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More recent news

Lev Tahor Rally

February 25, 2014 permalink

The scheduled rally in support of Lev Tahor took place today in Chatham. Two news articles are enclosed.

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Lev Tahor Rally Shows Support

Lev Tahor rally
Demonstrators show support outside the Chatham-Kent Courthouse.

A rally in support of Lev Tahor members’ basic human rights drew a small but dedicated crowd this afternoon in Chatham

Organizer Dave Formosa says the rally is separate from the ongoing legal battle. “Of course their culture and beliefs are different from ours so we’re just trying to get everybody to support differences within everybody.”

A superior court justice will hear the appeal regarding the future of more than a dozen Lev Tahor children March 5th.

Source: Blackburn Radio Inc


Jewish group humbled by rally, which included area residents

By Vicki Gough, Chatham Daily News, Tuesday, February 25, 2014 5:34:53 EST PM

Lev Tahor rally
RALLY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Organizer Dave Formosa, far left, was pleased with the turn out for the peace rally on Grand Avenue West in front of the Chatham courthouse Tuesday, February 25, 2014. Formosa wanted to draw attention to the need for basic human rights after he heard members of the Lev Tahor had been spat on while out in Chatham, On.
Diana Martin/Chatham Daily News/QMI Agency
Lev Tahor rally
RALLY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS At its peak there were two dozen people holding signs encouraging people to be kind and not judge others for their differences during Tuesday's peace rally in Chatham. Organizer Dave Formosa was pleased with the turn out for the peace rally on Grand Avenue West in front of the Chatham courthouse Tuesday, February 25, 2014. Formosa wanted to draw attention to the need for basic human rights after he heard members of the Lev Tahor had been spat on while out in Chatham, On.
Diana Martin/Chatham Daily News/QMI Agency

About 40 people passionate about human rights braved freezing cold winds to wave signs at passing motorists on Grand Avenue West in Chatham Tuesday afternoon.

Their aim was to draw public attention to the treatment of a Jewish group who recently settled in the area.

Rally organizer, Dave Formosa, said he arranged the event through a Facebook group after learning that members of the orthodox Lev Tahor community were being shunned and even spat on.

"I haven't picked a side. Whether allegations (of Quebec child-welfare authorities) are proven innocent or guilty, everyone is entitled to human rights," Formosa said during the peace rally.

About 200 members of Lev Tahor, whose name means "pure heart" in Hebrew fled their homes in Quebec in the middle of a November night amidst allegations — not proven in court — of child abuse and neglect.

The story made national headlines, and has sparked debate in communities across the country, including Sarnia-Lambton.

Community leaders have said they left Quebec in search of a better place to raise their children according to their own religious beliefs.

An Ontario judge ruled 13 children named in a court order be sent back to Quebec.

Lisa Smith travelled from Corunna to join the rally.

"Just because people look different, dress differently, is no reason to turn your back on them," she said.

The 47-year-old plans to marry a Jamaican next year.

"I see it (being shunned in public)a lot," Smith said. "I'm told, 'Oh, you're one of them.'"

Rally member Nathan Koning, 31, said he sympathized with the Jewish group.

"Everyone should have the freedom to live their beliefs," Koning said.

"There is too much hatred in this world already," Koning's wife Alicja Trozynska, 27, chimed in.

The couple held signs with their 17-month-old son Jonathan to show their support of Lev Tahor.

"I actually argued with a guy to know the facts when he called them pedophiles," Koning said.

"If I had to be in their shoes and knew my children were going to be taken away, I would drop everything and run too," he added.

Clifford Quenneville, 66, and Susan Peltier, 61, of Calvary Community Church in Tilbury held an Israeli flag to show their support.

"We're here to build relationships," Quenneville said.

Retta Cadotte, 32, of Chatham, called the Lev Tahor "a complicated story."

"The parents clearly love their children ... they haven't been given a chance to prove themselves," Cadotte said.

Formosa said he visited the Lev Tahor community, north of Chatham, on several occasions over the last month and was always received with a warm welcome.

"I've spent 18 to 20 hours with them and saw kids running around happy," Formosa said.

"If we've influenced just one person today, a difference has been made."

Lev Tahor spokesperson Uriel Goldman told QMI Agency that his community was humbled by the rally.

"We thanked them and hopefully people realize ... the issues here are human rights and religious rights," Goldman said.

While the rally continued, lawyers for the 13 children and local child-welfare agencies were in Chatham court to set a March 5 date to hear legal arguments for and against sending the children into care in Quebec.

Source: Sarnia Observer

Kopyto to Speak

February 25, 2014 permalink

Legal gadfly Harry Kopyto will be speaking about criminal issues concerning children this Saturday. The event will take place in Newmarket, expand for details.

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Criminalization of children – Harry Kopyto to address the public in Newmarket about criminal issues concerning children

This Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 6pm, Harry Kopyto will deliver a lecture in Newmarket to an audience of concerned parents and children.

Harry Kopyto

The Canadian Maltese Charitable Service Trust is hosting a public event where Harry Kopyto will speak about the grave conditions children are facing in a society that is increasingly criminalizing them, according to a number of organizations such as A Voice For Men, Canada Court Watch and National Coalition for Men. Children, usually boys, are facing difficulties at school where children as young as 5 are criminalized for normal behaviour, according to Dean Esmay, operational manager of A Voice For Men.

Vernon Beck of Canada Court Watch has been documenting numerous abuses against children over a 20 year period and says it has been getting worse year by year. Dr. Miles Groth, Professor of psychology at Wagner College in New York, says, “The most important thing is public awareness, especially about how boys are treated in school. I see them when they have gotten to college, and more and more are withdrawn and distant.”

Harry Kopyto will dilate on the serious conditions facing the public, particularly boys, who are criminalized at a very young age. Recently, a boy, barely 12 years old was charged criminally for non criminal behaviour at Notre Dame Catholic School in Newmarket. In Colorado Springs, 6 year old Hunter Yelton was suspended from school for kissing his girlfriend’s hand. The action was noted as sexual harassment on Hunter’s school record.

Kopyto delivered his first speech at the age of ten. He began advocating for the rights of his fellow students in High School. Kopyto’s legal career spans 40 years advocating for the rights of his fellow man, adhering according to his admirers to strict morals and principals. Harry remains steadfast in his life long ambition to advocate and fight for the underdog, the weak, the oppressed, the old, children, the disabled, the minority, the underprivileged, the poor and anyone who was subject to discrimination in any and every way..

Royal Canadian Legion - Branch 426 at 707 Srigley St, Newmarket, ON L3Y 1X4 – Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 6pm

Source: A Voice for Men

Grandview Training School for Girls

February 25, 2014 permalink

The Grandview Training School for Girls opened in 1932, and was formally known as the Ontario Training School for Girls - Galt. It was located at what is now Cambridge, Ontario.

At any one time Grandview housed approximately 120 girls with 30~35 girls in Churchill House, a secure facility. By the terms of the governing legislation (repealed in 1982) the girls' parents lost their parental rights through the wardship process.

In 2002 Fred Kaufman produced an independent report Searching For Justice — An Independent Review of Nova Scotia’s Response to Reports of Institutional Abuse. Chapter 16 looked at other provinces and included a summary of Grandview. It is included in the expand block. Another brief source is wikipedia. Laura Sky has a documentary Until Someone Listens about Grandview. The trailer is on YouTube or a local copy (mp4).

On November 16, 1999 Ontario MPP Jim Flaherty apologized in the Ontario legislature:

With unanimous consent, Mr. Flaherty moved,

That this House, on behalf of Ontario and pursuant to the 1994 agreement reached with the Grandview Survivors Support Group, apologizes and expresses sincere regret for the harm caused by the physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the Ontario Training School for Girls - Galt, also known as Grandview, in Cambridge, Ontario between the 1930s to 1970s; and

That this House acknowledges that the abuse suffered by the students at Grandview, who bear no responsibility for the abuse they suffered, caused lifelong physical and emotional pain, distress and trauma to the women themselves and to their families and community and that such abuse of children is deplorable and intolerable.

Source: Ontario hansard

Through freedom of information Chris Carter has obtained a copy of the settlement between the Grandview Survivors Support Group and the Government Of Ontario (pdf), ratified on June 30, 1994. Much of the document relates to processes. The penultimate page lists the abuses suffered by the residents:

  • rough handling, reported abusive internals excessive segregation
  • fondling of secondary sexual organs, digital penetration, repeated segregation without clothes.
  • repeated sexual intercourse
  • physical beatings
  • repeated sexual-touching, physical assaults, excessive segregation
  • four solid days of segregation
  • repeated sexual assaults, oral sex, physical beatings and confinement to segregation while nude·
  • repeated sexual fondling and segregation
  • repeated sexual intercourse, repeated fondling, excessive internals, physical beatings
  • isolated events of digital penetration with broom handle by inmates, repeated physical beatings, excessive segregation
  • repeated fondling, repeated beatings, excessive segregation
  • sexual molestation, repeated segregation
  • repeated internals
  • repeated sexual touching, repeated internals, physical assaults
  • repeated segregation
  • repeated sexual touching, one physical beating resulting in a broken arm, repeated segregation
  • repeated sexual intercourse
  • rough handling and segregation
  • repeated fondling and internals
  • repeated sexual intercourse, physical beatings and segregation

The settlement discloses that the women were eligible for cash settlements ranging from $3,000 to $60,000. The material does not disclose how many women received the various levels of compensation, but Mr Kaufman's report says that Ontario allocated $16,400,000 for all forms of compensation.

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2. ONTARIO - GRANDVIEW TRAINING SCHOOL FOR GIRLS

The Government of Ontario operated a training facility for adolescent girls in Galt (now part of Cambridge) from 1932 to 1976. Originally known as the Ontario Training School for Girls - Galt, the facility was renamed the Grandview Training School for Girls in 1967. It housed girls between the ages of 12 and 18. Under the Ontario Training Schools Act, the girls became wards of the Province and the parents of the girls relinquished their rights as guardians. The institution housed an average of 120 girls annually, with approximately one-quarter of them in a secure facility known as Churchill House. While some girls had committed minor crimes such as shoplifting, many were sent to the school because they had been pronounced “unmanageable” under the Juvenile Delinquents Act for reasons such as truancy, the use of drugs or alcohol, or “sexual immorality.” Many of the young women sent to Grandview had been physically, sexually or emotionally abused by family members; some were orphans, and some were from very poor homes whose families were unable to care for them.

A number of students at the school were abused during their residency there. The most significant period of abuse occurred in the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. The school was closed in 1976 after an investigation into the abuse. Residents alleged that they had been subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of guards and other staff. Some of the allegations had been made contemporaneous to the abuse, but had not resulted in any legal proceedings at the time.

The abuse came to public light in 1991, when two women who were being treated by the same psychologist told him of very similar experiences of abuse that occurred at Grandview. The psychologist was shocked by the details, introduced the two women to each other and said that he would support them if they went public with their stories. The women subsequently made appearances on television, asking others who had been at Grandview to contact the police or the provincial Government. In the summer of 1991, the Waterloo Regional Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police began a joint investigation into claims of physical and sexual abuse at the school.

In December 1992, a Victim Witness Program site was established in Kitchener, Ontario, with the express purpose of dealing with Grandview. Some women retained lawyers and initiated civil suits. At the same time, a small group of women formed the Grandview Survivor’s Support Group (“GSSG”) to investigate options for seeking compensation on a collective basis. They also hired legal counsel (whose services were ultimately paid for by the Ontario Government). The group later expanded to include more than 300 women.

The Province decided to pursue, through mediation, an out-of-court strategy to settle Grandview claims. In May 1993, negotiations began between the Government and the GSSG. Over the next 10 months the executive of the GSSG and the group’s legal counsel held extensive meetings with counsel from the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Government’s Grandview Project Manager in an attempt to draft a compensation agreement. The Government provided funding during the negotiations for a crisis line dedicated to Grandview survivors and for continued participation in the discussions by the GSSG executive.

In early 1994, a Draft Agreement was formulated by the Government and the GSSG executive and put to a vote by the members of the GSSG. Over 127 women participated in the vote, and the Agreement was ratified by over 80%. After Government approval, the program was announced in June 1994.

The Agreement allowed all former residents of Grandview to apply for specified benefits and financial compensation from the Government through an alternative dispute resolution process rather than individually pursuing civil suits. It was a group agreement, but it permitted individual women to choose whether or not to participate in the program. Individuals were required to obtain independent legal advice (for which the Government provided $1,000 per applicant) before electing to seek compensation under the Agreement. Those who elected to do so had to provide a complete release of any claim they might have had against the Government of Ontario for damages arising out of their mistreatment at Grandview. Participation in the Agreement, however, did not restrict the individual’s rights to bring criminal charges or civil claims against individual perpetrators of abuse.

An application cut-off date was set for January 2, 1996. Applications received after that date were not automatically rejected, but were considered on a case by case basis.

The purpose of the Agreement was outlined in its Overview:

The purpose of this Agreement is to engage in a process to afford any eligible person real opportunities to heal and to introduce real hope for a better future ... [It] is designed to address the consequences of “abuse” and “mistreatment” as those terms are defined, of those who were actually resident at Grandview ... It is an objective of the various components of this Agreement to facilitate a path of healing and recognition of self-fulfilment for its beneficiaries. It is hoped that the coordination of the various components, will, as an integrated whole, produce a more accountable and effective response for survivors of institutionalized and sexual abuse.

  1. (a) Details of the Compensation Package

    The Agreement provided for three different types of benefits: general benefits (intended to benefit society as a whole), group benefits (for all former residents of the institution), and individual benefits (for those who claimed specific incidents of abuse). An Eligibility and Implementation Committee (“EIC”) was established as an advisory body to oversee and superintend the implementation of the benefits package. This committee was composed of two GSSG-appointed members, one Government-appointed member and a chair jointly appointed by the Government and the GSSG. The Agreement also provided funding for the GSSG to enable it to continue to offer support to its members through meetings, outreach and a newsletter.

    1. General Benefits

      General benefits were not necessarily confined to benefits to former residents of Grandview. They were defined in the Agreement as “programs, actions or commitments that the Government may undertake or foster and which may provide benefits to survivors of sexual, physical and institutionalized abuse generally.”

      The Agreement included specific provisions for legislative and research initiatives.

      The main legislative initiative outlined in the Agreement was a bill to amend various provincial laws to extend or eliminate limitation periods for commencing civil proceedings in relation to sexual abuse. The Government also reviewed its hiring, training and abuse-reporting practices for programs involving youth in institutional settings or under state supervision.

      Three research initiatives were contemplated in the Agreement. First, there was a proposal to evaluate the effect and effectiveness of the Agreement itself. This work was later conducted by Deborah Leach. Results of her study are referred to in the applicable contexts below. Second, a recommendation was made to conduct research to better understand the dynamics of the consequences of abuse and to determine when and how to provide effective intervention. In this regard, the Government supported the production of a video and a booklet entitled “Until Someone Listens.” Third, every applicant was given the choice to tell of her experiences at Grandview and have her history recorded.

      The idea of establishing a Healing Centre was also discussed but not acted upon. Instead, some money was put aside for a needs assessment. However, these funds eventually went back to the Government’s general revenue fund.

    2. Group Benefits

      Group benefits consisted of a dedicated crisis line, money for the removal of self-inflicted tattoos and scars, and a general acknowledgement by the Government recognizing the efforts of the GSSG to bring to the attention of provincial authorities the allegations of abuse and to develop a non court-based process to assist the victims. The crisis line and money for the removal of tattoos and scars were available to all former residents of Grandview. Individuals applying to have a self-inflicted tattoo removed were required to swear a statement declaring when they attended Grandview and that the tattoo was inflicted during that time.

      The crisis line which was established by the Government of Ontario during the negotiations leading up to the Agreement was continued pursuant to the terms of the Agreement. Again, it was available to any former resident of Grandview without proof that she had been subjected to conduct at the school that could have caused or contributed to her crisis. The crisis line existed for four years and was closed March 31, 1997. Ms. Leach reported that a large majority of the women who accessed the service felt it made a positive difference in their lives. However, some felt that the counsellors were not always sufficiently knowledgeable about institutional abuse or Grandview.

      The Government allocated $120,000 for a tattoo removal fund and $50,000 for a scar reduction fund. Fifty-two women had used this benefit as of December 1996, the latest date for which information was available. Ms. Leach found that the impact of tattoo removal was significant in improving self-esteem and the ability to live in the present.

      The general acknowledgement referred to above was read out in the provincial legislature by the Attorney General, the Honourable Jim Flaherty, on November 17, 1999. It included an apology to all the Grandview survivors.

    3. Individual Benefits

      A number of individual benefits, including direct financial compensation, were available to former residents of Grandview whose assertions of abuse were accepted. Individuals had to apply for these benefits. Their applications were reviewed by an adjudicator who determined whether the claimant was in fact the victim of abuse and/or mistreatment (as defined in the Agreement) which caused injury or harm and, if so, what financial award was appropriate. An applicant whose claim was validated was also entitled to apply for a variety of additional non-financial benefits that were purchased by the Government from existing service providers on a case-by-case basis. The total Government expenditure on awards and benefits was $16,400,000. The various available benefits are described below.

      Successful claimants were entitled to a financial award for pain and suffering as a result of abuse and/or mistreatment. “Abuse” and “mistreatment” were defined as follows:

      1.1 ABUSE means an injury as a result of the commission of a criminal act or act of gross misconduct by a guard or other official at Grandview or in some circumstances by another ward and includes physical and sexual assault or sexual exploitation. It is acknowledged that sexual abuse includes arbitrary or exploitative internal examinations for which no reasonable medical justification existed and which resulted in demonstrable harm.

      Act of abuse is the act that causes injury.

      1.2 MISTREATMENT means an injury as a result of a pattern of conduct that was “cruel” and for which no reasonable justification could exist (arbitrary) and includes conduct that was non physical but had as a design the depersonalization and demoralization of the person with the consequent loss in self esteem, and may involve discipline measures unauthorized by any superior authority. This is conduct that is plainly contrary to the policies and procedures governing conduct at Grandview and the purpose of the governing legislation. Proof must establish a pattern of conduct directed towards the individual personally and errors of judgement will not be sufficient. This conduct may include taunts, intimidation, insults, abusive language, the withholding of emotional supports, deprivation of paternal visits, threats of isolation, and psychologically cruel discipline or measures which were not officially permitted in the management and control of the residents of the facility.

      The general environment of Grandview, the discipline and regulation of the conduct of the wards in accordance with policies and procedures established for the governance and management of the institution cannot constitute mistreatment.

      The act of mistreatment is the act or acts that cause the injury.

      In order to qualify for a financial award, an applicant had to demonstrate injury or harm which justified compensation beyond a nominal damages award. The range of available awards was from $3,000 to $60,000. The precise amount conferred upon an applicant depended on the nature, severity and impact of the abuse and/or mistreatment. In determining the amount, the adjudicators were directed to use a prescribed matrix as a guide. This matrix set out the minimum and maximum award ranges for various categories of misconduct, and also itemized the type of evidence expected as proof. The adjudicators had the discretion to fix the award within the range prescribed. The matrix is reproduced in full below.

      ACTS ALLEGED HARM/INJURY EVIDENCE/PROOF AWARD RANGE
      Repeated serious sexual abuse (sexual intercourse anal/oral) & physical beating and threats. Continued harm resulting in serious dysfunction. Adjudicator applies standards set out in Agreement. Possible: Medical/ psychological/therapist/ police reports/direct evidence of victim if credible/witnesses/ documentary- conviction of perpetrator. $40,000.00 - $60,000.
      Physical abuse involving hospitalization with broken bones or serious internal injuries. Harm sufficient to justify award must be demonstrated. Adjudicator applies standards set out in the Agreement. Same as above $20,000.00 - 40,000.00 “mid range”
      Isolated act of sexual intercourse/oral or anal sex or masturbation with threats or abuse of position of trust. Harm sufficient to justify award must be demonstrated. Adjudicator applies standards set out in the Agreement. Same as above $20,000.00 - $40,000.00 “mid range”
      No physical interference- forms of “mistreatment” i.e. cruel conduct that was prolonged and persistent. Confinement in segregation alone will not attract an award. Segregation may be justified in accordance with administrative authority. Abusive segregation cannot be. Long term detrimental impact - conduct must not have been lawful or condoned. The nature of the harm will determine once proof of the acts are accepted whether a minimal recovery or a higher award. Same as above $3000.00 on proof of acts of abuse or mistreatment. $10,000.00 - $20,000.00 where serious harm found by the adjudicator.

      The Government of Ontario was responsible for 100% of the financial award. The average award conferred was a little under $40,000. In general, financial benefits were awarded for physical and sexual abuse and mistreatment. In certain cases, psychological abuse and mistreatment were compensated, but few awards were granted as a result of psychological abuse only.

      Ms. Leach’s study found that the vast majority of recipients thought the financial award helped them make a positive change in their lives. Most importantly, it contributed to a sense of validation, gave them some security and independence, improved their ability to take better care of their children and other important people in their lives, and helped them plan for their future with more skills. For a small number of recipients, the award caused difficulties in such matters as money management and demands from others for assistance.

      In addition to any direct financial award, an adjudicator was also able to direct the Government to pay service providers additional sums up to $10,000 to cover exceptional medical or dental costs related to the consequences of the abuse and/or mistreatment where no insurance coverage was available.

      The Government had established an interim therapy protocol to provide counselling and therapy, pending completion of the Agreement. Former wards were then entitled to apply under the Agreement for access to longer-term counselling and therapy. In order to qualify for such services, the applicant had to submit an application for individual benefits within six months of the ratification date of the Agreement. The application had to be accompanied by a treatment plan prepared by a therapist experienced in treating cases of abuse, and the therapist had to support the claimant’s position that her experiences at Grandview likely caused or contributed to her present circumstances and that counselling was required. Alternatively, an applicant could request an assessment by a Government-approved counsellor.

      All applications for counselling were reviewed by the Eligibility and Implementation Committee. Interim counselling services remained in effect pending the review. If a majority of the members of the EIC was satisfied that the requested counselling was appropriate, such services of a value not exceeding $5,000 for a period of one year could be approved. This could occur in advance of validation of the claim, but was subject to confirmation by the adjudicator. Provision was also made for additional funding in appropriate situations. Disputes between the EIC and the applicant (or her treating therapist) were to be resolved by designated independent experts.

      In exceptional circumstances, applicants could also obtain up to $5,000 in funding for short- term residential treatment programs. Appropriate evidence of need was required, as well as evidence of the unavailability of alternative private or public funding. Applicants could access individual counselling services following completion of the residential program.

      The vast majority of women interviewed by Ms. Leach indicated that the therapy and counselling benefit made a significant difference to them. It helped them with improving their self- esteem, going through the Agreement process, coping with their tragedy, and moving on in life. At the same time, many women were concerned about the limits to the funding. Many were unaware of the limits, and said they would have used the funding differently if they had been aware. Some recommended that the cap on this benefit be eliminated.

      The Agreement provided for access to educational or vocational training or upgrading. The Government agreed to pay the “basic costs” of education or vocation programs approved by the EIC. Basic costs were defined to include tuition, books, course materials, a transportation allowance and, where need was established, child care and computer costs. The Government also agreed to pay for psycho-educational assessments to assist applicants in determining a suitable program of study or training. The only conditions of the benefit were that the applicant attend all classes, fulfill all course requirements and successfully complete the course of study. Ms. Leach reported that many applicants thought this benefit was extremely important, especially since education was something stolen from them at Grandview.

      Successful applicants could obtain free debt counselling and debt consolidation and budget assistance. Ms. Leach reported that the reactions of those who availed themselves of this benefit were mixed, some finding it helpful and others finding it shameful.

      A contingency fund of $3,000 per validated claim was set up. It was intended to cover expenses for the following matters not covered, or not covered sufficiently, by other benefits: medical and dental needs, child care and travel expenses incurred in relation to attending counselling sessions, books and other materials required for a course of study or therapy, and fees for attending workshops. Applications for specific expenses had to be submitted to and approved by the EIC, and need had to be established. Multiple applications could be submitted, but the money had to be used within two years of the date the Agreement was ratified. This was the most widely-used benefit. Most applicants used it for medical or dental purposes. All said it made at least some positive difference in their lives.

      Finally, the Agreement provided that each successful claimant was entitled to receive an individual acknowledgement from the Government of the abuse or mistreatment, recognizing that each of the women was harmed and there could be no justification for the abuse. Delivery of these acknowledgements was delayed until the completion of all related criminal proceedings.

      Reproduced below is a chart prepared by Goldie Shea for the Law Commission of Canada detailing the number of applicants who took advantage of the various available benefits as of October 1999.

      Grandview - Usage of Benefits
      BENEFIT NUMBER OF WOMEN WHO HAVE USED BENEFITS PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN WHO HAVE USED BENEFITS
      Therapy/counselling 123 91.8
      Tattoo/Scar Removal 52 38.8
      Contingency Fund 132 98.5
      Educational/Vocational Assistance 46 34.3
      Financial/Budget counselling 6 4.5
      Total number of women who used at least one of the Agreement benefits 134 100
  2. (b) The Process

    As stated in the Report of the Grandview Adjudicators, the adjudication process had multiple goals. First, it was a forum for the review and assessment of evidence relating to validation of claims and the assessment of damages. To this extent, the hearings were similar to other, more traditional, legal proceedings where judges review exhibits, listen to evidence, and make findings of fact based on legal standards and principles, including the onus of proof. Second, the Grandview hearings were intended to offer the applicants an opportunity to describe their experiences in their own words to someone with authority. Adjudication was to empower the survivors of institutional abuse to define the wrong that was done to them, to explain the repercussions on their lives, to demand accountability and the restitution of their dignity, and to claim official recognition of the injustice.

    The procedure for validation of a claim was as follows. Applicants were restricted to former residents of Grandview or its predecessor, the Ontario School for Girls. Each applicant was required to complete an application outlining the abuse and consequent injuries she allegedly suffered. This had to be accompanied by a sworn statement as to the truth of the information given in the application, a statement releasing the Government from any further liability, and a declaration of having received independent legal advice. The application could also be accompanied by supporting documentation gathered by the applicant.

    Two investigators appointed by the Government reviewed the information and determined if and when the applicant had been a resident at Grandview. They also reviewed the Crown ward files of the applicants to determine whether there was evidence of corroboration, inconsistency or other information relevant to the application. The application and all related documentation were then submitted to an independent adjudicator for review, assessment and validation.

    The adjudicators were all female professionals in the law jointly chosen by the GSSG and the Government. Six in total were appointed. As a group, they had expertise in human rights, feminist legal theory, tort law, criminal law, family law, constitutional law, property law, access to justice, health law, aboriginal legal rights, minority language rights and adjudication within administrative tribunals. Feedback from the applicants suggested that it was very important that the adjudicators were female, with many indicating that they would have been uncomfortable discussing the intimate details of their claims with a man. In addition, the fact that one of the adjudicators was a native woman who could appreciate the unique experiences of aboriginal claimants was noted as being very important.

    Each applicant was entitled to an oral hearing before an adjudicator. The hearing was held in private and no transcript was maintained. The Government, the applicant and the GSSG were all parties to the proceeding and entitled to submit information to the adjudicator. The Government was entitled to attend the hearings and make representations, although no adverse inferences were to be drawn from the fact that the Government chose not to do so. The applicant was entitled to be represented by counsel. In practice, most hearings occurred without lawyers present.

    The burden of proving the claim was on the applicant on a standard of a balance of probabilities. The applicant had to satisfy the adjudicator that the conduct complained of occurred, was not minor, and the injury sustained was substantial and prolonged. The decision of the adjudicator was final and not subject to appeal or other form of judicial review.

    Hearings were held in various locations across the country. Efforts were made to select a venue that would accommodate the particular applicant’s needs, and to provide as comfortable a setting as possible. As a result, hearings were sometimes held in an applicant’s home or in an institution where an applicant was detained.

    The hearings were designed to be informal and non-confrontational. Applicants were advised at the start how the hearing would proceed, and were given the opportunity to ask any questions they might have. Applicants were also informed that any notes taken during the proceeding would be private and confidential, and destroyed after a decision was rendered.

    Applicants were asked at the outset to promise to tell the truth. The adjudicator then asked to hear about the applicant’s experiences at Grandview, and any impact those experiences may have had. The adjudicators sought to give each applicant the chance to tell her own story. Follow-up questions were then asked to clarify confusing points and ensure that all the relevant issues were canvassed. Applicants were always given the opportunity to explain apparent inconsistencies.

    According to section 4.2.5 of the Grandview Agreement, in assessing a claim, the adjudicator was obliged to consider the following:

    1. How long was the claimant in residence?
    2. What was the age of the applicant?
    3. Were complaints made and if so when?
    4. By whom were the acts committed? What was the relationship of the claimant to the person?
    5. What was the frequency of the abuse and mistreatment? Was it an isolated act or a series of acts?
    6. What was the nature and severity of the abuse and mistreatment?
    7. What was the impact on the claimant? What was/is the consequence of the abuse? What treatment has been received for the injuries identified?
    8. Were criminal charges laid; was there a conviction; was conduct criminal in nature? (It is understood that many of the hearings may be concluded before the on-going criminal investigations are concluded, and accordingly, no adverse inference should be made with respect to beneficiaries whose alleged perpetrators have not yet been charged or convicted. Furthermore, neither the laying of criminal charges nor a conviction are preconditions for certification and relief under this agreement.)
    9. Was the claimant a resident of Churchill House?

    As suggested above, the types of material reviewed by the adjudicators included the following:

    1. the applicant’s written application outlining the abuse which she alleged that she experienced and describing the injuries suffered;
    2. the applicant’s sworn statement as to the truth of her application;
    3. a certificate demonstrating that the applicant received independent legal advice regarding her options;
    4. a statement releasing the Government from further liability, signed by the applicant;
    5. documentation from the applicant’s Crown ward file relevant to her claim, such as medical and dental records, reports of discipline, reports from the staff regarding the applicant’s behaviour and progress (collected and compiled by the investigator);
    6. transcripts from interviews conducted with the applicant by police officers investigating criminal charges, if any existed; and
    7. supporting documentation, such as therapists’ reports or other medical reports submitted by the applicant.

    In practice, the primary focus of the fact finding exercise rested upon the oral evidence given by the applicant herself. The adjudicator assessed the applicant’s credibility by observing her demeanour and considering the content of her evidence and any previous statements she had made on the issues. The adjudicators found that the Crown ward files sometimes provided useful information, but were concerned that these records were primarily compiled by the staff of the institution, and therefore might have been coloured by self-interest. As such, they did not always represent reliable accounts of what transpired. Supporting written materials submitted by the applicant (usually reports of therapists, psychiatrists and other medical personnel) were also of some use, but these documents were created long after the applicant’s time at Grandview, and thus were not always cogent evidence about what actually happened to the applicant at the school.

    Once an application had been validated, the applicant received a decision prepared by the adjudicator. The Agreement stated that the reasons for the decisions were confidential and were not to be published by the parties. At the outset, the four original adjudicators deliberated as a group to establish a template that would be used to structure the reasons for the decisions. This template was developed after consultation with counsel from the Ministry of the Attorney General and counsel for the GSSG. The actual decisions generally conformed to the template, but adjudicators departed from the standard format where particular cases so warranted. Most decisions were, therefore, uniform in structure, but unique in their description of the facts proven in the individual case.

    The decisions included both a narrative account of the incidents of abuse and a description of the consequences of the abuse – the harm or injury experienced by the applicant and the effect of the abuse on her life. At the outset, the adjudicators agreed that the account of the incidents should be quite detailed so as to capture the extent and range of abuse and mistreatment that occurred at Grandview, using the applicant’s own words to the greatest extent possible. In this way, each decision would create a detailed historical record of what transpired at the training school. By contrast, references in the decision to the detrimental effect of the abuse on the applicant’s lives were deliberately left brief to avoid freezing the applicant’s life in relation to the damage done, or labelling an applicant in stereotypical terminology. These practices were adopted in light of the goal of the Agreement to make the process one in which healing could take place.

    The reasons for the decision were written primarily for the applicant, not for the other parties to the proceeding or as a precedent for other cases. The narrative was designed to recount what the adjudicator concluded had been proven on a balance of probabilities. In addition, the narrative sometimes mentioned an incident which was not compensable, but was a source of pain and frustration for the applicant. The decision thereby sought to provide justification for the adjudicator’s findings and also served as a record of the applicant’s perspective of wrongs suffered. Feedback from the applicants after receiving their decisions suggested that this aspect of the decisions was very important to them.

    Although adjudicators sat individually, each decision was informally reviewed by a second adjudicator before release. Two adjudicators were responsible for reviewing each other’s decisions for a defined period of time, with the pairs being changed every few months to ensure overall consistency. The review adjudicator made suggestions regarding changes to the draft decision, but the final determination remained with the adjudicator assigned to the case. Where a particular decision required special or difficult interpretation of the Agreement, drafts were circulated to all adjudicators for comment. The goal of this review process was consistency in the quantum of compensation and the interpretation of the language of the Agreement. In addition, it provided adjudicators with much wider knowledge and exposure to evidence being adduced during the hearings. Adjudicators also held group meetings regularly to review the procedures being used in the hearings and the decisions being rendered. The adjudicators found these meetings extremely useful and recommended that they be incorporated as an on-going and integral part of adjudicators’ workload in future adjudicative processes.

    In the end, 329 claims were resolved within two-and-a-half years. Most were validated. The adjudicators determined, on a balance of probabilities, that some former residents had been sexually, physically and/or psychologically abused and mistreated at Grandview. They also determined that the abusive treatment contributed to serious, prolonged and substantial harm.

    In their Report on the process, the adjudicators suggested that the Agreement process allowed them to make reliable findings of fact, and that it may be preferable to evaluate evidence of institutional abuse without requiring all the elements of the adversarial model of litigation. In her evaluation, Ms. Leach found that applicants also viewed the adjudication process positively. In particular, they liked that the process offered the opportunity, in a relatively safe context, for women to tell their stories and have their experiences acknowledged. One notable area cited for improvement related to the use of more understandable (i.e., less legalistic and complex) literature for use by applicants to assess their rights and access benefits.

Source: Searching For Justice — An Independent Review of Nova Scotia’s Response to Reports of Institutional Abuse

Chris Carter has obtained a report from the Archives of Ontario by inspector MV Villeneuve into a Grandview staffer (X). Villeneuve interviewed six wards and one junior staffer, all alleging sexual misconduct by X. X asked the wards what they would do if present with X on a desert island, an interview technique X got from the book Behavior Therapy and Beyond by Arnold A Lazarus, Ph D. X asked several girls to stare at a dot on the wall, and one says she was hypnotized. All this suggests X was a psychiatrist. His taste in women is revealed by the observation that all the accusing women had large breasts.

Here is the Memorandum by MV Villeneuve along with a cover letter. The redactions of names make it impossible to understand the degree of corroboration between witnesses, but the first-hand accounts are all there.

False Flag Rally

February 25, 2014 permalink

In Vermont two-year-old Dezirae Sheldon is dead, her step father Dennis Duby is accused of killing her last Friday. A rally ensued. In the words of the news report: "Dozens of parents and concerned citizens gathered outside the office of the Vermont Department for Children and Families in Rutland Monday."

From following rallies for four years ( 2010 2011 2012 2013 ) fixcas can report with confidence that parents do not rally for more social workers to intervene in their lives. The rally participants in Vermont must be composed of those who earn a living from intervention, and want more authority to do so.

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Protest targets DCF in case of slain child

Rutland Vermont rally

RUTLAND, Vt. -

Dozens of parents and concerned citizens gathered outside the office of the Vermont Department for Children and Families in Rutland Monday. They want answers from the child protection agency after two-year-old Dezirae Sheldon was allegedly murdered by her stepfather, 31-year-old Dennis Duby.

"The signs were there. Pay attention to them. This little one could have been alive," said Lindsay Miller, who took part in the protest.

Those signs include a child abuse investigation last year into Dezirae's mother -- Sandra Eastman. In July she was convicted of breaking the baby's leg and then waiting at least a week to seek medical care. A full body scan revealed older injuries too. Eastman never went to prison for the crime. Instead she was placed on probation. Family members tell WCAX News that 2.5 months later, she got her daughter back. A decision they say that cost the toddler her life.

"I just opened the door and I look at Dezirae and her whole face was bruised. And I looked at Sandy and said what happened? And she said Dennis dropped her into the pack and play. And I said that's not from a pack and play fall. Her whole face is bruised," said Michelle Brown, a family friend.

Brown claims they begged the court and DCF to terminate Eastman's parental rights, but say their allegations of abuse were ignored. "I said she's going to kill her... She is going to die. I said I'm never going to see her again. I know it. I knew it in my heart this was going to happen. But nobody listened," said Lisa Eastman, Dezirae's aunt.

DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone invited Dezirae's family inside to speak with him privately. "I want to meet face-to-face with the family members. I want to listen to them. I want to share with them that my very full intent is to make sure that a very thorough review is done of this," he said.

Yacovone cannot publicly discuss the details of the case but says he's deeply sorry for the family's pain."I don't think there's any way that I can properly convey the sorrow I feel," he said.

The commissioner says DCF gets about 16,000 calls alleging child abuse every year. Ultimately, custody is decided by a judge, after input from DCF caseworkers and the state's attorney's office. "It's important for Vermonters to know there is a checks and balance. This is not individual state employees making a decision about what's right or what's wrong.There's an extensive review process to make sure," Yacovone said.

A review process Dezirae's family says failed. In their minds, Eastman is just as guilty as the man accused of squeezing the toddler's head until it cracked. "She covered for him this whole time. She's just as guilty as he is. She had every right to protect her baby and she didn't do it," Michelle Brown said.

Dezirae is not the first child Eastman has lost custody of. In 2008 -- she spent 5 months behind bars -- for molesting a 15 year-old boy -- and getting pregnant with his child. She's not allowed to have contact with the child. And her family tells us -- she has a one months old daughter -- who is also in state custody.

It's still unclear why Dezirae Sheldon was returned to her mother when she doesn't have custody of her other kids. DCF officials say they can't talk about the case and Police say their investigation is still ongoing. It's even difficult to verify how many children Eastman and Duby have and their custody arraignments. Family court tells WCAX News it does not release records involving juveniles, even if they have died.

Source: WCAX-TV Burlington

Addendum: A committee of the Vermont senate is interested in seeing Dezirae's case file, and has asked the full senate for the necessary powers. Never mind, says DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone — you won't get it, even with a subpoena. Just a reminder that child protectors have more power than legislators.

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DCF Won't Give Dezirae Sheldon's Case File to Senate Panel

MONTPELIER - Lawmakers hoping to change child protection policies in Vermont passed a resolution Wednesday, asking the State Senate to give them a special subpoena power.

"We don't know if we'll even use it," explained State Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) co-chair of the Senate Panel on Child Protection that convened after the death of Dezirae Sheldon.

Sheldon was a 2-year-old from Poultney, killed in February after being returned to her home by the Department for Children and Families. She was previously taken away after her mother, Sandra Eastman Duby, was convicted of child abuse by breaking the little girl's legs. Shortly after she was returned, state prosecutors say her stepfather killed her.

The subpoena power would let the panel demand confidential documents, such as Dezirae's DCF case file. Though the panel has not secured the power or requested the documents, DCF sent the panel a memo that put the brakes on that possibility.

"The memo says, 'I want to share everything I can, but Vermont law and Federal law restrict me'," said DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone. The memo he sent warns the panel if members do try and subpoena records, they won't get any. DCF will be able to give aggregate data, such as the number of children returned to their homes after child abuse--but no individual records.

"I think it's somewhat premature to send out a memo suggesting what they would provide and what they can't provide," said Sen. Sears. "We haven't asked for anything yet."

"I don't know if it's premature," disagreed Yacovone. "I wanted them to know so if they want to change the law, they could do that if they wanted."

The committee is looking at potential policies within DCF that could be changed. Sen. Sears says temporary, volunteer legal guardians--also known as Guardian Ad Litems--have been coming forward with concerns.

"The idea that DCF is more interested in reunifying with the family than they are in protecting the child," explained Sears. That's one of the policies the committee has been looking into since its first meeting.

Right now, the only people who can see Dezirae's file are DCF and the police. There will be an external investigation into DCF by the Vermont Citizens Advisory Board, but that group has not yet met. That group will likely be given some of those confidential records.

Of course, any confidential records entered into evidence in the criminal trial against Dennis Duby will become public record. He is charged with 1st degree murder.

Source: My Champlain Valley

Upscale Baby Snatched

February 25, 2014 permalink

In Britain Wendy Ticker and her daughter Charlotte lost their four-year-old grandson/son. This upscale family had a five-bedroom house, a career as a management accountant, two BMWs, a Mercedes and three acres of land filled with a menagerie of animals. The lad loved running around the grounds, feeding the ducks and chickens and helping granny walk her German Shepherd whenever he visited. One day the boy reported "willy sore" (pain in his penis). When doctors could not find a cause, they suggested child abuse. The police refused to lay charges, but social workers stepped in and took the boy. He was placed for adoption.

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Did social workers take this middle class family's adored child to meet adoption targets? Four-year-old boy was torn from loving mother at hospital even though no one had hurt him

  • Management Consultant Wendy Tricker insists her family are victims
  • Daughter Charlotte, 21, watched as her four-year-old son was taken away
  • She took her child to a GP after he complained he was 'sore'
  • Doctors questioned whether injury was natural or inflicted deliberately
  • Police say there was no crime, but parents were told to go home without him

You could be forgiven for thinking Wendy Tricker has the perfect life. A five-bedroom house in Shropshire; a good career as a management accountant; a supportive and successful husband; two BMWs, a Mercedes and three acres of land filled with a menagerie of animals.

It’s a lifestyle their little grandson adored; running around the grounds, feeding the ducks and chickens, helping Granny walk her beloved eight-year-old German Shepherd, Rupert, whenever he visited.

But the four-year-old boy hasn’t been to see her for nearly 18 months. And Wendy hasn’t seen him at all since last May. Nor has her daughter Charlotte, 21, the youngster’s mother.

Wendy Ticker and Charlotte
Heartbroken: Wendy Ticker (left) pictured her daughter Charlotte who had her sone taken off her by social services for a forced adoption

There’s been no family rift. Instead, the Trickers insist they are the victims of a social services department hell-bent on taking a child away from his perfectly safe, loving home.

And, short of a miracle tomorrow — when the young boy’s adoption case will be finally rubber-stamped by the courts — those social services will be successful.

It’s impossible to overstate the heartache wreaked on this respectable family. ‘It mostly hits me in supermarkets,’ says Wendy, 52. ‘Charlotte and I were walking down the aisle of one recently and saw a display of nappies. We just held each other, and cried and cried.

‘Once, Charlotte saw a pushchair from behind, with a child’s foot sticking out. It was the same shoe as his. She raced round to see. But, of course, it wasn’t him. I’ve done the same. You find yourself staring at children. But he could be anywhere.’

Wendy is among a growing number of grandparents who maintain their families are being taken from them for the most insubstantial of reasons.

Last month, this paper reported on the case of Graham and Gail Curlew, from Sheringham, Norfolk, whose grandchildren were removed from them with no reason ever given.

Then there were Lee and Katrina Parker, from Colchester, Essex, who very nearly lost their grand-daughter simply because social services thought their family, with seven children, was too large.

It is hard to think of a worse wrong the state could sanction. And yet, partly because of the ongoing privacy of the family courts, the outcry doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.

Maybe it’s because most of us simply don’t believe it could happen to us; that only dysfunctional, neglectful families have children who are taken into care.

It’s obvious when I meet them that Wendy and Charlotte Tricker are both capable, hard-working and loving. And as Wendy warns: ‘We loved him so much and cared for him so well. It’s proof that if it can happen to us, it really can happen to absolutely anyone.

Distraught, he begged: 'Don't go Mummy, don't go'

‘How many more grandparents like me have to lose their beloved grandchildren before someone stands up to the family courts?’

Their problems began in 2007 when Wendy, who was divorced from Charlotte’s father, remarried and moved the family from Norfolk to Shropshire.

Charlotte, then 14, started at a new school. However, she was soon targeted by a 31-year-old man who police and social services suspected of being a paedophile. He and Charlotte began a relationship without her parents’ knowledge and she fell pregnant soon after turning 16.

‘Of course, I was disappointed,’ says Wendy. ‘I wanted her to have a career first and children later, when she was in a settled relationship.

‘As she was barely two weeks into the pregnancy when I found out, I admit that, yes, we did talk about abortion, but Charlotte was very committed to having the baby.’

