powell said. "What can we do to help that mom out without involving the juvenile justice system?"

Mark Soler, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Children's Law and Policy, hopes to help Shelby County find the answer. He is the liaison between the youth court here and the Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a program that kicked off this month.

Powell said he believes one option is to expand emergency shelter space to keep youths away from their families during a cooling-off period while avoiding exposure to gang members and other more seasoned law breakers at the jail.

Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal


November 20, 2012 permalink

The CBC does a rare story on the burnout of a rookie case worker for Sagkeeng Child and Family Services in Manitoba. Drawn into social work for noble motives, she quit in two months after being required to do what she knew was not right. During her short tenure five of her colleagues quit or went on stress leave. A prime motivator is fear. The workers live in fear of becoming the scapegoat following the inevitable child death. Even after quitting, the worker fears revealing her name.



Sagkeeng CFS agency in crisis, say social workers

When a newly trained social worker got a job at Sagkeeng Child and Family Services, she was determined to help aboriginal kids in care and give them the life she didn't have.

She lasted just two months.

"The whole system is just ridiculous. It's set up to fail," the now-former case worker told CBC News.

"The whole reason I got into social work was to help out families and do what I can. It's very discouraging and frustrating when you have a situation like that where you have to do … what you know is not right."

The former case worker did not want to be named for fear of reprisal.

But she says her experience is a red flag that Sagkeeng, one of Manitoba's first government-mandated First Nations CFS agencies, is in a state of crisis.

And several case workers told CBC News that it's just a matter of time before a child dies under their watch.

"Oh my God, yes. I just got shivers, yes," says one social worker who currently works there.

"I can see that happening. And it's going to happen sooner than later."

Five workers left in past 2 months

In the past two months alone, five case workers at Sagkeeng CFS have quit, been dismissed or gone on stress leave.

As a result, the agency has posted at least that many job openings, and more are expected to be posted because more employees have put in their notices.

As for those workers who are still there, their caseloads have grown.

"Oh, it was ridiculous," says the case worker who quit so soon after she started. "It was crazy."

She said she had so many cases — all deemed to involve high-risk children — that "in the two months I was there, I saw … maybe half of them."

One example she cited was a pair of sisters who had spent most of their lives in and out of care and showed every sign that they were in trouble.

"They were getting involved with police, sexually exploited, fights. They weren't in school or any program," the social worker recalled.

The sisters had no one to come home to, she said — their dad was in jail and their mom was nowhere to be found. The girls were so aggressive, no one was willing to foster them, she added.

"Was I worried for these girls' safety? Oh, all the time," she said.

'These girls were just lost'

But the social worker said she was powerless to help the girls because she just didn't have the time to see them or their siblings.

What's worse, she added, none of her predecessors had time, either.

"In that one year, they had three or four different workers," she said.

"It was like seven family members going among different workers. There's no stability there, no follow-through with any of the workers. These girls were just lost."

Several years ago, the agency was reviewed because two kids in their care, Gage Guimond and Fonessa Bruyere, had died.

Gage was just two years old. Fonessa was 17 and had just been returned to her family home.

The review cited excessive workloads that made proper supervision almost impossible, as well as instances of nepotism, in which supervisors intervened on behalf of family and friends who were clients and gave them second chances at parenthood that case workers did not agree with. The review also found cases of political interference from the community.

The review recommended, among other things, that case workers have no more than 17 cases per month, dependent on the risk levels and needs of clients.

Bigger caseloads than recommended

Today, many of the case workers at Sagkeeng have more than double that caseload, with some having to deal with more than 45 cases.

In all cases, the workers are supposed to visit the families at least once a month, in between the two or three days a week they are committed to intake, paperwork, and court appearances.

Which means, the case workers say, some kids don't get a visit for weeks at a time. Other kids are deemed low-risk — despite strong concerns expressed by the case workers — and still others simply fall through the cracks.

Children in care "need some stability, need somebody that backs them up," says one former case worker.

The worker added that the children need "somebody that's going to advocate for them and actually do it, not be gone the next time you try and get a hold of them."

Officials with the Sagkeeng Child and Family Services have not responded to requests for comment to date.

Source: CBC

Stop Manitoba Apprehensions

November 19, 2012 permalink

Manitoba Liberal leader Jon Gerrard criticizes Manitoba's NDP government for the way it emphasizes apprehension of children in preference to assisting poor families to care for their own children.



Invest in families, not CFS apprehensions


During the time I practised as a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital in Winnipeg, I was shocked to meet people who were very fearful of contact with Manitoba's Child and Family Services system. They were concerned their child might be taken away and their family broken up. In most cases, these families struggled with poverty.

We can all agree children at risk of being harmed need to be protected, which can mean apprehension. But, I ask, do so many children need to be apprehended -- sometimes on the basis of 'neglect' by the parent(s), where neglect can mean poor housing, poor nutrition or a parental addiction?

The assessment of neglect can, in many cases, be subjective. Wouldn't it make sense to focus on efforts to keep families intact by addressing issues such as housing, poverty and addictions -- and preventing as many as possible of the thousands of traumatic, expensive child apprehensions ripping Manitoba families apart?

Since the NDP came to power in 1999, the number of child apprehensions by Child and Family Services has grown dramatically. The number of children in care has risen by more than 80 per cent -- to 9,730 from 5,358. According to a recent Manitoba Centre for Health Policy report, How are Manitoba's Children Doing? there are four times as many children in care in Manitoba (40 per 1,000) as the national average (9.2 per 1,000).

This report shows that in urban areas of our province, a child living in a low-income area is 47 times more likely to be taken into care than one living in a high-income area. Alarmingly, one in seven children in Manitoba's low-income areas has been in the care of CFS.

Children in CFS care have poorer health, education and economic outcomes, as shown in research by Manitoba experts. As Ruth Gilbert, Marni Brownell and others demonstrate in The Lancet (Vol. 379, 2012), there is no evidence the NDP's policies have achieved better results for children in our province.

Keeping children in government care has been associated with harm to children, as Laura Eggerston has pointed out in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dec. 8, 2009. The recent findings of Manitoba's auditor general underscore this reality, as the NDP government has been very slow to implement her safety recommendations made in 2006 -- including regular criminal record checks for foster parents and expedient child-abuse registry reporting.

The NDP's legislative policies and the practices of the CFS and justice systems also contribute to the increase in days children are in care. Children often remain stuck in the legal system for months; time and again temporary orders are extended, leaving families separated and in limbo. Children are unnecessarily traumatized and their lives put in turmoil. It is imperative the government enforces more timely actions.

How can we address issues like poverty, housing and addictions to strengthen families' chances of staying together to prevent the epidemic of child apprehensions and court extensions by Manitoba's CFS?

First, the NDP must finally raise the shelter allowance for people receiving income assistance. These rates have barely increased in their 13 years in power as rents and inflation have soared. When families must use most of their food money to find shelter, inadequate nutrition puts children at risk of apprehension. The 500 per cent increase in Manitoba children using food banks in the past 11 years -- now at more than 30,000 a month -- shows the desperate need for change.

Second, children can be taken into care because of substandard housing, a stricture that focuses specifically on Manitoba's poor families. Instead of using increased taxpayer funds to put children in care, why not direct funds to help bring the home up to standard? I am sure most Manitobans would favour the latter; not only would it be more effective for healthier family outcomes, it's cost-efficient.

Third, children are taken into care because of addictions, yet treatment waiting lists can be up to a year. Ensuring immediate access to family-focused addictions treatment centres such as the St. Norbert Behavioural Health Foundation would go a long way to help keep families together. An increase of treatment beds for women is urgently needed.

Additionally, using alternative, vigorous family-enhancement supports can be effective. Such an approach has been proven in Nelson House Cree Nation. They sometimes temporarily remove parents from the home and put a worker in the home, while a careful look is taken of the situation to determine supports the family needs before deciding to place a child in care.

We must recognize there are families who don't ask for help because they are afraid of looking inadequate and being penalized by having their children apprehended into government care. Surely, families who call for help should know everything possible will be done to support the family first and foremost.

The Manitoba government must change the CFS system so families see it is there to help families stay together rather than to break them up.

If we can do this, it will make a profound difference to thousands of children and families in our province with an abundance of more happy outcomes.

Dr. Jon Gerrard is the leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

TeenScreen R.I.P.

November 19, 2012 permalink

TeenScreen, the effort to test every American teenager for psychiatric disorders, has died. It was the subject of vigorous, and successful, opposition both on the internet and in the streets. Enclosed are the announcement from the TeenScreen organization, and an email from PsychSearch.



Important Announcement for Schools & Communities

We are sorry to inform you that the TeenScreen National Center will be winding down its program at the end of this year. Accordingly, we will no longer train or register new programs.

We will provide updates on the TeenScreen website for a limited time with respect to any other screening programs of which we become aware.

In addition, certain resources relating to teen mental health screening are available in the public domain and can be found at the links below:

Additionally, licensed clinicians will be able to access these materials for a limited time on the TeenScreen Program website.


TeenScreen is dead, according to their website

Their announcement: "We are sorry to inform you that the TeenScreen National Center will be winding down its program at the end of this year. Accordingly, we will no longer train or register new programs. We will provide updates on the TeenScreen website for a limited time with respect to any other screening programs of which we become aware."

TeenScreen was a huge program for psychiatrists. This was their massive plan intended to infiltrate every school and mentally screen every kid in the United States. It was THE program the psychs were counting on to get their hands on every child in America - so that the next generation would all become their victims.

And now - it is dead.

We dealt TeenScreen various fatal death blows from which it never recovered and that ultimately led to its demise. We won the internet fight. On Google we never relinquished the top 2 or 3 spot when searching for TeenScreen. We defeated TeenScreen on YouTube by never giving up the #1 spot when searching for TeenScreen. We worked with the press across the country and had a massive number of stories published. We informed schools who booted it out. This all spawned coast to coast demonstrations link.

NAMI TeenScreen demonstration
Protest, Washington, DC - July 1, 2006

TeenScreen was a very controversial national so-called "diagnostic psychiatric service", aka suicide survey; done on children who were then referred to psychiatric treatment. The evidence suggests that the objective of the psychiatrists who designed TeenScreen was to place children so selected on psychotropic drugs.

TeenScreen was originally investigated and exposed by when there was ZERO negative information on the net. We were informed about TeenScreen by Sylvia DeWall, a Clearwater event promoter who was alarmed after seeing a TV news report, where the Florida Mental Health Institute was attempting to implement TeenScreen in Pinellas County schools. DeWall's alarm was justified.

TeenScreen's pharma connected Director Laurie Flynn had her sights set on Pinellas' kids. This was revealed in one of Flynn's emails to a Florida official, which obtained in a public records request: "I 'm looking for a horse to ride here!" and "I need to get some kids screened". investigated and the resulting expose ' led to a firestorm of emails to Pinellas County school district officials from concerned citizens protesting TeenScreen. This resulted in Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times stories and the Pinellas County school board booting TeenScreen out.

The controversy was then off to the races as it exploded on the World Wide Web and spread across the country spawning media across the country as school after school rejected TeenScreen. We lost track of how many reporters we provided documentation and quotes to.

Recently we have been tracking the departures of TeenScreen's directors Laurie Flynn and Leslie McGuire. One source close to the scene said that Flynn and McGuire left with disagreements over policy issues. The source said that psychiatrist Mark Olfson was the "interim director" who we discovered only showed up once a week on Wednesdays for one hour!

What has been happening at TeenScreen has been hush-hush. Even one of TeenScreen's National Advisory Council members, psychiatrist Joe English told us. "Your e-mail is the first information I have on what may have happened here."

Thanks to all of those Clearwater area folks who were there in the beginning, went to battle and kicked butt! See Video

Maybe you can spot yourself or your friends in this photo:

school board

Thanks goes to the legal team at the Rutherford Institute, writer Evelyn Pringle, the Eagle Forum and all those groups from many walks of life, nationwide, who fought this.

Special thanks goes to those I call the TeenScreen Dream Team, Sandra Lucas in Salt Lake City, who offered public relations guidance and political strategy; Doyle Mills, Clearwater, Fl who commanded the Letters to the Editor Attack Force (LEAF) and wrote articles himself and Sue Weibert, Buffalo, New York, investigator and google-fu master.

And a very special thank you to my good friends Michael and Teresa Rhoades, who fought with the fury you would expect from parents whose child was mentally screened without their permission.

Teresa and Chelsea Rhoades
Teresa and Chelsea Rhoades

We have never really tooted our own horn, but today, for your enjoyment, we solemnly play Taps . (wink wink)

To the psychiatric adversaries in our path - get a head start on your counterparts - surrender now!

I am not kidding.


Ken Kramer

CAStle Frontenac

November 18, 2012 permalink

Family and Children's Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington
click for larger image

Steve Woodman, executive director of the Family and Children's Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, has proudly opened his new $23-million CAStle. Since the announcement of its construction the Kingston CAS has merged with Children's Services of Lennox and Addington. At the Brick by Brick site announcing the merger we found what looks like an artist's conception of the building plans shown on the right.



New facility for Family and Children's Services

Steve Woodman
Steve Woodman, executive director of the Family and Children's Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, stands in front of the completed, $23-million building on Division Street. The building celebrated its official opening Friday.
Danielle VandenBrink/The Whig-Standard


Family and Children's Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington officially opened their new, 71,000 square-foot facility in Kingston Friday.

The building, located at 817 Division St., replaces the agency's former locations on John Counter Boulevard and Montreal Street.

“(The former locations) were both very full and didn't have this type of community space,” said Steve Woodman, executive director of Family and Children's Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. “Really, we needed to get together to serve the community better.”

The agency moved to the $23-million facility on Oct. 1.

The building features an outdoor playground for children, large community rooms, private interview rooms and ample office space, Woodman said.

“It's really quite exciting to see,” he said. “We've grown a lot over the years and we were growing out of our old space. So really the option was… either to lease more space or build something that really meets the needs of the community. We chose to build and I think we've done a wonderful job.”

Woodman said the new facility is centrally located on a major city street to make it accessible for the public. It is also located on a bus route, he said.

Other locations, including in Sharbot Lake, Northbrook and Napanee, are still in operation.

John Gerretsen, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, said the completed facility is important for the work the agency does in the community.

“What is important is that the people that work here and provide that excellence of care to families and to children in need, that they do so in an environment that is very conducive to work that is as positive as possible,” Gerretsen said. “A good work environment induces better work by the people and it's extremely important when you're dealing with situations that are with children that are in need.

“It's a great day for ultimately, for the children and families that will benefit from the work that they do here.”

Source: Kingston Whig-Standard

70,000 Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong

November 18, 2012 permalink

Large crowds gathered in cities throughout France to show their objection to plans to legalize same-sex marriage. The BBC counts 70,000 demonstrators in Paris, more in Rennes, Nantes, Dijon, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse. The proposed law is not just about tolerance. It promotes the movement of children from real parents to gays and lesbians by including same-sex adoption.



Thousands march against same-sex marriage bill

Paris demonstration against same-sex marriage

Thousands of people rallied in Paris and across France on Saturday to protest a government bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. March organisers said marriage required "one dad and one mom for every child."

Opponents of a bill that would open up civil marriages and adoption to same-sex couples in France marched in the country’s main cities on Saturday to protest what they call a “major and dangerous upheaval”.

Protesters took to the streets of Rennes, Nantes, Dijon, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse to participate in the so-called “Demonstration for All” rally organized by conservative Catholic groups and which counted on the support of right-wing parties.

Paris demonstration against same-sex marriage

Their stated goal was to persuade French lawmakers to abandon plans to pass the new law called “Marriage and Adoption for All”, which is being championed by France’s ruling Socialist Party.

In Paris thousands of people gathered in the Denfert-Rochereau square, many brandishing signs that read “one mom and one dad for one child”. The crowds largely respected requests by organisers to wear blue, white and pink clothes and abstain from brandishing the names or colours of their own organizations or political parties.

Organisers said there was between 15,000 and 20,000 people at the protest in the French capital.

Marc, a 60-year-old Parisian who said he was a fervent Catholic, called the government hypocritical. “They all have wives and children. So they understand perfectly well what kind of deviations would result from the approval of gay marriages.”

He was holding a sign that read “No to genitally modified marriage”.

Despite an overcast sky and heckles from pro-gay marriage activists, there was a lively atmosphere throughout the march, with many young people present.

Students Victoria, Dauphine, Eléonore, Flore and Marie were five friends volunteering at the event together. “We defend our vision of what society should be like. Our first concern is the child’s well being and balance,” said Flora. “If the law passes, it would be z deep injustice to the child, who is not given a choice.”

Gay rights activists and supporters of the government’s initiative also staged counter-rallies in the French capital. Around 100 people in favour of gay marriage met the rally at its starting point in southern Paris.

Mathias, a student from Paris in favour of gay marriage, debated the issue with anti-gay marriage participants on the sidelines of the march. Making little progress in convincing protesters, Mathias and a friend provocatively proceeded to lock lips.

Alice Coffin, a 34-year-old gay rights activist, greeted protesters with a sign that read “Homophobes, we are not interested in your opinion, only the same rights as you.” She and a group of around 50 people threw confetti and rice –used for its link to weddings– when the march passed near the Montparnasse train station.

“I think the government is firm on this law,” Coffin said, adding she did not think the anti-gay marriage march would change the government’s course. “But the fight is not over yet and it’s important to be out here today.”

Source: FRANCE 24

Addendum: On Sunday December 16 tens of thousands participated in a counter-demonstration supporting same-sex marriage. From the Guardian: ADOPTION POUR TOUS LES COUPLES (last in gallery) and local copy

Addendum: On Sunday January 13, 2012 a much large crowd assembled in opposition to same-sex marriage. Police said there were 340,000 people, orgainzers said 800,000.



Mariage "homo" : entre 340.000 et 800.000 opposants dans les rues de Paris

Les manifestants se regroupent sur le Champ-de-Mars

Ils étaient 800.000 selon les organisateurs, 340.000 selon la police. Les opposants au mariage homosexuel manifestaient ce dimanche à Paris. Avec pour mot d'ordre "Tous nés d'un homme et d'une femme", les trois cortèges au départ de la Porte Maillot (XVIe), de la place d'Italie (XIIIe) et de Denfert-Rochereau (XIVe) ont rallié en fin d'après-midi le Champ-de-Mars (VIIe), au pied de la Tour Eiffel, comme prévu par le collectif organisateur "La Manif pour tous". Le défilé est soutenue par l'Eglise, et des cadres UMP et FN y ont participé. L'Elysée a noté une mobilisation "consistante" mais a réaffirmé que le projet serait maintenu.

Une mobilisation importante

Les opposants au mariage homosexuel ont donc réussi à mobiliser massivement, au cours d'un rassemblement inédit à droite sur un sujet de société depuis près de trente ans. Entre 340.000 manifestants, selon la police, et 800.000, selon les organisateurs, ont défilé jusqu'au pied de la Tour Eiffel, à l'appel de "La Manif pour tous" qui s'était fixé l'objectif minimum d'au moins 200.000 à 300.000 personnes.

Il s'agit du plus grand rassemblement à droite sur un sujet de société depuis celui pour la défense de "l'école libre" qui avait rassemblé au moins 850.000 personnes, de source policière, à Paris en 1984.

Devant une foule compacte, les porte-parole de "La Manif pour tous" ont lu une lettre à François Hollande lui demandant de "suspendre ce projet de loi qui divise les Français". "Vous ne pouvez ignorer cette foule considérable!", a déclaré l'égérie de la manifestation, Frigide Barjot, qui avait revêtu un voile de mariée.

Cette marche s'est déroulée sans incident alors que le plan de défense antiterroriste Vigipirate a été renforcé samedi, notamment pour les rassemblements de personnes. Des policiers étaient visibles aux principales intersections, mais restaient discrets le long des cortèges. Au total, 8.000 bénévoles du collectif "Manif pour tous" étaient chargés de la sécurité, reconnaissables à leur maillot jaune, aux côtés de milliers de membres des forces de l'ordre.

A noter que le départ de la manifestation séparée de l'Institut Civitas, proche des catholiques intégristes, et déclarée persona non grata par les organisateurs de la "Manif pour tous", a été retardé. Plus d'un millier de personnes, ont dû patienter place Pinel (XIIIe arrondissement) en agitant des drapeaux français ou frappés d'un cœur rouge surmonté d'une croix, symbole de Civitas.

Demonstrators in Paris

Le gouvernement ne reculera pas

Côté politique, l'UMP et ex-Premier ministre François Fillon n'a pas défilé mais a apporté son soutien aux opposants. L'association de défense des droits des homosexuels Gaylib a annoncé son départ de l'UMP, jugeant ne plus disposer de "place audible" au sein du parti.

Même hésitation au Front national, dont le vice-président Louis Alliot était présent porte Maillot, mais dont était absente sa présidente, Marine Le Pen.

Malgré cette manifestation, le gouvernement maintient l'examen du projet de loi dès le 29 janvier au Parlement. Mais les députés PS ont lâché du lest et ne déposeront pas d'amendement ouvrant la procréation médicalement assistée aux couples de femmes.

Selon les sondages, les Français sont majoritairement favorables au mariage pour tous, mais pas à l'adoption par les couples homosexuels.

La mariage homosexuel : le projet de loi du gouvernement


From Dysfunctional Family to Dysfunctional Care

November 18, 2012 permalink

Rafael (Raffy) Gomez was born into a dysfunctional family. In and out of foster care, he died on September 10, 2003 at the age of two. His mother Maribel Gomez was convicted of causing his death and is now in jail. Rafael's five siblings were scattered among Washington state foster homes. The oldest, Maria Gomez, now age 20, has had a hard time getting visits with her four brothers and sisters.

The Gomez story is one example of the futility of reforming child protection through litigation. In 2004 the state settled a suit, Braam v Washington State. Part of the settlement was an agreement to keep 75 percent of foster children in the same home with their siblings. This goal has not been achieved. Nor has the goal of giving 90 percent of foster kids monthly visits with their siblings.



Sister of murdered foster child says state is failing her family again

Rafael Gomez tomb

Rafael Gomez was the tragic poster child for all that was wrong with Washington’s child welfare system.

Nearly ten years after his tragic death at the hand of his abusive mother Rafael’s surviving siblings are having problems of their own with the State Department of Social and Health Services, according to the boy’s oldest sister.

“We look so happy, but it’s not really like this,” said 20 year old Maria Gomez as she looked at a photo of herself with her four sisters and brothers.

“I would love from them to go into a stable home that loves them, that actually wants them,” says Gomez.

She says that since their mother was sent to prison for Raffy’s death several years ago, none of the children has been adopted, none live in the same foster home and they have all bounced around through up to seven foster homes apiece.

Gomez says she’s also had a hard time getting visitation with her siblings.

“We’ve been in this for 10 years and they have no permanency, they have no home, they just keep getting moved all the time,” says Gomez.

Landmark case

At least one foster care expert says the Gomez case could underscore a larger problem in Washington State.

“This is happening far too often. Some of these kids feel like we’ve forgotten about them,” says Casey Trupin, an attorney and child welfare advocate.

Washington isn't living up to its parts of its agreement in a landmark 2004 court case.

The state hasn't met the requirement that 75 percent of foster kids be placed with their siblings, as it agreed to do in a settlement in Braam v. Washington State.

Only 62 percent of foster kids were placed with their siblings last year, according to a report by the Braam oversight panel.

The State is woefully short of the 90 percent of siblings who are supposed to receive monthly visits with their brothers and sisters.

Only half met that mark last year.

"I think when siblings are separated from each other in foster care, it's about as big a deal as possible. They're losing the last connection to family that they may have,” says Trupin.

Trupin says the State has done well making meeting other benchmarks since the Braam settlement.

Raffy’s case

The State Department of Social and Health Services had lots of evidence that Raffy Gomez was being abused in his mother’s home.

Maribel Gomez blamed Raffy’s tantrums and his behavior for the broken bones, burns and wounds that CPS workers recorded after he’d been home with his mother.

Foster mom Denise Griffith feared for Raffy’s life, but three times CPS workers decided to send Raffy back to his biological mother.

It was a fatal decision.

Raffy died from repeated blows to the head in 2003. His mother was eventually convicted in his death and is now in prison.

“At first I thought it was my fault because I didn’t do anything about it. But I told myself I was so young I didn’t know any better,” says Maria, who witnessed some of the abuse.

The state responds

A spokesperson for the Department of Social and Health Services say the agency feels it handled the care of the Gomez children correctly.

In a statement, DSHS says Gomez has been in regular contact with her siblings.

“The challenge more recently is that Maria is living in Seattle and the children are in two different Eastern Washington communities. Including Maria in the visits is more difficult now then when she lived nearer to her siblings.”

DSHS would not comment on an specifics regarding the younger Gomez children and their foster care situation, citing client confidentiality.

Maria Gomez says she feels alone trying to hold her family together, even the little brother whose gravesite she visits in Central Washington.

"I go visit his grave, take him flowers on his birthday and stuff like that. Just when I'm feeling down I go see him," she says.

Source: KING5 Seattle

Crowd Defends Family

November 18, 2012 permalink

When police and child protectors tried to remove six children from a Somali family in Tacoma Washington, a crowd of angry Somalis gathered to protect the family from the police. Police called for backup and took the children anyway.



Angry crowd confronts police in child-abuse case

A large number of angry Somali immigrants trying to keep Tacoma Police from placing children into protective custody on Friday, turned into a scene so threatening that officers made an emergency, all-agency request for assistance.

