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May 8, 2015 permalink
British MP John Hemming (Liberal Democrat) was defeated in yesterday's election by Labour candidate Jess Phillips. Mr Hemming has been a critic of his country's child protection system, appearing in these columns dozens of times over the past seven years.
A Kidnap a Day
Keeps the Ancestor Away
May 7, 2015 permalink
Manitoba is seizing babies from the delivery room at the rate of one a day. The Manitoba Liberal Party found the facts through freedom of information. Two percent of Manitoba babies are grabbed at birth.
Newborn baby taken into CFS care every day: FIPPA
On average, at least one of Manitoba’s youngest babies is taken away from its parents and placed in Child and Family Services’ care each day.
And that rate has been relatively steady in each of the last nine fiscal years.
The province is on track to see 358 newborns less than one month old taken during the 2014/15 fiscal year, based on the first 11 months of that period, according to the results of a Manitoba Liberal Party freedom of information request.
A total of 388 of these newborns were seized from their families in 2013/14.
“That’s (around) 2% of all infants in the province being torn from their mother before they have a chance to bond,” River Heights MLA Jon Gerrard said Tuesday.
Gerrard pressed the province to invest more in prental and postnatal programs to prevent young infants from being apprehended.
“Attachment is really improtant, breastfeeding is really important, not just short-term, but for long-term health,” said Gerrard. “If we want to essentially break the cycle of kids in care having their kids in turn taken away, we need to be supporting families, women who are at risk, intensively.”
The former Liberal leader said success has already occurred in intensive intervention programs at Mount Carmel Clinic in Winnipeg, where half the high-risk moms assisted were able to keep their babies. Gerrard called on the province to take such initiatives province-wide.
Child and Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said the province is interested in expanding its successes, since such programs are believed to have kept many kids out of provincial care.
“We are constantly looking for innovation to support those families,” said Irvin-Ross. “We truly are interested in finding that balance of protecting children and also keeping them home in their families and communities.”
The minister noted a Family First program currently identifies vulnerable families at the birth of a child, pairing them with support visitors who return until the child reaches kindergarten age.
She stressed young babies are taken into foster care for their own protection, which unfortunately may occur often.
“These numbers cause us to stop and reflect ... We want to continue to reunify the baby with the family, if that’s possible,” said Irvin-Ross.
But Gerrard said these efforts aren’t chipping away at the problem fast enough, since the number of apprehensions remains relatively stable over most of the past decade.
“If all the programs mentioned were effective, then we would have seen a reduction,” he said.
Babies taken from parents by child and family services at less than one month of age:
2014-15: 358 *prorated based on 11 months of data
Source: Winnipeg Sun
Social Worker's Carnal Love
May 6, 2015 permalink
Dexter Carl Pleasure, a long-time California social worker, engaged in oral copulation with his wards.
RANCHO CUCAMONGA: Molestation suspect is social worker, church worship leader
A social worker who also works at an unidentified San Bernardino church was arrested on suspicion of molesting a child over a period of several years, sheriff's officials said.
Dexter Carl Pleasure, 51, was arrested at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 28, at his home in the 10700 block of Church Street in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County sheriff's officials said in a news release.
"Detectives are concerned there may be additional victims due to Pleasure’s access to young children over the past twenty years," the release said.
A "mandated reporter" -- somebody required by law to report signs of abuse -- called authorities on Monday to report a possible case of sexual abuse against a child younger than 10, San Bernardino County sheriff's officials wrote in a news release.
An investigation led to Pleasure, who has worked as a social worker at private foster care agencies for 20 years and told deputies he is a church worship leader, officials said.
"Pleasure had access and control over numerous children throughout his career taking them to doctor’s appointments and visitations," officials wrote in the release.
He did not tell them which church he worked for, San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Teresa McMahon said. Other attempts to identify the church were unsuccessful.
According to Pleasure's Linkedin profile, his last job was at the Avant-Garde Foster Family Agency. CEO Gregory Estravit said Pleasure stopped working at the agency three months ago.
Pleasure worked as an administrator there, Estravit said, and had no opportunity to be alone with children. Estravit said the entire Avant-Garde staff is "shocked" at the allegations against Pleasure.
Following Pleasure's arrest, he was booked into the West Valley Detention Center on suspicion of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 and continued abuse of a child under 14, jail logs show. His bail was set at $350,000.
Anybody with information was asked to call Detective Ryan Ford at 909-477-2800. Anonymous tips are accepted at 800-782-4763 or online at www.wetip.com.
Alberta Elects NDP
May 6, 2015 permalink
Yesterday Alberta elected a new provincial government. The NDP got a majority of seats and their leader, Rachel Notley, will become the new premier. In opposition Notley was a critic of Alberta's child protection system. It remains to be seen whether any of her criticisms will be translated into policy in her new government.
May 5, 2015 permalink
Police in Kitchener are looking for Kimberly Bowen. She is a teenaged runaway from a local group home. Police say they "want to check on her wellbeing".
This is the girl that's missing from group home in Waterloo. She's from Blenheim. It's the second story on the page, not the stun gun one.
Source: Facebook, Lee Bolton
Police looking for missing teen
Police are asking for the public's help in locating a missing Kitchener teen. Kimberly Bowen, 15, was last seen on April 30. Bowen is five feet, one inch tall, approximately 100 pounds, with short brown hair in a buzz-cut style, brown eyes and a lip piercing. Police want to check on her wellbeing. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-653-7700 ext 4499.
Source: The Record (Kitchener/Waterloo)
Police Ask For Public Assistance To Locate Missing Kitchener Girl
Are You Able To Help Find Her?
Have You Seen Kimberly Bowen?
Regional Police are searching for missing Kitchener girl and are asking for the public’s help in locating her.
15-year-old Kimberly Bowen was last seen on April 30th. She is white, 5’1 and around 100 lbs with short brown hair and a lip piercing.
Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to contact the Waterloo Regional Police Service at 519-653-7700 ext 4499.
Source: KW Now
Save White Men
May 5, 2015 permalink
Alberta has a use for children who die in foster care — harvesting their organs. A press release from the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta draws attention to the problem, along with a correction three days later. Fixcas made local copies  . Even in the milder corrected version, organs can be harvested without the knowledge of the real family.
Chatham-Kent CAS Sued
May 4, 2015 permalink
The Kivell family in suing Chatham-Kent CAS for $4.1 million.
Family launches $4.1M lawsuit against police and children’s services in Chatham-Kent
A Chatham family has launched a $4.1-million lawsuit against Chatham-Kent Children's Services and Chatham-Kent Police Services.
Brian and Betty-Jo Kivell, their six children and Brian’s parents, Gary and Sherrill Kivell, are seeking compensatory, aggravated and punitive damages arising from an investigation by police and CKCS.
Brian Kivell was arrested on Nov. 26, 2013 and charged with sexual assault. In late Feb 2014, the claimant made similar allegations against Brian’s father, Gary Kivell, but no charges were laid.
The claims were made by a girl, who Brian and Betty-Jo adopted and brought back to Canada after working as missionaries in the Ukraine for four years. The allegations were made more than seven years after the Kivell family had terminated the adoption.
All charges against Brian Kivell were withdrawn on April 10, 2014.
The lawsuit claims that the Kivell family has suffered irreparable damage from the alleged negligent, irresponsible and highhanded actions of the CKCS, its employees and agents, and the Chatham Kent Police.
“Watching my husband and children suffer that way has been the greatest pain I have ever experienced,” said Betty-Jo Kivell in a news release. “The agencies that are in place to protect children and families completely failed mine. We are seeking accountability."
The allegations have not been proven in court.
“The matter is before the courts and because there is civil litigation underway we can make no further comment," Chatham-Kent police Insp. Ed Reed told CTV News. "The matter is in the hands of legal counsel.”
High-Speed Child Protection
May 3, 2015 permalink
A New Mexico social worker was in such a hurry to rescue two children that she had no time to fasten their seatbelts. Where the speed limit was 70 mph, a driver running at 95 mph himself made a cell-phone video of the worker passing him. She did not get a speeding ticket because a sheriff's truck was escorting her. The car went directly to the CYFD office in Carlsbad.
CYFD worker caught going 95 mph with kids in car
Witness says at least one kid wasn't wearing a seat belt
ARTESIA, N.M, (KRQE) – A Children, Youth and Families Department worker is under investigation after she was caught on camera speeding down a highway in a state car with two young kids in the backseat.
It happened on U.S. 285 south of Artesia on Tuesday afternoon. Dustin Savoie says he was speeding down an open stretch of the highway on his way to work.
“The speed limit’s 70 [mph] on this highway,” Savoie said. “I was already doing 90 and they were coming up on me pretty fast.”
Savoie spotted a truck and a white CYFD sedan come speeding past him. He pulled out his cell phone while behind the wheel, something News 13 does not endorse, and started recording.
While catching up with the CYFD car, Savoie points his camera at the speedometer, which showed a speed of around 95 mph.
Then Savoie noticed something else, two young children in the backseat of the car. He says at least one wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Savoie’s video shows the child flashing him a peace sign at one point.
“They’re supposed to be in charge of protecting kids so it kind of — I don’t know — kind of rubbed me the wrong way,” Savoie said. “I was waiting for a cop to pull out to pull somebody over and it never happened.”
That may be because of the other truck Savoie filmed. KRQE News 13 has learned the truck in the video was an unmarked Eddy County Sheriff’s vehicle escorting the CYFD driver and the children in her custody.
Savoie continued following the car to Carlsbad. Its final destination wasn’t a hospital, but the CYFD office in Carlsbad.
KRQE News 13 brought the video to CYFD to try and get some answers.
“It’s our understanding that this was not an emergency situation where this would’ve been necessary for the safety of the child,” said Monique Jacobson, cabinet secretary for CYFD. “It’s unacceptable. We can’t have a situation where we are putting these children into an unsafe situation.”
The worker behind the wheel has been put on “no client contact work”, also known as desk duty, while a full investigation is conducted.
Sgt. Matt Hutchinson with the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department says the department’s opened an investigation of its own into what’s shown on the video.
“We do not condone such actions,” Hutchinson wrote in a statement. “The matter is currently under investigation by our agency.”
Jacobson says while CYFD hasn’t been able to determine whether the children were wearing seat belts or not, the speeding alone is in violation of state policy.
Source: KRQE News 13
Less Funding For Foster Death Investigations
May 2, 2015 permalink
The Alberta government has found the perfect way to cut its expenses: stop investigating deaths in foster care. Jamie Sullivan, and dozens of other parents, are less likely to find out how their children died.
PC Alberta slashes budget for office probing foster-care deaths
Delonna Sullivan was four months and 13 days old when she was taken by Alberta child-welfare services on the morning of Tuesday, April 5, 2011. Her mother, Jamie Sullivan, said workers had papers to take children belonging to her roommate, but a mix-up led her baby into the foster-care system.
Six days later, Delonna was dead – one of 13 children to die in the foster-care system in 2011.
Since then, the number has grown. In the 2014-2015 fiscal year, a record 33 children and teenagers died while receiving child-intervention services.
But when Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice’s government began trimming budgets in the wake of a collapse in oil prices, the axe fell first on the agency that investigates the deaths of children in care.
Delonna’s identity and those of more than 750 children who died since 1999 while receiving child services would not be known today if it weren’t for a four-year investigation by the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald.
That award-winning Fatal Care series, published in November, 2013, revealed the full scope of the deaths and the Alberta government’s failures to improve the system.
