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Advice from Jesus
April 20, 2014 permalink
Vern Beck spent two hours speaking to a suicidal mother driven from prospertiy to homelessness by Canada's rapacious family destruction system. Her own lawyers profited $300,000 on the resale of her home.
April 19, 2014 at 5:59am
I generally do not encourage religious conversation on the Canada Court Watch site but one religious quote seems to ring so true with so many of the callers to Canada Court Watch over the many years. Countless children and their families over the years have complained about lawyers not doing a good job and abandoning their cases when they ran out of money. Many complain how overly aggressive lawyers make up lies in court. While there are some good lawyers too many know what is going on but continue to promote the break up of families in the name of profit for the legal industry.
Just today, I got a 2 hour call from a mother contemplating suicide because of what her lawyer and the CAS lawyers had done to destroy her and her child. She was once a highly respected medical professional who was now destroyed because of the family court system. According to this mother, during her family breakup, the lawyers involved forced sale of the family home and then the same lawyers bought and then resold the home for a $300,000 profit over six months. This once respected professional mother is now homeless.
It seems that the evils of those who practice law were predicted by the Son of God himself. The family court system is indeed ushering in dark times for children, families and Canada as a free and democratic nation.
Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Family Lawyer Sentenced
April 18, 2014 permalink
Danielle Ross was the sole guardian ad litem for Lackawanna county Pennsylvania. When a child got involved in a custody case arising out of child protection or divorce, she represented the child. She has just been sentenced to a year in prison. For failure to faithfully represent her clients? No chance of that. It was for failure to cut Uncle Sam in on her $200,000 take. It came from stealing both children and money from parents.
Attorney sentenced to one year in prison for tax evasion
She was applauded and vilified for representing children in child custody disputes, but in the end it was Danielle Ross' dishonesty about her income that led a judge to sentence her Wednesday to one year in prison.
The sentence, imposed by Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo, was within federal sentencing guidelines, which called for 10 to 16 months in prison. But it was much harsher than the probationary term Mrs. Ross sought for her guilty plea to a tax evasion charge.
Judge Caputo received more than a dozen letters regarding Mrs. Ross, who from 2008 to February 2013 served as Lackawanna County's guardian ad litem - a court-appointed attorney who represents the interests of children in custody disputes. Most were from supporters, who portrayed her as a dedicated attorney who valiantly fought for the best interest of children. Others were from parents, who accused her of riding roughshod over their rights, forcing them to agree to unreasonable demands if they wanted to see their children.
While he reviewed the letters, Judge Caputo stressed the sentence was not a reflection of Mrs. Ross' performance in the family court system, but his desire to ensure just punishment and to deter others.
"Tax evasion is a serious offense. It's an act of dishonesty, plain and simple," the judge said. "My decision is to sentence you to 12 months. I think that is severe enough to get not only your attention, but the attention of anyone else who might commit this crime."
Mrs. Ross, 37, of Jermyn, pleaded guilty in December to one count of attempted tax evasion. Federal prosecutors said she failed to report more than $200,000 in payments she received in 2009 and 2010 from parents who were required to hire her to review their custody cases, resulting in a tax loss of $63,124. Her husband, Walter Pietralczyk Jr., pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and is awaiting sentencing.
About two dozens spectators, including Mrs. Ross' supporters and critics, attended the sentencing at the federal courthouse in Wilkes-Barre. The case drew significant media and public attention based on complaints by parents that led to a state investigation into the county's guardian ad litem program 2011. The probe found multiple deficiencies, but no criminal wrongdoing. A grand jury investigation later uncovered the federal tax evasion.
Mrs. Ross, who wept through parts of the sentencing hearing, showed no reaction as her sentence was read. Her voice barely audible, she apologized to the court minutes before the judge issued his ruling, saying she regretted her actions and vowed never to repeat them.
Her attorney, David Solfanelli, sought probation or a sentence of home confinement, noting she is the mother of two daughters, 12 and 8, and that the crime was an anomaly in an otherwise exemplary life.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Olshefski opposed the request, saying a prison sentence was warranted because Mrs. Ross was an attorney in a position of trust, which she violated.
Ms. Olshefski also noted Mrs. Ross initially denied responsibility, placing blame for the filing of the false tax return on her husband. The government originally did not plan to charge Mr. Pietralczyk, but was forced to do so after learning her defense was to blame him, Ms. Olshefski said.
While acknowledging Mrs. Ross' accomplishments, Judge Caputo said he found no extraordinary circumstances that warranted a departure from sentencing guidelines.
"Because someone lives a good life does not buy them the right to file a false tax return," the judge said.
The sentence drew a mixed response from courtroom spectators.
Katharine E. Wiener, a Kingston attorney who attended law school with Mrs. Ross, said she thought the sentence was excessive.
"I understand the judge is trying to deter other people, but she is not a murderer," Ms. Wiener said. "She is trying to move on with her life and correct her mistakes."
Bruce Levine, who claims Mrs. Ross unjustly denied him access to his children for more than a year, said he felt the sentence was justified. Mr. Levine said he assisted the investigation by providing financial documents to investigators.
"She ripped the soul from my family. She stole my money and stole my children," he said. "I'm satisfied to the extent she is going to prison and can no longer work with children."
In addition to the prison term, Mrs. Ross was ordered to pay $63,124 in restitution. She was directed to report to prison on May 12. She declined comment as she left the courthouse.
Source: Scranton Times-Tribune
April 18, 2014 permalink
Father DH filed an application with the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) on March 27, 2011. According to a lawsuit he filed in February 2013, CAS responded by filing a child protection application four days later. The application was supported by affidavits attesting to injuries to his daughter that never occurred. The suit does not say where the girl was placed, but she "suffered immeasurably as a result of numerous interviews, unqualified therapy and being forced to denigrate the plaintiffs". She "suffers from parental alienation and now requires psychotherapy with a qualified practitioner". CAS showed lack of confidence in their case when they dismissed their own application on December 22.
The statement of claim is DH et al plaintiffs vs Family Youth and Child Services of Muskoka et al (pdf). The outcome of the CFSRB complaint is at D.H. v. Family, Youth And Child Services Of Muskoka. In complying with the CFSRB order, Muskoka CAS supplied an affidavit already part of the record, leading to this reprimand from the CFSRB.
There is no lawyer on the suit representing the plaintiff DH, but Muskoka has brought on the lawfirm of Lerners LLP. Suits of this kind generally follow the plot line of the classic movie Bambi meets Godzilla, YouTube and local copy (mp4), with the unrepresented Bambi meeting the high-powered lawfirm's Godzilla.
Winnipeg Foster Death
April 18, 2014 permalink
Matias De Antonio died in Winnipeg foster care on March 27, just 31 days after his birth. The family has received few answers on the reasons for apprehension or cause of death. The boy's father was refused a visa to enter Canada for the funeral.
Baby dies while under care of CFS
Minutes after a baby's funeral took place, a family from Colombia demanded answers from Child and Family Services about why the infant died in its care -- and why the baby was seized in the first place.
Matias De Antonio, who was born on Feb. 24, died March 27, about a month after being placed in the custody of CFS.
Now Matias's family in Winnipeg, including his 20-year-old mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles, want to know what happened to the child.
"These people have to stop doing things like this," De Antonio's uncle, Carlos Burgos, said Wednesday in a Fort Richmond apartment shortly after the baby's funeral at the St. Vital Cemetery.
"I want people who don't know how to do their job to pay for this. This should not happen to another family."
Burgos said CFS hasn't told the family much, but it does know the baby died from a lack of oxygen to the brain.
Burgos said Maria Herrera, his sister and Matias's mother -- who was allowed to see her baby three times a week for two hours -- had just seen him when a CFS worker put him in a car seat and drove him 38 minutes away to a foster home. When the worker went to take Matias out of the car, the baby was blue.
Burgos said he doesn't understand why, with so many family members of his sister living in Winnipeg, CFS made the decision to take the baby away in the first place. He said the baby's father was refused a visa to allow him to come to the funeral from Colombia.
"My mother is here. (My sister's sister) has twins who are five -- she could have looked after them," he said.
"We all came here in 2008. We love Canada. It's an amazing country.
"This should not have happened to us."
In a statement, a representative of the province's Family Services Department said they are restricted from speaking about individual cases because of provisions in the Child and Family Services Act.
The representative said the Manitoba Children's Advocate reviews deaths of children in care while the province's chief medical examiner has the power to call an inquest if it is felt one is needed.
Ainsley Krone, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Children's Advocate, said any information their office finds or any recommendations made will not be made public.
Krone said the office will send any reports to the family services minister, the chief medical examiner and the province's ombudsman.
"We would look at the services delivered and whether they met the needs of the family and to see if there are any gaps," she said.
"The system should always be looking at improving itself."
Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said Wednesday she also was unable to discuss specifics of the case under CFS rules.
Irvin-Ross said the children's advocate will investigate the death and report back to government and various CFS agencies.
Once the government knows more information, "We will be able to provide some insight to the family about their horrible loss," she said.
The minister said she learned of the infant's death last week. She expressed her condolences to the family. "I want to tell Manitobans that we're going to learn from this tragedy and that it is important that when we get the recommendations from the children's advocate that we put them in place and that we continue to build a better child-welfare system that supports families and protects children."
Progressive Conservative Family Services critic Ian Wishart said the family deserves to get answers from the government on what happened.
"Right now they're being left in limbo," Wishart said Wednesday after raising the incident in the legislature.
"They still don't know any details on cause of death. They frankly still don't know why the child was taken from them in the first place," he said.
Wishart said the infant had only been in care of CFS for three weeks. He said the family had been "making every effort" to satisfy child-welfare authorities they were fit to take back the child when they learned of his death.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Secret Alberta Death
April 18, 2014 permalink
A boy identified only as NW died in Alberta foster care on December 29, 2010. The cause of death was sudden infant death syndrome (crib death). A judge has examined the case and issued nine recommendations for avoiding crib death.
While Manmeet Bhullar makes headlines promising openness regarding foster deaths, actual practice is to maintain extreme secrecy. The province hides the name of the dead boy, his date of birth and place of residence. An earlier report made six recommendations, but those are also confidential.
If this case comes up again, we will identify the child with the pseudonym Napping Willie.
Judge makes nine recommendations in fatality report about baby boy who died in foster care
EDMONTON - A provincial court judge has attributed the death of a 15-week-old foster boy to sudden infant death syndrome, making no mention of an internal review that found the baby was neglected and supervision was an issue.
The boy, known only as N.W., died in Dec. 2010 after his foster mother fed him a bottle of milk and placed him on his side for a nap at 3:30 p.m. When the foster mother returned to check on him four hours later, the boy was dead.
Provincial court Judge Fern LeReferend raised no concerns about the four-hour nap, but issued nine recommendations related to the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome, which accounts for one in three foster care deaths in Alberta.
“All infants in foster care experience high levels of toxic stress,” LeReverend wrote in a three-page fatality inquiry report released Wednesday. “High levels of toxic stress cause physical and mental abnormalities, symptoms of which frequently go undiagnosed.”
In part, LeReverend recommended caseworkers obtain extensive medical histories for infants who are brought into care, with a view to better understanding what stressors may be affecting the child. The names of doctors who treat the child should be recorded and caseworkers, foster parents and biological parents should be kept fully apprised of medical concerns.
The province should “require foster parents to keep all medical appointments” and should appoint a physician “to keep abreast of the latest studies and research involving sudden unexpected infant death, and provide that information along with infant care recommendations to all designated physicians and case workers and foster parents,” LeReverend wrote.
He also said caregivers should work to reduce the stress of infants in care.
“Provide a consistent schedule and level of caregiving,” she wrote. “This is particularly important when the infant has several different caregivers.”
Internal records obtained by the Edmonton Journal show the baby was an aboriginal boy in the care of Edmonton and Area Child and Family Service, Region 6.
After his death, the region’s Placement Resource Team (PRAT) investigated his death, in part because the three-month-old baby had been left alone for four hours.
The review determined that allegations of neglect were founded.
“The PRAT assessment determined that the allegation of neglect related to failing to provide a child with the necessities of life was unfounded,” the report said.
“However, supervision was noted to be an ongoing issue. ... Thus, the allegation of neglect, being unwilling to provide the child with adequate care or supervision, was determined to be founded.”
The report said the PRAT assessment addressed the concerns arising from the (internal system) summary, notably the number of screenings and the length of time between checks of the baby.
The report included six recommendations, but the government has not made those recommendations public.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Lev Tahor Children Not Sent to Quebec
April 16, 2014 permalink
An Ontario appellate court has overturned a ruling and allowed Lev Tahor children to remain in Ontario. A judge in Chatham had earlier ordered the children forcibly returned to Quebec.
Court allows Lev Tahor children to remain near sect in Ontario
TORONTO (JTA) — The haredi Orthodox sect Lev Tahor has successfully appealed a ruling to place 14 children in foster care in Quebec.
The decision, delivered April 15 by an Ontario court, gives Lev Tahor, whose memebers fled Quebec for Ontario, a rare legal victory. It allows the 14 children named in a Quebec removal order to remain near the sect in Ontario.
The Ontario Superior Court overturned a lower court decision that upheld a Quebec order to place the children in foster care in Quebec. The lower court had delayed enforcement of the ruling to give the Lev Tahor parents 30 days in which to appeal.
Removing the children to Quebec “would be contrary to [their] best interests,” the higher court ruled, saying such a move would have “disastrous emotional and psychological ramifications for them.”
However, the judge said she had “grave concern about the health and welfare of these children and their protection.”
Seven of the 14 children named in the Quebec order are now in foster care in Ontario. They and their parents fled Canada last month but were forcibly returned from Trinidad and Tobago after a Canadian court ordered an emergency seizure order. Six Lev Tahor children remain in Guatemala, where officials have agreed to monitor their activities but have stressed that they and their parents entered the country legally.
The 200-member Lev Tahor community has been under constant scrutiny since settling in rural Ontario last fall when they fled from north of Montreal just before the children could be seized by child protection services. There have been allegations of poor hygiene, underage marriages, forced ingestion of drugs and physical abuse.
The community has denied all allegations, saying they are victims of a religious smear campaign.
The case will now go back to a lower court in Ontario to determine whether the children are in need of ongoing protection.
Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Habeas Corpus for Justina
April 16, 2014 permalink
Pelletiers' Attorneys File Request To Have Justina Returned
A judge decided Tuesday to give custody of Justina Pelletier to the state of Massachusetts. FOX CT's Beau Berman has more.
Attorneys for the parents of Justina Pelletier have filed a request that the 15-year-old girl be released from the custody of Massachusetts and returned to her family.
"Massachusetts DCF has no right to hold Justina captive," said Mat Staver, attorney for the Pelletiers, in a press release. "This is unacceptable. Justina needs to return home,"
Attorneys for the Pelletiers, who live in West Hartford, said they filed the habeas corpus Monday with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. They argue that Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has no authority to hold Justina and is violating the rights of Lou and Linda Pelletier, Justina's parents.
Justina has been in the custody of the state of Massachusetts since February 2013, shortly after she was admitted to Boston Children's Hospital to see her doctor, who had recently transferred from Tufts. Instead of her physician, other doctors treated her and disagreed with the family that Justina's symptoms — including weakness, headaches and abdominal pain — were caused by mitochondrial disease, a diagnosis she received at Tufts Medical Center in 2011.
Doctors at Boston Children's, however, said they believed her symptoms were psychologically induced Justina was diagnosed with somatoform disorder, a mental disorder. Boston Children's officials reported their suspicions of medical child abuse, and the state has since refused to release Justina to her parents.
Last month, Judge Joseph Johnston ruled in Massachusetts juvenile court that Justina was to remain the custody of Massachusetts.
The teen has been at Wayside Youth & Family Support Network since late January, and responsibility for her medical care has been returned to Tufts.
Source: Hartford Courant
April 16, 2014 permalink
When Pennsylvania teenager Christian Aaron True Stanfield was repeatedly bullied at school he used his iPad to record the harassment. When the school found out, Stanfield was compelled to erase the recording. He was threatened with a charge of felony wiretapping and found guilty of disorderly conduct. The school did not bother the bullies. After the story got into the press, legal advocates have offered to help him appeal. Nothing can be done about the bullies because the evidence against them has been destroyed.