According to Tacoma Police Lt. David O’Dea, the incident began with the investigation into a child abuse case involving a single Tacoma child. In the course of the investigation and the removal of that child to Child Protective Services, police noted that six other children in the home were also in potential danger.

Officers revisited the home later in the day and discovered the family was visiting other family and friends in the 5600 block of North 37th Street.

When they arrived at that location to pick up the rest of the children, O’Dea said, they were confronted by a large number of Somali immigrants who were angry and hostile toward the officers and prevented them from taking the children.

The officers called for back-up, O’Dea said, and managed to regain control of the situation.

Police arrested three people, one adult and two juveniles, for resisting arrest and obstructing justice.

The adult was booked into Pierce County Jail. The juveniles were taken to Remann Hall.

All seven children are in CPS custody.

Source: The News Tribune, Tacoma

angry mob

Alternate Universe

November 17, 2012 permalink

Modern physics postulates a bizarre world in which the properties of a particle are determined not when it is created but only when it is destroyed, where between creation and destruction particles exist only as a probability wave and where every observation alters the event being observed. Added to this mix some authors have proposed another strange phenomenon: an alternate universe, only a tiny fraction of an inch away but outside the normal three spatial dimensions. In this alternate universe events have taken a different course, and the laws of nature may differ from the conventional world.

A speech by British secretary of state for education Michael Gove gives proof of the existence of an alternate universe. It is a universe populated only by social workers and others earning a living breaking up families for claims on appropriated funds. In the real world, social workers grab children from families at rates way higher than parental abuse. In the alternate universe, social workers put the rights of biological parents ahead of vulnerable children. In the real world once a child is in foster care social workers fight tooth and nail to keep him there. In the alternate universe when children are removed from homes where they're at risk they're often returned prematurely and exposed to danger all over again. In the real world social workers act like bullies, forcing parents to give up their children or separate from their spouse. In the alternate universe social workers should be more assertive with dysfunctional parents. Even in the alternate universe, state-run institutions for the care of children are highly abusive. Gove mentions Ofsted inspections that find fault with Doncaster. In the real world, such faults are cause for caution. Children's circumstances can only be improved when taken from homes even worse than the state-funded variety. But in the alternate universe, social workers must take children based solely on the squalor they encounter. Anybody know what physics it takes to knock this crowd the inch back to reality?



Michael Gove launches damning attack on child protection system

Social workers have become 'desensitised to squalor' and need to be more assertive with dysfunctional parents, according to Michael Gove's damning critique of the child protection system

Michael Gove
Gove will be 'uncompromising' about child protection reform
Pic: Rex Features

Education secretary Michael Gove has launched a damning attack on the child protection system, admitting the state is failing in its duty to keep children safe.

In a speech at the Institute of Public Policy Research today, where he launched Lord Carlile's review of the Edlington torture case, Gove delivered his critique of child protection services in England.

He said too many local authorities are failing to meet acceptable standards for child safeguarding and promised to be “explicitly challenging, deliberately uncompromising and blunt” in his response to the “deeply depressing” situation.

“We put the rights of biological parents ahead of vulnerable children - even when those parents are incapable of leading their own lives safely,” Gove said. “When we do intervene it is often too late. When children are removed from homes where they're at risk they're often returned prematurely and exposed to danger all over again.”

'Intrusive and inefficient bureaucracy'

He continued: “Instead of concentrating properly on the appalling neglect and abuse visited on children by those they know or who are in the family's immediate circle, we have been pre-occupied by the much smaller risk of strangers causing harm and in so doing have established an intrusive and inefficient bureaucracy, which creates a false feeling of security for parents while alienating volunteers and eroding personal responsibility."

Gove acknowledged that his government must accept some responsibility. “We do not support the social work profession properly, nor have we modernised its ways of working in line with other professions,” Gove said.

Local authority social workers should be more assertive with dysfunctional parents, Gove said, while family courts should be “less indulgent of poor parents”.

Social workers are too often blighted by an “optimism bias”, Gove claimed, adding that, “for perfectly understandable reasons”, professionals can be reluctant to challenge the behaviour of adults whose trust they are trying to win.

'Social workers desensitised to squalor'

“Social workers – partly because so much of their time is spent in difficult circumstances many of us will never encounter – can become desensitised to the squalor they encounter and less shockable overall. Which is why it’s up to the rest of us to show leadership,” Gove said.

Bridget Robb, acting chief of the British Association of Social Workers, said social workers will welcome aspects of Gove's analysis, like the lack of support afforded to social workers, and "the reality that it is not the care system that creates dysfunctional adults, but the lives young people live before being removed from their homes".

Robb said: "What his analysis overlooks, however, is that protecting children also involves learning from evidence from around the world telling us that simply cutting them off from their birth families is not always in their best interests.

"The minister's speech also offers no recognition of how part of the state's ‘failure in its duty to keep our children safe’ lies in a refusal to understand that it requires sustained investment in better services if we are to better protect children, whether this is done through intensive work with parents or by taking more children into care. The latter is not cheap, and to pretend social workers can take on greater caseloads with diminishing resources is a miscalculation Mr Gove surely must recognise."

Lord Carlile's review

Gove discussed recent Ofsted inspections that found safeguarding arrangements inadequate or in need of improvement – including those in Doncaster – and Lord Carlile’s “compelling” set of recommendations, which he said need “careful consideration” and “time for debate”.

Lord Carlile was asked to review the situation in Doncaster, following a number of child protection failings and, in 2009, a violent assault in Edlington by two boys who were looked-after by the council and subject to a child protection plan.

Among his recommendations, Lord Carlile said all children’s services should develop triage arrangements to assess risks to children.

“This will include fast and profoundly co-operative interdisciplinary co-working, excellent written and electronic document trails, and a demonstrable ability to respond to urgent situations efficiently,” Lord Carlile said. More to follow.

Source: Community Care

A British comment on Michael Gove.



Why mum is better than Big Mother

It is better for children to be with their parents, even those deemed ‘bad’ by the state, than to languish in care.

‘The facts are deeply depressing’, said UK education secretary Michael Gove at the end of last week. ‘Too many local authorities are failing to meet acceptable standards for child safeguarding. Too many children are left for far too long in homes where they are exposed to appalling neglect and criminal mistreatment. We put the rights of biological parents ahead of vulnerable children – even when those parents are incapable of leading their own lives safely and with dignity never mind bringing up children. When we do intervene, it is often too late.’

In terms of the contemporary political climate, Gove was not saying anything particularly unusual. For several years now, the ability of mum and dad to bring up their kids without outside, state-backed intervention has regularly been called into question. Indeed, such is the low esteem in which our rulers now hold parents that earlier this year, prime minister David Cameron felt sufficiently emboldened to propose nationwide parenting classes.

Still, it is a dubious testament to Gove’s eloquence that he gave a striking expression to the state’s usurpation of the role traditionally played by adult family members. As he put it, ‘the rights of biological parents’ have for too long been treated as precious. It is time, Gove is saying, for these filial bonds, which have been central to society for centuries, to be demystified, disenchanted. After all, what is a mother or a father, or a daughter or a son, other than an arbitrary accident of nature? The words signify nothing more valuable than a set of random ‘biological’ outcomes. To privilege certain adult-child relationships on the basis of biology is to succumb to the allure of tradition, and to condemn many children to a lifetime of misery. ‘In all too many cases when we decide to leave children in need with their biological parents’, Gove concluded, ‘we are leaving them to endure a life of soiled nappies and scummy baths, chaos and hunger, hopelessness and despair’.

With the family blithely dismantled, and the roles of father and mother treated as little more than semiotic jetsam, Gove was able to propose his alternative to biology: the artifice of the state. ‘I firmly believe more children should be taken into care more quickly and that too many children are allowed to stay too long with parents whose behaviour is unacceptable. I want social workers to be more assertive with dysfunctional parents, courts to be less indulgent of poor parents, and the care system to expand to deal with the consequences.’

Gove’s is a frightening vision. As the meaning and value of being mum or dad is actively reduced by politicians to mere biological facts – in short, as tradition is wilfully disenchanted – so it becomes easier for the state, through its various agents, to assume the role of guardian. The result, complete with empowered or ‘more assertive’ social workers, and their correlative, impotent and less assertive parents, is a society with ever increasing numbers of children placed into Britain’s far from distinguished care system.

Quite why this scenario is considered progressive is not entirely clear. Living with a mum or a dad deemed ‘bad’ or ‘poor’ by a social worker would surely, in many cases, be far better for a child than surviving, parentless, even in a vastly improved care system. Besides, while Gove might not care to acknowledge it, the bond between parents and their children is not merely biological; it is possessed of considerable human and social value, too. Parents do not simply love their children; they help to socialise them, and act as a source of authority. To seek to erode this bond even further than it has been is deeply reckless.

But perhaps this should not be a surprise. After all, the momentum behind this drive is born not of respect for adult citizens, but of a profound suspicion of our ability to look after ourselves. In this regard, the occasion for Gove’s remarks was telling: the publication of Lord Carlile of Berriew’s report into the 2009 attack on an 11-year-old boy and a nine-year-old boy in Edlington by two brothers then aged 11 and 10.

The brutality of this attack was nearly as shocking as the age of the protagonists. The two victims were stabbed, stoned, burnt and forced to mimic a sexual act before the brothers eventually got bored and left the two boys for dead. In the words of the sentencing judge, Justice Keith, the case was ‘truly exceptional’, which was precisely why, like the case of 10-year-old Mary Bell strangling two infants to death in 1968, or the killing of two-year-old James Bulger by two 10-year-olds in 1993, it received so much coverage.

But the Tory government-to-be refused to treat the 2009 attack as exceptional. It sought to present it as an insight into the state of society, a window on to the neglect-ridden and casually abusive landscape that dominates towns and cities up and down the country. As the future prime minister David Cameron said at the time: ‘On each occasion, are we just going to say this is an individual case? That there aren’t any links to what is going wrong in our wider society…’ Such was the Tories’ determination to see something general in the exceptional horrors of the Edlington case that Gove was driven to criticise the original special case review published earlier this year: ‘It documents everything that happened but with insufficient analysis of why and what could have been done differently.’ That is, the SCR refused to draw lessons for the whole of society from the Edlington case. Hence Gove was prompted to commission Lord Carlile to provide the report the government really wanted, one in which an endemic lack of state intervention was presented as the problem.

The result, as we have seen, is the casual, callous dismissal of parents’ ‘biological’ rights and the call for a more assertive cadre of social workers. The grisly irony of such a move is that the exceptional cases of neglect, such as that involving the Edlington brothers, will actually become harder to spot when ever more families are rendered suspect. Turning the state into Big Mother will do neither parents nor children any favours.

Tim Black is senior writer at spiked.

Source: Spiked

Fatherhood is Dangerous

November 17, 2012 permalink

In 1996 nine-year-old Amber Rene Hagerman was abducted and murdered near her home in Arlington Texas. An alert system was named in her memory, the Amber alert, used to help prevent similar tragedies in the future. According to the British Columbia RCMP, activation of an Amber alert requires ALL of the following conditions:

  • The victim is under the age of 18
  • Police have reasonable grounds to believe that the victim has been abducted
  • Police have reasonable grounds to believe the victim is in imminent danger
  • Police have obtained enough descriptive information about the victim, abductor and/or the vehicle involved
  • Police believe that the alert can be issued in a time frame that will provide a reasonable expectation that the child can be returned or the abductor apprehended

Source: RCMP, British Columbia

Alvin Barnett
Alvin Barnett

This week Robert Barnett slipped out of a supervised visit with his three-year-old son Alvin Barnett near Sparwood British Columbia and did not return. Police issued an Amber alert for the boy. He was found unharmed in nearby Whitefish Montana the next day still with his father.

In child protection cases found by fixcas, more mothers than fathers have been hunted for taking their own children. So this week's case is not an instance of selective persecution of fathers. What is unusual is the Amber alert.

What qualified this father as an imminent danger to his son? The enclosed article from the Huffington Post issued before the boy's capture gives no reason to believe the father was dangerous. Ordinarily when the police are looking for someone, they mention every known defamation. In the Barnett case the only negative fact (from another news source) was that he had been accused of a traffic violation several years ago. The article did not say he had been convicted as charged. But no history was necessary for Barnett — in today's culture, fatherhood is enough to qualify a man as a danger to his child.



Amber Alert: Alvin Barnett Believed To Be Abducted By Father

SPARWOOD, B.C. - The search for a three-year-old boy from southeast British Columbia's has gone international, with authorities on both sides of the border saying they believe the child is in the United States with his father.

Police issued an Amber Alert on Thursday afternoon for Alvin Barnett, who they believe was abducted by his father, 39-year-old Robert Barnett, in the Elk Valley area near Sparwood, B.C., before they crossed the border and into the U.S.

Jennifer Viets, Montana's Amber Alert co-ordinator, said the vehicle the father and son are believed to be travelling in crossed the border near the city of Eureka around 3 p.m. MST.

"We're pretty worried about the safety of the little boy, so that's why were using every possible resource to try to find him," she said.

"If anybody sees anything or has any information, they should call 911, especially if they see him. They should not approach the vehicle or the gentleman. We do consider it a dangerous situation."

According to officials on both sides of the border, the pair may be travelling in a 2002 blue Subaru Outback with B.C. license 347 SBL.

Alvin is three-feet-two inches tall and 35 pounds, wearing a red shirt and blue jeans, while his father is described as five-foot-five with green eyes, reddish blonde hair and a scar over his right eyebrow.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said he doesn't know whether or not Barnett holds dual nationality with Canada and the U.S.

"Information was disseminated to our counterparts at the Canadian Border Service Agency and U.S. border crossing points in the Elk Valley area, and at this point in time we do remain in contact with our U.S. law-enforcement counterparts," he said.

Moskaluk said the child and father were together during a supervised parental visit, indicating the father had limited access to his child, and as a result the incident met the criteria for an amber alert.

He said he didn't know why the father may have been on a supervised visit.

Viets said as soon as officials in her state were notified of the Amber Alert by the Mounties, the criminal justice system broadcast to all state and local police and sheriffs agencies the information and to be on the lookout for the vehicle, child and suspect.

At the request of the Elk Valley RCMP, officials then issued the Amber Alert, notifying the public and press.

"We have shared out Amber Alert with the state of Idaho and they're re-broadcasting it there," she said. "We've also done a multi-state broadcast to all the western states like Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada so that other states are aware of it in case they pass through Montana undetected."

She said Montana is a big state that takes several hours to cross but because Barnett is believed to have crossed in the afternoon it's possible he could have made it into another jurisdiction.

"We're getting tremendous support from law enforcement everywhere, trying to help with this," she said.

Eureka is a small city with a population of about 1,037 people according to the 2010 census, said Viets.

She described the area surrounding Eureka is mountainous, with lots of trees, campgrounds and cabins, and while beautiful it is rough territory, especially if the suspect plans to head off road.

"And we do have snow in that area right now. It's another complication."

--by Keven Drews and David Lang in Vancouver

Source: Huffington Post

Amber Alert Cancelled: Robert Barnett Arrested After Alleged Abduction Of Son

Robert Barnett
Robert Barnett

The Amber Alert for a three-year-old boy from southeastern B.C.'s Elk Valley has been cancelled after he was found safe in Montana.

B.C. RCMP confirmed Alvin Barnett is safe on Friday morning after his father Robert Barnett, 39, allegedly abducted him during a parental visit.

An Amber Alert in B.C. and Montana was triggered on Thursday afternoon. Montana officials had said they believed the boy was in "imminent danger."

A witness in Whitefish, Montana, about 80 kilometres south of the Canada-U.S. border crossing where Barnett's car was lasted spotted recognized the vehicle parked on a side street on Friday morning, said RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.

He said the boy is tired and hungry but in good condition.

Robert Barnett is currently in the custody of police in Montana, but could face charges once he's returned to B.C., said Moskaluk.

Source: Huffington Post

Counseling Prostitution

November 16, 2012 permalink

Daron Lamar Whitworth was a counselor for EMQ FamiliesFirst, a nonprofit agency serving youth and families in San Bernardino California. He knew the best career for a fifteen-year-old girl. He got her to become a prostitute.



San Bernardino family counselor charged with pimping girl, 15

A San Bernardino family counselor responsible for providing services to children and families also coerced a 15-year-old girl into prostitution and sold sexual services on the Internet, the San Bernardino County district attorney's office said Thursday.

Daron Lamar Whitworth, 42, worked for EMQ FamiliesFirst, a nonprofit that provides social services, mental-health and foster care for young children and families in San Bernardino County, authorities said. He was arrested without incident Thursday and booked into Central Detention Center in San Bernardino.

Police have issued arrest warrants for two alleged accomplices: Whitworth's uncle Jacory C. Williams, 30, and Charmaine Williams, 24, both of San Bernardino. Charmaine Williams is in Los Angeles County Jail for unrelated reasons.

Whitworth faces 44 charges, including felony counts of human trafficking, pimping and pandering a minor under 16, and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, according to court records.

Investigators from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department began to gather evidence in August after the arrest of a juvenile for street prostitution in Hemet. The investigation gradually revealed that most of the unlawful activity had taken place in San Bernardino County, according to the release.

Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Sgt. John Sawyer with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department at (951) 544-7000.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Teen Girl Kills Foster Mom

November 16, 2012 permalink

Ohio teenager Sabrina A Zunich has fatally stabbed her foster mother, Lisa M Knoefel. So far no hint of a motive. A later enclosed report says Knoefel worked for the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services as a sex-abuse social worker.



New Details to be Revealed in Foster Mom Stabbing

suspect in stabbing of Lisa Knoefel

WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio — A teen is considered a suspect in the fatal stabbing of her foster mother overnight, Willoughby Hills police confirm.

It started with a frantic 911 at around 1:15 a.m. from a 13-year-old girl who told dispatchers her sister was attacking her mother with a knife.

When officers arrived to the home in the 2500 block of Chagrin Drive, the 13-year-old girl ran out of the front door to meet them.

Then, after going into the house, officers encountered an 18-year-old girl who was covered in blood and holding a knife. She was detained, then taken to Lake West Hospital.

Soon after, officers located 41-year-old Lisa Knoefel in a first floor bedroom with multiple stab wounds.

EMS workers were unable to resuscitate her and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Willoughby Hills police say Knoefel is the foster mother of the 18-year-old, who is now considered a suspect in the stabbing.

Police have scheduled a press conference for Friday afternoon to release more details.

Source: WJW Fox 8 Cleveland

Police say no motive known in fatal stabbing of foster mother

Lisa Knoefel
Lisa Knoefel
Courtesy of Willoughby Hills police

Willoughby Hills -- An 18-year-old foster child is expected to be charged in the stabbing death early this morning of a Cuyahoga County social worker who lives in this Lake County community.

Police received a frantic 9-1-1 call at 1:15 a.m. from Lisa Knoefel's 13-year-old daughter, who was awakened by the attack and was screaming into the phone that her sister had a knife and was killing her mother.

Police arrived at the Chagrin Drive home and confronted the 18-year-old, Knoefel's foster daughter. Officers reported that the young woman was covered with blood and holding a knife.

They found Knoefel, 41, on the floor in her bedroom, with stab wounds in her face and neck. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Knoefel had worked for the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services as a sex-abuse social worker.

Police did not know a motive for the attack, Chief Christopher Collins said during an afternoon news conference. The teen had lived in the home for about a year-and-half with Knoefel, her husband and Knoefel's two children. The victim's husband is a truck driver who was on the road at the time, the chief said.

The suspect, a student at Willoughby South High School, was in the Lake County Jail Friday. Collins said charges would be filed next week.

"It's a tragic loss for them and the community," Collins said.

Workers at the Cuyahoga child-welfare agency where Knoefel worked since 2000 also were grieving.

"We learned this morning our colleague, Lisa Knoefel, was murdered at her home," Patricia Rideout, director of the Cuyahoga agency, told her staff in an email.

"Lisa's commitment to children led her not only to us, as a dedicated member of the DCFS family, but also to become a foster parent," Rideout's statement said. "Her heart and home were opened to a child who needed her."

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Addendum: Police charge foster father Kevin Knoefel alleging a love triangle and insurance scam.



Kevin Knoefel pleads not guilty to plotting with foster daughter to kill wife (with videos)

Kevin Knoefel, Gary A Vick and Michael J Connick
Kevin Knoefel stands for Judge Vincent A. Culotta on Friday with defense attorneys Gary A. Vick, left, and Michael J. Connick, in Lake County Common Pleas Court where he was arraigned in his wife's murder. Bond was set at $5 million.
Duncan Scott/

After his wife was murdered, Kevin Knoefel bought vehicles, took pilot lessons and paid off his Willoughby Hills house with her life insurance money, prosecuting attorney Patrick Condon said.

Kevin Knoefel, 43, pleaded not guilty Friday in Lake County Common Pleas Court to conspiring with his foster daughter to kill his wife.

Arraigning Judge Vincent A. Culotta set bond at $5 million cash or surety, as was Condon's recommendation. If Knoefel posts bond, he must be monitored electronically and by GPS.

Knoefel faces a maximum prison term of life without parole if convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, three counts of complicity to commit aggravated murder and six counts of sexual battery.

Lisa Knoefel, 41, was found stabbed to death in their Chagrin Drive home around 1:15 a.m. Nov. 16. Her foster daughter, 18-year-old Sabrina Zunich, was arrested and charged with the murder immediately afterward.

The victim's husband was arrested Aug. 9 after a nine-month investigation.

According to the indictment, Kevin Knoefel and Zunich had a sexual relationship up until the day the victim died and discussed multiple plans to kill Lisa in her bedroom as she slept.

The two decided Zunich would kill Lisa and make it look like a burglary by rummaging through her jewelry drawer. Kevin Knoefel even showed Zunich which knife to use, how to twist it in his wife's body and how to cut her own legs to make it look like the teen acted in self defense, Condon said.

If Zunich was caught, she agreed to claim insanity or that she did not remember what happened, according to the indictment.

Knoefel was in court with defense attorneys Michael Connick and Gary Vick Jr. and did not speak other than to enter his pleas.

Connick objected to the high bond, saying 10 percent of $750,000 was adequate because the defendant -- who had six or seven supporters in the crowd -- was not a flight risk.

"If Mr. Knoefel wanted to abscond, he would have by now," Connick said. "The reality is, they have not presented any evidence that he should be prohibited from raising his child."

The defendant told Zunich his wife was "worth more dead than alive," Condon said.

Foreclosure action on Knoefel's property was initiated in Lake County Common Pleas Court in 2010.

Zunich's case has not yet been presented to a grand jury. She remains in Lake County Jail on $750,000 bond.

The victim was a social worker. Kevin Knoefel had been working as a truck driver.

Police arrived at the home after a report of a woman with a knife.

The victim's 13-year-old daughter told the officer to hurry up because "her sister was stabbing her mother to death."

The officer testified that Zunich was covered in blood from head to toe, sobbing hysterically, and carrying a 12-inch knife. A 3-year-old daughter had been cowering in the closet.

The older daughter is not the defendant's biological daughter, Connick said.

It is not yet known how much life insurance money Knoefel -- who had no prior criminal record -- inherited from his wife, the prosecutor said.

The case has been assigned to Judge Joe Gibson. A trial date had not yet been scheduled.

Source: News-Herald

Addendum: On June 11, 2014 foster father Kevin Knoefel was convicted on eleven charges including conspiring with his foster daughter Sabrina Zunich to kill his wife. Zunich, who testified against Knoefel, will be spending decades behind bars.

Addendum: Zunich was sentenced to life.

Sabrina Zunich had no father to guide her onto the straight and narrow. The principal authority figure in her life was a derelict foster dad who was also her lover. It would have been difficult for her to find a reason to resist his urgings to commit the crime. The killing of Lisa Knoefel resembles a miniature version of the Manson family murders. This explanation is not a reason to excuse Sabrina's conduct. It is a reason to recognize that foster care has many modes of failure, and should be used as sparingly as possible.



Sabrina Zunich sentenced to 30 years to life in prison by judge who says her crime was "gruesome, shocking and revolting"

Sabrina Zunich
Sabrina Zunich holds back tears as Lake County Common Pleas Judge Richard Collins Jr. sentences her to life in prison with parole eligibility after 30 years. Her lawyers Charles Grieshammer and Terry Hess, right, provided support.
Karen Farkas, The Plain Dealer
Alice Matt and Susan Edwards
Alice Matt and Susan Edwards, Sabrina Zunich's grandmother and mother, sat by the door she would enter into the courtroom.
Karen Farkas, The Plain Dealer

PAINESVILLE, Ohio - Sabrina Zunich carefully folded three tissues on the table before her as she awaited a hearing that would determine how long she would be in prison for brutally killing her foster mother.

They were used and wadded and she continued to cry when Lake County Common Pleas Judge Richard Collins Jr. said she would serve a mandatory sentence of life in prison but be eligible for parole after 30 years.

Collins made it clear that his recommendation for parole was due to Zunich's cooperation with prosecutors that led to the conviction of her foster father, Kevin Knoefel.

"I don't think there was any question she was manipulated and used by the co-defendant," Collins said. But he said the seriousness of the crime outweighed all factors.

Zunich, 19, had stabbed Lisa Knoefel 12 times and cut her 166 times with a 10-inch serrated kitchen knife. She pleaded guilty to aggravated murder last month.

"Aggravated murder is aggravated murder," Collins said. "But this was not a single violent act."

He said Lisa Knoefel suffered before she died.

"She was screaming for help and begging the defendant to stop. She did not die immediately. I cannot imagine the nature of terror and fear."

Zunich apologized before she was sentenced.

