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

Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Hapless Offspring of an Evil Man

"I thought I was looking at a ghost. His face was sunken. He looked very old. [He used to be] chubby, happy and full of energy."
"He was completely changed. I couldn't recognize him."
"There was fear and sadness in him. I was heartbroken, watching him. My instinct was to hold him and comfort him."

This was the next-door neighbour of a fearful, emaciated boy of 11, who while his father, his stepmother and their two younger children were out shopping, had managed to free himself from restraints imposed upon him to flee the home where he had been kept in medieval, dungeon-like conditions for too much of his young life. His father at the time was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. His mother had died when the boy was nine.

After his birth, his mother was seriously ill for years. The boy's father chose to leave his wife and their son for reasons of his own. And when the mother died when the boy was nine, he was understandably distraught. His maternal grandmother attempted to take custody of the boy, but even her attempts to win visitation rights were rebuffed by a judge. By his father's accounting, the boy, unnamed to protect his identity, was a difficult child to raise.

More than that, the father is testifying at his own trial that the boy represented the very picture of evil. His father insisted the boy was a sexual deviant because he had once kissed a girl's hand. And because the son appeared to lack sympathy with his father's story of growing up in Lebanon during the civil war, witnessing violence and death that traumatized him, the father appeared to resent his son's disobedience all the more.

The boy was disciplined. A psychologist was consulted. Who found the boy of exceptional intelligence. And who eventually warned the father that his treatment of the boy was criminal and if he persisted the man would report him to child welfare authorities. This, after originally having recommended to the judge who ruled against the grandmother that the boy remain with his father. Though the psychologist correctly identified the man's treatment of the boy as terrorism, in the end he failed to report him.

And though the judge hearing the case was aware of allegations of mistreatment and bullying on the part of the father, he still ruled that the child's maternal family not have visitation rights. The only concession given the maternal family members was that the boy's school photographs and copies of his report cards be sent to them. That ruling took place in 2011. Two years later, in 2013, the boy was in custody of police.

Who took him to hospital where doctors were appalled at his condition. Emaciated to the point of starvation, the boy at 11 years of age, weighted 50 pounds. The trial has heard that the father and stepmother of the boy kept him shackled in the basement of their home for six months. They are both charged with aggravated assault, forcible confinement and failure to provide the necessities of life.

The boy had approached the neighbour at her house asking for water. Water was all he was given to drink, and peanut butter and two pitas represented his daily diet. Eaten down in the basement where  he was shackled to the cement floor and where he slept at night. She was surprised to see the boy, let alone the condition he was in, not having seen him in a year and a half.

Another neighbour testified that she had noted how small the boy was for his age. And how she noticed he seldom wore adequate winter clothing while waiting for the school bus. And nor was the boy permitted to take part in neighbourhood events, let alone attend birthday parties. There is ample evidence at trial of the horrible abuse this boy suffered, since the father made videos of many of the interrogations he subjected his son to.

The starving, naked boy is seen on one of the videos weeping, promising he will not tell lies again. "I want my family back, I've had enough of my punishment. I'll stop lying. I'll show you I can change. I'm going to keep my locks as tight as possible on my feet", the fearful boy pledged to his father, who was outraged that his son kept attempting to free himself from the shackles.

"You haven’t repented yet! You will weep blood for what you have done. I don’t see you on your knees yet. If you’re in this position, it’s because someone has had enough of you", the father responds. "You will pray that Jesus will take you back after all of this and that your parents will take you back."

The boy, now 14, is in safe custody. Listening to the testimony at trial, the boy's maternal relatives were agitated and horribly upset. On an earlier occasion, the boy had defended his father, who had also once burned his son's genitals with a lighter, to enact what he felt to be appropriate punishment for the boy's sins. 

"My dad didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t want him to go to jail", he had told authorities, according to notes previously read into the court record. He was convinced, despite the barbaric treatment he was subjected to, and his consequent attempts to free  himself, that he deserved what his father was meting out to him as punishment. "My dad is in the RCMP. He would know."

Both the father and the stepmother are out on bail. And the father is permitted visitation with his two other sons, unsupervised.

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