Following the investigation, the government lifted a blanket ban on identifying children who died in care. The responsibilities of the Office of the Youth and Child Advocate were also expanded, and it was given a wider mandate to investigate deaths. Five new staff members were hired, including three investigators.
Then the price of oil crashed. In February, a legislative committee dominated by the Tories voted to cut $275,000 from the advocate’s office. The funds had been requested to retain the five employees hired after the public outcry from the Fatal Care series. Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff has warned that the cuts will hurt vulnerable children and that his office’s recommendations would be delayed.
When MLA Genia Leskiw was asked why she moved to cut Mr. Graff’s budget, her answer was curt: “I really don’t believe they’ve sharpened their pencils.” During a committee meeting, she asked if his staff would take a 5-per-cent pay cut.
Cases like Delonna Sullivan’s highlight the need for a robust investigative process. Her mother, Delonna, was granted a single visit with her daughter on the Friday after she was taken. The child’s grandmother, Marilyn Koren, was also there. She remembers the four-month-old was lethargic and sickly, with dark red streaks on her small head.
Ms. Sullivan asked the foster mother to bring her daughter to a doctor. She never did. According to medical records, Delonna was given cough syrup and acetaminophen the following Monday morning and put into a car seat for a nap. The foster mother didn’t check on Delonna for five hours, according to the medical examiner; when she did, the baby was cold. Delonna was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
“At her four-month checkup, about two weeks prior, the doctor wrote: ‘Happy, healthy baby,’” Ms. Koren said about her granddaughter from her home in Warburg, Alta. “When you have nearly one child dying weekly in care in the province of Alberta, obviously there are flaws in the system.”
Responding to criticism over the funding cut, Finance Minister Robin Campbell blamed oil prices. “We cannot control the price of oil, but we can keep our spending in check. Difficult choices are being made across Government, and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate must similarly work to prioritize front line services while minimizing administrative costs,” he wrote in a letter.
Mr. Graff refused multiple requests for an interview. His office did confirm that the five additional employees have not been fired. The investigative office, though, has cancelled most travel and professional development, while abandoning plans to hire two new researchers.
In the budget tabled in late March, the Tory government chopped a further $48.9-million from child intervention programs, including cuts to family safety programs, early intervention and other outreach support.
“Of those 33 deaths, many of them were medically fragile, some were in care,” Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuk told The Globe and Mail. She said the planned cuts will be made through efficiencies and will not impact front-line staff, despite Mr. Graff’s warning of delayed investigations. “There are many entities that look into how children pass away. We have a number of bodies that look very closely with the ministry and justice portfolio,” she added.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley, running in the May 5 election, has pledged to reverse the cuts to child intervention; she also says Mr. Graff’s office should investigate all deaths in the foster-care system – the advocate’s office currently only looks into a fraction of deaths.
“The PCs have been shortchanging the children’s advocate for some time,” Ms. Notley said. “Every incident should be fully investigated so that we can have a full picture of what’s going on. We don’t have that and Mr. Graff is forced to pick and choose.” The Wildrose party has also pledged to reverse the cuts.
Ms. Sullivan and her mother, meanwhile, are suing the Alberta government. After four years, Ms. Koren is still angry about what happened to her granddaughter. “We want to see the people responsible for her death behind bars,” she said.
Source: Globe and Mail
Police Menace Naked Tot
May 2, 2015 permalink
On a hot day Ian McIlwaine let his four-year-old son Tyler play naked in the front yard. A few days later police interrogated the family. In news after the enclosed article the Squamish (British Columbia) RCMP apologized to the McIlwaines.
Police visit after naked four-year-old plays in yard
Brackendale family overwhelmed by public support since story went viral
Ian McIlwaine feels scared and bullied and has had tears in his eyes since April 22, he says.
That Wednesday, according to McIlwaine, the Squamish RCMP paid his home a visit and had a chat with his wife over how the couple is raising their two sons, Connor, 6, and Tyler, 4.
The visit stemmed from an incident McIlwaine thought of as completely innocent that occurred on April 19.
McIlwaine had been waxing his car in the front yard that warm, sunny Sunday while his boys played beside him. Little Tyler decided to strip out of his wet clothes.
“He hates being wet,” McIlwaine said. “He had been fighting a cold so was wearing thicker pants and a longer shirt.”
The boys continued to play, Tyler in the nude. McIlwaine stopped Tyler to ask him if the boy wanted to get dressed, he said, but the child said no.
“He is four years old. He’s just pure right now, he doesn’t know prejudice,” said the father. “I like knowing he is my innocent little four-year-old still.”
The day ended and McIlwaine flew out of town on a business trip the next morning.
Two days later he got a call from his distraught wife, Margita, who is originally from Slovenia.“They are a fighting country… she’s a tough girl. The only time I ever really saw her cry was when we had the kids, tears of joy kind of thing,” he said.
Over a couple of calls to her, McIlwaine said he discovered that according to Margita, the Squamish RCMP spent over half an hour at the house asking about the incident and advising her to keep both boys in the backyard if they are naked.
McIlwaine said his backyard has a creek and is not safe for children to run around.
Apparently the RCMP had received a complaint from a neighbour about the Sunday incident. McIlwaine said he gets along well with his immediate neighbours and isn’t sure who called the police.
McIlwaine cut short his business trip and flew home. He went to the RCMP detachment that Thursday. He said he was told that no law had been broken by having his son naked in the yard.
The incident has made both parents feel defensive about their parenting, said McIlwaine, his voice cracking.
“Everybody compliments me on how well behaved and well mannered and they are very polite and they are fun. You know, everything I do is try to give those kids a good start, they need the first six years to mean something,” he said.
The worst thing, McIlwaine said, is that not only are he and his wife distraught over the situation, their son Connor is frightened of being removed from the home by authorities.
“He was crying because he is concerned now that the police are going to take him and Tyler away because they got naked, and it wasn’t even him, it was just my youngest son,” said McIlwaine, “but God bless him, he stands up for his brother no matter what.”
McIlwaine and his wife want an apology from the RCMP.
McIlwaine’s story has gone viral since it was posted on social media. The support from the community has been amazing, McIlwaine said.
“That in itself makes me happy,” he said.
Squamish RCMP Staff Sgt. Brian Cumming issued a statement to The Squamish Chief in response to the story.
“I have spoken to Mrs. and Mr. McIlwaine, explained that we responded to a complaint from another citizen about their son being out on the street with no clothes on a few days earlier. They did not feel this was handled well by the officers responding despite my explanations, and I offered an apology that they were not happy and felt their son was now afraid of the police,” said Cumming.
“Mr. McIlwaine suggested that his son would respond well if given the opportunity to visit the police station and meet the police in more favourable circumstances, and we have agreed to arrange for this to happen in the near future.”
Source: Squamish Chief
Boy Detained by Lego Store
May 1, 2015 permalink
A father wrote to Lenore Skenazy to tell of the detention of his son. The boy earned his own money and went to the Lego store in Calgary to make a puchase. The store detained him because he was eleven years old.
Lego Store Detains Boy, 11, for Being Too Young To Shop Alone
Today, our son went to the Lego store in Chinook Mall, Calgary, Alberta. He had over $200 and was intending to purchase some Lego with it. He is a frequent customer and a skilled Lego builder. He uses his own money he has earned from such things as babysitting and shoveling walks.
Imagine my surprise when I entered the store and found that the manager had called a security guard to detain my son. He then tried to coerce me into staying with my son while he was in the Lego store. It is important to note that my son has been to the Lego store on his own several dozen times and has made thousands of dollars’ worth of purchases. No Lego store employee has ever questioned his behavior. He does not disrupt business and he is a paying customer.
I spoke to the security guard who told me that the Lego store required a parent to be with any child 12 or under. He stated that it was Lego store policy and that he was just enforcing it. I then followed the guard to the manager, and asked him why he would call security on my son. He stated that for safety reasons, no child under 12 could be left unattended in the store. I explained that I had not left him unattended — he had arrived at the store on his own, as a customer. I happened to be meeting him there afterward, but only because we wanted to meet for lunch. I asked what scenario made the Lego store so unsafe that an 11.5 year old needed a chaperon? He replied, “If I have to explain THAT to you, then you shouldn’t be a parent.” The security guard then piped in and started making a claim that child abductions from the mall were a frequent event — which is a lie. I cut him off and asked, “How many child abductions have taken place here in the mall?” I questioned why the age policy was not posted at the front of the store and the manger responded once again with, “It should be obvious to any good parent that children under 12 shouldn’t be in a store unattended. We have the policy for child safety reasons. Your son is welcome in the store, but we ask that you accompany him whenever he is here.”
We left the store and have no plans to return. Later, when we asked our son how they had even found out his age, he replied that he had been discussing Lego with one of the store employees when the employee asked, “Just out of curiosity, how old are you?” Our son naturally assumed that he simply wanted to know his age and told him.
Lego is a big part of our son’s life, and by extension a big part of ours. It would be very sad for us to have to end our customer relationship with Lego on a permanent basis.
Source: Free Range Kids
Mom of the Year
May 1, 2015 permalink
Toya Graham has become a national hero for hitting her sixteen-year-old son Michael when he tried to participate in a riot in Baltimore. Of course, child protective services is alert. They are investigating Graham for child abuse.
Child Protective Services Launch Investigation On Baltimore Mom Who Hit Son
“A woman seen hitting and berating a black-clad teenager, later confirmed to be her son, has been hailed as “mom of the year” after her intervention on the streets of Baltimore was caught on video. As violence flared up across the city on Monday, the woman, who was identified as Toya Graham on Tuesday afternoon, was filmed telling her child to “take that f—— mask off.”
“Graham spoke to CBS News about the video, which initially went viral with little context. In the interview, the single mother of six tells the network that she intervened out of concern for her 16-year-old son’s safety. She said: “That’s my only son, and at the end of the day, I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray. But to stand up there and vandalize police officers, that’s not justice.”
“By late Monday, videos of the incident were so widespread that Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts brought it up in an overnight news conference. Batts told reporters: “And if you saw in one scene, you had a mother who grabbed their child who had a hood on his head and she started smacking him on the head because she was so embarrassed. I wish I had more parents who took charge of their kids tonight. I think these were youth coming out of the high school and they thought it was cute to throw cinder blocks at the police department and address it that way.”
However, in an unexpected turn of events, Child Protective Services in Baltimore has launched an investigation on Toya Graham shortly after the video which showed her beating her son on the street became viral.
A CPS Baltimore spokesperson told Newslo: “After reviewing the video in question, it has come to our attention that Ms. Graham is a mother of six. Although her actions are somewhat understandable, we cannot allow a young man to suffer such violence and abuse, regardless of the cause. Therefore, CPS investigators will question Ms. Graham and her children, and will also conduct an investigation that will determine if Ms. Graham will be allowed to continue being her children’s legal guardian.”
Ms. Graham did not wish to speak to Newslo or comment on the matter.
Oakville Girls Missing
April 29, 2015 permalink
Two girls are missing in Oakville. It is likely they are runaways from foster care.
Halton police ask for public help in finding missing Oakville teens
Halton police are asking for help from the public to locate two missing Oakville teenaged girls.
The pair has been missing since last night (Monday) and police say they are concerned for their safety.
Abigail Bergman is 14 years old and described as white, approximately 5-foot-3 (160 centimetres), weighing 99 pounds (45 kilograms), with long dark hair.
She was last seen wearing blue jeans, black high-top Nike shoes, a grey zip-up hoodie and pink Polo t-shirt.
Polinah Ouskova is described as a 15-year-old white female, approximately 5-foot-2 (157 cm), 110 lbs. (50 kg), with long blonde hair.
