Parents say CPS took their 3 kids away because they wanted to visit dying relative

- “What CPS is doing to these parents is wrong,” said attorney Julie Ketterman.

The Giwa’s turned to FOX 26 last May after their then 19-month-old son Ali was taken into protective custody by CPS.

Photo

Parents say CPS took their 3 kids away because they wanted to visit dying relative

CPS accused the parents of medical neglect even though doctors could not explain why he was failing to thrive like his twin sister.

“They’ve run test,  after test, after test, and there’s nothing,” Ketterman said.

In June, Ali was returned home to his parents and siblings, but CPS had two conditions.

One, they told the parents not to talk to the media.

“I’m not scared. I will do this again, and again, and again,” Ali’s mom Kathy Giwa said.

CPS also ordered the parents to undergo yet another round of psychological testing.

“By a CPS contractor because they know that it’s going to come back saying what they want it to say,” said Ketterman.

Read More at: Parents say CPS took their 3 kids away because they wanted to visit dying relative

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Medical Kidnap: It Happens to Adults Too

Bret Bohn in Seattle

by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News

Bret Bohn’s family wants the public to know that it is not just children who are being medically kidnapped, being used as medical research lab rats, forced to take drugs, and being kept isolated from their families. They say it happened to their son, too. He was 26 years old at the time.

What began simply enough ended up in an 8 month long nightmare. Bret’s mother Lorraine Phillips told Health Impact News that it was “medical torture” and a “horrific abuse of Government corruption and power.”

From a Simple Surgery to Being Incapacitated by Drug Side Effects

Bret, a native Alaskan and an avid hunter and outdoor sportsman, had surgery to remove some nasal polyps. As a result, he lost his sense of smell, reports Police State USA. Prednisone was prescribed to help him regain his sense of smell. Neither he nor his family realized that one of the powerful steroid’s side effects was insomnia, but he certainly felt the effects of it.

After a period of a week of no sleep, Bret’s parents took him to Providence Alaska Medical Center, where two more drugs were prescribed that were supposed to help calm him and help him sleep.

Bret Bohn outdoors

The Ambien and Ativan were not exactly the magic bullet that he had hoped for. Instead, Bret started having seizures, which his family later learned is listed as one of the side effects of the drugs. He went back to Providence Medical Center, only to see his health quickly deteriorate as he was given more drugs and experienced more seizures.

Despite many tests being run, the hospital staff was unable to reach a diagnosis of Bret’s medical problems. More and more medications were allegedly prescribed, yet the original problem remained – he still couldn’t sleep. There was one stretch of 24 days with no sleep.

In his weakened state, his parents assumed power of attorney, based on a written agreement with their son that was signed in 2007. Among Bret’s impressive list of achievements, he was a member of the National Honor Society as well as an Eagle Scout. He holds two degrees from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He had the foresight to “be prepared” for any emergency in which he might become incapacitated.

Bret Bohn power of attorney doc

Bret Becomes a Medical Prisoner, Unable to Escape

At one point, Bret became frustrated with all the medical treatments, and decided, as an adult, to leave the hospital. He unplugged from the machines, and removed his IV and catheter. His “escape attempt” was reported to the courts.

His parents began to question the course of medical treatment and requested that their son be weaned off of the medications. For a brief period, their request was honored, and Bret got some much-needed sleep, as reported previously by Health Impact NewsIt was short-lived. His parents requested a transfer to another facility for a second opinion. At this time, there was still no diagnosis for his deteriorating health.

It was not long after that, on October 23, 2013, that Providence Medical Center told Bet’s parents that they were restricting their visits with their son, ignoring Bret’s signed power of attorney to his parents.

As the visits with his family decreased, his medications were increasing. When Bret opposed some of the medications, including some that were psychotropic, he was viewed as “disgruntled” and “combative,” sure signs of mental illness. He was confined to the psych ward.

On November 5, 2013, Adult Protective Services filed for emergency guardianship over Bret, accusing his parents of not having his best interests in mind. Judge Erin Marston granted the motion on November 15, refusing to allow any family members to assume the role of his guardian. His previous escape attempt and his family’s attempt to wean him off the medications and find the actual cause of his symptoms were all seen as validation for the state to hold him against his will and remove his basic human rights, according to the family.

