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TitleReport of The Cornwall Public Inquiry
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Page 1

CHAPTER 9

Institutional Response of the
Children’s Aid Society

History and Mandate of Children’s Aid Societies

J.J. Kelso was a reporter at the �&)� newspaper who wrote numerous stories
about the plight of children on the streets of Toronto, especially the boys who
delivered newspapers. In 1893, he was appointed Superintendent of Dependent
and Neglected Children for Ontario. In this position, he created child protection
legislation and travelled around Ontario speaking to citizens about establish-
ing organizations to carry out the legislation. By 1907, there were about sixty
Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario; in 2006, there were fifty-three.
John Liston, an expert in the response of child welfare agencies to allegations

of child sexual abuse, testified that, although the legal description of the mandate
of Children’sAid Societies has changed over the years, their fundamental role has
always been “investigation, counselling, guidance, care of children, adoption,
supervision of children.”
The mandate of a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) was addressed in Ontario

legislation in the 1960 �#$&� � &!�+ ��-. This ��- stated:

A children’s aid society may be established having among its objects
the protection of children from neglect, the care and control of
neglected children, assistance to unmarried parents, the placement
of children in adoption, the supervision of children placed in adoption
until an order of adoption is made and generally the discharge of the
functions of a children’s aid society under this Act, but no society shall
act as such until it has been incorporated under �# �)+*)+�-$)(, ��- or
a predecessor thereof and until it has been approved by the Lieutenant
Governor in Council.1

1031
1. R.S.O. 1960, c. 53.

Page 2

The 1970 Child Welfare Act stated:

Every children’s aid society shall be operated for the purposes of,
(a) investigating allegations or evidence that children may be in need

of protection;
(b) protecting children where necessary;
(c) providing guidance, counselling and other services to families for

protecting children or for the prevention of circumstances requiring
the protection of children;

(d) providing care for children assigned or committed to its care under
this or any other Act;

(e) supervising children assigned to its supervision under this or any
other Act;

(f) placing children for adoption;
(g) assisting the parents of children born out of wedlock or likely to be

born out of wedlock and their children born out of wedlock; and
(h) any other duties given to it by this or any other Act.2

Significant changes to the legislation came with the 1984 Child and Family
Services Act, which came into force on November 1, 1985 and which defined a
child as an individual under sixteen years of age, thereby limiting Children’s
Aid Societies to dealing with persons under the age of sixteen. Section 15(3) of
the Act stated that the functions of a Children’s Aid Society were to:

(a) investigate allegations or evidence that children who are under
the age of sixteen years or are in the society’s care or under its
supervision may be in need of protection;

(b) protect, where necessary, children who are under the age of sixteen
years or are in the society’s care or under its supervision;

(c) provide guidance, counselling and other services to families for
protecting children or for the prevention of circumstances requiring
the protection of children;

(d) provide care for children assigned or committed to its care under
this Act;

(e) supervise children assigned to its supervision under this Act;

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2. R.S.O. 1970, c. 64, s. 6(2).

Page 104

Mr. Primeau did not adhere to Mr. MacLean’s advice and continued to engage in
this behaviour. Moreover, Mr. Primeau did not comply with the routine he had
agreed to follow with Mr. MacLean regarding the activities and schedules for
the children at the home. Mr. MacLean decided to raise Mr. Primeau’s behaviour
with his supervisor, Mr. Devlin, in July andAugust 1976. As Mr. MacLean said
in his evidence, “The more I worked with John, the higher my anxiety level.”
John Primeau was always “distant” from Mr. MacLean; the CAS liaison “never
felt” that Mr. Primeau “was a working member” or a “committed member to the
team.” In early September 1976, a female staff worker was hired for the Second
Street home who, Mr. MacLean expected, would be the “eyes and ears” for him.
Despite Mr. MacLean’s concerns about Mr. Primeau’s refusal to follow the

rules in the Second Street home and his continued excursions with female resi-
dents at the home, Mr. MacLean did not discuss with these adolescents what
was going on during these outings. Nor did Mr. MacLean inform these teenagers
of their rights in the event that anything untoward took place. This omission was
despite the fact that he knew that children who have been abused often fail to
disclose inappropriate behaviour for many reasons, including fear or guilt. In
my view, Mr. MacLean failed to take appropriate action against John Primeau, a
worker he knew to be acting contrary to the rules of the group home. He also
should have taken some steps to satisfy himself that nothing inappropriate was
happening between John Primeau and the adolescents in the home.
Had Mr. MacLean engaged the adolescents at the home in discussions, he

would have likely learned about other questionable methods of discipline at the
Second Street home, such as the improper use of restraints. He stated that he
knew that restraints were being used on the children but was unaware of the
particular techniques that were being practised. For example, one of the staff
members, Raymonde Houde, told the Cornwall police in 1994 that a regular
method of discipline was forcing the children to lie on their stomach with their
hands behind their back while a worker sat on them. Mr. Houde stated that “[t]his
method was shown to me by John Primeau and all the workers in the home used
it.” Despite the problems that had existed previously at the Second Street home
when Mr. Tenger was the director, the CAS Board had not passed a written policy
on discipline.
A former resident of the home alleged that a group home worker named

“John” had fondled her and placed her under restraints. Mr. MacLean testified that
he was unaware of sexual misconduct at the group home in 1976.As I discuss later
in this chapter, allegations were subsequently made in 1994 by two former wards
from the home that John Primeau engaged in sexual conduct with them. In an
interview by a Cornwall Police Service Constable (ShawnWhite) in 1994, a girl
alleged that Mr. Primeau sexually touched and sexually assaulted her.

