Monday, August 06, 2007

Nunn Commission- under construction

Q & A Discovery Service Inc. Certified Court Reporters
INQUIRY OPENS - FEBRUARY 21, 2006 - 10:06 A.M.

COMMISSIONER: Good morning, counsel.
COUNSEL: Good morning.
MR. MESSENGER: Good morning, Mr. Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER: Alright, Mr. Messenger.
MR. MESSENGER: Thank you, Mr. Commissioner. We're going to continue with the evidence of Ms. Osmond this morning, who's back with us.

CHERYL OSMOND, previously sworn, continued to testify as follows:

77. Q. Ms. Osmond, when we broke yesterday, I think I was beginning - we were beginning to talk a little bit more about the decision to have A. placed in a group home setting at the Reigh Allen Center, and at the Hawthorne House, as well. And I just want to look at a couple of documents that back up some of the material, 'cause I understand that there was no need, in this case, for you to go to Court to have A. placed in a setting like this, right?

A. Right.

78. Q. It was a voluntary agreement?

A. Yes.

79. Q. And that was a decision - an agreement that was made with A.'s mother?

A. Yes.

80. Q. And I just want to look at the form of one of those agreements, and in the volume in front of you, if you turn, for example, to page 6719. Actually, 6729, please. And I'm looking at a temporary care agreement form pursuant to Section 17 of the Children and Family Services Act?

A. That's right.

81. Q. And Section 17 of the Children and Family Services Act says that:

A parent or guardian who is temporarily unable to care adequately for a child in that person's custody and an agency may enter into a written agreement for the agency's temporary care and custody of the child.

A. That's right.

82. Q. And that's what this form represents?

A. Yes.

83. Q. And every time, or each time that A. was involved in an arrangement where he was placed in a group home setting on a voluntary basis - and it was never done involuntarily, right?

A. Right.

84. Q. One of these forms was completed?

A. Yes.

85. Q. Right. So it sets out the purpose of the agreement. It's noted that: The parents are temporarily unable to care adequately for their child. And the reason that's listed there is: Parent/adolescent conflict...

A. Yes.

86. Q. (Quoting):
...unmanageable behavior/noncompliance, and breakdown in trust.


A. Yes.

87. Q. And is that shorthand, if you will, for the circumstances that you described that led to the placement of A. in these settings?

A. Yes, it is. Yeah.

88. Q. And there's an acknowledgment that: The parties agree that the placement is voluntary.

A. Yes.

89. Q. And on the next page, on 6730, it talks about the obligations of the parents, and the obligations of the agency.

A. Yes.

90. Q. And in this particular case, the parents had access to A. - they were able to visit him and contact him, right?

A. Yes.

91. Q. And was that case in the other care agreements that were entered into?

A. Yes. Yeah, they always had, they were able to contact him at any time.
Liberal access, I guess would be...

92. Q. And there's an obligation of the agency in part four, it talks about - it identifies you as the key worker, and you agree to keep the parents informed of the progress of the child, including notice of any emergency involvement of the child, or any absence of the child from agency case, and notice of any change in placement?


A. Yes.

93. Q. So when we hear evidence from, for example, representatives from the Reigh Allen Center or Hawthorne House, and we heard it from Mrs. L., as well, that the agency contacted her when A. went missing or was running.

A. Either the agency or someone from the group home.

94. Q. Right. This is what that - there's an obligation in the agreement that that's required? And we won't walk through it all, but there's a case plan that's set out, talking about the goals and objectives of the placement?

A. Mmm hmm. Yes.

95. Q. And in this case, it was identified as: Attendance at family counselling, A.'s attendance at school, co-operation with services as determined to be in the best interests of the child and his family?

A. Yes.

96. Q. There are - is information on consent to medical treatment on the next page. There's a section there about financial contribution. What expectation is there for a parent, under a voluntary care arrangement, to make financial contribution to the costs of care of the child?

* A. As a general rule, when a child comes into care, the Child Tax Credit is
- goes to the Department of Community Services, and so the parent no longer receives that. A


test should be completed to see what the parents are able to contribute on a monthly basis or a weekly basis, whatever, and in some cases the parents will have medical coverage so the child will continue to be covered under their
medical, or they will be responsible for clothing needs, as an example.

97. Q. And the arrangements and the financial contribution in this case, were they any different from what you described?

A. No.

98. Q. And then finally there are some special terms noted in the agreement. It says: A. will participate in the placement, including attending school. And also it says: This agreement will only be valid if an appropriate placement exists.

A. That's right.

99. Q. And that appropriate placement is if there's a bed available...

A. Yes.

100. Q. a center, or appropriate group home facility?

A. Yes.

101. Q. That was the temporary care agreement for November 17th so 20th, 2003, which I think was his first entry into the system.

A. Yes.

102. Q. There were at least three other agreements dealing with his time. Without turning all of those up, although for the record I'll say they're document 6715, 6719 and 6725, but are you aware of any of the key terms or arrangements changing in the voluntary agreement?

A. It would - it stayed pretty much the same, but the - I guess the most
important thing on any of the agreements was that the agreement was only in
place as long as there was an appropriate placement
. So the agreement was basically predicated on placement.

103. Q. In the course of your care for A., or your involvement in his file, you would have regular reports, I suspect, in addition to the information that was added into the computer system that we've looked at, with - or meetings with your supervisor, is that...

A. Yes.

104. Q. ...right? And would you be under an obligation to report the various care plans that you put in place and get her feedback...

A. Yes.

105. Q. ...on the approach?

A. We - it would be done in consultation.

* 106. Q. Okay. And just, again, your supervisor was Mary Craig, I understand?

A. That's right.

107. Q. Again, just by way of example of a case plan that you would've prepared, I wonder if you can look at document 6742 in that volume. This is a document that's noted to be a supervisor case plan.

A. Yes.

108. Q. And the date of it is September 16th, 2003.

A. Yes.

109. Q. And the purpose of this, I understand, it would be completed by you and your supervisor, Ms. Craig?

A. That's right.

110. Q. Talking in depth about the particular situation, and you would make recommendations on his ongoing care or steps that you planned to take?

A. Yes.

111. Q. And she would agree, and together you would...

A. We would discuss what we felt would be the case plan for this particular

112. Q. Right.

A. Yes.

113. Q. And this is just one example of a case plan, but I understand that there were other ones prepared in the course of care?

A. We meet at least once every three months, in a formalized setting. More
frequently, if it's necessary, if there was a situation occurring that required


input, then we would just, we would do what would be called a consult, and it
would be listed in the case management system as such.

114. Q. So in this particular case, September '03, this was before A.B. was first in the group home setting.

A. That's right.

115. Q. So if we were to turn to the end of this document, at 6746, which is page 5 of the document, we'll see notes in here, and I believe this is Ms. Craig's handwriting.

A. Yes.

116. Q. Yeah. Continue to supervise the child in his home, continue to offer rehabilitative and supportive services to this family. Monitor child's emotional wellbeing through his counsellor and other observations and collateral checks.

A. That's right.

117. Q. So that's the steps that were - you agreed on as part of the plan...

A. Yes.

118. Q. ...for care of A.B.?

A. Yes.

119. Q. I just felt it was important for us to look at some of the documents, and the way that the system works. So you can put that aside. We know from other evidence that in

January 2004 A.B. committed his first motor vehicle, at least the one that he, first that he was charged for.

A. Yes.

120. Q. You were involved in his care at this time, right?

A. Yes.

121. Q. Were you aware of this criminal charge?

A. I was made aware of it, yes.

122. Q. And what - how would you find out?

A. I believe that his mother had called me to let me know what was happening
in that situation.

123. Q. Well, more importantly, I think, and you don't need to look at any additional notes there, just what you can remember is fine. We understand that - well, let me ask you this. What involvement did you have in the criminal justice system vis a vis A.?