Exclusive: Special Ed. Student Records Audio Proof of Bullying, Threatened With Charges of Felony Wiretapping
A South Fayette High School sophomore claims to have been bullied all year at his new school located in McDonald, Pennsylvania. In February, the student made an audio recording of one bullying incident during his special education math class. Instead of questioning the students whose voices were recorded, school administrators threatened to charge him with felony wiretapping before eventually agreeing to reduce the charge to disorderly conduct. On Wednesday, March 19, the student, whose name we have agreed to not include in this story, was found guilty of disorderly conduct by District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet.
Before the defendant was able to give a statement, McGraw said, “Normally, if there is — I certainly have a big problem with any kind of bullying at school. But normally, you know, I would expect a parent would let the school know about it, because it’s not tolerated. I know that, and that you guys [school administrators] would handle that, you know. To go to this extreme, you know, it was the only alternative or something like that, but you weren’t made aware of that and that was kind of what I was curious about. Because it’s not tolerated, but you need to go through — let the school handle it. And I know from experience with South Fayette School that, you know, it always is. And if there is a problem and it continues, then it is usually brought in front of me.” (emphasis added)
The student and his mother, Shea Love, testified before the magistrate that the boy has been repeatedly shoved and tripped at school, and that a fellow student had even attempted to burn him with a cigarette lighter. The defendant is, according to school records, a well-behaved student with no history of disciplinary action. He was, however, previously diagnosed with a comprehension delay disorder, which is a slower processing speed for information than is normal, ADHD, and an anxiety disorder. He says the bullying treatment is especially harsh and academically disruptive during his special education math class, in which students with behavioral problems are also placed. On February 11, after doing research on several anti-bullying websites, he used his school approved personal iPad to make a seven-minute audio recording of his classroom experience. He played the recording at home for his mother. Outraged, Love, a former Air Force Morse code operator, transcribed the audio before calling school administrators.
According to Love, as the teacher is heard attempting to help her son with a math problem, a student says, “You should pull his pants down!” Another student replies, “No, man. Imagine how bad that (c**t) smells! No one wants to smell that (t**t).” As the recording continues, the teacher instructs the classroom that they may only talk if it pertains to math. Shortly thereafter, a loud noise is heard on the recording, which her son explained was a book being slammed down next to him after a student pretended to hit him in the head with it. When the teacher yells, the student exclaims, “What? I was just trying to scare him!” A group of boys are heard laughing.
The school board’s bullying policy pledges no retribution for reporting suspected bullying. Its policy for abuse of electronic devices is disciplinary action and/or confiscation of the device pending a conference with the parent. South Fayette High School’s policy guidebook on the discipline of disabled students states, “Students with disabilities who engage in inappropriate behavior shall be disciplined in accordance with their Individualized Education Program (IEP), positive behavior support plan in place, each building’s Code of Conduct, and Board policy.”
The School’s Response: “Could Be Charged With Felony Wiretapping”
Love says that upon fielding her complaint, Principal Scott Milburn called South Fayette Township police Lieutenant Robert Kurta to the school to interrogate her son in the presence of Associate Principal Aaron Skrbin and Dean of Students Joseph Silhanek. The defendant testified before Judge McGraw-Desmet that he was forced to play the audio for the group and then delete it. Love says by the time she arrived at the school, her son was surrounded by school officials and the police officer and was visibly distraught. She says
Milburn defended the teacher’s response to the classroom disturbance.
Kurta testified before the magistrate that Milburn requested his presence at the school on February 12 at 8:20 a.m. The officer said, “He believed he had a wiretapping incident.” Upon his arrival, Kurta said Milburn advised him that Silhanek fielded a call that morning from Love notifying him “that she planted a recording device in her son’s backpack to record the activities in one of his classes.” According to Kurta’s testimony, after Milburn consulted with the school district’s attorney, he advised reporting the incident to the police and treating it as a crime. The officer then admitted he did not hear the audio file in question or do an investigation into the recording, presumably because the student was ordered to erase it prior to his arrival at the school. Silhanek testified, “Mr. Milburn asked (the defendant) to delete it (the recording) after we heard it and (the defendant) complied.” The defendant clarified that the recording was still on his iPad when Lt. Kurta arrived at the school. He said of the recording, “Mr. Milburn told me to delete it, and I just felt, like, really pressured to do it. I didn’t want to. I just think that it wasn’t really right. Like, I’m getting prosecuted for trying to seek help…If I had known it was illegal, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Love testified, “ I didn’t believe it (the bullying) was as bad as what it was. And when I heard the recording, I flipped out. He did not want me to say anything to anybody, but I wanted to be able to say something because what I heard was not right. It was not okay.”
In his defense, the student testified as to why he made the recording. “I wanted her (Love) to understand what I went through. Like, it wasn’t like I was overexaggerating it. I wasn’t lying. It was really happening. I was really having things like books slammed upside my head. I wanted it to stop. I just felt like nothing was being done.” Love testified that she was aware of the bullying but, “I did not tell him to record. I did hear the recording. …I’ve emailed her (the special education teacher) several times on this incident with other kids.”
Kurta said, “After I left the school, I wasn’t sure what charge to file so I contacted the district attorney’s office. This would fall under a wiretapping violation, which is a felony.” He later answered as to why he thought the disorderly conduct charge applied to this case by saying, “Because his (the student’s) actions — he engaged in actions which served no legitimate purpose.” He then read the statute as, “Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by acts which serve no legitimate purpose.”
Love’s attorney stated during the March 19 proceeding, “I’m not so sure that there wasn’t a crime committed by that evidence being destroyed. There’s no recording here that anybody’s introduced into evidence.” He continued in his closing arguments, “We’ve shown that there’s a legitimate purpose for the recording. And there’s no physically offensive or hazardous condition that was created by this recording. I don’t see how a recording of students that are bullying my client could be physically offensive or dangerous to anyone, other than potentially the people that are bullying my client.”
Disorderly conduct is defined in Pennsylvania as “the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof” such as by engaging in “fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior, unreasonable noise, obscene language, obscene gestures,” or creating “a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.”
Convicted of Disorderly Conduct
While Love’s son was never officially charged with felony wiretapping, the magistrate pronounced him guilty of disorderly conduct. This occurred after the administrators gave the student a Saturday detention to serve and he completed it as asked.
The 15-year-old defendant, whose favorite class is Civics, plans to appeal the conviction. His next court appearance is April 29 in Pittsburgh. When asked if she was afraid of retaliation by school officials or harassment by the police, Love said, “I refuse to be threatened. I just want my son to have a chance to bloom and not fall so far behind in a totally disruptive environment.”
The school immediately removed Love’s son from the special education math class. The students whose voices were caught on tape remain enrolled.
Transcripts of the court proceedings were made by a court stenographer hired by the defense team. The school will not comment on the matter.
Source: Ben Swann
Exclusive UPDATE: Mother of Special Ed. Pennsylvania Bullied Teen Speaks Out as They Battle Court Conviction
For the first time, since her teen son was convicted of disorderly conduct for recording bullies in his classroom, Shea Love, the mother of that student, is speaking out.
Benswann.com is the first media outlet in the country to reveal that student to you, after he was bullied at South Fayette High School in McDonald, Pennsylvania and then punished for speaking up.
Christian Aaron True Stanfield, a sophomore, claims to have been bullied for months in his first year at South Fayette High School. On February 11, he made an audio recording of one bullying incident during his special education math class. Stanfield used his school approved iPad to make a seven-minute audio recording of the incident. Instead of questioning the students whose voices were recorded, school administrators threatened to charge him with felony wiretapping. Our original story was first reported here, where we have detailed that bullying incident.
“Christian chose the most responsible route possible for a student who felt he had no power and no voice in order to change the negative environment that he was forced to be in every day. If we are ever going to change the culture of violence in our schools, we need to look at Christian’s actions not criminally, but rather as a profound cultural step in the right direction for kids who don’t feel they are being heard,” says Christian’s mother Shea Love.
As we reported, Christian’s actions were treated criminally, however, after his mother contacted the school. Shea listened to the recording before contacting administrators. The recording included repeated abusive and vulgar language from students as Christian was receiving help from a math teacher. After Christian’s mother heard it, she called the school at 8:00 a.m. on February 12 and spoke with Dean of Students Joseph Silhanek. Principal Milburn immediately consulted with the school’s attorney on the matter before calling the police. When Shea Love arrived at the school at approximately 10:20 a.m., she found her 15-year-old son visibly distraught in a wooden chair in the middle of the room, surrounded by school administrators and the police. She was advised over the phone at 10:00 a.m. that her son had committed a crime and was being questioned.
“Christian had the courage to be vulnerable as a whistleblower in order to create change where it was desperately needed. The school’s zero tolerance response (to electronics use) is the very type of action that creates the dangerous situations we have in our school today. Some of our children are choosing anger and deadly outbursts in order to be heard,” said Shea Love.
Instead of punishing the bullying students who were recorded on his iPad, it was Christian who served a Saturday detention for making the recording. Then, he was required to appear in front of a magistrate judge on charges of disorderly conduct. Stanfield’s mother said the school’s attorney was present at the March trial but refused to state his entire name to the court reporter. “When she asked him about his identity, he said that he was not involved,” Love said. “The court reporter asked him for his name and he just barked that his name was Wolfe.”
During the hearing, Lt. Robert Kurta testified that he consulted with the Allegheny District Attorney’s office before following up on the case, saying, “I made the decision to file a citation, summary citation, locally to be heard by our magistrate because I believe that he (Stanfield) committed a crime and that there should be some — he should in some way answer for it.”
Originally, Lt. Kurta indicated that Christian could be charged with a wiretapping felony. For clarification, law enforcement officers do not have the authority to charge anyone with a crime. When asked why the wiretapping charge was not officially made, Kurta testified, “That violation is a felony, and had I filed a felony charge against your client, and had he been adjudicated delinquent through juvenile court, that’s a record…”
On Wednesday, March 19, District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet opened the trial by stating that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was charging Christian Stanfield with disorderly conduct. The accused never entered a plea, but McGraw-Desmet found him guilty and ordered that he pay a fine.
“Christian’s willingness to advocate in a non-violent manner should be championed as a turning point. If Mr. Milburn and the South Fayette school district really want to do the right thing, they would recognize that their zero-tolerance policies and overemphasis on academics and athletics have practically eliminated social and emotional functioning from school culture. They should make it a top priority to use this incident as a catalyst for social and emotional change in the district and pioneer the way for other districts to follow.
“Mr. Milburn, will you stand by Christian’s side in court April 29 or will you still be looking down at him from the other side?” asked Shea Love.
Christian Stanfield is preparing a statement of his own to give on April 29, the day of his appeal hearing. Ben Swann will have the exclusive story.
Source: Ben Swann
Culture of Fear
April 15, 2014 permalink
Lenore Skenazy has posted a letter showing that danger of interference with child care is not restricted to professionals. The culture of fear regarding child abuse has turned the general public into hazards for all parents. Shaken Mom was restraing her toddler to protect him from traffic when a passerby noticed and objected. Soon the mother and son were surrounded by a crowd and the police seized the boy and took the mother to the psych ward.
A Toddler Melts Down, A Busybody Calls 911, Cops Arrive, Guns Drawn, And Then…
Dear Free-Range Kids: When my son, now 15, was about a week shy of his fourth birthday, I ran out to pick him up from his preschool, located four short blocks from home, with just my keys and no purse, something I had done many, many times before. (I know — stupid. No ID. REALLY stupid.) I picked him up, and in the course of walking home, he decided he was going to have a meltdown because he wanted to walk down a street that would have taken us far out of our way, and I was in a hurry to get back, so I said “no, not today.”
Well, he proceeded to try and run down the street he wanted to take, screaming and crying, and almost ran headlong into oncoming traffic because he was so worked up that he wasn’t paying attention to anything. I grabbed at him to keep him from going into the street and caught the hood of his jacket and yanked him back to me, whereupon he screamed louder. Out of nowhere, a woman materialized, yelling, “I saw the whole thing! She’s beating that child! I was across the street and down the block and I saw the whole thing! Call the cops!”
A crowd began to gather, screaming at me and telling me what a lousy mother I was, which of course terrified my son, and he clung to me, but he was still sobbing and crying. I yelled at the crowd to please leave us alone, couldn’t they tell that my son was upset, that I wanted to calm him down and go home, but they kept converging and screaming and flinging invectives at me — it was terrifying. I sat down on the sidewalk and cuddled my son to me, and he began to calm down…until three police cars and no fewer than TWELVE cops, guns drawn, descended upon us, wrenched my screaming child from my arms (at this point he was struggling to get back to me and yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! I want Mommy!”), tackled me, HANDCUFFED ME behind my back and forced me to await the arrival of a city ambulance.
A man in the crowd did take pity on me and let me use his phone to call my husband at work (which HE had to hold up to my ear, since they would not undo the handcuffs), but the cops would barely let me speak to him and it was hardly enough time to let me tell him what was happening. They would not tell me where my child was, and of course since I had no ID on me (I have NEVER done that again, lemme tell ya! Stupid!), they apparently branded me a crazy woman who was trying to beat and abduct a child. The ambulance came, and they hustled me into the back (all the while refusing to tell me where my son was) and took me to the PSYCH WARD at the hospital, where they kept me for several hours in a room locked from the outside and refused to let my husband (who had arrived by that time) in to see me, though apparently he had gotten enough information to track down our son, who had been taken to the precinct and was being guarded by a detective. We found out much later that he had been “examined” for physical and sexual abuse PRIOR to my husband’s arrival — which I believe is illegal. They did let me call my therapist, who, thank God, answered the phone — but it was all she could do to get them to release me to my husband. Fortunately, they HAD released my son to him instead of slapping him into foster care — I shudder to think what would have happened if not.
We were eventually allowed to go home, but I was contacted several days later by a worker from Child Protective Services, who said he was required to visit us, unannounced, every couple of months for a year to be sure that our son was not being abused. The first night he came to see us, I had a chicken roasting in the oven and even offered to feed him if he wanted. What he WAS required to do was look at our son’s bedroom to be sure he was being cared for (he had a big bed with lots of stuffed animals and shelves full of games and books, which I actually think surprised the guy, given what he was probably used to seeing in his work), examine our son physically to be sure there was no evidence of abuse, and ask him some very pointed questions about whether Mommy or Daddy ever did nasty things to him. (He was FOUR, for God’s sake!! Admittedly a precocious and highly intelligent four, but holy crap…the continual insinuations of sexual abuse turned my stomach!)
Anyway, of course no signs of any kind of abuse were ever found — but we lived for SEVEN YEARS with the threat of having him taken away from us, because that is how long these cases stay open on the books. We worried about every bump, every bruise, every argument we had — because of course he was also smart enough to know that he could hold it over us and threaten to “tell at school” if we had an argument, not understanding what the consequences would be if someone believed that we had hit or abused him, or if someone at school noticed a bruise or scrape on his body and thought we had inflicted it.
I swear to you: all I ever did was grab my kid’s coat and yank him back to prevent him from flinging himself into traffic because he was screaming himself blind. He was four, he was having a meltdown. But a bunch of total strangers who were “down the block and across the street but who saw the whole thing” and called the cops as a result could have totally and utterly destroyed our family and ruined my son’s future. He was, and is, a smart, beautiful, charming, talented boy; he has gone to gifted programs throughout school and currently attends a magnet high school, and he has nothing but promise ahead of him. But the actions of one “well-meaning” stranger who thought that a mother struggling with a screeching four-year-old was her business and that she had to “protect” the child, and who was able to draw a crowd around her, could have ripped a family apart and destroyed that child forever.
We are lucky — truly lucky — that eventually cooler heads did prevail and he was allowed to come back to us immediately. I know that in some cases, this does not happen, and it’s a nightmare for the family to get the child back, sometimes going on for years. But let me tell you that I TOTALLY understand the fear of the mom who wrote to you when she said she was afraid that the woman who yelled at her outside the post office had called the police and that they were going to track her down…because I LIVED something like that. It is, quite possibly, the most terrifying thing that can happen to a parent. And I must ask when it became everyone ELSE’S business regarding how to be a good parent to one’s own child. It’s hard to be any kind of a parent these days, especially Free-Range, but we MUST stick to our convictions and raise our kids as we, their parents, see fit.
Thank God for this blog. – Shaken Mom
Source: Free-Range Kids
Million Dollar Boy Can't Go Home
April 13, 2014 permalink
Teenager JLW is held in foster care against his will, 350 kilometers from his mother, stepfather and brother. Children's aid will not answer his questions and the boy is not sure that his lawyer is still working on his case. Read his statement on Vern Beck' Facebook post or a local copy (pdf). According to Mr Beck,
- I estimate a half million tax dollars have been needlessly spent by CAS when this boy has had a good home to go to for years.