Besides, Shropshire Social Services, who were involved because of their fears about the father, insisted Charlotte had ‘a human right’ to have her baby. How ironic, given what later happened.

Charlotte was provided with a flat and benefits by the state, and Wendy and her husband furnished it for her.

In February 2010, just short of her 17th birthday, Charlotte went into labour. Wendy was her birthing partner. ‘I will remember it till the day I die. The moment I saw my grandson, it changed everything — I was elated beyond words.’

In the weeks that followed, Charlotte proved to be a good mother, making ends meet and keeping her adored and thriving son clean and well-fed.

'I would give my life to hold him one more time'

A year later, having split from the boy’s father during her pregnancy, Charlotte met a new boyfriend. Nearly ten years older and a bit of a drifter, he was far from the partner Wendy had dreamed of for her daughter — but he adored Charlotte. He regularly showered her with flowers and was devoted to her son, and the three were happy together. All seemed calm.

Then came the events of September 19, 2012. Wendy and her husband were in Madeira to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Charlotte’s boyfriend and her son were having a bath together, as they often did, while Charlotte caught up with bills and paperwork in the next room. The toddler had recently started potty training, so after his bath he was allowed to play naked from the waist down.

It was then he went up to his mother and said: ‘Mummy, willy sore.’ Charlotte examined him and noticed some discolouration and swelling. After texting her mum for advice, she decided to see if it was better the next day.

It wasn’t. Fatefully, Wendy suggested Charlotte take him to her GP — advice she says she will regret giving till her dying day.

Despite examining the boy, the doctor was baffled and so sent the family to the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford.

Several junior doctors looked at the child, and all were puzzled. Eventually, a consultant paediatrician examined him. In his notes, he put forward two hypotheses: that the penis was swollen due to a naturally occurring condition, or that it could have been caused by a wound deliberately inflicted. Both comments were accompanied by question marks. In other words, he didn’t know either.

Police were called to the hospital, where they interviewed Charlotte, her partner and the paediatrician. There was, they said, no case to answer: as far as the police were concerned, no crime had been committed.

The hospital decided to keep her son in overnight, so Charlotte and her boyfriend slept in chairs near his bed. The next day, however, they were told to go home without him.

'How do you say goodbye to someone you love? You can’t. It’s like murder'

They were distressed beyond measure, says Wendy, and Charlotte ‘went berserk’ with worry and anger.

When they arrived home, the couple started a desperate hunt for clues, photographing anything in the flat on which the boy could have hurt himself.

But knowing they had done nothing wrong, they reassured themselves that the matter would be cleared up within days.

Instead, to their shock, they were told there would be a hearing at Telford County Court on September 25 to decide what action to take.

Wendy and her husband found an expert in family law to represent Charlotte and her partner.

It was only after a meeting with him that they discovered what a serious predicament they were in. When they asked if they’d be able to take the little boy home, the solicitor replied: ‘I don’t think so.’

‘We were in shock,’ Wendy explains. ‘If you are innocent, you assume everything will be all right. I believed in British justice. Even at this stage we all thought it was just a matter of time before he would be home.’

Graham and Gail Curlew
Unsubstantial reasons: Graham and Gail Curlew, from Sheringham, Norfolk, said their grandchildren were removed from them with no reason ever given

At the hearing, it was decided that the boy would be placed with foster parents, who turned out to be older than his grandparents. Charlotte was allowed just an hour-and-a-half of supervised contact, eventually with her mother in attendance, twice a week.

‘He was distraught,’ says Wendy. ‘Every time he saw Charlotte, he ran to her, threw his arms around her and said: “Don’t go, Mummy; don’t go!”

‘Putting him in the car and seeing him sobbing as he waved goodbye was awful every time. And Charlotte wasn’t allowed to tell him that the separation was involuntary, so what was going through his little mind? I dread to think of the long-term effects.’

Charlotte launched her own legal battle but when her solicitor suggested she blame her boyfriend for the injury as it was her best chance of recovering her son, she refused point blank — after all, he hadn’t done anything.

Eventually, though, despite believing in his innocence, she ended the relationship and broke off all contact with him in a bid to get her son back. The endless stress took a toll on Charlotte’s health: her weight plummeted from ten to just six-and-a-half stone — dangerous for her 5ft 9in height — and she stopped sleeping.

A further court date for February 2013 was set and the family held their breath, praying that their beloved boy would be returned to them.

‘Because we all knew no one had hurt him, we had every confidence the expert witnesses would exonerate the family,’ says Wendy. ‘Sooner or later, everyone would see sense.’

Despite their hopes, the boy was taken away from them, even though no definitive medical diagnosis had been made of his condition and its cause.

Then, on May 17 last year, another court ratified his adoption.

The next day, Charlotte received an official letter saying her contact with her son was at an end. She would have to say goodbye to her little boy for ever on May 24, 2013.

‘How do you say goodbye to someone you love?’ asks Wendy, sobbing so much she can barely speak. ‘You can’t. It’s like murder.

‘As we left him, I told him that Charlotte was his mummy. I said: “Never forget that: she’s your real, your only mummy.”

‘And then [the social worker] lied to him: they told him he just needed to go to the toilet . . . but instead they took him away for ever.

‘What happened next is a bit of a blur. We were screaming, hysterical with grief. I told a social worker: “If you hadn’t lied in court, this would never have happened.” We were beside ourselves.

The foster mother even asked us for some mementos, his first rattle for example. It was as though they wanted to take everything — it was sick.’

In October 2013, Wendy went to court herself to request contact with her grandson. Social Services opposed her application, saying she was unstable and citing her grief-stricken reaction as her grandson was torn from their arms. The court found against her.

Tomorrow, the adoption will be final. After that, no court in the land can give him back to his family. ‘One day,’ Wendy says, ‘we hope that he will go on the internet, read stories about us, and learn that we fought tooth and nail for him, and we love him to bits. Perhaps his adoptive family will read our story, know we love him, and be kind and take pity on us.’

They cling desperately to the last straw of hope: that the adoptive parents may allow some meagre contact.

‘They decided to take him from us the moment we set foot in the hospital,’ Charlotte says. ‘They didn’t want me to be a good mum: they wanted adoption. Lovely children are in demand for adoption. He’s been so loved, he’ll be easy to love. If he’d really been abused, he’d be difficult, and who wants “damaged goods”?’

The government target is to increase adoptions of children in care. Children who go back to their parents — or to loving grandparents — do not meet the target. Thus, in 1995 the number of children under five adopted in England was a mere 560, while children under five whose care ceased (a term that includes those who go back to live with their families) was double this.

By 2012, the number whose care ceased was much the same, while adoptions had more than quadrupled: of these a staggering 1,100 were ominously described as ‘consent dispensed with’.

‘The obsession with adoption is splitting up many families merely because of government diktat,’ says John Hemming MP, chairman of Families for Justice which fights for those who suffer at the courts’ hands.

‘I expect in years to come the then government will apologise to the children for what has been done to them today. What matters now, however, is to change the system so the needs of children come to the fore rather than government policy.

‘In particular, the system ignores grandparents. For children to be taken into care is often a traumatic step, whereas staying with grandparents is normal life and a far better option than foster care. However, grandparents, uncles and aunts have no right to be heard by the court.’

Wendy agrees: ‘The impact this has had on my grandson will never heal. Any physical trauma he suffered was gone within days. Losing his birth family will haunt him for ever.

‘And that’s not even thinking of the rest of us. I’ll be 65 before I see him again [when he turns 18 and is allowed to search for his biological family], if I ever do. He gave my 82-year-old mother reason to go on living after she suffered a stroke. Yesterday, she pointed at his toy in her house — she won’t let us remove it — and the tears were streaming down her face. She will never see him again.’

And what of Charlotte, who’s been warned by her barrister that if she has any other children, they will be taken into care, too?

‘If I could just hold him one more time,’ she says, ‘I think I would give my life.’

We gave Shropshire Social Services the right to reply but they said they could not comment on the case.

Source: Daily Mail

Disappearing Court Comments

February 24, 2014 permalink

When Jennifer Demers was in Pembroke Ontario family court on August 26, 2013 judge Robert G Selkirk made a short comment during auguments which demonstrated judicial bias. She ordered a transcript to get a record of his remarks, but when it arrived on January 7, 2014 the prejudical remark was absent. On ordering an audio recording of the hearing, she found that the remark was also missing from the audio. If Mrs Demers is to be believed, the court is altering both the recording and the transcript before letting them out of the courthouse.

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
local copy (pdf)

magician
Ontario court transcript editor

Born in the CAS

February 22, 2014 permalink

In this easy case for CAS, baby Skyler became a ward of Dufferin CAS because her teenaged mother was also their ward. Prospects of this baby growing up with the love of a mother are nil. The mother tells her story on Facebook, enclosed.

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Ivy Melissa Looking for support in my court room March 5th in Orangeville Ontario, They say I can't see my daughter unless I get assessed, I went to the Hospital in Kitchener Waterloo and they said NO MEDICATION WILL HELP ANY SITUATION I HAVE BEEN SUFFERING FROM A LARGE AMOUNT OF TRAUMA AND ONLY NEED COUNSELING, DCAFS in Orangeville Ontario have put me through a large amount of trauma and I need as many people possible in support of me and my baby girl Skyler, I am fighting for custody and children's services has only proven to me that THEY are unsafe and have uncontrollable lies against me, WITHOUT being assessed in a ''Psychiatric Ward'' children's services put me on a Drug called PROZAC- many are familiar with the name, the worker who took my case says I was a very angry person and that could lead to emotional and physical harm to my 6 month baby.... BULLSHIT! its because of that medication they ILLEGALLY MADE ME TAKE! I attended a grouphome in Orangeville and took off from there to go to any other place I felt safe, I was arrested on many occasions for leaving this home, and even though I told police they were emotionally abusing the girls in the home along with many other types of abuse, they sent me back so I could leave again the next day, I've never been involved with police on any terms other then when I went in to the care of that grouphome.

Please Help Support Me. I AM sixteen years of age and I was Pregnant when I was fifteen years of age, and had my daughter three days after my sixteenth birthday, I never in my life thought I was able to have a child, so I put every single small and big effort in to making her the way she is today, Skyler was a month premature and left the Hospital 2 days after birth, if I was just a teenager who didn't care, I would not have made that little girl so beautiful and healthy. She deserves to have a Mommy, and I AM THAT MOM! NOBODY CAN LOVE HER AS MUCH AS I DO!

Please help me in March as I believe nothing should matter but FAMILY.

Thank You — Melissa Lane

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

Saskatchewan Foster Death

February 21, 2014 permalink

Two enclosed articles tell the story of a Saskatchewan parent relieved of her children by social services. In an effort to be fair, the reporter devoted half of the story to the parents, the other half to boilerplate assurances from Natalie Huber, executive director of child and family services for the Ministry of Social Services. Example: "Huber said reunifying families is their goal at Social Services." Huber also pointed to a signed agreement with the family, the kind of agreement that was not the voluntary act of the parents, as the rest of the story makes clear.

The second article continues with the news that one of the children seized, Ritchie McKenzie Black, age 10 months, has died in foster care.

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Women upset about treatment of children in foster care

Although the foster care system is in place to protect children, one mother feels she has been treated unfairly.

Janelle McKenzie, a mother of four, feels her two children were unfairly taken from her after a caseworker visit that happened about seven months ago.

Even though she has had problems with substance abuse in the past, McKenzie said her addiction was not a problem when the caseworker made a visit to her home.

“My regular case worker had a backup worker come to check up on the kids,” McKenzie said. “I said to her, ‘My kids are napping, I’m on the methadone. When my kids nap, I nap with them.’ I said, ‘You are cutting in on my naptime -- can you please leave and come back a different time?’”

The caseworker told McKenzie the visit would only take a couple minutes, which turned into close to 15 minutes. Since she was tired when the caseworker was visiting, she started to nod off a bit.

“I’m not going to deny my methadone wasn’t too high because it was too high,” McKenzie said.

Her doctor was monitoring her methadone, taking her dose down each week by five millilitres.

After the visit, the caseworker came back half an hour later to take McKenzie’s children, who were three years old and three months old at the time.

“They said, ‘Don’t give us a hard time because if you do the cops will be involved,’” she said.

“I said, ‘OK, I want you to write down my kids have Pampers, milk, groceries, my house is clean. I made sure the worker wrote that all down before she took my children (so they knew my children) had everything they needed and more.”

Since her children were being well taken care of, McKenzie is unsure why foster care chose to take them away.

“I should have talked to my regular worker -- I don’t know why the back-up worker took my kids,” McKenzie said. “The nurses were having thoughts that the baby wasn’t being fed properly and being neglected.”

McKenzie said their claims were false, as she was making sure her baby, Richie, had enough milk.

“We were getting free milk for the baby because I am HIV-positive,” McKenzie said. “I get free milk for my baby for a year until he gets on homo milk. There was no reason I wouldn’t strive to feed my baby.”

According to McKenzie, the caseworker told her drugs had nothing to do with why her children were taken away. Rather they were removed because her methadone dose was too high and the baby lost a pound.

“He lost a pound in foster care and nothing happened to them,” she said. “He lost a pound in the hospital. Right there, that can tell you I wasn’t neglecting my son.

“Even our methadone co-ordinator, she was so upset,” McKenzie added. “She said, ‘I don’t know why they took your kids, you were doing so good. Your randoms are so clean.’”

Natalie Huber, executive director of child and family services for the Ministry of Social Services, said the ministry is required to tell parents why their children have been taken away.

“We are required by law to inform the parent and if we found a child in need of protection and the child is coming into care, we would serve them with an apprehension notice,” Huber said. “Wherever possible we will be engaging with families in signing a section nine agreement, which is a voluntary agreement for children to come into care.

“The family signs that agreement with us. It is basically an agreement saying we will provide care and support for the child while we work on the plan with the family to reunify the child back home,” she added. “We work closely with the parents and they are notified when a child comes into care.”

After the children were taken away, McKenzie admits she and the children’s father both fell into a deep depression and started using more drugs, but while she had her children she was only using the doctor-prescribed amount of methadone.

Not only did they lose their children, but since they were living in a low rental housing unit, the family also lost their home and belongings.

According to Huber, children will only be removed from a home if the child is at risk.

“If we receive a concern from any of the general public and it is related to neglect due to addictions or the parent’s inability to care for the child due to addictions, then we would hear that concern and conduct an investigation,” Huber said.

“If we receive a report around a concern someone might have around a person’s drinking or drug use, something that is related to addictions, we would look at the impact that their addiction is having on the child.

“For example if it is due to their drinking is causing them to neglect the child or treat the child in a way they shouldn’t be treated so they are placed in situations they are unsafe, those are things we would be looking at,” she added. “Our primary concern is around the safety of children.”

Usually, they try to keep the children at home and work with the parents if they do not feel the children are in danger.

“We do have a number of concerns that will come to our attention where families are involved with drugs or alcohol and in most circumstances we would go out, we would meet with the family, try to understand what the concerns are, but again what we are assessing is a level of safety and the risk to the child,” Huber said.

“Where we can keep the child safely at home and provide interventions, treatment supports for mom and dad, we will try it at every cost that we can to keep the child at home safely. When we can’t assure the child’s safety is when we will bring them into care however.”

Since her children were put into foster care, McKenzie feels they have been more neglected and not treated well by the foster family.

“The foster parents took in my baby (to the hospital) at six months old,” McKenzie said. “When they took him in, he was fighting for his life. He was fighting just to breathe … They didn’t know if he was going to get any better, that is how sick he was.”

McKenzie and the children’s father were not informed the baby was in the hospital until he had to be transferred to Saskatoon three days later, which upset them both.

“When we arrived, my baby was hooked up to so many machines,” McKenzie said. “He had to have help breathing, tags on his chest, intravenous on head, arm and ankle.”

The parents were told Richie had pneumonia at first, but after about a month in the hospital, they decided to do an MRI after he had a 45-minute seizure.

“The doctor came and talked to us,” McKenzie said. “He said he had bleeding between the brain and skull.”

Richie had been in the hospital for about a month and a half.

“By the time they did the MRI it was like a bruise almost healed,” McKenzie said. “I asked them if they could find the time frame it happened and they said it happened a month and a half ago. I said ‘OK, he was in foster care then right?’ And the doctor said right.”

Although she would have loved to stay with her child, McKenzie was forced to leave him to be picked up by the foster parents.

All the nurses were impressed with her care and concern for her child while she was at the hospital, McKenzie said.

“I got support letters from the nurses and they said, ‘Wow you are so good with him. We never thought he was going to get better and since you have been here he has gotten so much better.’”

Since then, during one of her visits with her children her three-year-old showed up with a bruise about the size of the palm of a hand on his butt that was a very dark purple.

“We asked them what happened to his butt, why is the bruise so big and they said he fell on a baseboard,” McKenzie said. “How can a baseboard doing that much damage? It was almost the size of your palm.”

Other incidents have been noted as well. McKenzie said the baby has had terrible diaper rash and his bum isn’t kept clean and the three-year-old recently had a cut above his eye.

McKenzie doesn’t understand why the foster family is not being disciplined for her children being injured under their care.

“Nothing happened to them,” she said. “My children are still in that foster home.”

She has told the social workers that she wants her children out of that foster home. Social Services said they would look into it.

Huber said foster parents are required to report any serious injury of a child in their care to the ministry.

“They are required to notify us immediately and as for policy, we complete an assessment to determine the cause of injury, whether or not the child is safe and ensure if medical treatment is already received or if they need to receive, we would work closely with the foster parents in that regard,” Huber said.

“If the concerns are such that we have concerns about the quality of care in the foster home or that we are concerned about the child’s safety in that foster home, we may make a decision to move the child pending an investigation.”

The investigation would depend on a number of factors, including interviews with the foster parents, others with information about the foster home and interviews with the children in their care.

“If police are involved, it may require involvement with them as well,” Huber said. “It is really dependent on a number of factors. We try to complete the investigation within a 30-day timeframe.”

Huber said reunifying families is their goal at Social Services.

“What we like to focus on is the safe return of the child home if they do have to come into care,” Huber said. “The ministry works closely with parents. Certainly we are working very closely with parents when the plan is to reunify the child back home.

“When the case plan is to return the child back home, we would certainly be taking into consideration the parents’ wishes around the care plans for the child and we would take into consideration their requests but our decisions are based on the best interests of the child,” she added. “Obviously if the child is connected with the caregiver and they are doing well in the home, they are placed close to their school, those are considerations to make sure the child is in a situation where they are not disrupted.”

Although McKenzie wants her children removed from the foster home, she is currently working on getting them back.

“We are going to get our children back right away,” McKenzie said. “All we have to do is outpatient treatment at Addictions Services. I don’t understand why we have to do this outpatient treatment when it has nothing to do with drugs why our children were taken away. I don’t understand why we have to do these steps if it has nothing to do with drugs.”

In terms of parents with concerns about foster homes, Huber said they try to work with the parents.

“We will try to work closely with parents to address what their concerns are and take it into consideration,” Huber said. “Our primary focus is on the actions or inactions of the parent and how it contributes to any kind of maltreatment, abuse or neglect of the child.

“We deal with so many various concerns and reports that come to our attention, so our ultimate responsibility to try to assess safety and risk based on the parent’s ability, capacity and willingness to create a safe, quality or caring environment for the child.”

Source: Prince Albert Daily Herald


Family devastated after child’s death in foster care

Last week, Janelle McKenzie, a mother who had her two young children taken away from her and put in foster care, was concerned for her children’s safety and health while in the foster care system.

Over the weekend, the McKenzie and her family were told their 10-month old baby died in foster care.

The news came as a shock to the family, who spent time with the baby last Wednesday.

“I had all of my children together on Wednesday and he was really beautiful,” McKenzie said. “He was such a nice baby and didn’t hardly ever cry.”

When McKenzie spoke to the Daily Herald last week, she said she didn’t know why her kids were taken away about six to seven months ago, since they were healthy, happy and in a good home.

“They took my baby away because he lost a pound and my methadone was too high,” McKenzie said. “My methadone co-ordinator knew that all I needed was time. I didn’t deny my methadone was too high because it was.”

She said her addiction was under control, so it didn’t make sense why her foster care case worker would decide to take her children away.

Since her children were taken away, life has been rough for McKenzie and her partner Winston Black.

“We went from having everything one day to having nothing the next day,” McKenzie said. “It was really hard to accept.”

She also felt her children were not being properly taken care of in the foster home, after the baby had to be admitted to the hospital at six months old.

“He was in the hospital for a month and a half,” McKenzie said. “When he was in the hospital, they did an MRI and it showed he had bleeding between the brain and the skull.”

When she told Social Services she didn’t want her children in that home anymore, they told her they would see what they could do.

On Saturday, McKenzie received a call that her baby was once again in the hospital.

“This time, his lungs kept filling up with blood,” McKenzie said. “The doctor said his lungs were filling up so fast he couldn’t breathe. It kept getting worse.”

“I want to know where all the blood came from,” Black added.

The family wants answers and they are waiting for the results of an autopsy to tell them what killed their baby.

“I don’t understand why he is gone -- he was such a happy baby,” McKenzie said, trying to hold back tears. “I don’t understand. I just want my baby back. I just want him back.”

“I just miss him so much and I don’t want him to be gone,” she added. “I really think if he would have been home with us, he wouldn’t be gone today.”

Although McKenzie was on methadone when she was pregnant with the baby, studies have shown the drug is considered safe for pregnant women, so that should not have had an effect on the baby’s health.

McKenzie believes the foster home where her children were was too crowded and said they had several young children, other adults and some animals at the house.

“That would be a lot for two people,” she said. “How much time do you have?”

Since the baby’s death, McKenzie and Black have had their three-year-old boy with them.

“He keeps asking where his brother is,” McKenzie said. “I don’t know how to tell him. They were so close.”

When a child dies in foster care, the Ministry of Social Services said, an internal review process will take place.

“Upon notification that the child has died in foster care, we actually begin our review process,” said Natalie Huber, the executive director of child and family services for the Ministry of Social Services. “We have an internal review process here. We have a team of quality assurance analysts who go out and conduct a child death review on the circumstances that led to a child’s death and the services that were provided to the child leading up to their death.”

It is a very comprehensive review, Huber said, and the biological parents of the child are immediately notified.

“We also refer to, wherever possible, advise the family in person to offer our condolences and whatever supports we can to the family,” Huber said. “It might be some counselling supports, supports in the community that might be available as well. We make sure we try to engage with families as soon as possible or immediately following the notification of death.”

During the review process, Social Services would meet with the foster parents, biological parents, the child’s case worker and other individuals who have worked with either the foster family or biological family.

“It is really looking at the circumstances that lead to the child’s death and the circumstances that we were providing to both the family and the child during their time of involvement with the Ministry of Social Services,” Huber said. “The purpose of our review is really to determine if there is any concerns around the services we were providing and if there are some learnings we can take away from the very tragic event to help improve our services going forward.

“We do that very comprehensive review that includes findings and recommendations that inform our ministry in a broader sense, around changes to perhaps our policy, could be changes to informed training or just changes overall to our practice,” Huber said. “We would assess the circumstances that lead to child’s death.”

Outside of the review, Huber said, they would want to immediately understand the circumstances that lead to the child’s death.

“If there were concerns related to the care that the child was provided then a formal investigation may be required of the foster home and the children -- could be the sibling or other children -- in the home could be removed from the home to conduct that investigation or finalization of that investigation,” Huber said.

Since Social Services also want to know why a child in care has died, an autopsy is ordered and performed by the Chief Coroner’s office.

“That is done by an independent office and the chief medical examiner would conduct an autopsy and determine the cause of death and notify the ministry,” Huber said. “That is part of review process is to gather any information coming from the chief medical examiner following their review. They do a review more medical in nature just to determine the cause of death.”

In cases where there are concerns of a criminal nature, the police will also become involved.

“They may be conducting an investigation and information may be coming to us as well that would be complied and pulled into our review process as well,” Huber said.

Unless there were concerns around the care children are receiving in a foster home, other children in that home will remain there.

“Each case is really assessed based on the individual circumstances but we wouldn’t typically just remove a sibling group from the home due to that particular incident occurring,” Huber said.

Social Services also offers support to both the foster family and the biological family when a child dies in care.

“We would want to work with the foster parents and ensure we are providing them with the necessary supports,” Huber said. “We would want to make sure if they need some time to grieve or respite or babysitting services to allow them to attend to their own personal needs, we would want to provide for that as well.

“At the same time as we are supporting the biological family and providing the necessary supports there at the same time we are working really closely with the foster families to support them and provide whatever they might need to work through and to support them through this very difficult situation,” she added.

McKenzie is glad she had visits with her baby, but wishes things would have turned out differently.

“It was so beautiful to have my children together for that last day,” she said. “If I knew that was going to be the last day I would have done things so much differently.”

Source: Prince Albert Daily Herald

Mutual Annihilation

February 21, 2014 permalink

An Arizona social worker investigating clients selling heroin encountered a cop entrapping addicts buying heroin. The cop arrested the social worker, Leyla Sadikovic.

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Arizona CPS worker accused of heroin purchase

A state Child Protective Services worker was arrested Thursday evening on suspicion of buying drugs from undercover detectives, Phoenix police said.

Leyla Sadikovic, 35, bought $200 worth of heroin while driving in a government-issued vehicle, Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said.

Sadikovic reportedly told investigators she did the drug buy as a part of her job with CPS to investigate her clients.

The Phoenix Police Department’s Drug Enforcement Bureau had received a tip earlier that day that Sadikovic was soliciting a client to obtain narcotic drugs.

Police said Sadikovic made many attempts throughout Thursday to get a hold of drugs.

Sadikovic was booked into jail on a count of attempted possession of a narcotic drug, Crump said.

The internal affairs division of Child Protective Services is working with Phoenix Police in the investigation.

Source: Arizona Republic


LEYLA SADIKOVIC : #T055620
Date Of Booking: 02/21/2014

Leyla Sadikovic

Leyla Sadikovic

Gender:
FEMALE
D.O.B:
5/12/1977
Height:
5'08
Weight:
125
Hair:
BLONDE OR STRAWBERRY
Eye:
BLUE
In Custody For:
NARCOTIC DRUG-POSSESS/USE

Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (mugshots expire in three days)

snakes eating each other

Contempt for Dad's Efforts to Save Daughter

February 19, 2014 permalink

Justina Pelletier
Justina Pelletier skating in January 2013. As of February 2014 she is confined to a wheelchair.

Source: New York Daily News

Teenager Justina Pelletier was seized from her parents one year ago after Boston Children's Hospital decided she suffered not from mitochondrial disease but child abuse. After a year of protection from her parents, the formerly active girl is paralyzed from the waist down. The deterioration has driven father Lou Pelletier to breach a gag order in a desperate effort to save his daughter. He is now charged with contempt. If Massachusetts DCF get its way Lou will be behind bars soon and his daughter will continue to decline.

Justina's cause has its own Facebook page, Free Justina Pelletier From Boston Children's Hospital! and donation site.

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Beck Begs Listeners to Help Family of 15-Year-Old at the Center of Boston Children’s Controversy Before She ‘Wastes Away and Dies’

Glenn Beck on Tuesday implored his listeners to speak up over the case of Justina Pelletier, a 15-year-old who has been at the center of a fierce battle between her parents, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Boston Children’s Hospital.

“I have been in this fight before, with Terri Schiavo,” Beck said. “That one we lost. We might lose Justina.”

For those not familiar with the case, a little more than one year ago, Justina’s parents lost custody after disagreeing with a Boston Children’s Hospital diagnosis that their daughter had somatoform disorder, a psychiatric condition. They believed she had mitochondrial disease, a condition she had been receiving treatment for by doctors at Tufts Medical Center.

The parents were accused of “over-medicalizing” their daughter, and are now restricted to 20-minute, monitored phone calls and weekly visits with their child at a DCF facility.

Pelletier family
Justina’s parents have been fighting against Boston Children’s Hospital and the state’s Department of Children and Families for more than a year, as they believe she needs to be treated for mitochondrial disorder, a diagnosis some doctors disagreed with.
Image source: Facebook

But while Justina’s condition would have presumably improved once she was removed from the care of her “over-medicalizing” parents, Lou Pelletier, the girl’s father, said her condition is rapidly worsening.

Breaking a court-imposed gag-order to speak with TheBlaze, Lou said his daughter was ice skating in February of last year, and she now has “no strength below the hips, [and] minimal strength above the hips.” He said she has been “tortured, physically and mentally, for over a year” and nothing has been done to stop it.

“The head games that have been played on Justina are worse than any Stephen King novel,” he claimed on Glenn Beck’s radio program Tuesday, adding that he fears his daughter is “dying.”

Lou explained that his daughter has colon issues because of mitochondrial disease, and doctors at Tufts performed surgery to insert a colostomy tube to be able to flush out her system.

Now, he claimed, “going for days or weeks at a time … [they will] not do the flush.” Rather, he added, they make Justina “sit on the toilet” for “hours,” saying it is “all in her head.”

Lou Pelletier speaks about his daughter, Justina, on Glenn Beck’s radio program Feb. 18, 2014.
Photo: TheBlaze TV

“Why does your other daughter live with you if you’re so bad?” Beck asked, noting Lou has another daughter with mitochondrial disease. “If this is something that’s really sick, why haven’t they taken your other daughter?”

“And two others and a 93 year old mother-in-law,” Lou added, throwing up his hands.

Lou said that since Justina was moved to a “psychiatric residential facility in Framingham, Massachusetts” roughly one month ago, she is not getting any of the care she needs.

“The first time we saw her … it was 18 degrees out,” he recalled. “We met her outside the DCF facility … Her hair was soaking wet. She was shaking, scared. The next two weeks, either her hair was greasy as anything, along with the gum lines, along with you name it…”

“Remember, she’s in a wheelchair,” he added. “No strength below the hips, minimal strength above the hips, and … she’s getting no to minimal assistance. They are not [a medical facility]. They don’t want to deal with this.”

After his wife filed a complaint, Lou added, Justina’s hair was “blow dried,” but the girl said “under her breath” that the staff was “not happy” they had been asked to do it.

Note from Justina Pelletier
Justina Pelletier sends her parents notes. Without custody, her parents can visit her once a week and call her twice each week.
Image source: WTIC-TV

Lou said the authorities now want to move Justina to a farm called the “Shared Living Collaborative” on the New Hampshire border of Massachusetts.

“America, listen to me,” Beck said, his voice fraught with emotion. “Hear me carefully. This is not about his daughter. If you don’t treat his daughter like your daughter, we’re all toast.”

Beck said “they would’ve had to put [him] in handcuffs” if the same thing happened to him, and that the Pelletier family should bring Boston Children’s and the state of Massachusetts “to its knees” if Justina is returned to their custody and she is determined to have mitochondrial disease at the end of all this.

But Beck said he fears the issue is being swept under the rug, since that would be the most convenient solution for the state.

“If the problem just ‘goes away,’ whether it be it to a farm, where nobody thinks about it anymore, or God forbid, she just wastes away and dies, then we’re past this and we don’t ever have to admit anything,” Beck said. “And I think that’s what’s happening. And that can’t happen.”

He urged listeners to go to www.freejustina.com if they wish to help the family financially.

Source: TheBlaze


Contempt Charges Filed Against Dad Who Defied Gag Order to Tell Daughter’s Heartbreaking Story

Editor’s Note: Lou Pelletier confirmed the charges during an interview with Glenn Beck. You can read that update at the bottom of this story.


The Massachusetts Department of Children & Families filed for Lou Pelletier — the father of 15-year-old Justina Pelletier who is the center of a controversy and legal battle involving custody, parents’ rights and two medical diagnoses — to be held in contempt of court, a family source told TheBlaze.

When Pelletier spoke with TheBlaze this week about Justina and the controversy regarding her diagnosis that led custody to be taken away from her parents for the last year, he broke a gag order issued by a Massachusetts judge.

Pelletier family
A family source said Lou Pelletier was accused of being in contempt of court for breaking a judicial gag order. Lou and Linda Pelletier have been fighting against the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families and Boston Children’s Hospital for more than a year to regain custody of their daughter Justina and the right to choose her medical treatment.
Image source: Facebook

The source, who asked to remain anonymous fearing further legal repercussions, said Tuesday the state’s DCF filed that Pelletier be held in contempt of court for breaking the order, using stories on TheBlaze and one that appeared last week in the New York Daily News as evidence.

Pelletier admitted to TheBlaze earlier this week that he wasn’t sure if his speaking out would help his family or hurt it.

“Should I even be doing what I’m doing today?” Lou told TheBlaze Monday. “You’re scared. If I do this, is it going to make it worse for Justina? Is it going to make it better?”

“I need to save my daughter. It’s not this court house. It’s not the state of Massachusetts,” he said at another point in our interview. “If we don’t do something, she is going to die.”

The injunction preventing the Pelletiers from talking publicly about their daughter in the context of the case was issued on Nov. 7, 2013, according to WTIC-TV. The gag order was issued after the media investigation by WTIC’s Beau Berman.

Justina Pelletier
Justina Pelletier, now 15 years old, was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by physicians at Tufts Medical Center. Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital disagreed with her treatment for this disease, believing she had somatoform disorder instead.
Image source: Facebook

Going against a gag order, if found in contempt of a court order, could be considered either civil or criminal. Civil contempt of court would involve a failure to obey a court order. Criminal contempt of court is often issued as punishment to prevent future acts of contempt.

Penalties for being found in contempt of court, depending on the type, range from being required to pay the legal fees to paying a fine to jail time.

Jim Ianiri, an attorney in the Boston area who has been involved in custody battles over medical issues since the 1990s but who is not involved in this case, shared his legal expertise with TheBlaze about this situation.

“The court is going to determine whether or not to hold [a person] in contempt of court, and then impose the appropriate penalties, if you will, on that,” Ianiri explained.

A party files a motion to find someone in contempt of court. Then a judge would have to grant the motion, or allow motion, and then find someone in contempt of court or not in contempt of court, Ianiri continued.

“What they’re looking for is a contempt order. An order finding [someone] is in contempt could result in a fine,” he said.

Ianiri also speculated that in this case it would be civil contempt of court, as he thought criminal “is a little more extreme.”

The Pelletiers lost custody, at least temporarily, of Justina to DCF on Feb. 14, 2013. After taking her to Boston Children’s Hospital a few days prior when she had the flu, they say doctors at the hospital wanted to change her treatment regimen. Those physicians believed Justina had somatoform disorder, a psychological disorder that said the symptoms she experienced were all in her head. The Pelletiers, however, disagreed and believed she should continue treatment for mitochondrial disease, a disease she was diagnosed with and had been treated for by doctors at Tufts Medical Center.

When the Pelletiers went to Boston Children’s Hospital on Valentine’s Day 2013 to have their daughter discharged and taken to Tufts, they were served with a 51A form instead — one that accused them of medical abuse. Essentially, they were accused of treating their daughter medically in a way that she didn’t need.

Since that day, the Pelletiers have had limited communication with their daughter and faced numerous court hearings as it is still being decided what will happen with regard to her custody and treatment. The next court date for this case is on Monday, Feb. 24.

TheBlaze reached out to the Suffolk County Family and Probate Court to confirm the filing and were told to contact juvenile court in this case instead. The Suffolk County Juvenile Court Division told TheBlaze it could neither confirm nor deny a contempt of court filing at the time because records within the division are confidential because they involve children.

TheBlaze also sought comment from the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families for comment but did not hear back at the time of this posting.


Update: Lou Pelletier, Justina’s father, called into the Glenn Beck Radio Program Wednesday morning and confirmed that DCF has filed contempt of court charges against him.

Pelletier said he doesn’t yet know if the contempt of court will be civil or criminal nor does he know of a special court hearing set for this case yet.

On the show, Pelletier pointed out that in April DCF and Boston Children’s Hospital were aware that a Massachusetts newspaper was working on a story involving Justina’s case but noted that it wasn’t until seven months later after WTIC in Connecticut investigated that the gag order was imposed.

“Those are the things that just make you shake your head among so many other things,” Pelletier said, questioning why a gag order was not imposed earlier then.

Pelletier, who called TheBlaze later Wednesday morning, said the filing from DCF was six pages long. It cited three news articles as violations of Pelletier breaking the gag order. Two of these articles he said didn’t speak with him directly at the time but were sourcing other media outlets about what he said.

“Our attorney said it’s not a surprise,” Pelleteir said. “He’s going to prepare a motion to lift the gag order.”

When asked if he regrets talking with the media, Pelletier said, “we’re all in” at this point.

While Pelletier said his deciding to speak out was a “double-edged sword,” Beck asked if anything good has come out of his telling the family’s story so far.

“People have been flooding us with donations,” Pelletier said, noting it would help his family in what he likened to the “ultimate David and Goliath” story. “Many, many thanks to everybody that has contributed.”

“The biggest thing is, as I said yesterday, there are people with the power to stop this now,” Pelletier said later. “The governor of both states, the attorney generals, the DCF commissioners all have the power, executive authority, to stop this.”

A Massachusetts DCF spokesperson said in an email to TheBlaze Wednesday morning that it doesn’t provide comment or information about children in its custody. The spokesperson also pointed out that the court-issued gag order prohibited any parties involved from discussing the case or the situation surrounding it.

Source: TheBlaze

Massachusetts DCF wants to place Justina in foster care and continue gagging her father.

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Parents of Justina Pelletier upset after learning teenager will now be sent to DCF foster care, advocat says

Justina Pelletier’s mother collapsed and her father shouted in anger today after learning at a Boston courthouse that the Department of Children and Families wants to place their teenage daughter in foster care on Boston’s North Shore, according to a minister who represents the family.

The parents were also upset because they were told a gag order preventing them from talking to the media remains in place, said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, head of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian Defense Coalition, a group that is helping the family.

Linda Pelletier fainted in the corridor outside the Boston Juvenile Court and was taken away on a stretcher to a local hospital. Her husband, Lou Pelletier, occasionally erupted into angry shouts. Reporters were restricted from the fourth floor of the Brooke Courthouse, where a hearing on Justina’s case was held, but could see the Pelletiers from a fifth-floor balcony across the courthouse atrium.

Mahoney said the parents were reacting after emerging from the closed-door hearing, which had lasted about two hours.

Mahoney said late this afternoon that Linda Pelletier had recovered fairly well from her fainting episode, and was expected to be released from Massachusetts General Hospital sometime later today. Mahoney was spending the afternoon with the Pelletier family, who are from West Hartford, Conn.

Justina has been caught in the middle of a high-profile medical dispute and child custody battle involving two major Boston hospitals, the state’s child protection agency, and the Pelletiers, who want to bring their daughter home.

The Globe profiled the Pelletiers and the issues raised by the case in a two-part series.

One issue before the judge in today’s hearing was whether Lou Pelletier should be held in contempt of court for violating a gag order. The teen’s father has recently given media interviews in which he expressed frustration with the quality of care his daughter is getting while in DCF custody, care that he has asserted has been nearly fatal for her.

The Pelletiers’ primary attorney declined comment, citing the gag order.

Mahoney said the parents were deeply upset after being told Justina Pelletier would be sent into foster care, and away from a Framingham residential facility where she has been living for the past month.

Mahoney said he was working to help the Pelletiers win back custody of Justina.

Prior to the Framingham placement, Justina spent about a year in the locked psychiatric ward at Boston Children's Hospital despite the objections of her parents and in conflict with a diagnosis from Tufts Medical Center doctors that the teen suffered from mitochondrial disorder, the Globe has reported.

Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a conservative nonprofit legal group, said he now represents the Pelletiers in their effort to end the gag order imposed by the judge. He said the DCF was given two days to tell the judge whether they oppose allowing Staver to enter the case.

Officials at MitoAction, a nonprofit group raising awareness about mitochondrial disease, a rare condition, released a statement saying they had heard that a Boston judge had ordered the teenager to go into a “non-medical” facility in Merrimac.

It remained unclear just what the judge proposed at the hearing. However, typically a teenager like Justina, if viewed as medically stable, might go to a private foster home while also being required to attend some nearby day treatment and educational program.

Source: Boston Globe

Cut-and-Paste Judging

February 18, 2014 permalink

When British social workers coveted the baby of a mother with a long social services history, they brought their case to court in the form of testimony and a written report by Dr Celest van Rooyen. She recommended taking the baby to ensure its safety. Dr van Rooyen never met the mother, she relied on documents and a phone call with social worker. The court cut and pasted her observations into its findings. The mother, identified only as EL, was never heard, directly or indirectly. The facts came to light after an appellate judge ordered baby NL reunited with his mother.

Britain is not the only place with lazy judges. A Michigan court let clerks rubber stamp the judge's signature. In another, the judge signed blank forms, instructing social workers to fill in the names and dates as needed.

The Daily Mail report is enclosed, the appellate court decision is Re NL (A child)

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'It must never happen again': Appeal judge slams 'cut and paste' decision in family court which led to social workers taking baby from parents unjustly

  • Judges and social workers have been conspiring to remove children unjustly from their parents, scathing High Court ruling said today
  • Condemned family court judges for 'clandestine arrangement' in which they rubber-stamped the demands of social workers without fair hearing

Judges and social workers have been conspiring to remove children unjustly from their parents, a scathing High Court ruling said today.

It condemned family court judges for a ‘clandestine arrangement’ which meant that they simply rubber-stamped the demands of social workers without giving a fair hearing to the pleas of parents.

Rulings by family judges were ‘cut and pasted’ from recommendations emailed to the court by social workers, the High Court found.

The secret dealings between council officials and local judges were revealed in a High Court appeal in which Mrs Justice Pauffley ordered that a mother be re-united with her baby.

The baby was taken by social workers following a court case described by Mrs Justice Pauffley as ‘profoundly alarming’.

The High Court judge warned that ‘the practices I have described are not confined to this area but are widespread across the country'.

She said of the case, which involved judges at an unnamed family court and social workers employed by an unnamed council: ‘It is difficult to view the justices as having been independent and impartial if, as happened here, they simply adopted the local authority’s analysis of what their findings and reasons might comprise.

‘Just because there may be tacit acceptance on the part of many professionals within the family justice system that the practice which operated here exists, that does not mean it is right.

‘It is patently wrong, must stop at once and never happen again.’

The order to end collusion between judges and social workers was endorsed yesterday by the most senior family judge, President of the Family Division Sir James Munby.

In a circular to lawyers, Sir James warned all judges and lawyers to ‘carefully consider’ the case and added that Mrs Justice Pauffley ‘had to deal with circumstances which I hope will never recur.’ The scandal over secret deals between judges and social workers is the latest upheaval in a year of growing controversy over the family courts, the closely-associated Court of Protection, and the way the public has been routinely prevented from knowing what goes on in them.

Last year the Daily Mail revealed that a judge at the Court of Protection had sent a woman to jail in secret after she refused to stop trying to remove her father from a care home where she believed his life was in danger. All information about the imprisonment of Wanda Maddocks was banned from publication until the Mail investigated the case.

In December the Court of Protection was discovered to have ordered behind closed doors that a pregnant Italian woman must undergo a compulsory caesarean operation. The mother, Alessandra Pacchieri, was later told by a family court judge, again in secret, that her baby would be taken for adoption in Essex.

The secrecy surrounding the two court systems is now being loosened on the instructions of Sir James, who has acted to prevent both clandestine imprisonment and the removal of children from foreign mothers by British judges.

The exposure of private arrangements between family judges and social workers was exposed following an appeal by a mother whose child was taken into care.

The 32-year-old mother, a longstanding drug and drink abuser with a history of domestic violence, had had seven previous children. Six are living with their two fathers and one is in the process of being adopted. When she became pregnant again, she was given a place in a unit run by a specialist family drugs and alcohol service.

Mrs Justice Pauffley said it was ‘plain’ that social workers took a decision in advance to remove her baby, who was born in October last year. They cited the mother’s bleak history.

Family judges first heard the case on 1 November. They were presented with an expert report on the mother, commissioned by social workers and prepared by chartered clinical psychologist Dr Celest Van Rooyen. The psychologist, who also gave ‘very strong and powerful’ evidence in person, said the baby was at risk of harm.

The judges declared that ‘the immediate risk of harm is such that his safety requires the continuing removal from his mother’s care. It is proportionate and in his best interests.’ At a second hearing a week later, the same judges said the baby should stay with foster parents because ‘he needs to form an attachment with his primary carers.’ Mrs Justice Pauffley criticised the handling of the case in blunt and uncompromising language.

She said the Van Rooyen report on the mother had been researched and written in a day and the psychologist had spoken neither to the mother nor the medical and psychological experts with whom she and the baby were living. Instead, Dr Van Rooyen had relied on documents and a phone call to a social worker.