"I want to say how sorry I am for all those I hurt," she said. "Lisa did not deserve what happened to her. I ask forgiveness be given to me - not for my benefit but for those who need the healing process to begin. I can't explain how much remorse I have and how much sadness I deal with."

She made a comment that she had "talked" to Lisa Knoefel and she forgave her.

Collins said he had received letters of support for Zunich from two women in the jail ministry, one who visited weekly. He also received a poem from Zunich, he said. He and Zunich's attorney, Charles Grieshammer, said they could not release the poem because it was included in the pre-sentence report.

At the hearing Grieshammer asked Collins to allow parole eligibility after 20 years, saying Zunich was emotionally blackmailed by Kevin Knoefel, who convinced her to kill his wife.

"Had she been placed in a loving foster home she might have made it," he said. "Kevin hijacked her."

No one spoke on behalf of Zunich, although the courtroom was filled. Among those in the front row was her mother, Susan Edwards, and Edwards' mother, Alice Matt.

"I'm sorry this happened and I love her with all my heart," said Edwards prior to the hearing. She was unable to care for Zunich because of drug and alcohol abuse, according to court testimony.

Matt said she writes weekly to Zunich but hadn't seen her since before her arrest on Nov. 16, 2012.

Zunich did not look at either of them as she entered and left the courtroom.

Prosecutors, who said they did not know of Kevin Knoefel's involvement in his wife's death until Zunich told them, told Collins they recommended she have an opportunity for parole.

Zunich, who has been in the Lake County Jail for almost two years, will be transferred to prison in about a week, deputies said.

Zunich was not indicted on the aggravated murder charge until July 15, after a Lake County jury convicted Kevin Knoefel of conspiring with Zunich to kill his wife.

Prosecutors have said they were unaware of Zunich's sexual relationship with Kevin Knoefel or that he had persuaded her to kill Lisa Knoefel until Zunich spoke with them in May, 2013.

Zunich's attack occurred while Lisa Knoefel, 41, was in bed and Kevin Knoefel was driving a truck from Michigan to Ohio.

The case against Kevin Knoefel for the most part rested on the testimony of Zunich, whose graphically detailed her relationship with Knoefel and what led her to kill Lisa Knoefel.

Zunich had lived at the Knoefel's Willoughby Hills home since July, 2011. She had been in custody of Lake County officials since 2010 when it was determined she could not longer live with her paternal grandmother because she was unruly.

She testified in Knoefel's trial that she was doing well in high school and had plans to model or enter cosmetology school.

She said she expected the Knoefel's to divorce and she would live with Kevin Knoefel. They had had sexual relations since March, 2012.

She testified Knoefel told her he didn't love his wife anymore and didn't want a divorce because he didn't want to share custody of Hailey, their 3-year-old daughter. He told her they could raise Hailey together.

On Nov. 15, 2012, he cried and told her he had gotten in a big fight with his wife and was going to kill himself if she was not dead. So, with his encouragement, she decided to kill Lisa Knoefel.

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Crown Ward Speaks

November 16, 2012 permalink

In a rare court decision quoting the sentiments of a child, an eleven-year-old crown ward speaks through the filter of Jenny Athanasiou, an employee of the Office of the Children's Lawyer. The mother and child are reduced to the monikers M.B.1 and A.B. But even through the filters the girl's sentiments are clear. She wants her mother. Judge BH Matheson overrode the girl's wishes.



[10] In the Affidavit of Jenny Athanasiou, who is employed by the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, dated February 19, 2012, she states the following:

16. When asked to describe her mother, A.B.’ eyes were teary and she stated that her mother is “awesome”. A.B. shared that her mother would stick up for her and speak sternly to anyone who would bother A.B.. …

19. I explored with A.B. what it meant to be a Crown Ward. A.B. shared that it meant that she could not see her family ever again.

20. A.B. stated that if she could tell the judge what she thought, she would tell him she felt he was “stupid” because he decided that she could not see her mother.

25. A.B. stated that she enjoyed the visits she had with her mother and the FACS worker, Diane. They would ride bikes to the pool, go to Wal-Mart and bake. A.B. shared that she would like to see her mother 3 times per week, supervised, in the home for an hour and a half. When asked why “supervised” she said that FACS would probably not agree to unsupervised.

28. Supervised access at a minimum of 3 times a year between A.B. and her mother M.B.1 would be meaningful and beneficial to A.B.’ well being.

30. …A.B. seems to be a child who wants to please others. Some of her desire to maintain contact with her mother may come from wanting to please her mother, but her affect and her genuine emotional state when speaking about this relationship indicates that she needs this for herself as well. The removal of all contact with her mother is likely to cause further emotional distress to A.B..

44. It is the position of the OCL that access by M.B.1 is both meaningful and beneficial to A.B..

45. The OCL would support an Order that grants supervised access at a minimum of 3 times a year between A.B. and her mother M.B.1.

Source: CanLii, CAS (Niagara) v. M.B.1, 2012 ONSC 1879 (CanLII)

Disappearing Orders

November 14, 2012 permalink

Here is advice that ought to be unnecessary, but is essential in a world of lawless social workers. Within minutes of Vern Beck posting it, two mothers concurred with personal experiences.

Vernon Beck

Just a reminder to everyone that when you come out of court and an order is given by the judge, the first thing that people should do before leaving the court house is to get a copy of the judge's handwritten endorsement.

Within the last few days has been a report of court endorsements being mysteriously removed from the court record when the judge's endorsement supports the position of the parents and not the CAS. Removal of official documents from court files has been reported as being a problem for many years. So never leave the courthouse without the handwritten endorsement in hand.

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch


November 14, 2012 permalink

Connecticut toddler Athena Angeles was released back to her mother after hospital treatment for a head injury. Hours later the mother's partner Fredy Chingo Riz beat the girl to death. Connecticut is altering procedures so that families will get the third degree when taking young children to the hospital. It could prevent tragedies like that of Athena.

Child protectors, quick to change procedures in cases like this, drag their feet in the other kind of tragedy. There has been no official response to the foster deaths of Malachi Beaudry in two days or Delonna Victoria Sullivan [1] [2] in a week. Not only are these cases ignored, child protectors do their best to prevent other cases from seeing the light of day, by, for example, gagging the parents. So policies are slowly ratcheted up toward more power for social workers, and increased rates of child abuse and death.



State to Require Injured Children to Be Screened for Signs of Abuse

The state Department of Children and Families is making a major shift in the way the department deals with cases of child abuse and neglect.

Now, children under the age of 6 who seek any medical attention for an injury will first have their records checked to find prior incidents of abuse. Second, they will undergo a full physical exam to identify any physical symptoms of abuse.

“This is all about a partnership between the department and the medical community and a partnership that is focused on awareness and education,” DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said.

These changes come in the wake of the death of 3-year-old Athena Angeles, who was treated for a head injury at Windham Hospital, then released to her mother last year. Hours later, she was dead.

Fredy Chingo Riz, the boyfriend of Athena’s mother, is accused of beating and killing the little girl.

He was charged with first-degree manslaughter, risk of injury to a child and other charges and is due in court on Dec. 14.

“Keeping children safe is a team activity. Parents of course have the primary responsibility. But if they cannot keep their children safe, then it is incumbent upon the larger community to come together to protect them,” said Katz.

To keep parents from feeling like they are being singled out as abusers, the new guidelines will apply across the board to every child receiving medical attention for an injury. “I want it to be as routine as when children come in and if a doctor thinks a stethoscope has to be used, then a stethoscope has to be used,” said Katz.

Source: NBC Connecticut

third degree
When did you stop beating your child?

Girl Missing

November 13, 2012 permalink

Hands The Family Help Network
Hands office, North Bay

Savannah Lott, age 15, is missing from North Bay. Her mother was notified last Thursday by Hands The Family Help Network. According to its website, Hands was formerly known as Algonquin Child and Family Services. The North Bay website lists the agency's functions as:

  • Autism Intervention Program
  • Behaviour Communication Therapy Services
  • Intake/Waitlist Coordination
  • Autism Enhanced Respite Service
  • Crisis funding

There is no way to tell if Savannah was a foster child.



Police search for teen

Savannah Lott

Victoria Lott has spent the last four days glued to her telephone and computer trying to locate her missing 15-year-old daughter.

Lott said she's suffered a few breakdowns since her child, Savannah Lott, was reported missing Thursday by Hands The Family Help Network.

“I've called, text her and so have family members, but there's been no response,” she said Monday afternoon.

“Somebody knows something, but they're hiding it.”

Lott said her daughter, who attends Chippewa Intermediate and Secondary School, has run away in the past, however this is the longest time without contacting family or friends.

“I was just expecting she would be at school today. I called early this morning and she wasn't there,” she said.

“I'm just here waiting. I'm sure police are exploring every lead.”

North Bay Police Service said they've received information the teen may have left for Mattawa or Toronto, as well, they've checked leads Savannah may have used the bus to go out of town.

“We are concerned for Savannah's safety and we're trying to locate her. She is still a child,” said Const. Al Bedard.

Ontario Provincial Police have also been notified.

Bedard said the missing teen has relatives living in Powassan and West Nipissing, however she has not contacted any family members since last week.

Bedard said an Amber Alert wasn't issued because from the information they've received they don't suspect Savannah was abducted or foul play was involved.

Savannah was wearing grey jogging pants and a white hoodie with black writing on it. She is 5'9, weighs 126 pounds, light complexion and slender build. She has blue/green eyes and long dark hair.

Savannah has a double lip piercing and a scar on her left arm.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 705-497-5555.

Source: North Bay Nugget

Addendum: Later in the day the same article reported that Savannah had been found in good health.

Disbursing for Nursing

November 13, 2012 permalink

A Florida investigative report shows how nursing homes take in children for high per-diem rates, then put them in warehouses with little or no real care. Disabled teenager Marie Freyre died in such a home.



Critics: Florida oversight lax for contractors like LightHouse providing

A child's sad death in a Florida nursing home

Marie Freyre with Doris Freyre
Marie with her mother, Doris Freyre.
Family photo.


For 14 years, Doris Freyre cared for her profoundly disabled daughter in her modest Tampa home, pureeing fresh fruit, yams and vegetables and surrounding the girl with family photos and pictures of angels.

Marie Freyre died in the care of a $506-per-day nursing home — sobbing, shaking and screaming for her real home.

She never saw her Minnie Mouse plush toy, her Winnie the Pooh or her Cabbage Patch Kids again. She never again saw her Mami or her Abuela.

Marie had been taken to the Florida Club Care Center against her mother’s wishes. Social workers insisted the Miami Gardens nursing home was the safest place for the 14-year-old, who suffered from, among other things, cerebral palsy and seizures. But the evening Marie arrived, records show, nurses did not give her life-sustaining medications and she may have had no food except applesauce.

When Marie struggled to breathe in the two hours before she died, no one at the nursing home called a doctor.

“We are still mourning for her,” said Jose Freyre, Marie’s grandfather. “She was a part of us. It was like losing a leg or an arm or a heart. We are all hurting.”

Marie’s death stands as a bitter reminder of a dog fight between state health regulators and federal civil rights lawyers, who have accused the state of warehousing sick and disabled children as virtual potted plants. The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights division has threatened to sue the state if it does not take steps to care for sick children outside of large institutions.

Records obtained by The Miami Herald from the state agency that has defended the practice of housing children in nursing homes, as well as records from other agencies and advocacy groups, show the children in such facilities often receive little education, are provided few activities and can suffer grievous neglect. Two of the six nursing homes that house children are on the state’s “watch list” of deficient facilities; one is on both the state list and a federal “special focus” list of marginal homes.

“Nursing homes are not a place for children,” said Dr. Gwen Wurm, who teaches clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. “For children who cannot walk or talk, a smile may be the only form of communication. I have seen seriously disabled children, with terminal genetic disorders, light up at the sound of a parent’s voice. We should be doing all we can to keep children in a family setting,” added Wurm.

How nursing homes became the residence of choice for severely challenged children is at the core of the Justice Department’s battle with the state. Florida, the DOJ said in a letter, “has planned, structured and administered a system of care that has led to the unnecessary separation and isolation of hundreds of children in nursing facilities.” Agency administrators have “systematically” cut services for parents, making it almost impossible for them to care for their sick children at home, the letter says. At the same time, they’ve agreed to pay nursing homes a more generous rate for children than for elders, creating an additional incentive.


Florida healthcare administrators will pay nursing homes about $213 to care for a frail elder, records show. But the state will reimburse homes more than $506 per day to care for a sick child.

“State policies and practices have favored institutional care at the expense of community-based services,” the letter said.

Some children, the Justice Department said, “have been in a facility for a decade or longer, including some who entered a facility as toddlers.”

Both nursing home industry groups and the Agency for Health Care Administration, which regulates the industry, have defended the practice, saying some youngsters are too frail or too disabled to live at home.

“Nursing homes serving children must meet different criteria than facilities that serve only older adults,” AHCA told The Miami Herald in a prepared statement. “They are strictly regulated to ensure that the appropriate services are provided specifically for children. Nursing homes that serve children are designed to service persons with complex medical needs; they provide a safe, secure and enriching environment for the children in their care.”

The Florida Health Care Association has called the federal report that criticized the practice — and the media reports that followed — “an attempt to demonize these facilities.”

“The unfortunate reality is that these pediatric facilities are the safety net for children who cannot be cared for at home because either their medical needs are too complex or they have no family to rely on,” J. Emmet Reed, the association’s executive director, wrote in a statement. “ ‘Fragile’ does not begin to describe their care needs — they require ventilators, feeding tubes; they have traumatic brain injuries or may even be comatose.”

Reed said youngsters in nursing homes live separate from frail elders, and receive care specific to the needs of developing children. Nurses, therapists and aides “care for them and love them as if they were their own,” Reed wrote.

“You’ll find handicap-accessible playgrounds, toys, stuffed animals and a brightly colored, kid-friendly living environment. Education is an important component, and through collaboration among the families, medical team and school system, each child’s schooling needs are met. You’ll also find more than twice the number of staffing hours per child than that which is required for seniors.”

The healthcare agency’s own records, however, as well as records from other groups, show that is often not the case.


As far back as 2009, AHCA inspectors found nine children sitting around a TV watching cartoons at 8:30 a.m. “with no hands-on activity” at the Westminster Community Care of Orlando nursing home. Two caregivers were in the “activity room” watching the residents as they sat before the television, a report said, adding “there [was] no interpersonal interaction observed between staff and the children.”

Inspectors said one frail resident was supposed to receive daily visits from “activities” staff to prevent “social isolation,” but no such visits occurred.

Another resident, who suffered from cerebral palsy, seizures and had a feeding tube, was supposed to have daily visits for socialization and stimulation, home schooling, and music. But during a two-day inspection, observers found only a TV tuned to a news program. An administrator acknowledged the child was receiving no education.

During a complaint investigation that same year, AHCA inspectors found a child slumped in a stroller in front of a television, with a helmet on in case the child fell. Administrators told the healthcare agency the child’s wheelchair was “out in the shed,” and that an order for a new wheelchair was supposed to have been made months earlier. No one in the nursing home’s physical therapy department had evaluated the child to secure funding from Medicaid, a state insurance program for the needy. Inspectors faulted the home for failing to provide physical therapy for some of the children in the pediatric unit.

Last May, Disability Rights Florida, a federally funded advocacy group, wrote a detailed report on a 3-year-old foster child who has spent his entire life at a small nursing facility in Orlando. Disability Rights has recommended the boy be removed from the home and placed with an adoptive family. While the institution is in a “wonderful community setting,” a report says, the home’s staff does “not take the children to the park, or for walks around the block to meet other children.”

An investigator who visited the little boy earlier this year “observed no books, flash cards, blocks, puzzles, educational DVDs, coloring books, painting items, and limited interactive toys” in the boy’s room. The boy and other youngsters in the home were placed in front of a TV “watching cartoons for several hours.”

The advocacy group said the boy was at great risk of developing Reactive Attachment Disorder, an often severe psychiatric condition that leaves children unable to form emotional bonds.

Late last June, AHCA inspectors found 17 sick and disabled children being supervised by one adult at the Golden Glades Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the home formerly known as Florida Club Care. One little girl was punching herself in the head “with both of her hands” as the sole caregiver attempted to intervene. The 16 other children, a report said, were yelling at the aide for attention.

The home was supposed to have two other staff members assisting the activities director that day, but they both had the day off, a report said.

In September, a team of inspectors from the Department of Children & Families as well as Miami’s private foster care agency visited Golden Glades again. They found that very little had changed: “The children did not have toys in the rooms and minimal toys in the playroom,” the team wrote.

“There is an activity board by the nurses’ station that lists daily activities, however, our assessment is that there did not seem to be structured activities at the time we were there,” the team wrote

AHCA inspectors faulted Florida Club Care in 2009 when they found nurses had placed orthotic splints — designed to improve the use of a child’s hands — on the wrong hands. The devices were important, a report said, to protect the child’s “skin integrity” as well as range of motion.


Healthcare administrators filed a complaint against Westminster Community Care, where the pediatric unit is called Grandma’s House, in 2007, claiming the Orlando home’s “failure” to protect a severely disabled child led to life-threatening respiratory distress. The child, whose gender a report does not specify, was blind, intellectually disabled, couldn’t speak or eat and breathed with the aid of a tube in the child’s windpipe. In July 2007, the child was diagnosed with double pneumonia, had foreign objects lodged in his or her lungs, and a temperature of 103 degrees.

At a nearby hospital, the child had to be resuscitated more than once, and doctors found parts of a diaper in the youngster’s throat, as well as a Christmas tree light in the child’s lungs.

Westminster, which is now called Orlando Health and Rehabilitation Center, agreed to pay a $3,750 fine in a settlement with the state.

A 2008 complaint claimed Westminster had failed to follow a doctor’s orders that a child with cerebral palsy be given extensive physical therapy to ensure the resident did not suffer any deterioration in the use of his or her arms and legs. The child was supposed to be given a detailed regimen of restorative therapy to the arms and legs five days-per week, and be allowed to stand up three days each week. But notes and interviews showed the child had been given such therapies only once, an AHCA report says.

At Grandma’s House — which advertises on the Internet that it provides a “homelike atmosphere that fosters intergenerational healing” — one child who has autism and a cognitive disorder suffered an injury to the hand when nursing staff failed to remove protective mittens at the required interval. The 9-year-old’s left arm was swollen, discolored and bruised from the elbow to the fingertips where the hand mitt had been in place, a July 2009 report said.

Some nursing home mishaps involving children are never documented by the healthcare agency.

In 2008, a pediatrician with the Department of Health’s Child Protection Team in Miami, which investigates some allegations of child abuse and neglect, wrote a scathing letter to then-Gov. Charlie Crist, accusing an AHCA inspector of botching an investigation into reports that a severely disabled foster child had been burned at Florida Club Care.

In his letter, pediatrician Michael D. Strong said he was “shocked” by the AHCA inspector’s “apparent lack of due diligence” in a probe of the case that found no fault in the nursing home’s actions. The 12-year-old girl, who suffers from cerebral palsy and cannot communicate, had sustained second-degree burns to her hand and thigh — and no one at the home had taken responsibility for the injuries.


The greatest tragedy involved Marie Freyre, a curly-haired cherub with a huge smile — but enormous challenges.

The backdrop to Freyre’s story is displayed in 40 color photos at the youngster’s online memorial: Marie as a smiling infant wrapped in a white gauzy blanket and surrounded by white teddy bears and a white reindeer; a smiling Marie in a tangerine-colored dress, with Minnie Mouse — her arms outstretched in a welcoming gesture — in the background; a smiling Marie, bows in her hair, so covered with stuffed toys that much of her body has disappeared; a smiling Marie in a lavender party dress, her hair festooned with ribbons, dwarfed by a yellow birthday cake and a candle shaped in the number 3.

“She was a very happy baby,” her grandfather said, “because she was loved by all.”

But the photos reveal another truth: Marie is never standing. Her hands are clenched in a fist, victims of the cerebral palsy that devastated her life.

Born with fluid surrounding her brain, and a seizure disorder in addition to the crippling cerebral palsy, Marie lived with her mother until a series of setbacks brought her to Tampa General Hospital, where a Hillsborough County judge — asked to determine custody of the girl — ordered that she be returned to her mother, Doris Freyre. Almost a month later, said the family’s Tampa attorney, Peter J. Brudny, the hospital placed her in an ambulance for what became a bumpy, five-hour, trip to the Miami Gardens nursing home — the only one that would accept Marie, her grandfather said. Her mother and grandfather pleaded in vain with hospital staff not to take her.

“When they took Marie out of my arms, it destroyed everyone in the family,” said 59-year-old Doris Freyre.

Joe Follick, a spokesman for the Department of Children & Families, said he does not know why a private foster care agency under contract with the state sent Marie to a Miami-Dade nursing home in violation of a judge’s order. The agency, Hillsborough Kids, no longer works with the state. “The priority of the department,” he said, “is always to keep families together, keep children in family settings and consider the best needs of a child and their family in often difficult and complex situations.”

Marie arrived at Florida Club Care Center on April 26, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. on a stretcher. “Patient was screaming,” records say.

At 9 p.m., the next note in her chart said Marie was given applesauce and “comfort measures.” At 11 p.m., Marie was noted to be screaming, as she was in the next notation, at 2 a.m.. At 5:40 a.m., notations say Marie’s breathing was labored, and she was “warm to the touch.” Five minutes later, Marie was “unresponsive.”

The 14-year-old died of a heart attack at 6:54 a.m. at Jackson North Medical Center. Health regulators faulted the nursing home for a spate of lapses:

  • Marie’s condition was not assessed by nurses until three hours after she arrived.
  • There’s no record that the nursing home ever told a doctor she was struggling to breathe.
  • Records suggest Marie did not receive life-saving anti-seizure drugs — prescribed for three times each day — past 9 or 10 a.m. the day before she died.
  • Despite the enhanced funding for pediatric residents, the nursing home acknowledged it had no policies for treating children differently than frail elders.
  • Even after Marie died, the home failed to notify the state, as required by Florida law. When questioned about the lapse, the home’s administrator took no responsibility for the girl’s death. “She did not expire in the facility,” he said. “She expired in the hospital.”

Federal regulators assessed a $300,000 fine, the largest by the feds against a nursing home in recent years. AHCA imposed a fine of $7,500, a spokeswoman said, but the fine has yet to be collected. The home currently cares for 37 children.

“We are still hurting — very, very much,” said Jose Freyre, the girl’s grandfather. “This is something we will never forget, and we will never forgive — including the state of Florida.”

Source: Bradenton Herald

Drunk Teen Apprehended

November 12, 2012 permalink

When a mother discovered that her 13-year-old daughter was drunk at a neighbor's party, she called the police for help. But instead of sending the girl home, the police put her in CAS custody. Parents are warned: don't ask the cops to help with out-of-control teenagers.



'Extremely Intoxicated' 13-Year-Old Girl Found in Company of Adults

Children's Aid has been contacted after Police in St.Thomas found an extremely intoxicated 13-year-old girl in a west end apartment.

Few details have been released at this point.

Police say they received a call from one of the girl's parents around 5:30 p.m. Saturday asking for assistance.

The mother had located her daughter at an apartment in the west end of St.Thomas "in the company of several adults."

Officers say the 13-year-old was "extremely intoxicated" and was removed from the apartment by Police.

The child was taken to a "place of safety" and Children's Aid was notified.

St.Thomas Police say they're continuing to investigate the incident.

More information is expected before the end of Monday afternoon.

Source: AM980 News

Restraining Youth

November 12, 2012 permalink

On October 24 Queensland Australia released the Child Guardian Report: Investigation into the Use of Force in Queensland youth detention centres. The full report can be downloaded from Commission for children and young people and child guardian. A news article on the report is in the expand block. One interesting part of the report is titled Attachment A: Protective Actions – Approved Restraint Techniques with a local copy (pdf). It lists six methods of restraining youth, titled:

  • Transport Wrist Lock
  • Straight Arm Bar
  • Reverse Wrist Lock
  • Two Person Take Down
  • Three Person Room Removal
  • Three person room insertion

The table includes the levels of pain and medical complications associated with each method. Another part of the report details injuries suffered by six young people when they experienced the restraints.



Excessive force by staff injuring teens at youth detention centres

Brisbane Youth Detention Centre at Wacol
The Brisbane Youth Detention Centre at Wacol.
Source: The Courier-Mail

AN investigation has revealed the use of excessive force by staff at Queensland's youth detention centres.

Restraint techniques used to control young people are being reviewed by the Justice Department after a report by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian highlighted "systemic issues" at the state's two centres in Brisbane and Townsville.

The report examines the cases of six young detainees who suffered serious injuries between September 2009 and November 2010, including a dislocated shoulder and fractured upper arm; four fractured wrists; and a fractured forearm.

One of the youngsters, who suffered a broken right wrist after being put in transport wrist locks by two workers, was just 148cm (4ft 10in) tall and weighed only 28kg.

The technique involves immobilising a young person's forearm and then bending their hand inwards, causing medium to high levels of pain.

In another case, a young person diagnosed with autism suffered a fractured forearm after physical intervention by three staff without any verbal warnings.

Commissioner Elizabeth Fraser's report found that while training emphasised the use of non-physical strategies, staff were too quick to resort to physical force.

"In reality, the specific incidents reviewed under this investigation would appear to indicate that 'pain management/compliance' techniques are relied upon more frequently than communication and negotiation skills," it said.

The department has already banned one of the techniques - the transport wrist lock - and the commissioner has recommended the safety, legality and appropriateness of others be reviewed within three months.