She was last seen wearing dark blue jeans, a white T-shirt, black Bench windbreaker jacket and black high top Nike shoes.
The pair is believed to be together and in the area of Main and Queen streets in Brampton.
Anyone with information on the missing teens is urged to contact the Halton Regional Police 20 Division Station at 905-825-4747, ext. 2210 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477(TIPS), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com, or by texting "Tip201" with your message to 274637 (crimes).
Source: Oakville Beaver
Addendum: Both were found safe in Toronto on May 2.
Death to Mothers
April 28, 2015 permalink
Mother Valerie Moran has been charged with kidnapping. A court ordered her to hand over her daughter to Mississippi DHS, and she refused.
In the aftermath of the Lindbergh kidnapping, many states punished kidnapping by death. According to wikipedia, five states still have a death penalty for kidnappers. But today kidnapping by strangers is rare. Most persons charged are parents taking, or as in the Moran case, refusing to surrender, their own children.
Mother faces kidnap charges
A local woman was charged with kidnapping last week after she allegedly refused to turn her daughter over to the Department of Human Services.
Hancock County Sheriff's Chief Investigator Glenn Grannan said Tuesday that Valerie Moran, 36, was charged with kidnapping and is currently incarcerated at the Hancock County Jail.
According to Grannan, a formal child custody hearing was conducted regarding Moran on April 11.
Moran was ordered to turn her daughter over to DHS custody, but she apparently refused to obey it, Grannan said.
"She did not follow through," Grannan said. "We also made several attempts to contact her and she did not respond to our requests, either."
Moran and the chid were located a few days later and she was arrested for kidnapping, Grannan said. The child was then taken into DHS custody.
Moran was booked at the Hancock County Jail on April 17. Her bond was set at $15,000.
Source: Sea Coast Echo (Bay St Louis Mississippi)
April 28, 2015 permalink
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines misandry as a hatred of men. From the Kawartha-Haliburton children's aid society:
Sarah Kathleen Countrygirl Howe
A CAS worker told me that my boyfriend, who is the father of my children, is not allowed to change our boys diapers. She said it's a woman's job and men can be pedophiles but my boyfriend does not have any charges against a child at all. Is this allowed?
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Lee Allan Bonneau R.I.P.
April 26, 2015 permalink
At the age of six Lee Allan Bonneau was taken from his parents by the province of Saskatchewan. Two and a half months later, while in the care of foster mother Mary Ramstead, he was attacked and killed by an older foster boy named only as LT. Lee's parents Dave Bonneau and Stacey Merk memorialized him with the tombstone above. How did the legal parents memorialize him? The province of Saskatchewan conducted an inquest into his death and the coroner published the Jury Findings (pdf). The report misspelled his name Allen.
Spelling a child's name wrong is commonplace for social workers. Best interest of the child does not extend to getting his name right.
JJ Back on Chemo
April 26, 2015 permalink
Last year Ontario courts allowed two aboriginal girls with leukemia to pursue alternative treatments instead of chemo therapy. Since then one of the girls, Makayla Sault, has died.  . The cancer of the other girl, known only as JJ, has returned. Her family has decided to resume chemo therapy. Judge Gethin Edward has modified his ruling of last year, though the journalists do not state clearly what that modification was. Earlier articles on JJ:  .
First Nations girl who used alternative treatment back on chemotherapy after leukaemia returns
BRANTFORD, ONT. — The legal wrangling has ended, but debate about a young aboriginal girl’s cancer treatment is likely to continue unchecked after new revelations about her condition emerged Friday at an extraordinary court hearing.
The girl had been in remission from leukemia, but the cancer returned last month and she has resumed chemotherapy, seven months after rejecting it in favour of native remedies and other alternative care, her lawyer said.
As the patient and her mother looked on, the judge who first ruled on the case in November then took the rare step of agreeing to change his decision at the request of lawyers involved in the affair.
The ruling controversially concluded the girl’s family had a constitutional right to choose traditional native medicine over conventional treatment for cancer. It was modified Friday to stress that a child’s best interests must always be paramount in such situations, though traditional treatments should still be respected.
Afterward, Justice Gethin Edward capped the unusual session — it is almost unheard of for a court to adjust its ruling long after the fact — by coming down from the bench to talk with the girl, her family, lawyers and others involved.
“This is a good day,” he said with a smile to Chief Ava Hill of Six Nations.
Evidence suggests that between 70 and 90 per cent of child leukemia patients can be cured with conventional treatment that includes chemotherapy; without it, the disease is usually a death sentence, medical experts say.
Another aboriginal girl, Makayla Sault from neighbouring New Credit First Nation, died in February after similarly pulling out of chemotherapy for leukemia.
Last year’s ruling, though, was embraced by many First Nations members as an overdue recognition of traditional ways and rights.
Paul Williams, the Six Nations parents’ lawyer, said his clients do not regret taking their daughter out of chemotherapy.
The girl can be identified only as J.J. because of a court-ordered publication ban.
“The family has always acknowledged that mainstream medicine was one of its options,” Williams said. “But there are good reasons why they made the decisions they made, and I don’t think any of them are mistakes.”
The family, the Hamilton, Ont., hospital where the girl was first treated, the local children’s aid society, Six Nations band and the family have been in closed-door talks with Ontario for five months, launched when the government belatedly got involved in the case.
The deadline for appealing Justice Edward’s decision was repeatedly extended as talks wore on.
“[But] people took what could have been a nasty confrontation … and Ontario said ‘We don’t need to appeal,’ ” Williams said.
As the girl’s cancer came back, the family concluded “chemotherapy, along with traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) medicine, which J.J. had already been receiving, would be the next best step,” said the lawyer.
In a joint statement, Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur, the family and the reserve said Friday the case’s resolution lets the family move ahead with treatment, “using the best that both medicines have to offer.”
Juliet Guichon, a bioethicist and lawyer at the University of Calgary who studies legal conflicts over children’s health, welcomed the ruling’s modification, arguing that it had originally put constitutional rights above a child’s life.
“The fact that the parents have agreed to chemotherapy, along with traditional Haudenosaunee medicine, means that the child has a chance to live,” she added.
The case revolves around the second of two Southern Ontario girls, both 11, diagnosed last year with leukemia. Both started undergoing chemotherapy but then pulled out, saying they wanted to pursue aboriginal remedies instead.
They also attended a Florida alternative-health clinic, the Hippocrates Health Institute, which treats advanced cancer patients with vegan, raw-food diets and other unproven therapies.
J.J.’s family no longer has contact with that facility, Williams said Friday.
A local child-welfare agency refused requests to apprehend the children so they could be forced back into chemo.
The hospital took Brant Family & Children’s Services to court last fall over its decision regarding J.J.
Judge Edward declined to force her into chemotherapy, saying her mother has a right under the Constitution to pursue traditional medicine, even if it is not validated by “the Western medical paradigm.”
Williams explained that the patient’s health-care team now includes a senior pediatric oncologist and a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) chief with experience in native medicine.
“The two paths of medicine began working together in a respectful and complex way,” he said.
Source: National Post
CAS and Police Extort Mother
April 25, 2015 permalink
London Ontario police came to the home of Jasmine Leigh Brown looking for her boyfriend. She did not know where he was. Three hours later they returned with London-Middlesex CAS workers and a threat. Tell us where your boyfriend is or lose your child. Since she did not know, her child has been apprehended. Expand for the story in her own words.
Jasmine Leigh Brown
The police came to my place looking for my old man because he has outstanding charges. I let them look in my place then the cops said it's jimmy your your son. I told them I'd call if I see him or if I knew where he was I'd tell you cops. Three hours later I get another knock on my door and it's the police again. I open the door and it's the police with CAS saying the police called and said I left my son alone in my apartment. If that was true I'd be charged. The police are playing games with me because I don't know where my boyfriend is. They said right to me that if I don't tell them where to find jimmy we will call CAS and have your kid taken. And that's the dirty game they did also two cops two workers NO APPREHENSION ORDER NO WARRANT. I asked for them to call the supervisor so I can confirm this and they wouldn't. Please help me I have had my son since birth I want my son back.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
An unrelated item contrasts the protection of authorities with ordinary people. Jennifer Pawluck posted a picture of Montreal police Commander Ian Lafrenière with blood dripping from a bullet wound in his forehead. She has been convicted of criminal harassment. The son of Jasmine Brown was kidnapped, not for his best interest, but to extort compliance from his mother. The more substantive breach against Brown will get no remediation through the legal system.
Woman convicted of criminal harassment for post threatening Montreal cop
A simple small click on a computer keyboard can have big consequences, a Quebec Court judge said Thursday after convicting a young woman of criminally harassing a police officer by posting a disturbing image of him on social media along with a threatening hashtag.
Jennifer Pawluck, 22, crossed her arms and appeared upset after Judge Marie Josie Di Lallo found her guilty of a crime. The young woman, who had no criminal record, was very active in the student protests against proposed tuition hikes in 2012 and was at a party in March 2013 where friends became upset after a discussion over police brutality. That same night she decided to post a photo she took, of a graffiti artist’s painting depicting Montreal police Commander Ian Lafrenière with a bullet hole in his forehead, on Instagram. Lafrenière was the very public face of the Montreal police throughout the protests because of his work as a spokesperson.
Pawluck later added the hashtags “Un flic, une balle” (one cop, one bullet) and “All Cops Are Bastards” and made sure to get the spelling of Lafrenière’s name right (she had to correct it once). She also added a hashtag linking it to Montreal police social media pages.
During Pawluck’s trial in February, Lafrenière testified he was shocked when he first saw what Pawluck posted. He was searching social media after the Montreal police had handled an anti-police brutality protest in 2013. He also said that the student demonstrations of 2012 were the only time in his career that he felt threatened. His home address was posted on the Internet by someone and his family had to temporarily move out. He said seeing the image Pawluck posted, with the hashtags, was “the last straw.”
The case boiled down to whether Pawluck should have known a person would feel threatened by what she posted and whether Lafrenière has reasonable grounds to feel threatened. The Criminal Code makes clear that a threat doesn’t have to be repeated, and can involve one single action, in order to be considered criminal harassment. Pawluck testified that the posting was intended as a general criticism of the Montreal police and that she didn’t intend to threaten Lafrenière. She testified that she didn’t know who he was when she posted the image.
“To see his image with a bullet hole in his forehead is worrying, even if he is a police officer,” Di Lallo said as she read from her judgment. The judge also cast doubt on the veracity of Pawluck’s testimony by saying “it is very surprising” to hear someone involved in the 2012 student protests claim they didn’t know who Lafrenière was.
Prosecutor Josie Laplante said, after the verdict was read, that it wasn’t just the mere posting of the graffiti that constituted a threat in this case.
“On the photo there were links, or hashtags, with Ian Lafrenière’s name written in different ways and allusions like (all cops are bastards) and (one cop, one bullet) to the point where, given the context, there was criminal harassment,” Laplante told reporters.
“I think it is important that everyone pay attention to what they put on social media. It is very accessible, it is very easy (to access), that is what Judge Di Lallo mentioned in her decision. I think we all have to pay attention to what we post because (some people) don’t consider the impact it can have on other individuals.”
The charge is a summary offence and carries a maximum six-month sentence. Pawluck’s case enters the sentencing stage on May 14.
Source: Montreal Gazette
Jane Fitzgerald Quits, New Executive Director Needed
April 25, 2015 permalink
Jane Fitzgerald has retired as executive director of the Children's Aid Society of London-Middlesex. Some earlier articles suggest mismanagement that may have precipitated the retirement.   . For candidates aspiring to replace Mrs Fitzgerald, the qualifications are similar to those for replacing Peter Ringrose.