- The parents would include other information but all issues have been dealt with 5 years ago, even the CAS have admitted this. They just kept the kid even when there were no risks to the child. It was all about money..
- The boy is a Crown Ward already.and has been for 7 years. He wants home now. His home is safe and stable and has been for the past 5 years and he has been having weekend visits for years.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
April 13, 2014 permalink
Enclosed is an example of the dirty tricks that are routine in litigation against persons not represented by a lawyer. Copies of documents filed with the court are not served on the adverse party days in advance of the hearing, but are often handed to them a few minutes ahead of time, or as in the enclosed incident, not at all. Without professional help or expertise, naive litigants are helpless in the face of deliberate misconduct by opposing counsel.
Is it LAWFUL for CAS to shove an order through chambers in less than 15 minutes WITHOUT serving other parties? (the parents) CAS served papers for an order to be passed WITHOUT serving papers to parents. CAS gives excuse about not serving papers by telling the Court they could not get a hold of parents (when in fact there is an answering machine at parents home, e-mail access and parents were home 90% of the time anyway) so.. Judge goes ahead and pushes order through anyway because CAS exaggerates makes circumstances appear as if there was this extreme risk so order MUST be rubber stamped. The affidavit ( instead of being a normal 5 pager) is a 50-75+ pages - something ridiculous. A TORONTO LAWYER, after looking at it said, it was very wrong and would not normally be acceptable in a Toronto court. He said it was all "Padding" and far too long mentioning things that are not necessary. A motion for an order he said should only need to be short. CAS finally serves papers to parents 3 days later , AFTER shoving order through showing a date for the paresnts to appear in court.... 3 days EARLIER!!! (and they get served on a Friday , so parents can not get representation easily and since the order went through anyway, it was too late... so .. Is it LAWFUL for CAS to shove an order through chambers in less than 15 minutes WITHOUT serving other parties? (the parents)
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Family and Career Destruction
April 12, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker reports on a mother ruined by the courts when her lawyer broke confidence to give a misconstrued version of her remarks to child protectors. She is separated from her daughter and a criminal conviction prevents her from earning a living in her previous profession.
If 'emotional abuse’ is to be a crime, who is guilty here?
A mother's misunderstood comment led to her being jailed and her daughter put into a care home
Each time I investigate a new instance of how crazily our “child protection” system has gone off the rails, I wonder how any story could be as bad. To paraphrase the opening lines of Anna Karenina, “all happy families are alike, but each unhappy family that has fallen into the clutches of this system experiences how corrupted it has become in its own way”.
This week’s example is that of a mother and daughter who lived happily together in the middle of one of the most beautiful areas of countryside in Britain. The mother held a responsible job, requiring professional qualifications; the girl enjoyed riding, swimming and gymnastics, and was a year ahead of her age at school. The only shadow on this idyll was that the mother took up with a new partner, who one day hit her so badly before running away that she called the police. Thanks to her full co-operation, he handed himself in and was sent to prison.
By now, however, the social workers had been called in, removing the child into foster care, under a Police Protection Order. When this expired, the mother quite legally took her daughter back. But the social workers now obtained an interim care order, to take her back into foster care for a full “assessment”. This seemed so uncalled for that 500 neighbours and friends signed a petition to say that it would be hard to find a child more happily cared for than she was by her mother.
One day, visiting her daughter, the mother was disturbed to see marks on the girl’s arm that could only have been caused by physical ill-treatment in her foster home. The girl’s grandmother, a respected retired teacher in her seventies, was so concerned that she reported the injury to the social workers, who brushed it aside. Next day, the two women, still shocked at the social workers’ refusal to take any action, visited a young trainee solicitor on a quite different matter: to arrange for a charge on the mother’s property to fund the building of a new house in the grandmother’s garden.
During the interview, the mother mentioned their concern over what had happened to her daughter, saying casually that the social workers’ dismissive response was the kind of thing that had prompted so many other parents to snatch their children from care, to flee with them abroad. She had absolutely no intention of following suit. But the young solicitor, completely misunderstanding what she had heard, reported this confidential conversation to the social workers. She suggested that the purpose of raising the money must have been not to pay for the grandmother’s building work, but to finance the mother’s flight abroad with her child. The following day, the two women were arrested and charged with “conspiracy” to abduct the girl.
They faced a criminal trial before a judge who had only just moved over from the family courts. Not a shred of evidence was produced to support the charge, other than the solicitor’s statement. Despite evidence from both the mother and the builder that this was an absurd misunderstanding, the judge seemed to prefer the case put by the social workers and police. When the bemused jury came to an inconclusive verdict, she insisted that they come up with a verdict of 10 to two. The mother was given 18 months, the 76-year-old grandmother, formerly a department head at the school where she worked for 40 years, was also jailed, but let out after two weeks.
When the mother was released, she learnt that her daughter had been removed to a new care home, according to the former foster carer “kicking and screaming, 'I want my mammy’ ”. This week there is to be a new hearing, into an application by the mother to be reunited with her daughter. The little girl, apparently longing to come home, is represented by an “advocate” who has only once met her. But the social workers are leaning heavily on the fact that her mother now has a criminal record (which, incidentally, disqualifies her from doing her old work).
To anyone looking at all sides of this story, it is hard not to conclude that something terrible has happened. The mother believes that she made only two serious mistakes: first by contacting the police, which got the social workers involved in the first place; second, by making those casual remarks, which were so grievously misinterpreted, causing her to be sent to prison. There are now MPs calling for the “emotional abuse” of children to be made a criminal offence. But in this case, as in so many others, we must ask: who is really guilty of the emotional abuse of this bewildered and unhappy child, for nearly two years robbed of the loving home where she longs to be?
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Less is More
April 11, 2014 permalink
The Conference Board of Canada has produced a report Success For All: Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in Care. It shows a list of ways in which graduates of foster care fail to reach the level of other Canadians. For example, lifetime earnings of foster children are $326,000 less than those of other Canadians. The headline of the abstract expresses the peculiar logic of social services that this deficit is a reason to spend more on foster care. What about spending less, so that more children remain with mom and dad and avoid the hazards of foster care entirely?
Members of the public cannot read the full report, but the press release is enclosed.
News Release 14-84
Helping Children in Foster Care Succeed Makes Social and Economic Sense
OTTAWA, April 7, 2014 - Improving support for children in foster care would increase their lifetime earnings by hundreds of thousands of dollars, and save governments in social assistance payments and spending on other public services, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report released today.
The report, Success For All: Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in Care, estimates that former foster children will earn about $326,000 less income over their lifespan compared with children not involved in the child welfare system in Canada. This disparity is largely due to less education -- primarily lower levels of high-school graduation. Over a 10 year period, the cost to the economy of not changing this situation could total an estimated $8 billion through lost productivity.
- Most youth leaving the child welfare system fail to graduate from high school, and many live with poorly treated mental health problems.
- A child exiting the child welfare system at the age of 19 will earn about $326,000 less income over his or her lifespan, compared with the average Canadian.
- The number of children in care in Canada, relative to its population, is far higher than in the U.S. and the gap has widened over time.
In addition, as a consequence of higher rates of unemployment and lower earnings than the national average, governments in Canada make higher social assistance payments and collect lower tax revenues, totaling a cumulative $126,000 per former foster child. If governments were to invest that money in initiatives to help improve the education and mental health of children in care, the long term social and economic benefits could ultimately outweigh that initial cost.
"There is a compelling humanitarian and economic case for tackling this issue. We know that most youth leaving the child welfare system fail to graduate from high school, and many live with poorly treated mental health problems," said Louis Thériault, Executive Director, Economic Initiatives.
"While these issues have been identified in the past, we've now been able to pinpoint the actual financial costs. Taking on these issues not only has the potential to benefit the overall Canadian economy; even more importantly, many foster children could have a better chance at participating more fully in society."
A report by the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, for example, found that only 44 per cent of former foster children graduate from high school compared with 81 per cent for the general population. Former foster children also enroll in post-secondary institutions at around half the rate of the general population. In addition, children in care have a much greater prevalence of mental health problems.
Success For All: Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in Care identifies the serious economic ramifications of not tackling these problem and suggests that governments, businesses, and the general public all have a role to play in helping children in foster care lead more productive lives.
Currently, Canada's welfare system is fragmented. One solution proposed is to undertake a coordinated effort among provinces, led by the federal government. Governments could help implement a comprehensive and cohesive strategy, including targeted investments in improving education and mental health. In addition, there is a need for comparable and consistent national data on children both while in care and after they leave the system. This would also require the cooperation of all levels of government.
Businesses could facilitate the integration of former foster children into the labour market by offering children in care greater opportunities for skills training and employment. This could be achieved by working with child welfare agencies or through public-private partnerships.
The general public could play a role in helping children in foster care by being aware of the special needs of children in care, support ideas to improve their circumstances, and generally assist in integrating foster children into the community.
Success For All: Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in Care is publically available from our e-Library.
For more information contact
Associate Director, Communications
Source: Conference Board of Canada
Foster Care for Truants!
April 11, 2014 permalink
University of Windsor student Nicole Powers wants CAS to intervene in cases of truancy. She points out that "Truancy is the number one risk factor for later criminal activity and juvenile delinquency." Sorry Miss Powers, foster care entails even more risk of failure in later life, that is, for foster graduates lucky enough to survive into later life.
Posters present practicum placement projects
Truancy is a serious problem in Ontario, says Nicole Powers, but children’s aid societies across the province are not mandated to deal with it.
A student in the Master of Social Work/Juris Doctor program, she recommends that the Child and Family Services Act be amended to empower Children’s Aid Societies to intervene when students miss school.
“Truancy is the number one risk factor for later criminal activity and juvenile delinquency,” says Powers. “The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has set a goal to ensure every person graduates from secondary school. Changing the act is a way to achieve that goal.”
Powers was one of dozens of graduate students in social work presenting projects based on their practicum experiences, Friday in the CAW Student Centre. Her placement with the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society was “eye-opening,” she says.
“I chose this agency because I will be articling with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (under Ontario’s attorney general),” says Powers. “I thought it would be a good idea to get some background on what children’s aid societies do.”
Although the public perception is that children’s aid societies “take people’s kids away,” she says she learned that it offers many supports to help families cope with challenges.
Social professor Connie Kvarfordt says that educational experience is the key reason why the graduate program places students with community agencies.
“The practicum bridges the gap between academic knowledge and real life,” she says. “It’s a great learning experience that will inform their professional practice.”
The students are required to identify possible funding sources for any recommendations they make, Dr. Kvarfordt says, and presenting their research in the poster display develops yet another skill—the ability to explain their work to the public.
Engage in community partnerships
Pursue strengths in research and graduate education
Arts and Social Sciences
— Published on Apr 7th, 2014
Source: University of Windsor
CAS Assessed $1.4 Million
April 11, 2014 permalink
When a manipulative and erratic mother of three separated from her husband London-Middlesex CAS took her side. It led to a 154 day trial. CAS ignored warnings from her teenaged son that she was an abusive alcoholic. At the end, the judge said the CAS "did not live up to (its) statutory duty to investigate thoroughly and objectively" and imposed two million dollars in costs, $1.4 million against CAS. While this ought to teach them a lesson, they will just pass the bill on to the taxpayers.
London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society slapped with record court costs of $1.4 million
The London area’s child-welfare agency has been hit with record court costs of $1.4 million, for failing to protect three boys caught in a marathon trial the judge says was marked by a manipulative mother and a father falsely cast as an abusive monster.
In a just-released written decision, the judge also ordered the mother — whom he said “manipulated the court by misrepresenting the facts in order to gain an advantage” — to pay $604,478.36, or 30% of the more than $2 million court costs.
The 154-day trial, over three years, was known in court halls as “the trial that never ends.” It helped build a huge backlog in London family court cases last fall, forcing officials to prioritize child-protection cases over divorce trials.
In a scathing indictment of the London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society, Superior Court Justice John Harper wrote the CAS “did not live up to (its) statutory duty to investigate thoroughly and objectively” in the case, and instead accepted the mother’s warped version as the truth. The $1.4 million is believed to be the largest financial penalty ever dished out to a child-protection agency in Ontario.
The cash-strapped CAS made headlines last fall when it couldn’t balance its books.
Spokesperson Michelle Bacon said the agency hadn’t reviewed the decision yet.
“Once we have, we will be considering our response,” she said.
The judge ruled in the case last fall, dismissing the CAS child-protection application and granting a divorce and awarding custody of the kids to the father.
But not until this week were the costs dished out.
“This started as a snowball of an allegation of unspecified emotional abuse that was flagged and assessed as high risk and it came crashing down on this family like an unstoppable avalanche,” Harper wrote.
The CAS applied for a court order in September 2010 to protect the three boys, aged 15, 12 and 5, months after the parents separated. But the judge found the CAS became “a lead advocate” for the mother, the driving force behind the trial. Her “multiple problems” included substance abuse and “manipulations and false claims.”
“(The CAS) had the statutory duty to investigate these claims through a thorough, objective and professional manner and they did not do so,” the judge said.
The family’s identity is protected by court order.
The erratic mother went from claiming her husband emotionally abused her, to claiming he was a sexual abuser and murderer who used his eldest child “as a gun in his hands to try to kill the mother of these three children.” Harper wrote.
Recordings, text messages and e-mails showed the woman to be erratic, verbally abusive to her sons, often drunk and having at least two extra-marital affairs.
In the middle were the three boys, who boomeranged between the parents. They repeatedly tried to alert the CAS to their mother’s violence, alcoholism and manipulation, only to see the agency side with her.
The case spilled into the criminal courts, with the mother alleging her oldest son had tried to kill her. But a charge of attempted murder against the son never got past a preliminary hearing after the mother testified. Instead, the Crown accepted a plea to assault by the son for “excessive self-defence” from his mother.
The judge dismissed the mother’s ever-shifting evidence. The agency, Harper said, tried to squelch any evidence that went against its theory the mother was a victim. A supervisor, responsible for providing lawyers in the case with CAS information, removed 475 pages of notes, records, e-mails and summaries from the file.
At trial, it was revealed the mandatory document-sharing was running a year behind.
Notes in the file referred to the mother as the “Society’s client.”
Meetings were held to discuss how to protect her and case workers from the father.
The mother also made a “most wanted poster” put up in her workplace and in her youngest son’s school file that had photos of her husband and oldest son with the words, “if you see these men, call the police they have a history of violence.”
Neither father nor son was convicted of any crime until the son’s self-defence plea. Harper found the sons were in more need of protection from their mother than father.
Trial by numbers
154: Days it lasted
$2,014,927.86: Total court costs
$1.4M: Amount CAS ordered to pay
$604,478: Amount mother ordered to pay
WHAT ELSE THE JUDGE WROTE:
About the mother:
Serious credibility problems “drove the case to the extreme it became.”
About the father:
Fortunate had help “to dig out from under the avalanche thrust upon him.”
About the children:
“What did survive were the scars to the children . . .”
About the CAS:
“Acted in bad faith.”
“This was exacerbated by the actions of the Society, some police officers, some women’s groups, a school board and her employers . . . many of whom accepted without any level of scrutiny the (woman’s) self-reports.”
Source: London Free Press
Political leaders react.
Lying mom case prompts calls for children’s aid oversight
LONDON, Ontario - Ontario's opposition critics have pounced on a judge's scathing indictment of the London area's Children's Aid Society as proof the province's child-welfare system needs drastic change.
The London-Middlesex CAS was slapped with a $1.4-million court bill and harsh words from a judge this week for failing to properly investigate a mother's warped version of events in a divorce and custody battle, even when three children tried to alert authorities of the woman's violence, alcoholism and manipulation.
"It is definitely evidence why we need independent oversight over the Children's Aid Society," Monique Taylor, the NDP's child and youth services critic, said Friday.
"We definitely know that these things go on. To my knowledge, it's the first time a judge has come out with this type of language with his thoughts on what went on in this case."
The Conservatives repeated calls for a review of the system, stopping short of agreeing with the NDP that the ombudsman should be given the power to oversee the child-welfare system.
"The whole children's area needs to be reviewed and (it should be decided) what is working and isn't working and make the changes that ensure children are always the first priority," PC child and youth services critic Bill Walker said.