Mrs Justice Pauffley said: ‘It surprises and alarms me that Dr Van Rooyen was asked, and was prepared, to provide a report during the course of a single working day, a terrifyingly tight timeframe, and on the basis of papers supplemented by a telephone conversation with a local authority professional who had never met the mother.

‘I struggle to understand how Dr Van Rooyen’s apparently firm opinions, adverse to the mother, could have been formed given the complete absence of any kind of discussion with her.’ The High court judge said the family court judges had not written their own ‘findings of fact and reasons’ - their ruling in the case. The entire document had instead been emailed to them by lawyers for the local council before the 1 November hearing.

A near-identical document was drawn up by the judges after the second hearing. Mrs Justice Pauffley said this was ‘the result, almost certainly of cutting and pasting.’ Mrs Justice Pauffley said this practice ‘has become the norm’ in local family courts.

She said she was ‘profoundly alarmed’ at the practice, which was widespread.

‘There was, apparently, an established but largely clandestine arrangement between the local authority and the court which, to my mind, has considerable repercussions for justice.’ Mrs Justice Pauffley added: ‘In public law proceedings the local authority is the applicant. It is not and should never be seen as the decision maker. That is the role of the court.

‘There is no room for confusion. Justice must be upheld. There is no scope for dilution of that fundamental concept.’

John Hemming, the Lib Dem MP who has campaigned against secrecy in the family courts, said: ‘I am pleased that the senior judges are acting to stop stitch ups and “clandestine” fixing of decisions in the lower courts.

‘What really matters, however, is getting independent evidence into the process rather than the opinion of local authority employees who are instructed in what to say by their management, who are instructed by government as to what outcomes they want.’

Source: Daily Mail

Cut and paste
Training for British Judges

Deadbeat Director

February 18, 2014 permalink

Last month Illinois' governor appointed Arthur D. Bishop as director of the state's Department of Children and Family Services. Reporters have checked his qualifications. He was convicted bilking patients of the Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center out of more than $9,000. And Yolanda O’Connor named Bishop as the father of her daughter Erica, but he refused to acknowledge or support the girl.

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New DCFS boss pleaded guilty to stealing from social service agency's clients

Arthur D Bishop
Gov. Pat Quinn appointed Arthur Bishop to lead Illinois’ child welfare system last month. WBEZ and the Sun-Times found Bishop had once admitted to a misdemeanor theft after his former employer accused him of the crime.
(Sun-Times Media Library)

Gov. Pat Quinn’s new director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services pleaded guilty to stealing from clients of a West Side social service agency and later became embroiled in a child-support battle over a daughter he said he never knew he’d fathered, records show.

Arthur D. Bishop, 61, had a felony theft charge pending against him when then-Gov. Jim Edgar’s administration hired him as a DCFS caseworker in 1995. He’d been accused of bilking patients of the Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center out of more than $9,000, fighting the case for more than two years before pleading guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor theft.

Paternity case

Court records also show a paternity case was filed against Bishop in 2003, when he was a DCFS deputy director. DNA tests showed he was the father of Erica Bishop, then 17.

Her mother, Yolanda O’Connor, said Bishop knew Erica was his daughter from the time she was born in 1986. Bishop said in court papers he’d never met the girl and didn’t know O’Connor claimed Erica was his daughter until she served him with court papers.

Bishop, who was married to another woman when Erica was born, “denies his own daughter’s existence when he knows in his heart of hearts that he visited us on numerous occasions at my parents’ house when she was a child,” O’Connor said in a December 2003 court filing. Bishop “even asked me if he could live in with me if his wife put him out after she learned the truth. . . . All I want is for [Bishop] to just be a man about the situation and take responsibility for his child.”

O’Connor secured a $4,175 judgment and health insurance coverage for Erica until she turned 18, records show. But a judge denied her request for back child support after Bishop argued she’d never sought “support of any kind” from him and “in fact concealed” that he was Erica’s father.

Bishop declined to be interviewed for this story.

Governor stands by appointment

Quinn administration aides say the governor stands by his decision to make Bishop the state’s top child-welfare official.

“The governor appointed Arthur Bishop because of his decades of excellent work and respected leadership at the Departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Family Services,” Quinn press secretary Brooke Anderson said. “The governor feels he has the right experience to lead this very difficult agency.”

DCFS spokeswoman Karen Hawkins said: “We believe it’s inappropriate to raise decades-old issues that have long been resolved and have nothing to do with his performance as director.”

Bishop, who makes $150,000 a year, takes over DCFS at a pivotal time. The agency admitted in December to undercounting the number of child-abuse and neglect deaths in Illinois following a series of Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ reports that prompted criticism of the agency from legislators and some child advocates.

The agency also has been accused of failing to keep a close eye on its finances. In December, Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued South Side businessman George E. Smith, a friend of former DCFS director Erwin McEwen, to recover millions of dollars in state grant money Smith allegedly misspent. No criminal charges have been filed.

Quinn brought in Richard H. Calica to reform the agency. But Calica died of cancer in December, and Quinn then shifted Bishop from his post heading the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice — a job he’d held since August 2010 — back to DCFS, where he previously worked from 1995 to 2010.

Early work in counseling

Before his career in state government, Bishop was a substance-abuse counselor at the Bobby E. Wright center. According to his Sept. 17, 1993, arrest report, he received $9,262 from clients and failed to turn over that money to the center between May 5, 1992, and July 23, 1993.

Bishop created a “bogus” program for convicted drunken drivers, said Lucy Lang-Chappell, former executive director of the center, who was his boss. He was improperly taking money from patients and providing them with forms they wrongly believed would allow them to get their driver’s licenses back, though the center wasn’t licensed by the state to provide that service at the time, Chappell said in an interview.

She said the scheme was exposed when a patient came to the center in July 1993 with a currency exchange check the patient wrote to the center for his participation in the DUI program. The man said Bishop visited his home that day and insisted he replace the check with one written directly to Bishop, according to Chappell.

Chappell said she confronted Bishop with what the patient told her — and fired him on the spot.

The center was forced to reimburse “a stream of patients” for checks and cash they’d given Bishop, Chappell said. An insurance policy eventually covered the center’s losses, she said.

Another employee of the center also pleaded guilty in the theft, records show.

Bishop “really betrayed me and everybody else at the agency,” Chappell said. “The thing that really saddens me is that this is a man who is supposed to be over children and families — and this kind of thing happened. … He did something to the patients that was totally unethical, against the rules of the agency, and we were liable.”

Bishop has maintained that, despite his guilty plea, he was innocent of the theft allegations. At a 1994 court hearing, his lawyer said Bishop turned over the money he collected to Chappell, who says that’s “totally false.” Chappell, now retired, wasn’t accused of any wrongdoing, and other current and former Bobby Wright employees backed up her recollection of events in interviews with Sun-Times and WBEZ reporters.

In 2010, before Bishop was appointed director of the Department of Juvenile Justice, he gave a written statement to the Illinois Senate asserting that he was wrongly accused.

'Totally false accusation'

“In 1993, following an increasingly strained professional relationship with the CEO, Dr. Lucy Lang-Chappell, resulting in a verbal disagreement regarding programming, I walked out of her office,” Bishop wrote. “Soon thereafter, I was informed that she had made allegations that I had stolen funds. This was a totally false accusation.”

Bishop told the Senate he made an “agonizing” decision to plead guilty to the misdemeanor to end the strain on his family.

Chappell was incredulous after being read Bishop’s statement. “He took the money from numerous patients,” she said.

While Bishop’s felony case was pending — and after he was fired from the Bobby Wright center — he worked briefly at Maryville Academy before being hired as a DCFS caseworker in March 1995, records show.

When he applied to DCFS in 1994, state officials could not consider the arrest in weighing whether to hire him, according to Hawkins, who said: “By law, under the Human Rights Act . . . DCFS is forbidden from considering arrests in making employment decisions — and this matter was still in the courts.”

On Nov. 2, 1995, Bishop pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and was sentenced to a year of conditional discharge, records show. He didn’t have to make restitution, Hawkins said.

“Director Bishop has consistently disclosed the details of this guilty plea on state applications,” she said.

Bishop, an ordained minister, was in the news in the late 1990s when he was a DCFS caseworker involved in a high-profile custody battle involving the boy known as “Baby T.” Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and his wife Anne Burke, now an Illinois Supreme Court justice, ultimately won guardianship of the child.

O’Connor filed the paternity case against Bishop in March 2003, with the court summons listing his Maywood home and his DCFS office. Bishop hired Marina E. Ammendola — the lawyer who represented the Burkes in the Baby T case.

O’Connor, who didn’t have a lawyer, said she sued Bishop to get him to help with college expenses for Erica, who’s now a medical assistant.

“He didn’t want to do anything,” O’Connor said. “He has a good heart. But my daughter wants to nail him to the cross because he’s never been there.”

O’Connor said Erica’s stepfather, not Bishop, “taught her how to ride a bike, how to drive. He was there for her at prom. If [Bishop] wants to make things right, tell him to call her and talk to her. . . . Apologize.”

Frank Main and Chris Fusco are Sun-Times staff reporters. Tony Arnold is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.

Source: WBEZ Chicago

Addendum: An article profiling the daughter abandoned by Bishop also announces that he has been replaced as head of Illinois DCF.

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Daughter of DCFS chief says he ignored her

Erica Bishop
Erica Bishop is the daughter of Arthur Bishop, the head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She says he’s ignored her for most of her life, and he doesn’t deserve to be in charge of the state’s child welfare agency.
Peter Holderness/Sun-Times

An update to this developing story: Paperwork filed Wednesday with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn indicates he has named a new acting director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, replacing Arthur Bishop.

A daughter of the director of the state agency overseeing the welfare of children wonders how he can do the job since he has shunned her for her entire life.

In the nearly 11 years since DNA testing proved that Arthur D. Bishop was her father, Erica Bishop has had two kids of her own — a boy and a girl who’ve never met their grandfather.

To her, the man now charged with caring for the state’s most troubled children is nothing more than a “sperm donor,” not her dad.

“He’s supposed to be protecting the kids of the state — and you’ve got a kid out here you never done anything for,” Erica Bishop, now 27, says. “He left me as a father, which I think that’s unfair to me and it’s unfair to my kids. . . . As far as them wanting to keep giving him higher positions to look over people’s kids, I don’t agree.”

Erica Bishop agreed to be interviewed by WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times after the news organizations disclosed earlier this month that Bishop pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge in 1995 for stealing from clients of a social service agency and was sued by Erica’s mother for back child support in a 2003 paternity case.

Quinn administration aides have said those court cases are decades old and shouldn’t tarnish the stellar work that Arthur Bishop has done as a child advocate — from his time as a DCFS caseworker to his last job as head of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.

Erica Bishop bristles at that suggestion.

“I haven’t went away. I’m never gonna go away,” she says. “This is just something he stuck on the backburner, and I’ve been on the backburner for [nearly] 28 years. . . . So for people to say I’m in the past, I’m not in the past. I’m in the past only because nobody knows about me.

“You supposed to be a child advocate and a minister and all this stuff. . . . I watched videos of him on YouTube. All these little boys giving him so much praise . . . sitting down and talking to him like a father. A father? Seriously? A father? He’s sitting down telling these little boys, ‘I want to talk to you. I want to have a father-to-son talk with you.’ You never had a father-and-daughter talk with me.”

Arthur Bishop, 61, has declined interview requests. His appointment as DCFS director still must be confirmed by the Illinois Senate; no date for his confirmation hearing has been set. DCFS and the Quinn administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Erica’s mother, Yolanda O’Connor, claimed in court filings that Arthur Bishop knew Erica was his daughter from the time she was born in 1986, while Bishop was married to his current wife.

He “denies his own daughter’s existence when he knows in his heart of hearts that he visited us on numerous occasions at my parents’ house when she was a child,” O’Connor, who didn’t have an attorney, wrote in a December 2003 court filing.

Arthur Bishop maintained he’d never met Erica and didn’t know O’Connor claimed Erica was his daughter until O’Connor served him with court papers.

The case ended with O’Connor winning a $4,175 judgment and health insurance coverage for Erica until she turned 18. But a judge denied O’Connor’s request for back child support after Arthur Bishop argued she’d “in fact concealed” that he was Erica’s father.

Erica Bishop recalls meeting her father when she was in high school before her mom sued him.

Her mother, she says, drove a friend and her to meet Bishop at his DCFS office at the Thompson Center, where Bishop at first mistook Erica’s friend as his daughter even though the two “have the same face.”

“He went to my friend and talked to her. And I’m like, ‘Hello? She’s not your daughter, I am,’ ” Erica Bishop recalls. “Honestly, I was actually excited. And he killed my excitement.”

The five- to 10-minute encounter was the longest the two have spoken, but Erica Bishop has seen her father — and her half-siblings — at various times.

Arthur Bishop has lived in Maywood for years, and Erica Bishop grew up in nearby Bellwood. Erica’s stepbrother went to the same high school as Bishop’s son and daughter, she says.

Erica, who paid for her own college and now works as a waitress, says she would have liked the opportunity to get to know her siblings. “Somewhere down the line, yeah, I wanted to know my brother and sister because I think we deserve to know each other. They might have kids. And I have kids,” she says.

She also says she isn’t interested in getting any more money from Bishop, who makes $150,000 a year as DCFS chief.

“It’s fortunate that I did have somebody to take care of me and show me how to ride a bike and see me off to prom and go to all my graduations: high school, 8th grade, college,” she says of the stepfather who helped raise her.

“He has not been there for any of that,” she says of Arthur Bishop. “Financially, he can keep his money. He can die with it.

“I feel like I was cheated. You took care of your other kids. Why you didn’t take care of me? . . . All I want is an explanation.”

Source: WBEZ

Baby Dead
Facts Buried

February 17, 2014 permalink

Lucas Braman, age 23 months, died in a Massachusetts foster home on February 13. He had been taken from his parents after a domestic dispute, a clue that often means social services have been engaged in forcibly separating the parents, a shotgun divorce.

The second enclosed article was published while Massachusetts DCF was still trying the keep the boy's name out of the press. It contains some items from the foster death script with embellishments. DCF blames the family for everything possible. The boy was born addicted, he was delayed and had emotional problems. A judge overrode DCF wishes and took the boy from a foster home to place him with distant relatives. Sorry, 23 months is too young to diagnose emotional problems and the actions of the judge cannot alter the fact that it was DCF that took the boy from mom and dad. A later news item reports the boy's "addiction" was from the mother's prescription pain-killers late in pregnancy.

In the newer article the custodial family was a same-sex couple in which one partner kept a service dog to cope with her emotional problems. Mother Jennifer Cronin has applied for custody of her surviving daughter Layla. "I just want answers," she said. She won't get any. Two and a half years after the fact Jamie Sullivan still does not know the circumstances of the death of her baby just six days after seizure without cause. In later news, a judge has denied Cronin's custody request, instead placing the girl in a new foster home.

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More questions than answers in death of South Yarmouth boy

Lucas Braman
A family photo of Lucas Braman

Lucas Braman lived his short life in a tangled world complicated by drug abuse and custody battles.

That continued even the day after the 23-month-old was found unresponsive in his crib at the home of the two women caring for him and his 3-year-old sister. He was later pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital.

By Friday morning, his biological mother, who had lost custody of the children in the fall, was in Barnstable Juvenile Court trying to obtain an emergency order to get back her little girl.

"I just want answers," Jennifer Cronin, 27, of South Yarmouth, said in an interview later in the day.

Lucas and his sister, Layla, were in the care of Cronin's cousin, Sheryl Erb, 24, and her partner, Elizabeth Cavallini, 21, at their home on Winslow Gray Road in South Yarmouth.

Erb and Cavallini had been caring for them since November after the state Department of Children and Families removed the children from the custody of Cronin and their father, Michael Braman, following a domestic dispute. While it was unclear Friday if there was any court decision on Cronin's request, Layla was removed from the home of Erb and Cavallini by the DCF on Thursday and was in foster care Friday, according to several sources.

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe said in a statement Thursday that authorities are investigating the toddler's death, as they do with all unattended deaths. But he said there was no suspicion of criminal activity.

The child had "a number of pre-existing medical conditions," O'Keefe said. He said the DCF has been involved with the family since Lucas' birth because of the parents' substance abuse issues.

Lucas was being seen by a social service agency that deals with developmental delays, O'Keefe said. The toddler was checked out Monday and reported to be "well," he said.

Lucas also was seen by an agency that counsels children with emotional issues, O'Keefe said.

He did not identify the agencies, and he did not respond Friday to messages about the schedule for an autopsy or the status of the investigation.

Cronin said she was devastated to learn Friday that, when he was found, Lucas was wearing a helmet and a weighted blanket often used to calm autistic children. Helmets are sometimes used to prevent children from head-banging.

"You're not supposed to put a weighted blanket on a baby and walk out of the room," she said. "You don't put a heavy blanket on a 2-year-old."

"My son would still be here if (the children) were still with me," she said, sobbing. "DCF had no right to take the kids from me."

She said Lucas "banged his head a little bit, but his pediatrician said a lot of kids might do that for attention. He told me his own son used to bang his head a lot."

Cronin said her son was healthy and "had no issues."

Cronin and Braman sometimes left the two children with Erb and Cavallini for extended periods of time, according to a report Cavallini made to Yarmouth police in October.

Police called the DCF in October after arresting Cronin on a domestic abuse charge and observing that Braman appeared impaired by drugs or alcohol, with red and watery eyes.

The two children briefly were in foster care before being formally placed by a judge's order with Cavallini and Erb, who is marketing director for a real estate office, according to her profile on the online professional networking site LinkedIn.

On Thursday, DCF spokesman Alec Loftus issued a statement saying the agency had favored keeping Lucas and Layla in a foster care placement last fall but was overruled by a judge who placed them with relatives.

In a statement released Friday, Erb and Cavallini said the DCF expressed no problems with their care arrangements on Tuesday when they returned to court on a custody matter.

The DCF "originally took issue with our home only due to our use of a service dog," they said in their statement. As of Tuesday "all parties involved were satisfied and happy with the results of the placement of the children, and no change was warranted."

Cavallini said she relies on the service dog "for a psychiatric disability."

DCF spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen said Friday the agency had no comment. "We cannot provide any further detail about the department's involvement with the family," she said in an email.

Cronin said Lucas was a bright-eyed little boy beloved by everybody who met him. "Oh my God, he was so happy," she said.

Erb and Cavallini said they also were devastated by his loss.

"Lucas was a happy, bright, loving little boy," they wrote in their statement. "He loved the (C)eltics, music, animals and, of course, his sister. He was our star."

Source: Cape Cod Times


Cops probe death of child, 2, in West Yarmouth

320 Winslow Gray Road in West Yarmouth Massachusetts
Photo by: John Wilcox
The back yard of the home at 320 Winslow Gray Road in West Yarmouth, Thursday, February 13, 2014.

Prosecutors are investigating the death of a toddler under the watch of child welfare officials.

The 23-month-old male child was found unresponsive in his crib in a Yarmouth home and was pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital this morning, according to Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe.

The young boy, who had been born to parents with substance abuse and had a number of pre-existing medical conditions, had been involved with the Department of Children and Families since birth, O'Keefe said.

The child, who was being cared for by a couple, was last visited on Monday by a Cape Cod-based social services agency for delayed developmental progress and reported to be “well,” according to O'Keefe. He said the child was also being seen by another agency dealing with emotional issues.

The preliminary investigation did not disclose any significant trauma to the child, O'Keefe said.

Yarmouth Police and Fire Departments reported they responded to the West Yarmouth at 8:20 a.m. for a unresponsive child.

“Despite all efforts the child was unable to be revived,” said the fire and police departments in a joint statement.

DCF spokesman Alec Loftus said the child had briefly been in a DCF foster home but was removed from that home by a judge last year – a move the agency opposed.

“The judge instead placed the child in the custody of relatives. DCF continued to provide supportive services to the family after the relatives took custody,” said Loftus in a released statement.

Loftus and DCF officials have not responded to questions about whether the Yarmouth residence was a licensed foster home.

The landlord told the Herald his tenants had been caring for foster children in the home since at least 2012.

Dave Withers, 42, who lives across the street from where the child who died lived, said he heard an ambulance siren this morning, which was shortly followed by Yarmouth cruisers with their lights and sirens on. Withers looked out his living room window and saw a male paramedic holding a child that was wrapped in a blanket.

"The EMT carried out a limp body," Withers said.

The child was put into the back of the ambulance where several EMTs attended to him for about 15 minutes before it drove away, Withers said.

He added he didn't know who lived at the home, but would sometimes wave to a woman at the home who appeared to be in her 20s.

Withers said news of the boy's death brought on a painful memory.

"I lost a child myself. ... It's not good." He said he didn't want to elaborate.

Other neighbors said residents at the home were reclusive, and had moved in within the past 18 months.

"Nobody ever comes in or out of there," said 7-year-resident Marie Jones. "It's always empty."

Margie McGrath, who has moved nearby four months ago, said news of a young boy dying was disconcerting. "It's sad when anybody dies, but a child. ... It's even worse," she said.

If you know of a case of abuse in the foster care system, email your confidential tip to ChildrenInDanger@bostonherald.com and we’ll check it out. All tips will be sent only to the journalists covering the case. Confidentiality is guaranteed. We want to hear your story about the state’s embattled foster care system. If you’re not near a computer, call the newsroom at 617-619-6493 and leave a message.

Source: Boston Herald

Jeffrey Baldwin Recommendations

February 15, 2014 permalink

The coroner's jury in the Jeffrey Baldwin inquiry has returned 103 recommendations. As expected, most of them are for more money and power for children's aid, though this time there are a few others. The recommendations (pdf) are taken from the enclosed Toronto Star article.

Implementing the jury's recommendations will mean Families under supervision should be visited at least once a month and will get additional investigation when there are new abuse reports. CAS will be arranging birth-control counseling for impacted families and ought to have power to intervene when parental access visits are denied. Foster parents and group home workers will be required to present identification on demand. Show your papers! The jury wants co-teaming with social workers, jargon for better police protection. The province will be getting a common 1-800 number for child abuse tips along with more advertising of the need to report and enhanced penalties for failure to report, though CAS is recommended to give an acknowledgement to the reporting person. Police procedures should be streamlined to provide more checks for CAS. A recommended amendment to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act allows CAS to mine municipal records. Immunities for social workers will be extended to cover record disclosure.

At least a half-dozen recommendations suggest more funding for children's aid, and there are several proposals better training.

The jury recommends that the school system track homeschoolers and encourage them to enroll in public school. In the past encouragement by CAS has meant force of arms. It also recommends teaching children at all grades about child abuse and neglect. Report your parents!

Irwin Elman wanted an independent review of CAS. There will not be one. The jury recommended a review conducted by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in consultation with the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, all staffed by insiders. No parents or foster children will have a hand in the review.

In the big brother section, the jury wants the creation of a Child Protection Information Network (CPIN), a computer system with all data on families ever collected by CAS. Since CAS is exempt from freedom of information laws, the files will not be available to the families themselves, just social workers and police. When there are three reports on one family, even ones too trivial to warrant checking, an investigation will be triggered. Malicious reporters will only have to call three times. There are several recommendations scattered through the report for relying on the new system. The jury also wants all Ontario's children's aid societies joined into one agency.

A few suggestions could be helpful to parents and foster parents. The jury wants a publication to be available to families defining their rights and wants CAS workers to inform parents and prospective teenaged foster children of their legal rights. This proposal will have little effect unless enforced, for example, by a rule that children are returned to parents for default of compliance. Fixcas has already assembled a compendium of parents' rights under the Child and Family Services Act. The jury also wants CAS to provide case summaries to foster parents.

One recommendation shows the jury's frustration with the inquest.

25. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services should, when providing a witness to give evidence at an inquest, ensure that the witness is at a sufficiently senior level to allow the witness to respond to questions.

Translation: the ministry tried to bamboozle the jury with ignorant witnesses.

Jeffrey Baldwin was taken from his parents by force of arms and placed with his grandmother. His parents were imperfect but not unconcerned. Had Jeffrey been left with his parents, his prospects would have been better than with his dysfunctional grandmother. As usual the jury has ignored the most important resource for the care of children: mom and dad.

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Jeffrey Baldwin was beaten and starved to death by his grandparents in 2002.

Jeffrey Baldwin
Jeffrey Baldwin was beaten and starved to death by his grandparents in 2002.
TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

The jury at the Jeffrey Baldwin inquest pressed Friday for a full review of Ontario’s child protection standards, with a top recommendation being to merge the province’s children’s aid societies into one central agency.

That was one of 103 recommendations delivered on the final day of the coroner’s inquest into the circumstances that led to the 5-year-old being placed with his grandparents by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society. Neglected and abused, Jeffrey starved to death in 2002.

The inquest, which began last September, heard from 53 witnesses and viewed more than 300 exhibits. It was the culmination of an 11-year search for answers related to one of the most horrific cases of child abuse in recent memory.

Mary McConville
Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto executive director Mary McConville speaks outside Coroners Court in Toronto accompanied by the agency's lawyer, Brian Gover, left, on Friday.

Jeffrey’s short life was filled with horror. Sent to his grandparents’ east Toronto home along with his three siblings, to give his young and problematic parents a break, he and an older sister were locked inside a cold bedroom with no toys. They had little access to food, were forced to drink out of the toilet and to live in their own feces, and were beaten repeatedly.

Jeffrey weighed only 21 pounds when he died — less than he did on his first birthday. The once chubby-cheeked, smiling boy who loved Dinky cars and Superman had become a skeletal figure resembling a famine victim, or someone with full-blown AIDS, said the judge at his grandparents’ trial.

Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman were convicted of second-degree murder in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison.

The CCAS has admitted it failed to perform record checks on Bottineau and Kidman, who had prior convictions for assault on their own children.

On Friday, Bottineau, watching via video from prison, listened along with the other parties as the jury presented sweeping but non-binding recommendations directed at institutions including the CCAS, government ministries, the Toronto District School Board, and Toronto police.

The four jurors want the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to conduct a feasibility study exploring amalgamating local children’s aid societies. The jury said “the amalgamated children’s aid society must be sensitive to the cultural and religious differences of the families they serve, while recognizing that the safety of the province’s children is paramount.”

The jury also wants the province’s information-sharing database for children’s aid societies, known as CPIN, to be fully operational within two years. And it said the ministry should fund a review of all child-protection standards.

Children and Youth Services Minister Teresa Piruzza told the Star on Friday afternoon that she hadn’t yet read the recommendations, but she and her staff would be taking a close look to determine what measures could be adopted.

“We know there is more we can do,” she said.

She defended her ministry’s decision not to seek standing at the inquest — Piruzza herself never attended — by saying it felt the parties were well positioned to work out the issues, adding the ministry had representatives in the audience each day.

Other inquest recommendations include:

  • Co-teaming for child-protection workers in situations where the worker’s safety is threatened, and annual follow-up visits.
  • A provincially funded public awareness campaign about spotting and reporting child abuse, including a 1-800 number to facilitate reporting.
  • An authorization process for all new child-protection workers.
  • Penalties for individuals who fail to report child abuse and neglect.
  • A case study, developed by the CCAS for training purposes, based on Jeffrey Baldwin’s case to be used across the province.

Other recommendations target the Ministry of Education, asking it to address child abuse and neglect in the curriculum for students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Their final recommendation is for the coroner to hold a news conference one year after all institutions have received the recommendations, to give an update on their implementation.

All parties expressed satisfaction with the inquest’s outcome.

“I think that this jury’s recommendations will help ensure that no other child suffers and dies like Jeffrey did,” said Jeffrey’s siblings’ lawyer, Freya Kristjanson, appearing at times emotional.

Irwin Elman, the provincial advocate for children and youth, said that although he was pleased, he is still urging the premier to call a public inquiry into the protection of children.

The Catholic Children’s Aid Society will be taking a hard look at all recommendations, said its executive director, Mary McConville.

“The biggest lesson learned (for CCAS) is that we should have known who Elva Bottineau and Norm Kidman were,” she said. “They seemed to be well-meaning. Elva Bottineau really became, literally, an ally of the society. And we didn’t check her out. We didn’t check Norm Kidman out.”

The jury also asked the City of Toronto or another level of government to honour Jeffrey Baldwin’s memory with a permanent memorial.

There is currently a small memorial to Jeffrey in Toronto’s Greenwood Park, near where he lived with his grandparents. The memorial is composed of a tree and a bench with a plaque bearing Jeffrey’s image.

There are plans to add a second memorial, a statue of Jeffrey dressed as his favourite superhero, Superman, this fall.

Source: Toronto Star

Brant Facelift

February 14, 2014 permalink

Brant CAS logo
The old logo with a traditional family is out of date.

The Children's Aid Society of Brant is changing its name to Brant Family and Children's Services and adopting a new logo. As of February 14, the Brant CAS website shows the old identity. No word on new policies to accompany the rebranding.

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Brant CAS adopts new name and logo

Brant Family and Children's Services logo
Brant Family and Children's Services

Meet the rebranded Brant Family and Children's Services.

Effective Saturday, it will be the new name of the Children's Aid Society of Brant.

Along with the first change to the agency's name since its inception in 1894, the agency also has updated its logo.

A colourful “hand tree” is replacing the blue 1993 image depicting a traditional family.

“It's reflective of the diversity of our community” and of the wide-ranging collaborative work conducted with children, families, service providers and the community as a whole, said special projects manager Iona Sky on Thursday.

People think we're just about children and parents, but “we do so much more,” Sky said.

As well, families now “come in all shapes and sizes” and the new logo represents, among other things, a forward-thinking inclusiveness, she said.

“It was time for a change, for now and for where we are hoping to go,” she said.

Sky was the project lead on the agency's logo/name change committee that included staff members and board members plus representatives of youth and the community.

The committee spent more than year juggling ideas and concepts as well as ironing out the process, details and aims of the rebranding effort, Sky said.

The selected design was created by agency employee and graphic designer Annette Harris.

The cost of the changeover in name and logo, including an amount paid to Harris for her creative time, totals about $9,700.

The selection process was preceded by much input and comment, which included canvassing staff, service providers and families involved with the agency, Sky said.

“Folks liked the image of the tree and the strength it had and the diversity it showed,” she said.

Feedback describes the new design as “warm and engaging,” with a “feeling of growth,” Sky said.

Committee member Nick Woolridge, 20, who spent many years in the agency's care, is pleased with the new logo.

“I like it. It represents everyone and everything,” he said.

Changing family demographics and structures are symbolized by the hand tree as well as an upbeat sense of new life and growth, Woolridge said. The name change also better reflects the range of the agency's work, he said.

Woolridge said that working on the committee was a valuable learning experience for him.

“It was hard work and a long process but I learned a lot,” he said.

During the logo selection process, the hand tree design was the only one which drew unanimous approval from the committee, he said.

An online video outlining the rebranding project will be available for viewing early next week on the agency's website at www.brantfacs.ca.

Source: Brantford Expositor

Facelift

Rally for Lev Tahor

February 14, 2014 permalink

Dave Formosa is organizing a rally in support of Lev Tahor for February 25 in Chatham. The enclosed article mentions the Facebook group Cupcakes to Restore Humanity.

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Chatham man organizing rally to show support for Jewish sect Lev Tahor

Lev Tahor
Daily News file photo

The founder of a local human rights Facebook group is hoping to show members of the Lev Tahor Jewish community there are local people who support them.

Dave Formosa is organizing a Lev Tahor community peace rally on Feb. 25, near the Chatham-Kent Court House, from 1-3 p.m.

“It basically came about through Facebook,” he told The Chatham Daily News, noting there were posts on another Facebook group about a local resident who expressed negative experiences being a neighbour of members of the group.

“That kind of brought on a lot of disrespect towards their community,” he said.

Formosa, who founded the Facebook group, Cupcakes to Restore Humanity, said a posting about how one of the Jewish members was spat on by someone while shopping prompted him to take action.

“That . . . kind of hit a soft spot for a lot of people,” he said.

Controversy has swirled around the Jewish community since it arrived in Chatham in late November, from Quebec, just a few days before a child protection hearing was to take place. A Chatham judge recently ruled child welfare officials have the right to seize 13 children from the ultra-orthodox group and put them into temporary foster care in Quebec.

Formosa said he met with members of Lev Tahor recently to ask how they would feel about a peace rally.

Despite all the accusations about the group, Formosa said the message he received is “they can't believe all the support that Chatham is giving them.”

Uriel Goldman, a Lev Tahor community organizer, said everyday people offer “good words,” adding he is approached by people everywhere from the doctor's office and bank to the grocery and gas station.

“It's really, really nice that people understand . . . we really appreciate that,” he said.

Mayer Rosner, a director with Lev Tahor, said the group has nothing to do with organizing the rally. He appreciates that people understand the heartbreak they are experiencing.

He added people understand their feelings even though they are not of the same religion or look the same, and live a different lifestyle.

“They're giving us a right to exist and taking the time to show support, it gives a very good feeling to us,” Rosner said.

Formosa said, “basically, all we're trying to do right now is get people to understand that they are people, just like everyone else.”

He said Feb. 25 is the date members of Lev Tahor will be at the court house filing an appeal to prevent the children being returned to Quebec. He added at that time, members of Lev Tahor plan on thanking those in attendance at the rally for their support.

Source: Chatham Daily News

Indian Givers

February 14, 2014 permalink

Last Friday four San Francisco police officers reached into their own pockets to provide a hotel room for a homeless family with five children on a cold rainy night. But four days later Child Protective Services seized all five children from father Joel Silva. No word on whether the same cops participated in the apprehension.

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Family helped by San Francisco cops loses custody of kids

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Monday, ABC7 News reported on the story of four San Francisco police officers who reached into their own wallets to help a homeless family of seven find shelter on a cold, rainy night. Joel Silva says he's still grateful to the officers for renting a room for his family when they had no place to stay Friday night. But he says he's confused and dejected at what's happened since.

"Right now, we're heartbroken, you know," Silva said. "They got the kids. We bawled our eyes out last night."

Tuesday, Child Protective Services took custody of Silva's five kids.

"We had to do something," Ofc. Brendan Caraway said. "Between the four of us a hotel for a night is not the most expensive thing in the world."

This weekend, police officials contacted city social service agencies to get the Silvas more help. But after police and social workers made additional wellbeing checks on the family, Child Protective Services removed the children.

Silva says he apparently didn't sign up for city services fast enough.

"It seems unfair to take custody away because we can't make it to everything, you know," he said. "There's so much we got to do and so much information being bombarded at us, you know?"

San Francisco Human Services Director Trent Rohr can't comment on specific case, but he told ABC7 News, "In general, kids are placed into care by CPS when they are victims of, or at significant risk of, abuse or neglect. Simply being homeless and/or not accessing public benefits is not a reason to place a child under CPS care."

Silva and his wife admit they have had drug problems. He wonders if that may have been a reason.

"We definitely want to work on it, you know," Silva said. "I definitely want to get into a treatment program. I want to get it fixed.

Silva says he's done just that. He says he enrolled in a drug rehab program on Wednesday. He and his wife will go to court Friday for a child custody hearing.

Source: KGO-TV (ABC) San Francisco

Shutting Down the Press

February 13, 2014 permalink

Last year California's CalCoastNews started an investigation into financial misconduct within the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), a county nonprofit which works closely with Child Welfare. CAPSLO knew how to stifle criticism. In July their associates in San Luis Obispo County Child Welfare Services seized three grandchildren of publisher Karen Velie. Gwen (age 10), Brenden (8) and Kaleb (7) are still in foster care and the family is restricted to weekly visits. On the newspaper's own website there is a list of articles on San Luis Obispo County Child Welfare Services.

The children are not getting loving foster care. Kaleb, who has had skull surgery, was denied headache medication. Brenden is lactose-intolerant but cow's milk is part of his diet. At a 5:30 pm visit, the children had not been fed so far that day. After more than four months in foster care, one of the boys reverted to infant behavior.

The pretext for taking the children was dirty home. The pretext for rejecting grandmother Karen Velie as interim custodian was a drunk driving arrest in which she tested within the legal limit.

On December 10 there was a rally outside the San Luis Obispo County courthouse demanding the return of the children. Watch it on YouTube or local copy (mp4).

Enclosed are three articles including a letter from California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who has raised the issue of the Velie family child seizure in his campaign for governor. Mr Donnelly also appears in a video interview on YouTube and local copy (mp4).

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Grandchildren of CCN publisher spend holidays in county hands

Gwen’s shoes
Gwen’s shoes are so small she is forced to walk on the heels tucked down.

In the midst of a CalCoastNews investigation into alleged abuses of power by a county agency, three grandchildren of the news agency’s co-founder and publisher have been removed from their family and forced to spend Thanksgiving in foster homes.

Karen Velie’s grandchildren, 10-year-old Gwen, 8-year-old Brenden, and 7-year-old Kaleb, were seized July 18 by child protective services. The youngsters have been kept by San Luis Obispo County Child Welfare Services in foster care ever since. All three of the children have suffered varied states of depression since being taken from their family, Child Welfare officials have reported.

Efforts by the family to recover the children have been thus far unsuccessful.

The county’s involvement stems from an incident that started when Velie’s middle child, Cristin Powers, mother of Gwen, Brenden and Kaleb, returned home to find her roommates having an argument. Police were called. Though no report was filed because no crime was committed, Child Welfare removed the three grandchildren because the house was “dirty,” according to Child Welfare.

Powers and Velie hoped to work through the system to regain custody of the children. Initially, Velie’s attorney, Gerald Carrasco, suggested not pointing out inaccuracies in the CWS workers’ report, because resisting, he said, could result in the children being in foster care for months. Velie said the attorney believed the children would be reunited with their family in a few weeks.

At a hearing shortly after the children were taken, a judge said Velie’s was a family in crisis because of the death of another daughter, and ordered CWS to work on reunification.

Since then, CWS Case Worker Heather Zickuhr has arbitrarily cited a series of issues to justify continuing the children’s custody.

Though CWS workers claim they are working on reuniting Powers with her children, they assert it will take time because of a diagnosis made by an outside agency that Powers is “bipolar.” That diagnosis was made without any in-person evaluation by employees of the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), a county nonprofit which works closely with Child Welfare.

SLO Children’s Museum
The children at the SLO Children’s Museum in June, after building their rendition of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Because of the “diagnosis,” Powers has been prohibited from seeing her children for more than one hour a week.

A private counselor subsequently concluded that Powers is not bipolar.

Nevertheless, Child Welfare continues to prohibit more visitations, because Powers admitted that she is “depressed” following recent family deaths of her grandmother, uncle and her sister, and the loss of her children.

Child Welfare now has banned Velie, who was acting as a temporary guardian for her grandchildren, from seeing or speaking with the children following a DUI arrest.

At the time Child Welfare took custody of Velie’s grandchildren, CalCoastNews also was investigating alleged misconduct by Child Welfare workers on behalf of CAPSLO.

Former CAPSLO employee Estella Bonds said the agency’s homeless services director, Dee Torres, often contacted Child Welfare to report child abuse, sometimes doing so in a retaliatory manner. Some of those contacts resulted in permanent separations of families and eventual adoptions, Bonds said.

A November 2012 letter signed by “Concerned Employees” of the county’s Department of Social Services to County Administrator Dan Buckshi asked him to investigate the job performances of Assistant Director Tracey Schiro and Department Administrator Natalie Walter. The letter alleged Child Welfare workers were not acting in the best interest of children, instead motivated in its practices by an agency with which it works — CAPSLO.

“Social workers are trained to assess families, be objective and ethical,” the letter reads. “These skills and training are disregarded by the assistant director as she believes her personal assessments or information received by a partner agency [CAPSLO] take precedence to the social worker assessment and opinion.”

Social Services Department Director Lee Collins told CalCoastNews last week he does not condone illegal acts against families “for any reason.”

“We do not do anything illegal to protect CAPSLO,” Collins said.

Earlier this year, CalCoastNews published a series of reports on financial misconduct and alleged theft of donations by CAPSLO Homeless Services Director Dee Torres. Torres is engaged to San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill. Hill has told numerous people that he intends to put CalCoastNews out of business. Hill has also threatened individuals and businesses that advertise on the news site.

Velie’s problems started in July when her 24-year-old daughter suffered a seizure in a bathroom and inhaled water. She was discovered and taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where she lay in a coma.

Velie, Powers and the three children stayed in a hotel near the hospital for nearly a week. On July 18, an organ-donor network dispatched a jet to transport Velie’s youngest daughter to be pronounced brain-dead at a hospital in the Bay Area, and her organs were then donated.

Powers returned home, and that was when Child Welfare took her children.

“Yes, I agree the house was dirty,” Powers said. “We had been out of town. But my children need to be returned. They need their family. They need love.”

Velie was named as the appropriate person to care for the children after they were removed from their home. But Child Welfare officials decided that a DUI arrest would preclude Velie from caring for, or having any contact with, her grandchildren.

Over the last four and a half months, Child Welfare and foster parents have denied Velie’s grandchildren proper health care and daily necessities, according to Child Welfare workers, the foster parents, and the children themselves.

Kaleb
Kaleb in a shirt several sizes too small that he wore to school.

More than a year ago, Kaleb was discovered to have brain pressure because bone plates in his head fused too early. He underwent skull reconstruction surgery prior to entering foster care and frequently suffers from headaches. For 10 days upon entering foster care, Child Welfare refused to allow Kaleb access to his headache medicine. Kaleb suffered intense headaches.

Child Welfare workers did not provide Kaleb his medication until he was taken to his physician and had the prescription refilled, said Child Welfare’s Zickuhr.

Brenden is lactose intolerant, but his foster parents regularly serve him cow’s milk, Brenden said. Photos and videos show Brenden has developed dark circles under his eyes and blotches on his face since entry into foster care.

Brenden cried during his last visit with his mother. That day, the children had not eaten between early morning and 5:30 p.m. The children told their mother that the foster parents took them to the dentist during the lunch hour and did not provide them food.

Videos and photos of the children taken over the past month show the children with matted dirty hair and filthy, poorly-fitting clothes. Powers said the children are bullied at school because they are unkempt.

Gwen wears shoes so small she walks on the heels tucked down. Other children tease her with a new version of “cooties” they call “Gwen’s touch.”

Shortly after the children entered foster care, it was agreed they would be placed with Velie until reunited with their mother. In early August, Child Welfare released Gwen to Velie’s custody, with plans to place the other two children with Velie within days.

The following night, Velie taught a bridge class and Gwen stayed with a babysitter. Velie left the bridge class and en route home was arrested by a San Luis Obispo police officer despite the fact that her blood alcohol was under .08.

The next morning, and even before the police department posted a report of the arrest, Child Welfare’s Zickuhr demanded that Velie bring Gwen back to social services, suggesting Velie would lose her driver’s license. That has not happened. California law does not restrict driving privileges unless blood alcohol levels are over .08.

Nevertheless, Child Welfare reclaimed custody of Gwen, and maintained custody of Brenden and Kaleb.

Gwen cried when forced to re-enter foster care, Velie said. “She begged me to run with her.”

Since Velie’s arrest, both Zickuhr and Case Worker Denise Waters have prohibited her from visiting the children. They have cited the DUI arrest, her occupation as a journalist, and her “personality” as reasons for barring her from visiting her grandchildren. Zickhur and Waters also said that Velie could not see her grandchildren because she told one of them that she was “getting an attorney” to bring the three home, according to reporters who listened into phone calls with CWS employees.

The case workers have also prohibited Powers from explaining to her children why they cannot see their grandmother. The children have come to believe that their grandmother does not want to see them, and they question why their family does not want them anymore, Powers said.

Brenden
Brenden with dark circles under his eyes matted hair and stained pants, shortly after leaving school.

The Child Welfare employee also chastised Velie for telling the children she had moved into a three-bedroom house where she wanted them to live along with their mother. The supervisor said Velie should have told the children she did not have a place to live, and that the Child Welfare workers were “doing what is best for them.”

Child Welfare policy requires children to be reunited with family if they are not in danger, and the agency is required to allow phone calls. The children are usually only permitted one monthly call and, even then, the brief calls are monitored.

Shortly after they entered foster care, Child Welfare workers noted that Velie’s grandchildren “behaved unusually well” for foster kids. Now, after more than four months in foster care, one of the boys has reverted to infant behavior after begging to be reunited with his family, Waters said in a phone message to Powers.

Waters blamed the children’s deteriorating mental health on the one-hour-a-week visit with their mother, and said that was a reason to extend their time in foster care.

At one hearing, Powers’ attorney Mary Ann Foster told the court that Child Welfare workers were not letting Powers visit with the children more than one hour a week. The judge asked Zickuhr why this was occurring. She said the foster parents were too busy to drive.