Executive director of London Middlesex Children's Aid Society Jane Fitzgerald stepping down
After more than two years of controversy, London’s child welfare agency is searching for a new boss.
Jane Fitzgerald, executive director of the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex, is leaving the post May 11, said acting director Regina Bell.
“Jane has made a decision to retire . . . She will not be returning,” Bell said Thursday.
Fitzgerald has been on medical leave since October.
Bell said the board asked her to continue as director until her retirement in October 2016.
Fitzgerald’s departure comes on the heels of a scathing provincial financial review, obtained by The Free Press, that found the CAS top-heavy and wasteful.
“It’s a relief to finally have an answer as to what is happening,” said Karen Cudmore, president of OPSEU Local 116 that represents CAS workers.
Workers are eager to turn the page on more than two years of controversy since details of Fitzgerald’s salary, and the inflated numbers for senior managers, came to light, Cudmore said.
“It’s a new atmosphere of openness and co-operation. It’s a very inclusive process among the staff and community groups. It’s a new start and for the membership, that’s a good thing.”
In 2013, reports surfaced that Fitzgerald was Ontario’s highest-paid child welfare agency boss earning $212,717, more than the executive director at the Toronto CAS. At that time, local CAS executives received raises — some more than $20,000 and $30,000 — as its front-line workers faced massive job cuts and a pay freeze.
Its list of managers on Ontario’s list of public servants paid $100,000 or more grew to 22 in 2012 from 19 the year before, and all made more than the year before at a time of budget cuts.
The CAS also failed to balance its budget in 2013, running a deficit despite one-time funding of $3.9 million from the Ministry of Family and Children’s Service.
That forced a review that revealed the agency spent $300,000 on renovations to rented offices, $174,000 on consultants, $50,000 on taxis and $19,600 for 23 iPad tablets. Its average cost of managing cases was $12,000 higher than other agencies.
Source: London Free Press
Most Missing Persons are Foster Kids
April 25, 2015 permalink
Manitoba opposition leader Brian Pallister has disclosed that most missing persons in his province are foster children.
Majority of missing people are CFS kids: Tories
New information released by the opposition Tories shows the majority of the over 6,500 people reported missing in Winnipeg last year were youth in the care of Child and Family Services.
And the number has climbed over the past five years.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Tory leader Brian Pallister and his family services critic, Ian Wishart, argued the Selinger government is failing in protecting kids in care.
“The fact that these children are reported missing means they are not receiving the care they desperately need and deserve,” said Pallister.
According to a January Winnipeg Police Board brief, more than 6,500 people are reported missing each year and “most are vulnerable youth who are in the care of Child and Family Services.”
In total, according to the Canadian Police Information Centre’s statistical report, 6.458 children and youth were reported missing across the province in 2014.
The Tories also noted in the last five years, the total number of reported missing children and youth has increased by 22% in the province, while the average in Canada has decreased 20%.
“We are headed in the wrong direction ... so we compared ourselves to other provinces and found that we were way higher than any other province out there,” Wishart said.
According to federal statistics, girls in Manitoba are six times more likely to be reported as runways than across Canada, the Tories noted.
Wishart said 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, who was tragically murdered last summer, has become the face for at-risk youth who run away. Fontaine was under the care of CFS at the time of her murder and had recently run away from her foster home.
Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said one child going missing or running away is one too many.
“However, one thing that needs to be clear is that the vast majority are returned within 48 hours and that happens because of the co-operation between Street Reach and the Winnipeg Police Service,” she said. “We are very quick to post a picture and give a description and ask Manitobans to help find the children.”
She also said the figures are only the amount of reports filed and often chronic runaways in the system are reported multiple times throughout the year, inflating the numbers.
“Some families in our province are experiencing a multitude of challenges and barriers and I think as a society we need to address the issues related to poverty, to residential schools, to colonization and the ‘60s scoop,” she said.
Source: Winnipeg Sun
Orange County CPS Sued
April 24, 2015 permalink
A lawsuit has been filed against child protective services in Orange County California. Expand for the press release. Here is a copy of the complaint: Randall vs Hammond (pdf).
The suit is on behalf of BR and 5000 unnamed plaintiffs in the same circumstances. If lawyer Shawn A McMillan cashes in they way he did for Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick, damages could reach $48 billion, enough to get the state of California to change policy.
Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Orange County (CA) Child Protective Services Alleges Unwarranted Seizure of Thousands of Children
Today, the Law Office of Shawn A. McMillan has filed a class action lawsuit against Orange County Child Protective Services alleging that the agency has seized more than 5,000 children without obtaining warrants as required under the 4th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Attorney Shawn A. McMillan, of the Law Office of Shawn A. McMillan, filed a Federal Lawsuit in the Central District of California, Southern Division on April 20, 2015 (case number 8:15-cv-00626). The lawsuit alleges that the Orange County Child Protective Services Agency took a young boy from his mother’s home in the middle of the night without any justification, and without first obtaining a warrant. The Class Action complaint also alleges that as a matter of practice the agency frequently removes children from the custody of their parents without first obtaining a warrant where no emergency exists, and has done so for at least five years.
Lead plaintiff B.R. sued Orange County and Social Worker Myeshia Hammond, and all similarly situated county social workers, in his April 20, 2016 lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that B.R. is one of thousands of children wrongfully taken from their parents by county social workers.
B.R. seeks class certification, an injunction and compensatory, statutory and punitive damages for civil rights violations.
Shawn A. McMillan
The Law Office of Shawn A. McMillan, APC
4955 Via Lapiz
San Diego, CA 92122
Teacher Fired by Child Abuse Accusation
April 24, 2015 permalink
How do you fire an over-paid teacher protected by a union contract? Easy. Just make a child abuse accusation. That is how Boston Public Schools teacher Ketty Magnus is losing her job.
Teacher: Principal filed false abuse claim in push-out ploy
A veteran Boston Public Schools teacher who has been in the excess pool of unwanted teachers since February has lodged an explosive discrimination complaint, saying her principal filed an unfounded child-abuse claim against her as part of an effort to push out high-earning veteran teachers.
“I’ve been a great teacher, never had any problem ... and you have one principal come who doesn’t like you and can turn your life around,” said Ketty Magnus, 56, who makes $92,000 and has been sidelined from her job as a computer teacher and Haitian Creole interpreter at the soon-to-be-closed Elihu Greenwood Leadership Academy. “For 23 years, that’s all I’ve been doing, working with students, working with people in my community, Haitian kids. I feel like somebody took all of that away from me.”
The complaint, filed yesterday, claims the district “adopted a discriminatory employment policy regarding and targeting higher compensated African American teachers over forty (40) years of age, like me, for adverse employment actions which resulted in increased discipline, termination, reassignment and involuntary retirements.”
BPS has denied that high salaries or race are factored into which teachers are disciplined, evaluated negatively or reassigned.
Interim Superintendent John McDonough said in a statement, “We have not yet received a copy of the complaint from MCAD ... however, I do think it is important to note that our initiatives to attract, hire, develop and retain a diverse teaching force that is representative of our student body is a high priority for us and runs contrary to what we have heard about the claim thus far.”
Magnus’ complaints echo those of veteran teachers who told the Herald this month their reputations took a hit due to budget-motivated personnel changes.
Her lawyer, Warren Atlas, said, “My feeling is that when she comes out of the woodwork, she’s going to be a motivation for other people, too.”
Magnus also cites dissatisfaction with her union’s failure to file any grievances on her behalf. Boston Teachers Union president Richard Stutman did not respond to requests for comment.
Magnus said her trouble started after she complained about schedule changes that didn’t give her time to rest her degenerative joint disease. She states that a vice principal told one of her colleagues, “Any teacher (referring to me) who makes this much money should be able to” handle the workload.
Magnus says her principal filed a child abuse charge against her with the Department of Children and Families that was “false, discriminatorily motivated and unquestionably designed to destroy my reputation and promote my termination.” The report says an unruly student claimed Magnus scratched his arm while removing him from class. DCF deemed the charge unfounded, finding Magnus “scratched the child in an attempt to keep him safe,” and that her methods, while “inappropriate,” were not abuse.
Source: Boston Herald
Un-Munchausen by Proxy
April 24, 2015 permalink
In 1996 Florida accused Kathy Bush of intentionally harming her own daughter, the medical theory of Munchausen by Proxy. Daughter Jennifer Bush went into foster care and Kathy went to jail. Today mother and daughter have reunited, and daughter Jennifer has rebuffed the Munchausen accusation. Sadly, the reconciliation does nothing to restore Jennifer's lost childhood.
Years after case, Jennifer Bush says she wasn't a victim of Munchausen or abuse by her mom
It was a heartbreaking case that ripped a 9-year-old girl from her South Florida family and sent her mother to prison for years.
Exactly 19 years ago today, Jennifer Bush was placed in state care amid allegations that her mother, Kathy Bush, was deliberately making her ill in an unusual — and some say now discredited — form of child abuse called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
After shunning attention for years, Jennifer Bush is publicly defending her mom for the first time and agreed to release a written statement this week and answer a few, limited follow-up questions from the Sun Sentinel.
"Jennifer made it very clear: She thinks her mother never abused her," said Fort Lauderdale lawyer Robert Buschel, who defended Kathy Bush in her criminal trial and is the representative Jennifer Bush picked to relay her response to questions.
The Coral Springs family's story fascinated and polarized the community for years, generated dozens of headlines internationally and featured on national TV.
Many thought the little girl was secretly abused by a mother who caused her to undergo dozens of unnecessary medical procedures and surgeries. Others believed it was a clear case of government overreach by state child welfare workers who split the family and prosecutors who filed criminal charges.
Jennifer Bush never appeared in court, never testified against her mom and never publicly discussed the case. Authorities kept her out of view, and out of state, for years while she moved between foster homes and shelter care. When she was old enough, she made it clear she did not want to be in the spotlight.
Now 27, she is happily married and has fully reunited with her parents, Kathy and Craig Bush, who live in Georgia, and her brothers, Matthew and Jason. She still fiercely protects her privacy and does not want to reveal where she lives.
Despite all the public speculation about the case and her mother, Jennifer Bush thinks it is so obvious that her mother did not abuse her that she included no reference to it in her initial prepared written statement. She only made it clear she believes her mother is innocent when the Sun Sentinel asked the question.
Bush wrote that April 15, 1996, changed her life forever.
"That was the day that I was taken from my home and my family, but that day has not changed how close my family continues to be. The 10 years I spent in foster care were traumatic, and I had some devastating things happen to me. However, I persevered because of all of the angels that were there for me during these difficult times. These people helped shaped the woman I have become today," she wrote.
"Today, I can proudly say my family is extremely close knit. We have flourished despite the devastating separation. The bond I had with my brothers, prior to being removed from my family, is something that never changed. My relationship with them helped carry me through my years in foster care. My parents and I have picked up from where we left off, and have a very close and loving relationship."
Bush's time in foster care was difficult but inspired her to try to fix the system's problems herself. She became a social worker and says she hopes to become a foster parent herself soon.
"Today, I am living my dream as a social worker and changing the lives of the children and families I am working with today. I am married to my high school sweetheart, who has walked along side me for the past 10 years. I get a lot of joy making memories with my family, and making a difference in my community. Although this isn't always a happy anniversary, it is a day to celebrate my family and who we are today."
Kathy Bush, who prosecutors argued was motivated by a desire to seek attention and publicity for herself by making her daughter ill, sent a one-sentence reply to an email requesting comment from her and Craig: "We are very proud of Jennifer and our sons, they have all grown up to be fine adults and dedicated their lives to serving others."