A. The involvement that I had with the criminal justice system came later,
later on.

124. Q. Mmm hmm.

A. A. was referred to the Restorative Justice Program, so I attended meetings with him to sort of facilitate his participation in that program.

125. Q. And what role, specifically, did you play in the Restorative Justice Program?

A. I was basically his adult support person. When a youth goes through that
program, they need to have a support


person, an adult, accompany them. And it worked out that I was the person that
was there most consistently.

126. Q. Is it unusual for a child under your care or with whom you're involved in an ongoing relationship, like a file like this one, to be in conflict with the law?

A. It's not unusual.

127. Q. So it wasn't - was it unusual for you to have to be in this role as an adult support person in the Restorative Justice Program?

A. No.

128. Q. One of the things that we'll hear, and other individuals will speak to this, is that the Restorative Justice in this case really didn't conclude until May or June of 2004, a number of months after the incident in January.

A. Yes.

129. Q. Is that a typical time frame for involvement in a Restorative Justice Program, from your experience?

A. It's not unusual. It - sometimes it takes a while before the referral gets
through the process and someone is assigned the file, and then there's an
information session that the youth would go through, and then they have to meet
with the Restorative Justice counselor, probably a couple of times before that.
Sometimes they have what they call accountability sessions, depending on what
the agreement is with the youth.

130. Q. We also have heard evidence that, starting in January and moving into the summer of 2004, A.'s involvement in the criminal justice system escalated. Were you aware that he began to be involved in a pattern or a number of situations where he was stealing cars?

A. I was made aware of that through - well, when he came back into the group
home, through the group home system, whenever there was an incident they would
forward the information to the agency. So I was aware of it in that respect, and
T. also, when she had information, she would let me know.

131. Q. And what changes, if any, would you take to your care plan for A. when you learned about the extent of his involvement in youth crime?

A. I guess, I mean, really we just continued to try to provide support to
him, and try to guide him. But nothing, nothing concrete in terms of, you know -
we'd be encouraging to take advantage of the services that we had, but there
would be nothing really that we could, I guess, force him to do.

132. Q. Are there any particular programs that are geared towards youth who are actively involved in the youth criminal justice system, through Department of Community Services?

A. Not that I'm aware of.

133. Q. Other than the involvement that you with Restorative Justice with A.B. arising out of the January 2004 charge, were

you involved with him in Restorative Justice in any of the other charges that he faced?

A. No, I don't believe. It was just the one charge. Or, there was a number of
charges, but one event.

134. Q. Right. I will need to ask you to speak up, just so that we can hear you clearly.

A. Okay.

135. Q. As the adult support person in the Restorative Justice Program, you would have been part of receiving some information about his Restorative Justice contract and his success or failure in the program, right?

A. Yes.

136. Q. So, for example, if we look at the document that's found at page 6735, this is a fax to you from Hope Bowden from the Community Justice Society, and we'll hear from Ms. Bowden later today, I expect, but it attaches, on the second page, a Restorative Justice Program, Restorative Justice Agreement...

A. Yes.

137. Q. ...Proposed Disposition Plan. As the adult support person, it would be ordinary for you to receive this...

A. Yes.

138. Q. ...information?

A. With A.'s permission.

139. Q. And this - with A.'s permission.

A. Yes.

140. Q. So he has to agree for you to receive this information. And does he have to agree that you can be his...

A. Yes.

141. Q. support person?

A. Yes.

142. Q. And the terms of this agreement were that he was to perform 60 hours of community services work.

A. Yes.

143. Q. And also agreed to attend the CJS, I think that's Community Justice Society, "Options to Anger" program?

A. That's right.

144. Q. And would you - you would have been aware of these requirements?

A. Yes.

145. Q. What steps, if any, would you have taken in your role to facilitate A.'s involvement in carrying through with these terms of this agreement?

A. Well, the community service part, of course, would be up to Restorative
Justice to find a suitable placement, and to my knowledge, that didn't get
started prior to the end of our involvement. With regard to the "Options to
Anger" program, I would have been in contact with the group home, and we
would've tried to ensure that A. got to those, those meetings. His mother was
also very involved, in terms of getting A. to appointments, as needed. So it was
a, there was


a, I guess, a co-operation in terms of trying to support him to get there.

146. Q. I understand that A.'s involvement with Restorative Justice as a result of the January 2004 matter ultimately failed.

A. Yes.

147. Q. Do you understand the reasons for that failure?

A. I believe that he had missed some of the appointments at the "Options to
Anger" program, and then I think it was - probably had something to do with the
fact that he had subsequent charges, as well. And I believe, if I'm not
mistaken, Hope had sent a letter indicating that they wouldn't be - they were
going to be referring his original charges back to Court.

148. Q. And I think you received a copy of that. If you look, actually, again in that volume, at 6756. This is a letter dated June 25, 2004, and it's from Hope Bowden.

A. Yes.

149. Q. And it's from the Community Justice Society, addressed to you?

A. Yes.

150. Q. And it says: I'm writing to inform you that since A.A.B. has failed to complete the terms set out in the Restorative Justice Agreement by the date indicated

above we're referring the case back to the Halifax Regional Police Service, who will
determine the appropriate course of action.

A. And I believe that when the agreement was, when the agreement was signed, our
involvement, my involvement with A. actually terminated soon after that, if I'm
not mistaken.

COMMISSIONER: Your involvement what?

WITNESS: With A. had ended soon after the contract was drawn up.

151. Q. Yeah, and we'll come to that in a minute, I think. In fact, it was around that same time that the Department of Community Services actually closed your file...

A. Mmm hmm.

152. Q. ...on A. Let's take a step back, though, and come back to his second involvement in - at the Reigh Allen Center for a moment, before we go back to the closing - just so we can follow his path a little bit further. After the first stay at the Reigh Allen Center, in November 2003, he returned home.

A. Yes.

153. Q. And it was during that time, I understand, in January, that he had his first charge, and there may have been some subsequent ones. But he went back and had a second stay at the Reigh Allen Center in February of 2004. Do you remember what prompted that second stay, the second voluntary


A. I believe it was a phone call from his stepfather, and his stepfather was
quite angry and upset. Things had deteriorated in the home again in terms of -
use the word again, "volatile", and he basically was asking us to get him out
before something bad happened. So it appeared to be quite urgent.

154. Q. Was A. at this time, can you recall, continuing to be involved with counselling with Nancy Rogers-Currie or Lou Costanzo at the IWK?

A. There were appointments set with Lou Constanza. The attendance had been

155. Q. And what role did you play, if any, in ensuring that A. made appointments with his counsellors?

A. That would've been his mother's responsibility, during the time that he was
with them.

156. Q. And this time, at the Reigh Allen Center, as is typical, I think, it was just for a relatively short stay, and it was pending a longer-term placement in another...

A. That's right.

157. Q. home setting. So correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that the dates were from February 14th, 2004, to March 7th, 2004, he was at the Reigh Allen Center?

A. That sounds right.

158. Q. And that at that time, he was then able to find - a

spot became available at Hawthorne House?

A. That's right.

159. Q. And what is Hawthorne House?

A. Hawthorne House would be a group home for young men, and it's - unlike the
Reigh Allen Center, it's actually a house. It's - children have more of a
home-like setting. And it's, they basically - there are staff who act as parents
of the youth and try to get them into their routines and things that you would
do in a, sort of a normal family setting.

160. Q. In March - we can look at the records, if we have to, but on March the 2nd or 3rd, the Reigh Allen Center contacted you to indicate that A. had - was suspected again of stealing another car, even during that short time at the Reigh Allen Center. Would A.'s involvement in the criminal justice system, and his - well, would his involvement in the criminal justice system have affected, in any way, the decision or appropriateness for him to be placed in a longer-term group home setting?