The judge said that Velie could pick the children up to increase visitation while they work to reunify the children with their family.

The following day, Waters said the judge did not enter the change in writing in his ruling and she was not going to comply.

Source: CalCoastNews


Letter by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly to SLO County Social Services Director Lee Collins

Tim Donnelly
Tim Donnelly

OPINION By ASSEMBLYMAN TIM DONNELLY

Dear Director Collins,

It has come to my attention that allegations have been made that San Luis Obispo County Child Welfare Services seized the grandchildren of Karen Velie, a respectable local publisher, in retaliation for her news agency conducting an investigation into alleged abuse of power by county agencies.

Aside from the trauma inflicted on these children, especially during the holidays, this apparent act of intimidation is in violation of TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 241 ; “If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same…”

As a California State Representative, I have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and of California against all enemies foreign and domestic. In addition to the freedom of the press, the United States Constitution requires that legal proceedings be fair and that the accused have an opportunity to be heard before the government acts to take away their life, liberty, or property. Indefinitely removing children from their loving family without proof of a wrongdoing is unfair and an abuse of power.

Please explain by what authority this action was taken. Having a dirty house is not a crime and I am convinced that these children would be best served by a prompt and permanent return to their family. Numerous studies have shown that the stability and love that children receive in their own homes can never be matched by a faceless government bureaucracy.

Due to allegation of misconduct against the county, and the apparent connection to the seizure of the children, these children need to be returned to their family immediately unless proof exists that a crime has been committed.

I hope this troubling episode will be quickly resolved and will seek steps to ensure this never happens again in our state.

Thank you in advance for your prompt and thorough reply.

Godspeed,

Tim Donnelly

Assemblyman ; 33rd District

Tim Donnelly is an assemblyman representing California’s 33rd district and is currently running for governor.

Source: CalCoastNews


County bullies in full revenge mode

OPINION: By DANIEL BLACKBURN

It was a casual get-together of professional women, mostly from the South County and Santa Maria, and the tone was cordial until one of the ladies happened to mention that she had read an article on CalCoastNews.

“The mood of the gathering changed instantly,” she later recalled. “The contempt was palpable.” The room went to ice, and the subject was dropped.

CalCoastNews has been loathed by a segment of county readers since its inception five years ago. That goes with the territory; every newspaper for which I have worked was roundly reviled by the local population. Competent investigative reporting has a way of upsetting fat cats and moral midgets intent on exploiting the status quo.

But my friend wanted to emphasize: What she heard expressed at that gathering was deep, raw, visceral… pure hatred.

News outlets don’t often become the target of anonymous, ongoing, compensated character assassination, and see its reporters probed by private dicks in the hire of public officials.

Nevertheless, it’s all still just part of the job, I guess.

But there’s nothing in the job description about placing one’s family in jeopardy of governmental kidnapping.

That’s the simplest and most accurate way of describing what has happened to the grandchildren of CalCoastNews co-founder and publisher Karen Velie.

(For those of you familiar with social media terminology, the linked article already has been “shared” by 1,536 readers, and is probably CalCoastNews’ most widely read article, ever.)

Velie has been prohibited by order of the court to discuss her family situation, so those of us who haven’t yet been silenced will continue the conversation.

That’s the right thing to do, for Velie, her family, and all of the families now afflicted by these kinds of punitive child welfare services. And it’s the right thing for society.

Those who have followed the grandkids’ plight know that they were taken by San Luis Obispo County’s Child Welfare Services (CWS) last summer on the thinnest of premise after declaring the home of their mother, Velie’s daughter, “dirty.” Since then, child welfare case workers have tried to justify shuttling the children from foster home to foster home, admonishing Velie to change her attitude and her profession if she wanted to see the children again.

In other words, some CWS people apparently did not like what CalCoastNews has been reporting about CWS’s conjoined agency, the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO).

These are not empty assertions. CWS case workers have been oh-so-willing to make these comments with witnesses present or listening.

Check the law: None of these arbitrary “reasons” justify splitting up a family, nor does Velie’s bogus DUI, pasted on her in the immediate aftermath of the CWS abduction.

As the family separation wore on, it became clear from their own comments that CWS employees had every intention of putting Velie’s grandchildren up for adoption.

Did you get that? Up. For. Adoption.

That’s when CalCoastNews published its first mention of the Velie family plight.

The article provided a perception of the county’s CWS policies that generally remain hidden from public view by confidentiality laws and loosely interpreted regulation. But the veil of secrecy surrounding child welfare activities in general is intended to protect the kids, not provide impenetrable cover for inept welfare workers and their unprofessional retaliatory actions.

People need to know about this. Don’t count on most of the local media to bother looking into this situation with open eyes, though, partly because there are too many sacred cows grazing on county largesse, and partly because there is a distinct lack of journalistic huevos hereabouts. This is doubly troubling because I believe an informed, bold, inquisitive, and politically insulated media guards against unwarranted governmental intrusion into our lives.

There seem to be plenty of people in this county who would not agree with that opinion.

They are the folks who are content to sit mute and watch as the sticky fingers of government pluck apart families without sound reason. They are satisfied to look the other way even when confronted with overwhelming evidence of official misconduct.

They are the folks who believe this will never happen to them, or theirs.

Lastly, I should note that this news site’s publisher doesn’t allow reporters to write commentaries. So, figuring that apologizing later will be simpler than getting her approval now, I’m just going to go ahead and post this.

Happy holidays.

CalCoastNews’ senior correspondent says unprintably hateful correspondence may be directed to blackburn.danielj@gmail.com

Source: CalCoastNews

Best Interest of the Hospital

February 11, 2014 permalink

British child protectors menaced parents Pete and Sarka Celliers for reasons having nothing to do with the well-being of their son Jean. A nurse was accidentally exposed to the infants blood and wanted him tested for HIV. The parents did not want more blood drawn from their baby, but offered to get themselves tested instead. Child protectors conducted an interrogation in which they treated the parents like scum. The hospital showed concern, or lack of it, by identifying the sex of the boy as "female".

Technical note: It is just about impossible for a baby to get HIV infection from any source but his mother. That's because babies don't engage in the risky behaviors that spread HIV. How many babies engage in anal intercourse, or inject recreational drugs with reused needles? An HIV test of the mother would have been adequate.

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Social workers swoop on couple who refused to let son have HIV test because they feared he might have infected a nurse

  • Hospital staff wanted test after nurse was pricked with blood test needle
  • Parents Pete and Sarka Celliers did not want their son put through ordeal
  • Reported for refusing 'medical advice … regarding a very young baby'
Sarka Celliers with Jean
Sarka Celliers was investigated for neglect after a doctor pricked a nurse with a needle carrying her baby Jean's blood

A couple were reported to social services for refusing to let hospital staff test their nine-week-old baby for HIV.

When their son Jean developed a slight temperature one night, Pete and Sarka Celliers took him to hospital as a precaution.

But their visit to St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey, led to them being investigated for neglect, treated ‘like scum’ and left fearing their baby would be taken away.

They say their nightmare began when a consultant was carrying out a blood test on Jean in A&E.

As the consultant handed the needle to a nurse she accidentally pricked the nurse’s skin.

Two hours later, during which time the couple claim they were left in a bay without a bed for their son, they were asked for permission to test Jean for HIV/hepatitis because the nurse’s skin had been pricked with his blood.

Mr Celliers, 38, said: ‘The whole thing was very unprofessional, the first time they took about five tries to get the line into my son’s tiny hand.

'He was screaming in pain and my wife and I were in tears.

‘It was almost 4am and they had already removed the cannula from his hand and given us no real care.

‘There was no way I was going to put my son, who had just fallen asleep after a traumatic night, through that ordeal again. It was not in his best interest.’

Mrs Celliers, 35, said: ‘We offered to be tested instead, whatever we have Jean would have, but they declined.

'He was born at the hospital and they have all our records, what could have possibly have happened to him in just nine weeks?’

Having discussed Jean’s condition with another paediatrician who said his tests were clear, the Celliers took their son home at 4am.

However, the next day the hospital repeatedly called the couple at their semi-detached £550,000 home in Walton-on-Thames, asking them to bring Jean in for further tests.

Mr Celliers said: ‘I couldn’t see why we should, Jean was happy and playing. They said he could have meningitis, which was obviously not the case as the tests were clear and he had no symptoms.

By now we had lost all trust in St Peter’s. I refused and said he was well but I would get a second opinion – at which point the doctor threatened to report us to social services. I thought it was a spiteful act.’

Then two social workers arrived at the couple’s home. The couple were told the surprise visit was due to a referral from St Peter’s because they had ‘refused medical advice … regarding a very young baby’.

Mrs Celliers, a childminder, said: ‘I was in bits, I honestly thought they had come to take my baby away. They looked at us like we were scum.’

Pete and Sarka Celliers with Jean
Pete and Sarka Celliers were paid a visit by social workers because they had 'refused medical advice... regarding a very young baby'

After the couple explained what had happened they said the social workers were happy all was well.

The couple took Jean to a different hospital, Royal Surrey in Guildford, to get a second opinion on his condition.

Mr Celliers said: ‘Two hospitals, looking at the same tests, came to two very different conclusions.

'It just confirms to me that St Peter’s just wanted to get their hands on Jean for the HIV tests to cover themselves against any mistakes made when the nurse was injured.’

After writing a complaint to Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital Trust about their visit on January 23, Mr Celliers also requested his son’s medical notes – which showed that Jean was referred to as a female throughout.

‘That just tells me that my son was not their priority, they didn’t even know he was boy,’ he said.

Surrey County Council confirmed that social services visited the Celliers following a referral from St Peter’s. A spokesman added: ‘No concerns were identified and the case was closed.’

The Trust’s chief nurse, Suzanne Rankin, said: ‘We are sorry to hear the family’s experience of our hospital was not better and are particularly concerned that they felt harassed by members of our staff.

‘We look forward to meeting with the family and to hearing their feelings and concerns in person, and will work hard to address their issues so no other families have the same or similar experience.’

A spokesman for the Trust added: ‘In this case a small baby was taken home against medical advice.

‘Small babies can deteriorate over a few hours and in good faith our staff wanted to carry out a further clinical review to make sure the baby’s health hadn’t deteriorated.

‘That level of concern is enough to trigger a referral to social services. At that point the consultant in charge was not aware that the family were planning to take the baby to their GP or to an alternative hospital.’

Source: Daily Mail

doctor taking blood sample

Family Saves Baby

February 8, 2014 permalink

Christopher Booker follows up on a family fleeing to France to save their baby from British social workers. The baby was seized in France based on a flurry of biased reports from England, but released to the parents when independent evaluation of the family failed to support the British claims. British social workers were trying to fulfill a commitment to supply a baby to an adoptive family

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French judges foil social workers who were out to take mother’s baby

Why is it that, when innocent parents flee abroad with their children, social workers will stop at nothing to bring them back?

Dordogne France
Bedford council’s social workers called in Interpol to track a couple down to France
Photo: ALAMY

On November 9, I reported the story of yet another pregnant mother who had fled abroad with her partner – this time to France – to prevent her baby being seized by social workers because she had formerly been in an “abusive relationship”.

Bedford council’s social workers called in Interpol (which claims that its duty is only to “fight crime”) to track the couple down. No sooner was the baby born in a French hospital than the mother’s room filled with 10 policemen. They showed her a paper painting her in a ludicrously damning light as a “threat to the baby”, and local social workers removed the child to an orphanage 30 miles away, to lie in a roomful of cots containing a dozen other babies.

At least the French social workers allowed the parents to see their new daughter several times a week, while a junior French judge, clearly nonplussed by Bedford’s demands that the child be returned to England, referred the case to a higher court. Bedford’s social workers sent over more damning documents, including a psychiatrist’s report alleging that the mother suffered from a “personality disorder” and posed a serious threat to her child. The French social workers, “totally different” from those the couple had dealt with in England, were shocked to hear from Bedford that they already had an adoptive home lined up for the child, and asked a French psychiatrist to carry out a full assessment of the mother.

On Thursday morning I had two messages, from the parents and their British solicitors, Brendan Fleming, to say that three French judges had rejected all of Bedford’s evidence. They agreed with the French psychiatrist that there was nothing wrong with the mother; that she posed no risk of “physical or emotional harm” to her baby; and that the parents had shown that they and the child had managed to establish a “close and affectionate bond”. Their baby must therefore be given back to them immediately.

I spoke to the parents on Thursday night, when they were overjoyed to have their daughter back. The father already has a job with his aunt who runs a lettings business throughout France, and they will soon move to be near her in the Dordogne, to start a new life.

But yet again this story raises the old question: why is it that, when innocent parents flee abroad in this way, our social workers seem to stop at nothing to bring their children back to England? As the French judges also ruled in this case, such an action would have been in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing the right of families to be protected against unwarranted interference by the state.

Why is this article so often used to protect convicted criminals from imprisonment or deportation, when social workers can happily ignore it every day of the week?

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Watch father Carl Brown holding daughter Tabatha (spelling unknown) while being interviewed by John Hemming on YouTube or local copy (mp4).

Baby-Snatching Gets Academy Award Nomination

February 8, 2014 permalink

The subject of baby-snatching has come to the Academy Awards with the nomination of Philomena for best picture. In this true story Philomena Lee, an unmarried Irish girl, gave birth to a boy she called Anthony in 1952 at the Roscrea Abbey Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Roscrea Ireland. The Catholic convent compelled her to work for four years of servitude and at age three sold Anthony to an American couple. Fifty years after his birth, the 70-year-old mother discloses the previously-concealed birth to her family and begins to search for the boy, calling on the assistance of journalist Martin Sixsmith. The convent has by then destroyed all records of the adoption but for one document, Philomena's surrender of her son and promise to not seek contact. Since research in Ireland is futile, Sixsmith carries on to America, where he soon finds the adopted name of the child, Michael Hess. Hess became a legal advisor to Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush. Mr Hess was also a closet homosexual who died of AIDS in 1995. Further research showed that Mr Hess had visited the convent of his birth in an effort to find his mother. The sisters had lied to both him and Philomena, pretending ignorance of the other. In the end Mr Hess, who lived his whole life in America and served two presidents, felt more connection with his unknown mother than his country. His dying wish was to be buried where he was born, a wish achieved through the efforts of his gay partner Peter Olson. Philomena was reunited with her son at his grave at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea.

The practices shown in the movie are not things of the past. The adoption industry continues to construct sham records showing the surrender of babies as voluntary. Today it has expanded its reach, taking the children of couples along with those of unmarried mothers. And the lies to both sides are the same as ever.

For bittorrent users, here is a magnet link to Philomena.

An enclosed article by Martin Sixsmith gives many more details of the story. Then, as now, adoption was a cash cow for an agency with the power to seize and place babies.

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Stolen from his mother - and sold to the highest bidder

Michael Hess
Anthony - now renamed Michael - at his first Christmas in America

Little boy lost: Anthony - now renamed Michael - at his first Christmas in America

Two decades as a journalist reporting wars and disasters left me inured to suffering. Working in Whitehall under New Labour gave me a close-up view of the arrogance and cynicism of power.

As a result, I've always considered myself a hard-bitten sort. But some of the things I discovered on the quest that has detained me for the past five years - the depth of inhumanity and cruelty I stumbled across - made my jaw drop.

Early in 2004, I was approached by a woman who knew I had been a reporter. She said she had a friend who thought I could help her solve a family mystery. I told her that wasn't my sort of journalism; but she insisted and I went to the meeting.

The woman's friend was called Jane, a financial administrator from St Albans. She was in her late 30s and had been through an emotional experience.

Just before Christmas, her mother Philomena, tipsy on festive sherry, had revealed a secret she'd kept for 50 years: she had a son that she had never spoken about to anyone.

The reason for the secrecy was that he had been born illegitimate in Ireland at a time when such things were considered shameful and to be hushed up. Jane said her lost brother would be in his early 50s and probably living in the United States.

I still wasn't sure about getting involved, but a little later I met Philomena herself. What I discovered was a tale of the abuse of power, and how dogma and hypocrisy in high places can ruin the lives of so many people.

Philomena told me she had given birth in a convent at Roscrea in County Tipperary on July 5, 1952. She had been 18 when she had met a young man who bought her a toffee apple on a warm autumn evening at the county fair.

'I had just left convent school,' she said with a sigh. 'I went in there when my mother died, when I was six-and-a-half, and I left at 18 not knowing a thing about the facts of life. I didn't know where babies came from . . .'

When her pregnancy became obvious, her family had had Philomena 'put away' with the nuns.

After her baby, Anthony, was born, the Mother Superior threatened Philomena with damnation if ever she breathed a word about her 'guilty secret'. Terrified, she kept it quiet for more than half a century.

'All my life, I couldn't tell anyone,' she said. 'We were so brow-beaten, and it was such a sin. It was an awful thing to have a baby out of wedlock . . .

Philomena Lee
Kept apart: Philomena Lee whose son was sold to a US couple

Over the years I would say, "I will tell them, I will tell them" - but it was so ingrained down deep in my heart that I mustn't tell anybody, that I never did.' I was intrigued to know why the nuns had been so insistent on the importance of silence and secrecy. The answer, almost certainly, lay in what had happened next.

Philomena was just one of thousands of women sent to Irish convents in the 1950s and 60s, taken away from their homes and families because the Roman Catholic Church said single mothers were moral degenerates who could not be allowed to keep their children.

Such was the power of the Church, and of its then leader, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, that the state bowed before its demands, ceding responsibility for the mothers and babies to the nuns.

For them, it was not only a matter of sin and morality, but one of pounds, shillings and pence.

Philomena told me about the hellish labour she was forced to perform in the convent laundries after her baby was born. Other girls were made to work in commercial greenhouses, making religious artefacts for sale, or stringing rosary beads until the wire cut grooves in their hands that would never disappear.

The Church may have opened its doors to 'fallen women'; but once they were inside, it exploited them mercilessly.

From speaking to mothers who were caught up in the convent homes, and by digging through government records, I realised that in the early Fifties the state was paying the nuns £1 a week for every one of the thousands of mothers they had in their care, and 2s 6d for every baby. In addition, the Church kept the proceeds from the girls' labour.

It was a source of significant income, and the nuns made sure the women stayed and worked for at least three years. They could get out only by paying £100 - an impossible amount for the vast majority.

In a fascinating echo of the debate going on today in America, the Irish government was trying to introduce a basic health and welfare service, which would have provided some safeguards for mothers and their babies.

Michael Hess
Sold: The successful Republican lawyer that Michael became

But like the American right wing, the Church denounced the plan as 'opening the gates to Communism'.

John Charles McQuaid wrote to the Vatican: 'If adopted in law, it would constitute a readymade instrument for totalitarianism.'

The legislation was defeated, and the Church kept its malevolent stranglehold on the fate of the nation's orphans. The government was humiliated into tendering its resignation.

Even more shocking than the exploitation of the mothers was the exploitation of their children. The girls had to care for their babies during their three-year sentence in the convents - only then to be told that their child was being taken from them.

For women who had had so long to bond with their sons or daughters, the parting was terrible.

Philomena showed me the undertaking she had been forced to sign.

'I, Philomena Lee', it says, over a signature in a juvenile hand, 'do hereby relinquish full claim forever to my said child Anthony Lee and surrender him to Sister Barbara, Superioress of Sean Ross Abbey . . . to make my child available for adoption to any person she considers fit and proper, inside or outside the state.

'I further undertake never to attempt to see, interfere with or make any claim to the said child at any future time.' Philomena told me she had fought against signing the document.

'Oh God, my heart. I didn't want him to go. I just craved and begged them to please let me keep him.

'None of us wanted to give our babies up, none of us. But what else could we do? They just said: "You have to sign these papers."

'I remember it was a Sunday evening . . . I'm so sorry, I'm crying now when I think about it.'

Philomena cried when Anthony was taken from her, at Christmas 1955. She was not allowed to say goodbye, but she spotted him being bundled into the back of a black car.

When she shouted to him, the noise of the engine drowned out her voice, but as the car pulled away she is convinced he stood up in the seat and peered through the rear windscreen looking for her.

Afterwards, her father would not take her back because of the shame: he had told neighbours, friends and Philomena's own sisters that she had 'gone away' and that no one knew where she was.

So, in the end, the Church despatched her to work at one of its homes for delinquent boys in Liverpool.

Philomena trained as a nurse, got married in 1959 and had two more children. She longed to tell them about their brother, but couldn't.

She kept her secret but she never forgot her son. The thought of him gnawed at her; she worried how he was coping without her.

'Oh, he was gorgeous,' she told me. 'He was a lovely, gentle, quiet lad. All my life I have never forgotten him. I have prayed for him every day.

'Over the years I would so often say: "I wonder what he is doing. Has he gone to Vietnam? Is he on Skid Row?" I just didn't know what had happened to him."

Finally - without telling anyone - Philomena embarked on a lonely, desperate search to find her son. She went back to the convent in Roscrea several times and asked the nuns to help her.

Each time they refused, brandishing her sworn undertaking that she would 'never attempt to see' her child.

When I agreed to help look for Anthony in 2004, we had little to go on. We knew his date and place of birth, but his name, Anthony Lee, would certainly have been changed by his adoptive parents.

Philomena had been told that her son would be taken to the United States, but little else.

The quest became more fascinating than any detective story: its twists and turns, the unexpected coincidences that finally led us to Philomena's lost child, are the backbone of my book. But the life story that the detective work uncovered is truly remarkable.

Early on in the search, I realised that the Irish Catholic hierarchy had been engaged in what amounted to an illicit baby trade. Archbishop McQuaid regarded single mothers as sinners, and believed their children would be safer away from them.

But he prevented social workers from intervening 'because they take no cognizance of the gravity of the woman's sin . . . her lust and selfgratification . . . and her fall is all too often condoned and excused.'

Even worse, he was horrified that the children might be given to Protestants. McQuaid insisted unbendingly that adopting couples should be practising Roman Catholics.

But there were no proper checks on their background, as long as they had the money to pay the 'donation' the Church demanded.

The result was that the 'orphans' were sold to the highest bidder, however unsuitable they might be, and thousands were bought by wealthy Americans at a going rate of between $2,000 and $3,000.

Philomena's son was one of them. When rumours of the Church's role began to emerge decades later, much of the incriminating paperwork was hastily destroyed, and even today the Church guards its adoption archives fiercely.

It took a painstaking trawl through passport records, and the piecing together of fleeting references in old newspaper articles, before we discovered that Anthony Lee had been offered to a middle-class couple from St Louis, Missouri.

Marge and Doc Hess certainly fulfilled the McQuaid criteria: they were good Catholics, a professional couple in their early 40s, and Marge's brother was himself a bishop. The Hesses already had three sons, but they wanted a daughter.

In the course of my research, I came into possession of Marge Hess's diaries.

Their carefullywritten entries gave me a startling insight into everything from the clothes and lip gloss she wore to the emotions that overwhelmed her as she studied herself in the mirror before setting off to Ireland.

In August 1955, Marge Hess scoured the Irish mother and baby homes for a little girl.

Her diary records her first impressions of the shy three-year- old, Mary McDonald, who was offered to her by the Mother Superior of the Roscrea convent. And it reveals the twist of fate that led her to adopt Anthony Lee.

When Marge leaned down to pick up her new daughter in the convent nursery, she was charmed to see Mary's best friend, a little boy in baggy trousers, come running to give her a kiss.

Marge fell for him at once. That evening, she called her husband in St Louis and asked if it would be all right to bring two children back instead of one.

Anthony's unthinking show of affection for Marge was the random nudge of chance that changed his life. By the end of 1955, he and Mary had been transported from rural Ireland to a new existence and new identities in the New World.

He was renamed Michael Hess and grew up to be an 'A' student. He was physically attractive and gifted, ran cross-country and sang in school musical productions.

But he was haunted by halfremembered visions of his first three years in Ireland, and by a lifelong yearning to find his mother.

He remembered her touch and the way she sang to him, and he embarked on repeated fruitless attempts to find her, tragically unaware that Philomena, too, was pining and searching for him.

Both came back to the convent and pleaded for information, but the nuns - perhaps ashamed of their role in Ireland's baby trade - refused to help.

Michael became a successful lawyer. He was spotted by the leaders of Ronald Reagan's Republican Party and brought into the White House.

As a rising star of the Republican National Committee, he masterminded the party's electoral strategy, brokering the redistricting (gerrymandering) reforms that kept them in power for over a decade.

When George Bush Senior became president, he made Michael his Chief Legal Counsel.

But Michael Hess was gay, and in a Republican Party that was rabidly homophobic, he was obliged to conceal his sexuality.

He was tormented by the double life he was forced to lead, and by the fact that his work was entrenching in power a party that victimised his friends and lovers.

When the president gave in to conservative demands to block funds for Aids research, Mike was plunged into despair.

He was tormented, too, by the absence of his mother and by the orphan's sense of helplessness.

He didn't know where he came from, didn't know who he was, or how he should live. He felt unloved by his adoptive father and brothers, living in fear that the stern, critical Doc Hess would discover his sexuality.

As a teenager, Mike had rowed with Doc, and Doc had told him he would no longer support him or pay his university fees. Mike suspected Doc knew he was gay.

As a practising Roman Catholic, he also felt guilt over his sexuality. He had a series of stormy relationships and was deeply disturbed when a spurned lover burned himself to death.

But Mike was loved by his adoptive mother and by Mary, the little girl who was plucked with him from the Roscrea convent and became his lifelong friend and 'sister'.

He found some happiness in a long-term relationship with a caring, loving partner - but he could never be at peace.

He went back to Roscrea, first in 1977 and again in 1993, to plead with the nuns to tell him how to find his mother. They turned him away.

On his return to the U.S., he plunged into alcohol, drugs and unbridled sexual indulgence.

It was as if the void he felt in his life was driving him into dangerous practices that put his reputation and career in jeopardy. For a gay man in the decade of Aids, it was close to courting a death sentence.

By the late 1980s, Mike found himself embarking on ever-more-frequent lost weekends in the gay bars and clubs of Washington and other cities.

His behaviour brought with it the terrible fear of exposure that would destroy him as a senior Republican official, but he could not stop himself.

On one of his lost weekends, he became infected with the HIV virus. He and Pete, his long-term partner, agonised over their future.

Mike kept his illness secret, refusing to tell his adoptive parents and urging Mary to tell no one. Pete stood by him, but Michael's health began to deteriorate. Fearing the worst, they flew to Roscrea in 1993 to make an emotional appeal to the nuns.

But still the nuns refused to tell him where he could find his mother, or indeed that her sisters and brother - his aunts and uncle - were living just a few miles down the road.

In desperation, Michael asked the Mother Superior if he could at least be buried in the convent if he were to die: he would put enough information on his gravestone to help his mother find out about his life 'if ever she comes looking for me'.

As we know (but Michael did not), Philomena was looking for him, returning to Roscrea, seeking traces of her son . . .

The hunt for Michael took me through state and Church archives, through adoption agencies, American university records and Republican Party sources before it led to the end of the trail and the story's poignant, unexpected conclusion.

It threw up a Hardyesque tale of coincidences and missed connections; and a powerful indictment of two historical eras: 1950s Ireland and 1980s America.

As we discovered, the nuns did agree to let Michael be buried in Roscrea - in return for a large donation to Church funds - and he did, indeed, put a 'message from beyond the grave' on his marble headstone, a message that ultimately allowed us to trace the path of his life.

'Michael Hess, a man of two nations and many talents,' the inscription reads. 'Born July 5, 1952, Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea. Died August 15, 1995, Washington DC.'

Before his remains were flown to Ireland, the White House had staged a lavish memorial service for him. Many of the Republican Party leaders were there, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan sent personal messages of sympathy.

But nothing was said about his sexuality. Afterwards, Doc Hess had met Pete, Michael's partner, and was shocked to learn both that his son had been gay and that he had died of Aids.

Ultimately, my search brought me to an overgrown grave in a quiet country convent. In addition to Michael and Philomena's story, I had discovered the thousands of other lost 'orphans' whose lives were changed for ever by the greed and hypocrisy of Church and state.

Like Michael, many of them are still looking for their parents and, through them, for their identity.

Now in her 70s, Philomena is remarkably devoid of bitterness. She has started to go to Mass again. But she blames herself for everything - for giving her son away and for not speaking out about him earlier, when things could have been different.

'If only, Martin, if only. I curse myself every time I think of it. If only I'd mentioned it all those years ago, maybe he wouldn't . . .

'Oh Lord, it makes my heart ache. I'm sure there are lots of women to this very day who are the same as me; they haven't said anything . . . It is the biggest regret of my life and I have to bear that. It is my own fault, and now it is my woe.'

Knowing what happened to her son has at least resolved the doubts that haunted Philomena for half a century. I have stood with her at the side of his grave and heard how she speaks to him after the separation of all the years.

'Thank God you are back home again,' she says. 'You're here where I can visit you now.

But you came to this place and no one told you anything. No one told you I was looking for you and that I loved you, my son. How different it all could have been . . .'

The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith is published by Macmillan £12.99. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.

Source: Daily Mail

Addendum: The story has inspired other mothers to search for their own children.

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Lee's story reunites hundreds of families

PHILOMENA Lee (81) has inspired over 100 mothers to successfully locate their birth children taken by forced adoptions to the US and beyond.

The Irishwoman's story, which was behind the award-winning movie Philomena, has led to the reconciliation of families around the world.

Mari Steed, the US coordinator of the Adoption Rights Alliance, said that the movie, in which Judi Dench (inset) played the Limerick woman struck a chord with many families.

Woodwork

"Philomena's story has made a huge difference and has given people the courage to come out of the woodwork," she said.

"I think more than 100 families have now been reunited and for the most part their reunions have been overwhelmingly positive."

"I know of cases where some women in their 80s have been reunited with children who were adopted out to the US," she added.

In Ms Lee's case, like thousands of others in 1950s Ireland, she was sent, aged 18, to a mother and baby home, from where her son, Anthony, was sold by nuns to an American family when he was just three.

Since the movie based on Ms Lee's life enjoyed great success, including being nominated for an Oscar, the alliance has been run off its feet.

"Things have changed and we call it the 'Philomena effect'. The great legacy of the movie and Philomena's story is that it has given a voice to tens of thousands of disenfranchised women who were made to feel they had done something wrong," Ms Steed said.

"We've been busier than ever because of the publicity from the film.

"We tend to get about two calls or emails a day to our helplines from people searching for their families. Sometimes that number can be as high as ten.

However, frustrated campaigners say it remains as challenging as ever to help those who turn to them for help because of the difficulty in gaining access to State-held adoption records.

Changes

Susan Lohan, of the Adoption Rights Alliance, has repeatedly called for legislative changes to release the records of the estimated 60,000 children in Ireland.

Last month Children's Minister Dr. James Reilly said new legislation was being prepared surrounding access to adoption records , but stressed the issue was "complex".

Source: Herald (Ireland)

Texas CPS Orders Divorce

February 7, 2014 permalink

Texas CPS told Shmarian Jackson to divorce her husband Raquel Jackson if she wants to get her children back. Intervention started over a domestic violence incident in which charges were dropped. CPS claims they never counsel divorce, but the fixcas index has dozens of cases under shotgun divorce.

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Couple say CPS told them to get divorce if they want kids back

HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

"Dad and Mom is the world to them when they see dad they're like where's mom when they see me they're like where is dad," said Shmarian Jackson said.

Jackson can't help but tear up when she thinks about the last 8 months without her three little girls living at home.

"I don't really like to talk about it hurts," Jackson said while fighting back tears.

The Jackson's admit the fight that brought CPS to their Montgomery home last summer was a bad one.

"She was holding a knife in her hand and I tried to take it away from her," said Raquel Jackson.

Raquel Jackson says he got accidentally stabbed and his wife Shmarian got a domestic violence charge that was later dismissed.

The couple says they've both done everything CPS has asked them to do, parenting classes therapy.

But they say CPS is asking them to do something they don't want to do.

"In order for me to get them back I have to basically get a divorce," Shmarian Jackson said a CPS supervisor told her.

A CPS spokesperson denies that telling Fox 26 the state agency would never tell a parent they had to divorce in order to have their children returned to them.

But the heartbroken mother is adamant that's what the CPS supervisor told her and she says her attorney also heard the supervisors unusual demand.

Source: KRIV FOX 26

Elman Wants a Real Inquest

February 7, 2014 permalink

Fixcas has so far paid little attention the the Jeffrey Baldwin inquiry. Following the pattern of past inquests we can expect lots of testimony of tragic failures, followed by a long list of recommendations all suggesting more money and power for children's aid.

Ontario's provincial children's advocate Irwin Elman, through his legal counsel Suzan Fraser, has introduced 37 suggestions for jury findings. The first 35 are for more bureaucracy. These cannot improve the lives of children in a system suffering from too much bureaucracy. But Elman's last two suggestions are something new. He wants a public inquiry into the protection of children in the province. One staffed not just by the same people who created the systems in the first place or those who currently work in the system. The inquiry shall have the power to access information from witnesses and require the production of documents. In another recommendation, Mr Elman wants meaningful inquests into the deaths of children. An inquest into a death that conceals the name of the deceased more resembles a cover-up than a public inquiry.

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Irwin Elman

My Office is an independent voice for children and youth. Our stake at Jeffery Baldwin's Inquest is to honour his young life and ensure the voice of children and youth are heard. Our goal, young people's goal, is to ensure that the safety, health and well-being of children and youth in Ontario is paramount. Change is hard and institutions like child welfare resist it. At the Inquest in our final submission we called for a Public Inquiry, a public, open transparent discussion into how we protect children and support families in this Province. Our statement is below. In their final submission the Catholic Childrens Aid Society said our submission was " grounded in hyperbole and sensationalism" Let them say it. A "leave it to the professionals" approach" , not this time. I do not care how hard it is to implement change, it needs to happen now before we have another Jeffery.

Source: Facebook, Irwin Elman


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jeffrey Baldwin inquest: Ontario’s Child and Youth Advocate calls for public inquiry into child protection

TORONTO, ON (February 4, 2014) – The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth made its final submission today at the Jeffrey Baldwin inquest urging the jury to recommend a province-wide public inquiry into the protection of children in the province of Ontario. The following is a statement from Irwin Elman, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth:

“I urge the jury to recommend that the Premier of Ontario hold a public inquiry into the protection of children in Ontario to move the system forward. The examination cannot be held behind closed doors and it cannot be comprised only of the same people who created the systems in the first place or those who currently work in the system. It must be independent and involve the public, youth with lived experiences and others who can provide a fresh perspective.

After months of evidence, hearing about legislation, regulations, standards, policies, and best practices, we have to remember that this inquest is about Jeffrey Baldwin, a boy who was almost six years old, weighing under 22 pounds when he died of pneumonia as a complication of prolonged starvation like a ‘discarded little boy’. Much of the evidence we heard was about why people didn’t do things: there were no standards, it was not the practice at the time, there were no concerns and no red flags. The implication is that the system is different today, but despite what we have heard, I am not convinced that there has been significant change. That is why I am calling for a public inquiry into how we protect children and youth. Jeffrey’s death has been described as tragic, but so was his life. It is only due to Jeffrey’s death that we know about the locked rooms, the deplorable conditions and the deprivation. It’s not good enough that errors are only found and that changes are only made after a death. We expect and demand more. More from the child welfare system, more from the educational system, more from the neighbours, and more from the family who stood by and watched Jeffrey starve and die. We want a province where we have a care system that supports and nurtures children and families to be the best they can be and where every child is safe and protected. The coroner’s inquest into Jeffrey’s death must be a turning point. We can do better. We must act now.”

Source: Provincial Advocate (pdf)


TOWARDS BETTER PROTECTION FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH

  1. The Premier of Ontario call a public inquiry into the protection of children in the Province of Ontario. The inquiry shall have the power to access information from witnesses and require the production of documents. The inquiry will report publicly. The inquiry shall engage sectors which can offer points of protection to children and youth including schools, mental health sector, first responders, business, shelters that provide shelter to youth and families, doctors, hospitals, housing providers, psychiatrists, children’s aid societies, early years centres, parents and children and youth with experience with the child welfare system as well as the general public. The inquiry will:
    1. review the investigation of child maltreatment, child protection practice, and child protection policy and procedure
    2. create a plan to ensure the health and well-being of Ontario’s children and youth that includes all sectors and which puts children at the centre
    3. consider the sufficiency of existing oversight mechanisms to ensure accountability of child welfare and the delivery of adequate services to children and youth including the role of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) and the capacity of volunteer boards of directors to provide accountability, oversight and the training and governance of workers and supervisors carrying out a legislated mandate under the CFSA
    4. examine Ontario’s child death review process for children who are connected to Ontario’s care systems within a year of their death and whether the criteria is sufficient to ensure meaningful review of the death of children connected to care
    5. review deaths which occurred in the last decade of children who were connected to Ontario’s care systems for which there are death investigation reports available
  2. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and MCYS, together with the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario and the Office of the Chief Forensic Pathologist for Ontario, create a task force to lead the development of a structured, open and transparent provincial child death review process for systematic reporting and analysis of all child and youth deaths and the evaluation of the impact of case-specific recommendations. The task force should include broad representation including representation from public health, the Canadian Pediatric Society, First Nations representation (e.g. Assembly of First Nations, Regional Chiefs or local Chiefs), young people, members of the general public, education, child care and child welfare and should consider:
    1. the composition of the child death review team
    2. the structure and process by which deaths are reviewed
    3. the creation of linkable databases for data collection, consolidation and dissemination, systemic data collection and data-sharing which would assist in the development and support of policy in Ontario and provide a model for other provinces
    4. the relationship with child death review teams from other provinces.

The report of the Task Force should be mailed to the jury, mailed to counsel for the siblings and the institutional parties with standing at the inquest, and placed on the Ministries’ websites.

Source: Provincial Advocate (pdf)

CAS Investigates Breastfeeding

February 7, 2014 permalink

When Durham council member Amy England breastfed her baby at their meeting, children's aid was alerted and questioned her at length.

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Children’s Aid called after Oshawa councillor takes newborn to City meeting

Councillor Amy England said breastfeeding her baby at council meetings in no way endangers her newborn

Amy England
WHITBY -- Oshawa Councillor Amy England said she was investigated by the Children’s Aid Society after a complaint was filed because she took her baby to council meetings so she could breastfeed.
Ron Pietroniro / Metroland file photo

OSHAWA -- An Oshawa councillor said she was investigated by the Children’s Aid Society after a complaint was filed because she took her baby to council meetings so she could breastfeed.

Coun. Amy England said the complaint was filed sometime after she took her daughter, Amelia, born on Dec. 13, to the first council meeting of the year on Jan. 6.

“Obviously I was upset and I spoke to Children’s Aid at length and they indicated to me they had no concerns for me and my daughter and that breastfeeding my baby was in no way putting her in danger,” she said.

She said Durham Region Children’s Aid Society officials explained they were legally obligated to investigate all complaints, even if they’re frivolous.

“They made it very clear that they weren’t concerned and they also made it very clear that they had to do a follow up by law.”

As to the nature of the complaint, Coun. England said she understood that it was because the meetings sometimes run late and because there’s sometimes yelling and stressful situations. There was a physical altercation last year when police and security guards forcibly removed two activists. Coun. England was pregnant at the time and stepped away from her desk and into a back room until the situation calmed down.

Since January, the councillor estimates she has taken her baby to meetings at the City and at the Region, and to her office, between five to 10 times. She said whether she takes her daughter depends on how long the meeting will be and if she can pump enough milk to leave her at home.

“If she gets a little fussy I always step out,” said the councillor. “I’m not here to make a disturbance.”

Coun. England said she’s received some negative feedback about her choice to take her daughter, but she has also received support including during a Regional council meeting, where several mothers had taken their babies as a show of solidarity.

“I know it’s contentious and I understand being a working mother is not everyone’s choice, but it’s mine,” said the councillor. “I’m trying to balance my duties as a councillor and feeding my daughter which means she has to be at work with me sometimes.”

Among the organizations showing support for her is Equal Voice, a national multi-partisan organization dedicated to the election of more women.

“We’re very concerned that she appears to be under attack for bringing her newborn to work, obviously we believe she’s fulfilling her duties as a duly elected councillor and she’s in no way compromising her baby or herself by having her child with her,” said Equal Voice executive director Nancy Peckford.

“We actually think she’s an outstanding role model for other women who may be interested in running for politics who may have children or may be considering having children.”

A complaint to Children’s Aid goes beyond the normal political scrutiny a councillor could expect, said Ms. Peckford.

“For her to encounter this kind of attack, this kind of highly negative scrutiny is really uncalled for and is completely -- in our view -- out of line.”

Ms. Peckford said that while municipal politics is the level of government considered most accessible to women, nationwide only 25 per cent of council seats are held by women and only 16 per cent of mayors are women.

She said her organizations will be conducting a study shortly on how family friendly legislatures and municipal councils are across the country.

Meanwhile, Coun. England said she expects to take baby Amelia to meetings, on and off, until March.

Source: Metroland / Durham Region


Moms gather inside council chamber

Mothers supporting Durham councillor Amy England

About a dozen moms and their little ones took a seat in the gallery of the Regional council chamber as a sign of support for new mom Oshawa Councillor Amy England.

Her daughter Amelia was born on December 13, 2013 and since she became pregnant Councillor England stated she intended to bring the baby to council and committee meetings. She says seeing the moms at the chamber was encouraging as they all breastfeed, which is something Councillor England is doing as well.

“They just wanted to show their support because it’s the first time at Regional council,” she says. “It got out there what I was doing.”

The councillor wasn’t met with any opposition from her fellow colleagues during the meeting. The Ontario Human Rights Commission states it is illegal to discriminate against a woman because she “was pregnant, had a baby, or may become pregnant.” A woman also has the right to breastfeed a child in a public area.

“It was perfectly fine at Regional council. Council members are really supportive. It’s nice to know,” she explains, adding she did take Amelia to the back where her husband was waiting so she could breastfeed. “You can actually watch and participate from the back room. It’s a lot more conducive to breastfeeding. My husband was there when I was out on the floor.”

Councillor England says when her daughter gets a bit older, around six months, she won’t be bringing her to meetings anymore, but for the time being she says she can balance the needs of the constituents and the community.

“We do represent kids. The decisions we’re making affect their future,” she states. “I read her my agendas as bedtime stories.”

Source: Oshawa Express

Bra sale

Little Brother Stymied

February 5, 2014 permalink

What does Big Brother fear? Little brother watching back.

The Portage View Public School in Barrie Ontario has established a restrictive policy for use of personal devices by students. Taking pictures of staff is forbidden, along with any pictures in the hallways or of other students. Personal devices cannot even be taken to the washrooms (What is in the washrooms in Barrie?).

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Portage View Panthers logo

PORTAGE VIEW PUBLIC SCHOOL

124 Letitia Street Barrie ON L4N 1P5 Phone (705)728-1302 Fax     (705)728-3055
School website http://por.scdsb.on.ca Follow us on Twitter @PVPSPanthers
Principal
Peter McKenna
Vice Principal
Alexa Barrie

PORTAGE VIEW PUBLIC SCHOOL PERSONAL DEVICE POLICY

The use of personal hand held devices in our society is becoming more prevalent and a part of everyday life. At Portage View, we would like to take the opportunity to teach students social etiquette in the use of their personal devices that also aligns with school rules. As a result, we have collaboratively created a policy in conjunction with students, teachers, and administration to outline acceptable use at our school.

  1. Students may use their personal devices in the classroom as a learning/teaching tool, at their teacher’s discretion and with permission (e.g. calculator). Devices should be in a pocket or left face down on desk when not in use. NEVER IN STUDENT DESK
  2. When students need to use the washroom the device must be left in the classroom (e.g. teacher’s desk).
  3. Students must have teacher permission to text during class time and only for emergency purposes (need to get a hold of a parent)
  4. Students may use their personal devices during nutrition break for texting, games and music (one earphone out for safety purposes).
  5. Students may use their personal devices outside at recess to listen to music if they have one earphone left out (for safety purposes). No large headphones are permitted.
  6. The hallway is a device free zone.
  7. Use of the device at school must be transparent.
  8. Personal devices are NOT to be used to take recordings (picture, video or audio) of students and staff.
  9. The only way to ensure devices are not stolen, damaged or lost is to leave them at home. The school is not responsible for theft or damages.
  10. Students must have parental/guardian permission to use their device at school.
  11. If a student uses their device inappropriately, the following consequences will apply.
    • Follow Progressive Discipline plan at PVPS - Think Sheets
    • In conjunction with the Code of Conduct and decision by administrator and teacher, a student may lose the privilege of using their hand held device at school if students are unable to follow the policy

The original document includes space for the student signature and date.