She declined further comment. The couple's sons both worked as firefighters and Jason Bush served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was stationed in Iraq during the war.
Buschel, the lawyer, said he thinks Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy was a flawed "diagnosis du jour" that has mostly fallen out of favor with medical experts. He said he has since represented other families who faced similar allegations but persuaded investigators that no crimes were committed.
"It's nice to see the government didn't succeed in destroying this family," Buschel said. "It's just good to see that Jennifer took her ordeal — of being separated from her family — and she really turned it around so that now she's helping other kids and parents."
The Bush family's ordeal began early in Jennifer's life when she appeared to be chronically ill with digestive problems, seizures and a host of related illnesses.
Before the abuse allegation surfaced, the little girl, sometimes dressed in a ballet tutu or baseball fan gear, and her mom were featured in newspaper articles about her illness.
They organized fundraisers to help pay her massive medical bills, were feted by sports stars and even visited the Clinton White House where they were invited to raise awareness about health care costs.
In April 1995, police and child welfare investigators began looking into a complaint made by a health care worker who suspected Kathy Bush might be intentionally causing her daughter to become ill by secretly giving her extra doses of medicine, infecting her and interfering with her treatment.
In her first eight years, Jennifer had spent 640 days in hospitals and underwent 40 medical procedures and 1,819 nonsurgical treatments, investigators said.
Authorities arrested Kathy Bush on abuse charges after a year of investigating. The same day, child welfare workers took Jennifer from her elementary school into state care. Authorities said her health improved immediately; the family said she'd been getting better for some time before she was taken away.
Jennifer Bush moved between several state shelter care homes and foster homes during the next several years while her mother battled criminal charges. Through it all, Bush's husband and their two sons managed to maintain their support for both Kathy and Jennifer, never wavering in their belief that Kathy was innocent and both needed to come home.
After a long, arduous trial in Broward Circuit Court in 1999, jurors found Kathy Bush guilty of aggravated child abuse. The judge only allowed fleeting references to Munchausen in the trial and jurors said they gave it little attention but believed Bush had harmed the girl.
Bush was later sentenced to five years in state prison. She appealed but lost. She was released in June 2005, after serving more than three years of her sentence. When state authorities moved to terminate her and her husband's parental rights to Jennifer, Bush initially fought but reached a settlement that cut her rights to the child but allowed her husband and sons to continue visiting Jennifer.
Courts barred Kathy Bush from seeing Jennifer for about six years, starting in 1999, but they began writing letters, supervised by a therapist, in 2004, and Jennifer asked to be allowed to resume seeing her mother in 2005 when she turned 18.
Broward prosecutors did not oppose her wishes and said they believed they had protected her until she was old enough to make her own choices.
As Jennifer Bush moves on with the happier phase of her life, she offered words of encouragement to other foster children who struggle:
"The odds are often against you to be successful in life. I challenge you to rise up against those odds, and be the very best you can be with the circumstances you are facing. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed to get the extra help that is offered, you will be thankful that you did in the future. There were many times that it would have been easier to give up, but it's persevering against the odds that makes it even more fulfilling. Speak up for yourself, be your biggest advocate, and be proactive. At the end of the day we owe it to ourselves. Don't let your current circumstance shape your future, and never doubt yourself!"
Source: Broward County Sun Sentinel
British mother Lorraine Hatfield was also falsely accused of Munchausen and forcibly separated from her son. They reunited a decade later but the trauma drove her to suicide.
Suicide of ‘loving mum’ Lorraine Hatfield who suffered depression after wrongly accused of harming child
A LOVING mother who spiralled into depression after being wrongly accused of harming her child committed suicide, an inquest heard.
Mother-of-three Lorraine Hatfield, 48, was found hanged in her bedroom by her 19-year-old son Billy Steinman, two days after celebrating Christmas with her family.
Ms Hatfield, of Sewerby Court in Bridlington, had dedicated her life to caring for her children but was plagued by long term mental health problems, which led to her death on December 27 last year.
Ms Hatfield's eldest son Luke Steinman, 25, said he thinks many of his mother's problems stem from a false allegation that she suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
"I don't think she ever got over what happened," Mr Steinman said.
"I was sent to live with my grandparents because they thought mum was making me ill."
The allegation that she was harming her eldest child in order to seek attention from medical professionals was made 15 years ago when doctors failed to diagnose the cause of Mr Steinman's allergy-related illness.
He said his mother developed a deep mistrust of the NHS after he was removed from her care when she was wrongly accused of making her son ill.
Mr Steinman says this mistrust of mental health professionals contributed to her not receiving the care she needed.
"I don't think she received the right level of care, because nobody could understand the gravity of her situation or the root of her illness," Mr Steinman said.
"There was no sense of empathy or understanding of her situation. What she really needed was someone in the medical profession who she could develop a relationship with and trust.
"But it was different faces all the times and different people coming to the house."
Her daughter Jodie Steinman, 22, described Ms Hatfield as "a loving and caring mum".
"Our relationship with mum was perfect when we were growing up," she said.
"She was always taking us on trips and doing educational things.
"We are a very close family. Her death has had a big affect on me and my two brothers and she will be greatly missed by all of us."
Miss Steinman said her mother was a very intelligent and artistic woman who specialised in portraits.
However, an inquest into her death heard she became increasingly paranoid and delusional.
She was sectioned after a breakdown in July last year, but was treated by nursing professionals at her own home until being discharged from mental health services several months before her death.
Coroner Paul Marks recorded a verdict of suicide.
Munchausen's syndrome is where an individual pretends to be ill, or deliberately makes themselves ill, usually to gain the attention of medical professionals.
Munchausen's syndrome by proxy is used to describe a syndrome where a person deliberately makes another person, usually a child or dependent, ill or fabricates an illness.
Fabricating an illness on behalf of a child or elderly relative is considered a serious form of child abuse or neglect.
Source: Hull Daily Mail
Inside a Child Welfare File
April 24, 2015 permalink
Kane Blacque grew up in Alberta foster care. In 2014 he requested his child welfare file. Ordinarily social service agencies resist disclosure of these files, but Blacque was successful in getting the whole box of documents. A reporter for the Edmonton Journal examined the file and spoke to Blacque. The enclosed report is a rare look inside a child welfare file.
Blacque had an unusual view of adoption. When he was seven years old he was placed with an adoptive family. The file is filled with lies told to the adoptive parents. The move was not a positive experience for Blacque. He lost his friends in his foster home, and left with the belief that his foster father had rejected him. The adoption failed when the adopters realized Blacque was gay.
Here is a copy of the accompanying Video by Ryan Jackson (mp4).
Former foster child finally able to shed light on past filled with abuse, drugs and depression
EDMONTON - The old 1982 TV images have faded in colour, almost to sepia tones. But the video opens on images of two well-groomed little aboriginal boys, their dark hair shining, their eyes bright, as they explore the Storyland Valley Zoo, riding the tiny train past the old Indian village with its tipis, sticking their heads inside the mouth of the giant whale. The older boy grins up at the camera — and the camera loves him right back.
It’s a vintage clip of Wednesday’s Child — the CTV feature designed to convince Albertans to adopt children in need.
The TV presenter gushes that these two little boys “are so cute, you want to scoop ‘em up and pack them home right away.”
“They are two of the most well-behaved little boys I’ve ever met,” says the pretty white presenter, as she earnestly encourages TV viewers to adopt the brothers as a set.
“They’re healthy and sharp as tacks. They need a family who will appreciate their spunk and humour.”
It’s a sentimental image of happy children frolicking — designed to pluck the strings of the coldest heart.
The reality behind those images?
Far colder than most cosy TV viewers could imagine.
Kane Blacque, 39, is sitting across the table from me at a busy breakfast restaurant. He’s handsome, well-dressed, with a cherubic round face and the same mischievous grin he sported as a child.
These days, he’s a local gay rights activist, a competitive karaoke singer, and a senior account executive with a national magazine based in Edmonton.
He lives in a comfortable suburban townhouse with his partner, a buttoned-down business executive.
Sitting on the table between us is a large cardboard banker’s box.
“This box holds my life,” says Blacque. He’s not kidding.
Blacque is what you might call a survivor of Alberta’s child welfare system. He was in and out of protective care from infancy to the age of 18, when he “aged out” of the system.
It was a life, as he remembers it, full of neglect, violence, sexual and physical abuse, of homophobic bullying, drugs and alcohol, depression, suicide attempts, life in the sex trade and on the streets.
Last August, Blacque filed a Freedom of Information request with Alberta Human Services to see his entire child welfare record. That’s what’s in the box. That’s what he wants to share.
Normally, child welfare records in Alberta are strictly sealed. The media and the public never get to see them, not even in a case where a child dies in care. For a journalist to able to read an entire case file is almost unprecedented.
Digging through the pages and pages in the box is like conducting a kind of social autopsy. Except in this case, the abused child, the kid on the path to being a statistic, beat the odds. He survived, overcame, and lived to tell his tale.
Kane Blacque’s story begins years before he was born, with his mother Theresa Marie Desjarlais.
She was born in Bonnyville in 1959, and grew up near Wolf Lake, home to what was then known as the Wolf Lake Métis Settlement. The fifth of 10 children, she was raised largely by grandparents in a one-room house.
Her grandfather, she later told Edmonton Journal columnist June Sheppard, taught her to trap and snare. Her grandmother taught her to pick wild berries.
But in 1960, the provincial government officially “disbanded” the Wolf Lake settlement, and started to force out the land’s traditional people.
Desjarlais was five when her father, who was later described in court documents as “a repeated rapist,” abandoned the family. She was 11 or 12 when she was brought to Edmonton by her mother, who had a serious drinking problem.
Dejarlais told Sheppard in a 1980 interview that she was raped as a child by a cousin.
Eventually, she ended up as a permanent ward of the government.
In 1975, at the age of 15, while still under provincial guardianship, she became pregnant with her first child, the boy who would grow up to be Kane Blacque.
(That wasn’t his birth name, nor the name he was given by his adoptive parents. But it’s the name I’ll use throughout this story, for clarity’s sake, and to protect the privacy of his surviving siblings.)
Blacque was born in January 1976.
His birth certificate lists his father as Johnny Cardinal, aged 30. But child welfare records hint paternity was uncertain.
The young mother had only a Grade 5 education. She was addicted to alcohol and sniffing glue. Because she was homeless, child welfare authorities housed her and her infant son in a motel temporarily.
The baby was apprehended by child welfare authorities in October 1976 at his mother’s request.
He was made a temporary ward of the province, and moved from foster home to foster home. But in March 1977, he was returned to his mother, who was living with a new boyfriend and his mother.
Social workers who visited the home noted the boy had bruises and burns on his body, and that his mother seemed unconcerned and neglectful.
Nonetheless, the province returned the boy to his mother’s custody and closed his child welfare file.
Six months later, just after her 18th birthday, Theresa Desjarlais gave birth to her second child, Samantha.
Mother and daughter didn’t bond. A month after Samantha was born, Desjarlais asked child welfare workers to take Samantha away.
She was judged by workers to be “immature” and “a very poor parent” with “a marked capacity to be aggressive.” Social workers finally took Samantha and put her under temporary wardship for eight months. They left Blacque with his mother and her abusive boyfriend.
“He’d use a bullwhip or a stick or his belt,” said Desjarlais in a 1980 interview at the Remand Centre. “But he didn’t do it all the time. He didn’t like me swearing and did it for that, and once he gave me a black eye for glue-sniffing.”
