British Columbia

B.C. premier orders independent review in sex abuse case

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has announced an independent investigation into a shocking child sex abuse case.

1st Canadian case where the child protection agency may be held liable: lawyer of mom alleging kids' abuse

The family at the centre of a child abuse case involving the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development can't be identified to protect the children. A B.C. Supreme Court justice determined at least three of the children were sexually abused by their father.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has called an independent investigation into the case of a mother whose concerns were ignored by provincial social workers when she tried to present evidence that at least three of her four children were being sexually abused by their father.

"We have a duty to make sure we really frame up the discussion around it properly to make sure that we get answers that help us do better and that help us shed some more light on what exactly happened here," Clark said in the final sitting of the Legislature in Victoria on Tuesday.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Walker released a scathing 341-page report July 14 in which he called the ministry's failure "egregious," and said some social workers showed a "reckless disregard for their obligation to protect children."

Walker concluded that the province's child protection service abused its authority in the case, which ultimately allowed a father to molest his child while the toddler was in the ministry's care.

The mother tried "valiantly" to get the ministry to act on her evidence related to the alleged physical and sexual abuse, but she was ignored by ministry staff, according to her lawyer.

"When mom was frantically trying to convince the ministry that the sexual abuse allegations were real, they basically labelled her as crazy. And the more she protested, the more she was labelled as being crazy," Jack Hittrich told CBC earlier this month.

"This is the very first case in Canadian history where a mother has succeeded in holding a child protection agency liable for misfeasance in public office," said Hittrich, who believes the case could result in millions of dollars in damages and legal costs paid to the children and the mother.

The ministry is also conducting an internal review.