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Page 105

In the early months of 1977, Mr. MacLean informed Mr. O’Brien that the
operation of the group home was becoming too expensive for the CAS. In
February 1977, the Board decided to close the Second Street home. Mr. MacLean
understood that the reason for the closing was strictly financial and that it had
nothing to do with any allegations of wrongdoing—physical or sexual—by staff
to the children under the care of the CAS.

Jeannette Antoine Discloses to the CAS AbuseWhen SheWas a
Ward of the Agency

In 1989, Greg Bell and Suzie Robinson were assigned by the CAS to investigate
allegations against Jeannette Antoine of physical abuse of her nine-year-old-
child. It was during the course of this investigation that Ms Antoine disclosed
to these CAS workers that she had been abused as a child when she was a ward
of the Children’s Aid Society.
One of the people Ms Antoine alleged had abused her was Bryan Keough, a

colleague of Mr. Bell’s. Over the course of a few meetings in 1989, MsAntoine
told Mr. Bell and Ms Robinson that she and other children had been abused by
staff at the Second Street group home. She was particularly concerned that Bryan
Keough remained in the employment of the CAS and continued to have contact
with children. Mr. Bell joined the CAS of SD&G in 1982, several years after
the Second Street home was closed by the CAS. Mr. Bell was disturbed to learn
of the allegations of abuse at the group home. He contacted the Cornwall
Community Police Service (CPS).
Mr. Bell reported MsAntoine’s allegations of historical abuse to Tom O’Brien,

the executive director of the Children’sAid Society, and Bob Smith, a supervisor
at the Society, on August 21, 1989. Mr. O’Brien instructed Mr. Bell and Ms
Robinson to continue their investigation regarding JeannetteAntoine’s child. In the
meantime, the executive director reviewed the following documents: the state-
ment signed by Ms Antoine, which provided details of her allegations of abuse
when she was under the care of the CAS; Suzie Robinson’s notes of her meetings
with MsAntoine; and minutes of the Personnel Committee meeting concerning the
Second Street home, which had been placed in a confidential file.
OnAugust 23, 1989, Mr. O’Brien instructed Mr. Bell and Ms Robinson not to

concern themselves with Jeannette Antoine’s allegations of historical abuse and
told them he would contact her. That same day, he telephoned Ms Antoine
and advised her that the CAS social workers to whom she had disclosed the
allegations of historical abuse “would not be dealing with past issues since it
was not part of their position,” but that Mr. O’Brien was willing to meet with
her. MsAntoine told the CAS executive director that children at the group home

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Page 207

• a list of churches, clubs, and so on, attended and any certificates
received from these organizations.

A sign-off by a parent or guardian or the youth him- or herself would
be required prior to authorizing the release of the information. A
full copy of the material, including the sign-off, would be kept by
the CAS at the front of the child’s file and, except in exceptional
circumstances, would be immediately available to the individual if
requested in later years.

15. If requested, the CAS of SD&G should provide former wards or
those subject to protection orders with timely access to a copy of
their file with confidential information pertaining to other people
redacted. Except in exceptional circumstances, information such
as the following should not be redacted:
a. the names of foster parents
b. the names of CAS worker(s); and
c. the names of other wards residing in a particular foster
home. (Personal information about the children and their
particular circumstances should be redacted to protect
their privacy interests.)

Counselling

16. The CAS of SD&G should ensure that every effort is made to
encourage and support wards who have been sexually
assaulted/abused to attend counselling.

Reassessment of the Child Abuse Register

17. The government of Ontario and, in particular, the Ministry of
Community and Social Services or the Ministry of Children and
Youth Services, should undertake a review of the Child Abuse
Register and determine whether it still serves a useful purpose
in its present form. If the decision is made to keep the Child
Abuse Register, it should be revised to exclude the names of
victims and the CAS should be allowed to use it as a screening
tool for potential employees and foster parents.

18. The government of Ontario should permit the CAS to use
the Child Abuse Register and the Child Protection Fast Track
Information System to screen its prospective employees and
foster parents.

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Page 208

Recommendations for the Children’s Aid Society of Stormont,
Dundas, & Glengarry and Other Public Institutions

Joint Training

19. The government of Ontario and the responsible ministries should
reinstitute joint training for CAS and police officers as soon as
practicable. This joint training should include specific training on
responding to historical allegations of abuse. For some aspects of
training, consideration should be given to including other Justice
partners, such as Crown counsel or those working in hospitals,
in specialized assault units. Joint training might also support
more standardization or the development of “best practices”
protocols between police and Children’s Aid Societies.

Child Protection Protocol, 2001

20. The CAS of SD&G is a partner in the “Child Protection Protocol:
A Coordinated Response in Eastern Ontario” (July 2001). Since
this protocol has not been updated, the CAS of SD&G should
meet as soon as practicable with other partners to review and
update the protocol. For those partners actively involved in the
investigation and prosecution of sexual assault/abuse cases,
consistent roles for the participants should be set out as well
as guidance on the sharing of information between investigating
bodies. The process of reviewing and updating the protocol
should continue triennially.


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