Sudbury

6 months of silence from Sudbury CAS after privacy breach sees judge suspended

The Sudbury Children's Aid Society is refusing to comment on a breach of confidential information that saw a judge suspended last year.

Justice John Keast found guilty of misconduct in November 2017, suspended for 30 days

The Children's Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin has refused to comment on the leak of confidential information that led to a judge being disciplined six months ago. (Erik White/CBC )

The Sudbury Children's Aid Society remains silent on how a confidentiality breach led to the suspension of a local judge.

It's been six months since Justice John Keast was disciplined for what the Ontario Judicial Council called "conduct that could be perceived as demonstrating bias."

A series of text messages with long-time friend and children's aid employee Lynda Cullain were the basis for a disciplinary hearing against Keast held in November.

In those texts, Keast obtains confidential information about a child protection case involving a woman and her daughter, who cannot be named under a publication ban imposed by the Ontario Judicial Council. 

Keast is also highly critical in the text messages of the Sudbury CAS and individual staff members, on top of advising his friend to sue the organization.

Following the disciplinary hearing, a four-person panel suspended him for 30 days, which is the stiffest penalty available other than being removed from the bench.

No response from CAS on privacy breach 

Keast also agreed to not hear any cases involving the Sudbury children's aid for a full year.

But since then, Children's Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin has refused or ignored CBC's repeated requests over the last six months to comment on this case

That includes answering questions on how this leak of confidential information was handled by the organization. 

Cullain faced her own disciplinary proceeding last year.

She was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Ontario College of Social Workers for providing confidential information about a client to a personal friend and resigned her membership. 

When the CBC called the Sudbury CAS and asked for Cullain, the receptionist said she no longer works there.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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