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Kody Smart R.I.P.

July 26, 2015 permalink

Kody Smart passed away today at age thirteen months. Death was declared by McMaster Children's Hospital on July 26 at 5:51 pm. Kody was the grandson of Chris York.

For years Chris York has actively opposed Niagara CAS, both to protect his own family from child removal and to help others similarly threatened. A few times he humiliated CAS with victories in court cases. Chris appears over a dozen times in the fixcas index. He was recorded (mp4) at a Queens Park rally on May 17, 2010. Some of the other links to Chris York: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7].

According to Chris the boy had a crushed skull, with brain injuries that overwhelmed the medical team. The damage is not what can be inflicted by a dog attack. Chris reported today that CAS responded to his pleas and removed the other grandchild from the home, but it remains with close relatives of the same grandparent.

Chris commented yesterday:

Chris York

Currently sitting at McMaster hospital. Grandson was airlifted due to head injury. Child is in intensive care as a result and status is critical. Child is 13 months old and this happens in the home of the kinship provider. The home where he is at the one specific kinship provider has a history of child abuse against his own child and badly beat his own child when the child was 6 months of age. FACS Niagara is aware of this yet placed 2 children in their care regardless. These same people are currently in the room with the grandchild in the intensive care unit and CAS does not see any reason to remove any children from their career this time. They are claiming the dog knocked the child over and he hit his head. The child is unresponsive to tests at this time. If this was any other parent CAS would remove the children (all of them) first and ask questions later. Looks like they are going into cover up and protect mode. Lawyer is being notified at this time. Will update when and if I can. FACS NIAGARA PAY CLOSE ATTENTION I'M COMING AFTER YOU WITH MY LAWYERS... YOU WILL PAY FOR NOT LISTENING AND ALL YOUR LIES IN COURT SO FAR.

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

Chris posted this musical tribute to YouTube, local copy (mp4).

According to Chris CAS placed two children in the home of a grandparent with a known history of child abuse. Fixcas has followed enough of these cases to report in advance what will happen. If there is no press, CAS will quietly bury its mistake. But in case of an uproar the hapless grandparent will be charged with a crime. The social worker will get off scot free, and can look forward to regular promotions. No policy manual says this, and no social worker has ever stated it. But actions speak louder than words. Displease a social worker and a member of your family could die.

Addendum: Friends held a vigil outside McMaster Children's Hospital on the evening of Kody's passing. Pat Hudak posted pictures: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

Addendum: Tuesday, July 28. Chris has been in contact with Ontario's Provincial Child Advocate Irwin Elman. Elman, who read about the death on fixcas, intervened to get FACS Niagara to take the surviving grandchild from kinship care and into foster care. He also got FACS to agree to assume all of Kody's funeral costs. Elman plans to attend the funeral. FACS refuses to let Chris and his wife see the surviving girl. One of their reasons for denying contact is x-rays showing the girl has broken bones. The kinship grandfather has obtained legal counsel and is saying nothing about the matter.

Addendum: Three days later the press gets to the story, though without the children's aid and foster care connections. The story clarifies that Chris York is the stepgrandfather, Kody was descended from Chris's wife.



'What I want is justice for Kody'

Kody Smart
Kody Smart

Brett Smart will never forget his 13-month-old son Kody’s final moments.

“The worst part was when they decided to take him off life support, and I felt his last heartbeat with my own hand,” said Smart. “What I want is justice for Kody. I want the person who did this to Kody to face justice.”

Kody Smart died at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton Sunday. Niagara EMS and police responded to a home on Thorold Townline Rd. at 10:30 a.m. Saturday after a 9-1-1 call reported a child in medical distress.

Kody was at another person's home at the time.

Niagara EMS took Kody to the St. Catharines Hospital and transferred to Hamilton the same day.

“In the hospital, they went to weigh Kody and I had to leave the room,” Brett said. “He was just limp. His arms and legs just dropped down.