Heavily Drugged, and Treated Like a Criminal in State Custody

For a time, visitation was permitted by the state, but there were a number of conditions imposed, though no crime had been committed. According to a document on the Free Bret Bohn Facebook page, these restrictions included:

  • No cell phones, no computers, no working phone in Bret’s room
  • Only Chaplains from Providence hospital permitted. Bret could not have any visitation from his own pastor or ministers
  • No outside sources of Lawyers
  • No letters, cards, balloons, or flowers
  • No Privacy. Visitation supervised
  • Visitors not permitted to whisper, must speak clearly at all times
  • Family forbidden to tell Bret that he was coming home some day
  • At one point his family was told that only one hug was permitted, only upon arrival
  • No body contact, unless approved by Providence
  • Visits expected to be calm, social, and lighthearted in nature
  • Any stress inducing behaviors, whether purposeful or unintentional, would result in an end to the visit
  • Visits limited to one hour, then reduced to 30 minutes, then eliminated altogether
  • Security to accompany visitors to and from the visitation area

The family reports that Bret was heavily medicated during all visits, ranging from the minimum of extremely dilated pupils to being medicated at times “to the point of inability to communicate freely.” His mother reports that he eventually was on at least 22 different drugs, including Resperidone and Haloperiodol, which are powerful anti-psychotic drugs.

Bret Bohn heavily drugged

After Christmas 2013, his family and friends were no longer permitted to visit at all. Though he was an adult, Bret was completely at the mercy of guardians he never agreed to. His 27th birthday came and went on January 12, with no visits from any loved ones permitted according to his family.

Forced Medical Research and Attempt to Escape

Because he was now a ward of the state, he could legally be entered into drug trials and medical research without his knowledge or consent. There was finally a diagnosis, Autoimmune Encephalitis. His family was told that he had irreversible brain damage, and needed treatment in Seattle. He was court-ordered to receive ECT – electroconvulsive therapy, or shock therapy to his brain, against his will.

In late March, Bret was transferred to Harborview Medical Center, a University of Washington facility, in Seattle. There, his parents report, psychiatrists wanted to transfer him to the psych ward. His parents were allowed to visit, and what they found was very disturbing. In an email to Health Impact News, his mother Lorraine describes the horrific situation:

“Bret was crying tears (no voice), spitting out their medications, and begging for his life.”

According to Lorraine, Bret had had enough, and he decided to leave. She and Bret walked out of the hospital in what they hoped was an escape to freedom, and answers.

Three days later the family were seeking a second opinion, when his mother was arrested, charged with kidnapping, and locked up in the King County Jail. Bret was forced back into the hospital.

Defying Alaskan Authorities to Gain Freedom

Lorraine was released without bail the next day, and a new team of doctors were assigned to Bret’s case. They chose not to follow the directions of the Providence hospital, instead doing their own evaluation. That was the beginning of the end of Bret Bohn’s nightmare.

On May 9, Bret was released to the care of his aunt and uncle in Boise. Despite the Alaska Office of Public Advocacy’s insistence that they were in control of Bret, and that he needed to be transferred to a nursing home, Bret himself phoned the Alaska courts on the very day of his discharge from Harborview, requesting Termination of Guardianship.

Bret Bohn with his mom in Seattle

He began weaning off of all the medications that he had been forced to take, and his family and friends report that Bret is finally back to himself again. Despite adamant insistence by the Alaskan authorities, their suspicions that the drugs were actually causing the very problems that the hospitals needed to treat were confirmed.

On June 17, 2014, the nightmare ended and Bret’s freedom was returned as he received Termination of Guardianship.

Proving Doctors Wrong

Today, Bret Bohr’s life defies any accusation that he would be permanently incapacitated. The system that took his health and his freedom has been demonstrated to be wrong, as he is back to work in Alaska as a Bear Guard and Big Game Guide, living his life and loving his family.

According to the family’s Facebook page, Bret wants the public to know the facts of his story “so this kind of inhumane treatment is not ordered by law to others,” and “so this will not happen again!” They have pointed out that it was public advocacy and the tireless efforts of family, friends, compassionate lawyers, and supporters that made the difference in freeing Bret.

Bret Bohn advocates

There are many others whose voices have not yet been heard, yet they face the same injustice. Many still believe this kind of thing “couldn’t happen in America.”