"It certainly didn't seem there was a lot of thorough investigation done on all sides of the issue (in the London case). They took one side and pushed that. There needs to be a check and balance in that process," Walker said.
The London-Middlesex CAS was also put under review in the fall because it couldn't balance its books.
"The $1.4 million - where's that coming from? This is a major problem," Taylor said.
Taylor has tried twice to get legislation passed giving the ombudsman power to investigate Children's Aid Societies, with the latest bill blocked by the Liberals.
"Every ombudsman since this office was established in 1975 has called for oversight of Children's Aid Societies," Linda Williamson, spokeswoman for the ombudsman's office, said Friday.
"Ontario is the only province whose ombudsman does not have some oversight of the child-protection system, and we get hundreds of complaints every year about CASs that we have to turn away."
In response to questions about the case, a spokesman for Children and Youth Services Minister Teresa Piruzza said the Liberals have introduced legislation to strengthen oversight of CASs.
"This legislation would, if passed, provide the provincial advocate for children and youth with new investigative powers, like those of the Ontario ombudsman, to investigate matters relating to children and youth involved in the child-protection system," Neil Zacharjewicz said in an e-mail.
The NDP isn't sure how oversight from the provincial advocate would work, Taylor said.
"Nobody in this province has been calling on the provincial advocate to have oversight on the Children's Aid Society. People have been calling on the ombudsman for many, many years to have this oversight."
Source: Sun News
CAS will appeal.
When plain folks like us appeal a $1.4 million judgment, we have to post the money before a court will hear the case. We also have to comply with non-monetary trial court orders during the appellate case. Appeals like this don't cause hardship for CAS, beyond the cost of typing the legal documents and sending them to the courthouse. In the case now under appeal the trial court ordered three children placed with their father. The article does not indicate where the children will go during the CAS appeal, but it would not be surprising if CAS kept them from their dad.
CAS vows to appeal ruling of ‘bad faith’
The London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society (CAS) will appeal court decisions in which it was slammed for acting “in bad faith” during a marathon custody battle and was billed $1.4 million for court costs.
The agency also stands by its decision to seek child protection from the father of three children — a decision that was dismissed by a judge after an unprecedented 154-day divorce and custody battle trial that was spread over three years — executive director Jane Fitzgerald said Monday.
“We don’t make these decisions lightly and we take into consideration the opinions of other professionals and in this case we did so,” said Fitzgerald, referring to consultations with police, women’s groups and school officials.
“We stand by our decision to seek a child protection application in this matter.”
Last week, Superior Court Justice John Harper slapped the CAS with a $1.4-million court bill and had harsh words for the agency, saying it failed to properly investigate a mother’s version of events in a divorce and custody battle, even when three children tried to alert authorities of the woman’s violence, alcoholism and manipulation.
Fitzgerald said the society was compelled to respond to the accusations.
“Quite frankly, we are concerned the public would think we are making serious decisions about a child and family without doing our diligence,” she said.
She said length of the custody trial was “unprecedented in our experience” and CAS evidence only took 15 of the 154 days.
The original decision dismissing the CAS protection order was handed down in September. At that point, the agency filed a notice of appeal, but was waiting to see the cost of the court bill — in case it was small.
“One of our considerations is that we are not adding in additional costs,” Fitzgerald said.
But the notice was filed in the “wrong court,” she said, so lawyers are preparing a new notice of appeal.
Monday afternoon, the CAS issued a news release saying it was “deeply concerned” with Harper’s decision.
“The most recent judgment regarding court costs is equally stunning and unprecedented,” the statement said.
Source: London Free Press
Barbara Kay comments.
Barbara Kay: Children’s aid societies gone rogue
In a rare victory for common sense, a judge has pointedly rebuked a CAS for its appalling conduct.
It was called “the trial that never ends.” A custody battle, in which the London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society (CAS) became the cynosure of a London court’s ire, took place over 154 days, causing a huge backlog in other cases. It’s a tawdry tale, but it speaks to an untreated cancer in the child-services domain that cries out for chemotherapy.
The story began in 2010 when the London-Middlesex CAS applied for a court order to protect three boys, aged 15, 12 and 5, after a parental separation (the family name cannot be divulged). The mother had made multiple accusations demonizing the father: that he emotionally abused her; that he was a sexual abuser; and that he was a murderer who used the oldest boy “as a gun in his hands to try to kill the mother of these three children,” in words from Judge John Harper’s decision.
The mother was, to put it mildly — confirmed by recordings, e-mails and text messages — unreliable and manipulative. The three boys repeatedly alerted the CAS to their mother’s violence, alcoholism and sexual indiscretions. Yet the CAS blithely ignored all evidence to the contrary of their own settled conviction that the mother deserved their support.
Finally the mother accused her oldest son of trying to kill her, which brought the family into criminal court. Yet after a preliminary hearing, and ever-shifting testimony from the mother, the Crown reduced the charge to “excessive self-defence.”
Judge Harper assigned two-thirds of the court costs to the CAS — a record $1.4 million — and $604,500 to the mother. He had scathing words for the CAS, whom he charged with becoming “a lead advocate” for the mother and the driving force for the trial. He said that the agency went to great lengths to smother any evidence that countered their theory that the mother was the victim, overlooking her ever-shifting narratives, with their notes referring to her as the “Society’s client.”
It was revealed at trial that mandatory document-sharing was running a year late, and that one CAS supervisor, tasked with providing information to lawyers, had removed 475 pages of notes, records, summaries and emails from the file. (This, by the way, is a criminal offence, although to my knowledge the supervisor has not been charged.) Judge Harper also noted that meetings were held to discuss how to protect the mother and case workers from the father.
Judge Harper wrote that that the father was lucky to “dig out from under the avalanche thrust upon him,” and that “the scars to the children” were permanent. In summary, “This was exacerbated by the actions of the Society, some police officers, some women’s groups, a school board and her employers … many of whom accepted without any level of scrutiny the (woman’s) self-reports.”
This case may be shocking to readers who have not been exposed to the systemic abuses that run rampant throughout child-protection services, but it is not shocking at all to long-time critics, only one more heartbreaking story revealing the gender bias, amateurism and power-tripping that flourishes for lack of a checks-and-balance system that protects child and parent victims from arbitrary actions like those recorded in this trial.
What is shocking to me about this case is that the CAS’s depthless pockets for protective litigation services weren’t enough to stave off justice. I receive on average a CAS horror story a week — mostly well-documented narratives from fathers similarly victimized by mother-supportive CAS case workers — and these dads just don’t have the money or the strategic cunning (sadly needed) to go up against the CAS behemoth. I have followed the stories of several men — smart, disciplined, determined to remain fully engaged with their children, and convinced that their airtight cases of professional misconduct would right the wrongs they had suffered — and one by one seen them stymied at every turn by a circling of the CAS wagons in defence of the mothers.
CAS workers cannot be sued if they have acted “in good faith.” In the Middlesex-London case, Judge Harper noted that the CAS had “acted in bad faith.” Sadly, they act in bad faith all the time. Getting nailed for it is the exception.
Everyone knows the child-services stable needs a good mucking-out, but no political party in power will seize the shovel. Suppose this case were gender-reversed. If an alcoholic, abusive father had custody of the children; if the children begged their case workers for help; and if the case workers rebuffed them in order to protect the father: would it not act as a wake-up call?
Source: National Post
April 8, 2014 permalink
British Columbia father Frederick Philip Shupe has been jailed for two months for threatening an unnamed social worker. He was frustrated because social workers had ultimate control over every aspect of his children’s interactions with him.
To understand the frustration listen to British Columbia social worker Rhonda Bailey in another case on YouTube or a local copy (mp4). Mr Shupe found himself unable to follow the advice of a family lawyer: the best attitude toward social workers in child protection matters is “obsequious fawning".
Two months in jail for threatening social workers
A father of three who threatened a social worker and admitted to fantasies of holding a workplace hostage was sentenced to two months jail on Friday, Feb. 14.
The threats by Frederick Philip Shupe “destroyed the sense of peace and security of the victims and destroyed the atmosphere of the workplace,” said provincial court Judge Mayland McKimm.
In a victim impact statement, a social worker with Secwepemc Child and Family Services said she feels unsafe in her own home after the threats and had to tell her young child “someone wants to hurt mommy.”
Shupe was convicted at trial of two counts of uttering threats.
In one instance, he left a message on a social worker’s voicemail stating: “I will . . . haunt you until you die.”
In another instance, he confided to a probation officer he wanted to tie up social workers, hold them hostage and set traps for police when they came to free them.
While the phone message started out evenhanded, by the end McKimm characterized it as “intense, screaming and incredibly frightening.
“He was spiralling out of control.”
The defence argued unsuccessfully Shupe should serve a conditional sentence in the community.
McKimm said Shupe’s criminal record, including assault, robbery and multiple impaired and dangerous-driving convictions, makes jail necessary.
He also said a message needs to be given to those who intimidate social workers concerned for the safety of children, workers who showed Shupe “extraordinary tolerance.”
Shupe was also handed 12 months probation and a 10-year firearms ban.
At his sentence hearing, Shupe told McKimm he was driven by frustration at bureaucrats with ultimate control over every aspect of his children’s interactions with him.
He said he was once told by a social worker at Secwepemc Child and Family Services he was not to approach his children and their mother if he saw them in a public place.
“If I see my children anywhere in a public place, I’ll hug and kiss them and tell them I love them,” he told McKimm.
The hearing provided an insight into the complex factors courts and social workers must face in child protection — including driven and volatile parents.
Campbell called the 45-year-old man his “own worst enemy” during his interactions with bureaucrats over access to his children.
Crown lawyer Neil Flanagan called him “rude, aggressive and intimidating” — so much so the social agency’s offices were placed in a lockdown.
“He’s created a situation where it’s impossible to contact directly with Secwepemc Child and Family.
“Can you understand that?” Flanagan asked Shupe.
“Can you absorb that and change your behaviour?”
Campbell said Shupe has been sober for 11 months.
“He’s worked hard, as hard as any client I’ve had to keep his life on track,” said Campbell, adding Shupe is locked in a battle of wills with social workers — a battle he cannot win but nonetheless continues.
“This is a situation where he’s reduced to 20-minute supervised calls with his children,” Campbell said.
The lawyer, who has extensive family-court experience, said he advises clients their best attitude toward social workers in child protection matters is “obsequious fawning.
“As soon as you get on their bad side, you’re doomed.”
In one instance, social workers refused to let Shupe’s children eat lunch with him at the New Life Mission, where he resides and is undergoing a treatment program.
“They [social workers] deal with way too many cases and have way too few resources,” McKimm said, adding while the rule against the children’s lunch at the Mission may be “absurd,” Shupe has to live with their rules.
“Why would he do that it they’ve told him not to do it?” he asked during the hearing.
Campbell also presented letters of support, including one from a psychiatrist who diagnosed Shupe with post-traumatic stress syndrome. He is on medication for his mental health.
Lawyers said Shupe’s problems began when he voluntarily agreed his three children could go into ministry care after officials found his home was not clean enough.
He argued he was working full-time in forestry and was overtaxed at the time and also drinking.
Shupe was convicted in 2011 of an assault on a son from another relationship in a dispute over a computer.
He was jailed 60 days.
Flanagan said letters and threatening behaviour to social workers began after his release from jail in 2011.
[First comment only. For more, click source link.]
What the headline fails to divulge is skewed perspective: Philip Shupe, a father who feared for the safety of his children and alienation, responded in a manner most in keeping with appropriate parental emotional reaction; to protect his offspring from harm. (He is in reality, a good man, a gentle one who loves his children very, very much.)
Source: Kamloops This Week
Excommunication for Marriage
April 4, 2014 permalink
Mozilla CEO resigns, opposition to gay marriage drew fire
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Mozilla Chief Executive Brendan Eich has stepped down, the company said on Thursday, after an online dating service urged a boycott of the company's web browser because of a donation Eich made to opponents of gay marriage.
The software company came under fire for appointing Eich as CEO last month. In 2008, he gave money to oppose the legalization of gay marriage in California, a hot-button issue especially at a company that boasts about its policy of inclusiveness and diversity.
"We didn't act like you'd expect Mozilla to act," wrote Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker in a blog post. "We didn't move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We're sorry."
The next step for Mozilla's leadership "is still being discussed," she added, with more information to come next week.
"Brendan Eich is a good friend of 20 years, and has made a profound contribution to the Web and to the entire world," venture capitalist Marc Andreessen tweeted.
Eich donated $1,000 in 2008 in support of California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state until it was struck down by the Supreme Court in June.
His resignation came days after OkCupid.com, the popular online dating site, called for a boycott of Mozilla Firefox to protest the world's No. 2 Web browser naming a gay marriage opponent as chief executive.
On Monday, OkCupid sent a message to visitors who accessed the website through Firefox, suggesting they use browsers such as Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer or Google Inc's Chrome.
"Mozilla's new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples," the message said. "We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid."
Source: Reuters hosted at Yahoo
Masquerading as CAS Workers
April 4, 2014 permalink
On April 2 six adult members of Lev Tahor were arrested and five children went into care of Chatham-Kent children's aid. The children were returned to Lev Tahor later the same day. Meanwhile, the six children and three adults who escaped to Guatemala have been granted three months leave to stay in the country (and seek permanency). Two news articles are enclosed along with Facebook comments by Lev Tahor friend and visitor Lee Bolton.
Six Lev Tahor members arrested
Guidy Mamann, a Toronto lawyer representing the Lev Tahor, told the CKReview this afternoon that a total of six adult members of the Lev Tahor were arrested in the raid today in Chatham. An unspecified number of children were temporarily placed with Chatham-Kent Children’s Services (CKCS), however, according to Mamann the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) requested the children be returned to suitable members of the community. CKCS complied and at around 5 p.m. all the children were back living with the Lev Tahor.
Mamann said none of the arrests were criminal or connected to any child abuse claims. Those subject to arrest had over-stayed their visa and face a pending immigration hearing to resolve their status in Canada.
The arrest warrants were for seven Lev Tahor adults. Five of those adults were found within the community today. A sweep of the community by CBSA was conducted to ensure everyone had proper immigration status. One person not listed on the warrant was arrested by CBSA for over-staying a visa and two are still at large. The Lev Tahor members under arrest may be released by the CBSA within 48 hours on their own recognizance, if not then they will appear before an immigration judge to decide if they can be trusted upon their release.
Children of two families were subject to being placed under the guardianship of the CKCS. Temporarily some of the children were removed and taken to the CKCS building. “After the kids were grabbed we brought to the attention of CBSA that the children have a grandparent in the village,” said Mamann. “The CBSA director let the CKCS know and asked for the children to be placed within the community. CKCS confirmed they interviewed the grandmother for one family and she was deemed suitable to take the children. For the second family the wife was placed under arrest and the husband was not in the village. CKCS were asked to take care of the children. CBSA, understanding the preciousness of the children, asked CAS to find someone else. Again CAS did find someone suitable and those children were returned. No children were left with CKCS.” Mamann said he wished to commend the CBSA for working towards having the children returned and his heart would have been broken if the children were taken by CKCS.
“These people came to Canada to have a peaceful life. Their mistake was settling in Quebec where their rights to home schooling is far more restricted than in Ontario”, Mamann said. “In Quebec they have a mandatory curriculum that forces teaching French and evolution, or sexual topics that do not agree with Lev Tahor’s beliefs.” Such regulations do not exist in Ontario, leading Mamann to suggest the Lev Tahor would have been better off moving to Ontario first. “I have never heard in my life of a Jewish community who abuses their children,” Mamann added. “If the parents are deported then the children would go with their parents, at their parents discretion, even if they were born in Canada.”
What a heart breaking scene today on highway 40. Kids violently apprehended by the Nazis masquerading as "child protection workers" and now 5 innocent children traumatized beyond belief. All the while the Nazis had a smug look on their ugly motherfucking faces. Apparently some of the local police and immigration thought this was a feel good party...laughing and hamming it up on our tax dollar while children and families were being torn apart and forever changed. FUCKERS! So much more I'd like to say but we'll let the pictures and videos tell the entire story in due time.
They denied them a lot of rights. First one, denied them legal counsel. not once but twice. CAS has also stated in the court transcript that they don't believe some of the families understand English very well and therefor may not have understood they couldn't leave the country, but yet CAS SHOWED UP THERE TODAY WITHOUT AN INTERPRETER AND MADE THEM SIGN AGREEMENTS obviously without their lawyer present. The[y] told the families if they don't sign them, they wouldn't return the five children they apprehended today.