A. Not really.

161. Q. Is it unusual for kids who are involved in the criminal justice system to be placed in a group home?

A. Yes. It's often part of, part of what they come with.

162. Q. And just so we're clear, so it's not unusual.


A. It's not unusual.

163. Q. A placement became available at the Hawthorne House starting on March the 8th, 2004, and I understand that A. stayed there until about the middle of May.

A. Mmm hmm.

164. Q. What programs would be available at Hawthorne House that you were aware of?

A. Well, Hawthorne would have sort of a life skills component, social skills
component. They would do group work with the youth that were there. They would
encourage and support youth going to school and participating in whatever
services, other services, may be there. In A.'s case, they were able to arrange
for him to get into the at-risk program at Bi-Centennial Junior High, which
would be their local school, and the agency also offered a tutor to A. at that
point to try to help boost him up and try to do some catch up with the losses he
had in terms of his education.

165. Q. What is the at-risk program at Bi-Centennial Junior High?

A. I really can't speak to it very much, but basically, it's for some of
those kids that we would say have kind of fallen between the cracks, and are not
able to keep up in the classroom that would normally be where they would - you
know, if everything had gone according to plan - it's the kids that I guess have
the most difficulty in school.


166. Q. Is it, nevertheless, a voluntary participation program? In other words, was it up to A. as to whether he would attend a program or not?

A. Well, school is supposed to be mandatory, so if he was going to school,
and I'm probably going to skirt around the question a little bit, if he was
going to school, it would be the best place for him to be, because it would be
something that would be more geared to his own specific needs, rather than being
in a classroom and being completely lost. So I - he made choices. It wasn't
really - in my opinion, it's not really voluntary. You need to go to school. But
he did make some choices that were not in his best interests, for sure.

167. Q. Sure. And you're being diplomatic, but...

A. I'm trying to be.

168. Q. Yeah. He chose not to participate...

A. Yes.

169. Q. that program.

A. Although it was an expectation.

170. Q. And it was an expectation of him living at the Hawthorne House, as well?

A. Yes.

171. Q. And he didn't meet that expectation?

A. That's right.

172. Q. And what about the tutor that was offered to him? Do you know if he took advantage of that?


A. He did not.

173. Q. Again, that was a refusal that he made?

A. Yes.

174. Q. During his time at Hawthorne House, did he continue to have counselling from Nancy Rogers-Currie or Lou Costanza at the IWK?

A. He had appointments with Lou Costanza. It would appear that he actually
didn't make it to those sessions that were set up for him, and he also had
appointments with the Choices program for - drug dependency services.

175. Q. And did he not show up for those, either?

A. He did attend some of those.

176. Q. And was it successful for him, as a program?

A. No, it wasn't.

177. Q. Can - are you able to say why not?

A. At one point, A. I believe told the group home staff that it was really -
it was more me wanting him to attend choices than it was him. He basically, he
was just doing it 'cause he felt that he should, I guess.

COMMISSIONER: I'm sorry. I can't really here you. You're not speaking very loud.



178. Q. You thought A. was doing it just for you?

A. He did not want to attend Choices. He felt that it


was more for my benefit than for his.

179. Q. So is it fair to say, and correct me if I'm wrong in this characterization, that he was just not prepared to engage in that program?

A. That's fair to say.

180. Q. And I understand, as well, that in fact Lou Costanzo, the counsellor at the IWK, stopped offering services to A. because he was not compliant with his appointments?

A. That's right.

181. Q. What did you understand about A.'s behavior while at the Hawthorne House? Were there any changes or improvements?

A. A. was gone a lot from the house. It was really difficult, I think, for them
to get a real handle on who A. was because he was absent so frequently.

182. Q. And would you be aware of the fact that he was often absent from Hawthorne House?

A. Yes.

183. Q. And would you be aware of his ongoing involvement or even escalation in criminal activities...

A. Yes.

184. Q. ...during this time?

A. Yes. If they were aware of it, then I would've been made aware of it

185. Q. To what extent would that have an effect on the risk that had been identified that A. was under at the beginning,

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Debra Steven's Case - Lunenburg - report to the Minister of Community Services

Totally Deceived: The Journey out of Denial
(Visit our parent blog site Revealing Truth for Child and Family Justice for more concerns with Children's Aid/Family and Children's Services/Community Services in Nova Scotia and our sister site What's Wrong with Nova Scotia's Children and Family Service Act: Comments & Recommendations Links are also to the right under LINKS)
This is a synopsis of the one of the cases in the original 372 page document. This report can be found in the Nova Scotia Archive and Records Management Library with the call no. HV 745 N8 H54 1994. As such, it is a matter of public record. You can view this information at The library is located at 6016 University Avenue (Corner of University Avenue and Robie Street), Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA, B3H 1W4.
Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday:8:30 am to 4:30 pm,
Wednesday Evening: 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm,
Saturday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Synopsis submitted by Linda Youngson B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed.

A Synopsis of:
A Report To The Minister of the Department of Community Services
Submitted by
Brian Hillier MSW, CSW
Andrew Koster MSW CSW

November 1, 1994
[Lunenburg Family and Children Services (FCS)
Debra Stevens Case]

April 1983 (59,62)
Debra Stevens made a private informal arrangement that was originally only supposed to continue until the end of the summer - Her 10 yr old son Clayton was to live with his gymnastics coach Dawn Henderson and her husband Steven. (Clayton was very involved with gymnastics) . Younger son, Ryan, remained at home with mother.

Summer 1983 (part of Complaint #1) (81)
Clayton was sexually assaulted by a neighbor of the Hendersons. The Hendersons told Clayton to stay away from this person and that they would speak to the neighbour.

August 25, 1983 (62)
Anonymous call to Lunenberg FCS (just before Clayton was suppose to return home after staying with coach for the summer!):
- complaint against Debra Stevens regarding supervision and nutrition
- Public Health Nurse made immediate home visit (remember, at this time, only Ryan was living with his mother)

August 26, 1983 (62)
Agency spoke with Public Health Nurse
- Nurse supportive of mother but suggested Steven’s home be monitored
- Plans for 2 home visits and contact with 2 references put forth by Debra Stevens (But Agency did nothing )

September 1, 1983 (70)
Amendments to the Children’s Services Act to protect the right of single parent mothers giving their children up for adoption

December 1983 (63)
Agency spoke with Ryan’s Daycare Centre and his babysitter :
- both expressed concerns and asked the Agency to intervene BUT Agency did nothing.

December 29, 1983 (65)
In letter to the Agency, the Public Health Nurse - offers to continue to visit mother and suggests possible assistance for Debra Stevens. “the approach suggested by the Nurse is much more consistent with the philosophical thrust directed by the Child Protection Manual than that employed by the Agency

Jan 12, 1984 (59, 63-64)
Debra Stevens placed her 2yr old son Ryan with the Hendersons. The plan was originally suppose to be temporary- “Debra Stevens would be afforded an opportunity to get some counseling and get her life together”
- Dawn Henderson requested involvement of FCS
-”The question of who proposed this placement and why, are issues of dispute between Dawn Henderson and Debra Stevens.”
Note: FCS did not provide the counseling.

Jan 13,1984 (63)
FCS entered into a voluntary care agreement with Debra Stevens and then made the Hendersons a provisional foster home, a “specific“ foster home BUT they would be approved as a “general” foster home within the next year.