But it can, and it does. Bret’s family hope that their story can help expose the injustice and can help others who are being medically kidnapped by the government agencies, the very ones who insist they are working for the “best interest of the child, or the patient.”

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Another medical Kidnapping-Breastfed, Homebirthed Babies Taken Away From Parents For Not Using Hospital

The Rengo Family: Cleave, Erica, with 10 month old Levi, and newborn twins. - See more at: http://medicalkidnap.com/2014/11/25/breastfed-homebirthed-babies-taken-away-from-parents-for-not-using-hospital/#sthash.OTqPTx6F.dpuf

The Rengo Family: Cleave, Erica, with 10 month old Levi, and newborn twins

UPDATE 2 – 12/3/2014

Peter Wagner of KGMI News and Talk Radio in Bellingham, Washington has also reported on the story, interviewing the family’s attorney, Stephen Pidgeon.

Attorney to court: Charge parents or give babies back

UPDATE 1 – 12/3/2014

King 5 News has reported on the Rengo family case:

Couple fights for custody of children after home birth

UPDATE 12/2/2014 – Hearing Extended to Wed.

Representative Jason Overstreet, representing the 42nd district in Washington, and who has taken an interest in this case, just posted an update on his Facebook Page:

The Rengo Family placement hearing was moved up this morning to 10 a.m. from the scheduled 4 p.m. hearing. I will withhold comment on that move.

Security was heavy. The courtroom was packed.

The allotted timeframe was 1 hour with an expected decision on placement either with the parents or a semi-permanent out of family placement. If your a poker player, this will be your “tell.”

The State Attorney General’s Office stood in place of the County legal team in the prosecution of this hearing. A rare move indeed. Attorney General Ferguson, the same AG who is persecuting Christian business owners for refusing to participate in weddings that conflict with their closely held religious beliefs, sent his legal team to take over in an attempt to spare the State embarrassment.

The Attorney General’s Office took the entire hour, discussing police reports where no arrests were made, save one, prior to the birth of the children. No mention of the babies’ health and welfare was even attempted by the State.

The court commissioner was frustrated at the State’s extended attempt to muddy the water, even commenting on the rare nature of such extended testimony on a case that should be cut and dried after a forcible taking of children from their parents.

The hearing was extended to tomorrow at 2:30 on the 4th floor of the Whatcom County Courthouse, where he demanded that the State rap up and allow the family’s legal team to present it’s case.

Constitutional Attorney Steven Pidgeon petitioned the court for a writ of habeus corpus, asking that the charges be laid or the children be released to the parents. The writ of habeus corpus, a fundamental tool of liberty guaranteed by both our State and Federal Constitutions, was ignored by the court, the clerk stating that they hadn’t even seen one in 20 years, with one judge refusing to even look at the writ.

There is much talk of “more to the story.” There certainly is. There always is. If you are tempted to make that statement, ask yourself where your information is coming from and what the validity of that information actually is. This is not a comfortable conversation, it’s true. I shudder the horror of your family, or mine, under a microscope of the bureaucracy that is CPS.

UPDATE 12/1/2014

Constitutional Attorney Stephen Pidgeon has agreed to represent the Rengo Family in an attempt to reunite babies Levi, Morna, and Daniel with their parents. He will accompany the family to the hearing tomorrow, and the public and the media are encouraged to show up at the:

Whatcom County Courthouse
311 Grand Avenue
Bellingham Washington
Tuesday December 2nd – @ 9:00 A.M.

More details to follow. A Facebook Page has also been setup for the family.

by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News

All three of their babies have been taken away from them and placed in the care of strangers. Levi was 10 months old when his mother, local singer and songwriter Erica May Rengo, gave birth to his twin brother and sister, at their home in Bellingham, Washington.

“Our birth was glorious,” she said, and the twins were reportedly healthy, full-term babies, who had no problem quickly figuring out how to breastfeed. The little family was overjoyed until CPS stepped in to “help.”

It is another medical kidnapping according to the parents. The Rengos have chosen a wholesome, holistic lifestyle, based in their Christian faith. But CPS has stepped in to override the parents’ decisions. Now Erica and Cleave are living what they call a nightmare, separated from their children for reasons that don’t make any sense at all to them.