Despite the chaos in the home, in October 1978 child welfare workers returned Samantha to her mother. A month later, Desjarlais gave birth to another boy.
Things went downhill rapidly, as Desjarlais tried, and failed, to cope with raising three children under the age of three.
On Dec. 17, 1978, someone called the child welfare crisis line with a tip that the children were being abused and the adults in the home were sniffing glue.
Police and social workers arrived, and noted that Samantha had bruises. But Desjarlais insisted she was a good mother, and that the apartment only smelled of glue because she and her friends had been building hobby models.
Workers left all three children in her care.
Three weeks later, Samantha was hospitalized with severe head trauma. Court records say Desjarlais showed no emotion when the ambulance picked up her daughter.
Doctors operated on the child to relieve brain swelling but the little girl died on Jan. 12, 1979, aged 14 months.
Desjarlais later confessed that she had repeatedly thrown the toddler to the ground in frustration and fury.
“All right, all right, I threw her twice to the floor — I was mad. She was crying,” Desjarlais later told police. “I picked her up, stood up and threw her from living room to kitchen between the doorway. (She) landed on her head and back, screaming. Bent down, picked up again, stood up, and threw to the floor again about three feet away, shoulder high.”
Child welfare workers didn’t apprehend Desjarlais’s two sons for 10 days after Samantha was rushed to hospital.
That same day, Desjarlais was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
It was just 10 days before Kane Blacque’s third birthday.
Various experts have told him he couldn’t possibly remember those events. But he insists his memories are quite clear.
“I remember it. I remember the whole situation. I remember her throwing my sister against the wall, though — not the ground. But who knows? Lots of things got thrown against those walls.”
At trial, Desjarlais pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She was sentenced to three years, but the Court of Appeal reduced the sentence to two years, less a day.
“The social history reveals an almost unbelievable level of crime, violence and addiction in her parents and many siblings,” said the court, quoting from a report written by a forensic psychiatrist who examined Desjarlais.
“It is quite clear from her social history that she has lived in an atmosphere of violence and absence of any accepted rules and regulations. The solutions to problems within her family of origin … were brutality and the survival of the strongest. Her lack of guilt feelings with respect to the injuries inflicted on her daughter have to be seen within this context. If she has no respect for the law it is because she has never learned any.”
By then, the Edmonton Journal reported, Samantha’s two brothers, and another baby boy, who had been born to Desjarlais while she was in jail, had all been taken into government care.
But Kane Blacque’s problems were far from over.
Blacque and the older of his two half-brothers were placed together in a foster home in Edmonton, with parents who had a reputation as firm disciplinarians.
At first, records show, Blacque seemed to do well. He had significant speech delays, which social workers and doctors attributed to his chaotic early home environment. And he was tiny, possibly malnourished, only in the fifth percentile for height and weight.
But in his foster home and in school he made huge strides. He was soon a talkative little boy, hitting all his developmental milestones.
But as he spent more time in the foster home, the records show, he became withdrawn and anxious. His foster mother, social workers reported, was actively sabotaging attempts to have him adopted, and refusing to take him for play therapy.
Years after, the foster father would be arrested and charged with sexual assault and sexual interference, after he allegedly molested a young child. Those charges were later stayed.
However what Blacque later remembered was being molested and anally raped, repeatedly, by one of the older children who also lived in the foster home.
Finally, in the autumn of 1982, child welfare workers, eager to get the children out of the foster home and into a permanent placement, had them featured on the Wednesday’s Child TV segment.
The television promo worked. In 1983, Blacque and his half-brother were formally adopted by a family from the Edmonton region.
Initially, the social workers’ notes suggest, Blacque was upset. He asked if he was being given away because he’d been “bad.” He asked if his foster father now hated him. Records show he seemed unusually attached to one of the older boys in the foster home, though social workers made nothing much of this at the time.
Still, the files show the adoption seemed to go well.
“Initially (the child) was resistant in relating to (his adoptive father) but is now first out the door for ice fishing, etc.,” wrote one social worker in January 1983, just days before the boy’s seventh birthday.
“There have been no behaviours such as tantrums, bed wetting, sleep disturbances, etc. (The adoptive parents) cannot believe their luck in getting two such lovely children. A very satisfactory placement.”
Four months later, the reports were even more glowing.
“(The child) is making excellent progress in school, being in the top 10 percentile in marks. He has really blossomed.”
But there were worrisome signs, too. Trips to see his former foster family left the boy angry and disturbed, acting out and refusing to visit them again.
And curiously, the records provided to the adoptive parents made no mention that the two boys had been raised by an abusive mother, nor that they’d been in the house when their mother killed their sister.
Instead, the adoption report described Theresa Desjarlais in glowing terms.
“She usually took care of herself, was an excellent homemaker and was pleased when someone cared for her,” reads the report. “She was patient with her children and had a reserved personality.”
There’s also no record the boy and his adoptive parents were offered support or counselling to deal with the fact that Blacque had spent his first three years surrounded by extraordinary violence. Nor is there any indication the department tried to help the two half-brothers maintain their aboriginal identity or connection to their Métis roots.
While early records describe Blacque as Métis, later files define him as Caucasian. His native identity was erased.
Once the boys were adopted, child welfare closed their files.
From the outside, things looked all right. Blacque took music lessons and acting classes. He won lead roles in school and community plays. On his report cards, his drama and music teachers praised his talent.
But his adoptive mother would later report that Blacque tried to kiss her open-mouthed, using his tongue, while still a little boy. Reading between the lines of the social workers’ later reports, it seems clear that his adoptive father, a big, rugged outdoorsman who loved fishing and camping, had a poor and distant relationship with his artistic adopted son, and favoured Blacque’s younger half-brother.
“My mother would enrol me in a dance class, and he’d pull me out and put me in baseball,” Blacque recalls. “She’d put me in music lessons, and he’d pull me out and put me in tae-kwon-do. He wanted me to be a man, and she wanted me to be me.”
But though Blacque and his adoptive mother had a very close relationship, it could also be a toxic one.
“When she got angry, she lost her mind,” he remembers. “It was rage. And she would start hitting me with whatever she could find.”
Nor was it easy to be a gay, aboriginal kid at his school outside of Edmonton. He was regularly bullied and beat up at school, regularly called a fag.
Things came to a head in 1989, the year he turned 13.
An Edmonton social theatre company, Catalyst, came to his school with a show designed to teach kids to protect themselves from sexual abuse.
When the play was over, his principal asked to speak with him. The teachers and cast had been concerned by his demeanour while the show was on. They asked him if he had ever been abused.
“As far as I can remember, I actually denied everything,” Blacque says.
Finally, he told them that he had been regularly molested in his former foster home.
The disclosure brought no relief or release. Instead, it blew his life apart. Child welfare authorities investigated his allegations, and informed police. But no charges were ever laid, in part, say the records, because Blacque had been so young at the time of the alleged assaults, and in part because the alleged assailant was himself a minor at the time.
And Blacque’s sexual orientation itself clearly made some people uncomfortable.
There are vaguely disapproving notes in his files about the fact that most of his friends were girls, and about his unusual interest in fashion. Some of the reports on the file worry about his “gender confusion” or what they call his “sexuality problem.”
In 1989, Blacque’s homosexuality was seen primarily as a psychological disorder, a pathology to be treated or overcome, not as a positive part of his identity.
Child welfare arranged for counselling for Blacque and his adoptive mother — his adoptive father, according to the reports, refused to come — but it doesn’t seem to have offered much help.
The 13-year-old started acting out, sometimes with physical and sexual aggression. Before the year ended, his adoptive parents decided they could no longer cope.
They asked child welfare workers to remove the boy from their home. Not long after, they and Blacque’s younger half-brother moved to another province. By 1991, the adoption was legally over. The province became his permanent guardian.
For Blacque, it was a dark and terrible time. In three years, he bounced through some 20 different placements: foster homes, group homes, youth centres, secure lock-ups, and supported living arrangements.
Sometimes he ran away. Sometimes his behaviour was so anti-social, homes refused to let him stay. There were allegations — unproven in court — that he’d sexually propositioned or pressured other residents.
By 14, he was a child prostitute, turning tricks for money and affection.
Yet his child welfare records are virtually silent about this. Workers obviously knew he was working in the sex trade. In a 1991 file, a caseworker notes that police confirmed the boy had been kidnapped and seriously assaulted by a “bad trick” — but there’s no record of intervention to try to get him out of sex work.
That same year, he was approached by an Edmonton man, Doug Butler, who promised to make him a movie star in a sexually explicit film about a gay boy’s coming of age.
Butler showed him a script and signed him to a formal-looking contract. Then, he asked him to “audition”. The sexual relationship went on for two years.
“He told me my co-star would be River Phoenix, and I believed him,” says Blacque ruefully. “He was that good.”
Butler was eventually charged and convicted of sexual exploitation, and sentenced to 30 months in prison. In 1999, after similar convictions involving other victims, including a case where he drugged a young man and raped him on camera, Butler was designated a long-term offender.
But Blacque’s child welfare records make no mention of his abuse by Butler.
Despite it all, Blacque auditioned and was accepted into the drama program at Victoria School of the Arts. Even while bouncing from group home to group home, he became an elite high diver with a competitive club. He recalls winning a bronze medal at the 1991 Alberta Summer Games in Stettler. One of his best memories of this time, he says, was coming home from the competition to find that the residents and staff of the safe house for teen prostitutes had made him a cake and organized a party to celebrate his medal.
Back then, MacDonald Drive, above Bellamy Hill, was part of the gay stroll where young male prostitutes plied their trade. Blacque recalls spending a lot of time outside the Edmonton Journal building trolling for clients. He’d go to class in the morning, diving practice in the afternoon, then pick up johns in the evening.
Eventually, his life unravelled. He dropped out of high school and quit diving. He was drinking, using drugs, acting out against other kids in his group homes. He was shoplifting, setting fires, turning tricks. There were multiple suicide attempts. Sometimes, he says, he’d steal from the Bay and then wave at the security camera, more interested in getting caught, in getting attention, than in what he stole.
“Treatment” didn’t seem to help. One psychiatrist, who treated him while he was at the Yellowhead Youth Centre, was dismissive.
“A lethal suicide attempt, however, can not be taken seriously,” he wrote in one report.
Later, the same psychiatrist reported that Blacque had “a well-developed personality disorder” with “anti-social, borderline, and histrionic categories.” He concluded that no psychiatric treatment was appropriate.
“He is clearly not suicidal nor mentally ill, but merely extremely manipulative.”
Others took a more charitable view.
“While (the boy) was being sexually abused, his ability to trust in people who had power over him was greatly reduced and was further diminished by the fact that when the abuse was revealed, the community and family response was not appropriately supportive,” wrote one psychologist. “The depth of betrayal (he) experienced consequently lead to his abandonment of any real trusting relationship.”
Wrote another therapist, “For all his bravado, it is clear that he feels a great sense of loss and abandonment and perhaps betrayal by the adoptive parents and many of his behaviours are related to those feelings.”
At 18, he aged out of the child welfare system and his file was closed. He had his name legally changed to Kane Blacque.
There’s one more thing Blacque remembers about turning 18. That, as best he can recall, is when child welfare informed him that his birth mother, Theresa Marie Desjarlais, had died five years before.
Desjarlais served her sentence for the manslaughter of Samantha but there were lots of new arrests and convictions, beginning in 1982, the year she was released. In 1985, Desjalais was convicted of criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle, common assault, and being unlawfully in a dwelling home. In 1987, she was convicted of possession of property obtained by crime and causing a disturbance.
