Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, October 30, 2015

Familial Terror

"You can't terrorize your son."
"The parents saw him [young boy] as a delinquent. I did not."
Xavier Plaus, child psychologist, criminal trial testimony

"You will pray that Jesus will take you back after all of this. And that your parents will take you back,” the father says in French. "You’ve not repented yet. You will weep blood for what you have done."
“I will do everything you say, everything you say." the child responds in French. "I’ll never lie. I want my family back. I am going to keep my lock as tight as possible on my feet. I’ve sinned so much."
"What else did you do? Always interested in sex. Next time you lie to me, even for the smallest thing ... then I will know. Do you hear me?"
"Yes. I don’t want to go to hell."
"You’re a thief. You’re a manipulator. You’re a liar. You’re saying whatever you want to get out of here. You’ll be quiet? You’ll be quiet? Good."

The father is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He is a strict disciplinarian. His son is eleven years of age. The boy has been shackled, he has been beaten, he has been starved. His father accuses the son of sexual misconduct; the boy is said to have kissed a girl when they were together in a tree house. They live with the father's second wife, the boy's stepmother. There are other, younger children in the household, from this later union. These children are loved, they are not mistreated.

The stepmother appears to have done nothing whatever to convince her husband that his treatment of the young boy is cruel and represents abusive torture. The boy is left for days, naked, in the basement of the house in an Ottawa suburb, shackled. He is given very little to eat; mostly pita and peanut butter and Gatorade. He lives in squalid filth, and weighs very little for a boy of eleven. In February of 2013, the boy managed to free himself and make his way outside.

He asked a neighbour for water. His plight became known, and he was taken by child welfare authorities and police from the home that was a prison for him. Both parents, biological father and stepmother, face charges of aggravated, forcible confinement and failing to provide the necessities of life. The woman is also charged with assaulting the boy with a weapon, while the man faces other charges of sexual assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.

When the emaciated boy was taken to hospital he weighed 50 pounds. His wrists were scarred from being shackled for months at a time.  "[This was] by far the worst case of inflicted injury, abuse or neglect in a child who managed to survive," said Dr. Leigh Fraser-Roberts, a pediatrician with 22 years of experience, who looked after the boy at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. She testified later at trial that the boy's clavicle was exposed; there was no fat in his face or neck.

His eyes were sunken, his knees swollen, the result of "far too few calories", exhibiting signs of "wasting and severe malnutrition". There were "irregular lesions and scars" on the boy's back, buttocks, groin and inner thigh that were deep purple and red. Later in the trial child psychologist Xavier Plaus stated he could detect no signs of sexual pathology in the boy's character, despite his father's conviction at age eight, the boy would become a sexual predator.

The boy fell under suspicion by his father for exhibiting 'abnormal sexual behaviour' through hugging teachers -- and students who had been bullied at school. The psychologist testified that the boy was intelligent, despite living in a chaotic, hostile and poisonous environment, that the boy's father had taken to interrogating the boy daily about his school routine. Nothing the psychologist could say would convince the man, a former counter-terrorism RCMP officer, that there was "absolutely no evidence of sexual pre-occupation" in the boy's character.

In response, the father insisted his son was manipulating the doctor, telling him only what he felt the psychologist expected and wanted to hear. The psychologist was hired by the father during a custody battle when the boy was eight. He was concerned, he testified, about the punishments meted out to the boy; pushups and cold showers -- saying that if he became aware of such behaviour on the father's part being repeated he would contact child-protection workers.

He had interviewed the boy on fourteen occasions, coming to the conclusion that years of chaos, conflict and hostility in the home had caused the boy to no longer expect that anyone in the world would love him. The punishments intensified until in 2013 the boy escaped the basement. He has himself testified at the trial of his parents, speaking of starvation and torture, how as the family pursued their daily routine upstairs he remained chained to a post in the basement.

That boy might have been spared three additional years of privation and torture at the hands of his psychopathic father had the psychologist been alert and responsible enough to proceed with his threat of calling in child welfare.

Ottawa courthouse on Elgin Street

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