Source: Facebook, Lee Bolton
Children of two families were subject to being placed under the guardianship of the CKCS. Temporarily some of the children were removed and taken to the CKCS building. “After the kids were grabbed we brought to the attention of CBSA that the children have a grandparent in the village,” said Mamann. “The CBSA director let the CKCS know and asked for the children to be placed within the community. CKCS confirmed they interviewed the grandmother for one family and she was deemed suitable to take the children. For the second family the wife was placed under arrest and the husband was not in the village. CKCS were asked to take care of the children. CBSA, understanding the preciousness of the children, asked CAS to find someone else. Again CAS did find someone suitable and those children were returned. No children were left with CKCS.” Mamann said he wished to commend the CBSA for working towards having the children returned and his heart would have been broken if the children were taken by CKCS.
It was disgusting Fran....brought adults including a reporter to tears. Thankfully the immigration have some compassion and common sense where the fucking NAZIs masquerading as cas workers don't.
On a good note, all the children have been returned. One member has gone back to the States to apply for the proper visa. Two adults have been returned and three being held for a hearing tomorrow. The really sick part is, they were working with Immigration to get all their papers in order. It's not something they had any control over. Once your visa expires you have to reapply, which is what the appointment was for on March 17th but got cancelled and a swoop and scoop occurred instead. DISGUSTING!
The other suspicious point is, the Border agents were using pictures that the Nazis (masquerading as CAS workers) had taken of the Lev Tahor when they first arrived with their permission. But yet the Nazis (masquerading as CAS workers) claim and swear they didn't give the Border Agents those pictures.
I was so proud of those boys out there yesterday! Screaming and pointing their fingers at Garnet Eskritt and Jen Hart and calling them SS, Nazis and saying "shame on you", they stood their ground and locked the stupid fucking Nazis (masquerading as CAS workers) out of the school and their place of worship. It was great.
That community has more guts, heart, strength and loyalty to their right of freedom than all of Chatham Kent combined. We could learn a little somethin something from them.
Source: Facebook, Lee Bolton
Lee Bolton That's nothing. They were blatantly denied their right to legal counsel. The lawyer was four feet away from one of the people they arrested and the border agents wouldn't allow him to speak with him. They stated that he needed to have it in writing. hahahahahahaha
Source: Facebook, Lee Bolton
Lev Tahor members in Guatemala can stay up to 3 months
Embassy visit in Guatemala City no longer a condition of stay in Central American country
The Lev Tahor family that left Canada for Guatemala in early March is allowed to stay there with no special conditions — for now.
Uriel Goldman, the spokesman for the Lev Tahor group living in Chatham, Ont., confirmed Wednesday that the family no longer has to go to the Canadian embassy in Guatemala City as a condition of its stay in Central America.
The family is now permitted to stay in the country for up to three months, as stipulated by the Guatemala’s immigration and visa rules.
The group of three adults and six children landed in Guatemala on March 4 after they left their homes in Chatham, Ont., amid a custody battle between members of Lev Tahor and Chatham-Kent Children’s Services.
The family entered Guatemala via a transfer in Mexico City, while another group connecting through Trinidad and Tobago got stopped and sent back to Canada.
A previous judgment rendered by a Guatemalan court prevented Canadian and local authorities from seizing the children on an existing order from Canada. Judge Mariela de Leon ruled there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a removal order.
Originally settled in Quebec, the entire sect fled the province in November while in the midst of a custody battle with Quebec's Youth Protection Services.
Members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect are expected back in a Chatham court regarding the custody issue on April 4.
Another article gives the whereabouts of the Lev Tahor children who fled Ontario last month. Six returned from Trinidad are in foster care, two have returned from Calgary and six remain in Guatemala.
When a work of art is in dispute, a sheriff can put it in safekeeping while lawyers argue over ownership. Judges, including Chatham judge Lynda Templeton, covet the same safekeeping of children before their court. Courts refuse to recognize that it is impossible to lock children away during litigation without harming them.
Justice Lynda Templeton delivers a message through parents to the sect’s leaders, saying they can’t be trusted
CHATHAM - A judge tore a strip Friday off a runaway ultra-orthodox Jewish family that fled Canada before a child protection hearing, warning she “can’t trust you will not take off again.”
Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton told the parents to tell Lev Tahor leaders who are making the Jewish sect’s decisions to stop interfering with their children’s legal rights.
“The conduct of the community has not raised any trust that you will remain in the jurisdiction of this court,” she told the parents at an appeal hearing. “I can guarantee you will obtain fair hearings, but you must allow the court to do its work.”
It’s the second time an Ontario judge has given the group a legal smackdown for flouting court orders and pulling up stakes.
Fourteen children from two families were ordered into temporary foster care in Quebec.
The family before Templeton, its six kids now in foster care under an emergency order she made last month, were hauled back to Canada from Trinidad after taking off just days before a March 5 court date.
Two others, a 17-year-old mother and her baby, were returned from Calgary.
Another family with six kids remains in Guatemala, where they fled, in immigration limbo.
Taking off has become Lev Tahor’s signature move.
The group of more than 200 fled Ste. Agathe-des-Monts, Que., last November, as a child welfare investigation closed in, settling near Chatham. Their late-night exodus came amid allegations — not proven in court — of child neglect and abuse by the anti-Zionist sect, including of forced marriages of girls as young as 14, and providing limited schooling.
Local authorities won a bid to enforce the Quebec order in February, when another Chatham judge — Justice Stephen Fuerth — said the group’s actions had “placed these children at further risk of harm.”
He ordered the affected members to stay put during an appeal period.
Blacked-out portions of Templeton’s emergency order to seize the 14 children, which the media were allowed to review Friday, show the families had told child welfare officials they were aware of the March 5 court date and would be there. But on March 4, they had disappeared.
Templeton was told one family was in Trinidad, another had flown to Mexico City and then Guatemala.
The young mother and her child were believed to have crossed into the U.S. through Buffalo.
Templeton, hearing Lev Tahor’s appeal Friday of Fuerth’s order as the parents listened through a Hebrew translator, said her biggest concern is parental accountability. “Flight and departure are very serious concerns,” she said.
Parents, she said, have both moral and legal obligations to their kids in Canada — and that applies to everyone.
It’s imperative the families stay in the jurisdiction, as the court orders, she said.
“To me your children are not Lev Tahor children — they’re just children” with the same rights as any others, she said.
And, she added, the allegations are that “the parents are not fulfilling their legal obligations.”
She said it’s “frustrating” the group’s leadership seems to rule, regardless of the court’s goal to protect kids and families.
“No matter what the leaders say, I’m not interested,” she said, adding that must be made “abundantly clear” to Lev Tahor leaders.
“Have I made myself clear?” she said.
Templeton ordered the local child-welfare agency to arrange supervised access to the children starting this weekend.
“That access has to be supervised,” she said, citing the parents’ conduct and their group’s leadership.
Tuesday: Case returns to a Chatham court to deal with parental access to the kids.
Wednesday: In Chatham, group’s appeal continues of decision upholding child-seizure order.
Unclear: When appeal decision will be made.
To the judge’s remarks Friday:
“For me, they were making kind of a mockery of justice in trying to leave Ontario.”
— Denis Baraby, Quebec youth protection official
— Uriel Goldman, a Lev Tahor leader
Source: Chatham Daily News
Addendum: The Lev Tahor children in custody will be denied a Passover visit with their family.
Lev Tahor children denied Passover visit
An Ontario Court of Justice Judge has denied the request for two Lev Tahor children to return to the community for Passover, citing concerns over a flight risk presented by the community leader who would host them.
CHATHAM, ONT.—An Ontario Court of Justice judge has denied a request for two Lev Tahor children to spend Passover with members of the community, citing a concern over flight risk raised by the lawyer for Chatham-Kent Children’s Services.
William Sullivan, the lawyer representing two children who were apprehended and placed in foster care, said the family of Mayer Rosner, a community leader in the controversial ultra-orthodox Jewish sect, was willing to host them for three days during Passover.
“They are prepared to come here, participate in Passover, and if ordered, to return,” said Sullivan of the two children. “I said to my children clients when I saw them on Sunday, I said I want you to be the engineers of building this small bridge. I want you to, if this court was to permit you, to come to Chatham to spend Passover on the days that I’ve mentioned … to show the court that you will respect it.”
But Loree Hodgson-Harris, lawyer for CKCS, alleged Rosner played a role in the flight of the families that prompted the emergency order.
“Mayer Rosner is one of the community leaders that the society has concerns with,” said Hodgson-Harris, who said she was not given enough time to fully respond to the request. “The circumstances of this case involve parents fleeing the jurisdiction in the face of a court order. The evidence will be that it was with the assistance of the community leaders and in particular Mayer Rosner. The long and the short of it is that it’s much more complicated than the girls spending a few days in the community.”
Justice Lucy Glenn ruled that the two children could have access to the other children in care in Toronto and visits from their parents, but would not be returned to the community for Passover.
Glenn also ordered that the parents of the children be allowed eight hours per week of supervised visits. Chatham-Kent Children’s Services agreed to pay part of the cost required for the parents to travel to Toronto where the children are in care.
Glenn refused to release any of the documents filed with the court Tuesday. It’s not known exactly what the record contains, but one element filed by a lawyer for some of the children is an affidavit from a “clinical investigator.” A lawyer for the Toronto Star will fight for access to the court record Wednesday.
The two girls are part of a group of eight children apprehended after a March 5 emergency order. The court found that 14 children were taken out of the region of Chatham-Kent contrary to an order that they remain. Eight of the children were apprehended and placed with Jewish families in Toronto, while six remain in Guatemala with their parents.
The identities of the children and their parents are protected by a publication ban.
Child protection authorities in Quebec have documented allegations of abuse, underage marriage and a substandard education regime in the sect. The group fled Quebec en masse ahead of an order for the removal of 14 children to foster care. An Ontario court upheld that order, but allowed a 30-day stay for the families to appeal. On the day that appeal was scheduled to be held, it was discovered the children had been removed from Chatham-Kent.
The sect has categorically denied any allegations of abuse and says the Quebec case was solely related to its religious-only education.
The appeal hearing is scheduled to resume Wednesday.
Source: Toronto Star
April 3, 2014 permalink
In addition to re-homing, Illinois has another way to get rid of an adopted child, called a lockout. Parents check the child into a hospital and do not return. Lucky parents avoid arrest when the state classifies it as a no-fault dependency. Send this musical accompanyment to an mp3 player while reading the enclosed article.
Parents take drastic measure to get care for son
(Reuters) - Within months of bringing him home, Sheila Trznadel knew that the boy she and her husband had adopted from Ukraine needed more help than her family could offer or afford.
The 7 year old was violent and never showed remorse. He switched on the gas oven in the Trznadels' Darien, Illinois home. He hid matches in his room, stashed scissors under his bed, and told his parents he wanted to kill the family. One doctor who treated him said the child exhibited traits of a psychopath.
His parents had sought help from their adoption agency, social workers, and lawmakers, but they quickly realized their options were few. If they continued to raise the boy, they believed they were risking the safety of their other children. They also couldn't afford the boy's treatment.
As a consequence, the Trznadels took a drastic step: They left their son in a hospital and told Illinois officials they would not take him back until he received the care he needed. The move is called a lockout, and it's not without risk. Most states consider it a crime - either child abandonment or neglect. The Trznadels hired a lawyer and offered authorities evidence to support their decision, including a psychiatric evaluation of the boy.
"I want people to understand how serious these situations are," says Sheila Trznadel, 37, whose son, now 10, is now a ward of the state. "It's not his fault. He is an innocent child," Trznadel says. "But the system is failing us, and it's failing him."
Over the last decade, 627 parents in Illinois have relinquished their children to obtain mental health services. In 2001, a report by the Government Accountability Office found about 3,700 children in 19 states entered the child welfare system within a single year.
Child welfare agencies say the system was not built to take children with severe mental health issues simply because the parents cannot afford to pay for such care. "We see this as a public policy issue," says Karen Hawkins, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. "It's the lack of resources for community mental health funding for children. That is the context to which we're all working."
When the Trznadels adopted their son in 2011, they knew little about his past. At the orphanage, the boy behaved strangely. He was hyperactive and sometimes defecated in his pants. Workers there said he was simply nervous.
After returning to the United States, the Trznadels say they realized the boy's problems were much more severe. He urinated on the furniture in their home and dumped paint into drawers of clothing. More than once, he told the family, "I'm gonna kill all you guys," Sheila recalls. "We didn't sleep. Someone was always awake to watch him."
The boy was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. He told doctors that he endured abuse in the orphanage. To help her son, Sheila searched the Internet, lobbied politicians, and took the boy to specialists for extensive psychological evaluations. He cycled through medications, including one that made him suicidal.
In 2012, Trznadels started sending him to a local hospital for short-term psychiatric care. "Our other kids were scared," Sheila says. "We were trying to give him a good home, and in doing so, we were giving our other children a home in lockdown."
For the Trznadels, costs swelled after the boy spent a month in a psychiatric hospital. Sheila works at a lab, and her husband, Doug, works for a chemical company. The hospital bill was $113,000, an amount they cannot afford.
The adoption agency the Trznadels used, Partners for Adoption, referred them to a social worker and suggested they seek help from the state of Illinois. The agency, which went out of business in 2012, wrote that it had not selected the child; instead, the family was offered the boy by orphanage officials in Ukraine.
In July 2012, the Trznadels left their son at the hospital, relinquishing custody to the state and forcing child welfare authorities to admit him into a residential treatment facility.
In a letter to the state's Department of Children and Family Services, the psychiatrist wrote that "even at a young age, [the boy] displays hallmarks of psychopathy. He is unable to foresee the consequences of his action, he lacks guilt or remorse for any harm his actions might have caused."
The psychiatrist also wrote that it may not be advisable for the Trznadels to keep the boy, "because of the potential harm he would do to his family."
The state agreed to a "no-fault dependency," meaning the child lacked proper medical care through no fault of the parent. "The family has to fail before they get the support that they need. That's the way the system is set up," says Linda Spears, vice president of policy and public affairs at the Child Welfare League of America, a non-profit advocacy group.
Like other states, Illinois does have some resources available for adoptive families, but the programs are limited. Grants can defray the cost of some services for children with severe mental illnesses. But in fiscal year 2012, just 15 families received money from Illinois' Individual Care Grants; almost 87 percent of completed applications were denied, according to the program's annual report.
In February, the Illinois legislature introduced a bill to allow the state to temporarily assume custody of kids for the purpose of accessing mental health treatment. The bill is directed at families with children who have a serious mental illness, emotional disturbance, or developmental disability and would prohibit the state from forcing families to terminate their parental right. A state House of Representatives' committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill today.
Child welfare workers are trying to transfer the boy out of the treatment facility and back into the Trznadel's home or into foster care, Sheila says. The Trznadels don't think he is ready, and a judge agreed, granting the boy another six months in residential treatment under the care of the state. The case will be re-evaluated in April.
British Forced Adoption
April 3, 2014 permalink
British father Terence Steele is appealing the forced adoption of his two-year-old daughter.
Sutton dad takes forced adoption campaign to European Parliament
A dad has taken his campaign to end forced adoptions to the European Parliament.
Sutton man Terence Steele, 42, had his two-year-old daughter taken away from him earlier this year but believes the process by which she was taken away was flawed.
He has launched a campaign to get European law changed to give more rights to parents in cases where children could be taken away by the authorities and, earlier this month, led a delegation of people from all over the continent to deliver a 10,000 signature petition.
Mr Steele, of Brunswick Road, said: "We're trying to force the UK to abolish forced adoption. My daughter has been taken away against her wishes.
"I feel like the process is not weighted in favour of the people it affects.
"What we want is for the EU to force the UK Parliament to launch an investigation into local authorities' practices. These are already happening in other European countries like Denmark.
"If there are good reasons why parents shouldn't be able to look after their kids then they need to be backed up by medical evidence."
During his trip to Brussels he appeared on Russian and Latvian TV to talk about the protest and said he hoped the attention would spur the UK into acting.
Mr Steele last saw his daughter in January to say a final goodbye. He added: "It was horrible. I screamed the place down."
He said his situation is not isolated and that since he found himself battling for custody of his child he has found that many more people are in a similar position, prompting his campaign.
