Manitoba·CBC Investigates

Mom says she warned Metis CFS years before her children's foster father was charged with sexual abuse

The mother of two boys who allegedly suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of their foster father says she reported the man to Metis CFS years before they left the foster home.

Foster care system ‘does more damage to our children than we could ever do,' mother says

The biological mother of two children allegedly sexually abused by their foster father is concerned the province's review of B & L foster homes may not be enough to keep children safe. (John Einarson/CBC)

The mother of two boys who allegedly suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of their foster father says she reported the man to Manitoba's Metis Child, Family and Community Services Agency years before they left the foster home.

The biological mother says she notified a Metis CFS worker in 2012 after her son, who was six years old at the time, said the Winnipeg foster father was showing pornography to him and his three-year-old brother.

"Families seem so powerless when it comes to CFS that if they bring those allegations forward, what's going to happen? Nothing," the mom said.

"It's like these people are supposed to be protecting our children from us, but yet they do more damage to our children than we could ever do to our kids."

In late November, Manitoba Families Minister Heather Stefanson ordered a review of B & L, a for-profit foster care agency. As of Monday, 95 per cent of children currently in the agency's foster homes had been interviewed by social workers. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

In July 2018, the foster father, who was contracted through the for-profit B & L Resources for Children, Youth and Families, was charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and assault.

Police allege in court documents he showed the boys pornography starting in 2012, assaulted one of them with a hammer and uttered threats. The alleged abuse occurred between 2009 and 2015, according to court documents.

The Winnipeg man's lawyer says his client denies the charges.

The children's mother says the only thing that changed after her disclosure to Metis CFS was that the foster father stopped attending her visits with the boys.

"I'm assuming … that something was obviously said, but nothing was done," said the mother.

Her sons lived with the foster family from 2009 until 2015, but it wasn't until her sons came back to live with her in the summer of 2017 that she learned of additional sex abuse allegations, which she immediately reported to police.

B & L under review by province

When asked about the mother's disclosure, Metis CFS Authority CEO Billie Schibler said she is not at liberty to discuss confidential information about families and children.

"However, I can assure you that had any information been brought forward of concerns of this nature, they would have been reported to the All Nations Coordinated Response Network immediately and looked into," said Schibler, who speaks for the entire Metis CFS system.

ANCR is responsible for investigating abuse allegations on behalf of Child and Family Services agencies in the Winnipeg region.

"We take these matters very seriously as these types of concerns are considered child abuse," Schibler said.

Billie Schibler, the CEO of the Metis Child and Family Services Authority, says any information pertaining to abuse is forwarded to investigators. (CBC News)

When asked about the mother's disclosure to Metis CFS, All Nations Coordinated Response Network CEO Sandie Stoker said she can't comment on specific cases because of confidentiality rules under the CFS Act.

B & L Resources for Children, Youth and Families, which contracted the foster father and his wife, is currently under review by the province, following a CBC investigation that revealed children were left in the same home as a minor who was sexually abusing them even after those allegations emerged.

In that case, a biological parent told CBC they had brought concerns of sexual abuse to a worker with Metis CFS — which hired B & L to recruit and supervise foster homes — months before the company separated the children from their abuser.

Part of the province's review of B & L will include speaking to every child in foster homes managed by the company, a process the province said on Tuesday was complete.

The mother of the children who were allegedly abused by the foster father is not confident that approach will weed out problems.

"Hearing that kids are going to be interviewed … I don't think that's good enough," she said.

She was actively involved with her children while they were in foster care, the woman said, but they didn't disclose abuse allegations until they were back home with her. 

"They're too scared" to open up because of what could happen when they return to the foster home, she said.

'I've done everything to clean up their mess'

The managing director of B & L, Bruce Bertrand-Meadows, did not respond to an interview request. In November, he said provincial legislation and professional ethics prevent him from discussing any individual case.

He did confirm the foster parents have not been with B & L since the spring of 2016. ​

"No allegations/concerns of the nature you indicated came to our attention prior to their departure from our organization," Bertrand-Meadows said in an emailed statement.

"We are denying the charges absolutely and we are setting this down for trial. From our perspective, there is no basis at all for the charges," Amado Claros, the foster father's lawyer, said in November. The man's next court date is Dec. 13. 

The mother says she decided to speak up because her faith in the foster care system is shaken.  

"How do we know that this shit isn't going on everywhere else?" she said.

Her sons are in now in counselling, something she says she arranged on her own, without help from other agencies.

"I've done everything to clean up their mess."

The mother of two boys who were allegedly sexually abused in foster care says she warned Metis CFS about possible abuse in 2012 but the boys remained in the home. 1:45

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