Meanwhile (59, 64)
2 Subsequent voluntary agreements maintained this arrangement

September 30, 1984 (59,64)
FCS agreements lapsed BUT both boys continued to live with the Hendersons

Winter and spring 1985 (59-60, 66)
Debra Stevens and Dawn Henderson discussed the possibility of the boys being adopted by the Hendersons

Again, Dawn Henderson requested the involvement of FCS again.
“the relationship between Debra Stevens and the Hendersons subsequently deteriorated and became increasingly conflicted”

April 1985
Dawn Henderson at this point was pressing Debra Stevens to make a decision . . . Although Ms Stevens continued to visit with her children, she did not feel that she was in a position to take them back. It seems clear that she was deeply conflicted about what she should do

Once again, Dawn Henderson asked the Agency to intervene - A meeting was held at the Agency with Dawn Henderson, Debra Stevens and her sister Dolores Campbell and an unnamed social worker from the Agency. “Ms Stevens recollects the Agency as strongly supporting adoption . . . The Agency and Ms Stevens both agree that Dawn Henderson was very strongly articulating her interest in adopting the boys” (16,65-66)

“The Agency advises that it . . . did not provide her [Debra Stevens] with any counseling regarding her rights, or lack thereof, subsequent to an adoption (60).”

“It is Debra Steven’s contention, that if she had been provided with proper social work services, she would not have been pressured (in her view) into adoption. Futhermore, she alleges that she was misled regarding the adoption. Ms Stevens contends that she believed she was entering into an ‘OPEN’ adoption with the Hendersons, whereby she would maintain some parental rights, in order that she might have regular contact with her children.

Second, Ms Stevens contends that she and her family complained for years about the welfare of Ryan and Clayton in the Henderson home and that her complaints were ignored (61).”

Debra Stevens alleges that the Agency understood from the discussions that were held that what was being arranged was an ‘open adoption’ and that in fact this term ‘open adoption’ was one that she got from the Agency (69).

Some time after meeting (66)
Debra Stevens consented to adoption. “Debra Stevens alleges that prior to signing the adoption consent in July of 1985, she had a discussion with a lawyer . . . this lawyer advised that in the adoption she would be giving up her parental rights but he also suggested that if she wanted to ensure continued access, she should get an agreement in writing from the Hendersons guaranteeing continued access. She states that she approached Dawn Henderson about this and that Dawn Henderson agreed to provide such an agreement.”

June 25, 1985 (68)
Notice of Proposed Adoption

July 24, 1985 ? (68)
Consent to Adoption signed by Debra Ivany (Stevens)

July 25, 1985
Consent to Adoption
“On July 25, 1985 [July 24th?- see pg 68 “signed by Debra Ivany”] , Dawn and Steven Henderson drove Debra Stevens to the office of THEIR solicitor. This solicitor witnessed Debra Stevens’s Consents to Adoption.. . . Debra Stevens . . . recalls that the issue of access was dealt with and that the Henderson’s lawyer advised her that his clients were prepared to give access to her children on forty-eight hours notice.[BUT] “Both Dawn and Steven Henderson indicated that prior to this meeting, their lawyer had advised then that the agreement ‘wasn’t worth the paper it was written on’. . .

The problem here, is that the lawyer for the Hendersons was quit correct in his assessment of the access agreement. This document which Debra Stevens thought would ensure the continuation of some of her parental rights, had no basis in law, and was founded almost entirely on the future goodwill of the Hendersons. Yet the inference that she [Debra Stevens] drew from the discussions with both lawyers and the involvement of the Agency, was that this document was somehow binding (67-68)”

August 19,1985 (68)
Consent to Adoption signed by Edward Ivany

February 17,1986
Clayton [Ivany]
signed his Consent to Adoption. This was required under Section 16 of the Children’s Services Act because Clayton was over twelve(68)”

“Clayton recalls that the meeting regarding the signing of HIS Consent was held at the Agency and that Dawn and Steven Henderson were present . He further recalls that he was told by Agency staff that this would be an ‘open adoption’. He understood this to mean that he would continue to have contact with his mother. He also recalls that this confirmed what he had discussed with his mother. Clayton expressed a great deal of remorse about this issue because he had encouraged his mother to consent to the adoption based on his understanding that it would be OPEN. (69-70)

Janet Moore signed a declaration declaring that Clayton had signed his consent freely and with understanding . (68-70)

Sometime in 1986 (part of Complaint # 1) (81)
Clayton, the older son, shared the incident of being sexually assaulted by a neighbor of the Henderson’s in 1983 with his maternal aunt Dolores Campbell and “asked her not to share it with anyone else as he was worried that he would get in trouble with the Hendersons

March 18,1986 (68,70)
Adoption Order granted

April 9,1986 (68)
Letter from the Department advising that adoption order had been granted on March 18,1986

The relationship between Debra Stevens and Dawn Henderson continued to break down

October 9, 1986 (part of Complaint #1) (81-82)
Maternal aunt,Delores Campbell, learned that Ryan, the younger son, had spent an overnight with the neighbor of the Hendersons who had sexually abused his older brother, Clayton, in 1983. As a result, she phoned the Agency informing them of Clayton’s sexual abuse and to voice her concern for Ryan. She also informed the agency about “the beginning conflict around access”.

On the same day, she followed this call up with a letter to the Agency

“The Agency responded to this concern by phoning Dawn Henderson and reviewing the matter with her . . . the Agency did not proceed further. They made no record of the complaint or their responses and they neglected to get back to the referent [Delores Campbell]

December 20, 1986 (part of Complaint #1) (82-83)
Not hearing from the Agency, Ryan’s maternal aunt Delores Campbell, wrote the Agency wanting to know what follow-up had been done concerning her report.

“The Agency wrote back . . . indicating they had lost her initial letter . . . Their letter reads: ‘we are completely satisfied that the Hendersons took appropriate action in dealing with the isolated incident. I stress the word ‘isolated’ since Clayton has not been allowed to associate with the gentleman whom you referred to.’

January 23, 1987 (part of Complaint #1) (83)
Delores Campbell “wrote back saying that the Agency had misunderstood her. She went on to say that Ryan [not Clayton] was the focus of her concern as she heard that he had spent the night at the home of the alleged perpetrator and was concerned that because of his age he was vulnerable

February 25, 1987 (part of Complaint #1) (83)
The Agency wrote back to Delores Campbell stating “I am completely satisfied that the Hendersons have handled the issue you raised in a very acceptable manner. This applies not only to Clayton, but also to his brother Ryan.”

Some later date (83-84)
Both Dawn and [Steven] Henderson advised that there was at least one occasion subsequently when Ryan was left in the care of these people” !

Summer of 1987 (part of Complaint #2) (84)
Oldest son Clayton, 14 yrs old, was tenting in the back yard of the Hendersons when an older friend who had been drinking came by. Clayton was called into the house and told that he could not go back outside. Clayton swore at Dawn Henderson and Steven Henderson struck Clayton splitting his lip and splattering blood on the wall. Clayton was then sent to his room.

Several days later Steven Henderson recounted the incident to Debra Stevens showing her the blood splatters on the wall.

September 29, 1988 (part of Complaint #2) (84-85)
Following a phone call covering the same subject, Delores Campbell , the boys’ aunt wrote to the Department of Community Services, again expressing conflict over access to the boys and recounting the incident leading up to Clayton’s split lip.

There is some debate whether the Lunenberg office was informed of this complaint BUT “the Department wrote back and stated: “ . . . we are of the view hat we have no role to [play in facilitating a resolution to the problem that exists between Mr. And Mrs. Henderson and your sister

Also, October 7, 1988
Lunenberg case note dated this day states that the mother, Debra Stevens, had gone to a lawyer with her concern, that her lawyer sent letters to Alex Shaw, Departmental Solicitor, and that, as a result, the solicitor, Alex Shaw, expressed doubts about the suitability of the foster home. BUT the writer of these case notes had assured the solicitor that “this is an excellent home”.

The reviewers of this report state “No investigation of this complaint was ever carried out”.