Decision to Home Birth

It was only natural for Erica to choose normal, family-centered birth. Erica herself was born at home, and says that her mother was a homebirth educator and La Leche League leader (a world-wide support and education group for breastfeeding mothers). She and Cleave chose a birth-center birth with their first baby, but decided to birth at home the second time. She knew that her body was perfectly designed to work for birth. She believed this was the direction God was showing them for the birth. Erica was very careful during her pregnancy to watch her diet and exercise, in preparation for the birth. She read, researched, and prepared.

She describes her homebirth as “exquisite” and “empowering.” Morna Kai Grace and Daniel Clemente were born into their parents’ loving arms.

The birth was perfect. There were no complications with the birth or afterwards. But Erica and her husband Cleave agreed to allow the local paramedics in when someone called them, in an effort to appease concerned family members who were fearful of their decision to birth at home. That is where their problems began.

Erica May 1

The Medical System Gets Involved

Sometime after the babies arrived on October 2, paramedics arrived to find the twins nursing and everybody doing fine. The twins each weighed over 5 lbs, and the paramedics allegedly verified that everyone appeared healthy. The paramedics allegedly recommended that they go to the hospital for evaluation, which is standard procedure for EMTs.

The Rengos say they declined, telling them they didn’t want to expose their newborns to the dirty environment of the hospital. They were planning to follow recommendations they had found, which stated that newborn twins should stay home for the first six weeks of life, to give their immune systems the opportunity to build up.

CPS Shows Up

The parents’ believe that because they chose not to go to the hospital at that time, somebody called CPS. A couple of social workers showed up the next day, and wanted to see all of the children. CPS told Erica that they were “here to help.” But Erica says that is not at all what happened.

When the social worker found some eczema on Levi’s skin Erica told her that she was treating it with some herbal remedies, including comfrey and calendula, as well as applying coconut oil and giving probiotics. She was also doing an elimination diet to try to locate what could be causing the skin condition. Even though it was in the healing process, the social worker became critical that Erica wasn’t treating his eczema with steroids, a treatment option that Erica wanted to save as a last resort because of the side effects. The CPS agent would later testify to the judge that Erica had neglected to treat him completely.

Even so, the eczema was the only thing wrong. Erica says, “right away they found out that the children were not in danger.” The twins were completely healthy; the house was clean; and there are no drugs or alcohol involved.

The Rengos agreed to take the children to a pediatrician, who said the babies were doing fine.  The only concern was that the twins were slow to gain weight. At the time, Erica was trying to maintain a supply for three breastfeeding babies. She says she followed the pediatrician’s advice to supplement with formula, and the babies promptly got back on track with weight gain.

This was allegedly verified by a nurse sent out by CPS to check on them.

Erica May and Cleave are holistic in their approach to life and health, preferring natural alternatives, like herbs and diet changes, to medicinal treatments. Those things appear to be options only if CPS is not involved.

CPS Takes Custody of Children

On November 6, CPS showed up at the front door while Erica was softly singing and playing her guitar to her resting babies. When she checked the door, they told her that they were there to take her children, citing neglect for not giving Levi steroids for his eczema, and the home-birth without medical prenatal care with the twins, as well as the allegations of abuse, accusations which Erica had already assured them were completely unfounded. She also had prenatal care, just not with a doctor.

With one baby on her back, the frightened mother fled out the back door with her children to a neighbor’s house, but police and CPS “hunted her down,” and took these breastfed babies from their mothers’ arms. The twins were 5 weeks old.

Erica broke down into sobs as I spoke with her. “My children were safe and healthy with me.” Since they have been taken by CPS, Levi has reportedly had pneumonia, and has reportedly been diagnosed with “behavioral problems” because he screams and cries all the time.

He is screaming, Erica says, because he wants his mom and dad.

Why Are Children with No History of Abuse Being Taken Away from Loving Parents for Medical Reasons?

Children who have allegedly not been abused in any way have been taken by CPS from loving parents for reasons so flimsy that it has left the Rengos and their friends stunned. Several of their friends write that Erica is “a great mama.”

“This is not the right thing to do to mothers and children,” Erica emphasizes. “If they thought we needed help, they should have brought help in, not taken the children out. They have suffered and I have suffered since our separation.”