“When you have a kid, you expect them to be putting you in the ground. Now it is the complete opposite.”

Niagara Regional Police are tight-lipped about their investigation, which Const. Phil Gavin said is ongoing in conjunction with the coroner.

“From what I understand, the officers from the homicide department are working overtime on this,” Smart said. “They want to get to the bottom of this.”

Chris York, Brett’s stepfather, said the family is in the process of making funeral arrangements, but even that is difficult.

“We are still waiting because they haven’t released the remains yet,” York said. “The tentative date of the funeral was supposed to be Friday, but we found out they likely aren’t going to release the remains until then, so it would be next week sometime.”

Source: St Catharines Standard

Addendum: In two articles the Toronto Star mentions the CAS connection, while omitting the name of the child or accused grandfather. Father Brett Smart warned CAS that Kody could die from placement with his grandfather previously convicted of abuse. There is no hint of malice on the part of the social worker.



Baby dies in custody of man with history of abuse

The death of a 13-month-old baby is being investigated by Niagara Regional police and the coroner’s office.

Niagara Regional Police and the Chief Coroner’s Office are investigating the death of a 13-month-old baby who was in the custody of a man previously convicted of abusing a baby.

The local children’s aid society was aware of the man’s criminal record when it approved the custody arrangement in May, a court document shows.

The baby boy was airlifted to McMaster Children’s Hospital with a head injury on Saturday and died in hospital on Sunday, according to the document.

An affidavit filed with the Ontario Court of Justice by the Children’s Aid Society of the Niagara Region said the society was aware the baby’s paternal grandfather had been convicted of assaulting his son, the baby’s father, two decades earlier, when he was just 6 months old.

The affidavit, filed Wednesday, concerns a second grandchild that was previously in the grandfather’s custody. It notes that the man “has a serious child protection history dating back to 1995 which relates to events when he was approximately 18 years old.” The grandfather, now in his mid-30s, “was convicted of physically abusing (his son) when he was six months of age.”

The Star is not publishing any names from the court document to protect the living child.

The affidavit mentions that the grandfather’s “criminal history included several charges” between 1992 and 1999 and that he had been investigated by the society for drug use and verbal abuse of a previous partner. Those allegations were not verified, according to the affidavit.

In the document, the society explains that the second grandchild, a 19-month-old girl, was placed in the care of the grandfather, and his spouse shortly after she was born because he “was open and honest about his criminal history and was willing to complete the necessary documents in order for the society to complete the assessment.”

That child had “unexplained injuries” when she was examined last weekend at the children’s hospital, the document said.

According to the affidavit, the grandfather told police that the baby boy who died Sunday was knocked over by the family’s 2-year-old Labrador, dog and hit his head on the hardwood floor. The grandfather said the baby seemed fine and then went “limp and was making gagging noises.”

“As a father, you want to protect your child,” the baby’s distraught father, 20, told the Star. “You don’t expect to put your child in a casket.”

A Niagara children’s aid official said he was not able to discuss the case due to legal and privacy concerns.

However executive director Chris Steven said the case was troubling.

“The death of a child under any circumstances like that is a tragedy and a loss we’re all concerned about,” he said in a telephone interview Wednesday night.

He said “it certainly is not our general practice” and “it would be unusual” to place a child in the care of people convicted of child abuse.

“As for potential care-givers, those histories are checked by staff,” he said. “All of that information is shared, along with any plans or concerns in a court form prior to an order being made for the placement of that child.”

Irwin Elman, Ontario’s advocate for children and youth, has offered his support to the deceased baby’s father.

“We are doing our best within the limits of our current mandate to understand what happened. To say that what I have heard so far is troubling is a colossal understatement,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “We await the results of the police investigation. Our hearts and thoughts are with those who loved the little boy.”

Source: Toronto Star

Dad of Niagara baby who died begged that boy not be placed with grandfather

Young father of dead baby warned children's aid not to place his boy with grandfather convicted of child abuse.

