BRITISH COLUMBIA

B.C. Children's Ministry 'Cruel' For Appealing Child Abuse Case: Mom

08/07/2015 09:17 EDT | Updated 08/07/2016 05:59 EDT
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VANCOUVER - A mother whose estranged husband molested their toddler in foster care says the British Columbia government's decision to appeal a scathing court ruling in her favour is "cruel'' and "sadistic.''

The province filed documents on Friday to seek "clarity'' from the B.C. Court of Appeal in a ruling that found social workers knowingly violated a court order and allowed unsupervised access to a father who had sexually abused his kids.

"I think it's completely rude, and inhumane for them to go on against little children who have been hurt so terribly,'' said the mother, known only as J.P., in a statement.

She said the Ministry of Children and Family Development has been hurting her family since 2009, when it falsely accused her of being mentally ill and seized her children.

"What they have done for six years and now are continuing to do is cruel and sadistic. Like the people running the MCFD. We are suffering because of them.''

A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled last month that the ministry showed "reckless disregard'' when it failed to investigate the childrens' claims that their father had sexually abused them.

J.P. and her estranged husband, identified as B.G., have four children born between 2002 and 2008.

Justice Paul Walker ruled in a custody trial in 2012 that B.G. had sexually abused his three eldest children. In his ruling last month, he found the man had also molested his youngest child while the girl was in foster care.

Children's Minister Stephanie Cadieux said the decision to appeal was not about the family involved, but about every family that the ministry may interact with in the future.

"B.C. government lawyers advise me there is reason to believe the trial judge erred in a number of areas, and an appeal is warranted,'' she said in a statement.

Cadieux, who declined interviews on Friday, said the appeal will not impact a former senior civil servant's review of practice and policy in the ministry.

The review by Bob Plecas was announced last month after the Opposition New Democrats grilled the minister in the legislature about the case.

Cadieux said any staff concerns that arise from the investigation will be examined by a separate human resources review.

The justice ministry said in a statement that the finding that social workers in the case acted in bad faith has serious consequences for individual employees and others who perform the crucial public function of child protection.

The statement said the B.C. government will act as efficiently as possible to bring the appeal to a hearing and its comprehensive legal arguments will be filed within 90 days.

The notice of appeal filed Friday is sealed to the public as it includes family members' full names.

J.P.'s lawyer, Jack Hittrich, said he was "greatly disappointed'' that he did not receive a copy of the appeal ahead of time. He said he could not comment until he had read the document.

— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.

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