Erica feels that she and her children are being abused by the system. When they separate babies from their loving mothers, she says “they are dehumanizing people. The outcome of that is so much worse than any kind of dispute for medical reasons.”

Cleave and Erica were supposed to have their visitation with their children on Monday, but there wasn’t a social worker available to supervise the visit. Levi’s first birthday is on Black Friday. The day will be black for Erica and Cleave, but for very different reasons than the holiday retailers. They will miss their first child’s first birthday because CPS won’t have any workers available to supervise a visit that day either.

The Stressful Separation of Infants from Parents

Erica is a brokenhearted postpartum mother who wants nothing more than to be at home with all of her children by her side. Research shows that infants do not comprehend separation from their mother; they feel abandoned when they aren’t with her. Has it really come to the point where CPS can justify the emotional trauma to the children simply because parents don’t choose to follow every recommendation of the medical associations?

In President Obama’s immigration speech last week, he asked, “Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?”

Yet it is this very nation whose Child Protection Service agencies have ripped tiny babies from their parents’ arms simply for the crime of disagreeing with a medical decision. If this could happen to a family who has only sought the most natural of care, then whose children are safe from CPS? Should this type of apparent medical tyranny be tolerated?

Erica May and Cleave Rengo face a court date on December 2. They don’t know what they will face then. Supporters are hoping that their story will be shared far and wide, and their children can be returned home quickly.

The Governor of Washington is Jay Inslee. His office number is 360-902-4111. You can email him from here.

The parents next court date is December 2, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. at the Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham Washington.

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Vital Information from Attorney Vincent W. Davis

if-social-services-removed-your-children-ca-attorney-vincent-w-davis-explains-how-to-respond[1]THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PROVIDED BY ATTORNEY VINCENT W. DAVIS AND COPIED HEREIN WITH PERMISSION. PLEASE CONTACT ATTORNEY DAVIS

FOR MORE INFORMATION: 888-506-6810

The Most Important Thing You Must Know At the Beginning of Your Juvenile Dependency Case

by VINCENT DAVIS on NOVEMBER 3, 2014

I’ve been noticing a shift in the willingness of social workers, and sometimes judges to place foster children with family. It seems that all the political lobbying foster parents are doing in Sacramento and amongst the County social workers is paying off.

It is imperative that you know the following: YOU MUST FIGHT TO PLACE YOUR CHILDREN WITH FRIENDLY RELATIVES at the very beginning of the case; otherwise you risk losing them to adoption to the foster parent. This is rarely fought about during these juvenile dependency cases. And it should be something that should be raised by your attorney at each and every hearing; and if it is not completed (i.e., the child actually placed with a relative), your attorney should have a trial on this, and perhaps other issues, at the Disposition Hearing. Please read, read and re-read California Welfare and Institutions Code section 309. And if necessary have your attorney have a trial on these issues at the Dispositional Hearing.

Here are some actual recent case studies.

The first case from Riverside County. The relatives who wanted the child lived in Oklahoma. They were cousins of the mother. They contacted the social worker at the very beginning of the case, 3 days after the first hearing, the hearing commonly known as the arraignment detention hearing.   Short after that hearing, the child was placed with a local foster care family. Turns out, the foster parents were a young couple, who couldn’t have children and wanted to adopt this child. And under a concept in the law called Concurrent Planning, the county social worker supported the foster parents desire to adopt.

The social worker informed them of two important things; both of which were false. First, the social worker said that they could not have the child placed in their home in Oklahoma, at the beginning of the case, because the court would order Family Reunification Services for the parents. And that could not happen until the court terminated Reunification Services 6 to 12 months into the case. This is false, because the child can be placed with the relatives, despite the parents being given Family Reunification Services.

Second, the social worker informed the relatives that the child could not be placed in their home without an Interstate Compact Placement of Children (“ICPC”) approval from Oklahoma. An ICPC is a report prepared by the receiving state social worker approving the Oklahoma relatives. All of this is true. But, the social worker told the relatives that this could not even be requested or initiated until at or after the disposition hearing; which in this case, was months down the road. This was false. ICPC can be initiated at any time. And remember, the foster parents and the child are living and bonding during all this time.