The father whose 13-month-old baby died last weekend while in the care of a convicted child abuser, said he pleaded with children’s aid not to place his son with his grandfather.

“On the morning of the apprehension… I said flat-out: ‘If you place him with my dad, you’re most likely going to kill my son’,” the 20-year-old father said about the day his baby was taken away. “I know that man, and he was violent with me my entire life.”

As reported in the Star Thursday, a court document shows the Niagara children’s aid society knew the grandfather had physically abused his own infant son in 1995. (The grandfather was just a teenager at the time and is now in his mid-30s, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday by Niagara children’s aid in the Ontario Court of Justice.)

In May, Niagara children’s aid placed the baby in the care of the grandfather and his wife.

The baby was rushed to hospital with head injuries last Saturday and died Sunday.

Niagara Regional Police and the coroner are investigating.

The affidavit concerns a second grandchild, a 19-month-old girl with “unexplained historical injuries” previously in the grandfather’s care.

The Star is not publishing any names to protect the living child.

The bereaved young father told the Star his own injuries at the hands of his father 20 years ago, when he was an infant, put him in hospital for three weeks.

“It was extremely touch and go. For the first week, the doctors didn’t know if I was going to live because I had severe head trauma as well,” he said.

Although he never lived with his father again for any significant time, he lived with his paternal grandfather and his wife for about eight years and continued to see his father.

“I got hit with a belt, a shovel,” he said. “I thought it was just discipline.”

Efforts to reach the grandfather Thursday were unsuccessful.

According to the affidavit, the grandfather told police that the baby boy who died Sunday was knocked over by the family’s 2-year-old Labrador, dog and hit his head on the hardwood floor. The grandfather said the baby seemed fine and then went “limp and was making gagging noises.”

In the document, children’s aid explains that the second grandchild was placed in the grandfather’s care in March 2014, shortly after she was born, because he “was open and honest about his criminal history and was willing to complete the necessary documents in order for the society to complete the assessment.”

The baby’s death raises fresh questions in light of the Jeffrey Baldwin case.

The 5-year-old boy died of starvation in 2002 while in the care of his maternal grandparents who were later found to have been convicted of abusing their own children.

At the time of Jeffrey’s death, children’s aid workers had not been required to do background checks when they placed children with other family members. Since 2006, all potential caregivers, including extended family members and kin, are required to undergo extensive background checks for any previous criminal or child protection concerns.

But as the Niagara case shows, children’s aid workers continue to place children in the care of people with child abuse convictions, said NDP Children’s critic Monique Taylor.

“The fact that this child was placed in the custody of a known offender raises serious questions about oversight,” she said Thursday. “We urge the government to fully examine how such a terrible tragedy was allowed to occur and to take steps to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again in Ontario.”

Chris Steven, executive director of Family and Children’s Services Niagara, which includes children’s aid in the area, was not able to comment on the case due to legal and privacy concerns.

However, he said such placements are “not our general practice” and are “unusual.”

The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, which represents the province’s 46 societies, said circumstances have changed since the Baldwin case.

Although background checks are now required for all placements, there is also a new emphasis on keeping families together.

“There is a desire to maintain family bonds whenever possible,” said the association spokesperson Caroline Newton.

“That may have been a factor in trying to weigh risk and the best interest of the child,” added Newton, who said she did not know the details of the Niagara case.

Ontario Children’s Minister Tracy MacCharles expressed shock and sadness about the boy’s death.

“My heart goes out to the family and those touched by these devastating events,” she said in a statement. “Whenever a child dies, we have a responsibility to learn from what happened and take all necessary steps to prevent similar tragedies in the future.”

Source: Toronto Star

The funeral will be on Tuesday, August 4. Link for obituary and announcement. It is open to the public.