September 1989 (Complaint # 4) (87-90)
Debra Stevens phoned the Lunenburg office on at least 2 occasions to express concerns about access as well as concerns about Steven Henderson’s emotional stability and giving alcohol to her son Clayton, now 16 years old

The Lunenburg office had no record of this complaint BUT Debra Stevens made an audio recording of the second phone call where she refers to the original conversation. “. . . there is obviously problems with Mr. Henderson . . . He called my husband up yesterday and was crying . . . Every time he calls he cried . . .there is something definitely wrong in this house . . He’s practically given Clayton everything he wanted in order to keep him there . . I’ve never seen anybody so emotional about a boy in my life as Steve . . . I’ve never heard anybody talk on the phone and start crying like they do, I mean, he can’t get two words out and he’s crying.”

She then goes on to state that she can bring forth an adult witness who saw Steven Henderson give her son alcohol.

Then she related an incident that her son Clayton informed her had taken place when his wife, Dawn, was away. Mr. Henderson was drunk, “he was crying at the table . . . He was saying Clayton didn’t love him any more . . Then he passed out on the floor . . . Then Clayton says, ‘Ya, we got him tucked in Mom, . . . then he got back out, you know, and then he started again‘”

From there Debra Stevens related an incident concerning Dawn Henderson (adopting mother and gym teacher) and Clayton: “ I’ve gotten stories of Dawn Henderson putting Clayton up the rope in front of the school in front of friends, and his hands were blistered and they all, like calluses on his hands, from climbing the ropes . . .the calluses all cracked open on his hands and the blood was running down his arms and he was crying cause he didn’t want to go up that rope because it hurt his hands so bad, and she said ‘pain is gain, Clayton, pain is gain, you go up those ropes.’ And he cried, she made him cry, she embarrassed him in front . . And that’s mentally cruelty in my mind, that’s really not right to do to a child

Finally she states “ isn’t it your job to investigate”.

The reviewers states, once again “the Agency has no record of this complaint and no investigation was ever done as a result” BUT remember Debra Stevens had her audio recording!

October 1, 1989 (part of Complaint # 3) (86)
Delores Campbell wrote a letter to the Minister of Community Services expressing concerns about adoption and access and relating the incident of Clayton’s split lip and Steven Henderson showing the splattered blood to his mother Debra Stevens.

October 31, 1989 (part of Complaint #3) (86-87)
After staff of Community Services discussed the situation with the Lunenburg staff, the Lunenburg Agency staff wrote a memorandum to the Minister on this date stating “The Hendersons . . .are well respected foster parents . . . Mrs. Henderson is a Board Member . . . Ms Janet Moore, acting Executive Director of Family and Children Services of Lunenburg County . . . feels the boys receive(d) excellent care at the Hendersons."

November 2, 1989 (part of Complaint #3) (87)
The Minister wrote back to Delores Campbell stating “I have notified Mrs. Janet Moore, Acting Executive Director of Family and Children’s Services of Lunenburg County, of your concerns.” BUT the Lunenburg staff state “they have no recollection of this discussion and there is no documentation in their file. There is no record of any investigation being done.”

November 8, 1989 (Complaint #5) (90)

By 1990 (60)
The oldest son Clayton “moved back in” with his mother . Younger son, Ryan, was still with the Hendersons.

August 1990 (60)
Clayton “disclosed that throughout his time in the care of the Hendersons, he had been the victim of regular sexually abuse at the hands of Steven Henderson.”

August 17,1990 (60)
Steven Henderson arrested for sexual assault

August 24,1990 (60)
Steven Henderson appeared in court - charged with 4 counts of sexual assault (including Clayton and 2 other foster children)

Dec 17 1990 (60)
Debra Stevens had applied to Supreme Court NS for custody of Ryan - Justice Walter Goodfellow removed Ryan from the custody of the Hendersons and placed him with his mother Debra Stevens

May 27, 1991 (60)
Steven Henderson convicted of sexual assault - sentenced 23 months jail time - Crown appealed - increased to 4 years (served 19 months)

Observations and Conclusions for Section A (Debra Stevens case) of the Review (14-20)

"1. Child welfare occupies a critical position in the social safety net for children and families.
Generally speaking, its function can be described as protecting children and supporting the integrity of families. In Debra Steven’s case the system failed on both counts.

2. The Department employed a narrow literalist approach to Section 14A of the Children’s
Services Act
. . . This approach created a void in legislative protection for a natural parent like Debra Stevens, a void which could have been but was not, filled by sound social work practice.

When they designed the amendment they were focused on the vulnerable postpartum mother and the potential for her to be victimized shortly after birth by the “baby sellers” . . . However. . . they [the department] took the view that when the placement was already a fait accompli there was no point in counseling the natural mother . . . The intent of 14A was to protect the natural mother. The point must be made that the natural mother can also be victimized by imbalances in the power relationships between her and the adoptive parents, both in relative and non relative adoptions. Furthermore, it can be argued that in the adoption of an older child, who has already bonded with the natural parent, there is more potential for trauma to the child if these process issues are not dealt with properly.

3. Despite the Agency’s view that their role in the adoption was only “facilitative” . . . a Child
Protection Agency has an authority which cannot be denied or abdicated
. . . .
Given that Debra Stevens was clearly, deeply conflicted about the adoption, and that this notion of OPEN adoption was pivotal to this proposed arrangement, it is our view that the Agency should have ensured that Debra Stevens fully understood what other alternatives were available to her, and, that in this adoption she was giving up all of her parental rights, regardless of what the access agreement said. . . . The agency’s action, or lack thereof, did facilitate the problem, just as the void in the legislation did. . . .

In short, Debra Stevens failed to obtain proper independent legal advise prior to signing her consent to what she believed was an “OPEN” adoption. No one took the responsibility to ensure proper advice; Debra Stevens herself, the first lawyer she spoke to, the Henderson’s, the Henderson’s lawyer, the Agency, or the Department.

4. The Agency’s relationship with Debra Stevens, from 1983 through to the adoption in 1986, was one of passivity, rather than the proactive role required by the Child Protection Manual. If the Agency staff had been more proactive, there is a good chance that the adoption would not have occurred at all. The provision of good social work services should have focused on support services, such as those suggested by the Public Health Nurse, to keep the children in the home, perhaps supplemented with a brief period of alternate care.
(5. is not in document)

6. The complaints from Debra Stevens and her sister, between 1986 and 1989, were inadequately documented and insufficiently investigated by the agency, contrary to protection policy and procedure.

In complaint # 4 and 5, there appears to be little doubt that legitimate complaints were
appropriately made, and yet, not acted upon
according to the Department’s protection policy
and procedure.

7. It is our view that the problem in this case was that of bias, and thus objectivity. There was a “double bias” on the part of the agency at work throughout the history of Debra Stevens and the Hendersons.

First the Agency continually focused on the presence of the access dispute between Debra Stevens and the Hendersons rather than the complaints themselves.

Second, there was this pervasive bias in the Agency that (1) The Hendersons, and in particular, Dawn Henderson, were the “superstars” of the foster care system, and that, (2) Debra Stevens was a nuisance, and thus not to be taken seriously. With the possible exception of Complaint #1, this double bias seems to run through the entire history of this matter, and effectively prevented the Agency from doing what it was suppose to do.

As a result, the complaints of Debra Stevens and her family were not given the “careful
examination of facts to determine the validity” which they required.

8. Patrick Hickey’s allegation of earlier reporting of sexual abuse by Steven Henderson is extremely troubling. Despite extensive investigation on our part of what happened in April of 1987, we remain unable to reach a firm conclusion. The failure of the Agency staff to document the allegations, or any investigation of them in its records is non-complience in and of itself.

All of the possible explanations are cause for concern. The implications of some are frightening. What is clear is that the Agency failed to conduct a proper investigation of the allegations in 1987.

At best, the Agency had an allegation that one of its foster children, who had a history of being sexually abused, was being sexually abused again, and they failed to properly investigate.

At worst, it infers that the Agency had an allegation of sexual abuse against Steven Henderson more than three years prior to Clayton’s disclosure and did not investigate it properly.

