'Oh, how you suffered': B.C. social worker's letter to Alex Radita
Patricia MacDonald prepared a victim impact statement, but it was not read in court
Social worker Patricia MacDonald was not allowed to read her victim impact statement about the death of a diabetic 15-year-old boy in the care of his parents.
MacDonald unsuccessfully fought against Alex Radita's return to his parents in 2004 after he was seized by B.C. social services.
Radita died in 2013 in Calgary.
- Raditas guilty of 1st-degree murder of teen son who weighed 37 lb. at death
- Alex Radita 'sentenced' to death, says social worker of B.C. judge's decision to return boy to parents
This week, MacDonald prepared a victim impact statement but it wasn't read in the Calgary courtroom because the judge agreed with defence lawyers that she was too far removed to be considered a victim. She had not had contact with Alex for about eight years at the time of his death.
Below is her edited statement.
I have been attempting to write this victim's statement since testifying at your murder trial, Alex. However I would like it to be an action statement as opposed to a victim statement.
Victim implies helpless and indeed, Alex, you were helpless in the hands of your parents, however, how you faced this horrific circumstance was brave and heroic.
You showed such strength in the worst of circumstances ... Seeing your frail, skeletal body and yet after all you have been through forcing a misplaced smile on your very unhappy face. Those eyes that I remembered having a twinkle, a spark of light, looked dull and sad; the eyes of someone grieving.
Indeed you were grieving the loss of your own self. I find it difficult to understand why you had to suffer so. I do believe, Alex, you as a child were sent to this earth with a clear purpose. You were diagnosed at age three to parents who would never accept that diagnosis.
You suffered, oh, how you suffered.
I was aware of your previous hospitalizations and the efforts to educate your parents on how to manage your diabetes. When your file was transferred to me, as your protection family social worker, my team leader and I determined we needed you to permanently be removed from your parents' care.
We knew your parents were simply going through the motions in order to have you returned ... It was more than a premonition, it was predictable what the outcome would be for you Alex.
[B.C. Judge J.G. Cohen decided to return Alex to his parents in 2004. By 2009, the family had moved to Alberta. In the spring of 2013 MacDonald learned that Alex had died.]
Alex, she told me you had been found dead in your family home. At that time there was no release as to how you had died, only that you had. Your parents were charged with first-degree murder in February 2014.
I developed PTSD and had to leave my position as youth family social worker in March 2014. I have been off ever since and thoughts of you often come to mind.
I like to remember my visits with you at your foster mother's home. We were both so proud of you and how well you understand your diabetes. Your foster parents encouraged independence and had a range of food you could choose from.
Alex, you were so engaging when you attended appointments at the children's diabetes centre. All the staff were delighted to see you. However these positive memories are shrouded by the torment that you must have experienced through all those years that followed.
Alex, I feel you would have been aware, as you were wise beyond your years. Remember when I took you for your interview at that Surrey RCMP station and you said you only wanted to return home if your parents had learned to manage your diabetes?
Alex, we need to honour your short life by developing a Canada-wide alert system similar to the Amber Alert.
We need an Alex Alert.
As a child protection social worker for 23 years, I have had a number of parents who simply fled when the ministry became involved. In fact this was among many of the concerns regarding returning Alex to his parents.
Alex's life is so well known by his death, but what I feel he would want for his life, is to protect other children from experiencing a similar fate.
He would want his life to be a legacy for safety and well being of all children.