Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Another lawsuit launched against former Kelowna, B.C., social worker

More allegations have been levelled at a former Kelowna, B.C., social worker and the province’s Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Making the latest allegations, in a notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court, was an Indigenous woman only identified by the letters J.L.L., who claims she was placed in the care of Robert Riley Saunders.

According to court documents, the allegations began when the plaintiff was 12 in 2003, and was placed under foster care pursuant to a continuing custody order.

“In the course of his employment as a social worker,” read part of the civil claim, “Saunders was delegated responsibility for the plaintiff and had fiduciary obligations to the plaintiff to ensure that he acted at all times in the plaintiff’s best interest, and placed the plaintiff’s interest above his own.”

Saunders is facing several lawsuits from people who were children in his care, alleging Saunders took funds allocated for their living expenses and psychological abuse.

The latest claimant says despite complaints about the foster home, Saunders said it was all she was entitled to.

The woman says she quickly became hooked on alcohol and crystal meth in the home. She also said she was sexually assaulted by a 21-year-old man in the home, and sexually exploited by others in the home.

In her civil claim filed this week, the woman said the home was a flophouse, where the homeowner accommodated drug users.

The woman claims Saunders placed her in the home despite knowing it wasn’t a ministry-approved home for children, and that the owner of the home had never made an application to be a foster parent.

“The plaintiff was visited at the flop house by Saunders,” said the claim. “Saunders knew that the plaintiff was sharing a bed with adults and that she was consuming drugs and alcohol.

“Saunders took no steps to assist the plaintiff. Saunders was complicit by omission.”

The civil claim says the plaintiff attempted suicide more than once, and that Saunders failed to arrange counselling.

The civil claim also alleges that the plaintiff became pregnant twice between the ages of 14 and 16, and a third time at the age of 17. All three pregnancies were terminated.

The plaintiff holds the ministry directly responsible for Saunders’ behavior because she claims they failed to investigate his background before hiring him as a social worker.

“Saunders was never qualified as a social worker,” said the claim, adding he did not graduate from university and took no formal education to become a social worker.

“The director took no steps to validate Saunders’ qualifications. The director was not aware that Saunders was not a graduate until the matter was brought to the director’s attention by other parties.”

Neither Sauders or the ministry have replied to the claim, and none of the claims made in the civil suit have been proven in court.


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