Mr Steele said: "It's happening all over the place, it's terrible."
Source: This is Local London
April 1, 2014 permalink
Tori O'Hanley lost her daughter after relying on a promise from a CAS worker in New Liskeard. It is hard to think of a case in which a CAS worker has kept a promise to a parent.
I have a question which I am not to sure on what to do as I started keeping to myself, cause everything I say and everything I do children's aid use it against me but I started not caring cause my daughter means the world to me and I will do anything to have her back home where she belongs....
I got involved with CAS in January 2012 to present. They ended up taking my daughter May 28th 2012. and in November 2012 they told me if I agreed to the 6 months I will have my daughter back when it is done. So I believed them and it never happened once my 6 months were done they requested for another 6 months...
I have been fighting it in court since it went back May 28 2013 to now to have my daughter home. And the last time I went to court in February 2014 the judge order for a children's lawyer to be involved..
and every since a children's lawyer was to be involved Childrens aid are requesting for my mother to have full custody of my daughter...
I have done everything CAS asked me to do plus more and apparently that still isnt good enough....
What else can I do or where can I go to get help to fight children's aid in court to have my daughter return home where she belongs.
Please anyone help me im getting desperate!!!
I'm in New Liskeard Ontario and my daughter is 2 years old and I already met my daughters lawyer Nd she told me she doesn't work for me or CAS or my lawyer or any body except for the child.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
April 1, 2014 permalink
An article on a South Dakota lawsuit gives a picture of the sham hearings that occur behind closed doors in family court. Parent and children are separated in hearings run at breakneck speed. While the separations are purportedly temporary, the hoops required to undo the temporary custody are onerous and families are not often reunited.
South Dakota v. Native American Parents: Why Are Children Being Separated From Their Families in Pennington County?
On reservations that have been described as “chaos” and “a swirling hell,” child welfare officials could have good intentions, but their efforts are still in clear violation of the Indian Children Welfare Act of 1978.
A precedent-setting federal lawsuit over the rights of Indian parents and tribes in South Dakota began with courthouse eavesdropping. Dana Hanna, a Rapid City attorney, was early for his case in Pennington County one day in October 2011. He was preoccupied preparing his own materials as he waited in the county courtroom, but couldn’t help overhearing the proceeding in progress. Something was off. What Hanna saw seemed to be a custody hearing, with two Indian parents before county officials, but if it was that kind of hearing, this one ended way too quickly.
Hanna recalled that the parents’ hearing had just two curt parts: the prosecutor giving an ultra-brief statement, and the judge perfunctorily asking the parents if they had anything to say. The parents asked the court to return their children, but the hearing rolled on, granting the county Department of Social Services custody for no fewer than 60 days. Only after approving the removal of the children did the judge set an “advice of rights” hearing date for the parents—for two months later.
Pennington County has been taking Native American parents’ children just as predecessors in government took Indian children from their families: “under color of law.” From the late-19th through the mid-20th century, thousands of Indian children were taken from their homes for “assimilation.” Some were funneled into boarding schools designed to strip them of individual and cultural identity (cutting hair, mandating uniforms, prohibiting Indian languages), while others were placed with non-Indian families. Until the late 1970s, states moved one-quarter to one-third of Indian children to different families, often with federal support.
Congress passed the Indian Children Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 to end overzealous removal practices and establish new, special protections. The legislation established criteria for removing Indian children, enshrined protections for Indian parental rights, and determined that in cases of foster care and adoption, Indian children should be offered first to family members, then tribe members, then other Indians, before being made eligible for adoption by non-Indian families.
When Hanna investigated, he found that South Dakota’s state attorney’s office, several judges, and social services officials appeared to be working together to skirt ICWA and due process protections against the removal of Native American children without justification. Some children had been taken after reports or referrals against the parents; others had been removed simply for being with a parent placed under arrest.
Indian parents in Pennington County were being forced into an “informal” version of a custody hearing, like the one Hanna witnessed, rather than a full evidentiary hearing, to which parents are legally entitled within 48 hours of a child’s removal. Social services officials have been rigging these informal hearings: they have submitted secret petitions and bypassed requirements meant to keep families intact; they have convinced prosecutors to argue for their recommendations uncritically; and they have had judges rubber-stamp removals. The county has placed 90 percent of children with non-Native foster families, another flagrant violation of ICWA.
Parents who lose custody receive a “plan” to complete before they can so much as try to get their children back. Requirements include parenting classes and substance abuse assessments, among other prescriptions. If a parent fails on a single element, the child remains in foster care, and if a child spends 15 of 22 consecutive months in foster care, parents’ rights may be terminated altogether.
NO ONE SEEMS TO know exactly why Pennington County began rushing Indian child removal and custody proceedings. B.J. Jones, who runs the Tribal Justice Institute at the University of North Dakota and sits on multiple tribal courts, thinks officials probably had good intentions, wanting to protect children.
Author Ian Frazier, who wrote about one of the tribes affected, the Oglala Sioux, in On the Rez, says of their reservation, Pine Ridge, “there’s so much chaos there.” He calls the problem of alcoholism on the reservation “swirling hell.” When I ask what he recalls of children on the reservation, Frazier tells me that he remembers seeing “woebegone kids trailing after parents.” Eighty-five percent of families on Pine Ridge are affected by alcohol abuse, and a quarter of children are born with fetal alcohol disorder.
Against this woeful backdrop, known to South Dakotans but perhaps not the rest of the country, one might imagine social services workers, attorneys, and judges swayed by a mix of legitimate and exaggerated concerns. Perhaps some thought the informal hearing and multi-month delay would be a lifeline for parents with substance abuse issues, keeping them out of the system and their children safe until they could get clean. Maybe officials wanted more time to gather information.
But even the most charitable interpretations of Pennington County’s actions fall short: If this “informal” process was meant to help parents afflicted by addiction, why has it been applied so indiscriminately? Whatever ends the officials sought, the means by which they’ve attempted to reach them are spurious at best, and largely indefensible.
HANNA SPENT 18 MONTHS challenging flimsy custody hearings on behalf of Native parents in state courts. In October 2012, he was defeated at the South Dakota Supreme Court, which ruled that the ICWA protections don’t apply to temporary or emergency custody hearings. Then he teamed up with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Stephen Pevar, a senior staff counsel who’s also taught federal Indian law at the University of Denver and the University of Connecticut.
Hanna and Pevar filed a federal lawsuit in March 2013 on behalf of two tribes whose families have been affected, the Oglala Sioux and Rosebud Sioux, and three mothers whose children were taken. Their argument that the county violated the ICWA and their right to due process was somewhat of a gamble: Federal courts defer to state supreme courts where it concerns state implementation of federal law. Normally the South Dakota Supreme Court ruling permitting rushed hearings would stand until that state court revisited it or the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case. But U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Viken denied motions to dismiss.
Before becoming a federal district court judge, Viken served as a federal public defender for both Dakotas and an assistant U.S. attorney in South Dakota. Perhaps enforcing federal laws or defending those who violated them made him especially sensitive to alleged willful disregard for federal law on the part of a county. Whatever the reason, Viken did something extraordinary: He not only let the case proceed but granted the Indian tribes standing to sue under ICWA and ruled that Indian parents could sue as a class, two landmark firsts.
B.J. Jones expected traditional deference to state courts to trump the substance of the challenge. Jones’ only explanation for Viken’s decision is this: Faced with a “process so outrageous,” the judge just couldn’t defer to the state court. That thought heartens Jones and allies. Only Pevar, perhaps, was unsurprised by the late January rulings. “We definitely expected the case to go this far,” he insists.
What began with a chance encounter in a county courtroom could lead to a groundbreaking trial in the district court for South Dakota. All parties will have representation; none will risk being rushed or squashed. Far from being hidden, the claims are in print, on file, and even online. The plaintiffs have achieved a fundamental victory even before trial: This case has created precedent that substantially improves the chances that cases like this one will proceed elsewhere, giving voice to Native American parents around the country.
Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza is a writer and former political consultant currently attending Yale Law School. She co-authored 40 More Years with James Carville and served as deputy national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee during the 2008 election.
Source: Pacific Standard (magazine)
OACAS Comments on Bill 42
March 31, 2014 permalink
Pending bill 42 before the Ontario legislature would extend the powers of the provincial ombudsman to children's aid societies. The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies has published its OACAS Submission to Standing Committee on Government Agencies, Bill 42, Ombudsman Amendment Act (Children’s Aid Societies), 2013 (pdf, local copy). It starts with a recitation of the existing, and ineffective, network of oversight over children's aid societies and ends with the suggestion that Ontario needs not an ombudsman, but another one of those government policy reviews, presumably conducted entirely by people benefiting from the current system. But in between, it makes some arguments that deserve discussion.
Other provinces have ombudsman oversight of child protection. The OACAS says:
While OACAS acknowledges the limited investigative authority among existing complaints entities, Ontario cannot be compared with other provinces and territories with respect to Ombudsman oversight. Child protection services in those jurisdictions are delivered directly by government, and all government services fall within scope of Ombudsman oversight. This argument ignores the unique child protection service delivery model in Ontario.
Contrary to what the OACAS says, this unusual organization is a reason for more oversight, not less. Look in history books for the horrible abuses that ensue when police power is execised for private gain. Example: tax farming.
Further, OACAS suggests that Bill 42, as drafted, does not promote the paramount purpose of the Child and Family Services Act. The most common complaints made about CASs to the Ontario Ombudsman (despite his Office having no mandate to address these complaints) relate to adult concerns. They include failure to investigate abuse allegations, inadequate/biased investigations, problematic apprehensions of children and lack of information for families.
The tunnel vision focused only on children causes children's aid to destroy useful institutions, such as marriage. These matters are an urgent reason for bringing the ombudsman into the picture.
A new layer of oversight may also impose an obligation on child protection workers to respond to more investigations, which would mean less time with the children and families whose safety and wellbeing depend on their services.
Years of reporting here have shown that Ontario's children's aid societies are the biggest single danger to the province's children. Here are a few past summaries        . Some oversight diverting them from their own abuses is needed.
Comply with Law
Go Directly to Jail
March 31, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker reports on a mother whose children ran away from foster care to be with their older brother. She did what she was legally required to do and notified the police. How did the judge thank her? He put her in jail for six months. Earlier article.
Family courts: Six months in prison for a woman who was careful to do the 'right' thing
The latest instalment of a curious story speaks volumes about the murky workings of Britain's child-care system
Two years ago, I reported the curious case of a mother threatened with prison because social workers discovered that her 17-year-old son had been chatting on Facebook with his younger teenage sisters. The sisters were very unhappily in foster care, not for anything done to them at home, but for their own safety, because they had been physically threatened by a gang on the estate where they lived. Even though the mother had not broken an order forbidding her to contact them herself, Judge Rundell refused to accept that she had not encouraged her son to do so. He gave her a six-month suspended prison sentence; also, astonishingly, banning her from entering the entire county where her daughters are kept.
The girls recently published on Facebook that the younger one had been sexually abused by an adult. When her complaints about this were not heeded, her sister was bullied by other inmates of the home for standing up for her (a video shows her being dragged against barbed wire, leaving horrible marks on her back). The girls became so desperate that they ran away, to the flat where their brother now lives.
When he rang to tell his mother what had happened, she immediately rang the police, who agreed to inform the social workers. But next day, imagining the girls had left, she went to her son’s flat, to find the police and social workers only just arriving. Her daughters were crying that they didn’t want to be taken back. The son recorded the police telling her to go in to “give them a cuddle”. The social workers were recorded telling her that, if she left, “no further action will be taken”, which she did. Yet next day she was told she would be summoned for breaking the court order.
When she was back before Judge Rundell last week, I am told, he refused to accept her evidence as to what had happened. He sentenced her to six months in prison and prohibited her from any contact with her daughters for two more years, even though their only wish is to come home.
So, having never been accused of harming them in any way, she is now in jail.
As I say, this is a very curious story, which tells us much about how our “child care” system too often works in practice.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
CAS Bomb Threat
March 28, 2014 permalink
Ottawa CAS was evacuated for ninety minutes because of a bomb threat.
Bomb threat at Children's Aid Society
Kids and staff evacuated
The Ottawa Police Service were investigating a bomb threat at the Children's Aid Society (CAS) headquarters located at 1602 Telesat Ct., just off Blair Rd, Friday afternoon.
The call came in as a bomb threat at 11:42 a.m., said Constable Chuck Benoit.
"There had been an incident reported that there was a bomb in the building so we immediately evacuated and the police assessed the situation and it was a total false alarm," said executive director of the CAS Barbara MacKinnon.
MacKinnon said it was about an hour and a half before Ottawa Police and the bomb squad gave staff the all-clear to return back into the building.
"No one was at risk," she said, noting that there is a protocol in place for these types of situations. "We were able to move everyone out of the building quickly. It's primarily staff that work out of this building, but there was just a few children who were here for visits with their parents and so they were immediately taken back home."
MacKinnon says in her 11 years at the CAS, this was the first time they had faced a bomb threat.
"We were fairly confident that it was not, in fact, a viable threat but we took a very cautious approach to it."
The CAS is non-profit community organization funded by the Government of Ontario, legally mandated to protect children and youth from abuse and neglect.
Source: Orléans Star
No Bail for Foster Kids
March 27, 2014 permalink
When a teenager is arrested, mom and dad come to bail him out. But when a teenaged foster child is arrested, the parent is the social services agency. Nobody shows up with bail. Selina Garcia sat in jail for weeks following a scuffle on a school bus, even after a judge ordered her release.
North Carolina foster teen languishes in adult jail for school incident
County guardians haven't picked her up two weeks after judge freed her
Did a foster-care teen need to be arrested by school police this month for alleged battery on a school bus? And then jailed for more than two weeks with adults long after a judge ordered her released?
The questions swirling around Selina Garcia, 17, of Raleigh, N.C. are part of a broader national debate over treatment of foster kids and the role of school police. Garcia is still confined to an adult jail because no one from the Wake County, N.C., social services department has come to get her. She was arrested on March 7 by a school resource officer after allegedly striking another student on a bus during an altercation. A judge freed her on March 10 pending a court appearance scheduled for Thursday.
Part of the problem is that Garcia is both an adult and a minor in North Carolina. Once they’re 16, youths in the state are put automatically into the adult legal system if charged with crimes, including misdemeanors. A 17-year-old, however, is still a minor under the state’s social services system. As a foster child, Garcia can only be released from jail and into the custody of the county, which is her legal guardian.
The twisted case exemplifies a systemic failure on the part of adults who are tasked with helping foster children — some of society’s most vulnerable kids — as well as an urgent need to review the role of school police in Wake County, according to Jennifer Story, an attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Advocates for Children’s Services.
“You cannot use jail as a boarding house for foster children,” said Story, who has been representing Garcia in efforts to obtain individual learning services for the teen from the Wake County School District.
Story also said that Garcia’s arrest by school police — a discretionary act on the part of an officer — illustrates the “unintended consequences” of funneling students into a legal system for incidents that might be better handled by school staff. Garcia is being held with adults accused of a range of crimes, and the jail is an unsavory environment for a girl who has struggled since a small child with abuse, Story said.
Spokeswoman Sarah Williamson-Baker said the county cannot give out information about individual clients. In a statement, she said: “When a child in our custody is arrested, we assess the individual circumstances and whether it is safe and appropriate for the child to return to the previous placement. If not, we attempt to secure a new placement and supporting services that meet the child's needs for treatment and are consistent with the safety of the child and the public.”
Stella Shelton, interim chief of communications for the Wake County School District, also said that she can’t discuss, due to privacy restrictions, a student’s case. She said the district, like other districts nationally, grapples with how to handle disruptions on campus.
“I’d have to leave that to the school resource officer's judgment,” Shelton said, commenting on whether it was appropriate to have Garcia arrested for an incident on a school bus.
In January, Legal Aid of North Carolina and other groups filed a civil rights complaint against the Wake County School District and a number of law-enforcement agencies that supply officers to campuses there. The district has been disproportionately suspending ethnic minority students for minor misbehavior and referring such students to law enforcement, alleges the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division.
Garcia, who is black and Latina, is a high school senior who suffered years of abuse as a small child in another state, according to Story. The girl was placed with a family member in North Carolina. She said Garcia wants to disclose what has happened to her; fellow students have rallied to her defense and appealed to the county’s Board of Education this month to help free her, as local TV and other media have reported.