Source: photocopy

Mother Too Protective

February 4, 2014 permalink

When an Ottawa mother discovered that a babysitter had molested her five-year-old daughter she attacked the babysitter. The mother was arrested and the child was placed for adoption. The mother wants to get the girl back to join her sibling born after the incident.

Children are taken for abuse or neglect or the opposite, excess in defending the child..

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Ottawa mom fighting to get daughter back after babysitter sexual assault

An Ottawa mother whose daughter was sexually assaulted at age five by a babysitter says she is taking The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa to court after the agency wrongfully gave up the child up for adoption.

The name of the child is protected by a publication ban and Metro is not naming the mother in order to protect the child’s identity.

On Oct. 9, 2013, Ontario Court Justice Catherine Kehoe found Jennell Crossfield, 27, guilty of sexual assaulting the young girl.

The judge ruled the girl’s testimony was credible and that the accused “will lie when it suits her and to get herself out of trouble.”

The mom read her heartbreaking victim impact statement to the court Monday morning, describing how the incident has scarred her and her daughter.

“You’ve robbed my daughter of her innocence, her family, and she and I will always struggle in trusting people again,” the emotional mother said in court. “Even now, after four and a half years later, I seldom go for a few minutes without some image or feeling from the sexual act towards my daughter popping into my head. You’ve made me feel helpless of a mother because I wasn’t there to protect my daughter from you.”

After finding out about the sexual assault in June of 2009, the mom beat up Crossfield and threatened her with a knife. As a result, the mom was arrested on assault charges and the child was taken into foster care, she said.

She said she just finished her probation in January and desperately wants her child back.

CAS only lets the mom see her daughter two times per year for two hours, the mom told Justice Kehoe Monday.

She has since had a second child.

“CAS let me have one kid and not the other,” the mom told reporters after Monday’s proceeding. “I need to find a good civil lawyer and I’m going to go after them.”

Source: Metro News

Massachusetts Criminals Become Foster Parents

February 4, 2014 permalink

Want to get on the inside track for foster parenting in Massachusetts? Solicit a prostitute. Or commit an assault with a deadly weapon. Engage in drunk driving or vehicular homicide. Or traffic in cocaine or heroin near a school. All of these offenses are on a list of 110 crimes that can be overlooked when qualifying candidates for fostering.

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DCF handbook shocker: Criminal past doesn’t disqualify foster parents

Criteria for foster parents
DCF OVERSIGHT: Criteria uncovered by the Herald in a Department of Children and Families manual shows a stunningly permissive set of rules for screening potential foster home parents, allowing a history including sex offenses involving minors, violence such as manslaughter, and drug offenses such as trafficking cocaine and heroin within 1,000 feet of a school.
Photo by: Christopher Evans

Prospective foster parents with rap sheets listing criminal convictions for armed assault, drug trafficking, motor vehicle homicide and even soliciting sex from a minor could be cleared to take at-risk children into their homes under a standing policy at the state’s embattled child welfare agency.

The stunning rules, tucked inside the Department of Children and Families’ handbook on criminal record checks and updated six years ago, allow foster parents with checkered pasts to take charge of endangered kids in the agency’s care.

Among the crimes DCF policy might forgive would-be foster parents after screening their applications:

  • Offenses such as inducing sex from a minor, soliciting a prostitute and possessing obscene “pornographic” material;
  • Violent offenses, including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, armed burglary and involuntary manslaughter;
  • Motor vehicle homicide while driving under the influence; and
  • A slew of drug offenses, including trafficking in cocaine or heroin within 1,000 feet of a school.

One of the agency’s so-called “discretionary” lists numbers roughly 110 crimes applicants can have on their records and still qualify as foster parents. It’s far longer than DCF’s roster of crimes that would presumptively disqualify foster parent applicants, including murder, indecent assault and battery on a child, and aggravated rape.

DCF officials say they have granted “very few approvals” of foster parents who have committed crimes listed on their “discretionary” list, but the agency was unable to say how many such applicants have passed muster since 2012.

Wendy Murphy, an attorney and victims advocate, blasted Gov. Deval Patrick for allowing DCF to approve foster parents with criminal backgrounds.

“When the policy allows blatantly dangerous adults to become foster parents, you the governor have approved poor quality control standards,” Murphy said. “You can’t say you are doing your best. If that was true, you would apply stricter standards. That’s a leadership issue. ... It’s not like there’s a constitutional right to be a foster parent.”

Spokesman Alec Loftus said the agency needed more time to determine how many convicted criminals have been approved as foster parents because officials are juggling a “queue” of public records requests from media, lawmakers and the Child Welfare League of America — which is conducting an independent review of DCF. Commissioner Olga Roche was also unavailable for an interview, he said.

“While a 2000 Superior Court decision bars DCF and other state employers from automatically disqualifying an individual from employment solely based upon a prior conviction, the Department uses factors such as the nature of a crime, circumstances and time frame to deny an application to become a foster parent if a situation is deemed unsafe,” Loftus said in a statement.

State Rep. Paul Heroux, a member of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, said he understands some crimes may carry “extenuating circumstances.” But when it comes to a sex crime against a child, “there’s no wiggle room around that.”

“They should definitely take a second look at that list,” the Attleboro Democrat said.

Maria Mossaides, executive director of DCF contractor Cambridge Family and Children’s Service, which screens potential foster homes, said the agency does not grant approvals for criminals “easily, even though that stuff is on that list as discretionary.”

Mossaides said she and her staff, who oversee about 40 foster homes, tend to be “very conservative” in pushing for such approvals from DCF and won’t consider anyone with a record of domestic violence.

She said: “I wouldn’t want for my agency to have the responsibility of placing a child in a home where there was anything serious.”

Source: Boston Herald

A few days later DCF says there are 552 active foster homes headed by criminals.

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552 active DCF foster parents have prior criminal conviction

BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Foster parents with prior criminal records were allowed to take children into their homes in 650 cases from 2013 to present under the policy at the state's embattled Department of Children and Families.

DCF says there are 552 active homes caring for children where the guardian has a prior criminal conviction. Under DCF's policy, prospective foster parents may be convicted of crimes like soliciting sex from a minor, motor vehicle homicide, or even armed assault. The rules were last updated in 2008.

DCF says one foster parent who committed a crime in the most serious category was approved for a waiver and has a child currently in the home. The agency says that situation involved a man who committed crimes in his teens and close to a decade later was approved to be the foster father for his step-daughter.

A spokesman for DCF tells Fox 25 Political Reporter Sharman Sacchetti that more than half the placements are "kinship placements," meaning the child was taken in by a relative after their current living situation was deemed unsuitable.

DCF Spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen has issued a statement, reading: "The safety of a child is DCF's first priority when decisions are made about their placement, and the Department promotes kinship placements where appropriate to keep families strong."

She says a "2000 Superior Court decision bars DCF and other agencies from automatically disqualifying an individual from employment solely based upon a prior conviction" and that the "Department considers various factors, such as the nature of a crime, circumstances, and timeframe as it reviews applications to become a foster parent. Waivers are rarely sought in serious categories, and the department uses a standard, well-defined process outlined by regulations and law to review these cases."

A DCF official tells FOX 25 of all cases with children currently in the home, more than 90 percent are "kinship placements." That official says there are no convictions for sexual crimes.

DCF officials say 97 percent of all felony convictions took place more than 10 years ago. Sixty-seven percent took place more than 20 years ago.

The A-D waiver system is included in DCF regulations and policy, which can be seen by clicking here.

Source: Fox 25 News Boston

Unborn Baby Imperiled

February 3, 2014 permalink

The unborn child of Amber Forsyth and Syd Freeman is under threat of seizure by British Columbia MCFD. The parents have learning [dis-]abilities and the mother is a repeat offender: MCFD grabbed another baby five years ago from another relationship that was abusive. If the baby is seized, expect an embargo on the names of the family.

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Baby Dispute

UPDATE: Couple fights to keep baby

Amber Forsyth and Syd Freeman

WEST KELOWNA — A West Kelowna couple is devastated after learning their unborn child may be seized by the Ministry of Children and family development right after birth.

Amber Forsyth and Syd Freeman feel they are being discriminated against because they have learning abilities. They also say they are being punished for a past situation.

Forsyth had her first child seized more than 5 years ago when she was in different relationship, an abusive one.

“We have a stable place and we have lots of support in place” says Forsyth.

The couple has also taken another step, having Freeman’s father and step-mother move in for extra support.

“It’s not fair we should have a chance to have a baby,” says Forsyth.

The ministry issued the following statement to Global Okanagan:

“Due to privacy reasons, the ministry can’t comment on the specifics of this case. But it does say the safety and well being of a child is always the ministry’s first priority. It says Removal of a child is only considered if there is concern about the family’s ability to safely provide care. The ministry makes every effort to keep families together. We would look at placing the child with extended family if they are assessed to be safe and appropriate to provide care.In the case of a removal A Judge makes the final decision about whether a child should remain in care or be returned to the parents. “

Multiple social media users are expressing their opinions:

  • “This happening far too often. Ministry needs a complete overhaul.”
  • “I am sure the ministry will let the baby stay with the family. We don’t know the whole story and we don’t know exactly what happened in the past. The family is probably under the radar for a very good reason. I am sure they will bring in resources to help the parents before taking them away. I am glad the ministry is doing their job, if the parents are fit they have nothing to worry about”
  • “I hope the Ministry does their job in supporting two loving, caring parents with their dream to raise their child.”
  • “They want to take that poor baby away from two capable people who genuinely care for her and want to keep her. When there are families out there who just keep having kids to get more money or the kids are abused or neglected. I have seen the ministry ignore those children who are neglected even after several people have called them to report families.”

Forsyth is currently 8-months pregnant.

Source: Global News Toronto

Lev Tahor Children Back to Quebec

February 3, 2014 permalink

Today Ontario judge Stephen Fuerth ordered 14 of the Lev Tahor children into foster care, with 13 of them to be returned to Quebec. The order is stayed for 30 days to allow for an appeal.

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Ontario judge rules Lev Tahor kids should be returned to Quebec

CHATHAM, Ont. -- An Ontario judge has ruled that 13 children from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect must be turned over to child protection authorities in Quebec.

Most of the Lev Tahor community of about 200 people left Quebec while they were being investigated by social services and settled in Chatham, Ont., in November.

The court in Quebec ordered in their absence that 14 of the children be placed in foster care and children's aid in Chatham had asked the court to enforce that order.

Ontario Court Judge Stephen Fuerth ordered Monday that the children -- with the exception of a 17-year-old who is also married and a mother -- be returned to Quebec to the care of child welfare there.

The community was under investigation for issues including hygiene, children's health and allegations that the children weren't learning according to the provincial curriculum.

The community denies any mistreatment of the children and says they were already planning to move out of Quebec.

The judge has put a 30-day stay on the order to give the families a chance to appeal.

During those 30 days, child protection workers in Chatham will be allowed to randomly drop in on the community to make sure the children are still there and to assess their well-being.

Fuerth was critical of the community's decision to leave Quebec in the middle of the night, which he says was clearly done in haste.

"The unilateral actions of the respondents to flee from Quebec placed these children at further risk of harm and could not be construed as concern for the interests of their children," he said in his decision.

Source: CTV

Here are two earlier stories about Lev Tahor.

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Lev Tahor: ‘We want to go backwards’

Lev Tahor
Lev Tahor youngsters gather outside at the group’s compound on the outskirts of Chatham in southwestern Ontario. The group has been dogged by allegations of child abuse, though its spokesmen say the children are loved and treated well.
Paul Lungen photo

CHATHAM, Ont. — About halfway through our interview, Uriel Goldman received a call on his cellphone. Family service workers from Chatham-Kent Child Services had appeared at his home for a surprise visit. His attendance was required.

Goldman left to meet the two investigators, returning 30 minutes later. The unscheduled visit was nothing new, he explained. In fact, it was the third such visit that day. Since the group of 250 members of Lev Tahor, an ultra-Orthodox sect seeking to live a “pure” Jewish lifestyle, relocated to Chatham-Kent from Quebec in November, the visits have become an almost daily occurrence.

The Lev Tahor, Hebrew for “pure heart,” families are asked about their treatment of their children, their living conditions are investigated and, in at least one case, the child-care workers asked to see a mother change her baby’s diaper and then checked the infant’s body for bruises.

Lev Tahor adept at use of technology

In addition, Chatham-Kent police have visited the community several times to reassure themselves and child protection officials that the children are appropriately cared for.

Nothing has ever been found, Goldman said, referring to the charges of child abuse or neglect that have dogged the group, first in Israel, then in Quebec and now in Ontario.

The complaints levelled by Quebec child protection authorities have included neglect, girls having fungus on their feet, physical abuse, giving children melatonin (an over-the-counter sleep aid) to calm them, and even a suggestion of mass suicide if they faced the prospect of losing their children.

Recently, an Ontario court held a hearing to determine whether the court had jurisdiction to uphold a Quebec court ruling to remove 14 children from three Lev Tahor families. On Nov. 27, 2013, a Quebec judge ordered the children be placed temporarily in foster care, undergo medical examinations and receive psychological support. But by then, community members with children had moved to Ontario.

Judge Stephen Fuerth of the Ontario court of justice will announce his decision on Feb. 3. Chris Knowles, the lawyer for Lev Tahor, suggested to reporters there might be an appeal against an adverse finding.

Lev Tahor members reject allegations of abuse or a suicide pact. Goldman and his colleagues, Mayer Rosner and Yakev Weingarten, laughed at the absurdity of the idea that the group would do themselves in. They say the allegation was based on the uninformed speculation of former Lev Tahor member Adam Brudzewsky, whose suggestion was repeated in court Nov. 27. His identity and testimony were only made public last week after a publication ban was lifted Jan. 16.

That former member is not credible at all, they said. Lev Tahor provided The CJN with an 11-page letter signed by four members of the Weingarten family, who knew Brudzewsky before they joined the group. The letter’s allegations about Brudzewsky, dating back to their acquaintance in Monsey, N.Y., bring his testimony into question, they say.

As for fungus on the feet, a Montreal dermatologist spent several hours at the Lev Tahor community in Ste. Agathe, examined 61 children and found nothing out of the ordinary. The minor skin conditions she discovered were nothing more than what you’d find in any population, she said.

Referring to another child worker’s allegation – that children were given melatonin – Weingarten said not every parent used the hormone, which is used to help them sleep, not to calm them. “You can see how ridiculous” the allegation is, he said.

As for other charges, which originated in Ontario, not Quebec, an Ontario judge has already overturned a removal order that had placed two children in foster care. In that case, a toddler was taken into protective custody over what appeared to be bruising on the face. It was nothing more than the remains of a permanent marker and the efforts of the parents to wash it off, the group’s spokesmen said.

In a 2-1/2-hour visit earlier this month to the Lev Tahor shtetl, located on the outskirts of Chatham, I found dozens of smiling children, curious about the newcomer and eager to have their photos taken. Boys were in school, studying Judaic subjects. Boys and girls are educated separately.

The children seemed happy and well-fed and showed no signs of fear or distrust. The boys wore the same sort of black garb, crowned with a type of pillbox hat.

The girls, from a very young age, were dressed in black robes and head coverings that have led some to dub Lev Tahor the “Jewish Taliban.”

The men wear long black coats and wide-brimmed hats, similar to those of other ultra-Orthodox groups. The women’s clothing was designed by Lev Tahor members after they researched traditional European Jewish clothing, Weingarten said. Bringing up some images on his laptop, he showed groups of European Jews wearing similar long-flowing robes, perhaps from the 19th century.

For Lev Tahor, those were the good old days. “We’re more old-fashioned,” Goldman acknowledged. “We go to the sources. We don’t believe in any compromise. We think it’s authentic Judaism. We want to go backwards. We understand that our great-great-grandparents were smarter than us.

“We can see in the old literature that the people were very, very clever. They saw that to serve HaShem, there’s no need to make a compromise.”

It was that refusal to compromise that drove Lev Tahor to Ontario, they explained. At the heart of the issue was their desire to educate their children as they saw fit, without being forced to include subjects anathema to them – evolution and homosexuality.

“There’s one curriculum that every child in Quebec must study, and there’s no exception. It’s against the Jewish religion and it’s not just our problem,” Goldman said, referring to other religious groups in the province.

Though Lev Tahor had been living in Quebec for nearly 20 years, their lives changed after a CBC radio documentary aired in October 2011.

“They said our schools don’t go the same way as the Ministry of Education. That invited the government to come. We knew we [couldn’t] comply exactly with them,” Goldman said.

“Evolution, homosexuality, that goes against our religion. Evolution means there’s no Creator. We can’t teach that,” he said.

The group researched other Canadian jurisdictions and determined that Ontario provided the best opportunity to home-school their children, teach them the required material while not violating their religious beliefs.

“Absolutely,” Goldman said when asked if the children are taught secular subjects. But they do “mix in Torah together.

“The Torah talks about a lot of subjects,” including geometry, mathematics, biology. “We do learn secular subjects in a religious way,” he said.

In April 2013 – long before the November court ruling in Quebec – the group hired a real estate agent to find a suitable location, Rosner said. A site in Chatham-Kent was found, consisting of a row of 15 to 20 bungalows, side by side. Community members with school-aged children settled there; others rented apartments in town, in close proximity to each other. The other members remained in Quebec.

The spokesmen reject suggestions Lev Tahor has the characteristics of a cult. In a cult, people “have been brainwashed to accept beliefs and practices, not in a logical way, [through] mind control,” said Weingarten. “Our message is open, and so, clean of all kinds of influences. We don’t hide anything. We’re so open with one message and it’s that we want to keep the Torah as given.

“People can understand it… with his own logical opinion, can accept or reject a part, but it’s a message that is clear.” He said there is no charismatic leader, no appeal to emotions or to irrationality.

“Here it’s clean and open,” he said. “It’s the Torah message.”

The group prepares all its own food from scratch. Lev Tahor members buy kosher beef directly from the slaughterhouse. They don’t trust the kashrut of meat sold in retail outlets, Goldman said.

The group’s members rely largely on contributions from outside supporters for their subsistence.

Asked to explain the bad press the group has received over the years, the spokesmen said it goes back to the group’s formative years in Israel. The group is openly anti-Zionist. They believe only the Messiah can establish a Jewish state.

That obviously goes against the grain in Israel and among Jewish communities around the world, for whom Israel is a centrepiece of their identity, they say.

When they first moved to Quebec about 20 years ago, an Israeli official expressed concerns to the Quebec media over the welfare of Lev Tahor children. The group’s founder, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, had been convicted in New York of kidnapping a 13-year-old boy he had been tutoring. He served two years in jail. He returned to Israel and the group coalesced around him.

Goldman said Israeli authorities opposed the group because it is anti-Zionist. They are also angry that Rabbi Helbrans was granted refugee status by Canada.

As for their reception in Chatham, it’s been only positive. “We’ve been received wonderfully,” Rosner said. “During Chanukah we invited [our neighbours] to join us and to say hello. Many came daily to say, ‘We support you.’”

“They feel we’re being persecuted,” Goldman said, adding locals from Chatham have attended court to show their support.

Source: Canadian Jewish News


A glimpse inside life at Lev Tahor's Chatham-area settlement

Allegations of child abuse, even a suicide pact. A hasty, late-night exodus from Quebec. A police swoopdown on their secluded retreat. As a Jewish sect that’s taken up life in remote Southwestern Ontario braces for a court decision on whether Quebec can seize 14 of their children, Jane Sims takes a glimpse inside Lev Tahor.

CHATHAM – Head down, hand on his wide-brimmed hat to hold it in place while his robes flap, a Lev Tahor man steels himself against a stiff winter wind.

The gusts howl down the long laneway at Spurgeon Villa, a collection of modest older duplexes outside Chatham, surrounded by frozen corn fields.

The man ducks into a small office building, near the highway, that’s been converted into a makeshift synagogue and school for boys.

Lev Tahor, a controversial ultra-orthodox Jewish sect, whose name means “pure heart” in Hebrew and is led by the radical Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, is making do here in a remote corner of Southwestern Ontario, where it fled from Quebec in November.

Many of the impromptu school’s room-dividers are made of blue tarps hung from the ceiling. Religious texts crowd the desks in every room.

In the synagogue, men and teens finish daily prayers.

In the classrooms, little boys dressed like their male elders look at a stranger with shy smiles, wide eyes and silence.

The sect landed north of Chatham after a swift exodus from Quebec in November. But like the winds that howl and kick up the snow here, storm clouds of controversy have blown with the group into Ontario.

Monday, an Ontario Court judge will decide if local child protection workers can act on a Quebec order to seize 14 Lev Tahor children and put them in temporary foster care with Hasidic families in Montreal for 30 days.

Quebec authorities believe the kids were physically and psychologically abused at their former settlement north of Montreal in Ste. Agathe-des-Monts, Que., the sect’s home for a dozen years.

Lev Tahor argues this is just another in a series of attacks on their religious freedom from a secular state, using educational standards that go against their teachings and their children as weapons in a battle to destroy their cause.

Dubbed the “Jewish Taliban,” the group has been maligned in Israel for its anti-Zionist stance, pegged as a cult under Helbrans’ control and scrutinized for months in Quebec over claims of child abuse and neglect.

In Chatham, local child-protection authorities have kept a close watch on them. Three days ago, members of the Quebec Provincial Police swooped down on the settlement armed with criminal search warrants for two homes.

After a two-hour search, they left without making an arrest.

The 250 members in Chatham have hunkered down for now in the little rural neighbourhood of tiny rental duplexes that pop up in the middle of nowhere.

An exasperated Mayer Rosner, 37, a director in the community and spokesperson, said the children haven’t been hurt by their parents but “are being abused by the ongoing investigations.”

“Each time they’re coming, we have to take a deep breath,” he said. “They’re looking for problems.”

While they wait for Monday’s court decision, the sect has been on its own public relations blitz — welcoming outsiders in, especially journalists, for a glimpse into their closed community.

For a group that rejects most modern conveniences, and dresses in conservative clothes that stand out for their modesty, they are media-savvy with cellphones and a website. A TV documentary film crew recently spent a week there.

What they deny are the laundry list of allegations told to a Quebec court a week after they left, including beatings with sticks, sedating children with drugs, arranged marriages for girls as young as 14, neglect and poor education standards.

Lev Tahor say it’s all persecution — that their children are clean and being educated on their terms; that the wider secular world doesn’t understand them.


Rosner, Lev Tahor’s media point person in Chatham, is anxious to show the progress the group has made in just two months.

School is going well, he said, as he whisks from room to room in the old empty offices to show off boys dutifully reciting their lessons based on religious texts.

In one room, they’re building a mikveh, a large bath used to cleanse the impure, a requirement for the women after their menstrual cycles and child birth.

Rosner walks back to his small two-bedroom home, forgoing an offer of a ride, explaining he can’t be in a car alone with a woman.

At the house, his wife, Malka, is cooking for Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, with their five daughters. All wear long black robes and head scarves.

The smell of apple cake baking in the oven fills the tiny space.

They have nine kids. Their oldest daughter, 17, was married a year ago and lives with her husband.

Rosner sits at the table with his baby son. His cell phone rings every few minutes. “We’re living in an office,” his wife says cheerfully, as he takes another call.

The couple say they’re coping after leaving an established settlement in Quebec, 800 km away, but it’s tough.

“We had our own bakery, our own grocery, our own school, our own synagogue, our own houses,” his wife says.

When asked, Rosner denies every allegation placed before the Quebec judge, including accusations the group is a cult, that it’s moving to Iran and has a suicide pact should things not go their way.

The rabbi, Rosner says, doesn’t control the group but is a reasonable man willing to listen to others. He uses logic and the Torah to show them the way.

“It’s not brainwashing,” Rosner says, pointing to one of Helbrans’ massive publications.

“This is the real way. Right now, we are a small seed. But a seed can grow.

“The world today is going down, down, down. He’s just saying he has the solution.”


What Lev Tahor wants the world to see is a happy, self-sufficient community, minding its own business, raising kids the way it wants. Rosner insists what’s being presented isn’t an act — if it was, they’ve been role-playing for months while the investigations go on.

They divert the focus to their concerns about Quebec’s insistence their schooling is inadequate.

Rosner’s wife, Malka, turns the pages of the math workbooks she’s printed by hand for her daughters she teaches at home. Quebec’s education policies, the group says, are the real reason for the unwanted child welfare probe.

She said she was upset when a judge was told the teachings were well below standard and that the children “didn’t know math and they didn’t know anything.”

“I was very insulted because I work for 10 years,” she said. “I was working so hard.”

The math problems focus on “practical things,” like working out how to make five times a recipe, or calculating a penalty on a late Hydro Quebec bill. Everything is based on religious teaching. While the children are taught some English, Yiddish is the main language of instruction.

They refuse to compromise on their curriculum. Any instruction about evolution or sex education is refused. In Quebec, the children weren’t taught French. Geography lessons focus on identifying places in the world.

“Why teach the history of Canada?” she says. “We are Jewish people. We are proud to live in Canada, but we are not proud Canadians.”

What wasn’t in their lesson plans was fear.

“Children are waking up in the middle of the night running to mother’s bed, (saying) ‘mommy, I think the social services are here,’ ” Rosner says.

Recently, much to the dismay of their own family court lawyers, hand-written letters were sent to the media by group members. One was from a 17-year-old mother of a baby, another from other children named in the Quebec foster care order.

Rosner’s children, who aren’t part of the court case, have their own distraught views. Their mother points to one daughter’s writings. “She feels like someone is squeezing her and the blood is coming out,” she says, pointing to a red streak in a notebook and then a black square.

“The day to her looks black.”


Whatever way the court rules Monday, it’s not the end of Lev Tahor’s journey.

Rosner says they’re checking out other properties in Ontario for a permanent settlement. Helbrans is to move to Ontario. They want to sell the Ste. Agathe homes and tie up loose ends there before making a clean break from Quebec.

He says Chatham has been friendly and sympathetic. They’ve also met with the area’s MP.

“So far, it’s worked out much better. And I hope it’s going to work out good with child protection,” Rosner says.

But after two months in Ontario, nerves are frayed and Lev Tahor is tired of the outside prying.

“We might close our doors (on) them soon,” Rosner says of child welfare authorities. “The feeling we have now is, enough is enough.”

ABOUT LEV TAHOR

  • Ultra-orthodox Jewish sect led by Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, 52, who served two years in a U.S. prison for kidnapping a 13-year-old boy he was trying to convert.
  • Helbrans’ teachings reject the state of Israel, believing it should never have been established until the coming of the Messiah.
  • Followers believe in strict adherence to the Torah: They reject modern life, wear traditional dark clothing, follow a strict diet, marry young and speak Yiddish.
  • Homes are undecorated, without most modern conveniences.
  • Men are the authority figures.
  • Women are concealed in black robes.
  • Members say Helbrans’ extreme views have made him a pariah in Israel, where critics claim he’s a cult leader willing to use violence to control followers.
  • After his U.S. prison term, Helbrans was deported to Israel in 1996. Weeks later, he was in Quebec claiming his life was in danger. He won refugee status in 2003.
  • He and his group settled in Ste. Agathes-des-Monts, Que., but fled for Ontario after child-welfare officials began legal action to put 14 kids in foster care.

WHAT OTHERS SAY:

“Child welfare law applies — whether you are a Jew, a Catholic, a Muslim or a snake charmer. “If you’re (suspected of) violating the basic tenets of child protection, then the state has to step in whatever your religion.”

— Marvin Kurz, general counsel, B’Nai Brith Canada

“My clients say religious intolerance drives the investigation . . . they are saying that the actions of the Quebec children’s aid society were motivated by an intolerance to their religious belief.”

— Windsor lawyer Chris Knowles, representing Lev Tahor

WE ASKED: Is Lev Tahor’s quick exit from Quebec linked to that province’s drive for a secular state, including its proposed Charter of Values that would ban public workers from wearing religious symbols?

“Certainly, here it’s believed that it’s closely related. On the other hand. it’s one of those cases where it’s brought some people to support the charter,” because of allegations — not proven in court — surrounding the treatment of children. “That’s sort of the way the issue is being seen here — these are crazy people who use their religion to bully their children.”

— Desmond Morton, historian, McGill University, Montreal

It’s not clear where the truth lies about the child-protection issues versus freedom of religion in this case, but Quebec’s proposed charter is sending a message. “Regular people that feel that religion has a particular role they want it to play in their lives, and that manifests itself in some physical way, are being communicated a particular message which is, ‘We don’t want that here.’”

— Cara Zwibel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Source: Chatham Daily News

Members of Lev Tahor have reached out to the media for help. Enclosed are two emails received by fixcas, one from Rachel Kxxx and the other from Miriam G Helbrans. The first name is defaced with x's to keep her out of trouble with a publication ban. The name of the other person, Helbrans, has been published in the press and appears here in the clear. There were attachments to both emails. Attachments in derogation of the ban on names are omitted. But attachments found openly on Google have been included anyway.

Rachel Kxxx

omitted
handwritten letter from Rachel Kxxx
pdf
letter from Rachel Kxxx
omitted
handwritten letter from Yehudit Nechama Sxxxxxxxx and her sister Miriam Sxxxxxxxx
pdf
letter from Rachel Rubenstein MD

Miriam G Helbrans

pdf
application for CAS wardship with supporting affidavits Google
pdf
affidavit of Miriam Gittel Helbrans.
pdf
Helbrans plan of care Google

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My name is Rachel Kxxx, I reside in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada.

I was recently on the headlines without my name being mentioned.

Because I believe that my case is not personal in its nature, and touches human right issues that is interest of the public, I had decided to cry out to public figures.

Wherever feels it helpful to pass this letter to others or to publish it, I give my full permission for that. However my name has to be modified or ignored since its currently under a publication ban. (All other personal details, such as my location, community and case - besides my name - *are free to the public)*.

*Please find my letter attached to this email,* as well a typed copy in a Word file format. I have also attached a letter from my two friends, Yehudit Nechama Sxxxxxxxx and her sister Miriam Sxxxxxxxx, which are in a similar situation in the same case. Also is attached a copy of the full original letter from Professor Rubinstein to which i'm referring in my letter.

I will be pleased to be contacted for more information.

Thanks in advance,

Rachel Kxxx


With the help of Hashem!

*The permanent marker which threatened to destroy my life and family!But it is not the permanent marker to blame....*

An open letter to any one who may help!

****

My name is Miriam Gittel Helbrans, I am the second daughter of Rabbi Helbrans, the Grand Rabbi of the Lev Tahor community. I live in Chatham-Kent, Ontario.

I'm married and a mother of 3.

I am going through a difficult time.

The Youth Protection of Québec singled our entire community as a target for persecution, in order to achieve their secular agendas. Their persecution was backed up by Israeli institutions that hated us because my father, the Rabbi, is one of the most famous Jewish opponents of the Zionist regime.

The Youth Protection of Québec which used the excuse of schooling regulations to destruct our life by endless and senseless humiliating methods all under the cover of "investigation".

As well known it ended up in finding nothing wrong in our community and then the Youth Protection of Québec called families to court to compel them to comply with the secular curriculum or to face the penalty of their kids seized for ever.

As well known, all families of Lev Tahor, Implemented their long-planned contingency plan of leaving the Province of Quebec and resettling in the Province of Ontario where their laws fits the freedom of religion.

The residents of Chatham, Ontario had and still welcomed us, supporting us, praying for us and expressed understanding to our sensitive situation. We appreciate it and may Hashem bless them.

However, one small group of people, united under the banner of helping and supporting children, they are known as "Children's Aid Society", for reasons known only to them, they choose to sprinkle salt on our open wounds.

I have no doubt that the Children's Aid Society was convinced on the high level of the care for our children; they know that the Quebec authorities didn't find anything wrong after trying so hard to.

Our community tried so much to cooperate with the Children's Aid Society, we open them all the doors, we let them interview again all our children and so on...

The Children's Aid Society prejudged our community, thought that since we are persecuted people, we shall be easy prey for them. They start persecute us for nothing or may be for being devoted Jews.

They started with the same two families that were randomly selected to be called to court in Québec. The Children's Aid Society know as a fact that the 14 children of those two families are at the best condition that possible for a reasonable family beside that they are suffering from tremendous frustration why they have to be treated like criminals for being a devoted Jew.

The lawyer of the Society should study a bit more the law and the Charter before hurrying to terrified innocent families for no reason.

Where this hatred does stem from, that the society lawyer overlooked the decision of the justice of the peace that decide that this children should remain unharmed? why did she choose to appeal the decision on an higher court at the expense of the families? As a human being she should rater resign than committing such horrible duty.

But this was just the beginning; the next victim were no other than my innocent children that were apprehended, why?

You know why? Because I'm devoted Jewish mother from the devoted Jewish group called Lev Tahor! That why the blood and pain of my children are no even worth for consideration by the Children's Raid Society.

Why they choose to begin to destroy my life before destroying other in the Lev Tahor, it is just a matter of finding plots, they probably do not have enough homes for keeping to many apprehended devoted Jewish children, so they must to start somewhere, grabbing some at a time for nonsense plots convert them to secularism and modernization and to grab a bit more children with some more plots...

On my case, it was a permanent marker that caused the tragedy. They didn't even sick to get a warrant, they hurried to horrify.

Don't believe me!

I attached all my court files in my possession. It is PDF's. I did include both their files as well as my file and now it is up for any taxpayer to judge if his tax funded society did really concern for the safety of my children and if this was the reason for the apprehension.

At the time of the apprehension I was due to give birth. I will never be able to describe this painfully five days. Only Hashem save me from falling apart for ever.

Hashem did blessed Ontario with honorable straight and true Judges that one of them rule to return to immediate retuning the children to my and my husband's care.

However, at that time I was not in the position opposing the last minute offer from the society to agree to a supervision order. I did agree and at the time, the honorable Judge approved the uncontested agreement as part of an interim court order.

Just hours after the honorable Judge decision to return the children, I gave birth to my 3rd son, O Hashem I could I thank you, the baby born healthy and neither I nor my new born boy suffer any emotional or otherwise health problem. It is a miracle from Hashem to show that he is in fact listening to prayers that are accompanied by tears.

Meanwhile my friends, the other innocent beloved mothers of the community, started to feel the nature of a wolf that seeks causes to scramble a sheep in any of the further daily repeated search visits and interviews...

The level of stress, afraid and suffer that the small boys and girls started to have from the unreasonable search and frightening methods did not let the community organizers any choice but to let the society know that they will rather being imprisoned than to let this torture campaign of the innocent children and mother to reach the 6 month blood-red line.

I was left alone, bounded by a court decision that was done by good faith of the honorable judge, to allow the Society raid society do conduct visits in my home.

I was so hopeful that the court hearing today, will resulted in releasing me from the almost assured possibility that a libel will be anyway made up since I'm the only one left bound to unwillingly 'cooperate' with the society.

However, it was my fault of a few hours delay in filing my concerns to the honorable court that resulted to adjourn the hearings. I can not imagine my children being further terrorized by seeing again persons visit their house to look for unreasonable reasons to abduct them.

I know that my lawyer will be very upset by his client violating the law and publish all court document with the identifying her self and her children's name for the public. But I have no choice; I will rather pay the $10,000 fine than watching my children horrified for noting.

I must cry out to just any one, please call the society and look for some human feeling at the society's office and ask them please gave up the improper visits and withdraw your unjustified case against any innocent parents including Jewish devoted one.

Miriam Gittel Helbrans
(519) 350-3125

Miriam Helbrans has her own website, Hi, I'm from Lev Tahor.

Addendum: The decision of judge Stephen J Fuerth is online, Chatham-Kent Children’s Services v. A.H.

Lacie Dryer R.I.P.

February 3, 2014 permalink

Lacie Dryer
Lacie Dryer

Lacie Dryer of Parma Ohio was the mother of Tyson Bahr, Brooklyn Bahr, Alishia Dryer and Cooper Dryer and stepmother of Destiny Dryer. The heartbreak of losing her children to CPS was too much for and she died by suicide on January 28, 2014 at age 29.

Source: Facebook memorial

Source: obituary

Creating an Orphan

February 3, 2014 permalink

Mexican Ivonne Hernández Segura entered Canada illegally, married a Canadian and gave birth. When an argument developed between the parents, she fled the home and he reported her to immigration. Now she is to be deported to Mexico leaving her Canadian son a half-orphan.

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Deporting Mexican mother discourages abused women from seeking help, activists say

Ivonne Hernandez loses custody of child after leaving Montreal husband she says was hitting her

Ivonne Hernandez Segura
Ivonne Hernandez Segura will be deported without her 13-month-old baby on Feb. 7 unless Immigration Canada officials bow to pressure from women’s rights groups and others. Hernandez fled domestic violence in Mexico but was refused refugee status in Canada. Women’s groups are concerned other refugee women will be afraid to go a shelter to report conjugal violence for fear of angering husbands, being denounced to immigration officials and losing their children.
Photograph by: Marie-France Coallier , The Gazette

MONTREAL — Quebec women’s groups and refugee advocates fear the imminent deportation to Mexico of a mother without her Canadian-born baby is not only cruel; it sends the wrong message to other immigrant women stuck in abusive relationships.

Ivonne Hernandez, now 41, came to Montreal in July 2009, fleeing a violent relationship with a police officer in her hometown of Mexico City. She applied for refugee status but was denied in October 2011. But like many refugees who fear for their lives in their home country, she continued to live here without status. She met and married a Montreal man, a construction worker. In December 2012, she gave birth to a son.

“Near the end of my pregnancy, he started to get mean,” Hernandez told The Gazette on Friday. “He was complaining all the time about money ... He was always insulting me, laughing at me because of my accent.”

She said the abusive treatment gradually worsened and by last fall, she knew she had to leave after several instances where he shoved her and hit her, once when she had the baby in her arms. She said he also threatened many times to have her deported and keep the baby.

After several months of preparation and consulting with shelter workers, Hernandez took the baby and went to a shelter on Dec. 11.

“I left him a note that said, ‘I still love you but I’m leaving because I can’t live with violence. Don’t worry, you will see the baby soon.’ ”

But the husband reported Hernandez to police, saying she had kidnapped the child. On the child’s first birthday, Dec. 20, Hernandez was summoned to court in St-Jêrôme for a custody hearing.

Hernandez did not have time to get a family lawyer for that hearing. She said her husband’s lawyer stressed that she could be deported at any time, and the judge did not seem to want to hear her complaints that the husband was abusive. Over the holidays, the judge awarded temporary joint custody, but when the couple returned to court on Jan. 10, he awarded temporary sole custody to the father.

“The judge said, ‘This baby will have to go to DPJ (Youth Protection Services) or to the father because the mother can be deported any day, we don’t know when,’ ” Hernandez recounted.

The judge granted the mother, who had been the main caregiver to the baby for his first 13 months, two visits with the child each week, for a total of eight hours per week.

Another family court hearing is scheduled for March 8, but by that time Hernandez may well be deported.

On Jan. 22, Hernandez was arrested in what her supporters describe as a public ambush as she waited at the Berri-UQAM métro station to receive her son from his father for her second scheduled visit.

Hernandez sobbed as she described the scene. The father showed up with several family members and the baby, but he did not approach her.

“Then I heard behind me someone saying, ‘we are immigration and you are illegal’ and they were taking me away. I was just yelling, ‘my baby, my baby, Don’t take me away from my baby.’ He was there. He had them do that in front of my baby,” Hernandez said.

She was released from detention quickly, but has been ordered deported as of Feb. 7. She continues to live at a Montreal-area woman’s shelter, and she fears her son is not being well cared for.

“Please, I just want my baby back. I don’t care if they send me anywhere. I will defend my baby with my heart and soul,” Hernandez said, although she added she is still afraid to return to Mexico.

Several women’s groups and refugee advocacy organizations have taken up Hernandez’s cause.

Dr. Marie-Michelle Bellon volunteers with Médecins du Monde, a group that organizes free health care for those in need. She treated Hernandez during her difficult pregnancy, and was horrified to learn Hernandez had lost custody of her baby and may be deported on Feb. 7 without her child.

“For those of us who work with women in these situations, it puts us in a real dilemma. Will I tell them to get out and go to a shelter, or to stick with a brutal husband?” Bellon asked.

Manon Monastesse, director of a network of women’s shelters, said Canada is a signatory to several international conventions that state that women have a right to live in safety, regardless of their immigration status.

“Victims of violence have the right to be protected in Quebec. ... When they seek help, we don’t re-victimize them by taking away their children and having them deported,” Monastesse said.

“Essentially, a mother has had her child removed from her custody, perhaps permanently, due to her immigration status,” said Mary Foster of Solidarity Across Borders. “Every aspect of this case is disgusting and shocking.”

Source: Montreal Gazette

Islamic Child Protection

February 3, 2014 permalink

The United Arab Emirates has made two years of breastfeeding mandatory for newborns. This measure has provoked controversy among women who will be forced to comply. But whatever its faults, it still beats the model of child protection in the western world: permanent separation of mother and child.

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Breastfeeding Is Now Required By Law In The United Arab Emirates

The Emirates' Federal National Council has passed a clause, part of their new Child Rights Law, requiring new moms to breastfeed their babies for two full years, The National reports. Now, men can sue their wives if they don't breastfeed.

According to the National, there was a "marathon debate" over the legislation, but it was ultimately decided that it is every child's right to be breastfed.

Research has found many benefits of breastfeeding for baby, from reducing the risk of obesity to better language and motor development.

However, not all new moms are able to nurse. In those instances, if a woman is prohibited by health reasons, the council will provide a wet nurse to her. It's unclear exactly how a mother's ability to breastfeed will be determined though. Carrie Murphy at Mommyish raises some additional questions about those exceptions:

Where do the wet nurses come from? Do they live with UAE women and their families? How and who determines if you need one? Who pays their salary? .... And what about formula? Will it be sold in the country? Will it be contraband? Will you need a prescription for it? Some babies actually need formula rather breast milk and some babies can’t digest anything with milk at all, either formula OR breast milk.

Council members are trying to improve rights for working moms to make the legislation more practical. But, unsurprisingly, mothers' support groups have raised issues that go beyond logistics.

Because breastfeeding is universally accepted as the healthiest option for moms and babies, new mothers already face great pressure to nurse, a Dubai-based group, Out of the Blues explains. Their purpose is to help women suffering from postnatal illness, many who have trouble breastfeeding.

In an article, also on the National, Out of the Blues writes:

New mothers are extremely vulnerable and need more support, encouragement and education. It is our opinion that, while encouraging women to breastfeed is a laudable aim, it is by supporting those who can and want to breastfeed, and not by punishing those who can’t, that we will reap the benefits we all want to see in our society.

Here in the U.S., breastfeeding has never been legally required, but politicians have intervened to increase the number of babies being breastfed. In 2012, former NYC Mayor Bloomberg introduced "Latch On NYC," a program that encouraged hospitals to make it difficult for new moms to obtain formula "goody bags." Instead of traditional take-home bottles being handed out, mothers have to request it like medication, and listen to a lecture from hospital staff discouraging formula feeding, unless absolutely necessary.

At the time, the initiative faced its own backlash. Many argued that Bloomberg's tactics would make mothers feel guilty, and as blogger Lenore Skenazy put it, "suck the choice out of parenting."

Marie-Claire Bakker, a member of U.S.-based breastfeeding support group, La Leche League, has echoed those sentiments in response to the Emirates' new legislation. “At this vulnerable time, to think of criminalising a new mother who, for whatever reason, is struggling with breastfeeding is not helpful ... She needs informed support, not threats," she told the National.

Source: Huffington Post

The Nursing Madonna
Mary breastfeeding Jesus
The Nursing Madonna
unknown 16th century artist from Bruges
Museu de Aveiro, Portugal.

Big Brother is Watching

February 2, 2014 permalink

Through a freedom of information request from the Ministry of the Attorney General, David Froom got five enclosed emails concerning the rally on February 12, 2013 in front of the St Catharines courthouse. This rally was announced on Facebook and fixcas and the results were posted to the fixcas news.

The emails show that the day before the rally, the ministry knew to expect thirteen persons to show up. They don't say what surveillance gave them the number. The next day, four more emails kept the ministry informed in real time.

Fixcas has reported several rallies per month for 2011, 2012 and 2013. The attorney general, or children's aid, may have been watching all of them as closely as this one.