Finally, in 1988, she was convicted of robbery, possession of a weapon and unlawful confinement, and sentenced to 822 days.
Desjarlais tried to commit suicide at the jail in Fort Saskatchewan by slashing her wrists. She was then transferred to the Lethbridge Correctional Centre.
On Oct. 17, 1989, she was seen by two psychologists, who found her extremely depressed, and wrote a report saying it was “paramount to get her psychiatric care.”
The next day, she was placed in solitary confinement after being found with drugs.
There were no cameras in the cells, but guards were supposed to check on her every 15 to 30 minutes. That night, according to a witness, she called out and told the guard she was going to string herself up. The guard reportedly yelled back, “Shut up, or we’ll restrain you.”
She tore apart the plasticized cover on her mattress, knotted the strips together, and hanged herself from the bars of a window.
She was discovered by the worried psychologist who’d opposed her move to solitary and had come to check on her.
She died four days later, shortly after being taken off hospital life support.
Her obituary in the Edmonton Journal made no mention of her four children.
She was just 30 years old.
On his own at 18, Blacque supported himself in the sex trade.
For a time, he was, he boasts self-mockingly, the highest-paid male escort in Edmonton. It was a very different life than picking up tricks on the street. The agency provided him with a car, driver and bodyguard.
Later, he left Alberta to work as an escort in B.C.
He battled addictions to drugs and alcohol. He made multiple suicide attempts. He moved back to Edmonton and was finally admitted to Alberta Hospital for electro-shock therapy, which helped with the depression, but disrupted his memory.
In 2005, he joined a class-action lawsuit against the province. The complainants were all survivors of the child welfare system who were suing the province, as their guardian, for failing to sue third parties who had injured or abused them.
But the class action, spearheaded by Edmonton lawyer Robert Lee, bogged down when Lee got into a dispute with two other class action specialists who were working with him on the case. The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench finally removed all the original lawyers, and reassigned the case to an Ontario firm that specializes in class-action suits. A decade later, the case seems no nearer to being settled.
Blacque has received some money from the province’s victims of crime compensation program for the sexual abuses he suffered — but not what he feels he deserves. His appeals of that process continue.
It’s easy enough to understand Blacque’s anger at a system that failed him from the day he was born to the day he “aged out”.
And yet, flipping through all the hundreds and hundreds of pages in his child welfare record, it’s also plain that many well-meaning, dedicated individuals tried to help him.
When they failed, it wasn’t generally through malice or neglect or overwork, but perhaps more through deluded optimism. Case workers wanted so badly to believe that they’d done the best for the little boy, that he was in a safe place, that they blinded themselves to signs that things were terribly wrong.
It’s also clear that Blacque himself, angry and distrustful, with powerful feelings of abandonment, often lashed out at the very people who were trying hardest to help him.
Blacque was clever and articulate, charismatic and charming. And he often used that charm to con people.
“My files say, ‘He’s a very good manipulator,’” Blacque acknowledges. “Well hell, you had to be. That’s how I survived.”
Even today, he admits, it’s hard for him to make and keep friends. He sabotages relationships, is unwilling to trust people, behaves badly to friends and employers, in an effort to insulate himself from emotional pain and rejection.
Yet, despite it all, he survived — bruised, but unbowed.
“I did it by fighting, kicking and screaming,” he says.
His life in the sex trade behind him, he put his charm and his hard-won sales skills to work, instead, in advertising sales. He’s been drug-free for three years. Volunteering has also been therapeutic, whether he’s raising funds to fight AIDS, collecting for the Food Bank, or supporting charities that help the homeless, or advocating for children at risk.
“I believe in karma,” he says. “I’ve done a lot of bad things in my life and made a lot of bad choices, so I try to level that out with good things. I’ve taken so much from the community, I think it’s important that I give back.”
Clean and off drugs, in a loving, supportive relationship, with a meaningful job, and with the story of his life spread out in black-and-white before him, he’s feeling a little more in control of his destiny than he has in a long time — perhaps ever.
“This is the first time I’ve ever felt that I’m being heard,” he says. “Thirty-five years later, I finally get to tell my story.”
Source: Edmonton Journal
Long Arm of Child Law
April 23, 2015 permalink
American authorities reached over the border to forcibly grab Mexican teenager Alondra Luna Núñez from her parents. A Texas mother claimed the girl was her daughter. Authorities refused to believe the girl was who she said she was until DNA tests confirmed she was unrelated to the Texas claimant.
Think about this case. The United States claims the right to grab a child from anywhere in the world and subject her to American law.
In a related article Newsweek summarizes the theft of children of the Baltic states by other European countries. Policies that are routine within Scandinavia and Britain become international incidents when the victims are foreigners.
Mexican girl who was wrongly seized and sent to US is reunited with family
GUANAJUATO, Mexico – When a woman in Texas claimed that Alondra Luna Nunez was her long-lost daughter, the girl's real parents in Mexico say they presented more than a dozen documents from baptismal records and a copy of her birth certificate to family photographs. They were sure it was enough to demonstrate her true origins.
In the end, they say, Alondra was sent screaming to the U.S. based on a scar on the bridge of her nose resulting from a remote-control car mishap as a young girl. And they blame their traumatic weeklong separation squarely on the judge who made the final call.
"The other girl had a scar, but on the eyebrow, and I have one on my nose. I mean all this was stirred up over that," Alondra, 14, told The Associated Press on Wednesday at an emotional reunion with family after nearly a week away. "The judge said, 'No, it's her,' and that was that."
DNA testing proved Alondra was not Houston resident Dorotea Garcia's daughter.
The case drew international attention after a video of the distraught girl being forced into a police vehicle last week circulated in media and on social networks.
Judge Cinthia Elodia Mercado told the AP that she held to her obligation to make sure that international child-abduction conventions were followed.
"Our only job is to resolve whether the child needs to be returned or not," she said.
But the resulting drama touched not only Alondra's family in Mexico but also Garcia, who believed she had finally found her daughter, Alondra Diaz Garcia, taken from the U.S. illegally by her father nearly a decade ago.
That girl's whereabouts are unknown, and a felony warrant remains for the father, Reynaldo Diaz, who is suspected of abducting her from Houston in 2007.
Garcia, speaking to a Houston television station, said the first time she saw Alondra Luna, "I saw my daughter." She gave few details about how she ended up leaving Mexico with the girl, although she said she knows many won't look kindly on her actions.
"The people who know me don't need me to give an explanation for what happened," she said later to the AP. "Whatever explanation I give won't change the minds of people in Mexico or here."
Alondra said Garcia and the woman's family members apologized to her before she returned.
After Alondra flew into Guanajuato in Central Mexico around noon Wednesday, the family gathered for an afternoon and evening barbecue at her aunt's house. They celebrated with balloons, streamers and steak and chorizo sausage sizzling on the grill.
"Welcome to your real home, Alondra," read a homemade sign.
Wearing jeans, a gray T-shirt and a silver necklace with an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Alondra laughed and hugged brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles. As the sun went down in the hilly working-class neighborhood where they live, family and friends lit candles and recited the rosary on a sidewalk. Alondra wept as an elderly neighbor swept her into an embrace that lasted for minutes.
Garcia traveled to Mexico this year and said she had found her daughter in Guanajuato, prompting U.S. authorities to seek Interpol's help in retrieving her. She did not elaborate how, in her brief comments to the AP.
Many things remained unclear, including who called Interpol from the U.S.
On April 16, Mexican agents assigned to Interpol took Alondra from her middle school and transported her to a courtroom in the neighboring state of Michoacan, according to a statement from the federal Attorney General's Office.
Alondra's parents and Garcia each presented documents and gave testimony, then the judge ruled in favor of Garcia, ordering the girl into her custody. A court official, who was not authorized to speak to the press, said on condition of anonymity that Alondra's parents didn't present proper documents.
Alondra and Garcia went by bus to Houston, crossing at Laredo, Texas, with the birth certificate of Garcia's daughter and the court order, according to Mexico's Foreign Ministry.
"Anger. Rage. Powerlessness that they could tear my daughter from my arms. Sadness," said Susana Nunez, Alondra's mother. "I didn't sleep. I didn't eat. I said, 'How is my daughter, what is she doing?'"
Alondra said she was terrified at first, having never been so far from her parents, but was confident that ultimately the truth would come out and she would return. Still, her father, Gustavo Luna, said there were moments when he feared he might never see her again.
"A lot of things went through my mind ... at those moments you fear the worst," Luna said.
Alondra said she asked for a DNA test in Mexico but it was denied. The magistrate who ruled on the case said it wasn't within her authority to order one.
"We as judges are only responsible to resolve the case with respect to recovering the minor," Elodia Mercado said. "We don't do investigations or make inquiries."
Alondra asked again for a DNA test this week in the United States, and Mexico's Foreign Ministry also intervened after the video caused an uproar.
Source: Fox News
Baltic States Say Norway, UK and Finland Have Stolen Their Children
Several Eastern European countries have declared war on child protection agencies in Norway, Finland and the UK, claiming that they are breaking up families based on little or no conclusive evidence.
The issue has come to a head in Lithuania after a television chat show accused the Norwegian child protection services, Barnevernet, of seizing the seven-year-old son of a Lithuanian mother, Gražina Lešcinskiene, earlier this year, after the boy showed signs of “sexualised behaviour”.
According to chat show An Hour with Ruta, Barnevernet routinely takes Lithuanian children from their parents as they are a “sought-after commodity” – a claim strongly denied by Norway.
The fall-out has become so toxic in Lithuania that the Norwegian ambassador there has hired a PR company to dispel the negative opinions of Norway being broadcast by the Lithuanian media. “This is a huge issue in Lithuania right now,” says Daiva Petkeviciute, a Lithuanian living in Norway, who works for the Oslo-based group Human Rights House Network. “The first thing Lithuanians say when I tell them I live in Norway is, ‘How do you still have your kids?’”
Meanwhile, a Latvian child living in the UK was removed from her mother in 2010 after the 21-month-old girl was allegedly found at home alone. The child was then placed with foster parents and is now living with adoptive British parents.
The mother denies her child was left alone and accuses the local authority of “forced adoption”. Earlier this month the Latvian parliament issued a formal complaint to the Speaker of the House of Commons about the conduct of British social services. The head of the child affairs cooperation division at the Latvian Ministry of Justice, Agris Skudra, said Britain had failed to notify Latvia that the child had been removed from its parents, thus depriving relatives of being given the chance to care for the child.
“The only thing [the social services] have done is apologise for missing a significant step in the adoption process, but for the mother and Latvian institutions this is not a relief. Apologising and saying we didn’t know something is not good enough,” Skudra says.
There has also been growing anger in the Czech Republic over a case that occurred in 2011. The two sons of a Czech mother were removed by Norway’s child protection agency after the parents were suspected of violence and sexual abuse. They were placed with different foster families. Earlier this year, Czech President Miloš Zeman accused Norway of “behaving like Nazis”, and a petition that backs the mother has attracted almost 10,000 signatures. “In the eyes of Europeans, Norway has become a country that takes children away from their parents excessively,” says Czech MEP Tomáš Zdechovský.
Wild theories circulating on Lithuanian social media suggest that Russian propaganda could be behind the discord. At the end of last year, the Russian Children’s Right Commissioner accused Norway and Finland of “terrorising” Russian families living in Scandinavian nations.
Norwegian ambassador to Lithuania, Dag Halvorsen, says a care order is only taken as a last resort. He blames cultural differences for the crisis, an opinion echoed by Lithuanians and Norwegians alike, who point out that acceptable child discipline differs vastly between different countries and generations.