License to Kill

Foster Sex Change

July 4, 2015 permalink

When a foster girl wanted to become a boy, Durham CAS turned her into Brandon Fiedler.



Durham Children’s Aid Society using anti-oppressive practice

New approach to child welfare to be more inclusive of diversity of local families

Brandon Fiedler
Brandon Fiedler OSHAWA -- Brandon Fiedler was born a female but is now legally a male. He is the first person in the care of Durham Children's Aid Society to have his gender and name legally changed. June 3, 2015
Jason Liebregts / Metroland

DURHAM -- Brandon Fiedler was born a girl but never felt right wearing dresses or pigtails.

As a result, Brandon started lashing out at a young age.

“Since I was in like Grade 2, I really started dressing like a male. I got my hair cut. I was just always into the guy things. I played hockey and soccer for a bit,” he said. “I thought it was impossible to truly be myself because I never heard the term transgender.”

When Brandon was in Grade 7 or 8, the Durham Children’s Aid Society started to get involved in his life, and went to his school an a number of occasions because of his behaviour problems. He eventually started living in group homes.

Since then, he’s grown leaps and bounds. He is the first youth to have his name and gender legally changed while in CAS care.

“It’s changed my life. I’m actually me now,” he said.

Mr. Fiedler was at the public launch of the Durham CAS Anti-Oppressive Practice on June 2.

Challenging the impacts of power and privilege, eliminating barriers for individuals and families, and ensuring that services are inclusive of the broad range of diversity in Durham Region, are the fundamental principles behind AOP.

Community members heard stories from former CAS youth who have experienced oppression in their lives, and witnessed the unveiling of the new “Living Wall” -- an artistic expression of anti-oppression.

Durham CAS executive director Wanda Secord said the adoption of AOP principles is changing the way CAS engages with families. She said CAS must understand how the child welfare system impacts families, particularly marginalized individuals, and minoritized communities.

“It is important that those children, youth and families who are most impacted by child welfare have the opportunity to influence or change the system so that the power imbalance is corrected across the board for everyone,” she said.

She said expanding partnerships with more diverse organizations and doing everything possible to keep children in their own communities are some of the ways to improve outcomes.

“The idea is to reach out to groups that we don’t know a lot about and who may not know a lot about the Children’s Aid Society, as well to build an understanding and awareness of one another,” said Ms. Secord in an interview.

Mr. Fiedler said he’s happy about the AOP, but has seen his share of ups and downs in the organization. At one point, he lived in 11 homes in one year.

However, his life changed for the better when from 2011 to 2013, he lived at Iris House in Oshawa.

“It was more like an independent house and the staff actually cared about the kids there,” he said. “Whenever I was down, they were there for me.”

He’s now out of CAS care, and maintains a good relationship with his own family.

Because of some of the challenges he’s experienced with CAS, and because some of the others he grew up with haven’t had the successful outcome he has, he is skeptical of the new approach.

“I think it’s really good that they’re trying to start it,” he said. “I’m afraid they’re just doing this and they’re going to want to give up on it again. They’ve said before they’re going to change many things.”

Ms. Secord said the organization has taken a number of steps, starting with hiring an internal anti-oppressive expert, and has developed a comprehensive infrastructure within staff based on committee and program development.

She said CAS is educating and increasing awareness of all of its staff and supervisors within the organization about what the issues are and how it can improve the practice.

“It is going to take commitment absolutely, commit and people just continuing to learn and reach out to communities and learn what else is out there to help families,” she said. “We can’t just take a cookie-cutter approach to child welfare.”

Mr. Fiedler is going to remain hopeful.

“Hopefully this is the start to something new,” he said.

Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, an internationally recognized AOP expert and advocate, spoke at the launch after Mr. Fiedler and another CAS youth, who has overcome racism in the community. Dr. Bernard said she had mixed emotions -- saddened by what they went through, but pleased with their progress.

“But still they rise, still they keep going,” she said.