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From:
JUS-G-MAG-EOC (JUS)
Sent:
February-11-13 10:32 AM
To:
@JUS-L-MAG-EM IR list-Main
Cc:
Permell, Anthony (JUS); DSouza, Suman (JUS); Watson, Jim (JUS); Farno, Maria (JUS); Hunking, Lowell (JUS); Edwards, Jeff G. (JUS); Bett Mark (CSS); Angelidis, Tom (JUS); Cassells, Aileen {JUS); McWilliams, Lindsay (jUS): Yeboah, Randy (JUS); Ogundele, Anthonia (JUS)
Subject:
BCEM - IB 13-015 - Information Bulletin - Central West Region - St Catharlnes - Civil Protest - 02/11/2013
Importance:
High

INFORMATION:
Canadian Court Watch and Canadians for Family Reform have planned a protest for the St. Catharines Courthouse for February 12, 2013 from 10am-4pm. They are protesting issues related to the Children's Aid Society.

There is an expected 13 people to be in attendance.

STATUS:
Scheduled

DURATION:
10am-4pm

ACTION:
Courts Services, Crown and VVPD representatives to provide ongoing updates re: status and any service disruptions.

BECM will provide status updates as they become available.

MEDIA:
Unknown

POLICE, FIRE, AMBULANCE CONTACTED:
unknown

MAG STAFF:
89

CO-LOCATED MINISTRY STAFF:
MGS -17

MAG LOCATIONS AND SERVICES:
1. 0000021. Superior Court of Justice - Civil, Criminal, Family, Enforcement and Small Claims
2. Ontario Court of Justice - Criminal and Criminal Youth
3. Crown - Crown
4. VWAP-VVPD

OTHER MEMC's NOTIFIED:

NOTIFICATION:
To update status and service disruptions, please notify the Business Continuity and Emergency Management Unit. Telephone: (416) 326-0998/ Fax: (416) 327-41931 Email: MAG-EOC@Ontario.ca

ON DUTY:
Shannan Saunders
Ministry of the Attorney General
Business Continuity and Emergency Management Unit
Telephone: (41S) 927-4683
BlackBerry: (647) 236-8246
shannan.saunders@ontario.ca


from:
Major, Darrell (JUS)
Sent:
February-12-13 9:03 AM
To:
DSouza, Suman (JUS); Hurst, Marnie (JUS); Permell, Anthony (JUS); Wilder, Jennifer (JUS)
Cc:
Arvanitis, Joanna (JUS); Churnak, Iris (JUS); Murphy, Jackie (JUS); Moustacalis, Pauline (JUS); Clare, Victoria (JUS); Bristo, Sheila (JUS); Crouch, Mamie (JUS); Hedden, Alison (JUS); Mackenzie-Ferley, Katie (JUS); Vernon, Annette (JUS)
Subject:
FW: BCEM - IB13-015 - Information Bulletin - Central West Region - St Catharines - Civil Protest - 02/11/2013
Importance:
High

Hi Marnie

Please see below and ask that the court in St. Catharines report any issues related to this planned protest at the courthouse - security, impeded access, etc.

Thanks

Darrell Major
Issues Coordinator
Court Services Division
Ministry of the Attorney General
720 Bay Street, 2nd Floor,
Toronto. ON
M7A 2S9
Tel: 416-326-4675
Fax: 416-326-1011


Darrell.

MCO advises that supervisor reports that all is quiet so far - no protesters - will keep you posted.


Darrell, fyi, still no sign of protest.


Darrell, further to my phone call, at 12:30 police reported that there were five protesters in front of the building, one with a loud hailer, but protest is orderly and they were not impeding entrance.

Marnie

Source: email of FOI request by David Froom (pdf)


Acronyms:

BCEM
Business Continuity and Emergency Planning Unit
EOC
Emergency Operation Centre
IB
Information Bulletin
JUS
JUStice
MAG
Ministry of the Attorney General
MCO
Manager Court Operations
MEMC
Ministry Emergency Management Coordinator
MGS
Ministry of Government Services
VVPD
Victims and Vulnerable Persons Division
VWAP
Victim/Witness Assistance Program

In March Mr Froom obtained another email thread,

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Megan

We have received the following information:

Date:
Tues Feb 12
Time:
10:00am - 4:00pm
Location:
St. Catherines courthouse
Group:
Canada Court Watch and Canadians for Family Law Reform . The Niagara Regional Police Service has been updated.

Jim Makris

Security Advisor
Justice Sector Security Office
416-327-4155 (Office)
1-866-934-5776 (Toll Free)


Jim, This was forwarded to me and I'm putting out an info bulletin today for the protest. Do you have any further information on what can be expected? i.e. numbers, issues, etc?


Shannan,

I don't have further info at this time. Can you give me 30 mins and I'll check my sources and update you.

Jim Makris
Security Advisor
Justice Sector Security Office
416-327-4155 (Office)
       (Cell)
1-866-934-5776 (Toll Free)


Certainly. Thanks!

Regards,

Shannan Saunders Senior Program Advisor
Business Continuity and Emergency Management
Ministry of the Attorney General

Tel: 416-327-4683
Blackberry: i
BBM: 27E37410
Fax: 416-327-4193

shannan,saunders@ontario,ca


Shannon,

Date :
Tues Feb 12
Time :
10:00am-4:00pm
Location :
St. Catherines courthouse
Group :
Canada Court Watch and Canadians for Family Law Reform.
Organizer :
s.21(1)
Issue :
Children's Aid Society
Attendees :
Thirteen (13) people have indicated they will attend.
Notification :
Niagara Regional Police Service, MCO, RSJ OO and SO.

.
Thanks

Jim Makris
Security Advisor
Justice Sector Security Office
416-327-4155 (Office)
       (Cell)
1-866-934-5776 (Toll Free)


and this peculiar document:

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From: EMO DO 01 (JUS)
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2013 10:51:07 AM (UTC-05.-00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Subject: COOP - -13-029_Planned_Protest_St.Chatharines 2013-02-11

Ontario Public Service
Continuity of Operations Incident

Date 11-Feb-13
Time 10.24
Reported By Shannan Saunders
Position Business Continuity and Emergency Management Unit
Phone 1 (416) 327-4683
Phone 2
E-Mail shannan.saunders@ontario.ca
Ministry MAG
Address City / Town St. Catharines Building Name 59 Church
incident Details Canadian Court Watch and Canadians for Family Reform have planned a protest for
the St. Catharines Courthouse for February 12, 2013 from 10am-4pm. They are
protesting issues related to the Children's Aid Society.
There is an expected 13 people to be in attendance.
Impact on Ministry Operations Nil
Impact on OPS Operations Nil
Has the Ministry(ies) been notified? No
Expected Duration of impact 6 hours
Actions Taken Courts Services, Crown and WPD representatives to provide ongoing updates re:
status and any service disruptions.
Emergency Services Contacted? No Details
Media Interest? No Details
Assistance Required BCEM will provide status updates as they become available.
Is a criminal investigation likely as a result of this incident? No
Other Ministries Impacted Nil
Has IO/CBRE been notified? Yes Who

Amanda Davy
Duty Operations Officer
Provincial Emergency Operations Centre
*Direct Tel: 416-314-0472 or 1-866-314-0472
*Email: operations.emo@.ontario.ca
www.ontario.ca/emo

Dad Tries to Switch Doctors
Loses Daughter

February 1, 2014 permalink

Michelle

Patrick Rafferty, the voice of Legally Kidnapped, saw desperate father Vasiliy Evstegneev holding signs in Monument Square, Portland Maine. The story is enclosed.

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Maine CPS Strikes Again!

So I was driving down the street today and saw a guy standing at Monument Square, (a local park in the downtown area) with a bunch of signs.

The letters "CPS" stuck out on one of them. So I parked in the parking garage (at a cost of $2 bucks, BFD) and went and talked to him.

He braved the cold on his moped to get there...

The guy was clearly in a state of distress. Doesn't know where to turn. Is desperate for help. I could see it in his face, hear it in his voice. The worst thing that ever could have happened did. Maine's Child Protective Services took his baby girl.

Although I only talked to him for a few minutes, he certainly had a story to tell.

His family only recently moved to the United States. They brought their daughter to the doctor, and they started giving her vaccinations. Apparently the vaccinations made the girl very sick, so he took issue with the doctor and said he was going to a new one.

The doctor reported him to Maine's Child Protective Services for Medical neglect.

Guess what happened next...

In all honesty, meeting this guy gave me a grave reminder of what CPS can do to people. The guy has no idea where to go. He has no understanding of his situation. He just doesn't understand. Totally lost and helpless and desperate.

Imagine being this father...

It could happen to you.

Source: Legally Kidnapped

From the effort the father put into publicly loving his daughter Michelle, our guess is that if she stayed with him, she would not be ordered to eat her own vomit.

Legally Kidnapped included a set of photos. 02 04 11 07 01 09 12 05 03 06 08 10

Foster Mom Recycles

February 1, 2014 permalink

Ohio's children's services removed two girls from their mother and placed them with their grandmother, Karen Sharpe, as foster parent. Sharpe forced feces-stained underwear down the mouth of one of the girls. When the girl threw up, Sharpe ordered her to eat her own vomit.

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Grandmother charged with gagging 11-year-old with soiled underwear

Karen Sharpe
Karen Sharpe, 54, is charged with counts of kidnapping, assault and child endangering.

The abuse had gotten so severe that the 13-year-old decided to start secretly recording her grandmother. What she captured on her telephone on Jan. 19 disturbed even veteran law-enforcement officers.

“The most disgusting, heinous child abuse I’ve ever dealt with,” said detective Sgt. Ed Downs, of the Hocking County sheriff’s office.

Karen Sharpe, 54, of New Straitsville, was swiftly arrested on Wednesday after Downs watched video of Sharpe allegedly forcing men’s underwear soiled with feces into her 11-year-old granddaughter’s mouth and taping it there. When the girl vomited, Sharpe allegedly told her to swallow it.

This was the girl’s punishment for stepping on Sharpe’s injured foot.

Sharpe is charged with kidnapping, two felony counts of endangering children, and misdemeanor counts of endangering children, assault and domestic violence. She is being held on $1 million bond at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail in Nelsonville. Detectives also are investigating Sharpe’s live-in boyfriend, Downs said.

Authorities might not have known about the abuse were it not for the elder child, whom Downs called “wise well beyond her years.” After Sharpe allegedly punched the 13-year-old — who has a steel plate in her head from abuse at the hands of another adult — in the face, the teen recorded her grandmother cursing and attacking the younger girl.

“I’ve never seen an animal being treated this way,” Downs said.

Sharpe had custody of the two girls, who share the same mother, Downs said. The girls were removed from the home and relocated by the county’s children’s services.

Source: Columbus Dispatch

Keeping the Child Advocate in the Dark

January 31, 2014 permalink

Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (PACY) has the mission of serving youth in state care and the margins of state care through individual, systemic and policy advocacy. So it makes sense that when a youth in care dies he should look into the circumstances. Then he can advocate for policies that will avert more deaths from similar causes in the future. But the coroner (OCC) is the officer who investigates deaths in the province, including deaths of foster children. He jealously guards his turf, and releases information to the advocate, currently Irwin Elman, on a restricted basis. In the words of the memorandum:

The OCC believes that there is no prohibition to releasing the child welfare PDRC reports to the PACY with the proviso that all personal identifying information has been redacted. Where personal information has not been redacted, the Chief Coroner may only release information where he/she believes that it is in the interests of public safety to do so.

Mr Elman can learn the names of dead foster children only when the coroner believes it is in the public interest.

The full terms are in a Memorandum of Understanding (pdf) between the Office of the Chief Coroner and the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. The end of the memorandum shows that to get his reports Mr Elman must fill out a freedom of information request form just like a common plebeian.


David Froom suggests another reason the child advocate may have consented to the redactions. In the event that repeated abuses occur in the same family or by the same social worker or at the same place, the advocate may plausibly deny knowledge of the pattern.

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February 1 2014

Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate
Email: irwin.elman@provincialadvocate.on.ca
Provincial Advocate - OFFICE OF THE PROVINCIAL ADVOCATE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Suite 2200, 401 Bay St, Toronto ON M7A0A6

RE Has PACY self-restricted its ability to properly advocate for children?

Dear Mr. Elam:

I recently read that the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (PACY) signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of the Chief Coroner (OCC) and itself.

No doubt PACY did due diligence prior to agreeing to this Memorandum for as I understand it PACY must be staffed with competent people. As per my read of the Memorandum, PACY found it was in the best interest of children for PACY to be, as I see it, left in the dark about the children they are advocating for.

The particular Memorandum section which I believe is very concerning is found below and I believe this section effectively codifies PACY not having the right to know the names or other personal information of who they are advocating for. As I see it vital information is to be redacted.

“The OCC believes that there is no prohibition to releasing the child welfare PDRC reports to the PACY with the proviso that all personal identifying information has been redacted. Where personal information has not been redacted, the Chief Coroner may only release information where he/she believes that it is in the interests of public safety to do so.” (emphasis added)

I am sure PACY is not self-restricting the information it receives so that if the PACY does err PACY will have a built in plausible deniability clause with that being PACY can truly assert that PACY did not have all the information hence it was not PACY’s fault PACY overlooked something. I only raise this as I am concerned that this Memorandum may accidently leave the false impression with some that PACY has purposefully and pre-emptively created grounds for plausible deniability for itself. I in no way imply PACY has done this.

It is clear to me that if 3 children with all the same last names and with the same addresses are presented to PACY in three separate cases over three separate time periods yet their names are redacted, their addresses are redacted and other identifying information has been redacted I think an investigation undertaken by the PACY based on such redacted material will be severely impaired due to the redaction. I think the redactions could falsely cover up and hide otherwise obvious vital investigative links.

It appears to me PACY has knowingly created the possibility of such a severe impairment arising via agreeing to this clause in the Memorandum. I believe PACY has willingly signed a Memorandum that as I see it codifies PACY only being entitled to receiving redacted information from the OCC.

As I have brought this to PACY’s attention I believe that if the PACY does in the future err and the error is in part due to PACY receiving only redacted information, I think PACY should assert due to PACY willingly signing a memorandum PACY would receive redacted information, about children, PACY knew they were self-limiting their avenues for investigation and PACY was aware thios could cause negative implications to arise.

I think PACY should also assert they knew such redactions could impede PACY’s ability to assist children by limiting PACY’s ability to form and see potential and perhaps vital links across different children, siblings and time periods. I think by PACY signing off on self-limiting their data available to them and as I see it PACY’s ability to do its duty I think there may be grave future negative repercussions for children and perhaps their extended families for if the Advocate for children is impeded from advocating for children who will?

Please email me the names of those who prepared this Memorandum of Understanding and the date it came into effect. If PACY believes the public does not have the right to know which civil servants were involved with creating such a Memorandum please tell me this.

Please also tell me PACY’s policy of undertaking an investigation if a parent phones in and refuses to tell PACY their name and other identifying information and also refuses to tell PACY the name and other identifying information of the child they want the office to Advocate for.

I felt it my duty to provide you with my point of view of this public Memorandum in the hopes it will assist PACY. I think this clause in the Memorandum is the dangerous ground work from which potential future negative ramifications might flow.

Please send your answer to my questions to my email address of dfroom@yahoo.com.

Yours truly,

David Froom

Source: email copy

Lev Tahor Searched

January 30, 2014 permalink

Police continue to harass the Lev Tahor group, which fled Quebec for Chatham Ontario last November. The search warrant came from a Quebec court and was executed jointly by Ontario and Quebec police. No one can say why the warrant was issued or what the police were looking for. The women and children were protected by being forced to wait for several hours outdoors in the Canadian winter.

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Lev Tahor: Police search homes of Jewish sect members

Police searched two homes in Chatham-Kent belonging to members of the controversial Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor, according to a member of the community.

Lev Tahor
Members of the Lev Tahor sect moved to Chatham-Kent last November from Quebec.
Rick Madonik / Toronto Star file photo

Quebec and Ontario police searched two homes in Chatham-Kent belonging to members of the controversial Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor, according to a member of the community.

Officers arrived around 5:30 p.m. with a search warrant for two of the homes, said Mayer Rosner, a spokesperson for the sect. Fourteen children in the Lev Tahor community have been the subject of a long child protection proceeding that originated in Quebec and moved to Ontario courts when more than 150 community members fled Quebec.

Rosner said the officers, who included both Quebec and Chatham-Kent police, did not disclose why they were executing the search warrant.

“It is simply discrimination and we are screaming to the world, ‘SOS’ ” said Rosner. He said late Wednesday that the officers removed baseboards in the home. He said that officers told him an Ontario court approved the search order.

“They sent women and children into the cold,” Rosner told the Star over the phone. The search lasted for several hours, he said.

An Ontario court is considering whether to enforce the child protection order, which would see as many as 14 children removed from the sect and sent to live with foster families in Quebec. Lev Tahor members fled the province shortly before the court made an order to remove 14 children from two families.

Ontario Court of Justice Judge Stephen Fuerth will issue a judgment on Feb. 3.

Chatham-Kent police confirmed that Quebec police executed the search warrant, but refused to provide any additional information.

“It’s a Quebec warrant, so you’re going to have to get the release from them,” said Chatham-Kent police Sgt. Rob Renders.

A spokesperson for Quebec provincial police had no information to add Wednesday evening.

Chris Knowles, the Windsor lawyer representing the sect in the proceeding, said he found out about the warrant only when a community member informed him.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with the child protection case,” he said.

Rosner would not say who the warrants were targeting, but Knowles said to his knowledge it wasn’t the families subject to the child protection order.

“It was very strange. I’m not sure what was going on,” said Knowles.

Quebec child protection authorities have documented what they say is evidence of neglect, psychological abuse, poor dental and physical health and a substandard education regime.

A former member of the sect testified that Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans — who is said to exert strict control over all members of the group — told him about visions of the group fending off an assault from the Canadian military.

Quebec authorities were concerned about a mass suicide pact within the group.

Members of Lev Tahor have denied the allegations from the former member and child protection authorities. They insist that the problem in Quebec was an incompatibility of their strict religious education with the province’s laws.

They have said that the allegations are the result of a smear campaign being waged by enemies of the anti-Zionist sect.

Source: Toronto Star

Trevor Doering

January 29, 2014 permalink

Trevor Doering
Trevor Doering

Trevor Doering of Calgary Alberta was arrested on January 15, 2014 and has been detained since. His arrest is important because he been active in bringing Alberta foster deaths to public attention. There was a bail hearing scheduled for January 29, but so far no result has been posted. Few facts are available about the charge, but one person reports there is a publication ban. Someone, not Trevor, is posting to his Facebook timeline in his absence. There is also a petition to free him.

Addendum: As of February 24, Trevor is back. No other details.

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Trevor Doering I'm back Jack. I would like to thank all my friends, family, fellow advocates and complete strangers who have signed petitions, supported me, bombarded the Government, Calgary Courthouse with letters of support. Showed up at my 4 bail appearances, deposited funds into my jailhouse account etc. Those of you who have commented on threads wrote blogs, I would also like to thank. 14,000 notifications on my email account was overwhelming and I wish I could have gone through everyone of them and responded personally. I have promised my legal counsel, some friends and family that I would not continue to advocate publically till these charges are cleared up. A special thanks to Velvet, Eddie, Barb, Bernadette, Suzan, Natalie, Alfredine, John, Kevin, Cherry, Tracy, Dawna . I apologize to whoever got caught up in my situation.

Source: Facebook, Trevor Doering

Family Stolen from Dad

January 29, 2014 permalink

Global reports on father Giovanni Gucclietti who lost his wife and daughter to police and social services. One of the reasons: there was a baby without a mother. (Only the father was home at the time). Local copy (mp4) of video report.

WATCH: Baby seized in police raid

Police allege a baby was found in close proximity to drugs in a raid on a Penticton home. The infant’s father takes exception to that. Angela Jung reports.

Source: Global News

Newborn Girl Seized

January 29, 2014 permalink

Mother Crystal Heath has just lost her newborn girl to CAS. The first court date is January 29. Crystal's own mother has been a foster parent in the past, but CAS will not consider her as caretaker of her granddaughter.

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Crystal Heath Just had my baby girl taken from me today got home from the hospital and was served papers tomorrow is court and they are all ready asking for crown wardship my other court case is not done yet ether i dont go back to court for my boys until march i need some info on what i can do to get my children home i.am in trails with my boys but my baby they are just starting court with i would like info on the section 51 and to know what else i can do


They will not even let my mom have her and my mother has had a foster child in her care my worker dose not like my.mother

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

Girl Erased

January 28, 2014 permalink

adopted granddaughter

A British court has ordered a grandmother to stop mentioning her granddaughter's name or posting her picture online.

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Woman ordered to stop posting images of two-year-old granddaughter in Facebook 'campaign' after she was taken into care

Judge rules grandmother’s actions were undermining the child’s right to privacy

A woman has been ordered to stop an online “campaign” against a court’s decision to take her two-year-old granddaughter into care.

Judge Ross Duggan ruled that by posting the name and photograph of the little girl on the internet and trying to track down her adoptive parents, the unidentified woman was “undermining the right enjoyed by the child” to a stable family life.

The woman had tried to convince a court she should be allowed to take custody of her granddaughter, and was said to be “very disappointed” by the decision to hand her over to social services at Staffordshire County Council.

In a ruling published online following a hearing at Stoke-on-Trent County Court, Judge Duggan said the woman had every right to comment upon or criticise the court’s decision.

But he barred publication of the child’s name and photograph following an application from the local authority.

The decision comes five months after the top family judge in England and Wales, Sir James Munby, refused to ban the publication of images showing a baby being taken away by social workers.

Explaining the difference in his decision, Judge Duggan said: “In that case the restraint of publication of photographs of a tiny baby was considered to be inappropriate,” said Judge Duggan.

“The present case I find to be very different. This child is significantly older and correspondingly easier to identify from photographs.

“Indeed, the grandmother has used a photograph as part of her campaign to seek out the whereabouts of the prospective adoptive placement.

“This is one of the most harmful aspects of the case and an element from which the child needs protection.

“Carrying out the same balancing exercise as did the president, I reach a different conclusion and find that the publication of photographs must be restrained alongside the publication of names.”

Judge Duggan said he had been shown her Facebook postings and added: “This child has a qualified right to privacy and family life. The courts of this country have decided that her future lies in adoption, which means that she has a qualified right to successful, stable, undisturbed family life within adoption.

“The evidence presented to me leaves me in no doubt that the grandmother has embarked upon a campaign to undermine these rights enjoyed by the child.”

He went on: “The order does not prevent campaigning, discussion or debate. However, as in many other cases, these must not include the use of the true names or photographs of the child as this would be harmful to her.”

Source: Independent (UK)

Handle with Care

January 28, 2014 permalink

The Regina Leader-Post ran a six-part series Handle with Care detailing child deaths in Saskatchewan. It is not included here because it aggregates children harmed in provincial care with children harmed in their own homes. Part three, by a reporter who spent a day in a courtroom, is enclosed.

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Handle with Care Part 3: 'The children are often lost'

Twenty years. Hundreds of deaths. Our exclusive six-part examination of Saskatchewan's child welfare system continues

Handle with Care part 3
Photograph by: File , Getty

"Whenever children are apprehended, there are competing interests. Parents are trying to deal with their personal demons which often relate to addictions and violence. The Ministry and agencies are focused on trying to reunite children with their families. The Bands want the children to reside on reserve to protect their aboriginal roots and identities and to prevent the systematic destruction of their culture. All of these goals are laudable. All of them are important and must be addressed. But in this maze of competing interests, the children are often lost." - Justice Jacelyn Ryan-Froslie, then with the Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench

Her eyes hold a look of utter confusion as she stares across the courtroom.

She's a young woman, perhaps in her late 20s, yet her slender frame leans on a cane. She was teetering on hope when she came through the doors, but it's slipping away as the reality of her situation takes hold.

"I was under the impression my children were coming home with me today," she says evenly, matter-offactly to the judge.

A lawyer for the Ministry of Social Services - the equivalent of a prosecutor if this was a criminal court - explains that a new police report has just arrived on her desk, and with it comes new concerns. The ministry needs time to re-evaluate its position. Justice Wayne McIntyre has little choice but to delay the case in this damned-if-you-do; damnedif-you-don't moment.

The emotions the woman held in check moments earlier give way. "Nothing but lies from the ministry," she quietly but audibly scoffs. She corrects the judge as he mispronounces the name of one of her children.

Seconds later, she is out the door, where the paper sign taped to it reads: Child Protection Chambers.

The room in Regina's Court of Queen's Bench is packed this Tuesday morning. The seats on one side are filled primarily with ministry staff, those toward the back with families. There are 26 files on the agenda, some of those translating into groups of siblings.

There's a noticeable absence of any children in a room where the focus for the next 90 minutes will be on their needs. They are instead represented by rafts of files, some as much as five inches thick or more, stacked in foot-high piles in front of the two ministry lawyers. This is the starting point for a myriad of child protection cases, but by now, many of these families have already been involved with Social Services for some time.

As the Leader-Post's continuing series examines the children who die in the child welfare system, it's important to get a glimpse at the beginning, and how some 4,000 children in this province end up in care.

A baby allegedly smothered by his mother; drug-addicted infants apprehended in hospital; a five-year-old ward exhibiting sexualized behaviours; children born with the effects of their mother's alcoholism - those are a few of the challenging cases confounding Saskatchewan's child protection courts in the past five years. (See sidebar for more details.) By authority of the Child and Family Services Act, a child can be apprehended if he's at risk of harm or neglect. For the majority, it's the latter, fuelled by addictions, unstable housing and poverty.

In the hierarchy of options, the first consideration is whether or not a child can be returned to his parents, then placed in the custody of a person of sufficient interest or PSI (usually a relative), or, as a last resort, placed in the custody of the ministry. The key consideration is "the best interest of the child."

On this day, one particular file has caught the judge's attention. The parents - "they have a number of issues," McIntyre comments as he pages through a file - are absent.

The ministry wants a new PSI order, but the judge is not about to rush it through. PSIs have come under increasing criticism by the Children's Advocate because they don't have the same checks and balances as for children directly under the ministry's care. The case of June Alexus Dawn Goforth, a four-year-old allegedly killed while in care under a PSI order, is currently at the centre of a pending criminal trial in this same courthouse.

After that case came to light, Social Services ensured a home visit was made for all children under age five under a PSI.

In the file before the court this morning, McIntyre has questions about the home study - which was initially rejected, he notes - and the worker isn't certain if criminal record checks on the caregivers have been done.

"It's been three months since somebody has been in that home," McIntyre says, adding that he wants an updated review. He also notes there are eight other kids in the home. In the foster system, any home exceeding four children is considered over-capacity. McIntyre wonders what is known about the friends, also residing in the home, and if anyone has checked their criminal records.

"I'm not prepared to put my stamp of approval on it," says the no-nonsense judge. "It's my neck on the line ... You have to satisfy me."

He also wants to know more about the PSIs' prior involvement with the ministry. "If so - what and when?" The case is adjourned a month and a half. In the meantime, the children remain in the home.

In another case, the parents are also absent as the fate of a year-old girl hangs in the balance. Attempts are being made at "reunification," except the parents haven't attended for most of the visits.

"The parents need to step up to the plate more than two hours at a time," says the ministry's lawyer.

In the next case, a young couple want to temporarily let their children remain in state care. McIntyre asks if they also agree with the allegations made against them in the child protection file - except they've never seen the affidavit.

McIntyre takes issue with a ministry practice of not handing over the affidavit of allegations to the parties it involves. A worker steps out of court to review it with the couple. In fact, they don't agree with what has been said, but they are content at this point to leave the kids in care while they sort out their own issues, including where they're going to live.

One of the last files of the morning involves a young woman, her long black hair trailing down the back of her small frame. Her coat is closed up tightly despite the time she has been waiting in this stuffy room. She stands awkwardly at the end of the table where the lawyers ordinarily sit. She's there about her two children - one she knows is in a group home because she recently paid a visit. She learns from the ministry lawyer, in response to a question from the judge, that the other one is in a foster home.

The woman wants time to get a lawyer.

When the judge suggests a date in mid-December, she quietly responds that it might be "too close."

The judge raises his head from the file, a quizzical look on his face.

She explains further - it's too close to her due date for the birth of her next child.

Source: Regina Leader-Post

Satan Continues

January 27, 2014 permalink

The discredited satanic ritual abuse moral panic of the 1980s is not over. Slate reports that Frances and Dan Keller were recently released from prison, while another man, Frank Fuster, is still behind bars in Florida.

While day-care operators are no longer targeted, the same absurd evidence gathering techniques are still used in child protection cases. Child protectors do not have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

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The Real Victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse

The dangers were imaginary, but the consequences were not.

satanic ritual abuse
Illustration by Charlie Powell

Among the atrocities that Frances and Dan Keller were supposed to have committed while running a day care center out of their Texas home: drowning and dismembering babies in front of the children; killing dogs and cats in front of the children; transporting the children to Mexico to be sexually abused by soldiers in the Mexican army; dressing as pumpkins and shooting children in the arms and legs; putting the children into a pool with sharks that ate babies; putting blood in the children’s Kool-Aid; cutting the arm or a finger off a gorilla at a local park; and exhuming bodies at a cemetery, forcing children to carry the bones.

It was frankly unbelievable—except that people, most importantly, a Texas jury, did believe the Kellers had committed at least some of these acts. In 1992, the Kellers were convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a child and each sentenced to 48 years in prison. The investigation into their supposed crimes took slightly more than a year, the trial only six days.

And now, even the Travis County district attorney agrees that the trial was unfair.

After multiple appeal efforts and 21 years in prison, the Kellers are finally free. Fran Keller, 63, was released from prison on Nov. 26 on a personal bond, just in time for Thanksgiving. Her daughter was waiting for her with a bag full of the first clothes that weren’t prison-issued that Keller had seen in years. Dan, who turned 72 in prison and now walks with a cane, was released on Dec. 5; this time, Fran was there to greet him. (The Kellers divorced while in prison yet remain close, as close as two people locked up in separate prisons for crimes they say they didn’t commit can be.)

The Kellers were released after the doctor who had testified at their trial and provided the only physical evidence that any sexual assault had taken place recanted his testimony. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg agreed with the findings of appeals filed on the Kellers’ behalf that they were denied their right to a fair trial and that their conviction should be overturned, allowing the Kellers to be released while their appeals move through the courts. In practical terms, this means the Kellers are on a path that may lead to their complete exoneration—and that they were able to celebrate their first Christmas with their families in more than 20 years.

Their release may also finally mark the end to one of the strangest, widest-reaching, and most damaging moral panics in America’s history: the satanic ritual abuse panic of the 1980s and 1990s.

“That was literally a witch hunt,” said Keith Hampton, pro-bono lawyer for the Kellers. “We say ‘witch hunt’ in this figurative way, but that was a modern-day literal witch hunt. They really were after people who they thought were worshipping at the feet of the Dark Lord.”

So what the hell happened?


The Keller case is typical of the satanic ritual abuse panic and the dozens of cases that popped up in breathless media reports. The trouble started when Christy Chaviers, a 3-year-old girl who was an infrequent visitor to the day care during the summer of 1991, told her mother that Dan had spanked her. With coaxing from her mother and her therapist, Donna David-Campbell, whom Christy had been seeing to deal with acting-out issues, an incident of spanking turned into something much worse—Dan Keller, the little girl said, had defecated on her head and raped her with a pen. From there, the stories Christy told David-Campbell became wilder: The Kellers “had everyone take off their clothes and had a parrot that pecked them in the pee-pee,” they made her smoke a cigarette, they “came to her house with a chainsaw and cut her dog Buffy in the vagina until it bled.” David-Campbell concluded not that Christy was an imaginative child having trouble with her parents’ divorce, but that she was the victim of ritual abuse.

The case was turned over to the police. Parents of children who’d attended the preschool, however, continued to talk to one another and their children. In October, another child, also a therapy client of David-Campbell, told his parents that he’d been abused; a third child, whose mother was in contact with the parents of the other two, came forward in February 1992. By the time of the trial in November 1992, the stories included the killing of a baby tiger in a graveyard, a person being shot by people in sheriff’s uniforms and then dismembered with a chainsaw, videotaped sex with adults and other children, and the Kellers wearing white robes and lighting candles to assault them. No other children, including those children who were supposedly the targets of abuse, or their parents confirmed the accounts. When put on the witness stand, Christy, by then 5, was at first unwilling to say anything had happened at all, then did, then recanted. Friends and acquaintances of the Kellers, including their landlord, who frequently dropped by unannounced, testified that they’d never seen anything out of the ordinary at the Kellers’ day care.

Why did psychotherapists and investigators conclude that these fantastic allegations were true? Because at the time, pretty much everyone else in America did.

The seeds of the panic were planted with the 1980 publication of Michelle Remembers, the best-selling account of a Canadian psychotherapist’s work with a woman named Michelle Smith, who, under his care, began recalling forgotten memories of horrific childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her mother and others who were part of a devil-worshipping cult. The book, though riddled with fantastical claims (for example, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the Archangel Michael healed Smith’s physical scars), launched a cottage industry in recovering memories of satanic ritual abuse. (The psychotherapist and Smith later married.)

The panic began in earnest with the McMartin Preschool trial, an investigation that began 30 years ago. The owners of a California preschool and several teachers were accused of molesting a 2½-year-old boy; before it was over, hundreds of children, usually after lengthy sessions with coercive therapists, came forward to say that they, too, had been taken to a church to watch the beheading of a baby, then forced to drink its blood or flown by plane to random cities for sexual abuse, or countless other bizarre stories.

While that investigation and trial unfolded, other cases surfaced. Media poured attention on the claims, which made great fodder for a newly created 24-hour news cycle (CNN Headline News launched in 1982). As televangelists prayed for deliverance from Satan’s scourge, talk show “experts” claimed that every imaginable form of abuse was happening on a massive scale in America and that networks of Satanists had infiltrated schools, the police, and local government. Geraldo Rivera claimed in a televised 1987 special report that more than a million Satanists were plying their evil trade in America right at the very moment. (He has since apologized.) In 1989, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Michelle Smith and another woman who claimed to have recovered memories of being abused by a satanic cult; Sally Jesse Raphael, not to be outdone, ran two shows on the subject. In 1990, Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child’s Book About Satanic Ritual Abuse, a children’s picture book featuring colored-pencil drawings of children being abused in satanic rituals, appeared in libraries and therapists’ offices. In 1992, folk singer Joan Baez released “Play Me Backwards,” a song in the voice of a victim of satanic ritual abuse who was forced to witness the sacrifice of a baby and is now recollecting her repressed memories.

“It sounds laughable,” says Debbie Nathan, an investigative reporter who co-wrote Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt about the panic and is now a director for the National Center for Reason and Justice, which took up the Kellers’ cause. But there is certainly historical precedent, going back even further than the Salem witch trials: Ancient Romans, for example, claimed that Christians ate babies; Christians later claimed that Jews used Christian babies’ blood in religious rituals.

“Children symbolize the good things about culture, the innocence and purity, the future of the culture,” says Nathan. When a culture feels under threat in some way, fear and anxiety focus on the safety of children. America was experiencing upheavals in gender roles, child-rearing practices, and social expectations, and more and more people were embracing fundamentalist religion and belief in the devil. The fear of satanic ritual abuse was perpetuated by both ends of the political spectrum. “In the right wing, you had that kind of preoccupation with Satan, and on the left, you had a lot of concern with the well-being of children, and women going back to work, and I think it was a perfect storm of fear and anxiety,” says Nathan. Most if not all of those involved believed they were acting in the best interests of the children—which meant that any healthy skepticism was interpreted as anti-child.

But extensive investigations revealed little to no truth to the satanic ritual abuse panic. The McMartin Preschool trial ended in 1990 with no convictions, even after the government threw more than $15 million at prosecuting it. In 1992, FBI agent Kenneth Lanning, in his report on satanic ritual abuse, declared that satanic ritual abuse wasn’t credible: “Hundreds of communities all over America are run by mayors, police departments, and community leaders who are practicing Satanists and who regularly murder and eat people? Not likely.” Two years later, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, under the federal Department of Health and Human Services, released a report claiming that there was no evidence of truth in satanic ritual abuse claims. Even so, people still believed: A Redbook magazine survey conducted in 1994 found that fully 70 percent of Americans believed that satanic ritual abuse was real.

As with previous panics, the dangers may have been imaginary, but the consequences were not. The real toll of the satanic ritual abuse panic was on the children dragged into it and accused people like the Kellers, who numbered in the hundreds by the end of the decade. (In 1993, a survey by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law found that 26 percent of prosecutors reported handling at least one case with elements of alleged ritual abuse.)

Satanic ritual abuse was the thread that wound through the Kellers’ trial. Therapist David-Campbell testified for the prosecution that Christy’s acting out was consistent with children abused by satanic cults and that she believed Christy was telling the truth. A ritual abuse “expert,” clinical psychologist Randy Noblitt, testified that satanic cults are real, that they are widespread, and that he too believed Christy, despite not having interviewed her. (As Hampton, the Kellers’ attorney, wrote in Fran Keller’s appeal, “In 2003, Noblitt was featured on ABC’s Primetime having a conversation with Satan who, Noblitt agreed, was actually a pretty nice guy, notwithstanding, of course, his role as the dark lord of evil. No court and no jury should ever rely on the testimony of Dr. Noblitt.”) In addition, the jury heard evidence that local graveyards had been “disturbed,” consistent with the children’s claims of impromptu exhumations, although the jury never heard that those disruptions included natural soil erosion.

Scott Taliaferro, assistant district attorney for Travis County, says that the prosecution’s case didn’t rest on satanic claims but on child abuse claims. He also says that the defense repeatedly raised the issue of satanic ritual abuse, likely in an effort to cast doubt on the claims of sex abuse in general. “This is a case where the state alleged aggravated sexual assault of a child … the ritual abuse in question wasn’t elicited by the state; it was the defense. All of that is in large part extraneous to the allegation of sexual abuse,” said Taliaferro, who spoke with me before Fran Keller was released; he and the DA’s office have since declined to discuss the matter. But Hampton, the Kellers’ attorney, disagrees: Common sense and level-headed investigation would have found Christy’s claims incredible if satanic ritual abuse panic hadn’t lent a “distorted lens of hysteria” to the picture.

The methods used by forensic investigators to elicit stories of abuse from the children were taken straight from the ritual abuse panic playbook. University of Texas at El Paso psychologist James Wood, who has written about the suggestive interviewing techniques used in the McMartin trial, for a 1993 episode of American Justice viewed videos of investigators from the Travis County Sheriff’s Department interviewing the young children who made claims against the Kellers.

I have also seen the videos, seven in all, provided by sources close to the Keller case. At first glance, the videos look familiar for anyone who’s a parent of a young child: Christy is 3 years old, and it’s difficult to get her to sit still or remain on the chair or even in the room. Asking her basic questions is even harder: In one video, Christy turns her face petulantly into the back of the chair and says, “No, I’m not gonna talk!”

It becomes more uncomfortable to watch once the anatomically correct dolls, floppy rag dolls with floppy rag-doll genitalia, come out. The interviewer, armed with the now nude dolls, asks Christy to show her what “Danny” (Dan Keller) did to her at the day care. Christy is unwilling. “You tell me,” Christy says. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to claim that in a way, Travis County forensic investigators and well-meaning therapists did.

satanic ritual abuse
Photo by Meinzahn/iStock/Thinkstock

In this particular segment, Christy’s interviewer first calls attention to the dolls’ genitalia and then says, “Show me what happened at the day care”—implying both that something did happen and that the interviewer knows what happened involved genitalia. Then the interviewer asks if there’s a boy or a man at day care, leading Christy to say “Danny.” Handing her the doll, she says, “Show me what Danny does at the day care to Christy.” In an interview with another investigator present, the woman tells Christy, “I think you forgot to tell us about some things that happened … about some stuff that you have to talk to me about that you told [therapist David-Campbell].”

Another child who was interviewed, a 5-year-old boy, is much more willing to talk, so willing, in fact, it’s strange. When the interviewer asks him what they’re here to talk about, he says matter-of-factly, “Yeah, Fran and Dan.” “What is it about Fran and Danny we need to talk about?” the interviewer asks. “The things that they did wrong … at the time, we didn’t know that those things were wrong, but they were.” But even though he’s had some preparation, it’s impossible for the interviewer to get him to say that anything sexual had happened—no matter how much she tries.

“Does anybody touch your privates?”

“Uh-uh.”

“Has anybody wanted you to touch their privates?”

“No.”

Later:

“Are you telling me what really happened over at Fran and Danny’s house?”

“Yes.”

“Are you forgetting to tell me some stuff that happened?”

“Only the things I forgot.”

“What are those things?”

“I can’t remember!”

“Did anybody tell you not to remember?”

The implication is that the child isn’t telling the full story, that he needs to keep trying until he gets it right—the kind of dynamic that Nathan, Wood, and others say enables children to come up with some of the strange allegations. In this case, the interviewer is steering the conversation toward something physical; the boy brings up things like Dan falling asleep in the toy room or allowing the children to ride on the riding mower, or that he heard that Dan shot a pit bull. Eventually, she says, “Would it be easier if you showed me what happened with the dolls?” later adding, “Remember we looked at the doll’s penis; did anything happen with a penis?” When he says no, it’s evident that she doesn’t believe him.

These kinds of suggestive techniques were used throughout the questioning of the children in the Keller case, as they were in other satanic ritual abuse trials; by the time of the trial, allegations that emerged under questioning like this would form the basis of the prosecution’s claims.

Assistant DA Taliaferro is right in pointing out that the Keller convictions weren’t entirely about believing in satanic ritual abuse. They also relied on another piece of fantasy: the alleged physical evidence. This, too, was consistent with other satanic ritual abuse cases, where inaccurate physical evidence frequently played a major part in convincing otherwise skeptical juries.

Michael Mouw was the emergency-room doctor who examined Christy Chaviers after she told her mother that Dan Keller had abused her. Mouw testified during the trial that Christy’s labia minora and hymen had appeared reddened and that he had observed some lacerations to the hymen. Those lacerations, he said at the time, were consistent with sexual abuse. Mouw’s testimony was then taken as corroborating evidence that Christy had indeed been abused.

Except his observations weren't evidence of abuse at all. Mouw has since recanted his testimony, declaring that he knew soon after the trial that his conclusion was inaccurate and “not scientifically or medically valid.” At the time he examined her, he said during a hearing about the Kellers’ appeal in August, he was an inexperienced emergency-room doctor who had little direct experience with or training to handle pediatric sexual abuse cases; subsequent research showed Christy’s “lacerations” were simply a natural formation of her genitalia. (Echoes of this junk science evidence are heard in the case of the San Antonio Four, four lesbians who were convicted and imprisoned for more than 15 years for the alleged sexual abuse of two young girls.)

“Sometimes it takes time to figure out what you don’t know,” Mouw testified in August. “I was mistaken.”

And that was what finally freed the Kellers—that and the attention paid to the case by dogged Austin Chronicle reporter Jordan Smith, attorney Hampton’s efforts, and the support from the psychology community in Texas. Travis County District Attorney Lehmberg agreed that Mouw’s testimony had likely “affected the judgment of the jury” and violated the Kellers’ right to a fair trial; she agreed that the Kellers should be freed on bond.

But recanting dubious medical evidence does not a declaration of innocence make. The next step for the Kellers is to hear the ruling of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Lehmberg’s office released a statement on Nov. 26 indicating that no further action will be taken on the Kellers’ cases until the court issues its review, essentially meaning that if the DA is planning to pursue a retrial, she’s not saying. Even if the state doesn’t revisit the case, Hampton is still planning to press the Kellers’ innocence claim, which will likely require litigation to achieve full exoneration for the couple. Exoneration will be both an emotional and practical victory: It will entitle the Kellers to money Texas pays to victims of wrongful conviction.

“Somebody needs to pay for this,” says Donna Bankston, Fran Keller’s daughter. Bankston wants her mother to be able to enjoy “what few years she has left” in peace and not have to work. But, Bankston added, “There’s no amount of money that can bring back 23 years of their life … there’s no amount of money that can bring back all that hard time in prison.”

And no matter how the satanic ritual abuse panic can be explained, it remains bewildering to people, like the Kellers, who lived through it. They’re now trying to pick up the threads of lives that were lost more than two decades ago; Fran is staying with Bankston, while Dan is living with his sister. They’re both in a kind of limbo—they’re free but not, according to the state, innocent.

Hampton is cautiously optimistic that their exoneration will be successful and has somewhat muted feelings about getting them released. “It’s not like the feeling of ‘I just won a trial’—that’s not the feeling. It isn’t a vindication of justice; it’s ‘I’ve stopped the continuation of an injustice’ instead of vindication,” he said. “Maybe I’ll feel differently if I get them exonerated. Maybe I’ll feel it’s really been righted.”