The report makes 12 recommendations, including better medical care to those involved in physical altercations.

Youth Affairs Network of Queensland executive director Siyavash Doostkhah said the report was "disturbing", especially with the State Government prepared to open Queensland's first two boot camps.

Mr Doostkhah welcomed the recommendations but said "an urgent independent inquiry" was needed, which should investigate excessive use of solitary confinement.

A Department of Justice spokesman said the recommendations were being addressed.

Source: The Australian

Foster Abuse in Quinte

November 9, 2012 permalink

Three former foster parents have been accused of sexual abuse of their wards. The accused are Richard Fildey, Sherilee Slatter and Ronald Slatter. Contrary to what the article says, these are not all new cases. Earlier this year Ronald Slatter was accused and exonerated on a similar charge. Previous Slatter articles: [1] [2] [3].



Sex charges linked to foster homes --UPDATED

Three former Children's Aid foster parents in Prince Edward County have been charged with sex crimes against foster children.

The historical cases involve three female complainants and allegations of sexual assault and child pornography dating back nine years.

Prince Edward OPP Const. Kim Guthrie said those charged are no longer foster parents but the charges stem from their time serving the Children's Aid Society of Prince Edward.

All charges were laid within the last week and are unrelated to past criminal cases involving the society's foster parents, Guthrie said.

“They were arrested, charged and released,” she said. “They would, of course, have conditions on them.”

Though their conditions weren't available Friday, Guthrie said the limitations “would be to protect anybody involved with the case.” It is common, for example, for those suspected of a crime to be prohibited from contacting complainants.

In the earliest of the new cases, Guthrie said, a woman told police in November 2011 someone assaulted her sexually in 2003-2004 while she lived in a Bloomfield foster home.

Richard Fildey, 44, of Cameron, Ont. is charged with sexual interference, sexual assault and sexual exploitation. He's to appear in Picton court Nov. 21.

The second case resulted from a June 2012 complaint of abuse in 2007 at a Bloomfield foster home, police reported.

Sherilee Slatter, 34, of Sudbury is charged with sexual assault, conspiring to commit an indictable offence, distributing child pornography and two counts of sexual exploitation. She's scheduled for a Dec. 5 appearance in Picton court.

Also in June, a teenage girl told police she'd been assaulted in 2010 – again a foster home in Bloomfield.

Ronald Slatter, 65, of Bloomfield is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation. He's scheduled to appear Nov. 28 in Picton court.

The charges are the latest in a rash of sex assault and sexual exploitation charges brought by former wards of the Prince Edward society, all involving current or former county residents.

The OPP issued a press release about the new charges two hours after a joint release in which the embattled society and Highland Shores Children's Aid announced they would amalgamate.

Officials with each society were not immediately available for comment.

Source: Belleville Intelligencer

Prince Edward CAS will disappear through merger, probably with its larger neighbor the Highland Shores CAS. The Wellington Times tells the story of the failures in Prince Edward county.



Troubled CAS relents to pressure after a bad year

Update: The board of the Children’s Aid Society of Prince Edward confirmed on Friday it will merge operations with Highland Shores Children’s Aid–the agency it spurned just under a year ago.

The local Children’s Aid Society says it will no longer go it alone. The board of the Children’s Aid Society of Prince Edward released a statement last week saying it had decided to seek a partnership with another agency.

The release suggests that a declining population of children in the County, along with changes in the way the agency is funded, contributed to the decision.

Few details were offered either in the release or by Board Chair Elaine Philips.

The board has not identified the agency with whom it is considering a partnership but it was nearly a year ago the County CAS rejected a merger plan that would have combined the local children’s aid services with those of Hastings and Northumberland. The Ministry of Children’s and Youth Services had been nudging the three agencies together as a means to improve efficiency but the County CAS resisted, worried services would be reduced in the County and the Picton office possibly closed.

The troubles that were about to swamp the agency were just beginning to percolate to the surface.


A month before it rejected the amalgamation deal, the local CAS had become the focus of scrutiny and questions after Bloomfield foster parents Joe and Janet Holm were given prison sentences for sexual abuse of foster children in their care. Justice Geoff Griffin said in his sentencing of the Holms that the community should demand an inquiry into what had happened at the foster home. That inquiry never happened.


A year earlier, charges had been laid against a 71-year-old Bloomfield man for a list of sexual abuse offences over a period of years against children, as young as nine and 10 years of age, placed in his care by the County’s CAS. The man was convicted earlier this year and sentenced to nine years in prison. He is currently appealing his conviction and is free on bail.

County CAS has never explained how and why children in its care were repeatedly put at risk.

Sweet said his agency shared the “community’s outrage” about the crimes committed against children subjected to sexual abuse while in his agency’s care. He assure his agency was improving its processes but never answered how those processes had failed the children in its care in the first place.


Now the agency seems set to be swallowed by the agencies it rebuffed a year ago. Once it is gone, families and County residents may never know what happened. Why weren’t these children more closely monitored? Why weren’t foster families better scrutinized and supervised?

Neither Sweet nor Philip agreed to be interviewed for this story but asked that the Times submit its questions in writing. The Times submitted 16 questions. None was addressed directly.

Philip wrote to say her agency is “committed to operating in a culture of openness and transparency” but was “not in a position to provide much detail.” She offered no explanation about why this detail was being withheld.

She wrote that “we thought it was very important, and indeed were obliged, to inform our staff, the community, and all of our stakeholders, that we are exploring partnerships with other agencies in the region.”

Residents can only speculate about the future of this troubled local agency and how long it will remain local.

Source: Wellington Times

The Wellington Times gives more details of the accusations, and the relationships of the accused. Because of the observation of Curtis Kingston there is reason to be skeptical of the Slatter charges.



Failing children

Three more foster parents charged with sexual crimes against children in their care

Ron Slatter professed innocence. He said he had been the target of vindictive Children’s Aid Society officials who were getting back at him for complaining about a lack of funding for foster families.

Earlier this year Slatter was charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation against a child placed in his care by the CAS. Those charges were later withdrawn.

In July, The Times told the story of how Slatter was trying to restore his reputation after his name was reported in several news reports and newscasts across the region.

At the time Slatter said his crime was in “telling a dirty joke” and allowing his grown daughter to visit their Bloomfield home while they were caring for foster children.

But last week the Slatters’ troubles became much more serious.

On Friday Ron Slatter, 63, and his daughter Sherilee Slatter, 34, were each charged with an array of sexual crimes involving children placed in Slatter’s Bloomfield home.

Ron Slatter faces charges of sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation arising from complaints by a teenage girl that she was sexually assaulted in 2010 while living in foster care in the Slatter home. He is set to appear in court on November 28.

Sherilee Slatter is facing charges of sexual assault, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, distributing child pornography and two counts of sexual exploitation. These charges arise from a complaint from a female that she had been sexually assaulted in the Slatter home in 2007 while living in foster care. Slatter was arrested in Sudbury. She will appear in a Picton court on December 5.

Meanwhile Sherilee Slatter’s former husband was also arrested and charged last week with sexual offences against a teenaged girl living in foster care in a separate Bloomfield home. Richard Fildey, 44, has been charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation. These charges stem from accusations that Fildey sexually assaulted a teenage girl while she was living in a foster home in Bloomfield in 2003 and 2004. He was arrested in Cameron, Ontario. He is set to appear in Picton Court on November 21.

The latest charges raise more questions about the Children’s Aid Society of Prince Edward, specifically its ability to screen foster families and monitor the children in their care. Last year Judge Geoff Griffin said the community should demand an inquiry into the operations of the local CAS as he sentenced Joe and Janet Holm to prison sentences for sexual crimes against foster children placed in their care by the local agency.

Then, earlier this year, a 71-year-old man was convicted of sexually abusing two young girls, over the course of years. The children had been placed in the man’s home despite earlier accusations and a subsequent police investigation into claims that the man was abusing children in his care.

The local CAS has announced it will merge with Highland Shores Children’s Aid. The questions, however, will likely continue to linger over this agency until it explains what went wrong.

Source: Wellington Times

A full article on the merger of Prince Edward County CAS into Highland Shores.



New direction

Mark Kartusch
Highland Shores’ and now Prince Edward County CAS Executive Director Mark Kartusch

Putting the pieces back together again

Mark Kartusch has a tough job. And it just got a whole lot tougher. Kartusch was handpicked to bring together the operations of the newly amalgamated Children’s Aid Societies of Hastings and Northumberland. With the merged agency, Highland Shores, not yet a year old, and the kinks still being worked out, Kartusch is faced with a new and more daunting challenge: bringing the operations of the Children’s Aid Society of Prince Edward County into the fold—and with it, lingering questions about how the County agency failed in its fundamental duty to protect children in its care from sexual abuse at the hands of their foster parents.


The County CAS had been part of the original amalgamation discussions last year with Hastings and Northumberland, but walked away from the Ministry of Child Services-guided process last December—despite warnings of reduced funding and support.

In the end it likely wasn’t money that brought down the local CAS, thrusting it into the arms of Highland Shores. Rather, it is more plausible that a series of scandals involving children in its care who had been sexually abused by foster parents, in homes selected and overseen by the local agency, brought about the end of its independence.


It all began to unravel last November when a Bloomfield couple, Joe and Janet Holm, were sentenced to prison terms for charges ranging from sexual assault to sexual exploitation. According to a report in the Intelligencer, the couple had fostered 25 teenagers over a period of nine years—providing a home with little to no restrictions and with rampant sexual behaviour.

Then last spring another Bloomfield man was convicted of sexually assaulting two children in his care over a period of years. He was sentenced to nine years in prison but is currently appealing his conviction.

Three more foster parents were charged this month for sexual abuse against children in their care.

The sheer volume of charges, and the protracted nature of the abuse carried out under the watch of the local CAS over the course of years, have raised serious— and yet unanswered— questions about the nature of the failure of this agency to protect children in its care.

Mounting pressure on the organization likely forced the board of directors to reconsider its decision to reject amalgamating with Hastings and Northumberland. Earlier this month the local agency conceded that its future lay within Highland Shores. All but two of its members resigned. Last week the long-time director of the local CAS, Bill Sweet, departed.


Now the path is clear for Highland Shores to complete the takeover of the local agency. That gives Kartusch the challenging job of integrating the methods, habits and practices of three long-established government agencies into one cohesive organization. He must also break down the regional and operational biases that can hobble efficiency.

By far his biggest task is rebuilding the trust in this community in an agency whose credibility lies in tatters.

To do this Kartusch will need to understand what happened in this community, demonstrate that remedial action has been taken and that every effort is being made to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

He’s not there yet. He is reluctant to speak about the past—partly because of the confidential nature of cases they manage—and he is only now learning the details about how they were managed. He is cautious too, simply because transparency takes second place to the privacy of the families and children that they are tasked with assisting.

“Our work is very complicated and there are few simple answers,” explained Kartusch to the Times. “I have no question that staff in child welfare want to do their best. But bad things happen.”

Balancing transparency with expectations of confidentiality is something every child welfare agency struggles with.

“I know some think we use this as a shield,” said Kartusch. “But something bigger is at stake. The problems that happen in families are not supposed to be broadcast for public consumption. There is also due process that has to occur. There are very good reasons that child welfare cases tends to be more confidential. We need to make people feel okay to come to the society. To get help before it becomes a problem. If I there is a risk these concerns will become a public matter then children suffer.”

But Kartusch knows too that these aren’t ordinary circumstances in Prince Edward County. He knows the community demands answers about what went wrong in the protection of children in this community. As much as he would like to focus on the future, Kartusch understands he can’t ignore the troubled past of the local CAS.

“It will take time,” acknowledged Kartusch. “I need to spend some time in the community. Learn about what has transpired. Learn about the community more. Learn from community service providers. I will be working to remind people about the good processes that serve the community well.”

He knows too that repairing damaged credibility is his first job.

“Loss of confidence is very serious. We rely on people having confidence in the child welfare agency because it is about protecting our kids.”

Kartusch knows this will be his toughest challenge yet.

Source: Wellington Times

Addendum: A reporter attended the first board meeting of the newly-merged CAS. Former Prince Edward CAS executive director Bill Sweet is out of a job along with most of his directors. We can be sure that Highland Shores CAS follows all laws and regulations, because every three months executive director Mark Kartusch signs off on a factual certificate that says all the procedures have been followed.



New board, few answers

Highland Shores takes first steps in the County

The first board meeting of the freshly assembled directors of the Prince Edward Children’s Aid Society offered few outward signs of the turmoil that must surely swirl inside the walls of the organization these days.

Last month the troubled local agency, under fire for a series of sex abuse charges, prosecutions and convictions against six different foster parents in connection to children in their care—placed there by the local CAS—has made several big changes in the organization. It has parted ways with longtime Executive Director Bill Sweet and all but two of its board members, and begun a process to amalgamate with Highland Shores Children’s Aid—itself a product of the amalgamation of Hastings and Northumberland’s CAS agencies. It says more changes are coming—including installing Brad Bain, the current director of child and youth services at Durham Chidren’s Aid, as the interim director of services in Picton. But on a Wednesday evening in Belleville last week, it seemed business as usual. Mostly.

There were discussions about board processes (coordinating two boards simultaneously does indeed pose some practical challenges). Discussions about finances (the larger agency is lagging its budgeted operating performance—but less so than the provincial average. That seemed acceptable to most). The agency also purchased a new phone system but curiously declined to say how much it had spent.

There were discussions too about the board’s advisory committees, which examine aspects of the agency ranging from service and quality to finance, as well as gather feedback from community segments through its youth and aboriginal advisory committees.

There was good news about fundraising; the Belleville Rotary Club presented a cheque in the amount of $9,000, the proceeds of a golf tournament the service club holds each year on behalf of Quinte Children’s Foundation, the fundraising arm of Highland Shores Children’s Aid.

There were many good and important issues discussed and presented around the table on Wednesday, but one had to strain to hear the issues of families and children discussed directly in the two-hour meeting. Nor was their curiosity apparent about the issues that had suddenly thrust the Prince Edward County agency into its fold.

Chairperson Darcey French says there are at least three important reasons why this was so. He says the board is still just gathering information about the circumstances in Picton; that the board conducts its business in a decidedly process-oriented approach; and that there are issues of privacy that must be respected.

“Our first priority was to create a stable service for the families and children in Prince Edward County,” explained French, a board member for four years and the Hastings CAS lead during the amalgamation process with Northumberland. “As far as what went on in this community—it will take time to figure out what it looked like. We are not there yet.”

French says the board’s chief role is to ensure the Executive Director Mark Kartusch is held accountable to the goals and standards that he and his staff are expected to achieve.

“The issues we go through each month are that extensive because our expectations of the executive director and his staff are very high,” said French. “Once a quarter in our agency— though not typical everywhere in the province—Mark signs off on a factual certificate that says all the procedures have been followed; that we’ve had no incidences, or if we’ve had an incidence here is what it was; here is how it was addressed; and here is how we will prevent this from happening again.”

The executive director defends the emphasis on rigorous processes and procedures as a means to empower good decisions throughout the organization.

“The reason we have these is to ensure consistency and predictability,” said Kartusch. “I want to rebuild the confidence in the community, but most important to me is to ensure we have strong and effective processes. These are essential to protecting children in out community and keeping them safe. That is my number one priority.”

Will this community ever know what happened at the local agency? What was the nature of the failure that occurred? Because some failure facilitated vulnerable children in becoming prey to a sexual predator. And without answers to these questions, how can anyone— even the new directors of the agency—know with confidence that it won’t happen again?

Kartusch can’t answer these questions yet. “First, I want to find out,” explained Kartusch. “I don’t have all the facts yet. I need to get those first and then I will be in a better position to know what can be disclosed to the community.”

He knows there is a crisis of confidence in this agency in this community currently, but he says much has been done in the past weeks and months to fix the problems in Picton.

“Change has been under way for months,” said Kartusch, “not just two weeks ago when Highland Shores and PEC CAS decided to merge. For example, the processes involved in approving foster homes have been improved. In fact across the province there is a new assessment process around approving foster homes. A different level of intensity to it.”

He is sensitive too about the effect these issues are having on the many good and decent foster families who have served this community and continue to do so.

“Foster families will tell you they live in a fish bowl,” said Kartusch. “The vast, vast majority of cases foster parents are wonderful and amazing people that find it in their hearts and skills to open their homes to children.

“Our job is to keep children safe—particularly when we take them into care. We must continually find ways to improve on that.”

But is the executive director or are any of the board of directors close enough to the families and children whom they serve? None appear to endure the socioeconomic hardships that would seem to put families and children most at risk.

Darcey French says that ensuring the board maintained a “finger on the pulse’ of the families and children they serve was among the board’s guiding principles when it was formed and developed in the amalgamation process. This, he said, takes different forms.

“Any person can contact a board member, for example,” said French. “You don’t have to go through the agency. I have had people call me; ‘this is what happened what are we going to do about it’.”

He pointed to other ways the board works to maintain contact with families and children—specifically its youth advisory committee.

“These are the kids who have grown up in the system— some of them have been in care for as much as 10 years. They are pretty honest about what is needed.”

French also spent a weekend at a camp run by Highland Shores this past summer

“The kids let me know what they were worried about,” said French. “They were clear about what works and what doesn’t. But it also gave me some insight how staff nurture and care for these children.

“You can lead in technical ways or you can lead in moral or ethical ways—we choose to be morally invested.”

Perhaps it is too soon to expect full answers about what went wrong at the Prince Edward County CAS— how it failed children in its care. For now those questions remain unanswered. It would be a mistake for Highland Shores or provincial officials to assume this community will be satisfied with this.

Source: Wellington Times

Addendum: Mark Kartusch is trying to build public confidence in children's aid in Prince Edward county while recruiting new foster parents to replaced those in court. By his figures Prince Edward CAS had 25 foster parents at any one time, with six convicted or charged. So about a quarter of foster kids were exposed to an abusive caretaker, below our earlier estimate of half. Two articles are enclosed.



A lot of work ahead for CAS

Mark Kartusch
Efforts to get a derailed county child welfare agency back on track are roaring ahead.

Overhauled record keeping, frequent file audits and additional training for staff are just some of the preliminary measures being taken to steer the embattled Prince Edward County Children's Aid Society toward an April 1, 2013 legal merger with the Highland Shores Children's Aid.

Before that can happen, the existing agency under Highland Shores' guidance will have to renew waning community confidence, says Mark Kartusch, executive director.

Kartusch and his team welcomed the media to the county agency Friday, part of an open door policy he said is at the core of attempts to be more transparent.

Community consultation will be part of reconnecting in the new year as well, he said.

“Today is about acknowledging to the community where we're at,” he said. “This is the beginning of our conversation with the community.”

Three foster parents have already been convicted for sex crimes against children since November 2011, with another three former foster parents charged last month.

Kartusch admitted the breach of trust inflicted on the violated young people has shaken the agency. He said the agency shoulders the blame for not ensuring their safety.

“I want to apologize to the children who experienced harm at the hands of their foster parents, but also to the community who trusted in us to keep them safe and protected,” he said.

He conceded the agency failed in its attempt to provide a co-ordinated response to allegations stemming from at least one of the child abuse cases.

“We need to follow up on allegations,” Kartusch said. “In at least one of those cases we didn't do that well.”

There were gaps in how the information was being filtered between varied departments, which “clouded,” the agency's ability to respond appropriately, he said.

Aside from those falters he said, “the vast majority of things we do here are the way they're suppose to be done.”

The ongoing saga has devastated staff at the county agency, he added.

By December 2013, the county agency will be structurally morphed into Highland Shores, creating an entity with about 320 total employees and an estimated $46 million operating budget. The Dundas Street West Belleville office will serve as headquarters.

An interim director of service and an additional supervisor have been appointed to the county as a conduit to the merger.

The County CAS has been been operating under increased ministry scrutiny since a probe was launched into its operation earlier this year, says Darcy French, co-chair, board of directors, present for the press conference at the Picton office.

That has proven helpful to repairing flailing aspects of the agency.

“This board has inherited some difficult challenges,” French said, adding, acknowledging the missteps is crucial to finding a steady course for the future.

Source: Belleville Intelligencer

County foster parents not under extra scrutiny: CAS

Prospective Bloomfield foster families will not undergo any added scrutiny because of the recent wave of child abuse cases in that community, says the new head of the County child welfare agency.

Concerns about how the recent spate of child abuse cases could taint public interest toward foster care in Prince Edward County is front and centre for Mark Kartusch, executive director Highland Shores Children's Aid Society, now assuming control of the county agency after a merger.

With only 25 registered foster parents currently servicing Prince Edward County, Kartusch admits the welfare agency has taken a battering after charges levied against former recruits.

Since November 2011, three former foster parents have been convicted of sexually abusing several children entrusted in their care by the agency, with another three hit with sex crime charges this fall.

Those cases are currently before the courts with appearances scheduled for the new year. The wave of sex crimes linked to the agency sparked a ministry probe last winter which spawned a report recommending an overhaul of operations at the embattled entity.

While there is no immediate indication the county child abuse convictions and current charges are thwarting family recruitment efforts, the director is cognizant that it could pose a threat to the overall renewal of a tarnished reputation.

“Right now, I'm not seeing anything that says there have been fewer enquiries of people interested in fostering,” he said. “It's definitely something we're going to keep our eyes on very closely.”

Kartusch attended what he viewed as a positive family recruitment meeting at the county agency last week. The meeting was attended by about 14 people with varied interest in fostering and providing adoptive care.

“That's a normal number for that step in the process,” he said.

Some current and prospective foster parents have pressed Kartusch for answers on what's been done to clean up the current mess and minimize risk of further offenders.

Referrals is also another area Kartusch is closely monitoring. Repairing community confidence and ensuring there is no reluctance to sign on with the agency, is another aspect of the renewal efforts, he said.

“Potentially children are left at risk if people aren't calling to provide care,” he said.

He said interested foster parents from the Bloomfield area will not be subjected to any additional scrutiny of the their application because almost all the cases stemmed from homes in that community.

“That's not going to be an issue,” he said. “People automatically try to ascribe a pattern that may not be there.”

Now a few weeks into efforts to merge the Prince Edward County CAS under the newly-amalgamated Highland Shores agency, it's still premature to say how much operation revamping needs to be done, he said.

Kartusch has already assigned an interim director of service and a resource staff supervisor from Highland Shores to assist with repairing the damage.

“It's going to take a while to rebuild confidence in the community,” he said. “Change needs to happen.”

Source: Belleville Intelligencer

Addendum: Sherilee Slatter has been found guilty.



Former foster parent guilty

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY - A former Bloomfield foster parent has been found guilty of numerous sex-related charges.

Justice Wolf Tausendfreund found Sherilee Slatter, 35, guilty of one count of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual assault stemming from allegations that first arose in 2005 when she was the foster mother of a 15-year-old boy. Her married name at the time was Sherilee Fildey.

Slatter was also found guilty of one count of invitation to sexual touching linked to her abuse of a 15-year-old girl, who was a foster child in the home of Slatter’s father, back in 2008.

Both teen victims were wards of the now-defunct Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society. The Highland Shores CAS now covers the areas once managed by societies in Prince Edward, Hastings and Northumberland Counties. The merger was triggered by a government investigation which found appalling instances of neglect, lapses in oversight and an overall dysfunctional Prince Edward County entity.

Friday’s verdict happened in Picton’s Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Slatter, now residing in Sudbury, will be sentenced January 23.

The first set of allegations were that Slatter had sexual intercourse with a foster boy on five occasions during the spring and summer of 2005 in her home in Bloomfield. In 2005 she gave a statement to the OPP saying she was sexually assaulted by the boy on three occasions, the court heard during trial.

The judge ruled that if that was true she would have done something to protect herself after the first time. Evidence heard during the trial indicated she did nothing and did not report it until the boy told his girlfriend what was going on and the girlfriend confronted Slatter.

The judge also found that in 2008, while Slatter was living in her father’s home in Bloomfield, she invited a 15-year-old foster girl into her room, gave her liquor and then convinced her to use a sex toy while streaming it on a web cam to a man in California with whom Slatter was in a relationship.

Assistant Crown attorney Jodi Whyte confirmed Friday there is a “possibility of one more trial of a former foster parent from Bloomfield.”

In addition, Slatter’s former husband, Richard Fildey, was also convicted in August of this year of sexually abusing a foster girl in 2004.

Whyte also confirmed that “the appeal of the case involving a former foster (73-year-old) father who was convicted in 2012 is to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal on Jan. 7.”

Sherilee Slatter is the fifth foster parent to be convicted of sexually abusing foster children in Prince Edward County.

Source: Belleville Intelligencer

Obesity Expert Gives Advice

November 9, 2012 permalink

obese social worker

When Ben Gary Treistman was divorced child protectors in Poughkeepsie New York intervened in his relationship with his daughter. On a visit the girl said her mother was giving her pills that made her feel funny. Dad further noticed her weight increase by 30 percent in just a few months. Out of concern for her health he tried to find out what drug she was taking, and its side-effects.

Thanks to the work of a filmmaker, we can now get an inside view of one of the private meetings in which social workers, lacking any real skills, but armed with the power of the law, bully caring parents. Though this particular case shows a father, from years of interviews fixcas can say that mothers get the same treatment. Here is the nine minute Treistman video (avi), the full 90 minute movie is on YouTube.

