Manitoba·CBC Investigates

Winnipeg foster parent charged with sexually abusing child in care

A Winnipeg foster parent has been charged with sexually assaulting a child he cared for in 2014 — leaving the child’s mother to ask why charges weren’t laid five years ago when she first reported him to the agency.

Mother says she reported the abuse 5 years ago

A Winnipeg foster parent has been charged with sexually assaulting a child he cared for in 2014 — leaving the child's mother to ask why charges weren't laid five years ago when she first reported him to the agency.

The mother says her daughter was nine years old when she was taken from the mother for a short period in 2014 by Southeast Child and Family Services. 

When her daughter was returned two and a half months later, she said the girl alleged she had been fondled and sexually touched by the foster parent. 

"After she came back, everything changed," the mother said. "Her friends stopped hanging out with her and talking with her, and she still struggles with it. Still to this day."

The mother says she immediately told administrators within Southeast CFS in 2014 and she says nothing happened. 

"They didn't believe that this happened," she said. "There was never anything put in her file that there was ever an allegation made."

Foster father charged last month

CBC News is not naming the foster parent or identifying the mother, who raised the girl since she was a baby and formally adopted her in 2017, to protect the identity of the victim.

The mother says charges were laid last month after her now teenage daughter reported the alleged abuse to a different CFS worker earlier this year. 

This is my kid and she is now mine and I'm speaking out for her​​​​- Mother of daughter allegedly sexually abused by foster parent

The 62-year-old foster father was charged in October with one count of sexual interference and one count of sexual assault from incidents in 2014, according to court documents.

These allegations have not been proven in court and the foster parent's first court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 10.

A spokesperson for the Southern First Nations Network of Care, which is the governing authority for Southeast CFS, declined to comment citing confidentiality under the Child and Family Services Act.

Mother afraid the child would be taken again

The mother said she did not go to the police for fear the agency would retaliate by removing her children after she had just gotten them returned to her. 

The children were temporarily taken out of the home in 2014 after the woman's husband was accused of smoking marijuana in the garage, the mother said. 

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"I was worried that they were going to take my kids. You know, and they seem to trump everybody. So it's like, you sit down, you shut your mouth and you carry on," said the mother.

Cora Morgan, First Nations Family Advocate at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, says parents are sometimes afraid to report abuse for fear there will be repercussions. (Jaison Empson/CBC News)

The mother went through a lengthy process to legally adopt her daughter, which finally happened in 2017.

"This is my kid and she is now mine and I'm speaking out for her," said the mother. 

Cora Morgan, First Nations Family Advocate for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, says this is a common fear for parents in the system.

"They just got their children back and there is a fear that if they complain or they raise the issue that their children will be taken again," Morgan said.   

Latest phase of legislation not in force

New legislation by the Progressive Conservative government was supposed to give Manitoba's children's advocate the power to investigate and be notified of all serious injuries to youth, which includes sexual assault.

Daphne Penrose, Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth, says she does not know when the next phase of the Act will come into force. (Jaison Empson/CBC News)

However, while the Advocate for Children and Youth Act was proclaimed two years ago, the advocate is still waiting for that part of the legislation to come into force, meaning the advocate was not informed of this case.

"I would say it is a really big deal for those families," said Daphne Penrose, the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth, when asked if this is a big deal. 

"The longer that we wait to bring the remainder of the reviewable services in, the more opportunities that are being missed."

Families Minister Heather Stefanson declined an interview. She previously said this part of the legislation may come into effect in the fall.

CBC asked the government when this part of the Act will come into force and why it is not happening this fall — no answers were given.  

Instead they provided a statement, stating "we understand the need for updated reporting protocols that would empower our children's advocate."

"We're going to take the time to get it right," spokesperson Braeden Jones said in a prepared statement. 

Latest case of foster parent accused of abuse

This is the latest in a number of cases involving the sexual abuse of children in care by their foster parents reported by CBC in the past year. 

A CBC investigation revealed that two girls were left in a Manitoba home after sexual assault allegations were made against the foster dad. 

In another case, a 66-year-old man was charged with multiple sex crimes against two boys in his care after being hired by for-profit foster agency B & L Resources for Children, Youth and Families.

The mother says these latest allegations of abuse should have been dealt with five years ago and she wants answers. 

"As far as I'm concerned, they're not doing their job. And these kids are suffering. My daughter is proof of that," she said.

"I think that it should have been dealt with then and there should have been an investigation into it."

The mother says charges were laid last month after her now teenage daughter reported the alleged abuse to a different CFS worker earlier this year. 2:22

Got a tip for CBC Manitoba's I-Team? Email or call the confidential tip line at 204-788-3744.

About the Author

Kristin Annable is a member of CBC's investigative unit based in Winnipeg. She can be reached at kristin.annable@cbc.ca