Third, the social worker had the opportunity to initiate and request and Expedited ICPC, which is completed in 30 days. For whatever reason, she did not. Had she done so, the child could have been placed with the relatives quicker and faster.

Instead, the social worker requested and ICPC, which took months and months. Apparently, and as usual, a regular ICPC takes months and months and months. And on top of that there was further delay because the County social worker delayed the process, the California ICPC office delayed processing the request, and then Oklahoma delayed the process because someone went on vacation.

While all of this was pending, the parents’ parental rights were terminated at the Welfare & Institutions Code section 366.26 hearing.

About a month later, the Oklahoma ICPC was approved, but the relatives were no longer legal relatives since the parents lost their parental rights. Relatives are relatives only through the parents; and if the parents lose their rights, the relatives in turn lose their relationship with the children as well.

The relatives did go to court and request that the child still be placed with them, but they were denied. The fact that they were no longer relatives, and the fact that the child had formed a loving bond with the child after all that time, were things used by the juvenile court to justify not giving the child to the Oklahoma relatives.

The next case is out of San Diego County. The child was taken from the parents based on the allegations that mother had mental and emotional deficits, and that the father was responsible for the death of a sibling. The child was placed in a single parent foster home.

As it turns out, the social worker claimed that she was never told of any relatives that wanted the child placed in their home. And as it turned out, there were 3 relative families in San Diego, one in Arizona, one in Colorado, one in Alabama and one in Korea. The Arizona and Korea families were stationed in that locale, as part of the United States Armed forces. It appears that the social worker either spoke to, or had the chance to speak to some of these relatives, but never inquired if they wanted the child; instead waiting for the relative to take some affirmative action to have the child placed in their homes.

This is not the law in California. California Welfare and Institutions Code section 309, requires the social worker to search out and find, and to use “due diligence” to find relatives. If you think about it, this is an onerous burden for the social workers, but it is the law. And the biggest problem is that most attorneys are not familiar with this particular law, or choose not to fight for it, or enforce it at every hearing, especially the disposition hearing. In this case, it was conceded that there was no due diligence filed with the court. And honestly, after 25 years of practice as an attorney in this area, I’ve never seen a due diligence for relatives filed with the court. I take that back, San Francisco uses an outside service to locate relatives, but I don’t think it was filed with the court. But there, one of the relatives informed me that she did get a call, but the caller basically called to talk her out of wanting to have the child placed in her home. And the relative went along with the recommendation that the child not be placed in the relative home.

Yet, despite these facts, the court left the child in the foster home because the child had formed a bond with the foster parent.

The third case is an interesting case out of San Bernardino County. The children were removed from the parents because of allegations of mutual domestic violence. At the beginning of the case, I provided 25 names of relatives to the social worker. After 2 months, the social worker refused to investigate and report to the court about any of the relatives. The children were in foster care, and the recommendation by the social worker, for concurrent planning, was adoption by the foster family.

Here’s the funny part. The number one relatives was the maternal grandparents, who were both medical surgeons from El Salvador. Both traveled to/from the United States frequently, visiting and working in the United States. Both came to the San Bernardino, and the court was informed that they would stay there as long as necessary to keep the children, and to get them out of foster care. Turns out the grandfather had a United States Visa that expired in 2021, and the grandmother had a Visa that expired in 2018.

WIC 309 states that the immigration status of the relative care takers cannot be considered. So if you are undocumented, that cannot be used against you in getting your relative children placed with you. Notwithstanding, the social worker told the grandparents after they arrived in California, that they could not have the children because they weren’t citizens. And the worker’s attorney argued in court that since they were not permanent residents, they children could not be placed with these grandparents. And initially, the court seemed to go along with that, but began reversing when I pressed the matter.

Now, on my recommendation, the grandparents I recommend these grandparents come from El Salvador, and I had section 309 on our side.

After a trial, the judge informed me that the children should be placed with the mother, my client, after her home was checked out, and after we filed a Restraining Order against the father. It seemed that I had pushed the relative placement issue so hard, the court decided just to place the children back with the mother. Maybe it was easier than investigating 25 relatives, and dealing with the Immigration issues.

We offer free initial consultations, and we can offer an extended case analysis and consultation for a nominal fee. Also we are available to represent you in your juvenile dependency matter as a parent, relative or foster parent. Check our website for news on the monthly Juvenile Dependency Law seminars in a city near you.