Two social workers begin their assault by claiming that the father has mental health issues and is guilty of neglect, inadequate guardianship, for trying to identify his daughter's drug. The absence of a court order for medical disclosure is enough for them to harass the father and keep him in ignorance. In an effort to point out the absurdity of their position, dad asks whether a daycare centre ought to know about a client's medication. No, asserts the worker. We wonder whether she would prefer a child to die of asthma because the daycare staff was kept in the dark. Treistman was further harassed by the workers for measuring his daughter's weight. Then a severely obese social worker hands out nutritional advice, really orders, on how to nourish a girl to keep her weight under control.

The father puts up with the humiliation because he values his daughter more than his dignity. After watching the video, think about who cares more for a child: social workers or dad?

Addendum: Here is the full story by father Gary Trieste. There is a longer version of his interview/harassment by social workers on YouTube or a local copy (mp4).



Missing Anya

My daughter, Anya, was born in December of 2003.

My partner, Suzanne, and I were living together as husband and wife, and we raised Anya as a family in our home in the Catskills of upstate New York.

My relationship with Suzanne began to deteriorate when our daughter was around 3; although I did everything I could to maintain familial harmony, eventually vitriol, instability and arguing became the major theme of our relationship, and after 8 years of living together, we planned to separate, although we agreed it would be as amicable as possible for sake of our daughter.

Around that time I found emails and online chats between Suzanne and a male friend in which he counseled her in detail on how to achieve sole custody of Anya, by gradually manufacturing an official record of maltreatment, abuse or domestic violence, when none had actually occurred, and then filing for full custody. I said nothing of it to her, thought it a joke or a fluke, and did not believe she would actually act upon such outrageous suggestions.

I had no idea that not only would she do this, but she would be aggressively aided and abetted by the Family Court judicial system and related social service agencies surrounding it (County Mental Health, Child Protective Services, local school system administration, welfare services and assigned legal representation services) – each of which was all too eager to accept wild and unsubstantiated accusations against me, taken at face value and never investigated or verified to be true before acting upon them.

Nor could I have imagined that these allegations alone, without evidence or factual hearings, could be used to separate me from my child for years, and then later to parlay that separation into intentional alienation, so as to destroy the strong and loving relationship my daughter and I enjoyed for the first 7 years of her life.

As later events proved, however, Suzanne indeed followed this advice.

One evening, in April of 2010, Anya misbehaved and I gave her a light slap on her bottom. Suzanne called CPS, who investigated the call without even talking to me. Soon after, they found me guilty of maltreatment. The official record was started.

This event notwithstanding, and Suzanne claiming it was the school who had called CPS, our subsequent separation was quite amicable . . . Or so I thought.

We all moved to another location, where Suzanne and I had adjacent apartments, and Anya had ready and informal access to both her parents.

On Valentine’s Day 2011, without warning or discussion, Suzanne filed a petition for sole custody, based upon the CPS report she had engineered, and a litany of wildly exaggerated allegations, 85 percent of which were outright lies and the rest embroidered spin on perceived familial slights she had held over the 8 years we were together.

Solely upon these unproven written allegations, she was granted temporary but sole custody by the court.

Using her new court ordered authority, Suzanne immediately cut off all contact between Anya and myself. A few days later, I filed my own petition for custody, and she responded, the same day, by filing a family offense petition against me, obtaining a restraining order again based solely on her unverified claims of harassment and reckless endangerment.

Anya and I, missing each other terribly, and still within the same building, struggled to retain some connection. One evening, as I played my harmonica in the common kitchen, my daughter played back her ukulele in the adjoining apartment. Through the closed door, we communicated our love the only way we could without being detected, musically.

After a Family Court hearing, Anya was assigned an attorney by the court and I was given visitation of one hour a week at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings – visits that were monitored, preemptively treating me as a child abuser.

At this time, I filed several motions in an attempt to keep my connection to my daughter intact. One was to change the temporary sole custody – awarded on the mother’s word alone – to shared custody until the final determination.

Family Court denied this commonsense request, stating that for the court’s administrative convenience, temporary custody would be awarded to one parent. This expedient due process enabled Suzanne to continue her campaign to break the bonds between myself and my daughter.

Another motion I put in was to restrain Suzanne from taking Anya from the house we shared, a situation that permitted Anya and me at least some physical proximity. That motion was denied as well with the assistance of my child’s assigned counsel, who claimed that the order would violate Suzanne’s parental rights. Anya’s lawyer, who was supposed to advocate for my daughter’s wishes, had in fact opposed them and instead advocated for Suzanne.

The court again assisted in Suzanne’s imposed estrangement between my daughter and me. Taking full advantage of the court’s permission, a few days later, Suzanne moved out, taking Anya to an unknown location and obtaining an order of address confidentiality, against the tearful wishes of my child to remain near me.

Around this time, further utilizing the provisional custody granted her, unbeknownst to me Suzanne brought Anya to the local mental health agency and promptly got her a prescription for an antipsychotic medication to quell her angst and objections. The drug (Geodon) was not approved by the FDA for children or adolescents, was indicated for adult schizophrenics, and is one that causes permanent Parkinsonism in 20% of patients.

Court documents later showed that Suzanne could not control our daughter’s temper tantrums. Her own parenting inability set Anya on a path of drug dependency and damaging side effects, taking these actions while excluding me from serious medical decisions about our daughter.

At this point, one of my motions took, and I was “granted” 8 hours of unsupervised visitation with my child on Sundays. During these visits, we took boat-rides, visited zoos and museums, saw movies and went swimming together. To memorialize our wonderful all-too-brief moments together, I was an avid videographer, creating home movies of Anya singing to me, us laughing together, playing with the dog, and our restaurant outings.

Neither I nor my daughter was very happy with only seeing each other 8 hours a week. We had previously been with each other almost all the time, and this artificially constrained time was suffocating and rushed.

We never had any relaxed downtime or enjoyed the nighttime rituals that we’d had together – watching TV, bedtime stories, the cat on the bed, tucking her in, kissing her goodnight before she fell asleep. Although we were very happy to see each other, and did the best we could with the time we had, as the visit progressed toward end-time there was an inchoate anxiety, like the clock ticking toward an execution, and the knowledge that we would be torn apart again until another whole week had elapsed. The visits were thus very happy and joyful, but at the same time stressful and bittersweet. It was emotionally confusing for both of us.

I resolved to try again to get equal parenting time, and filed another petition for increased visitation. When the obligatory month and a half waiting time for a hearing had elapsed, I entered the courthouse with hope in my heart that I would have at least weekend visits with my daughter. Despite all the allegations in court thrown at me by Suzanne, there was no truth to them. There was no legal or factual reason why I should not have equal access to our daughter.

However, I was subjected to a rude surprise.

I presented my argument and facts, the judge took it in, and after I had finished, the judge turned to the opposing side, and with a tone of sheer apology to them, said, “I’m sorry but I don’t see why his petition for more time shouldn’t be granted. What can I do?”

At that point, both the opposing counsel and my daughter’s own attorney argued away at the impropriety of making home movies of my own daughter and the fact that I’d been answering Anya’s very natural questions about what was happening to her and why she couldn’t see me as we had before – protected speech that was within our civil rights to have.

Then I was handed a motion paper seeking to end my visitation altogether. When I objected that the motion was improperly submitted and never served, the judge ignored me, shouting, “You shall not videotape your child, and you shall NOT discuss this case with your daughter in any way. I will consider terminating your parental rights for this. Respond to this motion in seven days, hearing adjourned.”

I did reply to the motion within 7 days as ordered, but was then left waiting months for a court ruling on our hope for weekend visitation that never came. This treatment was one of many that illustrates how, whenever there was a fork in the road for the court to reunite me with my daughter, we were channeled down a path of more alienation, more estrangement, and more disconnection.

Eventually I learned that Suzanne was giving Anya a pill every day, telling our daughter not to tell me. It came out when Anya told me during a visit that she felt terrible. She said she couldn’t sleep, was having nightmares, was nauseous, and felt like she sometimes blanked out. She broke my heart when she turned to me and said, “Daddy, please help me. I don’t know what to do.” I was very concerned, and began to try to find out what pill she was being forced to take.

One afternoon, while Anya was visiting me, she was dancing to disco music. She abruptly stopped, complaining that her heart was beating too fast and was scared. It seemed urgent, so I made a quick decision to discover immediately what my daughter was taking, so as to assess her symptoms. Once she was feeling a little better, we looked up medications on the internet to identify what she was taking. All she remembered was that Mommy had told her the pill would make her “calm and cooperative.” Although we were unable to identify the pill, for the rest of the day, I made sure she was not in any distress.

Soon after this event, a neighbor found Anya locked out of her apartment, alone, wandering the parking lot and crying. Suzanne was nowhere to be found. I reported the incident to CPS. They told me a day later that they had investigated it, and found nothing legally significant. However, they informed me that I was now the subject of an investigation on charges of neglect. This was direct retaliation for the call I had made.

The charges they cobbled together and called neglect consisted of: I let my daughter drink sugar-free soda; I took my daughter to McDonald’s and let her have McNuggets; I weighed Anya on a bathroom scale; I asked her about the pills she was being given; and that I bought her a Halloween toy with a red liquid in it, which they claimed was an energy drink.

A few days later, I was hauled into court on two hours notice to face charges of child neglect. At that point, what little visitation I had with Anya was truncated. A restraining order, which carried the threat of imprisonment, was issued.

We were now reduced to supervised visits with each other in an austere, concrete room, treated again as if I were a convicted child abuser. My child saw her father body searched by a police officer at the start of each visit, and watched throughout by a CPS officer taking notes on a clipboard on each word we spoke to one another. Anya was also regularly told that they were there to protect her from her father. Helplessly, I watched as my daughter was taught that Daddy was so dangerous, she could only safely see him under the wary gaze of armed guards.

In sum, it was stunning by which the rapidity the system took my daughter away from me, how it was so poised to do so, and with such efficiency. Once the government got involved, not only was I quickly stripped of my child, but Suzanne’s position was officially secured as if the trial had already taken place and I was convicted.

During the time I was seeing Anya under CPS supervision, they began taking us to McDonald’s for our visits, oblivious to the fact that I was originally charged and chastised for bringing her there. When one Wednesday, they changed the visit date without informing me, and I didn’t appear, Anya got very upset. After that, they no longer permitted us to leave the CPS building for visits.

Not seeing an end in sight to this Kafkaesque landscape of control and micromanagement, I hunkered down for the long haul and I was soon confronted with the fruit of all the scrutiny made during my visits with Anya.

I was informed that I could no longer talk to my daughter about our past together, and all the wonderful times and experiences we had shared while she was growing up, and that I was further prohibited from speaking with her about our future together, what we would do when we were reunited, and the good times we would have again when we could regain our relationship.

I was told I could only speak of “the here and now”, essentially, only what was in front of us during the visits. I could not speak of her life, her school, her friends, what she did or what places and experiences she had outside of our visits. I was also strictly prohibited from speaking with her about our court case, or strangely enough, conversation about the U.S. Constitution, as they considered that topic too close to talking about the court.

I was told that if I did speak of these things, the visits would end, that I would not see my daughter at all, and that they would charge me again in court with neglect.

Additionally, as further extortion for permission to see my daughter, I was directed into both family and individual therapy. I was forced to undergo both psychiatric and psychological evaluations, and to take a three-month parenting class. I was required to permit CPS workers, unannounced, into my home for ad hoc inspections.

As a carrot, I was assured in court by CPS that once I’d fulfilled all these requirements, they would step out of the case entirely. After I had satisfied all their demands, I chose to continue counsel with the private therapist, who affirmed by letter that my sessions with him were purely elective.

In the next hearing in which I strove to hold CPS to our agreement, my voluntary decision to remain in therapy became CPS’s excuse for a complete breach of their commitment to leaving the case, claiming I had not completed therapy. With the approval of the judge, and in violation of the agreement on public record, CPS’s oppressive involvement continued, including supervised – indeed, policed — visits with my daughter.

Having done everything the court and CPS had asked of me, only to see every agreement broken, being progressively removed further from my daughter, being told I could not even reminisce with her about our lives together, I concluded the only way to even attempt to get justice was to file a civil rights action in federal court. In December, 2012, I filed a federal lawsuit against CPS, naming my daughter as a co-plaintiff, and charging the agency with violations of my and Anya’s civil rights.

A few weeks afterwards, in retaliation, CPS charged me again in court with child neglect, while being supervised, ending my visits with Anya. They suddenly claimed the conversations I had with my 9 year-old daughter about the federal case against them, and our lives together caused her severe emotional distress.

I argued against this charge in yet another Family Court hearing, invoking my constitutional guarantees to free speech and association with my daughter. The judge found that the allegations were sufficient to allow a full-blown neglect proceeding. He disdainfully dismissed all my invoked constitutional privileges, and accepted CPS’s unsupported allegation of emotional neglect.

This new neglect action resulted in an additional two more months of reduced visitation than was originally scheduled. However two weeks before the neglect trial was to convene, in July of 2013, CPS dropped all charges against me. Apparently, they recognized they had no case, but achieved keeping me away from my daughter for as long as they could.


My custody case, initiated back on Valentine’s Day of 2011, promptly re-ensued upon new petitions filed in April and July 2013.

At that point I actually came through it all legally unscathed, having met, appealed and reversed all charges CPS had levied against me; in the interim Suzanne had been psychologically assessed as having borderline (BPD) tendencies.

But, paradoxically, now that I was not charged or ever found in maltreatment, neglect or abuse, and all restraining orders were lifted with CPS out of our lives, my visits with Anya actually went down to zero.

This occurred because until now, CPS had administered visits between us, ensuring their bare policy minimum of visitation. Now that authority defaulted back to Suzanne, and she made sure that no visitation at all would occur. Whatever harsh administrative role CPS had played in diminishing our visits, at least there had been visits.

Although I brought this inequity to the court’s attention, and asked for relief, the judge refused to provide any visitation order, stating that he had no evidence to support an order of visitation, and he would in the meantime continue to credit Suzanne’s unproven allegations against me.

Compounding this affirmative inaction, the court scheduled the custody trial’s 6 days of hearings so as to be peppered over a period of 7 months, in direct violation of New York Family law statutes that mandate any custody trial must be completed within 90 days.

As of this writing, the court’s conduct of the trial has ensured the mother’s continued de facto sole custody and estrangement of my daughter from me.

I have been told by my attorney, that these judges had very little incentive to provide visitation where even unfounded allegations were in place.

Denying visitation causes them no risk of legal criticism or sanction, but no judge wants their name to show up in the papers in the rare instance where the allegations may be true. So they all take the pathologically safe path, and ignore any of the pain, and human rights, that such decisions cause the alienated parent and his child.

Source: A Voice for Men

Brockville Rally

November 9, 2012 permalink

A rally for accountability took place yesterday in Brockville. Here are four brief video clips: [1] [2] [3] [4] (mp4). The last is A Socialworker's Poem by Ian Josephs.

Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook

The Brockville Recorder covered the story, but did not include the report on its website. Here is a transcription by Chris Carter.



PROTEST: Group demands that ombudsman be able to investigate CAS

Picket targets children's aid

A group calling for the right for the Ombudsman of Ontario to investigate children's aid societies picketed in front of the Brockville's courthouse on Thursday.

The group passed around a petition to draw Member of Provincial Parliament Steve Clark's attention to what they describe as a "flawed and corrupt" system.

"With the click of a button, the provincial government will tell you how many pounds of soya beans were grown in Leeds-Grenville last year," said Chris Carter, a Canada Court Watch worker who organized the picket. "They will not tell you how many children were made Crown Wards without access to their families last year."

While children's aid services in Ontario aren't currently investigated by the ombudsman, Family and Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville executive director Allan Hogan said that his organization responds to a number of governing bodies.

Hogan said that Family and Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville is susceptible to service and financial audits by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and is also subject to financial reviews by the auditor-general.

There is also a complaints procedure that is embedded in the legislation, a child and family services review board that hears complaints from families who receive service from children's aid societies, the office of the provincial advocate for children and youth, and a family court system, Hogan said.

There are a number of oversight or accountability mechanisms that are put in place for children's aid societies," Hogan said.

But Carter said that having children's aid societies across the province fall under the ombudsman's jurisdiction would make the system more accountable.

Currently, no Freedom of Information and Privacy Act requests can be filed to a children's aid society.

"What are they hiding?" Carter asked.

Hogan confirmed that no such requests can be filed.

"It doesn't have jurisdiction over the information in a children's aid society, and the reason for that is because we have a lot of confidential information that we need to be able to respect."

Carter was joined by a protester from Kingston who had been a crown ward as a child. Amber Lagroix, now 24, said that she was "apprehended" from her home at age 11 and separated from her brother for more than 10 years after he was adopted and she remained in foster care.

I think of being a foster child as being a second class citizen," Lagroix said, alleging that she was emotionally abused in foster care and later struggled with a drug dependency.

"I blame them for a lot of things that have happened to me. I led a life that I don't feel would have happened, had they kept supporting me and done their job."

Hogan said that foster parents are chosen using an intensive provincial screening process that includes criminal record checks, references, a review of social history, and mandatory training.

"The system is set provincially for the approval and training of foster parents," he said.

The agencies may do more with them, but they have to fit at least that minimum standard."

Source: Facebook, Chris Carter (MS-Word)

Hoskins Quits

November 9, 2012 permalink

Eric Hoskins, Ontario's minister of Children and Youth Services, has resigned so he can run for leadership of the Liberal Party of Ontario. No replacement minister has been named. His competition for the leadership includes Sandra Pupatello, former minister of Community and Social Services.



Liberal MPP Eric Hoskins quits cabinet to launch leadership bid

TORONTO - Children and Youth Services Minister Eric Hoskins has cleared a major hurdle in a run for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Dr. Hoskins has resigned from Dalton McGuinty's cabinet — a required step in a leadership bid.

The MPP for the Toronto riding of St. Paul's will officially announce his intentions early next week.

"Together, I am confident that we can move our party forward with strong, compassionate leadership rooted in principled politics," Hoskins says in a statement.

Kathleen Wynne, Glen Murray and Sandra Pupatello have already entered the race, and Charles Sousa is expected to launch his official leadership campaign Saturday.

As it stands now, the race to replace McGuinty as party leader and premier would consist of four Toronto-area candidates and one Windsor candidate.

Hoskin, a family doctor, was first elected to provincial office in 2009.

He has been officially recognized for his humanitarian work and with his wife, Dr. Samantha Nutt, founded the international charity War Child Canada.

Ontario Liberals will pick their new leader at a January convention in Toronto.

Source: Brockville Recorder

CPS is Evil

November 9, 2012 permalink

When thirteen-year-old Areiel Brown was diagnosed with a brain tumor, doctors suggested chemo-therapy. But when her father Eric Brown read the consent forms they asked him to sign he found she was being used for medical research and refused to turn his daughter into a guinea pig. Texas CPS intervened to take over Areiel's treatment, but after months of struggle dad has convinced a judge to order CPS out of her life. Her assessment: CPS is evil.



Parents of gravely-ill child battle CPS


Like most teen girls, Areiel Brown loves to show off her prized possessions.

As Areiel proudly showed us her homecoming queen crown and a soccer trophy, there was an unmistakable sadness in her eyes. At 13, she has been through more medical procedures than most of us will endure in a lifetime.

Whether it is really how she feels or just echoing her parents' opinion, she wants Child Protective Services to butt out.

"I want CPS to get out of my life," she said.

She wants her parents to decide what medical treatments are best for her.

"Cuz they love me and CPS is evil," she said.

Doctors at two world-renowned Houston hospitals would dispute that. They went toe to toe with Aeriel's outspoken dad. Eric Brown said he had no regrets.

"Not one because I'm doing the right thing," Eric said.

Aeriel's saga began early in 2012. For some reason, she could not seem to stay awake, not even during volleyball practice.

"Couldn't keep her eyes open at all," Eric said. "I'm like, Aeriel, wake up, wake up, and she couldn't open her eyes and I'm like, this is more than sleepiness."

A trip to the emergency room revealed a mass in the little girl's head. Surgery was performed to relieve fluid from her brain. Three emergency surgeries were performed on Aeriel in as many days.

"We need to sign another anesthesia thing. Ok, this could kill her, this could kill her. You got to sign this," Eric said.

Then the most distressing news of all came.

"I was so hysterical and so upset," Areiel's mom, Angie, said.

Doctors diagnosed Aeriel with a rare form of brain cancer. They said chemotherapy needed to begin as soon as possible.

"They kept saying chemotherapy. We need to start right away or she would die," Angie said. "We had to make a decision. We had to make a decision that day."

The Browns said they were asked to sign a medical document regarding a research study. That caused Eric to question what doctors were telling him.

"I did not bring my daughter in for research," Eric said. "I refused to sign the paper. The doctor gets upset, saying what's wrong with you? Most parents just sign the paper. I said well, I'm not most parents."

Eric was about to show doctors how not like most parents he really was.

The Browns said all their questions prompted hospital officials to call CPS. CPS accused the couple of medical neglect in court.

"You ask too many questions, everybody look at ya like you're a trouble maker," Eric said. "You're asking questions. It's what I'm suppose to do. It's my daughter. I need to know what's going on."

In the months that followed, Aeriel's brother, Mike, began filming the ordeal for a documentary, his little sister's fight for her life and his dad's battle with CPS.

"Parents make right and wrong decisions all the time," Judge Eric Andell said. "The question is: is a wrong decision life threatening?"

Andell had to answer that question when the CPS case against Eric ended up in his court. Eric said he had to represent himself because of financial reasons.

"The doctor said without chemotherapy, this child would die in all likelihood. That was his testimony," Andell said.

He said the Browns offered no evidence or testimony to the contrary. Eric said doctors advised him to the contrary but were unwilling to testify in court.

"I made a decision. I thought we should go ahead with chemotherapy," Andell said. "Thankfully, the child is cancer free."

But that didn't happen without five rounds of chemo, and when Aeriel became cancer free depends on who you ask. The little girl lost her hair, but her dad said she also lost her short-term memory while suffering even more medical maladies.

"She's on tons of medication," Eric said. "I've got stacks of all medicines she's been on. Just read the side-effects."

Eric has medical documents he interprets as saying Aeriel's cancer was never malignant but when the judge told him to bring in a medical expert to testify to that, Brown couldn't produce one.

Even though the state said she is cancer free, CPS wants the judge to order five weeks of radiation for Aeriel. Doctors say that procedure is needed to ensure the cancer does not return.

"Why do we need to do radiation? Why take her through that? She don't have a tumor in her head," Eric said. "They want me to take her and stick her in a microwave for five days a week for five weeks straight."

"The doctor could not testify that it was immediate and life threatening," Andell said.

This time, the judge ruled in Eric's favor, giving back the parents' right to make medical decisions for Aeriel and ordering CPS out of their lives.

"I made the decision. I did not find there was an ongoing threat of harm and danger," Andell said. "I may be wrong, but I found there wasn't."

Of course, Eric's final victory in court means no five weeks of radiation for Aeriel. Now, even those who opposed the stubborn but loving dad are praying his decision is the right one.

Source: KRIV Fox 26

Powerful As God

November 8, 2012 permalink

Yesterday there was a showing of Esther Buckareff's film Powerful As God to a packed house at the Hamilton Film Festival. Pat Niagara made a video of the discussion after the showing. Esther and Michael Clarke took questions from the audience. Watch on YouTube or a local copy (mp4). An earlier story covered last years opening.

Children's Rights for Ireland

November 7, 2012 permalink

A press release on an Irish referendum explains succinctly how warm-sounding phrases such as children's rights or best interest of the child amount to elbowing parents out of the lives of their own children.



Ireland Poised to Surrender Parental Rights

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Irish voters will take up a referendum this Saturday to decide whether or not to surrender their parental rights to the government. The referendum would insert a "child rights" amendment into the Irish constitution and open families up to forced adoptions and the use of the "best interests of the child" standard in "all proceedings."

By eliminating the current presumption that parents act in the best interest of the child, the amendment would empower the government through its social welfare agencies to summon families to answer to secret courts if it were "likely" that a child's safety or welfare "could" be compromised.

International legal scholar Geraldine Van Bueren of the University of London says that the "[b]est interests [standard] provides decisions and policy makers with the authority to substitute their own decisions for either the child's or the parents', providing it is based on considerations of the best interests of the child."

The amendment also provides authority to the government to seize children and adopt them out "where the best interest of the child so require," while requiring no showing of parental unfitness. An informational pamphlet published by the Irish government credits the amendment to "the Constitutional Review Group which proposed change to reflect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), [a treaty] ratified by Ireland in 1992."

"This would be a grave tragedy for families in Ireland, and certainly something we do not want to see happen in the United States," says Michael Donnelly, adjunct professor of constitutional law at Patrick Henry College, speaking for "This amendment would completely take away the common sense safeguard and presumption that parents act in their child's best interests unless proven otherwise. Two former Irish supreme court justices have stated that this amendment is not necessary because Irish law and the constitution already allow state intervention in cases of abuse or neglect."

Despite the serious nature of the change, opponents have thus far been unable to get the attention of the Irish media. The measure is backed by every political party and many vocal non-profit groups in the country, and is the subject of a major information campaign by the government.

Source: Christian News Wire

Addendum: The referendum passed. An article in opposition is enclosed, it has embedded links to the Irish press.



Irish Vote to Give State Nearly Unbridled Power to Seize Children

The Irish approved an amendment to their national constitution on Saturday that will bring it into compliance with mandates of the United Nations that govern the state’s seizure of children. The margin was 57 percent to 43 percent.

The Alliance of Parents against the State campaigned against passage of the referendum on the measure, which APS says will diminish the rights of parents and give the Irish government nearly unbridled power to seize children. Even worse, APS charges, Irish law will come under the control of the United Nations. The APS and other opponents will likely challenge the result.

