B.C. court tosses mother's concerns over review into visits given to abusive dad
VANCOUVER — A government-led review of social workers' actions will take place against the wishes of a British Columbia woman whose estranged husband was granted visits with their children after sexually abusing them.
B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson dismissed the mother's application to stop the internal review over her lack of faith in the government and concerns that the review process is flawed.
Hinkson forcefully rejected her suggestion that the government can't be trusted, dismissing the assertion as "unwarranted hyperbole."
"This scandalous submission should not have been advanced," he said in his written decision.
Earlier this year, Justice Paul Walker released a blistering ruling that social workers had knowingly violated a court order banning the father from unsupervised visits, allowing him to assault the children.
Social workers labelled the mother crazy, put her four children in foster care and discounted her tearful efforts to convince them that her kids had been sexually abused by their father.
In the wake of Walker's 2015 ruling, the province appointed former civil servant Bob Plecas in July to lead an internal review into the policies and staffing concerns raised in the decision.
The mother protested in her petition that Plecas's appointment was an indirect attempt by the government to "retry" the case.
Her lawyer asked Hinkson to refine and narrow the review's terms of reference to ensure that Plecas would not be allowed to challenge the factual or legal conclusions made by Walker.
But Hinkson concluded that the review would not undermine the earlier court decision that recommended the mother be granted sole custody of her children.
"Mr. Plecas has denied any intention of offering criticism of the decision," Hinkson wrote.
"Even if he had not done so, I would reject the submission that the decision cannot be the subject of comment, even if the comment is critical."
Hinkson went on to write that the needs of children in government care are "pressing and substantial" and that they might benefit from the proposed review.
In October 2011, the government's director of children, family and community services argued the mother was too emotionally and mentally unstable to parent and that custody of the children should be granted to their father.
Five months later, the director admitted it was possible the children had been sexually abused by their father and she advised they should be returned to their mother. By that time they had been in foster care for two and a half years.
Walker concluded in his 2015 decision that officials in the Ministry of Children and Family Development had breached their duty of care and were guilty of intentional misconduct, bad faith and reckless disregard for their obligation to protect children.
"As (the mother) continued to complain about the sexual abuse of her children and to protest the director’s conduct, social workers’ antipathy towards her increased, and as it did, the director’s focus turned away from the best interests of the children," he wrote.
"If it were not for the Herculean efforts of (their mother), the children would now, through the fault of the director, be in the custody of their father, who sexually and physically abused them."
Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press