9. The Agency ceded much of the case management responsibility for children in the Henderson foster home to Dawn Henderson, reducing the Agency’s ability to monitor care in the home and to recognize any possible signs of sexual abuse. It could be argued that the apparent autonomy of the Henderson foster home played a facilitative role in the sexual assault by Steven Henderson.

10. It is unreasonable to expect that Government can legislate for every eventuality, especially in the area of social services . . . However, it is our view that . . . sound social work practice . . . is expected to fill in the gaps in legislation, policy and procedure. No manual can cover every eventuality. Sound social work theory and practice should."

Recommendations (21-24)

Web Statistics

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Review of the Handling of the Case of Mrs. X and Moral Panic and excerpt from Sexual Offenses Against Children

Visit our parent blog site Revealing Truth for Child and Family Justice for more concerns with Children's Aid/Family and Children's Services/Community Services in Nova Scotia and
Our sister site What's Wrong with Nova Scotia's Children and Family Service Act: Comments & Recommendations
 Links are also to the right under LINKS

Chronology of Events from
A Review of the Handling of the Case of Mrs. X

Excerpt from
Moral Panic and Sexual Offenses Against Children
Compiled by Linda Youngson B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed.

Though I would encourage everyone who reads this chronology to access the original 129 page document, A Review of the Handling of the Case of Mrs. X, and read it in its entirety, I realize that many people will not have the time or the opportunity to do so. For this reason , I have tried to condense this review as accurately as possible for research and advocacy purposes. Unfortunately, A Review of the Handling of the Case of Mrs. X, is not available on the net but we did get a copy directly from the NS Department of Community Services. I suggest that you request a copy from this provincial government department as well. You can also see a copy at Nova Scotia Archives and Records Mangement Library - Call No. HV 8079 C46 C536. See listing at . As such, it is a matter of public record. The library is located at 6016 University Avenue (Corner of University Avenue and Robie Street), Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA, B3H 1W4.
Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday:8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Wednesday Evening 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Saturday:9:00 am to 5:00 pm

I would like people to take note that in this review the identity of the family is protected by referring to the parents as Mr. and Mrs. X and the children are only referred to as the older or the younger boy - at times specifying the ages. I bring this to the forefront because I am presently reading another review presented to the Minister of Community Services of 3 different cases. In this review the families, including the children, are identified by name BUT NONE of the professionals are identified, they are only referred to by title or position.

I find this deeply disturbing. How can individuals in the system be held accountable if no one is named? Such a review is not acceptable.
I also encourage people to read and access the academic document, Moral Panic and Sexual Offenses Against Children in its entirety which includes mention of the Mrs. X case as well as the development of the parent's rights movement in Nova Scotia. This was written by Anthony Thomson, Department of Sociology, Acadia University and was presented for the 26th Annual Meeting of the Atlantic Association of Sociologists and Anthropologists, St. John's, Nfld., 23 March 1991.

The following is a brief excerpt (with page numbers in brackets):

“Provincially another incident, this time in Cape Breton, brought the issue of parent's rights to a head. This was the Mrs. X case. On the surface, this incident is the opposite of what would be expected of the "moral panic" interpretation. In this view, the child is believable and the state will enter easily into prosecutions based on unfounded accusations. There has been, however, in Britain and the United States, a significant counter-response to the tendency to believe child victims and enter into prosecutions. According to Karmen, one half a million families every year in the United States are subject to investigations as a result of mistaken accusations. These take many forms, one of which has been termed the "sexual allegations in divorce syndrome".(59)  In the Mrs. X case, the Children's Aid Society of Cape Breton took custody of two young boys from their mother. She had expressed fears that her sons were being sexually abused by their father when they visited him, the couple having been divorced four years earlier, in 1986.(60)  She complained to the society, but instead of investigating, the agency charged Mrs. X with hurting the children by focusing on the allegations.(61) Local officials dismissed her claims as unfounded and damaging to the children. The boys remained wards of the Social Agency for 22 months and at one point came close to being adopted by a Nova Scotia family.

In February 1990, County Court Judge Simon MacDonald overturned an earlier Family Court decision giving the Children's Aid Society custody, and "recommended the community services minister look into procedures for the apprehension of children and investigations into allegations of child abuse."

The Minister ordered the review, undertaken over three months by Marilyn Peers, executive director of the Halifax Children's Aid Society, only after a newly-formed parents advocacy group, the Cape Breton Parents Rights Group, supported by women's groups and professionals, went public with concerns over the agency's operations".(62)

The Report vindicated the mother and was critical of the guidelines for the investigation and handling of abuse complaints, and accused the supervisor and caseworker of "biased attitudes,... lack of sensitivity" of "`the abuse of authority and the need for control'". The Report recommended that the two workers be fired.(63) There were "`major errors in professional judgement and violations of the Code of Ethics.'"(64)

Basically, the workers saw the problem in terms of a problem "between divorced parents" to be dealt with through their respective lawyers. The caseworkers considered Mrs. X "aggressive, emotional and demanding", blamed her for making up the allegations, "for coaching the children" and emotionally harming them.

The Cape Breton Children's Aid Society responded by firing the Director (the supervisor in the case), and transferring the caseworker out of child protection.

The Board agreed to replace the salary of Mrs. X for five years so that she can remain at home with her children. In the view of Barry Costello, the Executive Director of Family and Children's Services in Kings County, the "Society was very biased in its dealings with Mrs. X. The agency wanted to prove its preconceptions and then try to justify its erroneous conclusions."(65)


The parent's rights movement is a very complex phenomenon. From my point of view it has both progressive and reactionary components. There are contradictory elements which need to be discussed. . . .”

Now on to the Main feature:
A Chronology based on

A Review of the Handling of the Case of Mrs. X
Marilyn R Peers MSW, RSW Reviewer

Submitted to Mr. Guy LeBlanc
Minister of Community Services

Province of Nova Scotia
November 9, 1990

Family Court Social Worker (SW) Robert Schella referred mother to CA “ because of his concern that father might be physically abusing children” (37-38).
BUT Intake worker Sharon Kelloway saw no evidence of physical abuse (52).
Meanwhile, the agency was influenced by the negative opinion of Ray Musgrave , a counselor at Family Services of Eastern NS. He believed the mother “was domineering and controlling and that it was obvious to him, she was trying to get rid of her husband“ (37, 61).

Father contacted agency - disagreed with mother over discipline (52).
Mother and Father separated and divorced (16).

Jan 1987
Mother made phone call to Jim Chisholm (52) at the agency. Mother was disturbed about the somewhat obsessive sexual behavior of her five year old son not only to himself but to his two years old brother. . . . [as well as] aspects of her ex-husband’s behavior which were inappropriate when he played with the boys during his visits to her home" (16).
Jim Chisholm stated “that he had advised Mrs X to go to Children‘s Services at the Cape Breton Mental Health Clinic for advice on better understanding her son‘s behaviour at his stage of development“ (54)

A few days later
The intake worker, Marie Boone (53) phoned mother and closed the matter on the grounds that there were no grounds to suspect abuse (16)

Marie Boone stated it was Mrs X who phoned the agency to say she had over-reacted and now considered the game played with the boys by her husband was normal and was no longer influencing the behavior of the boys . . . call from Mrs X lasted 15-20 min . . . she felt Mrs X was of the view the behaviour was normal”
BUT mother stated, that this “doesn’t appear to be anything of the conversation that I did have with Marie Boone . . . she remained very worried about her son‘s behavior”

AND Jim Chisholm stated“ that that it was Ms Boone who called Mrs X” (53-54)