A social worker for 40 years, Dr. Bernard says she’s been praying for this sort of institutional change her entire career.

“You’re one of the few in Canada that has this specific, bold statement,” she said of the approach, which CAS has been working on for about three years.

Source: Metroland/Durham Region

sex change

Family Lawyer Bombed

July 4, 2015 permalink

Winnipeg family lawyer Maria Mitousis has been injured by a bomb blast.



Bomb blast injures lawyer

Package with explosives sent to firm in a targeted attack: police

A Winnipeg lawyer was seriously injured when she opened a package that was rigged with an explosive device -- a crime police said was a targeted attack.

Maria Mitousis, 38, was in critical condition following Friday morning's bombing inside the Petersen King law office at 252 River Ave. Witnesses described seeing her rushed out of the building, covered in blood, and taken to hospital.

Maria Mitousis
Maria Mitousis, a lawyer with the Petersen King law office, sustained injuries to her neck and stomach when an explosive device detonated at her office.

"It's not good," her common-law partner, lawyer Barry Gorlick, told the Free Press in a brief phone call before she went into surgery for extensive wounds to her upper body, including her throat and stomach.

The Canadian Press reported Mitousis had lost a hand and was in danger of losing her other hand.

"It's very serious. I've been a cop for nearly 30 years; we don't see a lot of bombings in our city. It's a very unusual event, a very tragic event," Supt. Danny Smyth said.

"It's being investigated as a specific crime at this point. We don't consider this to be a general threat to the public or any other businesses at this time. We have no reason to believe this is an attack on the justice system," he said.

Police provided few details about the explosive device or whether it was mailed or dropped off.

"However it came into her possession, it was triggered inadvertently by the woman," Const. Eric Hofley said.

Several colleagues of Mitousis told the Free Press there were just a couple of lawyers in the building at the time of the blast.

"We don't know if she was the specific target," Smyth said Friday.

Smyth acknowledged the relationship between Mitousis and Gorlick, but refused to connect the bombing to Gorlick, a veteran lawyer who was disbarred this week after admitting to 15 counts of professional misconduct.

The Free Press reported on Gorlick's case in an edition that was published hours before the explosion, detailing how he admitted to a string of offences, including misappropriating huge sums from several clients and botching cases.

Justice sources said there's no doubt Gorlick has made enemies, but he never worked at the law firm where the explosion occurred.

The first report of an explosion came in at around 10:15 a.m., and an officer who was nearby was the first on the scene.

The bombing triggered tumult in the surrounding neighbourhood and downtown and rattled members of the tight-knit legal community.

Residents near the law office were told to stay inside as police searched the area, and the nearby Midtown Bridge was shut down for about five hours.

Workers at the Monk Goodwin law office on the eighth floor at 444 St. Mary Ave. downtown left their building and called police, who blocked off the area for several hours as members of the bomb unit looked for explosives. Mitousis had worked at that firm until last fall.

Police said they found no suspicious packages in the Monk Goodwin law office.

The Law Society of Manitoba sent a notice to lawyers, warning them to "exercise caution when dealing with mail and deliveries." It cited the package that exploded, along with a "suspicious envelope" that was sent to another firm earlier this week.

But police reiterated they didn't believe the bombing to be a threat to the legal community or the public.

"We're treating this right now as a very specific crime, until we learn otherwise," Smyth said.

Hours later, the bomb squad was called in to probe a third incident.

Around 6 p.m., police barricaded a section of Broadway and Hargrave Street as the bomb squad searched another building. Details were not immediately available Friday night.

Kris Dangerfield, CEO of the Law Society of Manitoba called the bombing "highly unusual."

She said there are few reasons a law firm would close temporarily for reasons beyond its control.

"While my immediate concern would be the health and safety of the staff, there is an obligation on lawyers to care for a client's property as a careful and prudent lawyer would.

"In this instance, that would be addressed by ensuring that the premises remain secure during the investigation."

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

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