The amendment’s key words that pertain to the power the state are “best interests” — meaning the “best interests” of the child. Supposedly the state must always keep the “best interests” of a child uppermost in its decision to seize him. Problem is, APS says, the state determines what those “best interests” are.

The Law

Before the referendum passed, the law governing the Irish government’s power to seize children rested in Article 5 of the country’s Constitution, known in the Irish as the Bunreacht na hÉireann:

In exceptional cases, where the parents for physical or moral reasons fail in their duty towards their children, the State as guardian of the common good, by appropriate means shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.

That straightforward and simple codicil will be replaced by this 31st amendment to the constitution:

  1. The State recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far as practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.
    1. In exceptional cases, where the parents, regardless of their marital status, fail in their duty towards their children to such an extent that the safety or welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected, the State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.
    2. Provision shall be made by law for the adoption of any child where the parents have failed for such a period of time as may be prescribed by law in their duty towards the child and where the best interests of the child so require.
  2. Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child.
    1. Provision shall be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings —
      1. brought by the State, as guardian of the common good, for the purpose of preventing the safety and welfare of any child from being prejudicially affected, or
      2. concerning the adoption, guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
    2. Provision shall be made by law for securing, as far as practicable, that in all proceedings referred to in subsection 1° of this section in respect of any child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the views of the child shall be ascertained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child.

Critics such as APS believe that language too closely mirrors that of the UN Convention on the Right of the Child, which contains such nebulous language as this:

States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child’s place of residence.

In neither case does the language determine the ultimate arbiter of the child’s “best interests.” But as a practical matter, APS notes, that arbiter is the state. And that’s their problem with it.

Unnecessary And Dangerous

Kathy Sinnott, a Chicago-born former member of the European Parliament from Ireland, said the referendum is a naked power grab by the Irish state.

“The government thinks that people are ready to buy their propaganda that changing the Constitution is about protecting children,” she told LifeSiteNews. “Of course this is nonsense, because our Constitution already very strongly protects children.”

Sinnott said that all the referendum does is to strip parents of their God-given responsibilities over their children and to hand them over to the State.

“Not only does the State take over parental authority, but all a parent has to do is ‘likely to fail’ in their responsibilities, as defined by the State, for the State to take control of the children.”

“Everything, of course, is for the ‘best interest of the child’, which according to the UN treaty, is decided by the State.”

Sinnott explained that the amendment would, for all intents and purposes, endow the state with “prior rights” over children, which trespasses the natural law and the natural family.

“The reason why the family should have prior rights over children is because of the family bond, which is nature’s strategy for protecting children. This is the mother-child bond, the father-child bond, the mother-father bond, and the brother-sister bond,” she told LifeSiteNews.

“This bond is the source of what is really in the ‘best interest’ of the child. The State can never have this bond. By injecting themselves as controlling shareholder of every family in this country, the State is reversing this natural order.”

Sinnott said that with the wording of the Constitutional amendment being released just a few weeks ago, there has been no time for parents to mobilize effective resistance.

“It has been a YES campaign from the beginning,” she said. “Everyone believes that in voting YES, they are protecting children, but they are really giving up their rights over their children.”

Among the powers the state would have, APS noted in its list of 10 reasons to vote against the referendum, are these:

Your child can be placed for adoption against your will.

  • “The State can decide ... to vaccinate every child in Ireland, and the parent, and even the child have no say in the matter.”
  • “The State can decide to give give Birth Control to children of any age, even if they are below the Age of Consent.”
  • “The State can bring children to other countries for abortions without parental consent and even if the child disagrees.”
  • “The UN and the EU can make any laws for children without consent of the Irish Government if it wishes.”

On November 8, the Supreme Court of Ireland ordered the government to dismantle a website that promoted the referendum. That illegal effort will be the basis of the challenge opponents will mount to overturn the result.

Catholic Bishops Backed the State

Supporting the change were the nation’s Catholic bishops. Noting “the legacy of failure by individuals, organisations, the Church and the State to adequately protect children in Ireland,” the bishops said, “we share the concern of others to ensure that the proposed amendment on children does not undermine the rights of parents and the presumptive place of the family, based on marriage between a woman and a man, as the unit in which the welfare and rights of children are best exercised and safeguarded. We share some of the concerns that have been raised by others about the potential out-working of future legislation and practice in this area.”

But the bishops weren’t that concerned. They backed the proposed amendment.

However, when read in conjunction with the unaltered constitutional provisions on the family and education, the wording of the Thirty-First Amendment on Children suggests that a reasonable and balanced approach to framing the proposed new article on children’s rights has been taken....

While the possibility of unintended consequences is always present in the context of Constitutional change, it is clear that the wording of the proposed amendment on children is not intended to undermine the current Constitutional balance between the rights of parents and children, or between parents and the State. If unforeseen or unintended consequences do emerge in time, the remedy of further Constitutional amendment or amending legislation is available to mitigate the consequences of any such developments.

The bishops’ support for the amendment is unsurprising. The Catholic Church in Ireland has suffered enormous damage to its prestige because of a nationwide sex scandal similar to that which occurred in the United States: Pervert priests were moved from parish to parish.

Secret Courts

APS’ website tells a tale of what could already happen to a parent even without this constitutional amendment. It describes the case of Mary, whose child was seized, whereupon the mother was forced to defend herself in a secret hearing. “During the hearing,” APS claims, “she was not entitled to know what evidence was being brought up against her, so she had no opportunity to defend herself.”

A social worker lied and twisted facts. Mary told the court of a conference where a social worker, a recent college graduate with no children or life experience, threatened her that she would report her to the [police] for child abuse if she did not co-operate. The social worker testified that the meeting never even took place.

She was gagged twice by the system. She was informed that if she talked to anyone that she would be jailed. She was gagged again by the social workers that if she talked to ANYBODY, that they would cut her visits to her child.

According to APS, all the evidence against Mary was hearsay and the “subjective opinion of ONE person, who lied and exaggerated everything.” But then Mary was exonerated as suddenly as she was accused: They had grabbed the wrong child from the wrong parent, APS claims.

Even worse, she could not report the matter to police because of the gag orders imposed by the judge.

The APS website alleges that judges are in cahoots with the state on child seizures and afraid to buck the system. It says judges “are guilty of protecting their own reputations,” and when a “child dies in State Care, nobody is ever responsible....” The website continues:

The average person in Ireland doesn’t even realise that if a person is accused of child abuse or neglect in a Criminal Court, even if they are vindicated, they will still be punished in a family court. They will be guilty without having committed any crime and punished by having their children removed. Let us not forget, that the children are punished also.

Source: The New American

Family Trojan Horse

Starving Boy

November 7, 2012 permalink

Parents Mona Alane Hauer and her husband Russell Jerome Hauer are accused of starving one of their three adopted children. The eight-year-old boy weighed 35 pounds and once was hungry enough to eat from compost.

This could be a case of a monster family intentionally starving their adoptive son. The article does not say whether the adoption was subsidized. Maybe they let the boy starve while continuing to collect the payments. But the allegation of eating disorder, and the boy's habit of runinating his food, sound like a repeat of the Jackson family in New Jersey. The state with one or more children suffering from rumination, an eating disorder expensive to treat, simply dumps the children onto an adoptive family, ridding itself of its problem children at the cost of only a modest subsidy. The adopters get no instruction on how to deal with an eating disorder of this severity. When a scandal breaks out, the hapless adopters become the scapegoats.



Update: Parents charged with six felonies in abuse and neglect of 8 year old

NORTH MANKATO — The 8-year-old boy was so hungry, he said, he ate from the compost bin. His parents put an alarm on his door so he couldn’t sneak out at night to eat food. His siblings said he was driven to eat a sandwich made from bird feed.

Nicollet County’s child abuse case against the boy’s adoptive parents, Russell and Mona Hauer of rural North Mankato, has some corroborating evidence to back up the stories.

A year ago, he was picked up by a sheriff’s deputy after the boy was seen walking along Highway 169.

The boy told the deputy he was hungry and walking to Kwik Trip to get a hamburger. The nearest Kwik Trip is nearly three miles away.

At one point, the boy weighed just 35 pounds.

The Hauers were charged Friday with six felonies alleging neglect and abuse.

The couple, both age 44, also has two other adopted children, 7- and 5-year-old siblings of the 8-year-old boy, and one biological child. All four children have been removed from the home.

According to the criminal complaint, Mona Hauer brought the boy to the hospital Oct. 9 because he had a red stain on his shirt. The boy sometimes threw up his food, she said, and she thought he may have regurgitated blood.

It turned out not to be blood — it was a stain from a popsicle he had found in the garage — but the boy was examined and transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester. His bones were protruding, his belly was swollen and he was later found to have brain atrophy.

He weighed 34.8 pounds and was 3-foot-5. He was in the bottom 3 percent of those measures for children his age, though the chart doesn’t go below 3 percent, said Marc Chadderdon, an investigator with the Nicollet County Sheriff’s Department.

The boy wasn’t always so thin; measurements around the time of his adoption five years ago showed him as about average.

A human services employee first saw the boy on Oct. 11 at the Rochester hospital. When the employee asked the boy if he was “ready to get out of this place,” according to the complaint, the boy looked at him and quickly shook his head.

Chadderdon said the boy has been gaining weight since he’s been in the hospital, where he remained as of Friday.

Despite the brain injury, he said the boy is “a bright, bright kid to talk to.”

Chadderdon called this case the most disturbing in 20 years of law enforcement.

Parents cite disorder

The Hauers live about two miles north of North Mankato in a home with two trampolines and a playground in a spacious backyard. Russell Hauer answered the door Monday afternoon but declined comment.

In an Oct. 23 interview with Chadderdon at their home, Mona Hauer said the boy was on an all-liquid diet to help treat his eating disorder. The boy would occasionally “ruminate” by throwing up partly digested food and swallowing it again.

Though the boy was physically healthy at the time of the adoption, he apparently had other problems. A doctor who reviewed him about five years ago said he had “very serious trauma-based symptoms that will require intensive and extended psychotherapy.”

The parents didn’t follow through with her recommendations.

The boy told doctors he ruminated because he wanted the taste of food and did not know when he would eat again.

The parents’ explanation does not hold water with Chadderdon.

He said people only ruminate when they don’t have enough to eat, or their body can’t process the food they do eat. But a medical explanation for the boy’s malnourishment has been ruled out.

The parents were simply not giving him enough food, Chadderdon said.

A sheltered family

The family practices what they call “holistic medicine,” according to the criminal complaint. They only see a medical doctor for the most serious conditions.

Their only physician is Mankato chiropractor David Otto. He said he talked with Mona Hauer about putting the boy on the liquid dietary supplement, called an “ultrameal,” according to the criminal complaint. The liquid, he hoped, would be digested before the boy had a chance to ruminate it.

The chiropractor later told Chadderdon that he did not intend for the supplement to be the boy’s only food.

He last saw the boy in December 2011.

Chadderdon said it should have been clear to both parents and Otto that their solution was not working, that the boy was malnourished. Neither had a good explanation for why the boy wasn’t taken to a physician in recent months, he said.

Chadderdon said Otto is facing no legal sanctions. When Otto asked him what he ought to do, though, Chadderdon said he suggested legal representation.

The family also home schools all of the children.

The Hauers are also licensed as a foster family in Nicollet County. Their license was active as of Nov. 1.

The Free Press was not able to determine how many other foster children the family had.

More abuse alleged

According to the criminal complaint, the parents enlisted the boy’s siblings to keep him from getting food.

His siblings blamed the boy for the family’s trouble, according to the complaint. They said he is “naughty and steals items.”

The investigator asked what other things he stole, but the siblings said it was only food.

The other children also said they knew their brother was hungry, but they were not going to feed him. One child said she would be in trouble if she gave the boy food.

“All of the kids described being responsible for ensuring (the boy) did not take food.”

The parents themselves had been sleeping outside his door for at least six months. They ultimately moved his room to the basement and put an alarm on the door.

There was physical abuse alleged, as well.

Because he wet the bed, the boy was made to sleep in a plastic container, which leaked and was replaced by a sled with a board under it.

The parents, who have been charged but not arrested, also hit the children with a long board and a broom handle, according to the complaint.

Chadderdon said the investigation isn’t over.

Source: Free Press, Mankato

Same-Sex Marriage Approved

November 7, 2012 permalink

In yesterday's American election, voters in Maine and Maryland and apparently Washington approved same-sex marriage while voters in Minnesota failed to approve a constitutional amendment to thwart future legislative efforts to allow same-sex marriage.



Gay Marriage Gets First Ballot Wins

Americans for the first time approved gay marriage at the ballot box on Tuesday, pointing to changing attitudes on the divisive issue.

In Maine and Maryland, voters approved ballot initiatives to begin allowing same-sex unions. Those wins mark a first for a cause that had previously been rejected by voters in more than 30 states, including as recently as 2009 in Maine.

And in Minnesota, where gay marriage is already not allowed, voters declined to back an initiative that would enshrine in the state's constitution a definition of marriage permitting only a union between a man and woman.

In Washington state, where voters also weighed an initiative to legalize gay marriage, the vote count was expected to stretch on for days. With half of the vote counted as of 3 a.m. Eastern time, nearly 52% supported the idea.

In Maine, campaigners for same-sex marriage said the win marked a turning point for their cause. "We made history here tonight and showed that voters can change their minds," said Matt McTighe, the campaign director of Mainers United for Marriage. "That will serve as something of a signal to other states who have lost marriage fights before at ballot boxes. You can change those minds."

In Maine, with 73% of the votes counted at 3 a.m. Eastern, more than 53% of the voters supported the gay-marriage initiative, the first time gay-rights groups have brought the issue to the ballot on their own terms. Although the Associated Press called the vote, opponents of the Maine measure didn't immediately concede, saying they were waiting on results from outlying areas of the state.

In Maryland, with 98% of the votes counted, nearly 52% supported gay marriage. "We're sure to feel the ripples of this monumental victory across the country for years to come," said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

And in Minnesota, 51% of the votes were against a gay-marriage ban in the state's constitution as of 3 a.m. Eastern. Supporters of the amendment said it was needed to prevent courts or legislatures from changing state law in the future. In May, a similar amendment passed in North Carolina with 61% voter support.

The strategy that worked in Minnesota involved "sparking authentic conversations, and making sure you start early" said Richard Carlbom, the campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, which opposed the amendment.

Opponents of same-sex marriage said winning at the ballot box in strongly Democratic states like Maine doesn't prove a shift in national opinion on the issue. "Winning on your own turf is not a turning point," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "The only thing this says is that in deep blue states, gay-marriage advocates can win—barely."

In Washington, the result of a close race may not be known until the end of the week. The state has a mail-in voting system, with ballots expected to arrive over the next few days, so likely only 60% of the vote would be counted by Tuesday night, according to the Washington Secretary of State's office.

Six states plus the District of Columbia already had allowed gay marriage, but in those cases the unions were sanctioned by lawmakers or by courts, not popular votes. Maine's ballot initiative, called Question 1, stands out as the first time proponents have brought the issue to a popular vote on their own. Voters in Maryland and Washington decided whether to overturn gay-marriage laws passed by their state legislatures.

Gay-rights groups say they were emboldened to take their cause back to the ballot box by research showing American attitudes reached a turning point. A national poll by The Wall Street Journal/NBC News in March found 49% favored gay marriage, and 40% opposed it. In 2009, in the same poll found only 41% supported gay marriage, and 49% opposed it.

The wins at the ballot box, along with those in courts and legislatures, show "irrefutable momentum in favor of the freedom to marry," said Evan Wolfson, founder of national gay-rights group Freedom to Marry. "We are going to continue winning over more hearts and minds, forging the majority we have already built and continuing to win more states."

In campaigns, opponents have emphasized the benefits of traditional definitions of marriage for families and the impact of same-sex marriage on religious liberties in states that have already passed it.

In Maryland, the ballot language of the so-called Civil Marriage Protection Act anticipated some of the arguments raised by opponents of gay marriage, saying the law as passed by the legislature "protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs."

Exit polls indicated that race wasn't a deciding factor on the issue in Maryland. While some black churches publicly opposed gay marriage, exit polls found black voters were split on the issue, according to the Associated Press. White Marylanders were slightly more likely to vote in favor of gay marriage.

The Maryland initiative's largest base of support came among voters under the age of 29, the Associated Press reported.

A version of this article appeared November 7, 2012, on page A17 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Gay Marriage Gets First Ballot Wins.

Source: Wall Street Journal

At least America ended its obsession with Bronco Bama vs Mitt Romney (mp4).

Addendum: Walter Olson (mp3) analyzes the outcome. He finds an unexpected trend that prosperous Republican suburbs voting for Romney also supported same-sex marriage. In the inner cities voting for Obama, there was stronger opposition to same-sex marriage. Looked at in terms of Republican vs Democrat, it is hard to explain. Mr Olson does not mention that the child protection and adoption system moves children from the poor to the rich. In these terms it is easy to explain the pattern. Voters losing children oppose same-sex marriage (and adoption), those receiving children support it.

Baby Kissing, oops Snatching

November 7, 2012 permalink

Social services in Gaston County North Carolina took a baby from prospective adopters, the Smiths, and returned him to his foster parents. According to the journalist, county commissioners wanted to quiet the unrest among foster parents to help their reelection prospects. Politicians used to kiss babies to get elected. Now they snatch them.



Baby Bounced Between Foster & Adoptive Families

CONCORD, N.C. - Clothes, toiletries, a high chair, even a crib: reminders of the son they had for five weeks, still all around the Smith's Concord home. "We had to pack him up and get him ready and tell him bye in a couple hours," says Chrissy Smith. She and her husband got the then 22-month-old from Gaston County in August. In October, the baby was abruptly returned to the foster family. The adoption process takes 90 days to finalize, so the Smith's had no legal rights to the baby.

"It felt like a death. It felt like our lives had been torn apart," says Smith.

The couple wanted answers. Gaston County's Department of Social Services called a meeting. "As soon as we walked into the room, the lawyer sits right down and says 'Well, you have to sign this confidentiality agreement, we'll tell you everything you need to know and you'll never discuss this again,'" says Smith.

She and her husband refused - and they secretly recorded the meeting. The Smiths say Keith Moon, the Director of DSS, single-handedly made the decision to return the baby to foster care; a decision never before made in the history of the department.

FOX News @ Ten Anchor Morgan Fogarty asked Smith, "So Keith Moon, the director of DSS, never met you, never came to your home, never met the child until the day this all went down?" Smith says, "No. And he still never met me or my husband until this past Monday at our DSS meeting."

The Smith's say Moon was under pressure from county commissioners who are up for re-election. The Smith's say commissioners are afraid to lose votes. The Gaston County-based foster family wanted the baby back and rallied other foster parents.

"They (the commissioners and DSS) needed this issue in their county to go away," says Smith.

Now, surrounded by baby stuff but no baby, Smith says, "It's time to do something."

Gaston County DSS tells FOX Charlotte they have no comment except that all info related to juveniles is confidential. Our attempts to contact the foster family were unsuccessful. Meantime, the Smith's have filed a complaint with the governor and the NAACP. They've also talked to an attorney.

Source: WCCB Fox Charlotte

Politician with baby

Batshaw - History of Problems

November 7, 2012 permalink

Batshaw logo

Research dating back to 1996 shows that problems at Batshaw Youth and Family Centres are nothing new. Back then, they were locking up teenagers in a small room with no windows.



Panel to probe locked doors at rehabilitation centre

The Quebec Human Rights Commission has begun its investigation of allegations that a locked facility at the Shawbridge campus of Batshaw Youth and Family Service Centres violates the rights "of the children housed there.

Commission spokesman Monique Rochon confirmed that the investigation had begun this week but was unable to say how long the inquiry will last

"We are going to the site. We will examine the installation and try to determine if the allegations are true," she said, adding that if the allegations were true, the commission had "the power to take all measures to make sure the situation is corrected."

The inquiry was called after the commission received reports that the Shawbridge Centre was more a jail for teenagers than it was a rehabilitation centre.

The allegations against the centre were leveled by Robert Hatton, a Montrealer who visited the centre last September during an international forum for child welfare.

Hatton was particularly disturbed by an isolation cell referred to as "the chapel," a 4-by-8-foot room with no windows.

Batshaw officials have said they have been asking the provincial government for years for new facilities,

Rochon said the commission's powers of inquiry includes the right to provide an institution under investigation with recommendations on how to correct a violation of human rights, and provincial law provided it with the power to go before the courts to enforce compliance should those recommendations be ignored.

Source: Concordia University microfilm library

In 2007 Batshaw youth worker Evon Smith got a year in jail for soliciting oral sex from two female wards.



Ex-youth worker gets a year in jail

Former Batshaw youth worker Evon Smith said he's had several years of reflection since being charged with urging two girls under his care to perform oral sex on him, and it's allowed him to be the best man he can be.

Former Batshaw youth worker Evon Smith said he's had several years of reflection since being charged with urging two girls under his care to perform oral sex on him, and it's allowed him to be the best man he can be.

And given the opportunity, he could be a better person for the community and his church, he said yesterday.

But the judge decided the 32-year-old's self-improvement program will kick off in jail, and sentenced Smith to a year in prison.

The girls Smith exploited were 13 and 15 at the time and had been placed in Batshaw's care "for their protection, and they were vulnerable," Quebec Court Judge Gilles Cadieux said. "He abused his authority and trust to manipulate them." Smith, who worked for Batshaw Youth and Family Centres for four years, first communicated with the girls by cellphone and sexually explicit email. He told the court he had no idea of the sexual connotation of his email address, majorlove69@ - a story the judge didn't buy.

In June 2004, Smith accompanied the two girls on a walk, where he touched one girl's breasts and received oral sex from both, letting on that they were playing a game. He warned them not to speak to anyone about their secret.

He was found guilty in December of one count of sexual exploitation, one of sexual interference and one of invitation to sexual touching.

Yesterday, Cadieux noted that throughout his trial, Smith always denied his actions, and showed no remorse, regret or empathy.

He said the sentence should serve as deterrence to others in a position of authority, but at the same time, takes into consideration that Smith has no prior convictions, has community support from his wife and church and has respected his bail conditions.

After serving his sentence, Smith will be on probation for three years, during which time he can't contact his victims or their families, or be in the presence of anyone under 18 not accompanied by their guardian.

For eight years after, he is not to go to parks, daycares or public pools, nor can he accept any volunteer or paid work that would put him in a position of authority over anyone under 18. He also must give a DNA sample, and his name will be placed on the national sex offender registry.

Source:, Montreal Gazette

In April 2008 Batshaw foster parent Clifford Zimmer was charged with sexual abuse of three children in his care.



Foster parent charged

It's the kind of news that makes the head of a child protection agency cringe.

It's the kind of news that makes the head of a child protection agency cringe.

A foster parent hired by the agency is accused of abusing the very children he was entrusted to protect.

Clifford Zimmer, a foster parent with Batshaw Youth and Family Services since 1997, faces charges in St. Jérôme of sexually abusing three of five children in his care, as well as a relative. He was arrested in August 2006, after the foster children reported the alleged abuse to Batshaw.

Zimmer and his wife, who has not been charged, ran their foster home in Brownsburg-Chatham, near Lachute.

Batshaw executive director Michael Udy said the five foster children in the home were placed elsewhere as soon as the agency received complaints.

Zimmer, 47, faces 16 charges, two of which are sexual assault and sexual touching of a boy in his care. The boy is now 14 and has returned to live with his biological parents. The crimes against the boy are alleged to have occurred between 1999 and 2006.

Zimmer also faces four charges each of sexual assault and sexual touching of two girls in his care, who are now 14 and 15. These are alleged to have occurred between 2001 and 2005.

The remaining six charges include two charges each of indecent assault, having sexual intercourse with a female under 14 and sexual assault involved a relative of Zimmer. Those crimes are alleged to have occurred between 1976 and 1986 on a victim who is now 35.

Zimmer's next court date is May 22 for the continuation of his preliminary hearing in St. Jérôme.

Udy said such allegations against foster parents at Batshaw are rare.

"When a foster parent does that, it's a complete betrayal of trust," he said. "And it puts our efforts to provide protection completely in question, plus it's very harmful to the victims."

Between 2003 and 2008, three adults and one biological child of foster parents were charged with sexual abuse in four separate situations, including the Zimmer case. Udy said he doesn't know how many were convicted.

During the same five-year period, 1,600 children were in foster care either full-time or part-time, Udy said. And 650 families were caring for those children.

Abuse in residential care, or group homes, was also rare in the five-year period, Udy said.

Evon Smith, who worked for Batshaw in a group home for four years, was convicted last year of one count of sexual exploitation, one of sexual interference and one of invitation to sexual touching for abuses of teenage girls that took place in 2004.

He was jailed for one year.

While Batshaw screens employees and potential foster parents as best they can, Udy said, they also assign each foster child to a case worker who must visit the home at least once a month.

A support worker, who provides help to the foster parent, must visit at least once every two months.

Perfect vigilance is just not possible, Udy said.

"Nonetheless, if we're going to carry out our obligations, we have to constantly be trying to figure out how to detect things. It's a never-ending challenge."

Source:, Montreal Gazette

Also in April 2008 a report shows that Batshaw is a hybrid prison/foster home.



Batshaw youth centre will move into town

After 100 years in the Laurentians, Batshaw Youth and Family Centres confirmed yesterday it plans to close down its Prévost Campus and move the correctional institute into town.