As far as we know, only one other person remains in prison on a conviction stemming from the satanic ritual abuse panic: Frank Fuster, a Florida man who was convicted in 1985 on 14 counts of child sexual abuse in part on the evidence provided by his wife’s supposedly recovered memories and sentenced to 165 years in prison. But, as Nathan pointed out, a number of cases where investigators were motivated by fears of satanic ritual abuse may have simply flown under the radar. By the 1990s, prosecutors knew that satanic ritual abuse accusations could be used by the defense to cast doubt on charges, and they became more reluctant to air supposed evidence in court—instead, investigations that may have been launched on suspicions of ritual abuse were called “multivictim, multiperpetrator,” language that obscured the cases’ origins.

Though satanic ritual abuse cases are virtually unheard of now, the panic hasn’t entirely subsided. A number of groups and people still very much believe in satanic and other ritual abuse; Randy Noblitt, the expert witness called by the prosecution in the Kellers’ trial, is one of them (and he’s still on faculty at Alliant International University).

Even if most of us don’t believe Satan is lurking in day care centers, we’re not immune to the panic people felt. Nathan points to the outsize concern (disproportionate to their rarity) over child “predators” or the epidemic of teen sexting as potential modern panic candidates: “One of the hallmarks of a panic is that you don’t realize it’s a panic when you’re in the middle of it.”

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie is a writer based in London. Her first book, Princesses Behaving Badly, is out now.

Source: Slate

Children From Nowhere

January 25, 2014 permalink

Nova Scotia's freedom of information officer Dulcie McCallum says the province's foster children are being denied basic information regarding their family history. They cannot learn where they came from, why they were separated from their natural family or their family medical history. Reading between the lines, it appears that when a freedom of information law was enacted, social services relied on exclusionary provisions to block information that previously was routinely released.

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N.S. denying basic information to former foster children: review

HALIFAX — The Nova Scotia government is routinely ignoring its own laws by denying basic information to former foster children trying to learn about their family history, the province’s freedom of information officer says.

Dulcie McCallum issued a report Thursday that says the Community Services Department is disregarding previous practice and the law through an incorrect interpretation of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

“Children who grew up in foster care in Nova Scotia deserve the same right to their life story as all other children,” McCallum said in a statement. “Foster children are being treated as if they have no past — essentially a person without any life story prior to adulthood.”

Her report says former foster children are not being told why they were removed from their biological family, where they came from, or if their family had a history of health issues, among other things.

Under a previous policy, the department granted former foster children access to their records. But the department has moved away from this long-standing practice for reasons that contradict the intent of the province’s freedom of information laws, McCallum said.

She said the law specifically states that it can’t be used to restrict access to information that had been available before the act went into effect.

Department spokeswoman Elizabeth MacDonald said the province is reviewing McCallum’s report. The department has 15 days to respond.

“We can say that the subject matter of the report has previously been before the courts where it was determined that children in care can rightfully have access to their own information,” she said.

“However, information of the foster parent was found to be information of a third party and couldn’t be released by the province without the foster parents’ consent. The court was satisfied that there will be general harm to the foster care program if personal information is released without consent. This decision is in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

McCallum said if Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard doesn’t follow her recommendations, the minister should at least ask the legislature to address the matter with new legislation similar to that drafted for adopted children.

The report says foster children who are adopted have access to their foster-care files under the Adoption Information Act. However, those who aren’t adopted are required to file a formal request through access to information legislation.

“For the most vulnerable children, those apprehended and taken into foster care, one of the ways we can show respect to them is to give them information about their childhood,” the report says.

“They are entitled to know we value them, to know that being removed from their biological families was not their fault and to know they are entitled to have access to their life story.”

Source: Cape Breton Post

man from nowhere

How Often do you Have Sex?

January 24, 2014 permalink

Is there any question too intrusive for a social worker? Worker SP in Chatham asked two different Lev Tahor families how many times a week they have sex. Fixcas has the name of SP, but putting it here will probably bring on another one of those libel/slander claims.

Source: Best not to mention

Where is Howard Kober?

January 24, 2014 permalink

Vern Beck has written to Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne in opposition to bill 88. The first half of his letter concerns a boy in CAS care who disclosed sexual abuse by a social worker in a recording made on August 15, 2003 (mp3). Vern Beck thought the disclosed act amounted to criminal sexual abuse of a child and reported the incident to the police. But instead of investigating the social worker, the police investigated Mr Beck. From that day forward, the boy has disappeared and has not been seen by anyone associated with Canada Court Watch.

The boy's story has been on fixcas for a decade. Canada Court Watch has blotted out his name in some instances, but not all. His name is Howard Kober. If he is still alive, he is now an adult. Since Canada Court Watch is unaware of his current whereabouts, there is reason to be skeptical of whether he is still alive. If you have any knowledge of the survival, or death, of this boy/man, please get in touch with fixcas using our contact information.

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Canada Court Watch
Box 61027 Maple Grove Post Office, Oakville, Ont. L6J 7P5
Telephone (416) 410-4115
Website: http://www.canadacourtwatch.com
E mail: info@canadacourtwatch.com

SENT VIA EMAIL

January 22, 2014.

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto Ontario M7A 1A1
Tel: 416-325-1941
Email: premier@ontario.ca

Dear Premier Wynne

RE: The cover-up of an alleged sexual assault of a young boy by a senior CAS worker and the disappearance of the boy

Attached to this letter, please find a very short and disturbing MP3 audio clip of a young boy who describes how he was sexually assaulted and threatened by a senior Children’s Aid Society worker from Ontario. The alleged sexual assault occurred in the vehicle of the CAS worker while the worker was transporting the boy.

The boy further describes how the CAS worker warned him after the assault that if he said anything to anyone that the CAS would have his visits with his custodial father taken away and he will then be forced to stay in the CAS group home forever. This short clip is a small part of a videotaped interview I had privately with this young boy before he was taken away by force by the CAS and never to be seen or heard from again. At the time, the boy had asked me to advocate on his behalf due to the abuses he was being subjected to while in the care of the CAS against this wishes.

Due to the criminal nature of the boy’s videotaped disclosures, with the boy’s informed consent I arranged to have my confidential videotaped interview with the boy turned over to the police in the jurisdiction where the criminal offense had occurred. At that time I had faith that the police would conduct a competent investigation to ensure that charges were laid against the CAS worker involved so that the boy would get his day in court and that justice would be seen to be served. The boy only wanted to get out of the CAS group home and to go back home with his family.

Almost immediately after the video recorded interview was turned over to the police all access by the boy’s custodial father was terminated by the CAS and the boy’s whereabouts kept secret. In spite of my requests to the CAS and police detectives to at least speak to the boy to confirm that he was still safe, I never heard from the boy again in spite of his informed consent for me to advocate for him. His father who had custody of the boy before the CAS became involved never heard from his son ever again. The boy was taken away by CAS and never seen by his friends and family again.

Instead of justice and transparency, in response to the videotape being given to police, two undercover detectives from York Regional Police showed up at my home to interrogate me. The detectives took out a audio recorder and told me that they were going to record their interview with me. I told the police detectives that I had no objective to being recorded as long as they did not mind being recorded as well. I then took out my own recording device and placed it on the desk as well. From that point forward, the detectives conducted themselves in a cautious manner.

What became clear to me during my meeting with the detectives was that they had come to my home not with the purpose of investigating the sexual crime against the young boy, but to investigate me and how it was that the boy had managed to come into contact with Canada Court Watch while under CAS control. The detectives seemed to have very little interest in the sexual assault or about the boy disclosing how he was being abused while in the care of the CAS and the workers who held him against his wishes. I learned later that the police and the local CAS agency had a close working relationship with each other which may have explained why the police did not seem eager to investigate the crime.

The police never did call me back and never gave me any update as the boy’s whereabouts or give me any indication that the boy was OK. My attempts to contact the boy through CAS were never responded to. I was never asked to provide a statement by police. If anything, I was left with the impression that the police were somehow working in conjunction with the CAS to help the CAS cover up this alleged crime by a senior CAS official.

Later, Ontario’s Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL) took me to court in Toronto in an attempt to get a gag order to stop me from publishing letters that the boy had sent to me though Canada Post before my video interviews with him. The Office of the Children’s Lawyer claimed to be representing the boy however, when I asked the Children’s lawyer to simply let me speak to the boy so that I could confirm what they were claiming was true, the Children’s Lawyer said they would not permit me to speak to the boy.

In court, the Ontario Children’s Lawyer even tried to get the judge to stop me from exercising my right under section 136 of the Courts of Justice Act to record my own court hearing. The OCL lawyer was not successful. The Children’s Lawyer withdrew their motion after spending taxpayer’s dollars and in the end, paid for my court related costs when I advised them that I was going to seek costs against them. To this day I verily believe that the OCL was fraudulently claiming to represent the boy because the boy had disclosed in writing and during his videotaped interviews that the OCL had not acted in the boy’s interest.

Attached to this letter are copies of letters from the boy which he had to hide and smuggle out while he was in care of the CAS.

There appears to be a double standard when dealing with CAS workers

What still haunts me to this day is that no charges were ever laid against the very senior CAS worker. This boy never had an opportunity to be heard and to have his day in court. After the boy came forward, he was put back into the very care of those who the boy claims were abusing. The boy was prevented from being able to contact those he most trusted. It seemed that the entire alleged sexual assault was hushed up and the boy taken away to silence him. The CAS worker who was alleged to have conducted this crime to my knowledge still works with the CAS today and is still in a very senior position with the agency.

On the other hand, Court Watch has cases right now where parents are being arrested and unable to see their children because of questionable allegations from ex spouses regarding incidents which in some cases occurred many years ago. CAS workers seem to get special treatment while parents in similar situations are arrested and jailed.

Abuse of children while in care of child protection agencies had been well documented over the years. Everyone knows of the cover-up that went on during the times of residential schools. During one of the cases I was involved in early in 1994 I interviewed two young Brampton boys who were being sexually abused while in care of the Peel CAS. They identified Douglas Moore as the man sexually assaulting them. The boys reported how nobody at the CAS was listening to them.

I contacted the Toronto Star and helped to get an investigation underway to expose Douglas Moore who was arrested in March of 2004. An article was subsequently published in the Toronto Star on July 17, 2004 titled, “A monster hidden in plain sight”. One part of the article describes how Douglas Moore was sexually abusing the boys in CAS foster care right under the noses of the CAS workers. Below is a photo and information about Douglass Moore. Tragically, it took a call to the media and a media investigation to get action.

Douglas Moore

Very recently on December 4, 2013, the Archbishop Dorian A Baxter testified in person at the Bill 88 hearings at Queen’s Park. Archbishop Baxter has testified that in his lawsuit against the CAS, the CAS was found guilty by Justice Sommers in the Oshawa, Ontario court of blackmail, malicious prosecution, perjury and incompetence. In his closing statement Archbishop Baxter stated, “But I would say, please, give a sober second thought. Do not allow this bill [Bill 88] to pass. It will usher in a Pandora’s Box of tyranny beyond human comprehension”.

I have been working as a child and family justice advocate with Canada Court Watch since 1994 over 18 years and have interviewed many children and families adversely affected by CAS and the family courts. Even CAS workers have contacted Canada Court Watch to confidentially report unethical and/or illegal practices going on inside some CAS agencies. Many of those workers who call Canada Court Watch speak in confidence out of fear of losing their jobs for passing us information. I have recent statements from children being abused by the CAS and their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms being grossly violated.

While there are some good CAS workers, unfortunately the practice of many CAS workers acting illegally and covering up their unlawful acts with the help of high priced CAS lawyers continues to be a significant problem today. The abuse of power and authority, the waste of taxpayer dollars, the lack of transparency and the lack of accountability by many CAS agencies are significant problems which the government of Ontario must address sooner rather than later.

I have copies of the video recorded interviews with this boy (as well as many others which are being collected) should you or any other member of the Legislature wish to privately review some of these interviews. The one audio recording I have attached to this letter is just a sample of the abuse that children and families report to Canada Court Watch.

The same problems exist with CAS today which have existed for decades

CAS workers have been violating the Social Work and Social Services Work Act (1998) which requires that they be registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers. CAS workers are making a mockery of the very law which was officially passed into law in August of 2000 and intended to protect children and families. More about the unlawful practice of social work in Ontario by CAS workers can be reviewed in my research document at the following website link:

http://www.canadacourtwatch.com/files/all/The_Unlawful_Practice_of_Social_Work.pdf

The privatising of child protection through CAS agencies has been a dismal failure for the Province. The contracting out of child protection to CAS corporations has encouraged a culture of unaccountability and greed at the expense of the taxpayers of Ontario while in general, working against the best interests of many children and families in Ontario. Matters are only getting worse as CAS agencies scramble to find ways to extract more .money from the Ontario government such as is the case with Bill 88, which is currently before the Ontario Legislature. Bill 88 must never get passed. In my 19 years of seeing the same problems with CAS repeat themselves the time has come to have child protection services taken over by the government of Ontario as is the case in the other provinces of Canada. Ontario needs a fresh start when it comes to child protection.

Members of Canada Court Watch would be willing to meet with you and/or your high level staff to discuss the ongoing problems with Ontario’s child protection system and to present effective solutions to fix many of the problems which exist with Ontario’s child protection system today. I believe that the province could save over a half a billion dollars annually by implementing measures that would effectively improve accountability and transparency within the child protection system.

I look forward to your response. I can be best reached by phone at 905-829-0407 or by email at vernonbeck1@yahoo.ca. Also attached is a copy of a letter which I sent to you regarding Bill 88 which I have still not received a reply from your office.

Respectfully,

Vernon Beck, Child and Family Justice Advocate, Canada Court Watch
http://www.canadacourtwatch.com

Attachments
Handwritten letter from H.K to Mr. Beck undated (1 page)
Handwritten letter from H.K. to Mr. Beck dated August 13, 2003 (3 pages)
Handwritten letter from H.K. to his loving father dated August 7, 2003 (3 pages)
Letter from Canada Court Watch to Premier Wynn dated October 10, 2013 (82 pages)

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

The latter part of Mr Beck's letter deals with Douglas Donald Moore [1] [2] [3]. The full document by Vern Beck includes many attachments and can be found on Facebook (in the expand block above) or a local copy (pdf).

Worst First

January 22, 2014 permalink

Lenore Skenazy gives her opinion of a New Jersey court ruling that leaving a child alone in a car for a few minutes is child abuse.

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NJ court takes ‘child neglect’ to extremes

not Home Alone
'Home Alone' it's not: There's nothing horrible about leaving a kid alone in a car for a few minutes. Photo: Gregory P. Mango and Everett Collection (inset)

Did you ever wait in the car while your mom ran an errand? New Jersey says you were abused — and your mom was a criminal.

In an appeals court decision last week, three judges ruled that a mother who left her toddler sleeping in his car seat while she went into a store for five to 10 minutes was indeed guilty of abuse or neglect for taking insufficient care to protect him from harm.

Not that the child came to any harm; he seems to have slept through the whole non-incident.

But when the mom emerged from the store, she was confronted by cops, who’d been summoned by a mall guard when he noticed the sleeping child.

She was arrested and placed on the child-abuse registry — even though a Division of Child Protection and Permanency agent visited her home that day and found the kids well cared for.

If this had been the law back when I was a kid, Rahelen Skenazy — the lady who loves me more than the stars — would be on that registry. And since she had me wait in the car more than once, the state might have even placed me in foster care. That’s the threat that looms over anyone found guilty of neglect.

Instead, I got to be raised by my parents, because waiting in the car was just the normal state of childhood. It only got criminalized recently, when we began to arrest parents for tragedies that didn’t happen . . .but perhaps could have, if conditions had been completely different, or fate outlandishly fickle.

”No question that there are circumstances when leaving a child, even for 10 minutes, would create serious risk or danger for the child,” says law professor David Pimentel at Ohio Northern University. The question is: Was this one of those cases?

Was it a boiling hot day? No. Was the neighborhood plagued by kidnappings? No— and, what’s more, the national crime rate is back down to the level of 1963.

Well, was the baby in the driver’s seat with the ignition on, a cigarette smoldering in the ashtray, Eminem blasting on the stereo? Please.

But the court didn’t care. It ruled that a child could be considered in danger no matter what the circumstances, saying, “We need not describe at any length the parade of horribles that could have attended [the child’s] neglect.”

This is what’s called “Worst-First Thinking” — coming up with the worst-case scenarios first and proceeding as if they were likely to happen.

But if we start using “Worst-First” as the basis for prosecuting parents, shouldn’t we go after any mom who puts her kid in the car, period? After all, what if she careens off the road? What if she’s hit by a drunk driver? These may not be likely, but they certainly are possible, so why let any parent take that kind of risk?

We’re allowed to continue driving our kids because somehow society has managed to keep those risks in perspective, even though dying in a car crash is actually the No. 1 cause of children’s deaths — killing about 1,200 kids under age 14 each year. Meantime, about 38 die from being left in cars, the vast majority of them forgotten there for hours, not waiting out an ordinary errand.

Prosecuting parents who let their kids wait while they pick up a pizza isn’t going to save those tots forgotten there all day.

Quick story: Three years ago in Auckland, New Zealand, a mom decided not to take her three kids into the store with her, because it was raining. Minutes after she ducked inside, a tornado struck — flinging the car into the sky and landing it upside down, 50 meters away.

All three kids, strapped into their car seats, were fine. But if their mom had been unbuckling them at the time, or dragging them across the parking lot . . . well, I need not describe at any length the parade of horribles that could have attended.

Let’s just say that when a loving parent decides it makes sense, given the real-world circumstances that day, in that place, to let her kids wait in the car, she’s not being negligent. She’s just being like my wonderful mom.

And probably yours.

Lenore Skenazy is author of the book and blog “FreeRange Kids” (www.freerangekids.com).

Source: New York Post

Example:

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Police: Child left in car during frigid temps as foster mother shopped

(KMOV) -- A local mother is facing charges after police said she left her one-year-old child in nearly freezing temperatures in Fenton.

Marie Garza, 57, is facing child endangerment charges after she was accused of leaving her 1-year-old foster child in her vehicle without it running as she shopped at a Fenton Walmart.

Police say this happened on January 9 when it was 35 degrees outside. The child was left alone, sleeping in the car for approximately 10 minutes.

Several other people shopping noticed the child in the car and called authorities. Officers arrived and had to track down Garza who was still inside the store.

According to authorities, Garza is a first-time foster parent. Since this incident, the child has been taken away from Garza.

"It doesn't take long for the temperature inside a vehicle to drop when it's this cold. Even in the summer time people run inside momentarily and it doesn't take long for the heat to build up in that vehicle. It's inappropriate and inexcusable,” said Shanna Bahr with the St. Louis County Police Department.

Garza was not arrested but did receive a summons to appear in court on February 10.

Source: KMOV

Addendum: A reader replies to Lenore.

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Punitive, Puritanical, Sadistic Laws to “Protect” Kids — Woo Hoo!

Readers — This powerful comment came in response to my piece about the New Jersey woman who let her toddler sleep in the car for 5-10 minutes while she ran an errand. She was arrested, found guilty of abuse or neglect, and put on the state’s Child Abuse Registry. Two weeks ago, a New Jersey appeals court upheld that conviction. I love this letter:

stock
Often as not, the Child Abuse and Sex Offender Registries are out to SHAME, not SAVE. (Prop stockade from BJWinslow)

Dear Free-Range Kids: I think what we’re really seeing here is just our country’s punitive mindset. It’s like we cannot imagine any way to express to somebody that we don’t like what they are doing except for calling it “abuse” and putting them on a registry.

We should all be wary of slippery-slope reasoning. That is what happened with sex offender registries in many states. Registries originally designed to be lists of people who, if a young child went missing, might [warrant being] investigated because their history made it much more likely that they’d rape and murder a child, became, in many states, lists of young men who had sex we think they shouldn’t have. The rationale for doing things like keeping the 20 year old guy who slept with a willing 15 year old girlfriend on a registry for life is that we don’t want 50 year olds to think it’s okay to sleep with 12 year olds. But that’s not how things work. Harshly punishing people for crimes we don’t really consider particularly heinous or dangerous is NOT the way to prevent people from committing heinous, dangerous crimes.

So if the fear is that people will knowingly leave their kids in the car for hours in the hot sun, for their own convenience, which would be genuine child abuse, we are not going to stop that by creating a registry of people who leave their kids in the car for 10 minutes on a nice, temperate day. What next? Registering people who spank their kids so that people don’t think child beating is okay? Registering people who withhold treats from a child so people won’t think starving a child is okay?

“IMPERFECTION” IS NOT ABUSE

Whether we think she acted wisely or not, this woman was charged with CHILD ABUSE and is now on a registry of child abusers. The child abuse registry should not be a list of people who made parenting decisions we don’t like and who we think should therefore be publicly shamed for it; it should be a list of people who ACTUALLY pose a danger to children. This woman does not.

If people feel the need to call this woman a bad mom, call her a bad mom. Whatever. But we don’t want or need the state to validate those judgments, for maximum public humiliation. The point of laws should be public safety, not public humiliation, but more and more of our laws and moving in the direction of seeming to be more about shaming and humiliating and branding people who made decisions we don’t like rather than actually protecting the public from truly dangerous people.

– Anonymous Mom

Source: Free Range Kids

Another example from Ontario. According to the reporter, the girl was unharmed.

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Toronto girl, 3, left in freezing car at Costco parking lot: Cops

TORONTO - A Toronto man, 39, faces a child abandonment charge after his three-year-old daughter was found alone in a car parked at a Markham, Ont., Costco in frigid temperatures.

A passerby found the little girl in the locked car without heat around 7 p.m. and called police.

At the time, the temperature was about -15 C with the wind chill making it feel like -26 C, police said.

The toddler was checked out by paramedics and didn't appear to have any injuries.

"It is imperative that parents and animal owners understand the consequences of leaving children and pets unattended inside vehicles during extreme weather conditions," York Regional Police Const. Laura Nicolle said.

"Extreme cold during the winter months or heat during the summer months can result in serious health issues or death."

The man - whose name is not being released to protect the identity of the child - will appear Feb. 26 in Newmarket, Ont., court.

The Children's Aid Society has also been called in to investigate.

Source: Sun News Network

Saskatchewan Child Deaths

January 20, 2014 permalink

484 children died in Saskatchewan between 1994 and 2013 according to an investigation by the CBC. 114 of the children were in foster care, the rest had received services during the year preceding their deaths.

The numbers in the CBC report differ substantially from an earlier report by Saskatchewan Children's Advocate Bob Pringle. At least one of the reports has false numbers.

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Hundreds of children with social services ties died in Sask.

Poor casework a factor in some deaths, Children’s Advocate says

Saskatchewan child deaths
Number of deaths of Saskatchewan children who were in the care of the ministry of social services or recently in the care of the ministry.
Source: Government of Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Social Services says 484 children over the past two decades have died while in close connection to the ministry, a CBC investigative team has learned.

The numbers dating to 1994 were released after a request from the iTeam. They cover children who have died while in care of the ministry, or within 12 months of having received services from its staff.

Such numbers were previously only provided to the Children's Advocate, and the office would often make the numbers public, though the reporting had been spotty and incomplete.

"It's not that we've made any deliberate decisions to not report publicly," explained Natalie Huber, executive director of service and program design with the ministry. "It's just not an area that we've tended to focus on at this point in time."

How did they die?

A third of the children died of natural causes, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Huber says that highlights the fact that children in care are often very vulnerable.

"These children have complex needs, medical needs, sometimes [they are] born addicted," she said.

Causes of child deaths in Saskatchewan
This chart shows the noted cause of death of children who died while in the care or recently in the care of government.
Source: Government of Saskatchewan

Accidents are the second most noted cause of death among children in care, accounting for 149 deaths.

As well, over the 20 years, 66 children committed suicide and 38 were victims of homicide.

Of the 484 children who died, 114 of them were technically "in the care" of the ministry at the time of their deaths, in arrangements such as foster care or group homes.

The rest of the children died within 12 months of having received services from the ministry.

Poor case work a factor in deaths: Advocate

Saskatchewan Children's Advocate Bob Pringle says he has found a consistent and troubling theme while reviewing the child death cases.

"The common issue is: The quality of case management on pretty well every investigation we do is not adequate," Pringle told CBC News. "That's what went wrong."

He said the ministry has good policies and procedures for social workers, but they are not being followed consistently.

"That could be the lack of good supervision. It could be the workload demands. It could be an inexperienced worker. Or it could be a lack of training. It could be a lack of quality compliance," he said.

Bob Pringle
Saskatchewan's Children's Advocate is Bob Pringle.
CBC

Pringle noted his office has been pushing for improvement in those areas for years.

He added that since 2009, things do seem to be getting better, but he's still not satisfied.

"Until the ministry can tell me — and put it in writing — that they're meeting their case planning standards in child care for children in care and their contact standards, then they cannot tell the public that children are safe in foster homes," he said. "I still do not have that in writing."

Social Services Ministry defends progress

Assistant Deputy Minister of Social Services Andrea Brittin acknowledged that ministry staff aren't always following policies as they should.

However, she insists that failure did not cause any deaths.

Andrea Brittin
Andrea Brittin is the Deputy Minister of Social Services in Saskatchewan.

"In our overall review of child deaths, we haven't found evidence to suggest that the actions or inaction of a case worker directly contributed to the deaths of these children," Brittin said.

The ministry says it has reviewed all 484 child deaths and as a result has learned lessons and made changes.

For example, it began to notice a trend of deaths due to SIDS, so it changed a policy on safe sleeping arrangements, and educated families and caregivers.

The ministry also added more front-line workers and new tools to help them make better decisions about the care of children.

First Nations deaths went unreported

Huber pointed out the newly released data is incomplete because First Nations social services agencies were not consistently reporting the deaths of children in care.

The province had delegated responsibility for children in care on a reserve to 17 First Nations agencies.

From 1999 to 2007, those agencies reported a single death.

"Obviously an opportunity may have been lost around what changes might we make within our system to improve the services," says Huber.

However, she said that since 2008, the reporting requirements for First Nations agencies have been tightened up.

"We believe they're reporting completely now," she said.

Changes coming?

The data on child deaths in Saskatchewan comes as Alberta is embroiled in controversy related to disclosure of relevant information on child deaths in government care.

The controversy had caught the attention of officials in Saskatchewan who are considering changes in disclosure.

"I think it causes myself to reflect on our own practise here and around our own reporting." Huber said.

She added she is talking with colleagues across the country about a national approach to publicly reporting data on the deaths of children in care.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan's Children's Advocate said he has a problem with some of the most recent information provided to him.

Pringle said he won't release the child death statistics held by his office for the years 2003 to 2007, saying, "I do not have confidence in those numbers."

However, he is considering going public with some of his reports on child deaths in Saskatchewan, saying it may be time to shed more light on what happens when a child dies in the care of government.

Replay the Saskatoon Morning live chat that looked at what Social Services should do to protect children in its care.

Source: CBC

Viewing Bodies

January 20, 2014 permalink

Massachusetts is undergoing a foster care panic, started by the disappearance of five-year-old Jeremiah Oliver after social workers failed to intervene in his family. As part of the flurry of news articles, social workers have disclosed that the Leominster DCF office had a policy of strip searching children with allegations of, or a history of, physical abuse. According to the caseworkers' union, the strip searches were extended to children where there was no allegation of physical abuse. The policy was called "viewing bodies".

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'Strip search' policy prompted some DCF workers to leave

LEOMINSTER — In the Department of Children and Families office in Leominster, social workers say they are forced to "strip search" children receiving DCF services when there are allegations of, or there is a history of, physical abuse.

Some social workers have left because of the policy, says social worker Joseph Manna, who works in that office and is also a regional vice president of the union that represents DCF caseworkers. The policy was instituted a year ago in the Leominster office by Area Director Marcia Roddy, he said.

Ms. Roddy also oversees the Whitinsville office. Ms. Roddy did not return a telephone call seeking comment for this story.

Since the "viewing bodies" policy was implemented, Mr. Manna has sought a legal opinion on it and has also gone to labor relations and outside agencies including the Office of the Child Advocate with his concerns, he said.

When questioned about the policy in the Leominster office, DCF spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen issued the following statement: "We have a screening unit comprised of social workers and supervisors who receive reports of abuse or neglect, and then conduct interviews and checks to determine whether or not the Department should intervene to assess the safety of the children. The Department's intake policy requires that we view (meaning see the child) all children in a household in our response/investigation and in our ongoing work that we view each child. Practice guidance generally directs workers to follow the evidence and nature of the allegation in viewing a child's body. If we are investigating an allegation of physical abuse we would expect, in most cases, that there would be a need to view and, in some cases if necessary, document the evidence of abuse."

But, according to Mr. Manna, the "viewing bodies" policy in the Leominster office requires social workers to view children's bodies not under investigation for physical abuse. Those searches, he said, are not allowed under state law.

"The NCAO (North Central Area Office) management has created a policy independent of the department," he said. "The new policy has been referred to as 'viewing bodies.' The viewing bodies policy requires social workers in the NCAO to view children's bodies routinely, without the authority of the 51B (investigation) and without probable cause or evidence. The policy continues despite the DCF Western regional chief legal counsel's decision not to declare the viewing bodies policy as legal."

Ms. Roddy, he alleges instituted the policy of her own volition that goes beyond the scope of DCF rules and regulations.

"We don't have blanket discretion to view their bodies all the time," Mr. Manna said. "We have the skills to look at the evidence to determine if it is necessary — not do blanket strip searches of children. Since all this stuff has been going on (Oliver case) it died down a little, but there is still an expectation."

Social worker and emergency response worker Sara A. Vasquez, who has worked in the North Central office for six years and previously in DCF's Dorchester office for six years, said she was "forced" to have children remove all of their clothing and put on bathing suits so she could inspect their bodies — including teen boys.

"Normally, we have a policy to view an injury, if there is a report of a specific incident," Ms. Vasquez said. "You view the body, taking into account age and how it will emotionally affect them and do it in the safest way possible during investigations and ongoing casework."

But, a year ago, she said Ms. Roddy took that policy further.

Ms. Vasquez said under the new policy in Leominster, she was required to have children disrobe routinely, including two teen boys who were reluctant when she asked them to put on bathing suits for her.

"I was forced to do it," she said. "It was blanket — across the board — and we could no longer assess it. I work with adolescents. It is normally inappropriate to ask a 17-year-old boy to show me his body. They're taught not to show their body at school. When I went to management and told them I couldn't do it because one boy stated there were no injuries, I was told, 'It is not good enough. Go back and make him disrobe.' Now, it is normal practice. We're forced to look at teens, and have parents or school nurses present, even if there is no evidence or any report of neglect or abuse. If it is an ongoing case with a history of abuse, they want it done regularly and some cases are ongoing for years."

Both Mr. Manna and Ms. Vasquez say many school nurses have voiced concerns about the inappropriateness of these body searches and some teens expressed they felt it was a violation of their human rights.

Mr. Manna said in one instance, a boy with autism was forced to strip down in the school nurse's office, despite the nurse's concerns.

"Some don't do it, but then it falls on the social worker if anything happens," Mr. Manna said.

An experienced investigator who was forced to view the bodies of teenage boys, he said, and didn't feel it was appropriate quit about six months ago after she was repeatedly told by management to "do it anyway." "If you don't do it, it's your a**," Ms. Vasquez said. "Everyone is scared not to. You hear over and over, just do it and CYA — cover your a**. They really only care who's responsible in the end if anything happened."

Source: Worcester Telegram and Gazette

strip search

CAS Lawyer Becomes Judge

January 19, 2014 permalink

Ontario has appointed Lynda Susan Ross to be a judge. She has past experience working for Toronto Children's Aid and the Office of the Children's Lawyer.

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Bulletin

New Judge Appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice

Ontario has appointed a new judge to the Ontario Court of Justice. Justice Lynda Susan Ross has been assigned by Chief Justice Annemarie E. Bonkalo to preside in Windsor, effective January 29, 2014.

Justice Ross was called to the Bar in 1991. Following a year as a staff lawyer for Children's Aid of Toronto, Justice Ross joined the practice of Hartrick and Associates of Toronto, focussing on family and child protection litigation. In 1993, she became a member of the legal panel of the Office of the Children's Lawyer and, in 1995, established a practice as a sole practitioner, working in all areas of family law. She has practiced collaborative family law and has been a child protection mediator, providing services to Children's Aid Societies and courts in Toronto, Peel and others. Justice Ross is also a member of Legal Aid Ontario's Mental Health and Domestic Violence panels.

Justice Ross has been a board member and volunteer with Ernestine's Women's Shelter. She has volunteered with Second Harvest in Toronto and the Youth Justice Committee of Peel. In addition, she is a board member of the John Howard Society for Halton/Dufferin/Peel.

Source: Province of Ontario

Addendum: Canada Court Watch reports Ontario Continues to Pack Courts with Children’s Aid Society Affiliates (pdf). A table summarizes judges appointed with CAS service on their vitas:

judge appointment
Lynda Susan Ross January 29, 2014
Katherine Stacy Neill December 25, 2013.
Kathleen Baker May 8, 2013
Manjusha Pawagi January 28, 2009
Edward (Ted) Gareau June 22, 2009
Kevin Sherwood November 1, 2010
Jane Hatton August 6, 2010
Nathalie Gregson December 1, 2008
Roselyn Zisman March 30, 2007
Margaret McSorley December 15, 2003
Robert Rogerson December 15, 2003
justice of the peace appointment
Claire Thérèse Robinson Winchester May 25, 2011
Cristina M Almeida Santos July 28, 2011
Anna Marie Hampson October 13, 2010
Abdul Ali Chahbar October 14, 2009
Ana Cristina Costa March 4, 2009
Ernest Parsons July 11, 2007
Rhonda Shousterman May 30, 2007

Death Diary

January 19, 2014 permalink

The mother of a child seized by British social workers kept a diary of the decline and death of her son at the hands of untrained foster parents. When Jonas James Stadden died, social services comforted the foster parents, but not the real parents. Reports from Christopher Booker and the Akashic Times are enclosed.

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Child protection services: A mother’s diary records the awful death of a child 'in care’

Jonas, a child with Down's syndrome, 'visibly regressed’ and eventually died after he was handed over to foster carers

James Munby
Lord Justice Munby, recently promoted to be head of our family courts, announced again last week that he is determined to meet the tidal wave of criticism being directed at the system Photo: Brian Smith

It is four years since I began regularly reporting here on the most disturbing story I have covered in all my decades as a journalist – the way our “child protection” system has been allowed, by the secrecy imposed by the courts on all its workings, to go so horrifically off the rails. Last week, Lord Justice Munby, recently promoted to be head of our family courts, announced yet again his determination to meet the tidal wave of criticism now being directed at this system from all sides. But he is aware that opening up the courts themselves to “the glare of publicity” can only be part of an ongoing process. The system has now become so riddled with abuses at every level that to bring it back to the noble ideals it was set up to serve would require a titanic effort of reform, taking years.

Among the more obvious failings of the system are the human and professional inadequacy of too many social workers, and the miserable plight of so many of those record numbers of children they are now taking into “care”. This week, I describe the fate of one such child, as harrowing as any of the hundreds of cases I have followed over the years. I have only been able to grasp something of the full horror of this story thanks to a meticulous day-to-day diary kept by the mother, factually recording all that has been done to her family since it was blown apart as cruelly as if it had been hit by a bomb.

At this time last year, this was a happy, normal family, including four-year-old Jonas, who had Down’s syndrome, and was much loved and cared for by all the family. His parents had become expert in all aspects of looking after a Down’s child, including the care needed over sleep apnoea, a potentially life-threatening breathing problem that can need instant attention, which was why Jonas slept every night in his parents’ room.

In April, for factors I cannot report for legal reasons, and which were unconnected in any way with Jonas, the boy was removed from his family by Somerset county council social workers, even though he was still recovering from an operation. They placed him alone, miles away, with two recently recruited foster carers who, it turned out, had no experience of Down’s syndrome. Because of his “special needs”, the carers received the going rate of £900 a week for looking after the boy, plus a monthly allowance of £560, much of it free from tax.

Jonas James Stadden
Jonas, who had Down's syndrome

When the parents were allowed “contact sessions” with their son, they soon became concerned at how he was being looked after. They observed that his toilet and other medical needs were not being properly met. They were worried by how he arrived and left in a car with an Alsatian dog all over him on the back seat.

Through the summer, as the mother’s diary shows, their concerns mounted. They felt that their son was not being properly medicated for sores and sunburn. He showed small bruises. In August, they were not surprised when Somerset’s child-protection services were given an excoriatory report by Ofsted, which failed the department on all counts (nearly 40 per cent of their “child protection plans” were deemed “inadequate”, the lowest possible rating).

By October, the parents were so disturbed by the way their son was “visibly regressing”, both physically and mentally, that they applied — in vain — to a judge for the boy to be removed from his foster home. More serious ailments appeared, including a severe burn mark (dismissed by the carers as “just a bruise”).

His mother arranged a dental appointment for a severely infected tooth, which she discovered was never kept. He was also “red and blue”, with obvious breathing problems. As the weather turned colder, he was brought to contacts with no proper protective clothing. He was being left to sleep alone in his own room, unmonitored, from 5.30 in the evening until 7.00 the next morning.

By November, serious alarm bells were ringing. Jonas looked terrible, with bad conjunctivitis, and discharges from his eyes and ears. On Wednesday November 20, he was clearly so ill that the contact supervisor agreed with the father that he must see a doctor urgently, and said she had told the carers. The following day he was “too ill for contact”. The boy was never taken to the doctor.

On Sunday November 24, having heard nothing, the parents – who had not been given the carers’ number – rang another foster carer, who clearly knew that something terrible had happened but wouldn’t say what. He would only give them a confidential emergency number for social services. The parents were told they would receive a call, but were never rung back. Soon afterwards, four police arrived at the door to tell them their son was dead. He had apparently collapsed. An air ambulance had been summoned to fly him to the hospital where he had been treated before, but it was too late.

The social workers made no attempt to inform the now-grief-stricken parents of what had happened, although it emerged that they had sent a doctor to “comfort” the foster carers.

I was so struck by the calmly factual way in which the mother had kept her diary throughout these horrendous months that, last week, I made sure that a copy was given to the coroner. Even if Jonas’s death is found to have been from “natural causes”, which might normally rule out the need for an inquest, I thought it was important for the coroner to know something of the background that had led up to it.

Such are the barest outlines of a story that gives us yet another glimpse of how tragically dysfunctional too much of our “child protection” system has become. In a way, it provides a telling contrast to the fate of “Baby P”. In this case, the charge against social services was not that they failed to intervene when there was every reason for doing so, but the opposite: that, having first removed a well looked-after child, for what seems to be no very obvious reason, they then placed him in the “care” of people who appeared not to be fit to look after him properly. This raises very serious questions that must now be answered.

Source: Telegraph (UK)


Vulnerable child dies after the state separates him from family

Jonas Stadden
Jonas Stadden before being taken into care

This is perhaps one of the most shocking cases of child abuse that we have ever had to cover at the Akashic Times.

Jonas Stadden was a vulnerable four year old with down’s syndrome, living in Somerset who was described as a happy-go-lucky, ‘bubbly’ child.

He had five other siblings and was the special ‘little’ brother who was loved spoiled and adored by the entire family.

But his life was to be cruelly snatched away after his mother made the mistake of asking the social services for help and advice.

The social services responded by informing the parents that they would assist the family by placing little Jonas, along with his brothers and sisters into foster care. This is despite the fact that Jonas’ parents were not under any suspicion for causing harm to their family.

But asking the social services for help because of Jonas’s condition was to land their family in big trouble. Without warning, the social services cut off the parents from their children, and it was around this time that Jonas, who was once healthy, started getting ill in foster care.

The father of the boy had previously noticed burns and bruises on Jonas’s body and informed the social services and hospital. He was also savvy enough to photograph the injuries. But his pleas fell on deaf ears. Months later, Jonas was pronounced dead.

Jonas Stadden
Jonas before he died, after being taken into care

Until this day, the family have not received any explanation whatsoever. They were not told who caused his death and the bruises went unexplained.

The case was covered up completely and did not appear in the mainstream media. The child was a down’s syndrome child but there were no serious concerns regarding his health, whilst Jonas was in care of his parents.

The family have been calling for an inquest – and yet one has failed to materialise. In the report, doctors failed to determine the cause of the burns and bruising but just said it ‘may have been accidental’.

We have obtained a copy of the letter written by Dr P Mappa who examined Jonas and included it below.

NHS logo

Musgrove Park Hospital
Consultant Dr. P. Mappa
Depl of Paediatrics
Musgrove Park Hospital
Taunton
TA1 5DA

Secretary direct line (01823) 342690
Fax (01823)343777
sallykay@tst.nhs.uk

Dictated date
17 Oct 2013
Transcribed by
JM-18 OCT 2013
NHS No
646 041 5161
Hospital No
1082510

Jonas James STADDEN - 28 May 2009
Blakes Farm, Blakes Lane. Wembdon, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA5 2BE

CONFIDENTIAL MEDICAL REPORT
EXAMINATION UNDER CHILD PROTECTION ARRANGEMENTS
This document can be used as a Child Protection/Case Conference Report

Place of Examination
Acorn ward
Date of Examination
17 October 2013 @ 1630 hr
Consent
Full consent was obtained for examination [and photography]

My name is Dr Pradeesh Mappa. Locum Consultant Paediatrician at Musgrove Park Hospital My qualifications are MB BS. MRCP.Ch. I have worked in paediatrics for 8 years and I have been working as a consultant for 2 months. I routinely examine children as part of my training and practice and routinely perform child protection medical examinations

I reviewed Jonas along with Social Worker, Jade Hill and foster mum, Margaret Beardshaw, in Acorn Ward at around 1630 hr on 17 October 2013 They were brought because of concerns regarding a red mark seen on Jonas' right forearm. I obtained a history from Margaret Beardshaw and Jade Hill. Margaret told me that Jonas's dad noticed a mark on the right forearm on tho afternoon of 18 October 2013 when Jonas' was dropped off to see his dad as part of supervised contact. Dad immediately informed children's social care. Margaret told me that she did not notice any mark on Jonas' forearm on the morning of 16 October when she got him ready for school She particularly remembers this because she had folded the sleeves of his new shirt on his right hand. I was told by Social Worker, Jade Hill, that on contact with the nursery they said there was no specific history of a fall and the fact that they had noticed Jonas meddling with his right hand when he was in nursery. I did not have any clarification as to when this happened. Jonas was subsequently taken to his GP surgery at 1500 hr on 16 October 2013. It appears that there was no specific diagnosis made and hence he was referred for further paediatric opinion

Jonas is well known to our medical team with Trisomy 21, speech and language delay and eczema. He is under the care of Dr Anna Baverstock and Dr Sarah Kelly.

I understand Jonas has got 6 siblings, 4 of whom are in care. He is currently in foster care with Margaret Burchill since April 2013.

On examination Jonas looked alert and active. He was eating crisps when I saw him. He was clean and appropriately dressed. His weight of 14.75 kg was when he came in on 9 October 2013 to see us because of croup. Systemic examination was largely unremarkable with a bit of dry skin. There was a horizontally linear red mark on his right forearm that measured at the maximum length 4 cm and 1.2 cm in width. The edges were very clear and on pressing the mark firmly we could see some discolouration underneath which makes this likely to be a bruise

There were no other injuries noted.
Jonas was reviewed by Dr Debbie Stalker, Child Protection Lead.
Impression
Dad had noticed a red mark on Jonas which could be consistent with a bruise. This could have happened because of impact with a firm implement but it is very difficult to establish the exact cause of this. It could have been accidental. It is also difficult to establish the time frame but from the history it appears to have happened between the time he left home in tho morning for nursery and saw his dad in the afternoon, being in the nursery in the time in between
The above information has been communicated and discussed by Debbie Stalker with Wendy Hesford.

I tried organising for Jonas to come back for a medical photograph on 18 October 2013 as I could not get hold of the medical photography team on the evening of the 17 October. This did not happen as by the time I spoke to the team in medical photography, Jonas was in the dental surgery. Apart from this I have not organised any planned follow up for him with regard to this bruise but would be happy to see him again if there are any concerns from either the Social Services or from the parents/foster parents.

Yours faithfully

Electronically signed by
Dr P Mappa
Locum Consultant Paediatrician

Musgrove Park is part of Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
www.tst.nhs.uk

Letter in photocopy form: [1] [2].