A couple of years ago Garcia entered the Wake County foster-care system and has been transferred from group homes to individual homes and among three different high schools in less than two years, Story said. Garcia gets no counseling at school, Story said. And since January, Story said, the teen has been cut off from the counseling she was previously receiving as a foster child because she was placed in an individual home that’s far from town and has been provided no transportation.
That’s been tough on the teen because she had finally built some trust with the counselor, Story said.
On March 7, Garcia got into an altercation with another girl on a school bus. Story says Garcia has been bullied at school by other kids. The school system won’t comment on Garcia’s individual history. The Raleigh Police Department — which assigns school resource officers to schools — says that Garcia struck the other girl multiple times but that the other girl did not suffer serious injuries.
A school resource officer, according to Story, made a judgment call to arrest Garcia for simple battery. The teen was charged before for making threats to a teacher at school, Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said. Police records show she was given a ticket in connection for an alleged altercation at school previously. Because Garcia is older than 15, she was booked and taken to the Wake County Detention Center and placed among adult women.
“I urged him to let me pick her up,” Story said, explaining a conversation with the police officer who arrested Garcia after the bus incident.
Story said that the officer told her he felt that Garcia needed “to learn a lesson.” In the meantime, the school district convened a meeting, Story said, to review the bus incident. School officials originally labeled the teen’s infraction as a “level two” out of five levels of misbehavior, with five being the most serious on the scale. A level-two punishment is a maximum of five days suspension. But the review concluded that Garcia’s behavior stemmed from “underlying trauma” and that she should not be suspended at all as punishment.
Yet she remained jailed.
“All she has been doing in jail is writing,” Story said. “When I go to see her in jail she hands me wads of paper.” Story said shelters are available where Garcia could be placed instead of keeping her in jail.
On Tuesday, Wake County students and parents joined students from other states to visit federal officials in Washington, D.C. to discuss concerns about school discipline policies they complain are criminalizing kids for schoolyard fights and other misbehavior better handled with in-school counseling sessions that get to the root of conflicts.
The event was organized by the Dignity in Schools Campaign. The group met with federal education and justice officials to urge that more be done to get schools to adopt unprecedented Federal School Discipline Guidance released by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice in January.
Source: Center for Public Integrity
Justina Pelletier Becomes Permanent Ward
March 27, 2014 permalink
An order by judge Joseph P Johnston (pdf) has made Justina Pelletier a permanent ward of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. In logic out of Alice in Wonderland the judge cited lack of interest by Connecticut DCF as a reason for keeping Justina in custody. Maybe Connecticut thought the parents were competent to care for her. From the order:
... efforts by the MA DCF to locate a suitable placement Justina were significantly hampered by the parents. While Justina was at Children's Hospital, the parents were verbally abusive to Justina's hospital providers. Family members of other patients complained that Justina's parents stated their children were kidnapped by Children's Hospital. The parents threatened to have hospital personnel's licenses revoked. They threatened to call the F.B.I. They called hospital personnel and claimed the hospital was punishing and killing Justina. Efforts by hospital clinicians to work with the parents were futile and never went anywhere.
In today's world, parents are supposed to be submissive. Instead of addressing them as kidnappers or Nazis, the child snatchers should be addressed in respectful terms such as esteemed social worker or your honor.
The shaded text suggests Judge Johnston's opinion may have more to do with punishing the parents than protecting the child. The girl, an active figure-skater before going into custody, is a medical decline, insensitive below her waist.
A Boston Globe article is enclosed.
Mass. granted permanent custody of Justina Pelletier
Pelletier’s parents rebuked over handling of case, abusive manner with officials
A long-running child custody case took a dramatic turn Tuesday, when a Massachusetts juvenile court judge awarded permanent custody of teenager Justina Pelletier to the state Department of Children and Families.
The ruling by Judge Joseph Johnston means the 15-year-old will probably stay in state custody until her 18th birthday unless her parents can prove they are fit to care for their child.
The judge’s four-page decision, which was provided to the Globe, was remarkable for its detail and forcefulness. Johnston faulted Connecticut’s child protection agency for its failure to get involved in a case involving a child from its state, and faulted Pelletier’s parents for their verbally abusive manner and haphazard decision-making that he says has sabotaged plans to move their daughter closer to home.
Johnston wrote that the parents called Boston Children’s Hospital personnel Nazis “and claimed the hospital was punishing and killing Justina. Efforts by hospital clinicians to work with the parents were futile and never went anywhere.”
More recently, he wrote, “there has not been any progress by the parents. Rather, the parents . . . continue to engage in very concerning conduct that does not give this court any confidence they will comply with conditions of custody.” He noted that because of allegations that Justina’s father, Lou Pelletier, threatened a state social worker assigned to the case, the worker had to be reassigned.
In his ruling, Johnston, for the first time publicly, stated his belief that Pelletier suffers from “a persistent and severe Somatic Symptom Disorder,” a psychiatric diagnosis that doctors at Children’s reached in early 2013 when the girl was brought there because she had difficulty walking and eating. The parents objected to that diagnosis, leading to accusations of medical child abuse and setting off a monthslong battle over her care.
The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian Defense Coalition, who has become the parents’ spokesman, said Tuesday that Lou and Linda Pelletier are “outraged” by the decision.
“There is no reason Justina should not be returned immediately back to the parents,” he said. Mahoney said the parents, who live in West Hartford, Conn., believe that their daughter is being “treated as a pawn and piece of property.”
The parents’ lawyer, Philip Moran, wrote in an e-mail to the Globe that the parents are too emotional to describe what their next steps will be, but may have more to say Wednesday.
“The decision is obviously devastating to the parents and according to them to Justina herself,” Moran wrote.
While the Department of Children and Families has had temporary custody of Justina since February 2013, the judge’s decision to award permanent custody gives the agency more confidence to make placement decisions with less fear of a quick change in custody. Though offering no timetable, agency spokeswoman Mary-Leah Assad issued a statement saying its goal continues to be “finding a solution that would allow her to return to Connecticut.” Pelletier is living at a residential facility in Framingham, Wayside Youth and Family Support Network.
“The department is exploring all options that will allow Justina to return to her home state where she has the support of her friends, family, school and community,” Assad wrote.
The judge’s ruling reinforces his earlier decision that the state child protection agency met its burden, during closed-door juvenile court hearings late last year, of proving the Pelletiers were unfit to handle their child’s complex needs and should not be restored custody of their child.
The legal burden now largely shifts to the parents to prove, with new evidence, that they are fit caregivers and deserve a new chance to regain custody. The parents are allowed to submit new information to the judge at most once every six months.
The judge made his custody order retroactive to Dec. 20, so a review could occur as soon as early summer.
Johnston also denied a request by lawyer Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel in Florida to help represent the parents. Staver said he plans to take part in a plan to appeal Tuesday’s ruling on legal grounds, a process that he hopes might reverse the custody decision earlier than the summer.
In tone, Johnston’s ruling made it appear he had lost patience after trying for months to carefully orchestrate a resolution to a case that has drawn nationwide media attention.
Lou Pelletier has taken part in numerous national media interviews to condemn the Department of Children and Families and the judge and call for the return of his daughter. Since the start of the year, several conservative Christian organizations have gotten involved in defending the parents, seeing the case as an example of government interference in the sanctity of parental rights, and have instigated massive phone and letter-writing campaigns to the judge and other state officials.
Johnston wrote that the parents had repeatedly “impeded progress” in resolving the case. “Instead of engaging in quality visits with Justina, the parents use profanity directed at MA DCF personnel in Justina’s presence,” he said. “There is absolutely no meaningful dialogue by the parents to work towards reunification.”
Back in December, the judge suspended a decision over permanent custody while hoping to broker a compromise. He appointed a court investigator to advise him and come up with possible solutions.
At a hearing in February, the judge wrote, the parents agreed to a deal where Justina would be moved to a Connecticut program under the temporary custody of that state’s child-protection agency. But a month later, through Staver, they informed another lawyer in the case that they would accept no state oversight and would agree only to their daughter’s returning home.
Previous efforts to find a residential treatment center for Justina in Connecticut have failed, largely due to the reluctance of many providers to get involved in a high-profile controversy. One facility in Connecticut that had tentatively agreed to accept Justina last year balked after her father threatened to sue it.
Tuesday’s decision came in response to a motion, presented by the girl’s court-appointed lawyer and the lawyers for her parents, which called for the parents to be awarded “conditional custody” of their daughter.
The Department of Children and Families took emergency custody of the teen on Valentine’s Day 2013 after a diagnostic dispute arose between some doctors at Tufts Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital over the causes of her medical problems, including difficulty eating and walking.
Tufts doctors had been treating Pelletier for mitochondrial disease, a group of rare genetic disorders affecting cellular energy production, but physicians at Children’s concluded that her symptoms were largely psychiatric in origin. Her parents rejected the new diagnosis, and when they tried to move the girl back to Tufts, the Children’s team notified the state that it suspected the parents of medical child abuse.
Pelletier remained at Children’s for almost a year, most of the time in a locked psychiatric ward. Johnston wrote that the girl was ready to leave the hospital in June 2013 but could not be discharged because Massachusetts child-protection officials’ efforts to find a suitable placement “were significantly hampered by the parents.”
It was not until late January that she was moved to the Framingham facility.
Mahoney, the parents’ spokesman, said they are troubled that their daughter has yet to be seen by physicians at Tufts. Department of Children and Families officials said Pelletier’s visits at Tufts will take place soon, now that the parents “reached an agreement” with Tufts over a number of issues.
Source: Boston Globe
Addendum: On March 29 star lawyer Alan Dershowitz announced that he is joining the defense team for Justina.
March 26, 2014 permalink
This item is for people taken in by the claim parents love adopted children just as much as the real thing. Stacey Conner was the mother of a mixed family of real and adoptive kids. What does a real mother do when her kids get into a fight? She looks for a way to keep the peace. What did Stacey do when her kids got into a fight? She got rid of one by re-homing.
Why One Mother Gave Back Her Adopted Son
Stacey Conner, a 41-year-old mom and former attorney from Spokane, Wash., dreamed of having a large family with biological and adopted kids. "The world is a big place with a lot of children in it; we wanted to bring some of those into our family, to give our love to kids without it," she says. After she volunteered in an orphanage in poverty-torn Haiti in 2005, Conner and her husband, Matt, a pharmacist, decided to adopt two children. But the process was so slow that by October 2006, when they brought home their (unrelated) 5-year-old Haitian son and 1-year-old Haitian daughter, Conner had given birth to a son, who was 1. "Having an instant multicultural family was magical," Conner says, "for about two weeks."
Her older son, whom she calls J here, "engaged every person he met -- he literally crawled into the laps of strangers," says Conner. "But if I said 'It's time to go' or anything that asserted I was in control, he'd rage, bang and scream for hours." Very quickly, Conner had a sinking feeling she tried to push away. "I was committing the worst maternal sin: I felt like I loved one child less than the others."
Related: 9 Things Never to Say to a Woman Who Doesn't Want Kids
Within two months, J started pinching his siblings, and Conner was not only ashamed, but also afraid. "When he hurt them, it provoked an anger in me I didn't know I had," she says. "I worried I'd lose it and spank him."
She broke down in front of her husband, who worked all day and hadn't witnessed the worst of J's behavior. Matt tried to reassure her that it was just a rough transition and started spending more one-on-one time with J after work. But things didn't get any better, and by early spring, J had escalated from pinching his siblings to hitting them. Aside from her social worker, Conner met with a therapist specializing in attachment disorder, a broad term used to describe an inability to build meaningful bonds. One form of the disorder can develop when a small child feels repeatedly abandoned or powerless -- things it's not hard to imagine a kid in an orphanage might experience. When Conner got pregnant again, the therapist explained that it was too much to expect a boy who had already been through so much to be a responsible older brother, and that ideally J needed to be either the only child or the youngest in a family. "I felt like the expert was telling me that since I had babies, it would be best to find J another home," says Conner. But as difficult as the situation was, she shrank from that possibility, saying, "Forget it. He's my son!"
Instead, she tried an earlier suggestion from the social worker, doing "24-hour eyes-on parenting" -- basically, not letting J out of her sight. This went on for two months, until one afternoon when J began throwing a ball at the ceiling. "I said no," Conner recalls, "but he wouldn't stop. So I took it away." J went into a wild, screaming tantrum, unintentionally hitting Conner's nose with the back of his head: "I was bleeding heavily, sitting on the rug, crying. My two little ones were hiding behind a chair, crying. And it hit me: This is a domestic violence situation; if their dad had done this, I would take our children somewhere safe."
At that instant, Conner faced a hard truth: "Forget love. Right then, I didn't even like J," she says. "In his short little life, he'd had a ton of loss. But it was clear to me that I was pushing him away to keep the smaller children safe. I couldn't handle the idea of them being hurt. I could see that always putting the other kids' safety above meeting J's needs was creating a barrier between us. It was a painful situation."
That night, she told Matt she thought they should find a new home for J: "We cried and cried. But he trusted my judgment."
Conner began working with an adoption agency that did "secondary placements" -- relocating kids when adoptions went awry -- searching for a home where J would be the only or youngest child. "He had to be the sole focus, to be attended to and soothed," she says.
The Conners were sent photos and information from potential adopters. One was of a promising Midwest couple with grown biological kids and adopted teens who wanted to adopt a young boy. One day, when J seemed calm and happy, Conner and her husband asked if he might want to go live with a new family. "He was instantly open to it," Conner says. "We put their photo on the refrigerator, and he'd say, 'That's my new mom. That's my new sister.' "
Eight months after the Conners had brought J and their daughter from Haiti to Spokane, his new parents arrived in town. Conner's therapist warned her that J likely wouldn't weep or protest when he left. Indeed, he just walked away (and by all accounts is thriving with his new family). "I was cut apart," Conner says. "But we were all so relieved to have some peace."
The other children adjusted seamlessly to life without their older brother. But everyone else was puzzled. Neighbors who'd seen J riding his bike asked, "Where's your son?" When Conner would answer that he'd been adopted by another family, "I'd get the most horrified stares, so I'd keep walking. And I didn't tell many out-of-town friends or extended family for months." In Spokane, the Conners were the subject of unflattering gossip: "At one point, Matt was introduced to someone who said, 'Oh, right -- the family that dumped that kid.' "
That was seven years ago. "That's a long, long time to cry," Conner says. "But last year, we finally felt ready to take what we'd learned and become a foster family." The couple candidly told social workers what had happened with J: "I think our knowing exactly what we could and couldn't handle worked in our favor. Our rule is that we will only take children younger than our own." Last October, the Conners got their first placement -- a 3-month-old boy. "It will be so painful when he has to leave," Conner admits. "But I've learned that starting life with the experience of love is good. Now I know when and how I can give it."
Source: Yahoo / Good Housekeeping
Parents Punished for Video Recording
March 25, 2014 permalink
Scott Rolick and wife Sara lost their daughter Stevie after grandpa was caught selling drugs. CPS kept the girl even after tests proved the parents to be drug-free. When the parents video-recorded their daughter, CPS responded by changing the visits to supervised. Not for the protection of the child, but as punishment for the parents. In an embedded YouTube video (local copy mp4), CPS supervisor Carmin Franko asserts that it is illegal for parents to video-record their child on visitation. Parents have been photographing their own children since the introduction of the Daguerreotype in 1839. We never knew until now it was illegal.
California CPS Goes After Father Who Recorded Them After His Daughter Was Wrongfully Taken Away
37-year-old Scott Rolick is fighting back against California Child Protective Services after he says they wrongly took his daughter away, placed her in a lice-infested, abusive, and unsafe foster home, and made up lies in their reports to make it more difficult for him to get her back.
The situation began when the father of Rolick’s wife Sara was busted for selling drugs miles away from the home. Sara’s father had been living with the couple and their young daughter, so when police searched the home and found a small amount of drugs that the 70-year-old had kept there, they immediately investigated to see if Scott and Sara were involved. Both were given drugs tests, which they passed, and were found to be completely innocent, but CPS still took their daughter Stevie out of the home and placed her with a foster family. Sara’s father no longer lives with them, and despite being cleared of any wrongdoing on the couple’s part, CPS refuses to place Stevie back with her parents.
According to reports, CPS documents claim that Scott and Sara were arrested and found to have been using drugs, but in reality, those allegations are false. CPS told Rolick that in order to help his own case and get his daughter back, he has to take parenting classes and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Understandably, Rolick has refused this, so CPS will still not give Stevie back to her parents.