After 100 years in the Laurentians, Batshaw Youth and Family Centres confirmed yesterday it plans to close down its Prévost Campus and move the correctional institute into town.

Dorval and Beaconsfield will be the two new in-town locations for residential programs serving anglophone youth under Batshaw’s care, said Michael Udy, the agency’s executive director.

Udy said the $30-million project calls for the construction of a brand new residential facility in Beaconsfield and the expansion of an existing but small Batshaw facility in Dorval.

The Prévost facility, which has been operating as a home for boys since 1901, will be taken over by the Centre Jeunesse des Laurentides.

With three-quarters of Batshaw’s anglophone clients coming from the western half of the island of Montreal, Udy said, the idea is to centralize the agency’s residential services in the two West Island locations.

Right now, he said, the majority of of the agency’s anglophone youth are in the residential program in Prévost, formerly known as the Shawbridge Reform School.

The others, he said, are scattered in Batshaw facilities or Centre Jeunesse buildings throughout the Montreal region.

“They are far from the communities and families from which they come,” he said, adding: “It forces us to supply a terrific amount of transportation.”

In the old days, the distance worked because the idea was to take so-called bad boys up north in order to separate them from negative forces in the city.

Today, however, Udy said, the youth in Batshaw’s care are less likely to be guilty of any crime and more likely to be in youth protection as a result of behavioural problems stemming from abuse and neglect.

Once the new facilities are built, he said, it will be much easier for Batshaw youth to stay in contact with supportive family members, doctors, mental health professionals and others in their home communities.

In Dorval, work is set to take place over the next 12 to 24 months.

The expansion will add two new 12-person residential units to the existing three units in the Batshaw building on the corner of Dawson and Dorval Aves.

In Beaconsfield, the new facility will be located on Elm Ave. and will replace an old Batshaw building now on loan to Portage, the drug addiction program.

The new building will incorporate recreational facilities, classrooms and nine residential units for 108 youths. However, construction in Beaconsfield won’t start for at least four years, said Udy.

Since 2001, Udy said, Batshaw has been searching for one site on which to build one new facility – but to no avail.

Citizen opposition and municipal building regulatations scuttled plans to build a new Batshaw facility for anglophone youth on the grounds of the Douglas Hospital in Verdun.

To head off opposition, Udy said, Batshaw officials have been in contact with municipal officials in Beaconsfield and Dorval.

Yesterday, Beaconsfield Mayor Bob Benedetti was unavailable to comment on those meetings.

Greg Stienstra, a member of the Beaconsfield Citizens Association, said his group was unaware of Batshaw’s plan and eager to learn more about it.

Source: (Montreal Gazette)

An undated item about a subsidiary facility, Shawbridge Youth Centres.




Shawbridge lockup for juveniles under fire

Facilities violate UN accord: critic

Quebec Health and Social Services Minister Jean Rochon yesterday ordered the province's main anglophone youth centre to reply to charges that its locked facility at Shawbridge campus is inhumane and violates the rights of the children housed there.

Michael Udy, executive-director of Batshaw Youth and Family Centres, said Rochon's demand came in the wake of extensive media coverage of a complaint to the Quebec Human Rights Commission that the Shawbridge centre was less a rehabilitation centre for children than a maximum-security prison more suited to adults.

The man who laid the complaint, Notre Dame de Grace resident Robert W Hatton, 58, is a semi-retired insurance consultant. He visited the Shawbridge facility last month with a group of other people attending the International Forum for Child Welfare.

Hatton, who said he had no expertise in the field of child welfare, was shocked by conditions at Shawbridge, he said yesterday, in particular by the presence of an "isolation cell."

"It is a dark, windowless, cold room that measures four feet by eight feet," Hatton said. "A room like that clearly contravenes the United Nations rules for the protection of juveniles deprived of their liberty"

Under the UN provisions, Hatton said, a juvenile cannot be placed in a dark cell or be confined to a closed or solitary cell.

A bit naive

By that standard, Hatton said, all the rooms in Shawbridge's closed-custody unit, which is called the Chapel, would be in violation of the UN convention.

Even people who are in favor of the public attention Hatton has brought to conditions in youth centres think he is a bit naive, though.

"Mr. Hatton is right when he talks about what a dismal, dark building the Chapel is," said Shirley Miller, head of the user committee at Batshaw. "Any 14-year-old would be intimidated by it no matter how hard they try to pretend otherwise."

Unlike Hatton, however, Miller is not scandalized by the presence of barbed wire around the walls.

"Having had a son who ran away at every opportunity, I can tell you that some parents are more concerned about where their kids are than they are about whether there's barbed wire on top of the walls." Miller's son, now 21, was in and out of Shawbridge between the age of 13 and 18, she said.

Source: photocopy of Montreal Gazette article

Visit Over

November 5, 2012 permalink

The picture below shows two children watching their mother depart at the end of a supervised visit.

Children watching mother leave visit

Source: Facebook, Mea Jones

Source: Facebook Trevor Doerling

Best Interest of the Virus

November 5, 2012 permalink

Candie Villneff Gotta love when CAS workers come to your house with the flu and only tell you after 3/4 of your visit is over... Now I have the flu! :(

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

The Gang that Can't Compute Straight

November 5, 2012 permalink

British Columbia recently introduced the Integrated Case Management (ICM) computer system for its social services system. When social workers first turned it on they saw the spash screen for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The system went downhill from there as workers discovered many circumstances in which they were unable to locate vital records. Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux denies that the problems endanger children, hiding behind the universal excuse of confidentiality. The new ICM cost the taxpayers $182 million.



Glitchy $182 million computer system adds to B.C. social workers’ headaches

One day in September, social workers across B.C. turned on their computers and were surprised to see an unusual message.

It was a welcome to the home page of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — just the latest bug in a problem-plagued new ­computer system that cost taxpayers $182 million. And counting.

The message was a leftover glitch from a system originally designed by Siebel Systems for other jurisdictions — including the U.S. government — and modified for use in B.C.

“It was an erroneous label,” explains Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux. “The coding hadn’t been changed. The system is safe and secure for use here.”

But the Homeland Security surprise is among the least worries of social workers struggling with the new system that has made their tough jobs even tougher.

iThe Integrated Case Management system was introduced in April. It was supposed to streamline management of computer files across ministries that care for poor children, disabled people and troubled families racked by addiction, mental illness and violence.

For many social workers I talked to, it hasn’t worked out that way.

“It freezes. It crashes. Data disappears or is extremely difficult to locate. It’s ­incredibly cumbersome and hard to use,” a child-­protection worker tells me.

“The biggest fear we all have is a crucial piece of information will be lost or overlooked — and a child will die as a result.”

“The anxiety around this is incredible,” said Doug Kinna, a B.C. Government and Service Employees Union official who has spent months tracking the system’s problems.

Kinna has many frightening stories of “near misses” to tell — where social workers weren’t able to find crucial information in the ICM system, while a vulnerable child needed help.

His stories include a social worker who ­misses a computer alert about a sexual predator in a troubled home. Another social ­worker can’t locate a “supervision order” barring a new mother from taking her newborn baby home from hospital.

But Kinna says he can’t provide identifying details about the cases for privacy reasons. And the government says they can’t find any evidence the incidents even took place.

“I have never heard of these concerns,” Cadieux said. “It’s not something we’ve been able to confirm.”

But it’s not just a he-said-she-said between the union and the government.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s ­respected watchdog for children, said her office has been “inundated” with calls and emails from desperate child-protection workers about ICM.

Turpel-Lafond has some stories of her own to tell, including a case where after-hours social workers could not locate an address requested by police on an emergency domestic call.

“The family was at risk while social ­workers were frantically trying to identify the ­family and obtain the address,” Turpel-Lafond’s office said in a news release.

“The ICM system did not meet the work requirements of the after-hours staff.”

But, again, the government said it can’t confirm the story and has not found any evidence that children were in danger.

“In these cases, no children were found to have been at risk because of the ICM system,” Cadieux’s office said in a statement.

At the same time, the government admits it does have a computer problem.

“There are always challenges when implementing complex new systems and procedures,” Cadieux’s office said.

“The extent of the issues has been more significant than expected, primarily in the child-protection components of the system. As a result of these concerns, the ministry has initiated an action plan.”

The plan includes hiring 150 additional staff (exempted from the government’s recent hiring freeze) to give social workers additional training on how to use the computer system. The ministry also “revamped” the ICM training manual.

And they removed another leftover ­“erroneous label” from the Homeland Security software — an e-form that included a field entitled “Co-Conspirator.”

“The Homeland Security element makes you wonder if the system is secure,” says NDP ­critic Claire Trevena.

“There is no privacy or security threat and no connection between ICM and Homeland Security databases,” the government ­counters.

And then there’s the money. The effort to fix the system has cost taxpayers an additional $12 million, boosting the bill to $194 million.

It comes after other new government computer systems have crashed and burned. Just last year, the education ministry said it will scrap an $89-million student information system — known as BCeSIS — after complaints it didn’t work properly.

Cadieux insists the government is sticking with ICM — “things will improve,” she promised — though Kinna said the government should cut its losses before there’s a tragedy.

“It doesn’t work, it’s causing havoc and it’s putting children at risk,” he said. “They should scrap it and start over.”

But with so much money already poured into the ICM system, the government says starting over simply isn’t an option.

Source: The Province

Homeland Security
Child Protection
Alert Level

Kids Tooken

November 5, 2012 permalink

After three-year-old Amari Welburn died in an accidental fire, social workers compounded the family tragedy by taking four more children. To get parents Marasia Vanness and Derek Welburn to sign the children over, social workers used both deception (it was for 72 hours) and coercion (otherwise they will be gone for three months). It is now a common pattern that when a child dies of accidental or natural causes child protectors scoop up the rest of the family's children.



Parents speak about Albany fire siblings in foster care

Welburn fire

On the day they buried their 3-year-old daughter killed in a fire, an Albany couple is blasting county social services for placing their other four kids in foster care.

The family, their lawyer and community leaders held a press conference Friday afternoon, calling for this family to be reunited.

Marasia Vanness and Derek Welburn say losing one child to fire was bad enough, but losing four to foster care is more than they can bear, and they feel they were deceived into allowing Albany County to remove their kids from their care – signing a paper allowing the kids to be placed in foster care for 72 hours that they claim if it was not signed, would have put the kids in the system for three months.

Still dressed in black from their 3-year-old daughter Amari's funeral, Marasia Vanness and Derek Welburn met with the media to, as their lawyer said, get off their chests the feelings they have been holding in since the deadly October 17th fire in their Benson Street home.

“I feel like my kids were tooken (sic) for no reason,” said mother Marasia Vanness. “I was violated a time of me grieving my daughter who I just lost, who I saved out of the apartment.”

Father Derek Welburn said, “I feel like the kids were tooken (sic) without any just cause. We would really appreciate the return of the children back.”

Vanness describing the consequences before and after the fire - saying that she and her kids were napping when one woke her up screaming fire, and saying that she had turned the stove on to heat the apartment because the actual heat had been out for four days, despite calls to the landlord to fix it.

“I had to leave my burners on so I could warm my house,” said Vanness.

The family contends that the county removed the kids from their grandmother’s home after the fire because of concerns they were using that stove for heat as well, even though they say it was really being used for actual cooking.

FOX23’s Walt McClure asked the family’s lawyer if they were concerned that having this press conference might do more harm than good.

“There could be some unintended consequences,” said Bernard Bryan. “Unfortunately, these folks had to get it off their chests, and frankly, they couldn’t contain themselves.”

NAACP Regional Director Anne Pope was also at the press conference, saying the organization fully supports this family, and saying that situations like this, children being removed from their parents and put in foster care, happen far too often.

Pope was at the funeral, and says anyone who saw the love between the children and their parents that she saw there would not have removed the children.

Albany County says in cases like this, it works for the Department of Children, Youth and Families to keep families together and does what is in the best interest of the kids.

Spokesperson Mary Rozak told FOX23 News, “When there are instances where the welfare of the children is in question, we do go to court. In this case, the judge agreed it was in the best interest of the children that they be placed in foster care.”

There is another hearing in the case set for November 9.

Source: WXXA Fox 23 Albany

Money Beats Law

November 3, 2012 permalink

British social workers have defied the law of Britain, as established in the earlier case of Ollis and Black, and obtained the cooperation of the Spanish police and British courts to force the seizure of a baby born in Spain. The mother has understandably made herself invisible to the authorities. This case is an example showing that mere laws are inadequate to restrain social workers. As long as there is a monetary incentive, they will find a way to get police and courts to allow them to seize childen.



Judge approves seizing a baby born abroad, against EU law

In a disturbing extension of social workers' powers, a child born in Spain has been deported to the UK

Seizure of a baby born in Spain by British social workers was approved by a Spanish judge
Babies that have never lived in Britain have been seized and brought here - contrary to EU law
Photo: ALAMY

There has been a very disturbing development in the case of a Welsh couple who fled to Spain in March to prevent social workers seizing their baby, which was born a month later. For months, the child lived happily with her mother, who set about building a new life, taking out a long lease on a flat and starting a business.

She took heart from the story of Marie Black, who fled to France with her partner last year to avoid their expected child being snatched. Although Norfolk social workers were authorised by one judge to bring the child back to Britain, another judge then ruled that, under an EU law known as “Brussels II”, this was illegal, because the child was never “habitually resident” anywhere but France. He ordered that the baby be returned to its parents.

For the mother in Spain there was to be no such happy ending. In September, the social workers enlisted the aid of the Spanish police in deporting her baby to Britain – as was retrospectively approved by a British judge, despite her QC arguing that this was illegal under Brussels II. The judge rejected the argument, and refused the mother leave to appeal. The QC drafted a case for leave to appeal, arguing that bringing the child to Britain was illegal under both EU law and Spanish law, since the child should not have been removed from Spanish jurisdiction without permission from a Spanish judge.

A question now arose, however, as to whether the Legal Services Commission would fund a further hearing. Ian Josephs, who runs the Forced Adoption website, contacted the mother’s solicitors offering to underwrite any funds required, but did not receive an acknowledgement – any more than I did last week when I asked the solicitors whether the case was proceeding. (They were quick to send my email on to the council, however, which contacted me because it was desperate not to be identified.)

The distraught mother has now totally disappeared so that even her partner and her own mother do not know what has happened to her. John Hemming, the only MP who campaigns on such issues, describes this case as “truly appalling. It appears to give the social workers licence to go anywhere abroad to seize children who have never lived here, in clear breach of the law as it was still being upheld by the High Court as recently as last May.”

Source: Telegraph (UK)

money outweighs love in the law

Native Parentectomy

November 3, 2012 permalink

A video posted to Facebook by Trina Francois (local copy mp4) shows a native mother arguing with child protectors seizing her children. There is no information on date, place or names, but comments suggest the incident occurred recently near Winnipeg.

Addendum: APTN has a story on this abudction.



Winnipeg police reviewing gripping video of confrontation with Cree woman and child services

EDITOR’S NOTE: APTN National News has edited this video posted to our Facebook site on November 2. The new version removes the names of the children to protect their identity and has been posted to APTN’s Facebook and at All other aspects of the video remain intact. APTN National News will continue to follow this story.

WINNIPEG–The Winnipeg police is reviewing an online video that captured the raw emotion of a Cree woman after child care workers arrived at her home to seize her children.

The video uploaded onto APTN National News Facebook page shows the woman, who can’t be named because child services is involved, twice being confronted by Winnipeg police officers while recording them.

The video has been shared over 2,000 times on Facebook and has nearly 4,000 hits on YouTube.

The woman told APTN National News that police handcuffed her and put her briefly into a police cruiser before releasing her without charges.

A spokesperson for the Winnipeg police said the “matter was being reviewed.” The spokesperson said the woman can contact the police’s Law Enforcement Review Agency “if she feels police members acted improperly.”

The nearly four minute long video begins in her home with an officer at the door. They say they are there for her children.

“This has gone on too long with these people taking our children because of … their ignorance. It’s pretty ignorant that I have to be treated like this,” the mother says.

She then gets a telephone call and says the police are there to take the children but says to the caller the children aren’t home.

The police then ask for the children by name and that they are there to “apprehend” them.

Police said they explained to the woman what’s going on.

Two more officers appear and one seen clearly on the video approaches the woman and appears to reach for the camera and asks her to move to the side and tells her to stay calm.

There appears to be a bit of a struggle as he tries to move the woman for unknown reasons.

“Don’t fight,” the officer says.

“I’m not fighting I’m going next door,” the woman yells. “I’m going next door. I’m not fighting.”

“Enough. Enough,” the unidentified officer says.

“No,” she says.

“Enough,” the officer replies.

“Let go of me,” she screams.

“She hasn’t done anything. Let her go,” another woman says.

The woman then walks over to an SUV parked next to the police cruisers and asks a child services worker in the driver seat repeatedly why police are doing this.

“You know I take care of my children. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. What’s your problem?” the woman asks. “What is it? What is it?

“You can explain it to the judge,” the child care worker replies.

“You can explain to all First Nations that you are stealing children,” the woman says.

Then the woman is approached by a male officer who isn’t seen. A struggle ensues.

The officer tells her to put her hands on the car and the demands she put them behind her back while the woman screams she didn’t do anything.

“Please don’t do this to me,” she says and the video ends.

The woman, who says she is a traditional healer, told APTN National News the moment police put their hands on her she felt and understood the pain of residential school survivors who had come to her for healing.

“I felt it in my heart all in one shot,” she said. “I felt it personally….I never thought this would still be happening.”

Source: Aboriginal Peoples Television Network

A YouTube video has the picture upright (local copy mp4).

There is a Facebook group Reunite Trina Francois With Her Children.

No Homeschooling

November 3, 2012 permalink

The Wunderlich family fled Germany to practice homeschooling, but returned to Germany after two years of inability to earn a living abroad. Now Germany has transferred their parental rights to the Jugendamt.



Judge: Homeschooling “Damages” Kids

Parents Lose Custody of Children for Sake of “Integration”

Dirk Wunderlich and his children

Petra Wunderlich

Above: Dirk Wunderlich and his four children. Left: Mrs. Wunderlich poses with her youngest.

Arguing that homeschooling damages children and is an abuse of parental authority, a German district court in Darmstadt transferred the custody rights of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich’s four children to the Jugendamt, Germany’s child protective agency.

Judge Markus Malkmus followed the case law of the two high court cases on the subject of homeschooling, Konrad and Paul Plett. The district court ruled that the general public has an interest in counteracting the development of parallel societies and that religious or ethnic minorities must be “integrated” through schools. The judge also stated that the academic competency of the children was irrelevant because it is the state’s responsibility to insure that children are socialized in state-approved public or private schools.

The Wunderlichs returned to Germany after years of seeking a home in almost half a dozen other European countries. HSLDA wrote about the family when they were snatched by French social workers in 2009 over homeschooling. The children were returned shortly after.

Wunderlich explained: “When she returned our children, the French judge told us: ‘You can homeschool here, that is your good right.’ ”

Dirk Wunderlich, a gardener, has sent scores of job applications looking for work. He has moved his family to several European countries including France, Norway and Hungary in search of a place to live and work peacefully and to homeschool. However, after no success in finding work outside Germany, the family was forced to return to their home in Hessen, Germany.

“We lived abroad for years and found acceptance in a number of other countries. The French were especially nice and tolerant of our homeschooling,” Wunderlich said. “But there just wasn’t any work to be had, so after moving to Norway and even Hungary, we have come back to Germany. We hoped we could homeschool without being found out. But neighbors turned us in after just a few months. I requested to meet with the school to get them to permit us to homeschool but they rejected our request for a meeting.”

Legal Persecution

Hessen is where Juergen and Rosemary Dudek have struggled with the courts for years, most recently losing a trial court decision. The Dudeks are waiting to hear from Germany’s constitutional court on another case that could decide whether Hessen’s laws that criminally convict homeschoolers are too vague. Although the threat of a custody action hangs over the Dudeks, who have met with their local Jugendamt office, to this point in their case custody rights have not been an official issue. Dudek hosts a blog for freedom of education , Der Blaue Brief, and has written about the Wunderlich family.

For the Wunderlichs, however, the news that their custody rights had been transferred was devastating. Because of the court’s transfer of custody to the government the Wunderlichs are effectively imprisoned in Germany since they cannot take their children out of the country without permission.

“We don’t have passports, and even if we did, we could not leave,” Dirk says. “Our children are now under the control of the state. We can’t leave without the state’s permission.”

A letter from the Jugendamt after the judgment informed the family that immediate removal of the children would not occur. However, Dirk Wunderlich believes that this will be the inevitable result:

“I received a letter from the Jugendamt in which they told me that they do not wish to enforce court’s decision by doing terrible things such as taking the children away from us. But they told me that the children must go to school. We are very saddened by the way our country treats us. Our nerves are black and short, and we are very tired by the pressure. I don’t understand my own country. What are we doing wrong? We are just doing what should be allowed to anyone.”


Wunderlich contacted HSLDA Director for International Relations Michael Donnelly about the situation.

“This points out the need for a legislative solution in Germany for homeschooling,” Donnelly said. Germany’s highest courts have made it virtually impossible for people to legally homeschool. “Homeschooling is a legitimate form of education—Germany’s oppression of people who do it violates their obligation to protect their citizen’s most basic human rights.”

Donnelly said that Germany’s laws deter thousands of its citizens from home education:

“There are thousands of German families who would homeschool if they could without risking the custody of their children. Hundreds do today but face the constant threat of persecution. It is unacceptable that a country like Germany would treat parents like this. State legislators in Germany need to act in the face of this crisis. Germany has a leadership role in the world, and its behavior in this area does not measure up to its otherwise fine reputation. In the area of educational freedom Germany is grossly derelict and oppressive.”

Wunderlich is looking for international support and help.

“I am just one person, and I cannot fight against the power of the state even though I must for my children’s sake,” he said. “We need help from others. I have asked HSLDA to inform the UN special rapporteur on education. We have no choice but to fight, because we feel it is our duty to homeschool our children.

Hope for Global Change

A global conference on freedom for home educators will be held in November. Donnelly along with other organizers of the conference hope it may help.

“Berlin is at the center of Europe and the center of oppression against home educating families,” said Donnelly. “We hope that Germany policy makers will join others from around the world to examine the issue and hear the presentations from noted academics and human rights attorneys. Policy makers are welcomed at the conference and receive a free registration.”

Source: HSLDA

Addendum: The four children were seized in a raid on August 29, 2013.




Children Seized in Shocking Raid

Wunderlich family with Michael Farris
HSLDA Founder and Chairman Mike Farris meets with the Wunderlich family during the Global Home Education Conference held in Berlin, Germany in October 2012. Farris is asking homeschoolers to contact German officials on behalf of the Wunderlichs.

At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 29, 2013, in what has been called a “brutal and vicious act,” a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, forcibly removing all four of the family’s children (ages 7-14). The sole grounds for removal were that the parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were taken to unknown locations. Officials ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing their children “anytime soon.”

HSLDA obtained and translated the court documents that authorized this use of force to seize the children. The only legal grounds for removal were the family’s continuation of homeschooling their children. The papers contain no other allegations of abuse or neglect. Moreover, Germany has not even alleged educational neglect for failing to provide an adequate education. The law ignores the educational progress of the child; attendance—and not learning—is the object of the German law.

Judge Koenig, a Darmstadt family court judge, signed the order on August 28 authorizing the immediate seizure of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich’s children. Citing the parents’ failure to cooperate “with the authorities to send the children to school,” the judge also authorized the use of force “against the children” if necessary, reasoning that such force might be required because the children had “adopted the parents’ opinions” regarding homeschooling and that “no cooperation could be expected” from either the parents or the children.

State Custody

In October 2012, state youth officials had been granted formal legal custody of the Wunderlich children by a German court based solely on the fact that the family was homeschooling. German lawyer Andreas Vogt sought appellate relief on behalf of the Wunderlichs and was able to forestall immediate removal of the children. But, yesterday, as the family quietly began their homeschool day, a ringing at the door signaled the interruption that turned their lives upside down.

Dirk Wunderlich described the frightening turn of events.

“I looked through a window and saw many people, police, and special agents, all armed. They told me they wanted to come in to speak with me. I tried to ask questions, but within seconds, three police officers brought a battering ram and were about to break the door in, so I opened it,” he told HSLDA.

“The police shoved me into a chair and wouldn’t let me even make a phone call at first,” he said. “It was chaotic as they told me they had an order to take the children. At my slightest movement the agents would grab me, as if I were a terrorist. You would never expect anything like this to happen in our calm, peaceful village. It was like a scene out of a science fiction movie. Our neighbors and children have been traumatized by this invasion.”

Looking for a Home

Over the past four years, HSLDA has reported on the Wunderlichs’ saga as they have moved from country to country in the European Union looking for a place to call home where they could freely homeschool their children. Although they found refuge from homeschool persecution, Mr. Wunderlich was unable to find work, and last year the family had to return to Germany.

The family resettled near Darmstadt, just 25 miles south of Frankfurt, with some trepidation. It is mandatory that all residents of Germany register with their local municipal authorities. Within days of the family registering their presence in the town, authorities initiated a criminal truancy case, and just months later the “Youth Welfare Office” was granted legal custody of the children. However, the court left the children in the residence with the parents since they were being well treated and otherwise cared for by their parents (see also: “Come Peacefully Now or by Force Later”).

Authorities even took the children’s passports, making it impossible for the family to escape—a violation of a number of human rights guaranteed to them by the European Convention of Human Rights, said HSLDA Chairman and Founder Michael Farris.