EDITORIAL NOTE:

Often the authorities will try and use underhanded techniques to justify their actions. Following the publication of this story we were contacted via the website by a mysterious person by the name of “Polly” who failed to leave legitimate contact details, making some very serious – and so far unfounded – accusations against the Stadden family. This person then asked us to publish their claims and look into it. However, when we tried to contact “Polly” who commented under the heading ”pollywallydoodle” for further information, ‘her’ contact details unsurprisingly turned out to be false. We’d be delighted to hear from anyone who may recognise this query. Or indeed, if the person themselves could get in touch again- but this time with real contact info and proof of their claims.

2 Responses to “Vulnerable child dies after the state separates him from family”

haydn stadden

I'm his father I took the pics, your almost dead right about what you have written, I'v got nothing to hide , if you need to contact me please do , & yes the authorities don't want this out they are bricking it

Jonas was the light of everyone life in the family & CSC will never fully understand just how many lives have been destroyed through there stupidity & incompetence, but were gonna try & show them


Amy Lee

Wow such an interesting story and judging by your editorial note and the reply above, obviously the PTB clearly are trying to cover up their tracks i hope you do manage to get the interview with the family involved people need to know this stuff. awful that such a lovely young child had to go like that

Source: Akashic Times

Addendum: A convenient coroner's ruling of death from natural causes eliminates the requirement for an inquest.

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Taunton boy Jonas Stadden died in foster care of natural causes, post mortem tests reveal

NOTHING could have been done to save a four-year-old boy who died in foster care, a coroner has ruled today (January 21).

Post mortem tests have shown that Jonas Stadden died of natural causes.

His parents, Haydn Stadden and Sara Russell, of Taunton, had demanded answers after Jonas's death at Musgrove Park Hospital, on November 24.

Jonas, who had Down's Syndrome, had been taken into foster care outside Taunton seven months before that for reasons that cannot legally be reported.

West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose has issued a statement today saying: "A post mortem...revealed that Jonas died of bronchopneumonia and under part II - (illness or disease not directly attributing to the death - Down's Syndrome.

"This is of course a natural form of death, but investigations have subsequently been carried out to ascertain whether or not an earlier referral to a doctor would, in the circumstances of this case, have made any difference to the outcome - but I am advised that would not have done so."

The findings mean there will not be an inquest.

Mr Stadden said: "Jonas had pneumonia twice before and pulled through, so this is very upsetting.

Source: Somerset County Gazette

Christopher Booker responds to the outrageous ruling by the coroner.

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Jonas Stadden’s parents left 'numb with grief’ as inquest is refused

The parents of a Down's syndrome boy who died in foster care are shocked that the coroner has absolved the care system of any blame

Jonas Stadden
Jonas Stadden's father saw he was so seriously ill that he pleaded for the foster carers to take his son to his GP for urgent medical treatment. This never happened. He continued merely to be dosed with paracetamol

I must update two recent horror stories about our “child protection” system. Last week I reported on the fate of Jonas Stadden, the four-year-old Down’s syndrome boy, who died while in foster care after being removed by Somerset social workers from his devoted parents (for reasons unconnected with him or them, and which I cannot disclose for legal reasons). I passed to the coroner a remarkable diary in which his mother recorded how she and his father had watched their son’s health steadily deterioriate during the months he was living with his foster carers, who had no experience of the syndrome.

A particularly disturbing feature of this story was that, four days before the boy’s death, his father saw he was so seriously ill (I have seen photographs to confirm this) that he pleaded for the foster carers to take his son to his GP for urgent medical treatment. This never happened. He continued merely to be dosed with paracetamol.

The authorities last week went into full defensive mode. First, the parents were astonished to see Somerset council claiming in the local media that, after the boy’s death, they had given the family “full support”. Then, on Tuesday, the coroner himself circulated every media outlet in the area with his finding that, since a post-mortem examination had shown the causes of Jonas’s death to be “broncho-pneumonia and Down’s syndrome”, no advice from doctors could have saved him. There was no need for an inquest, he said.

This finding so appalled the parents, who have been taking expert medical advice themselves, that they have drafted their own press statement, pointing out what they see as glaring holes in the coroner’s account.

Broncho-pneumonia, as I have been assured by a well-known medical expert, is “eminently treatable” with antibiotics, as the parents saw when they took Jonas to hospital with a previous attack of pneumonia, seeing him on the way back to health within hours.

Down’s syndrome experts insist that it only “very rarely” causes the death of young children, unless another condition intervenes.

One of the doctors, cited by the coroner as advising that nothing could have been done to save the boy, has been working closely with the social workers ever since they intervened in the case last March. On the day of Jonas’s death, according to a report, she went to “comfort” the foster carers, while the social workers merely left it to the police to tell the parents that their son was dead.

Most glaring of all to the parents is the coroner’s failure to make any mention of the father’s insistence before Jonas’s death that he needed urgent medical attention. Not surprisingly, the parents record in their statement that they are not only “numb with grief” at the death of a son they had expertly cared for all his life; they are now shocked by how perfunctorily the coroner, in their view, has absolved the “care” system of any blame for what befell their child.

On a more positive note, I can report that “Wendy”, the sane mother incarcerated in Calderdale Royal Hospital after her differences with Kirklees social workers (see my article “The lunatics have taken over the asylum in 'caring’ Britain”), was on Tuesday informed by the psychiatrist who had sectioned her as “psychotic” that she was to be released immediately. Because of “that newspaper article”, she would now have to be reassessed by “a team of independent psychiatrists”. More will need to be said about this disturbing episode in due course.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Link to Booker's previous article on "Wendy".

Power Trip

January 17, 2014 permalink

Graham and Gail Curlew are respectable parents and grandparents in Norfolk England. When their daughter Claire give birth to two children, the Curlews established a close relationship with their grandchildren. But Clair had problems that brought them to the attention of social services. At a meeting in 2007 Clair's partner, and father of her children, pulled a knife on his social worker. The children went to foster care. Why were they not placed with the respectable grandparents? No real reason. They were tricked into signing away rights on a false promise. Efforts to retrieve their children included a meeting with social services including their MP Norman Lamb. This case is one more instance of the contempt social service agencies hold for elected representatives. The social worker responsible for the grandchildren could not correctly pronounce the girl's name. Social worker quote: "We don’t care what the court says: we do what we like."

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Barred from the lives of our grandchildren for seven years: In a story that appalled Britain. Yet this blameless Christian couple STILL face torment at the hands of social services

Graham Curlew doesn’t even attempt to hide his feelings. ‘I hate this time of year. I absolutely hate it,’ he says.

‘I come from a large family and they all have their grandchildren around them for the holidays. My sisters and brother can all talk about their grandchildren and show photos of them. But I can’t bear it. So we lock ourselves away.’

The truth is that life has been a misery for Graham, 58, and his wife Gail, 54, all year round for ages. It was five years ago when the Curlews’ shocking story first came to public attention: they passionately wanted to foster or adopt their adored grandchildren when it became clear their daughter and the children’s father were incapable of looking after them.

Graham Curlew and Gail Curlew
Graham and Gail Curlew from Sheringham, Norfolk who have been fighting unsuccessfully to see their grandchildren

It was a wish in line with Social Services guidelines that children should be placed with blood relatives whenever possible.

Graham and Gail were eminently suitable, passing every fostering assessment.

And yet, incomprehensibly, North Norfolk Social Services refused to place the children with them.

They were distraught, but remained hopeful that they would still be able to maintain a close relationship with the children, even if they couldn’t live under the same roof.

Never did the couple imagine for a second how much worse the situation would become.

Despite being told that if they were compliant and agreed to Social Service’s every stipulation, they would be granted normal access as grandparents, they maintain they have faced constant obstruction and frustration — and things have only deteriorated each year that goes by.

In the past 13 months, they have been allowed to see their grandchildren only once, for barely an hour and a half, with every action and word minutely supervised as if they were criminals.

They are not even allowed to know where their grandchildren live or where they go to school. Every letter or postcard must be censored as if they were paedophiles — with the result that they never dare write at all.

They are not allowed to telephone or see their grandchildren alone without being monitored.

They can never pray with them: something which, as committed Christians, they used to do freely.

And yet the Curlews have never been accused of any misconduct. Their crime? They have no idea.

They are an irreproachably respectable couple, married for 34 years. They have never been in trouble with the law. They are active members of the Salvation Army (they have wondered if their faith is the issue).

They don’t drink or smoke. Their home, in Sheringham, North Norfolk, is spotlessly tidy. Gail was a professional chambermaid, and her high standards are evident — even in the bedroom still designated for the grandchildren who are never allowed to stay.

In fact, the girl and boy are not even allowed to visit their hometown, let alone their grandparents’ home.

Have the Curlews fallen out with the children’s parents? No: in fact both mother and father have pleaded for the children to be allowed to live with their grandparents. By all accounts the children themselves adore them.

No, these totalitarian restrictions are by order of North Norfolk Social Services. And the Curlews have never been told why.

These are the same Social Services, incidentally, that wrongfully took away three children from Mark and Nicky Webster in 2004.

This couple, from Cromer, had their three children taken into care after doctors claimed that leg fractures on the middle child had been inflicted deliberately.

The children were split up and adopted — before new scientific evidence came to light suggesting that the boy could have been suffering from scurvy or iron deficiency caused by a feeding disorder — and now they can never go home.

The same Social Services whose head, Lisa Christensen, stepped down last summer after a blistering attack from Ofsted and an outcry from the county’s MPs.

To their immense credit, the Curlews have not given in. On January 17, there will be a court hearing to review the ‘care plan’ that has been imposed on them — and, once more, they will plead for freer access to the children they adore.

Until mid-2006, Graham and Gail were doting grandparents. Their young granddaughter and grandson had always spent Christmas with them, as well as birthdays and weekends.

They had forged a close bond with their grandchildren despite the fact — or perhaps precisely because — their daughter Claire was troubled.

She had been a drifter since the age of 16 and a drug user from 17. As a result, her children had been under the watch of social services for several years and the Curlews had always kept an eye on them, too.

Then, out of the blue, during a visit on January 5, 2007, Claire’s partner and father of the children — another unemployed drifter — threatened a social worker with a knife and the youngsters were instantly removed from his care.

Graham and Gail assumed, as did everyone who knew of their close relationship with their grandchildren, that the youngsters would be moved to live with them — certainly for that weekend and probably permanently.

Anyone who has ever cared for children will know where they prefer to be, especially at an upsetting time — surely somewhere they know, with people they love and their own toys in their own bed. Instead, they were taken into police custody — despite the fact that the only threat to them, their father, was now safely locked away.

For the next year and a half, Graham and Gail asked to be allowed to care for them. Instead, their contact was relentlessly reduced. Until, when the foster mother wanted a holiday, instead of being allowed to stay at Nanny’s and Grandad’s as they’d been promised, the children were sent to a temporary foster home.

It was finally in 2009 that the children’s future was decided in court. The Curlews were promised full, normal grandparental access on condition they agreed to the children’s going into long-term foster care.

This, they were given to believe, would involve having the children to stay, taking them out on birthdays, seeing them at Christmas and all the other free contact which grandparents normally enjoy.

With this promise ringing in their ears, they signed away their claim to have the children live with them.

Despite the promises, the Curlews found themselves immediately excluded from the children’s lives.

Eventually, after fighting hard, they were offered two hours, four times a year, of supervised contact.

The first few times they met, in an impersonal office, they were not even allowed to take photos. They were never told why. They had also been promised that by the time the children were nine they ‘could vote with their feet’, which has never happened.

So keen were the Social Services to hide the children’s whereabouts that they made them change out of school uniform before meetings, so the Curlews could not identify their school.

For their last visit, in November, the social worker was supposed to have booked a bowling lane so the children could meet their grandparents on neutral territory. But he brought the children more than half an hour late, having failed to book the bowling lane, and insisted on taking them away on time, so they never had their treat.

For seven years the Curlews’ lives have been dominated by their loss, relying on Legal Aid to fight a painfully long battle which looks set to outlast anybody’s childhood.

Graham, a builder, used to be the life and soul of every party, always willing to help friends and neighbours.

He was shortlisted in 2009 for Britain’s Got Talent for his hilarious on-stilts imitation of Pavarotti. Now, he is so depressed he eschews company and, unable to work because of the stress, lives on disability benefits.

Their grief is always in the background, even when they are doing something pleasurable. Both admit the strain on their marriage has been pernicious, partly because their loss has affected them in different ways.

Graham wants to fight, whereas Gail is terrified of doing anything lest the situation becomes worse. She didn’t dare talk to me about it: ‘In case the social workers retaliate, and punish us further.’

Though it’s hard to think what more they have to lose. ‘Sometimes I’m driving along and see a lorry coming towards me, and think: “Why not?”’ says Graham. ‘Essentially, we’ve had two children kidnapped.

‘Sometimes I think it might be easier if we never saw them at all. We look forward to it for months, and then it gets cancelled. Do they do it on purpose?’ Of course, the burning question is why? Why have Social Services gone to such lengths to exclude the Curlews from the children’s lives?

I first met them in the August of 2007, seven months after their grandchildren had been taken into care. Graham had been doing some work for my father and, feeling I might be able to help, asked me for my contact details.

Soon, I had met both grandchildren, in the days when they were still allowed unsupervised contact. The little boy came with Graham to my father’s seaside house.

I still remember his unrestrained affection: no one can coach a small boy to fake love. He sat on his grandfather’s knee, his arms adoringly around Graham’s neck as he gazed into his face, and said: ‘I want to live with you for ever, Grandad.’

Being two years older, his sister was a little more restrained, but she left me in little doubt that she didn’t like their temporary foster mother.

So why was this arrangement inflicted on them? (At a cost to the taxpayer of well over a quarter of a million pounds so far, at a conservative estimate.) None of the evidence points to an issue between grandparents and grandchildren, more Social Services wanting to exert their power.

Shortly after I met them, they invited me to sit in on a couple of meetings with Social Services, along with their MP Norman Lamb. The hostility in the room was palpable.

With my own ears, I heard the social worker saying that the Curlews couldn’t care for the children, not because there was any difficulty between the children and their grandparents, but because Graham antagonised the Social Service.

He did indeed: I witnessed it myself. The social worker mispronounced the girl’s name. Already distressed, Graham exploded with understandable but very unwise passion. ‘How long have you been responsible for my granddaughter? And you still don’t know her name?’

Norman Lamb
The couple met several times with Social Services, along with their MP Norman Lamb

Her face tightened. She had been humiliated and she didn’t like it. She went on mispronouncing the name on purpose, it seemed to me.

Are the children happy in their current foster home? The Curlews assume they are, because they now enjoy some trappings of luxury their grandparents could not afford.

Unless, of course, they had received the financial support that would have been due to them for fostering the children themselves.

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said: ‘The issue of contact was reviewed by a court in 2013 and was deemed to be reasonable and in the best interests of the children.

‘All family members can seek to put the matter back before the court again if they feel a care plan should be reviewed.’

As for the upcoming court hearing, the Curlews have given up on having the grandchildren to live with them. What they dream of is to regain normal access — to be able to write to them and see them regularly.

They’re not optimistic. Graham still remembers verbatim the words of one social worker who sat in their sitting room and said: ‘We don’t care what the court says: we do what we like.’ Graham asked that social worker to leave the house: another blot on his copybook.

The children’s father is still an unemployed drifter. The Curlews’ daughter Claire, 31, has resolved her drugs problems and is now happily married to a restaurant owner and saving for college.

She has come to terms with the fact she isn’t allowed to look after her children, but can’t understand why her parents aren’t allowed to.

Meanwhile, the children’s bedroom is almost as they left it seven years ago with their favourite cuddly toys still immaculately placed on the beds.

Photographs of the children are everywhere. Graham can’t bear to look at them: Gail can’t bear to take them down. Yet another rift driven between them.

On one thing they are agreed, however. They hope and pray for the day their nightmare ends and their darling grandchildren come home.

Source: Daily Mail

Social Worker Sells Client Identities

January 15, 2014 permalink

Rakecia Matrese Brame was a North Carolina social worker responsible for investigating claims of abuse and neglect against minors and disabled adults. She took the personal information she gathered about clients and sold it to professional tax preparers. The article is not specific about how the information was used, but it appears to be the long-standing racket of filing for a tax refund payable to another person.

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Former Greensboro Social Worker Pleads Guilty To Identity Theft, Tax Crimes

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A social worker, originally from Greensboro, plead guilty to identity theft and tax crimes Friday, according to the Department of Justice.

The IRS announced Monday that Rakecia Matrese Brame, plead guilty Friday to one count of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and one count of aiding and assisting the preparation of a false tax return.

According to court documents, Brame worked as a social worker at the Alamance County Department of Social Services from February 2009 to February 2011. Brame was responsible for investigating claims of abuse and neglect against minors and disabled adults.

The DOJ says she had authorized access to extensive identifying information-including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of Alamance DSS clients. The department says this information included abuse victims,recipients of various state benefits, and witnesses in official investigations.

Court documents say Brame used her access of information contained in Alamance DSS records to illegally obtain the personal information of Alamance DSS clients and others. Documents also revealed she then sold the information to two return preparers at the Greensboro branch of Nothing But taxes, a tax return preparation firm. The two preparers then used the stolen identities to claim false dependents on tax returns they prepared for Nothing But Taxes clients, thereby claiming inflated tax refunds on the clients' behalf.

Court documents reveal the two preparers, Saichelle McNeill and Jennifer Bullock paid Brame $200 to $300 per identity they purchased and Brame knowingly sold these identities to them to be used for tax fraud.

Brame faces a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charge and a maximum of 3 years in prison for the charge of aiding and assisting the preparation of a false tax return. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory 2 year sentence.

The related case against Saichelle McNeill resulted in a guilty plea to federal criminal charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns.

McNeill was sentenced to serve 27 months in federal prison on August 20, 2013.

Jennifer Bullock pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and tax charges on December 4, 2013 and is currently awaiting sentencing.

The Department of Justice says this case and related Nothing But Taxes cases were investigated by agents of the IRS-Criminal Investigation.

The Department of Justice, WFMY News 2

Source: WFMY

Family Courts Cause a lot of Human Misery

January 14, 2014 permalink

British MP John Hemming writes an article on child protection for his local newspaper.

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John Hemming: We must change the way family courts are run

Birmingham MP says a lot of human misery is being caused by the UK's family law

John Hemming
John Hemming, is Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley

Family law, particularly when it involves more than one country, is a complex issue involving a number of very sensitive issues. However, the machinery has been hidden away and is only now partially coming to the surface.

The story of the woman who was sectioned on a visit to Essex, subjected to a forced caesarean and then had her baby put up for adoption had a lot of publicity last year. As a result of this we can see some of the detail behind this.

I always think it is a good idea to look at things from the perspective of the children. Her baby daughter is now one. She has two sisters. Families are important to people and sibling relationships are important to children and adults.

When she gets to be a teenager she will find out more about what has happened in her life. Her question will be why was she not brought up with her sisters?

If she meets her sisters she will find they are fluent in a language she cannot speak and she won’t know anyone in her wider family.

It is true that the grandmother does not feel she can deal with all three children.

However, the aunt of the baby’s step-sister offered to look after the two sisters and the baby in the same household.

Essex County Council, however, refused this. Their argument was that the aunt was not a blood relative of the baby. That is a silly argument.

I know, however, that Essex have an adoption target. In their corporate plan of 2012/3 it was 12 per cent of the children in care and they were below target. Previously they were paid £2,469,200 by the Blair government for increasing adoptions.

Hence when it comes to the care plan it is clear that the local authority employees are under a lot of pressure to propose a care plan for adoption.

It is in fact only the younger children that can be adopted. Nationally a very high proportion of the children that leave care under five do so through adoption.

So we are saying to that baby in 12 years time that she was kept away from her family for no good reason and that the local authority had a bureaucratic target to divide families.

My view is that this target lies behind the decision to refuse to allow the aunt to care for the children.

Many foreign governments have complained about what is done in the English family courts.

However, they are not properly subject to scrutiny in England.

Successive governments have been pressing for children to be taken into care earlier and then adopted quickly. Not only does this lead to more miscarriages of justice, but it also makes it harder to protect children from harm.

It is nigh on impossible to predict that a child will starve to death at the age of seven when that child is born. The low threshold for intervention with babies also drives a higher threshold for intervention for older children.

When I say “the wrong children are taken into care”, I mean both that children are taken into care who shouldn’t be, but also that older children are abandoned by the system and end up dying from child abuse and neglect when they need not.

There is very little scrutiny of how the system operates. It does not actually require people to be identified to have more scrutiny.

We also should not imprison people whose only offence is complaining about problems with the system.

I proposed a system of academic scrutiny of family proceedings, but the children’s services directors rejected this.

I could write a lot more about this. I believe a lot of human misery is being created unnecessarily.

We need a change in approach urgently.

John Hemming is Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley

• In response to this article, a spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “The suggestion that Essex County Council, or any other Local Authority, treats adoption targets as more important than the welfare of vulnerable children and their families whose welfare is our paramount concern is utterly baseless and we would refute it in the strongest possible terms.

“As we have previously stated the long term safety and wellbeing of children is always Essex County Council’s priority.

“Adoption is never considered until we have exhausted all other options and is never pursued lightly.”

Source: Birmingham Post

The BBC program Panorama broadcast I Want My Baby Back on January 13. The BBC steps out of its usual politically correct mold to show sympathy for parents whose children have been seized without cause. It follows families compelled to move abroad to save their children. The program has become notorious for the statement by MP John Hemming at 16:30 that parents should flee Britain to protect their children. Since the video is not available to Canadians, here is a magnet link for bittorrent or a local copy (mp4).

Teen Wins Freedom From CAS

January 13, 2014 permalink

Teenager Ariel Drifus was under supervision by CAS. It was an entirely negative intervention that she wanted to end, but when the case came to court social workers and lawyers told her she could not participate. Relying on outside help, she defiantly prepared her own statement and presented it to the court. Once CAS saw that she was serious, they settled the case and closed her file. Vern Beck has released an explanatory note on the incident (in the expand block) and a redacted statement by Ariel Drifus (pdf).

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Vernon Beck

Attached is a redacted version of an actual signed statement which shows an example of how a teen can fight back against the CAS and the court system and win.

The teen in this matter was told by her lawyer and the CAS workers that she could not go to the court. The teen was told by her lawyer and the CAS workers that she could not speak to the judge. The teen was told by her lawyer and CAS workers that the judge would get angry if she came to court to try to say anything. The teen was told by her lawyer and CAS workers she was too young to submit evidence and only her children's lawyer could speak on her behalf and only then, she could not attend court to see what her children's lawyer said to the judge. The teen was told all kinds of lies to keep the truth from getting into the court about how the CAS had abused her and her family.

The teen decided to fight back and through help from outside sources submitted her own statement and showed up at the court to confront those who were lying to the court about her family. Needless to say chins dropped and CAS workers and lawyers all scattered once they saw that she was going to expose them all for their crimes. Matters were quietly settled and CAS closed the file and the statement by the girl was never seen by the judge as the lawyers and CAS did not want the judge to read it.

All parents are urged to educate and to empower their mature children to fight back. Teach them about our Charter of Rights. Teach them that they have the right to be heard and their reasonable wishes respected. This attached statement can be used as a template by other parents to empower other children who want to fight back as well.

Source: Canada Court Watch

Executive Director Needed

January 12, 2014 permalink

Child Advocacy Centre Niagara is a safe place to tell your secrets for children and youth who have been physically abused, sexually abused, become the targets of internet luring or were the witness of violence.

Opened in Fall 2008, the Centre serves Niagara’s 12 municipalities, helping children and families cope with the life altering impact of child abuse. CACN’s partners are Niagara Regional Police Service, Family and Children’s Services Niagara, Family Counselling Centre Niagara and medical professionals.

Source: Child Advocacy Centre Niagara website

The Child Advocacy Centre Niagara is looking for a new executive director. Here is the announcement (local copy, pdf). What are the requirements? With its mission of helping children, perhaps empathy with children? Skill in developing rapport while interacting with children? A keen understanding of the needs of children? None of the above. A real requirement is: Proven excellence and experience in the writing of funding and grant proposals. Others include education in business, marketing or communications, skill with Microsoft Word, and a working knowledge of employment legislation.

The real skill required is not knowledge of children, but knowledge of how to manipulate the bureaucracy to ensure the continued flow of appropriated funds.

Warning! For children contemplating divulging secrets to CACN: All social services in Ontario are required to report suspicions of child abuse to children's aid. Relying on the false promise of confidentiality could lead to the destruction of your family.

Malnourished Alberta Foster Girl Dies

January 10, 2014 permalink

A girl died in Alberta foster care on Sunday, January 5. During nearly a year in foster care, her weight dropped from 68 pounds to 37 pounds, this in spite of being prescribed Zyprexa. A side-effect of Zyprexa is weight gain. If there are further stories on this unnamed girl, fixcas will use the pseudonym Zyprexa Girl.

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Mother shares story after child dies under province’s care

The mother of an 8-year-old girl who died Sunday in the care of the province is speaking out.

The woman, who cannot be identified, said the only information she received from officials is that her daughter’s heart stopped in her sleep; 911 was called and paramedics tried to revive her.

“There was absolutely no response in her system whatsoever,” she said.

“Inside I feel very empty, and I know that answers would help fill that emptiness, and it just makes it hurt more.”

On Thursday, the woman told CTV News her daughter was in foster care for less than a year before she died; she was taken away last January, after they were evicted from their home. She said she was living with family to help with finances, and the province classified her “unstable”. Throughout the year, she said she visited her daughter and attended parenting courses.

“If she were with me, she would still be alive - that I think is the one thing I’ll never be able to let go.”

The woman said her daughter moved from a group home, to a foster home, then back to a group home where she died. She said officials put the girl on several medications to deal with aggression and hyperactivity; she was 7 at the time.

“She was also on Zyprexa, it’s a bi-polar and schizophrenic medication, which my daughter was neither.”

She said she watched her daughter’s health deteriorate; before entering the system, she said her daughter was 68 lbs. but by the time she died her weight was down to 37 lbs.

“If the system just changes enough and we affect one child, then my daughter’s death was not in vain.”

On Wednesday, the government revealed 150 children have died in their care in the last 14 years. To help improve the child intervention system, the province announced future plans for a roundtable discussions with experts.

“There is a lot we can learn from the death of children. We need to learn from them because we need to prevent as many as we can across the board," said Human Services Minister, Manmeet Bhullar.

The family of the deceased is expecting more information about the girl’s death in the coming weeks, after an autopsy is complete. A funeral for the 8-year-old is planned for Tuesday, January 14.

Source: CTV

Addendum: This is likely the same girl named in July 2014 as Nevaeh Michaud.

Defending Your Family is Crazy

January 10, 2014 permalink

A British mother fighting to get her children back was forcibly confined to a mental institution.

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The lunatics take over the asylum in 'caring’ Britain

A mother, who is considerably saner than the system that has imprisoned her, fights to be reunited with her sons

family torn apart
The child protection system has torn another family apart
Photo: ALAMY

Last week, I investigated a story as shocking in its own way as that which I broke last month about the Italian woman detained in a psychiatric hospital who, on the orders of a secret court, was then forced to undergo a caesarean section so that her baby could be sent by social workers for adoption.

One of the most terrifying weapons our “child protection” system uses against parents wishing to hold on to children who have been forcibly removed is to have them helplessly imprisoned in an asylum, certified under the Mental Health Act, where they can no longer give social workers and other “professionals” any more trouble.

When I spoke at length with one such mother, “Wendy”, who has a law degree and who has held down responsible jobs, I found her perfectly sane and rational, as had previously been confirmed by several medical professionals. After her two sons were taken from her four years ago for what seem to have been highly contentious reasons, she continued to fight for them to be returned (her slightly autistic 15-year-old pleads to come back to her, and for two years she successfully nursed her younger boy through a rare form of bone cancer).

But when, last year, to aid her fight, she repeatedly applied under the Freedom of Information Act to see her medical records and the notes of the social workers, she mysteriously ran into opposition. On December 2, while out shopping, she stopped her car for a cigarette. An ambulance drew up, she was bundled into it and taken to the psychiatric wing of Calderdale Royal Hospital, in Halifax, where psychiatrists and doctors assessed her as insane under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act.

A week later, the psychiatrist in charge of her case told her that her home had been burgled. She was allowed home, under escort, to discover that her house had been ransacked. Nothing was missing apart from papers relating to her case, photographs of her children, reading glasses and £300 in cash. But the same psychiatrist then accused her of having done this herself, even though she was all the time detained in hospital.

He told her that she was “psychotic” and had an “addiction to cannabis”, which she had indeed occasionally taken for medical reasons, with the knowledge of her GP, to ease her painful arthritis. On the orders of the same psychiatrist, she was then pinned down by five nurses who, over her protests, forcibly injected her with a drug they refused to identify. She later learnt that it was Flupentixol, used to treat psychosis and to ease depression (the staff refuse to give her any medication for her genuine ailments, including arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome).

These forced injections have been repeated, leaving her knocked out and disorientated for days. Although she had no further “assessments”, she was told after Christmas that she had now been certified under Section 3 of the Act, allowing them to hold her indefinitely. She was also, however, given a form to appeal before a tribunal, and told she could name a solicitor to represent her.

“Wendy’s” case has now been taken up by the campaigning group Parents Against Injustice (Pain), which says it has come across many cases in which the Mental Health Act is similarly used against parents fighting to regain their children. Often, such mothers are branded as “psychotic” victims of “Munchausen syndrome by proxy”, with allegations that they have fabricated their children’s illnesses. Although this theory, associated with Roy Meadow, was comprehensively discredited years ago, it has since been smuggled back in under different names, such as Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII). Social workers have accused “Wendy” of imagining her son’s autism, although it was officially diagnosed by NHS doctors in 2003.

So this intelligent mother, who has never harmed anyone and is cruelly mocked by the nurses, who again forcibly injected her on Friday, is being held indefinitely, at the mercy of a psychiatrist who has not examined her again since she was admitted. She has no one outside the system to appeal to until she appears before that tribunal, where she may not even be allowed to speak on her own behalf, to show that she is considerably saner than the system that has imprisoned her. We are familiar with that playful phrase about “the lunatics taking over the asylum”. But in the Britain of 2014, it seems, that is no longer a joke.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Standby Social Worker Drunk

January 9, 2014 permalink

Your social worker is on call 24/7. (But she may be drunk!)

Oregon police arrested standby social worker Alysse Renee Carlson for drunk driving while responding to an abuse report.

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Hillsboro police say Department of Human Services on-call caseworker arrested on DUII while responding to call

Alysse Renee Carlson
Alysse Renee Carlson
WCSO

Hillsboro police say they arrested a state Department of Human Services on-call caseworker on a drunken driving accusation while the woman reportedly was responding to an abuse incident to help Hillsboro officers on New Year’s Eve.

Alysse Renee Carlson, 26, of Beaverton, was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence of intoxicants, said Lt. Mike Rouches, a Hillsboro police spokesman. A breath test at the Washington County Jail showed Carlson’s blood-alcohol level was .25 percent, which is more than three times the legal limit, Rouches said.

Carlson, Rouches said, told police she was an on-call Department of Human Services caseworker. Police reportedly notified Carlson’s supervisor of her arrest. A spokesman for the Department of Human Services could not be reached for comment Thursday, Jan. 2.

About 10:45 p.m. on Dec. 31, police received a call reporting a possible impaired driver on Southeast Baseline Street and Northeast 53rd Avenue. The caller reported that a silver Kia sedan was driving all over the roadway.

The vehicle turned north on 53rd Avenue, Rouches said, and then onto Northeast Elam Young Parkway, where it turned into the parking lot of the Department of Human Services Hillsboro office.

Police, Rouches said, stopped the vehicle in the parking lot. While talking with officers, the driver, identified as Carlson, smelled like alcohol and failed field sobriety tests, Rouches said. She reportedly was driving her personal vehicle.

She told police, according to Rouches, she had consumed two glasses of wine.

Rouches said Carlson told police she drank the wine at a friend’s house. She reportedly did not have a driver’s license with her.

Carlson told police she was an on-call caseworker and was responding to a Hillsboro police abuse case involving a child at a Portland hospital. She showed police her pager, which indicated she was called at 9:07 p.m., Rouches said. She reportedly was arrested about 11:05 p.m.

Police took Carlson into custody and booked her into the Washington County Jail.

Source: Oregonian

drunk woman

741 Dead Children in Alberta

January 9, 2014 permalink

Alberta was rocked by the revelation that 145 children died in foster care in the period 1999 to 2013. Now the Alberta government is beginning its counterattack. It seems that 741 children died under social services watch in the same period. That expanded number includes an upgraded 149 in foster care and 592 NOT in foster care. Alberta is trying to make it look like the problem is not enough kids in foster homes.

Alberta's new Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar has appointed a five member implementation team to look into the problems of foster care. The team members are:

  • Dr. Lionel Dibden — a highly respected Edmonton pediatrician and chair of Alberta’s quality assurance council;
  • McGill University social work professor Nico Trocme;
  • Calgary deputy police chief Trevor Daroux;
  • Tim Richter, president and CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
  • A judge not yet named

Fixcas knows nothing of most of the members, but Nico Trocmé has appeared in these columns before. [1] [2]. He has long been a booster of the child protection system and can be counted on to suggest expanding the role of social services in family life.

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Alberta reveals hundreds more children died while receiving provincial care

Roundtable to review deaths in foster care

Manmeet Bhullar
Newly appointed Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar said Wednesday the roundtable will be held in Edmonton Jan. 28 and 29, and that the government has sent out invitations to several hundred people and a handful of key organizations.
Photograph by: Christina Ryan, file , Postmedia News

EDMONTON - The Alberta government admitted for the first time Wednesday that 741 children and teens who were known to child welfare authorities have died since 1999.

Newly appointed Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar pledged to lift the veil of secrecy that has for decades protected Alberta’s child welfare system from meaningful public scrutiny.

“This is a first step. I wanted to do it, get it out, get it open, and commit to a level of transparency we have not seen before, and then focus on every single child that we can do something better for,” Bhullar said.

“We need this data to be public. We need data so we can address emerging issues and trends. We need data so that various government departments and agencies can come together and ensure that we’re doing the best thing possible for the most vulnerable.”

The releasecomes six weeks after the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald published a joint investigation that revealed 145 children died in care between January 1999 and June 2013.

The province on Wednesday released the total number of child welfare deaths between January 1999 and September 2013, including children who died in care (149), those who were receiving services at home with their families (84), children who were subject to a safety investigation when they died (41), young people who died after graduating from the system (50) and kids whose child welfare files were closed at the time of death (291).

The province also revealed that 60 children died during investigations that were started after they were injured in parental care, and 66 children died without ever having come to the attention of the minister — even though their siblings or parents were already involved with child welfare authorities.

Until Wednesday, the only information the Alberta government published about child welfare deaths was one or two paragraphs buried in each annual report. Between 1999 and 2013, those reports showed a total of 56 deaths.

Bhullar said the province has invited hundreds of organizations and individuals to take part in a two-day roundtable in Edmonton on Jan. 28 and 29. The event will consider ways to increase transparency, improve the child-death review system and make information about deaths public without compromising privacy rights. It will be live-streamed online.

The Journal-Herald investigation revealed that Alberta’s child-death review system is rife with duplication and shrouded in secrecy; on Wednesday, Bhullar pledged to overhaul that system even if doing so means rewriting Alberta laws.

His goal, he said, is “to ensure that we develop the strongest most robust review in Canada, and use the best practices available.”

Bhullar said he will co-chair the committee of Canadian Ministers Responsible for Social Services and will urge other provinces to release similar data and to create a national child-death review system.

“I think it is important that the scope of this roundtable include the death of every child in Alberta, not just those in the child intervention system,” he said. “We need to learn from them, because we need to prevent as many as we can, across the board — not just with children who are in care.”

Bhullar also promised to review a publication ban that prohibits families from speaking publicly about a child who has died in care, and bars news organizations from publishing names and photographs of those children.

“I must stress, I’m not a fan of the way the law sits today,” Bhullar said.

The Journal-Herald investigation also revealed that dozens of fatality inquiries and internal Special Case Reviews have resulted in hundreds of recommendations, none of which have been tracked or monitored for implementation.

Acknowledging this, Bhullar said: “We don’t need more reviews, we need to accelerate action on recommendations that have been identified without losing sight of what is most important.”

He has appointed five people to sit on an “implementation team” that will review all of the recommendations and create a priority list: Dr. Lionel Dibden — a highly respected Edmonton pediatrician and chair of Alberta’s quality assurance council; McGill University social work professor Nico Trocme; Calgary deputy police chief Trevor Daroux; and Tim Richter, president and CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

Bhullar is awaiting confirmation from the fifth member, a judge.

In an interview with the Journal, Bhullar also committed to posting all of the recommendations online so the public can see what steps have been taken to implement them.

Source: Edmonton Journal

MUSH

January 3, 2014 permalink

In his year-end report Ontario's ombudsman André Marin notes that there has been legislative progress in expanding his mandate over the MUSH sector, but so far there has been no change.

8. Spotlight on MUSH sector

Extending the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction to the MUSH sector (Municipalities, Universities, School boards, Hospitals and long-term care homes, children’s aid societies and police) was a hot topic during budget negotiations in early 2013, the subject of a record number of petitions in the legislature, and at the heart of private member’s Bill 42 (focused on CAS oversight, it went to second reading and remains at the committee phase). The issue was also raised in several news stories involving abuse of children and the elderly. But by year’s end, there was no change – even as New Brunswick announced it was extending its ombudsman’s mandate to include long-term care – leaving Ontario dead last in Canada in terms of ombudsman oversight of this sector.

Source: Ontario Ombudsman

Forced Abortion

January 2, 2014 permalink

Sex-offender Edward Clinton Lee and his partner became the foster parents of a teenaged girl in Texas. The partner was the legal grandmother of the girl, but not a biological relative. When the girl became pregnant by her teen boyfriend, the foster parents pressured her to get an abortion. An anti-abortion group intervened on her behalf through a legal action. In a private meeting she told judge Terry Flenniken that Lee made sexual advances toward her, but the judge made her stay with the same foster family. There she was compelled to get the abortion. Later Lee killed the grandmother and raped the teen girl.

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Court tosses lawsuit against retired district judge

A Burleson County court dismissed a lawsuit filed by an anti-abortion group against a retired district judge Monday.

In October, the Texas Center for Defense of Life sued state District Judge Terry Flenniken, claiming he knowingly placed a teenage girl with her grandmother, who was her legal guardian but not her biological relative, even though she was living with Edward Clinton Lee, a convicted sex offender later sentenced to life in prison for murdering the grandmother and sexually assaulting the teen.

In an earlier lawsuit, the anti-abortion group claimed that the grandmother and Lee had pressured the girl into getting an abortion.

Citing the principles of judicial immunity, presiding Judge Carson T. Campbell on Monday dismissed the case, saying "there is no good-faith basis" for the claims against Flenniken, who retired in December 2012.

Judicial immunity protects judges from lawsuits based on their actions on the bench.

"It is unfortunate that as judges we often find ourselves the target of false and scurrilous attacks, but that is just part of the job serving as a judge," Flenniken said in a statement. "In spite of this unpleasantness, I look forward to continued service as a senior district judge,"

Flenniken's lawyer, Mike McKetta, praised the decision, calling Flenniken "as fine a judge as there is."

"If we had allowed people to sue judges when they're unhappy with a decision, then half of our lawsuits would be against judges," McKetta said.

Stephen Casey, chief counsel for the Texas Center for Defense of Life, called the decision a "tragedy," noting that the judge's decision wasn't in question. It was his inaction when the teen allegedly told him about abuse at home during a private meeting in February 2012, Casey said.

"The courts failed to make a distinction between a judge's decision on the bench and an outcry, a plea for help from a teenage girl being abused, to a licensed attorney," Casey said.

Flenniken was the presiding judge in the 21st District Court, which includes Burleson and Washington counties, that February when the 15-year-old girl, pregnant by her teenage boyfriend, claimed Lee and her grandmother were pressuring her into getting an abortion.

The teen had the abortion in Austin after Flenniken ordered her to continue living with her grandmother, Casey said.

During that case, Flenniken had a private meeting with the teen during which the girl reportedly told the judge of Lee's sexual advances, Casey said.

According to McKetta, the girl did not tell Flenniken of about any threats posed by Lee during their meeting, nor did the judge see evidence of immediate danger to the child presented in court.

In June 2012, Lee shot and killed the grandmother and sexually assaulted the teen.

While the lawsuit against Flenniken has been dismissed, legal action is still pending against the girl's former English teacher and two school administrators, who, the lawsuit alleges, did not report suspected abuse of the girl to authorities.

Source: The Eagle, Bryan Texas

Birth Announcements Banned

January 2, 2014 permalink

The Wisconsin State Journal will stop printing birth announcements. Reason: They may facilitate abduction of children by strangers.

Some facts from the article:

  • Four cases [of baby abduction], from 1989 to 1993, were linked by law enforcement to birth announcements.

    That is one baby a year. Too low to notice in a country with four million births a year.

  • At least 290 babies have been abducted in the U.S. since 1983, including 132 at health care facilities.

    Lets see, 290 babies in 30 years abducted by strangers. In the same period, US child protectors grabbed about five million children, a substantial portion newborns from maternity wards. The likelihood of losing a baby to CPS is at least a thousand times larger than having a stranger abduct your baby. If there is any value at all in suppressing announcements, it is to make it harder for CPS to snatch newborns.

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State Journal birth notices to end because of hospitals' new policy

birth announcements
For years, the Wisconsin State Journal has carried free birth announcements by parents who consent to have the information published. Madison's two birthing hospitals say they will end the practice starting Thursday.

The State Journal will stop publishing birth announcements later this week because Madison’s two birthing hospitals will no longer provide the information to the newspaper.

The end of the traditional keepsake for parents and notice to the community stems from a growing concern about infant abductions, hospital officials say.

Birth listings “set people up as targets for somebody who might want to steal a baby,” said Kathy Kostrivas, Meriter Hospital’s assistant vice president for women’s health services.

“It’s an effort to improve safety and security for families,” said Kim Sveum, spokeswoman for St. Mary’s Hospital.

State Journal city editor Phil Brinkman said the paper can’t print the notices unless it gets the information from a hospital or other trusted source.

“Like obituaries, the potential for mischief is too great when it comes to taking this information directly from individuals over the phone or by email, which is why we rely on hospitals to provide it on the parents’ behalf,” Brinkman said.

“I understand the hospitals’ concern for the safety of their patients and their families,” he said. “But we have only published birth announcements from parents who have consented to share their news with their friends, neighbors and co-workers.”

The hospitals said they will stop providing information on babies born after Wednesday.

Kostrivas and Sveum said at least two groups have long recommended that hospitals not share the information.

A 1999 alert to hospitals by the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals, discussed eight infant abductions in hospitals.

“Discontinue publication of birth notices in local newspapers,” the alert said.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tells parents to consider the risk of birth notices.

“In general, birth announcements in newspapers are not endorsed by most experts,” says a guide by the center, called, “What Parents Should Know.”

At least 290 babies have been abducted in the U.S. since 1983, including 132 at health care facilities, according to the center. Four cases, from 1989 to 1993, were linked by law enforcement to birth announcements, the center says.

“Our world is so different now than it was 25 to 30 years ago,” said Cathy Nahirny, the center’s senior analyst for infant abduction cases. Abductors “are using every means available to them to select a possible victim infant,” she said.

One reason some hospitals are no longer providing birth information is a fear of lawsuits, Nahirny said.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association don’t track how many hospitals provide the information and how many don’t, spokeswomen said.

The State Journal’s free birth announcements included the date, hospital name, parents’ full names and whether the baby was a son or a daughter. The announcements did not list the parents’ hometown.

Sveum said St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo, which like St. Mary’s is owned by SSM Health Care of Wisconsin, is evaluating whether to continue providing birth information to the Baraboo News Republic and the Wisconsin Dells Events.

St. Mary’s Janesville, which is also owned by SSM and opened two years ago, hasn’t given birth information to newspapers.

Kostrivas said hospitals also discourage parents from posting birth news on social media.

Jade Lewis mostly followed that advice after her daughter, Kaia, was born at St. Mary’s in August. She posted three photos on Facebook, but not until two months after the birth.

Lewis, of Madison, said she’s disappointed newspaper birth announcements are going away.

She clipped Kaia’s State Journal notice for her scrapbook, and friends of her husband’s parents called with congratulations, saying they learned about the birth in the newspaper.

“It was a nice little celebratory blurb that made you smile,” she said.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal

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