“Ladies and gentlemen; I am sending information on another protection shocker, because I believe you all have a special interest in child protection matters. Reporter, Ian Mulgrew, recently covered this case in the Vancouver Sun. It concerns a judgment by Justice Paul Walker. Vancouver registry 2012 BCSC 938. JP v BG. The judgment is 137 pages and I would not expect any of you to have time to read it, so I will try to give some of the bare facts, which are very disturbing.Ray Ferris. Ray Ferris is a retired child-protection worker and the author ofThe Art of Child Protection.
1. Four children were kept in care for three years, before being returned to their mother.
2. The case hearings went on over 60 days and took three years.
3. After 60 days, the director decided that they did not have viable evidence after all and withdrew the complaint.
4. The judge was extremely critical of the ministry staff and left the door open to apply for costs.
5. The lawyer who represented the family donated half a million dollars worth of legal service. He estimated the total cost of the case as being between two and three million dollars. An action is now ongoing in Supreme Court for recovery of legal costs and will last six weeks.
6. During the time in care, the mother was only allowed strictly supervised access. The father was allowed unsupervised access. The judge was convinced that the evidence proved the father to have habitually sexually abused his children both before and after the admission to care.
7. The ministry allowed unsupervised access to the father in spite of knowing that there was an order from another court forbidding it. The social workers steadfastly supported the unsafe parent against the safe parent and refused to believe any facts which did not support their actions.
8. By now the children all have severe anxiety disorders and require extensive, expensive psychological and psychiatric help.
9. The actions of the social workers severely compromised the police investigation and it is unlikely that the father can be prosecuted in the criminal courts.
Conclusion. I read some of the judgment and it is enough to turn your stomach. I think that every member of the legislature who is concerned for justice to families and children should be gravely concerned about cases like this and should be resolved to take action to prevent anything like it happening again. All members need to work together on such matters. How did it happen? To anyone who has done any extensive child protection advocacy it is an old, old story. The social workers are almost totally lacking in investigative and assessment skills. They do not know how to recognize evidence and they cannot distinguish between fact, opinion, hearsay, conjecture and rumour. Once an action has been started, the staff only listen to evidence that supports what they have done and ignore contrary evidence. The regional directors perversely pursue the actions, even when they know that their case is weak. In many cases they do this because they know that they can easily outgun the parents with legal firepower. This leaves the parents helpless and unable to contest their cases. There are very few lawyers like Jack Hittrich and Doug Christie who will take the huge financial hit that taking on these cases involves. Legal aid is restricted in hours and totally inadequate to serve such cases. Besides few legal aid lawyers have the expertise and experience to defend such cases. Another matter of concern is that the staff get total support right to the top of the ministry and nobody seems to think that they have a responsibility to protect the children for the damage that has been done to them.
Thank you for reading this and I hope it is of help to you in your pursuit of justice towards children.”