Scott decided to take matters into his own hands, and began filming interactions with CPS workers. The first video, posted below, is a recording of a CPS worker, and the second is a recording of CPS supervisor Carmin Franko reprimanding Rolick for recording a CPS worker in the first place. Franko claims that it is illegal to record a government agent, and now, CPS is going after the father.
As punishment for recording the worker, CPS is relinquishing visitation rights from Rolick, saying that he can only see his daughter if it is supervised.
Despite backlash from CPS and more troubles that lie ahead, Rolick says that he’ll continue to fight the agency because it’s the right thing to do.
“I’ll go to jail for this because it needs to be exposed,” said Rolick.
It doesn’t appear that CPS has made a statement regarding this case, and as of the latest update, Stevie is still living in the abusive foster home.
Source: Opposing Views
Addendum: Robert Franklin comments.
Child Protective Services Outrage in Ventura County, California
There’s more heavy-handedness on the part of California Child Protective Services, this time in Ventura. CPS in the Golden State has demonstrated time and again its willingness to play the role of state thug and this looks to be no exception.
It wasn’t long ago that I posted a series of pieces on a couple of Russian immigrants who had their infant son taken from them because they had the audacity to disagree with doctors at one hospital about his course of care. Never mind that another doctor at a Kaiser clinic told them the treatment recommended by hospital personnel was unnecessary. Those parents weren’t pretending to practice medicine; they were following one doctor’s advice that contradicted that of another doctor. For that, the police barged into their house without a warrant, snatched their son and left. It took them weeks to get the boy back and only then were they able to do so with the assistance of multiple media outlets and at least one state congressman.
The case of Scott Rolick and his wife Sara is even worse, though (Opposing Views, 3/25/14). In the first case, at least CPS could point to a doctor who said the child needed treatment the parents weren’t providing. That gave the agency a peg on which to hang its hat. It’s got nothing here.
It seems that Scott and Sara and their five-year-old daughter Stevie were peacefully living their lives and allowing his father, who is 70 to live with them. Unknown to them, the old man was peddling drugs miles away from their home. He was caught, arrested and charged. Somehow that got the attention of CPS who showed up at the Rolick’s home to investigate. They found some minor amounts of pot, but Scott and Sara said it wasn’t theirs and, in any case, they don’t imbibe. They voluntarily underwent drug tests and passed, so, end of story, right?
Wrong. CPS had its foot in the door and it wasn’t leaving. Despite the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever of either child abuse or neglect by anyone, and despite the fact that Scott’s father no longer lived there, CPS took Stevie and put her in foster care.
Now, as we know, foster care can be no picnic for a little kid, and that’s how it’s turned out for Stevie. Apparently the place is infested with lice so that all the children’s toys need to be wrapped in plastic. Into the bargain, there are older kids in the home who’ve been aggressive with the little girl.
But that’s not all. In an effort to prove the conditions under which Stevie is living – conditions that CPS apparently prefers to those in the Rolick’s home, that’s so agreeable to children that neighbors call it “the playground of the neighborhood” – Scott took a video of the foster home. He also videotaped CPS caseworkers interacting with him.
And that, my friends, proved to be a mistake. CPS painted a large target on Scott Rolick and went to work. First, caseworker Christy Byrne wrote a report for the Rolick’s file that Scott, a veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq, and his wife had been arrested and charged with possession of a narcotic. That was an outright lie, but it’s there in the file to this day.
Adding one outrage to another, CPS decided that, since Scott had been arrested and charged (which he hadn’t been), he must attend a parenting class, a class for drug abusers and AA meetings. Understandably, Scott has refused.
But CPS wasn’t finished. They claimed Scott’s videotaping caseworkers was also a criminal violation and called the police. Now, it’s clear that, in at least two federal circuits of the United States, We the People have the right to videotape the police in action and therefore the actions of other public employees as well during the course of their official duties. That includes CPS caseworkers. Now, those circuits are the First and Seventh, and California is part of the Ninth Circuit, so just what the law is there is anyone’s guess at this point.
Still, the videotaping is what’s really irritated CPS. They’re used to doing their deeds in secrecy and Scott’s idea that, being public employees, the public is entitled to know what they’re doing is too dangerous to tolerate. So they’ve rushed off to court and gotten a restraining order, so none of us can see what Scott wants us to.
And of course Stevie is still in foster “care.” Have the Rolick’s done a single thing to suggest they’re a danger to her? No. Is there a shred of evidence of neglect? Not one. So what’s she doing in a filthy and dangerous foster home? She’s paying for her parents’ assertion of their parental rights, that’s what. CPS is abetting the abuse of a child because her parents cling to the bizarre notion that they have not only parental rights but civil rights, among them the right to be free from undue governmental intrusion into their private lives.
And we can't have that. All of us need to be aware that CPS is, if not as big a thug as the Stasi, close to it. They hold not only the power to enter our homes and lives on the slimmest of pretexts, but the far more awesome power to take our children from us for literally no reason. CPS, in its worst incarnation, is raw, terrifying governmental power, operating in secret and on the presumption of guilt.
And of course it’s all encouraged by money from Washington. Make no mistake, Ventura County CPS has its eye on Stevie Rolick. She’s cute, she’s healthy (at least for now) and she comes from a good home. That means she scores high on any test for adoptability. Plenty of adoptive parents would love to get a child like her. And if CPS can manage to convince a judge that the Rolicks are unfit parents, that’s exactly what’ll happen. If it does, the feds will send a check to the State of California that will in turn send one to Ventura County.
All that nonsense about Scott and Sara having been arrested and charged with possession of a narcotic is aimed at exactly that. The same is true of the CPS demand that Scott take a variety of drug and alcohol classes. If he agrees, they can point to that as “proof” of his being a suspicious character. After all, his father was busted for selling drugs and he used to live with Scott. If he refuses, he’s obviously not serious about becoming a better dad. Such is the frame-up in progress.
In short, he and Sara are just where CPS wants them – damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
Let’s hope that they get their little girl back soon. And let’s hope she’s healthy and in one piece when and if they do. But in the meantime let’s not forget that, right there in Ventura County, there are children who are being beaten, starved, hooked on drugs and ignored. And when the next one of them dies or is discovered battered, broken and bruised, CPS employees will rush before television cameras to explain that they’re overburdened with cases, how they just didn’t have the time to properly monitor little Andy or Jenny’s case.
Source: National Parents Organization
European Parliament Watches Child Snatching
March 23, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker follows up on the Antonova family. After Dutch social workers seized their children and stored them for two years under conditions little better than a warehouse, the family showed the video of the abduction to the European parliament. Child protectors have twice ignored appellate court orders to return the children.
MEPs must investigate this child-snatching scandal
Social workers who take away children is one of the most disturbing human rights scandals of our time
Last June, under the heading “Dutch social workers catch the English disease”, I reported the extraordinary case of the 11-year-old Antonovs twins: a Russian-Latvian brother and sister forcibly snatched by Dutch social workers from their mother and older brother Ilja, primarily on the grounds that at home they spoke Russian, not Dutch. A chilling video of the twins being carried kicking and screaming to a police van is on YouTube (“Kidnap of children from their mother by Dutch social services”), recording a scene not dissimilar to ones that unfold here in Britain, many times every week.
Last Wednesday in Brussels, this video, shown to a roomful of visibly shocked MEPs and officials, was the highlight of a day-long hearing by the European Parliament’s committee of petitions into the way thousands of children in EU countries are each year being removed from their families for absurd reasons. Ilja Antonovs told the story of how his brother and sister are being kept miserably in a “living facility” run by a private company, Jeugdzorg, at a cost to Dutch taxpayers of £65,000 a year for each child. Twice the Dutch appeal court has ordered the return of the twins to their family, but each time this has been overruled by a lower “children’s court”.
Among the witnesses in Brussels, for 23 petitioners from eight countries, was the Association of McKenzie Friends, led by Sabine McNeill, congratulated by the committee for her “flawless” presentation. The committee has already been angered by the European Commission’s refusal to investigate such abuses: EC officials repeated on Wednesday that upholding human rights is solely a matter for national authorities.
The committee resolved that its members will carry out further inquiries in Britain and Holland, two countries where such abuses are most evident. It will then press for a full European Parliament debate on one of the most disturbing human rights scandals of our time.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Parental Love Deemed Conspiracy
March 22, 2014 permalink
British child protectors seized five children from Carla and José Pedro. When the family complained to the European Parliament in Brussels, the British authorities knew how to react — they arrested the parents for conspiracy. Two news reports are enclosed. News services based in Portugal use real names for this family. The Pedro family has its own blog.
UPDATE: Portuguese immigrants caught up in UK adoption scandal
Portuguese immigrants were in Brussels this week fighting for children they claim were seized by UK authorities running a high-level adoption scandal.
And as the shocking news accelerated through international media, police were reported to have arrested the Portuguese parents of five children - accusing them of attempted kidnap.
The situation follows worrying reports of a scheme said to involve judges, lawyers and social workers effectively ‘kidnapping’ 4500 children every year to “feed the adoption industry”.
On Wednesday, Carla and José Pedro joined 30 other foreign immigrant couples to petition to European Parliament.
“You can hardly believe this story”, Victims Unite activist Sabine McNeill told the European parliament on Wednesday March 20.
“The cases related during a three-hour audience shocked euro MPs”, affirmed Correio da Manhã newspaper. “The denouncements point to the existence of a scheme in the UK involving lawyers, social workers and judges to take children from good parents - the majority immigrants - and put them up for adoption, with the objective of feeding the industry surrounding adoptions”.
“It’s all done for profit!” accused one grandfather in the delegation.
In its own report, SIC TV showed the parents and family members later going to the British Embassy where they attempted to deliver a dossier on the scandal.
According to the report “neither the British embassy nor the British consulate would receive them”.
Said Susana Frexes reporting for SIC, the Euro Parliament does not have the power to force the UK authorities to do anything, but the hope of families is that it can at least push for change.
Euro MP Angelika Werthmann explained it is “very much a Human Rights issue”: “The Human Rights of the child need to be heard”.
Carla and José Pedro, campaigning every way they can for the children that were forcibly taken from them over a year ago, have now reportedly been arrested in their hometown of Grantham, Lincolnshire - on suspicion of attempting to kidnap their own children.
The news reported by Público and picked up by other media instantly came via Sabine McNeill. It is developing rapidly, and we will bring updates throughout the day.
Carla and José, both 43, told SIC television that they wanted their case to be transferred to social services in Portugal, as they are confident that if it is, they will then win parental custody back. All their children are reported to have Portuguese nationality.
The couple’s nightmare began in April 2013 after their eldest son, a child with mental problems, complained at school that his father had beaten him.
It was an accusation that the boy later retracted many times, but it was enough for social workers to arrive on the Pedro’s doorstep in Grantham,Lincolnshire, and remove all five children - aged from 3 to 14 - on the same day.
José Pedro was also taken into police custody, but released hours later “due to lack of evidence”, writes Correio da Manhã.
Originally told their children would be removed for only 72 hours, the Pedros have been without them ever since.
They now see their children only once every two months for an hour in the company of social workers, writes Público newspaper.
“They cry. They are thin, and they want to come home”, Carla told SIC’s television team.
The two youngest have been put up for adoption against the parents’ wishes and their eldest daughter has since threatened to kill herself if she loses her little siblings, Público adds.
It is a tragedy considering both parents say they never beat their children - and the reason given by the UK courts for not returning them was “the risk of future emotional damage”.
As Euro MP Angelika Werthmann pointed out, the emotional damage of separation is plain for all to see.
It now remains to be seen what happens to these children, and those of all the other families (Russians, Lithuanians and Latvians) who petitioned Brussels on Wednesday March 20.
The Facebook site Stolen Children of the UK, which is quoted in CM as saying the forced adoption scheme affects 4500 children every year, warns families: “Love your family today, because tomorrow the Government might take them away”.
Now, there is the added spectacle of parents taken into custody as this high-profile case goes viral.
Source: Portugal Resident
Portuguese couple arrested in UK for conspiring to abduct own children from social care
A Portuguese couple living in the UK has been arrested along with two other people for conspiring to abduct “a number of identified children” – believed to be their own children who were placed in UK state care last year – after accusing the British authorities of unjustly taking them. Portugal’s State Secretary for Communities is considering taking action.
Carla and José Pedro, who have been living in Grantham, Lincolnshire, for the past 11 years, had their five children removed from them by local social services last April.
The move came after their eldest son, who suffers from learning disabilities and hyperactivity, told a social worker assigned to help him at school that his father had hit him.
Originally from Almeirim near Santarém, Central Portugal, the couple claims they were told on the day the authorities came to take the children that they were being placed into care for just 72 hours, but the youngsters were never brought home.
A long court battle ensued in which the couple had to face social services in the British legal system.
Eight months later, in December, a family court ruled that the two youngest children, aged three and five, should be put up for adoption, while the older three, aged 12 to 14, were to be placed in foster care until they turn 21.
This morning (Friday, 21 March) reports emerged that a couple believed to be Carla and José Pedro had been arrested by Lincolnshire police for “conspiring to abduct” the children.
They were arrested in a police sting named Operation Shamrock.
In an statement sent to The Portugal News, a spokesperson for the force confirmed: “At approximately 7am today four people were arrested at two separate addresses in Grantham on suspicion of conspiring to abduct a number of identified children who are currently in the care of the local authority.
“The four people arrested are a husband and wife aged 43 years and 36 years respectively from Grantham, a female aged 35 years from Grantham and a 43-year-old man from Grantham. The four are currently in custody at Grantham Police Station where they will be interviewed.”
DS Claire Hammond said: “The children concerned are related to a number of the people in custody; they are unharmed and remain in the care of the local authority who we are working closely with on this investigation.”
In comments to Portuguese newspaper Público, the State Secretary for Communities José Cesário said: “Even though British law is being carried out”, the case is becoming in need of “an attentive and meticulous legal analysis.”
Only then will Portugal decide if it should “take action with the British authorities.”
And, he added, “according to what we know of the case, the reasons that the Family Court invoked are not very solid.”
The five children were taken by social services from the family home on 23 April; the eldest boy and seven-year-old girl are living with separate families but in the same town, in Skegness. The eldest girl, who is 12, is living with a foster family in Stanford with the two youngest children who have been put up for adoption.
Their mother, Carla Pedro, says she is authorised to see them for an hour, once every two months.
Speaking to Portuguese newspaper Público, Carla Pedro says that when she does see her children “they cry and say they want to come home.”
Mrs. Pedro claims her children were taken from her and her husband due to “a future risk of emotional damage.”
“Smacking children is not allowed in the UK but we never smacked them. We punished them. Either way, my son later said that he had lied when he accused his father of hitting him” because days earlier the couple had grounded the teen after a phone call from the school headmaster because of his bad behaviour.
A blog page (www.pedrofamily.wordpress.com) set up to fight the Pedro’s corner by a representative for the family accuses Lincoln County Council of having “snatched” the five children without paperwork.
Mrs. Pedro also maintains the children were taken from their home without any formal paperwork.
The family is being represented by Sabine Kurjo McNeill, who claims to work for the voluntary public interest advocacy association McKenzie Friends, which assists a litigant in person in a common law court.
Ms. McNeill has posted extensively about the case on the Pedro Family blog. A post from earlier today seemed to confirm it was in fact Mrs. and Mr. Pedro who had been arrested.
“Phone call from Grantham Police Station at 8.51am: the Pedros are arrested for abducting their four children”, she wrote.
Ms. McNeill also offered to represent the Pedros following their arrest.
McKenzie Friends do not need to be legally qualified; litigants in person are entitled to have assistance, lay or professional, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
As a result of the case a petition was created – the ‘Abolish Adoptions without Parental Consent’ petition, which gathered 3,397 signatures – and was handed to European Parliament in Brussels earlier this week, on Wednesday 19 March, along with around a dozen similar complaints from families of various nationalities.
According to the Pedro Family blog page, the couple moved to the UK from Portugal with their then two children in 2003 after José lost his job as forklift driver due to the general economic downturn. In Grantham, he had a job as a driver but later became unemployed.
A spokesperson for child services at Lincolnshire County Council told The Portugal News that he was aware of the case but due to confidentiality restrictions he could not give details nor comment on individual cases.
Source: Portugal News