March 1987
Mother came to agencyworried that her five year old son was refusing to go on overnight visits with his father.” Father’s lawyer wrote her a letter “alleging that she was in fact turning her son against his father”
Mother stated “to the Intake Worker that she wished the boys to have a good relationship with their father” Mother “asked whether a worker from the agency might be able to interview the youngster and learn the reason for his reluctance”(16, 54)
“Lengthy interview” with Intake worker Flo Lang with 25 yrs experience . Worker suggested possible sexual abuse and suggested that mother get lawyer. (38, 54 -55, 60)
Intake info went to supervisor Ian McPherson (55,61)
BUT mother’s request for assistance not acted upon - “saw the matter as a problem between the divorces parents and their lawyers” - AND Mother “not notified of this decision”(16-17,55)

May 1987
Mother came to agency again . Spoke to Flo Lang “lengthy interview” (56) Wanted to know why no worker had contacted her since her request for assistance in March.(17) “”when he [older son] did go [on visits to father] because he felt pressured to do so by his father, he would return from the visit in a ‘highly emotional aggressive state ’”(56)
Intake info went to Jim Chisholm, the assigned worker (56)

A week later
Jim Chisholm visited the home for ½ hour BUT would not interview the children because “they did not appear withdrawn nor emotionally upset”(17, 56) Found mother’s “concerns too vague to act on, and assured her the children’s behavior was not uncommon and that she should continue to explain to the boys it was good to visit with their father” Said he would contact 2 counselors she had been seeing at Family Services of Eastern NS: Ilona MacKenzie and Sister Rose MacNeil.(56-57)

Following weeks
Five year old son shared information with his mother that suggested to her that there was inappropriate sexual behavior towards the son on the part of the former husband.”(17)

For a future court hearing to vary access, Judge Darryl Wilson requested Sister Rose MacNeil Counselor at Family Services of Eastern NS to do assessments on mother, father and children .
Sister Rose MacNeil (58)“ felt there was sufficient validity to warrant attention to the son’s concern to his mother and relayed this to the agency worker.(17)
Sister Rose MacNeil questioned husband - professed innocence . Phoned Ilona Mackenzie and Ray Musgrave BUT both felt there was no sexual abuse (58)
AND agency felt the matter was a continuation of a divorce conflict, and that mother was using allegations of sexual abuse to deny access visits to her husband (17-18).
HOWEVER Sister Rose MacNeil “felt there were legitimate concerns and had no reason to believe Mrs X was not telling the truth.“ BUT Sister MacNeil called out of town before assessment were finished. (57-58)

Early June
Father interviewed by the agency - denied accusations (58)

Mother “sought help from a number of professionals in the community”

Date ?
Mother called Cape Breton Mental health Clinic (Dr. Blood) asked if children could be accessed
by them BUT “Dr Blood explained it was the role of the Children’s Aid Society to become involved with disclosures, not the Mental Health Clinic” (58)

Jim Chisholm made 2nd half hour visit to home “found her concerns still too vague“ (57)
Mid June
Mother and her sister went to agency “expressing concerns that her older son had told her of the game he and his brother had to play with his father . One hour talk with Jim Chisholm and Ian MacPherson. Mother was told to take her children to visit with father.(58)

Date ?
Mrs X made an audio tape in which she attempted to have her older son repeat what he had previously confided in her
. . . The son described the father’s actions in a game that made him cry . . . In the opinion of the Reviewer [Marilyn R Peers ], an interview of the child was justified because of what he said on this tape and on other previous occasions
BUT Jim Chisholm - did not discuss this tape with the mother and he did not interview the father concerning the contents of this tape.
Ian MacPherson
- stated this audiotape contaminated future concerns
HOWEVER Dr Blood stated “tape didn’t show any evidence of trying to get the child to say something” (59)
BUT agency felt there was “still insufficient information in this audiotape on which to base an interview with the child” (17)
HOWEVER “In the opinion of the Reviewer [Marilyn R Peers ], an interview of the child was justified because of what he said on this tape and on other previous occasions (59).
Father denied allegations when interviewed by agency worker - wanted matter to go to Family Court (18).

July 17, 1987 - Notice to Bring - Court appearance #1
Agency gave no services to assist mother and children (This is suppose to be an important preventative aspect of the Children and Family Services Act ) because “no concern for children” BUT implemented the Notice to Bring as “part of the investigation process to facilitate the protection of children where one felt that children were being hurt” ! ! ! (60) - So they either did not have the basis for requesting a court appearance or they neglected to give services when they were required!

Court ordered Cape Breton Hospital to do assessments of parents and children. Father was given weekly unsupervised visits. (18, 62)

Agency lawyer, Robert Crosby was replaced by Charles Keliher because Crosby had been father’s lawyer for previous divorce and access case BUT Keliher was from the same firm as Crosby so there was still a conflict of interest. (59-60)

July 30
Agency worker, Jim Chisholm wrote a letter to Dr Blood with negative opinion of mother, attempting to taint doctor's opinion against mother.

August 3, 1987

Mother went to RCMP (visit #1) and asked for an investigation of possible sexual abuse (18, 62).
BUT RCMP Constable Martell (63) contacted agency worker, Jim Chisholm, and was told that the agency was aware of mother’s concerns and that she should be referred back to the Children’s Aid Society (18). Jim Chisholm tainted RCMP opinion against Mother and told RCMP that Dr Blood was doing an assessment. [This was the 2nd time Jim Chisholm actively tainted people's opinion ( Dr Blood and RCMP Constable Martell ) against the mother! ]
Early AugustMother requested new worker. Sandy Bowes, the Executive Director of the agency granted this request . The supervisor Mrs Hildegrade O’Neil , who was in charge during an absence of Mr MacPherson, assigned a new worker, Ms. Sandra MacNeil to the case. (68)

August 6, 1987
Dr Blood of Cape Breton Hospital
assessed 5 year old boy:
“ the boy made disclosures to the psychologist which indicated inappropriate and unwanted behavior of a sexual nature had occurred to him during a visits or visits with his father. This disclosure was videotaped and the psychologist immediately advised the agency that the child’s statement needed to be treated seriously. He recommended a through investigation of the child’s allegations”(18, 63).
HOWEVER, Dr Blood did not think it was his place to question the child for additional information (49).
Ms Sandra MacNeil viewed the videotape disclosure by the older boy in its entirety and felt the child should be interviewed. HOWEVER supervisor Ian Mr. MacPherson, on his return, disagreed this should be done even though he had not seen the videotape.” He also removed Ms Sandra MacNeil from the case and returned it to Mr. Jim Chisholm (68) - remember Sandy Bowes, the Executive Director of the Agency had already granted the mother's request for a new worker.
The extent of personal control exercised by Mr. MacPherson on Sandy Bowes the Executive Director as well as over policies and casework decisions was a major concern raised with the Reviewer by Mrs. X, a number of professionals both within and without the agency and by members of the public. This decision [ by  Ian Mr. MacPherson] failed to recognize a professional responsibility to make a change when a client’s complete lack of confidence in the worker has occurred in such a complex matter and when the worker was also aware of the very poor working relationship (69)”

August (6 ?) 1987
Mother returned to RCMP Constable Martell (visitit #2) (43) to inform them of her son’s disclosure to Dr Blood. RCMP - took statements from parents
- spoke to Dr Blood on phone
- searched father’s home
BUT - RCMP did not find any “physical evidence” to lay “criminal charges”
AND - agency did not pursue investigation
BUT - RCMP not aware of video tape ( ?)
September 18, 1987 - Family Court Hearing #2
Dr Blood’s assessment of son and mother was filed for this court appearance BUT Dr Blood was NOT asked to testify ! (19, 29, 41)
Assessment:- Concerned for boy -possible sexual abuse - wanted an investigation
- Positive report on the mother
- Concern about the agencies assumptions and lack of action

November 1987 - Court (29)

March 22 1988 - Children Apprehended (19, 39)

May 20, 1988 - Court Hearing (32-39)

Early July
Children moved to 2nd foster parents when 1st foster parents moved out of area.(20)
The older boy had been told at the time of apprehension that he would be returning home in the summer so he was not overly upset to learn of their [the first foster parents] leaving . The move to the new foster home however, quickly brought a noticeable change in the children’s behaviour however. Ms. MacMillian noted the new foster mother’s concern that the boys were reluctant to eat. When Ms. MacMillian visited them, she found them both depressed and looking very different. After she returned from taking them for a drive the older youngster refused to get out of the car. He was confused about all that had happened and wanted to live with his mother.”