Indeed, the head of child right protection in Lithuania concurs that culture differences could be affecting cases but that they “understand the concern of the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania about the existing situation”.
“With no clear legal regulation between these two states present, Lithuanian and Norwegian nationals have different interpretations of the situations when Norwegian authorities decide to curtail parental rights in their children's respect and to determine third-party custody of minor nationals of the Republic of Lithuania in Norwegian families. Information about cases like these is often published causing social frustration.”
However, the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs in Norway says that they regret the "distortion" they believe certain media in Lithuania have created regarding the Norwegian child welfare system.
"Norwegian legislation is primarily based on one principle: The best interest of the child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history, and Norway ratified the Convention in 1991.
The Norwegian Child Welfare Act’s main purpose is to ensure that children who live in conditions that can harm their health and development are given necessary and adequate help and care.
Regarding the Lithuanian population (including Norwegian born children from Lithuanian parents), less than 14 children out of a total of 5,906 children in Norway were placed out of home and 117 received voluntary support in the home.”
Man Sentenced for Sexual Abuse
April 21, 2015 permalink
Rumors on the internet for a year have suggested the enclosed case, purportedly about sexual abuse, is really about shutting down opposition to children's aid.
Six months for sexual interference
BELLEVILLE - A man who sexually touched his younger sister has been sentenced to jail time.
The man, whose name will not be released due to a publication order, was sentenced to a period of six months in jail, plus two years of probation with a variety of conditions, by Justice John Johnston Tuesday in the Superior Court of Justice at the Quinte Courthouse.
The case – which has torn a Centre Hastings family apart – has been before the courts for three-and-a-half years.
The sexual interference charges stemmed from incidents which occurred from 2008 to 2011, when the accused sexually touched his younger sister when she was between the ages of 11 and 14.
The court heard the victim – seven years younger than her brother – was touched both on top of and under her clothing when her brother would enter her bedroom during the night.
In a victim impact statement read aloud to the court by assistant Crown Attorney Michael Lunski, the victim stated her family has been torn apart by the incidents.
“My family never believed what I said,” she wrote, adding her mother and other brother both took the side of the accused.
She wrote there were times when she “just wanted to give up on life” and, at one point, did try to hang herself.
“I know it’s not my fault, but that is how I feel,” she wrote.
The victim impact statement also outlined how the girl was bullied at school, called names, and even told by other students that “I must have liked it if I didn’t tell anyone for four years.”
“I never told anyone because I was scared of what (he) would do.”
She also shared her inability to trust and be around people, especially men, which she said is a result of the touching.
Lunksi told the court the victim impact statement makes it clear “the extreme impact” the incidents had on the girl.
Lawyer for the accused, Clyde Smith, stated the man has “maintained his innocence” throughout the trial.
“These offences come at a horrible cost to everybody, including (the accused),” Smith said.
The man, who is 24-years-old and in a committed relationship, told Johnston he did not agree with the judge’s conviction ruling, but agreed to comply will all conditions imposed by the court.
“All I’ve ever wanted in my life is a wife and kids, to start a family,” he said. “All I want to do is get this over.”
Before delivering the sentence, Johnston told the victim she should feel no guilt.
“The fault lies with the accused who I have found to be the offender,” he said. “One hopes, along the line, this family will be able to work through this matter.”
“Society must protect our youngest and most vulnerable, that being our children, our future,” he said.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Police Reunite Toddler with Mother
April 19, 2015 permalink
When police found a wandering toddler in Barrie Ontario they returned the boy to his mother. There is no mention of calling children's aid. Not every wandering child needs the intervention of social workers.
Wandering Barrie toddler reunited with mom
A lost Barrie toddler was reunited with his mother Thursday after he was spotted walking alone.
City police were called to the Stanley Street area about the boy and found a three-year-old wearing only a t-shirt, diapers and boots.
Officers knocked on doors in the area and after 45 minutes were able to locate the family.
His mother told police she had put her son down for a nap and shortly afterward he made his way out the rear door, and eventually out of the yard, and wandered down the street.
At the same time officers were in the area banging on doors, police said, the mother was frantically searching the neighbourhood for her son.
The situation could have been much different had a citizen not called police.
The child was safe and unharmed when he was reunited with his mother.
Source: Barrie Examiner
Fake Social Worker Kills Mother
April 19, 2015 permalink
A social worker impostor lured Samantha J Fleming and her newborn baby out of their home. The impostor murdered Samantha and claimed the baby as her own. Indiana police found the body by tracing the victim's cell phone.
Mother found dead in Gary home was lured by suspect posing as case worker
A woman who was found dead Friday, wrapped in plastic and stuffed in a plastic storage bin inside a Gary home, has been identified, officials said.
The woman's body, which had been doused in bleach, was found at about 3 p.m. Friday at a home in the 1900 block of Cleveland Street, Lt. Thomas Pawlak said.
She was identified Saturday afternoon as Samantha J. Fleming, 23, of the first block of West Claire Street in Anderson, according to the Lake County coroner's office in Crown Point. The woman had been stabbed to death, according to the coroner, and her death was ruled a homicide.
Police from the central Indiana city of Anderson had come to Gary on Friday afternoon in search of a young mother and her newborn daughter who had been missing since early April. The 3-week-old infant, who was in the care of a suspect's sister, appears to be fine and will be returned to relatives in Anderson, Pawlak said.
But the story of how Fleming came to Gary is bizarre, police agree. Investigators from Gary and Anderson will sort through the events in the days ahead.
Anderson police had asked for the public's help in finding Fleming and her daughter, Serenity, who left Anderson on April 5 with a woman who said she was from the Indiana Department of Child Services and claimed Fleming had a hearing in Lake Superior Court, Anderson police said.
Soon after, relatives stopped hearing from her. Fleming's boyfriend reported her missing, police said.
Gary police found Fleming's wallet about two weeks ago at Woodlake Village apartments in Miller, and her cell phone had "pinged" on 15th Avenue near Interstate 65, Pawlak said.
In the meantime, a 36-year-old Gary woman who lives at the Cleveland Street home had set up a room in her home for a baby girl, police said.
"There was everything you would buy for a new baby. A crib, changing table, diaper bag, carrier, new clothes," Pawlak said. She passed off this baby as hers, police said. "It appears that she had been planning this," he added.
Investigators believe the woman posed as a Child Protective Services worker and lured Fleming to Gary.
At some point, the Gary woman asked her sister to care for the infant. The alleged kidnapper was later located in a hospital in Texas, Pawlak said.
"She knew a lot about this mother, enough to convince her she was with CPS," Pawlak said. Detectives will have to determine how she was able to gather information about the woman.
The suspect's sister had come to the house to pick up more items for the baby Friday and surrendered the child to police. Pawlak said the baby was examined at the hospital and is in good health.
A neighbor of the suspect is now questioning the relationship she had with her. The young woman, who asked not to be identified, said the last time she heard from her neighbor was around Easter.
The neighbor, who moved to Cleveland Street about a year ago, said she and the suspect were friendly but distant until January. Pregnant at the time, the two became close after the suspect helped her when she gave birth to her daughter at home.
"My phone was dead, so one of my sons went to go call the ambulance from a neighbor's house," the young woman said. "(The suspect) stayed with me and went to the hospital with me, and from then on, we were very close."
The suspect was pregnant at the time and said she was expecting twins, the young woman said.
Around Easter, the young woman said the suspect told her she had given birth, but one of the twins had died. The suspect also told her that she hadn't told her family that she had given birth because they had been harassing her doctor.
The second baby, the suspect told the young woman, was in the hospital recovering from jaundice.
A short time later, the young woman saw the suspect and a baby. The suspect was wearing sunglasses and had a bandage on her hand. The young woman said she thought the baby was "lighter-skinned" than she expected.
The suspect told her at that time she was leaving town and asked the young woman to watch the house while she was away. The young woman said she and the suspect texted regularly, though.
Friday was the first time the young woman had seen anyone at the house in weeks. When she texted the suspect Friday to let her know what was going on at the house, the suspect didn't reply.
"(The suspect's) sister was at the house and then left, and then a police car came by," the young woman said. "The sister came back, and then several police officers showed up.
"When I saw them bringing the body out, I thought it was (the suspect) for a second."
The neighbor said a night or two before the suspect left, she saw her going back and forth to the garage from the house with little plastic grocery bags.
There was also a night when she and a couple of other people left around 9 p.m. and didn't come back until late the next day.
"She was an amazing woman, and I don't want to place judgment," the young woman said, visibly shaken. "But her not responding today has made it more weird."
Detectives Alexander Jones and Jeff Minchuk are working with Anderson investigators on the case, Pawlak said.
Source: Chicago Post-Tribune
Addendum: The accused impostor is Geraldine Jones. Fleming believed Jones was a CPS worker because she had inside information about Fleming's prior involvement. Maybe Jones was a good detective, or maybe she had more of a connection to social services than has been revealed.
Gary woman charged with murder, kidnapping in woman's death
The nursery in Geraldine Jones' Tolleston home was ready for a newborn baby girl, all pink and bright and new. Jones, 36, had convinced family and friends she had given birth in March.
She named her baby Bella but claimed she was stressed from the loss of Bella's twin. She left the baby with her sister here and fled to Texas, where relatives live.
But it was not her baby, and police say she lured the newborn's mother from Anderson in central Indiana on April 5 to Lake County under false pretenses, then killed her.
Jones apparently attempted to kill herself days later by taking an overdose of over-the-counter sleeping pills, police said. Her attempt landed her in a Bedford, Texas, hospital bed where she remains under police guard, police said. Bedford is outside of Dallas.
On Monday afternoon, Jones was charged with murder, kidnapping and confinement in the death of Samantha Fleming, 23, of Anderson, and the abduction of her newborn daughter, Serenity. The charges were filed in Madison County, where the crime originated, news outlets there report.
Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said his office had been in contact with Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings and agreed the case could be filed there.
"We're not certain where the victim was killed, but the kidnapping occurred there," Carter said Monday afternoon.
Police found Fleming's body at Jones' home in the 1900 block of Cleveland Street on Friday afternoon. She had been stabbed to death, wrapped in plastic and left in a bleach-filled plastic storage bin in an unused bedroom, police said.
Her body was decomposed, but investigators were able to identify her from tattoos, police said.
Three-week-old Serenity was fine and appeared well cared for, police said.
Fleming graduated from Edison High School in Lake Station and had lived in Gary and Griffith. Her family and friends had made public appeals to find her.
She had been living with her boyfriend in Anderson. He reported her missing, saying he had not heard from her since she left with an Indiana Department of Child Services caseworker April 5. Fleming and her estranged husband had a previous child welfare case in Lake County, sources said. Jones apparently posed as a DCS caseworker and convinced Fleming she needed to return to address issues in the case in Crown Point, police said.
Fleming's wallet was found at the Woodlake Village apartments in Miller on April 6, police said. Jones' sister lives in that complex. Investigators "pinged" Fleming's cellphone at a location near Interstate 65 and 15th Avenue in Gary, police said.
Anderson police came to Gary on Friday to track Fleming's disappearance. The detectives were accompanied by Gary patrol units, who arrived about the same time Jones' sister was there to pick up more items to care for the baby. It was then that they found Fleming's body.
A DCS spokesman said Jones has never worked for the agency. Police have not yet discovered how Jones obtained detailed personal information about Fleming and her prior involvement with DCS, investigators said.
Gary Detective Alexander Jones and a detective from Anderson will fly to Bedford on Tuesday and attempt to interview Jones, police said.
Source: Chicago Post-Tribune