“The right to homeschool is a human right,” said Farris. “So is the right to freely move and to leave a country. Germany has grossly violated these rights of this family. This latest act of seizing these four beautiful, innocent children is an outrageous act of a rogue nation.”

The right of parents to decide how children are educated is a human right of the highest order, said Farris.

“The United States Constitution is not alone in upholding the right of parents to decide how to educate their children. Germany is a party to numerous human rights treaties that recognize the right of parents to provide an education distinct from the public schools that so that children may be educated according to the parents’ religious convictions. Germany has simply not met its obligations under these treaties or as a liberal democracy,” Farris said. “HSLDA and I will do whatever we can to help this family regain custody of their children and ensure that they are safe from this persecution. This case demonstrates conclusively why the Romeike asylum case is so important. Families in Germany need a safe place where they can educate their children in peace.”


Following the raid, Dirk Wunderlich told HSLDA Director for International Affairs Mike Donnelly that he and his wife were devastated.

“These are broken people,” Donnelly said. “They said they felt like they were being ground into dust. They were shaken to their core and shocked by the event. But they also told me that they had followed their conscience and the dictates of their faith. Although they don’t have much faith in the German state—they have a lot of faith in God. They are an inspiring and courageous family.”

“I’ve been fighting for German homeschool freedom for years,” he continued, “and I had hoped that things were changing in Germany since it has been some time since brutality of this magnitude has occurred. But I was wrong.”

“Mike Farris and I spent time with the Wunderlichs at the first global homeschool conference in Berlin in November 2012,” Donnelly went on to say. “They are a delightful family with precious children. They are really just regular people who are doing what millions of people here in the United States do every day.”

“How Long?”

“My question to the political leadership of Germany is: How long will you permit these kinds of brutal acts to be perpetrated against German families?” said Donnelly. “Why is it so important to you to force people into your state schools? The echo of this act rings from a darker time in German history. When will leaders stand up and make changes so that brutality to children like the Wunderlichs no longer happens because of homeschooling? Isn’t there any German statesman willing to stand up for what is right anywhere in Germany?”

Wunderlich said that his 14-year-old daughter Machsejah had to be forcibly taken out of the home.

“When I went outside, our neighbor was crying as she watched. I turned around to see my daughter being escorted as if she were a criminal by two big policemen. They weren’t being nice at all. When my wife tried to give my daughter a kiss and a hug goodbye, one of the special agents roughly elbowed her out of the way and said—‘It’s too late for that.’ What kind of government acts like this?”

After the children were taken away, the family was “invited” to a meeting with the senior social authority in charge at the scene, Mr. Behnis. The Wunderlichs agreed to the meeting and were joined by their attorney, Andreas Vogt, who came as soon as he was notified, traveling hours by train.

When the parents asked when they could seek a hearing to contest the seizure of their children, they were told they would have to wait until the regular judge returned from vacation. Vogt told HSLDA that the authorities had displayed little sympathy. Vogt has become a key lawyer in the German homeschool movement, representing many active cases. He has taken some to the German Supreme Court with no success to date.

Petra Wunderlich said her heart was shattered.

“We are empty. We need help. We are fighting, but we need help,” she said.

You can support our fight for the Wunderlich family by donating to the Homeschool Freedom Fund.

Source: HSLDA

Addendum: A month later the children are back with their parents, but only after they agreed to send the children to a German school. Prosecutors want the parents in another homeschooling family jailed.



Prosecutor wants jail for homeschooling parents

Adviser says national policy targets families with persecution

Dirk and Petra Wunderlich with Andreas Vogt, Roger Kiska and Mike Donnelly
Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, center, meet with several attorneys who convened in Germany to discuss how to persuade the government to return the couple's children. From left: family attorney Andreas Vogt, Roger Kiska of Alliance Defending Freedom and Mike Donnelly of HSLDA.

Just as a German family has been reunited after the children were seized in a SWAT-style police raid because they were homeschooled, a prosecutor in another case is demanding six-month jail terms for parents who want to educate their children.

WND reported Aug. 30 that four children of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, ages 7-14, forcibly were taken by a team of about 20 armed law enforcement officers from their home just as their homeschool classes were beginning.

The shocking raid was made solely because the parents were providing their children’s education, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association, the world’s premiere advocate for homeschooling.

The organization noted the paperwork that authorized police officers and social workers to use force on the children contained no claims of mistreatment.

HSLDA officials confirmed Thursday to WND that the children were reunited with their parents after the family, given “no choice,” agreed to send the children to a government-approved education program

“We are glad the children are home where they belong,” HSDLA Director of International Relations Michael Donnelly told WND. “They should never have been taken. We will continue to support the family until complete custody is restored and they are permitted to homeschool in peace – either in Germany or elsewhere.”

But he said Germany’s alarming treatment of homeschoolers has surfaced in another case.

“We are gravely concerned about the case of Thomas and Marit Schaum, a family who face criminal charges over homeschooling. The prosecutor is demanding the parents each go to jail for six months,” he said.

“Germany’s national policy of persecuting homeschooling families must stop and we plan to continue the fight for freedom and for the rights of thousands of others in Germany and around the world to homeschool their children.”

HSLDA said the Schaums live just a few hours north of the Wunderlichs, in Hulsa, Hessen.

The Schaums “are homeschooling parents of nine children and have homeschooled for many years in spite of persistent pressure from authorities. They have been engaged in court proceedings for some time and are now being threatened by Prosecutor Joachim Schnitzer Ling with unprecedented six-month long jail terms.”

Previously, the longest jail terms handed down to homeschoolers in Germany were the three-months sentences for Juergen and Rosemary Dudek.

Their jail sentences, however, were overturned and replaced with a fine, although their criminal convictions remain on the record.

“The Schaums have successfully resisted the demands of the state and retained custody of their children,” HSLDA said. “Four have graduated and are all successful in various fields of work and study. According to those close to the family, the social workers involved with the Schaum family have not taken drastic steps, like those in the Wunderlich case, but have instead allowed the school authorities to seek redress through the courts.

HSLDA said the Schaums were convicted and fined, but their attorney Andreas Vogt is appealing. Vogt represents about a dozen homeschooling families in Germany.

The Wunderlich children were restored to their parents after the family agreed to have the children submit to government teachings. A hearing was scheduled on Thursday, and a rally in support of the family was planned.

Dirk Wunderlich told HSLDA the family was allowed a visit beforehand.

“We were very happy to see them, and they us. Our children have been fairly treated. While we do not agree that we should be forced to send our children to school, we have been unfairly treated and our children traumatized. We feel we have no choice but to agree to the local authority’s wishes and plan to comply and will work with them as we send our children to school. What is most important to us is to have our children back home.”

His wife, Petra, said, “We are greatly encouraged by the emails and support of our fellow homeschoolers around the world.”

Donnelly said he sees a sliver of hope in the developing situations.

“I see progress in our strategy to draw attention to this issue. We would much prefer that the authorities did not pursue such cruel measures like taking the Wunderlich children and wanting to send the Schaums to jail for six months. But these outrageous behaviors draw attention to the need for real reform in Germany. Mainstream German media is finally beginning to take notice. My hope is that as the media reports on what is being done to these really good families, politicians and the general public will change their attitudes and figure out a way to allow parents to have this option,” he said.

The Wunderlich case drew a dozen lawyers from all over Europe to a meeting in Frankfurt to discuss ways to raise awareness, including Roger Kiska of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which also has been integral in a number of homeschooling cases.

“The right of parents to homeschool should be respected and ADF is committed to working along with HSLDA and others to protect this important freedom from being marginalized,” he said. “We have a variety of international tribunals we can look to besides the European Court of Human Rights which has been very antagonistic to homeschoolers and parental rights in general.

“The act of these local authorities to take the Wunderlich children is unconscionable and those responsible must be held to account,” he said.

Donnelly said there is “no doubt that we are getting the attention of the German government.”

“One HSLDA member told us that a special number has been set up by the embassy for calls about the Wunderlichs,” he said. “Another person reported that staff members at consulates have been inundated with calls about the situation. We are hopeful that this public pressure will result in policy changes.”

WND reported that after the raid, hundreds of comments critical of the government’s move were posted on a variety of websites, including the Facebook page for the German embassy in Washington.

A Facebook page called “Free the Wunderlich Kids now” also was created.

HSLDA said that when a nation has voluntarily signed up to obey international human rights obligations, the international community has the right to call such a nation to account for violating human rights standards.

The organization’s statement continued: “This is especially true when the offending nation is Germany. Modern human rights law was created in response to Nazi Germany. And when Germany today uses a law from that era to persecute families who do not want to send their children to the public schools to be indoctrinated by the government, it is the right and duty of every nation on earth to say: Germany keep your promises. Stop abusing the human rights of your citizens.”

The statement said “It is settled beyond dispute that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the unanimous vote of the UN General Assembly arose, ‘out of the desire to respond forcefully to the evils perpetrated by [National Socialists in] Germany.’ The UDHR’s view regarding parents and children is no exception to this rule. Article 26(3) of the UDHR proclaims: ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.’ Numerous human rights instruments have been drafted in reaction to ‘the intrusion of the fascist state into the family’ with its goal of seeking ‘to alienate children from their parents for the purpose of political indoctrination.”

Germany’s homeschooling ban dates to the Hitler era, but the current German government has endorsed it fully. In 2003, the German Supreme Court handed down the Konrad decision in which “religiously or philosophically motivated” homeschooling was banned.

Four years later, the German Federal Parliament changed a key provision of German child protection law, making it easier for children to be taken away from their parents for supposed “educational neglect.” In that same year, the case of Katerina Plett, a homeschooling mother who moved with her children to Austria while her husband maintained the family residence in Germany, made its way to the highest criminal court in Germany.

That ruling said “the general public has an interest in thwarting the development of religiously or motivated parallel societies” and “integrating minorities in that regard.”

The court, stunningly, said homeschooling was a form of “child endangerment,” so authorities were justified in using force to take children.

Michael Farris, HSLDA founder, said although the case is in Germany, others should be concerned.

“I want the American homeschool community and other friends of liberty to take note – this mindset isn’t limited to Germany. Many U.S. policymakers and academics agree. … They are even working to see them realized here. So far, thankfully, homeschooling isn’t a legitimate reason (anymore) for the government to kidnap your children if they don’t go to state approved schools,” Farris said.

Donnelly said there are “already too many voices in the United States that want to advance the idea that the state must control education for the safety of the state or other reasons.”

“And this is the same rationale of the German government in perpetrating deplorable acts like this,” he said. “Why should we think it couldn’t or won’t happen here?”

Donnelly asked further: “Can’t a government that can order you to get health care tell you that you don’t qualify for certain life-saving treatments, tell parents they can’t allow their children to get certain kinds of counseling or that they must have a particular kind of medical treatments or that certain religious speech is intolerant and may not be permitted or must be punished, or that only national curricular standards are acceptable for all children, etc. – can’t a government like that order you to send your children to school? And then punish you if you don’t?”

Another German family, the Romeikes, sought and obtained asylum in the United States because of German persecution over their homeschool, but the Obama administration appealed and obtained an order from a higher court that the family must return to Germany. It’s now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Obama administration has argued in court parents essentially have no right to determine how and what their children are taught, leaving the authority with the government.

See a report on the Romeikes:

It was in 1937 when Adolf Hitler said: “The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”

Source: World Net Daily

No Catholic Adoptions

November 3, 2012 permalink

England is following the USA in expelling Christian charities from adoption, on grounds that they will not place children with same-sex couples.



Catholic Care loses gay adoption fight

Catholic Care
Catholic Care said the closure of its service would lead to more children waiting for adoptive parents

A Roman Catholic adoption agency has been told it cannot turn away gay couples if it wants to keep its charitable status.

Catholic Care, run by the Diocese of Leeds, wanted its adoption service to be made exempt from equality laws.

A judge has ruled the charity had failed to give convincing reasons why it should be allowed to do so.

Catholic Care said it would consider its position but could have to end the service as it would lose funding.

The charity - which has been placing children with adoptive parents for more than 100 years - was among 12 Catholic agencies in England and Wales forced to change their policy towards homosexual people due to equality laws passed in 2007.

Others have since closed or cut their ties with the Church.

Appeals rejected

Catholic Care had tried to change its constitution so that it would be committed to following Catholic teaching and placing children only with heterosexual parents.

The agency, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam in South Yorkshire, had argued the Equality Act went against the Catholic Church's teachings on marriage and family life.

The latest ruling by a judge in the Upper Tribunal, which is the equivalent of the High Court in the administrative justice system, follows rejections of the charity's case in the High Court and by the Charity Commission and the Charity Tribunal.

In its judgement, the tribunal said Catholic Care had not provided sufficient evidence that its funding would dry up and it would be forced to close, and some potential adopters would then not come forward.

In a statement, Catholic Care said: "Without the constitutional restriction for which it applied, Catholic Care will be forced to close its adoption service.

"The reason for this is that the service permitted by the current constitution is in conflict with the aims of the charity.

"It is Catholic Care's view that this will reduce the number of adoptive parents available and the number of children left waiting for adoptive parents will continue to increase.

"Catholic Care will now take time to consider the decision in detail and decide on its next steps."

Source: BBC

Samantha Martin Report Released

November 2, 2012 permalink

The full report on the death of Samantha Martin has been released by the province of Alberta. A news article is enclosed, links to the report and comments by fixcas are added to an earlier story.



More questions than answers in fatality inquiry report

A St. Albert family has more questions than answers after the findings of a fatality inquiry into their daughter’s death were released to the public Friday.

Samantha Martin died on Dec. 3, 2006, at the age of 13, coping with a rare genetic disorder called Tetrasomy 18p all her life. But the inquiry could not definitively determine whether seizures caused by that disorder, the care Samantha received in a foster home, or another factor was the ultimate cause of her death.

John and Velvet Martin
John and Velvet Martin hold a photo of their daughter Samantha outside the Law Courts Building in Edmonton in January 2011. A report on an inquiry into Samantha’s death released Friday failed to determine a cause of death.
AMBER BRACKEN, Sun Media News Services

“I find that the manner of death was natural, and that the cause of death may well have been a seizure, but due to the absence of evidence, it is not possible to say that this was the probable cause of death,” wrote Judge Marilena Carminati in the fatality inquiry report.

The report also cites the testimony of former Alberta chief medical examiner Dr. Graeme Dowling, who told the inquiry that, in reviewing Samantha’s autopsy report, he did not have enough information to say precisely what happened, although he did say one possibility might be a seizure. The only other possibility Dowling gave any weight to was that impacted fecal material in Samantha’s bowel may have “rubbed away just the inner lining of the bowel, allowing bacteria to seep into the bloodstream, even though there was no perforation, leading to sepsis and death.”

Carminati goes on in the report to make several recommendations to prevent similar deaths, including:

  • ensuring Children’s Services case workers overseeing foster children have “accurate and up to date information from a reliable medical source about the child’s disability and in particular, the impact, if any, of the disability on the health, weight, and fragility of the child”;
  • enhancing current policies to ensure foster children are receiving regular medical checkups and possible issues are not overlooked;
  • ensuring processes are in place to follow up “in an effective and meaningful way” on medical concerns brought up from sources outside the family, like schools; and
  • ensuring case workers have reasonable workloads so they have time to document and follow up on medical needs of foster children.

Samantha’s parents, Velvet and John Martin, received a copy of the inquiry’s findings a couple of weeks ago, before it was made public Friday, but Velvet said she felt there was nothing in the report that would have changed the situation Samantha was in or anything similar.

“All it’s underscoring is the fact that the policies that are in place, the judge has said you really need to do them. They haven’t been doing them all along so what it actually should say is there are repercussions if you don’t do your job,” Velvet told the Edmonton Sun. “I look at it and go, ‘OK, a lot of the truth is revealed but at the same token, nothing has been done.’”


Samantha Lauren Martin was born June 4, 1993. She was soon diagnosed with Tetrasomy 18p, a rare genetic condition in which the short arm of the 18th chromosome appears four times in body cells rather than just twice. Symptoms vary from case to case, but it can lead to abnormalities in the head and face, malformations of the spine, hands and feet, difficulty with motor skills and developmental delays, including limited speech and behaviour problems. Many patients also has gastrointestinal problems, but are usually not especially thin or frail.

When she was only seven weeks old, Velvet and John placed Samantha in foster care, believing she would get better care in a foster home than she could with them. Samantha was placed with the Himschoot family near Morinville.

When she was three years old, the Martins reinitiated contact with Samantha, and she eventually spent more time with her biological parents, leading to joint guardianship in October 2001 and Samantha moving back to St. Albert in June 2006.

Samantha was at the Martins’ home on Nov. 29, 2006, when she became ill, vomiting and suffering from diarrhea. As her condition worsened, she was taken to the Sturgeon Community Hospital, then to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. She was put on life support,but taken off a few days later.

“The fact that Samantha was on life support for a period of time contributed to the difficulty in assigning a cause to Samantha’s death,” Carmanati wrote in the inquiry report. “It is known that her heart stopped; much less clear is why it stopped.”


Before she died, though, there were red flags raised about Samantha’s treatment while in foster care. Velvet Martin testified to the inquiry that she had suffered numerous fractures and bruises, which caught the attention of staff at her school. Samantha did not speak, though, so it was unclear exactly how these injuries occurred.

Samantha also weighed only 49 pounds at the time she returned to live with the Martins, but gained almost 11 pounds in about a month afterwards. School staff reported that the foster family’s biological son often had “larger, more balanced lunches” than Samantha did, and when this concern was raised, the foster mother told the school to “fill Samantha up with water.”

As well, Samantha’s pediatrician, Dr. Lyle McGonigle, said in the inquiry report that he would normally see patients with conditions like Samantha’s once every months, but only saw Samantha roughly once a year.


Children’s Services case worker Lorna Huff, who handled Samantha’s case from 1997 to 2005, also testified at the inquiry that, after a meeting that included the foster mother in November 2002, concerns were raised by Samantha’s school that she may be suffering from seizures, and that her foster family consult with her doctor about having an encephalogram done.

But the inquiry report notes that Dr. McGonigle was never informed by the foster mother about the possibility of seizures or the need for an encephalogram.

Eventually, after moving back in the Martins, Samantha was taken for the necessary tests. One encephalogram conducted in October 2006 was inconclusive, while Samantha died before the results of another test a month later could be fully analyzed.


Huff was also supposed to have face-to-face visits with Samantha every three months, but the inquiry report notes that periods as long as 14 months went by without visits. Huff testified, though, that there she made two in-person visits during that period but did not document them. There were other lengthy gaps in the visitation history, but Huff told the inquiry that her case load made it difficult to keep up with paperwork.

Huff also relied heavily on Samantha’s foster family for information, the inquiry report notes, as the Himschoots had several medically fragile children placed their care over the years, and Huff was under the impression Samantha was seeing a doctor monthly.

Even after another social worker took over Samantha’s case, a 2005 Children’s Services review of the file found that no face-to-face visits had been documented between February and November 2005, and there was no indication of annual medical or dental checkups in the file.


While the inquiry report is little comfort for the Martins or the parents of other disabled children, the Alberta government is taking it seriously. It has been forwarded to the Human Services Minister Dave Hancock, whose department is reviewing it thoroughly.

“It’s never a good thing when someone passes away in care, regardless of the circumstances,” Human Services press secretary Craig Loewen told the Edmonton Sun. “There are some changes that have been made since that time.”

Loewen pointed to legislation passed in early 2012 that made the province’s child and youth advocate an independent entity, with the ability to investigate any case he or she chooses.

He added that more supports are available for families with disabled children, and that 95 to 98 per cent of disabled kids are able to remain with their biological families.

“That’s not to say that we can’t learn things from the fatality report,” Loewen said. “We’re certainly going to take a look at the recommendations. It’s something we definitely take seriously so there could be further changes.”

Source: St Albert Leader

Helicopter Parents

November 2, 2012 permalink

When a two-year-old girl had a screaming fit, dad quickly calmed her down, but Texas police sent a helicopter, four patrolmen and a social worker to keep the peace.



Dear Free-Range Kids: I am an Indian male living in Austin, TX. I am 36 and have been in the US since I was 20. My wife of six years is white and was born and raised in Austin. We have a daughter who is almost two and a half. I take my daughter hiking along a short greenbelt trail near where we live. Today when we left for the hike she decided to test some boundaries just as she left the car. She yelled at the top of her lungs and started bawling that she did not want to go hiking and just wanted to get back in the car. Having seen this tactic from her for the past few months, I helped her put on her backpack and calmly asked her to try to hike with me for a few mins first. Couple minutes later she was totally immersed into the hike and enjoying it.

Soon we noticed a chopper go above us. We both got excited and spotted it, then we realized it was staying over us. This made me nervous since it looked like a police chopper. It was strange, but it was time for us to head back anyways.

On the way back, we ran into four cops. I asked them if they were looking for anyone and one of them said they were looking for me. I thought it was a joke, till I realized he was serious. They had received several reports of me with my daughter (from back when I was trying to calm her down as she got out of the car) and were investigating with a chopper and three cars!!

My daughter clung to my jeans while the cops questioned me and luckily I had my driver license on me so the interview ended quickly. (They needed my I.D. to fill out their official report.) The cops were professional and I assume the lady with them was from Child Protective Services. She was calm and made comments like, “She clearly trusts you” (looking at my daughter). I did not know what to do with this — yes she trusts me, she is my freaking daughter!

The cops were just doing their duty. I completely understand, but I am still stunned that this happened. I am grateful for the cops’ responding quickly and for concerned citizens calling them because they thought a little girl was in trouble. At the same time, I feel violated. I am a dad who took his daughter out for a walk in the greenbelt.

Maybe I am just the price that is paid to make sure kids stay safe. No system is perfect and maybe I am just the false positive. But it sure does not feel good to be challenged because of unnamed “concerned” people. I sure wish there was a way for people to realize the difference between a toddler being stubborn versus abduction.

Strangely enough, I just filed my application for naturalization (got tired of living on my Green Card) . Today was the first time in the past 16 years I have truly wondered if I am treated different because I have brown skin.

I would love for suggestions on how to get past this and not let this affect my behavior.

Hoping for a safer society with less paranoia. – A.R.

Source: Free Range Kids blog

Trick or Treat!

November 1, 2012 permalink

A social worker passes herself off as a friendly neighbor to get inside a home and investigate the family.



Hallowe'en Night I was at my son's fathers house getting ready to go trick or treating with his current girlfriend and her children when there was a knock on the door. My ex's girlfriend (for the sake of this post we will call her J.) answered the door and there was a lady standing there. The lady at the door asked "Are you J?" J responded with yes and and the lady said "My name is Patty. Can I talk to you for a few minutes?" J responded with sure as her and my ex had just moved in to this house this past weekend and was not sure of who her neighbours may be. Once Patty was in the house she said "My name is Patty Sawec and I am here from FACS." I did remain during the entire interview and YES I did record the entire meeting. This meeting raised a whole lot of questions. 1. Is this the new CAS PROTOCOL to gain access to people's homes? 2. Since when do CAS workers not have to wear identification? 3. Why did it take a week to investigate a claim that was made at the prior address? A claim of abuse and violence towards the children.

At one point during the conversation it was stated by the worker that she came on this night because she knew that my ex was at work, since he was working a shift that he did not normally work, how did she determine that my ex would not be at home? Towards the end of the interview J asked the worker how she got the new address as they had not left any forwarding address with anyone and the worker replied "I got it from the school board as it is their obligation to assist us with investigations." So my final question is not really a question but a statement.....It is a sad, sad society we live in when no one or their information is safe from the CAS as it is the police, school boards, doctors, etc. obligation to assist CAS with their investigations.

Source: Facebook, Bobbie Gellner

Halloween entry by CAS

Messy Home

November 1, 2012 permalink

Chatham-Kent Access Centre
click for larger image

The enclosed picture shows a messy home, a littered room with a stained, uncleaned carpet and disorganized fabric hanging from shelves. It's the kind of place that social workers cite as justification for taking a child away from mom and dad. But this is the waiting room at the Chatham-Kent Access Centre, the place where parents have to wait to visit children under court supervision. Any food brought for the children must be prepared here, using the microwave oven, but without water or a sink.

Since this photo was posted to Facebook two weeks ago, has CAS moved to clean it up? Not at all. They have removed the microwave oven, and started searching visitors, patting them down for cameras or recording devices. An employee sits in the room all day.


Darlene Duplessis As of right now...since this post..this room has been cleaned up. The carpets have been removed, the room has been painted and the small appliances have been replaced with new....IT'S JUST TO took SHAME to get them to clean up thier room! (much llike dealing with children) now to get them to clean up their act!

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

Death Threat

November 1, 2012 permalink

Police in Newfoundland have charged a man with threatening to kill an employee of Child Youth and Family Services. Contrast this with the case of an employee of Batshaw Youth and Family Centres not arrested for threatening to kill John Ranger.



Man charged with threatening to kill employee of Child Youth and Family Services

The RNC in Corner Brook has laid additional charges against a 41-year-old Halfway Point, Bay of Islands man, for allegedly threatening to kill an employee of Child Youth and Family Services in Corner Brook.

On Monday, at about 11:30 p.m., the RNC received a report from the Crisis Line Operator advising that an unknown male had just called and uttered a threat to kill the employee.

The accused was arrested and charged with uttering threats to kill.

The RNC said they have also learned the accused allegedly threatened the employee earlier in the day Monday, as well.

As a result, the RNC’s Criminal Investigation Division, have laid two additional Criminal Code charges. He has been charged with uttering threats to kill and breach of court order.

Source: Telegram, St John's

earlier news