July 11, 1988 - Court Hearing (33-44)

August 19, 1988 - Wardship Order - permanent Care and Custody
Judge Darryl W Wilson
- the Court decision was “A shock to ALL parties including agency ” (34).
Decided that Fran Tessier would be appointed as counselor for both parents. (35)
August 30, 1988
Parents were told of last chance plan with 8 counseling sessions with Fran Tessier - Threatened: “your children will be gone and that will be it. You will never see them . . .”
BUT “The Reviewer notes the lack of clarity in the goal of counseling” (96-97)

September 6, 1988 - Written decision

October 20,1988 - Case ConferenceIan
MacPherson, Jim Chisholm and Ms Tessier - decided that parents could have visits with children again.

November 9,1988
First visit with parents “The foster mother called the worker shortly after to say the older boy refused to take his jacket off and stated that he wished to go home to his mother. The worker returned to talk with him and noted he was depressed and confused. The foster mother explained that he had been pulling his hair out by twirling it in his fingers.” (99)

November 29, 1988
When mother again expressed concern, a Case Conference was called with supervisor McPherson, agency worker Mr. Jim Chisholm , counselor Fran Tessier, another counselor Ms. Paula Hines , and Dr Blood. Parent’s visits were immediately stopped and boys were immediately sent back to 1st foster parent out of the area. Ms. Hines who had to leave the meeting early was later shocked to learn of the decision, particularly as Mr. Chisholm had told her in July before the decision for wardship that he thought the children would be going back to Mrs. X after the hearing” (20, 35,101)

Dec 1, 1988
Boys returned to original 1st foster home . “The older boy . . .very hyper, forgetful and difficult to manage . . difficulties in school . . . Twisting at his hair . . . bald spot. The younger boy . . . Wetting the bed” ( 105)

March 21, 1989
Judge Ryan of the County Court granted application for a trial ‘de novo’

September 28, 1989 - Trial de Novo - Appeal
14 days appeal before Judge G S MacDonald (20, 106)
3 consultants :
Dr Rosemarie Sampson - Psychologist - Halifax - for mother (MSVU?)
Mr Ross Dawson - Social Worker- Toronto - for father
Dr Marliess Sudermann - psychologist -London , Ontario - for Court
“The Reviewer notes that all three consultants raised questions about the way in which the agency handled the matter “ (107-108)

Late December 1989
Parent visitations reinstated (20, 108).
“The boys were very excited about their first visit with their mother . . . After the second visit the older boy asked when he could go home “ (108)

January 19, 1990 - Interim Court Order to return children to their mother (20)

March 19, 1990 - Final Court Order to return children to their mother (20)

July 1990
Father given monthly supervised visitation (20)

December 1990
Father's access to be reviewed (20)
“ The children returned home and displayed very aggressive behaviour. The older boy was extremely angry and blamed his mother for not trying to stop ‘the bad men‘ from taking them. He felt he should have tried to climb a tree or to have run away to escape being taken."
Excerpts from a letter to the Reviewer from Ms. Paula Hines at the Cape Breton Mental Health Clinic indicate the nature of the boy’s difficulties:

"‘Since the boys have returned, there certainly have been problems, mostly with discipline and dealing with their anger . . . A lot of anger within the children is related to a sense of abandonment by her [their mother]. They cannot understand how she let them go when ‘the men’ came. They also have difficulty trusting adults, partly because of their ‘abandonment’ by parents. . . . Furthermore, this is partly due to the way certain Children’s Aid society worker’s handled them, often saying things to them and not following through [such as visits]. . . . Nightmares are few and far between now, but worries about ‘bad men coming’, still exist. They see men that look like the ones that came and took them away and they become scared’ " (108-109)

The Children’s Aid Society of Cape Breton also agreed to pay the sum of $3,000 to Mrs. X on a strictly “Without Prejudice” basis and without any admission of liability on their part. Mrs. X executed a completed release to the Children’s Aid Society of Cape Breton for any claims she may have against the agency on account of their actions leading up to and including and since the apprehension of her two children. The terms were to remain confidential by the parties but were partially waived to allow them to participate in this review. The Children’s Aid Society of Cape Breton also agreed to pay $1,000 to Mr. X.
Mrs. X explained to the Reviewer that she signed this agreement because she felt she had no alternative to her financial dilemma. She was substantially in debt from all her legal costs and realized she would have no money to care for her children when they were returned to her care” (109A)

“ It was reported to this reviewer from some staff and from several people in the community that Mr. Chisholm was heard to show a lack of respect for Mrs. X in the way he described her to others and the comments he made with respect to the role religion played in her life.” (111)

“The lack of case recording in this complex matter was clearly unacceptable.” (111)
“ In reviewing the handling of this matter by Mr. Chisholm his performance as a protection worker fell below acceptable standards of practice” (112)
Mr MacPherson also had a professional responsibility to ensure a change in social workers was made when it was clear the working relationship between the client and worker had deteriorated” (115-116)

Excerpt from Summary of Review: (125-126)
the Reviewer found major errors in professional judgment and violations of the Code of ethics
workers’ biased attitudes, the lack of sensitivity, the abuse of authority and the need for control. The lack of knowledge with respect to the investigative process and the failure to give priority to the protection of the children
the Reviewer noted discrimination against Mrs. X throughout the handling of this case . . . The statements of Mr. X were taken at face value whereas the mother’s were denied and attributions made of her motivation . She was blamed for . . . going to other professionals when she got no help from the agency . . . for her restrained reaction when her children were apprehended ”[after she had been instructed to do so by the workers] “The mother’s concerns raise and highlight the powerlessness of clients and the importance of checks and balances in the use of the agency’s authority. . . The issue in this case is the regrettable abuse of power which was used against Mrs. X and which was disguised as protecting the children
One lesson that these children may take from this whole experience is that grown-ups do not listen when they tell them of your problems and that instead of being helped, you are punished

Review Recommendations (127-129)
1. That the Board of the Children’s Aid Society of Cape Breton terminate the employment of supervisor Mr Ian MacPherson and case worker Mr. Jim Chisholm.
* My research: It would seems that Mr Ian MacPherson was terminated BUT he has resurfaced working for the NS Justice Department while Mr. Jim Chisholm was shuffled elsewhere.
2. . . .3.

4.That the Board of the Children’s Aid of Cape Breton make the following financial compensation to Mr. X, Mrs. X, and their children;
(a) That both Mr. And Mrs. X be compensated for ALL legal costs which to date have not been paid by the Children’s Aid Society, and in relation to the Notice to Bring and Apprehension Hearings in the Family Court under the Children’s Services Act and at the County Court appeal proceedings.
(b) That for a period of five years from January 19, 1990 Mrs. X be paid a monthly sum of money equivalent to the pay she would receive at her place of employment in order for her to remain at home to provide the security that is much needed by her two young sons.
(c) That the Children’s Aid Society of Cape Breton provide funding for such resources as are reasonably necessary for the emotional rehabilitation of the two boys including the cost of any supervised visits by the father which may in future be ordered.
(d) That Mrs. X be provided additional funds by the Children’s Aid Society of Cape Breton in an amount adequate to properly compensate her for the emotional trauma she suffered as a result of the agency’s handling of this matter.
5. . . 6. . . .7 . . . 8 . . .

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