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Girl, 5, raped and flogged for being late for dinner at foster home, inquiry told

Girl, 5, raped and flogged for being late for dinner at foster home, inquiry told

State of NSW resisted accepting liability for abuse at Bethcar children’s home despite one manager being jailed for 30 years

The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse is currently examining events that occurred at the Bethcar children’s home in Brewarrina, NSW.

A girl who was physically and sexually abused from the age of five until 15 by her foster parents at a home for Indigenous children was also lied to and convinced to be so terrified of her biological parents she would not speak to them, the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse has heard.

Kathleen Biles and two of her siblings were made wards of the state and sent to live at the Bethcar Children’s Home in Brewarrina in remote northern NSW more than 30 years ago.

The state-funded home was run by Burt and Edith Gordon and their son-in-law Colin Gibson from 1969 to 1989.

The royal commission is examining how complaints of abuse at the home were handled, with an emphasis on the “protracted” litigation procedure when civil proceedings were brought by fifteen former residents of Bethcar against the State.

Biles told the public hearing in Sydney on Wednesday that she had learned from her department of child services (Docs) file that her mother had tried to get the children back, but her father thought they were better cared for at Bethcar, and that he “trusted” the foster parents, Burt and Edith Gordon.

Gibson was jailed in 2007 on two separate sentences of 12 years and 18 years for offences against a number of girls.

Biles told the commission her first memory of abuse was at the age of five when she went to the Gordons’ to complain of a headache.

“Before Edith could say anything, Burt held up the blanket he was under and said words to the effect ‘come under the blanket with daddy. Daddy will make it better’,” said Biles.

Burt Gordon then sexually assaulted her. Edith Gordon seemed “completely indifferent”, said Biles. When she started crying, Edith Gordon said “what’s wrong with you you naughty little girl” and Burt Gordon invited her under the blanket again.

Edith Gordon told her to go to Burt Gordon but she said no, so the woman physically beat her.

“Later I learned from experience that Edith would respond like this every time we told her that we had been abused,” said Biles.

The children were also told that their parents did not want them. Burt Gordon would tell the children their parents were evil and alcoholic, and threatened to send the children back to them if they misbehaved, said Biles.

“I was terrified of my biological parents because of what he said,” she told the hearing.

When her parents came to see her at school one day and called out to her, she was too scared to go to them.

Biles detailed numerous horrific instances of the decade-long abuse which she said made her feel “violated” and like “nowhere was safe, even if other people were there”.

No case was taken against Burt Gordon, who was old and unwell at the time of the investigation. He has since died.

The royal commission is hearing from a number of witnesses, including six former residents of Bethcar.

Another five-year-old girl was raped and then flogged when she was late for dinner after she was placed in Bethcar at the age of two or three. The abuse began soon after. The girl, given the pseudonym AIQ for legal reasons, told no one until she was in her late 30s.

Children who went to police and NSW welfare officers with allegations of abuse were returned to the home where they were beaten, the commission heard.

As the hearing began in Sydney, the commission was told the state of NSW had for years resisted accepting liability for any abuse and disputed for four years that it had occurred – even after Gibson was jailed.

When 13 former residents came forward in 2008 to sue the state, the Crown Solicitor’s office employed solicitor Evangelos Manollaras and junior counsel Patrick Saidi to handle the case.

Counsel assisting the commission, David Lloyd, said Manollaras doubted the abuse had happened and at one stage wrote “... in fact, I’m having some difficulty in having understanding how a jury convicted Gibson”.

There were years of delay and legal tactics. Saidi was highly critical of the Women’s Legal Service, which was supporting some victims, the inquiry was told.

Lloyd also said that when the plaintiffs requested an acknowledgment and a modest amount of money, Mallollaras expressed the view that “firstly I don’t ever recall the state apologising for anything, secondly as to the sexual assaults, I have a very strong doubt that anything occurred at all in most cases”.

In one email Manollaras raised the “possibility of undertaking some surveillance” on at least some of the plaintiffs and suggested an initial compensation budget of $20,000-$30,000.

The case was settled at the beginning of 2014, with each plaintiff getting $107,142 with the state to pay legal costs.

The state had spent almost $1m defending it.

The hearing continues.

theguardian.com

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