Parents Helping Parents

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ANNUAL REPORT 2000 – 2001

PARENTS HELPING PARENTS

ANNUAL REPORT 2000 – 2001

Edmonton, Alberta

 

 

The names of the families mentioned in the report are pseudonymed; the names of the officers are real, as is customary for my reports.

— Louise Malefant

 

 

 

 

Reply to: Louise Malenfant

Family Advocate

Parents Helping Parents

 

Parents Helping Parents September 5, 2001

Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 2

This brief report has been prepared as a result of observations that have been made in my role as the family advocate of the organization known as Parents Helping Parents. PHP is an organization I founded in Manitoba in 1992, with a mandate to reduce high conflict divorce and ensure that persons accused of child abuse during divorce proceedings receive a full and fair investigation from the authorities. Over the past decade, these goals have been accomplished by studying the disciplines of psychology, medicine, the law, social work and police investigative methods, as well as media and government communication strategies, all in the service of providing the best advocacy possible to those who see the assistance of PHP. By 1999, sexual allegations had dropped by 60% in the city of Winnipeg, and no allegations in divorce could be found on a regular basis. For that reason, I decided to move the organization to Alberta in September 2000, as my research indicated that this problem remained rampant in this province. Though our new home base is Edmonton, PHP provides advocacy support and analysis for cases right across the country, and this provides a unique base from which to compare investigative process between jurisdictions.

It should be noted that PHP arrives from a city where the Winnipeg Police Child Abuse Unit was considered a world class operation. In seven years of operation, we did not identify even one case where it was believed that a person was falsely accused of child abuse by the police, nor did we find any significant investigative problems during that time. For that reason, PHP instituted a standing policy whereby we advised prospective clients that we would not provide advocacy representation to anyone who was not willing to co-operate with the police. This meant that the client had to be prepared to be interviewed by police without an advocate or lawyer present, and further, that he be willing to submit to a polygraph test as administered by the police, if the evidence warranted.

Upon arrival in Edmonton, I was hopeful that this standing policy could continue. In truth, it was of great assistance to me in determining the culpability of prospective clients to analyze their reaction to the prospect of a police interview and polygraph test. While many were never heard from again, those who claimed innocence were exceedingly grateful for the direction they required to clear their names. While this factor was by no means the only investigative step taken by PHP, it was certainly an important element of our analysis. It is therefore with great regret that I must advise that, due to serious investigative anomalies and other deceptions observed in the Edmonton Police Child Abuse Unit, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I cannot, in good conscience, maintain this standing policy in Edmonton. This is the result of observations made in three Child Abuse Unit investigations, and the remainder of this report will identify the concerns raised as a result of these three cases.

The first case involves the accused Mr. Abraham Abib. Mr. Abib was the subject of a series of allegations made by his former girlfriend, Ms. Cains, with whom he had a child who became the alleged victim in these allegations. A review was conducted and a report generated therefrom by Sgt. Randy Schriener, which noted that Ms. Cains had admitted to police investigators that she had falsely accused Mr. Abib to retrieve custody of their daughter, and further, that the court had determined that a document presented by Ms.

Parents Helping Parents September 5, 2001

Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 3

Cains during an investigation of her for parental abduction had been "fraudulently manufactured".

In spite of this report, approximately one month later, Mr. Abib was arrested and placed in handcuffs in front of his three young children and his new wife. My involvement with Mr. Abib was limited to bringing the existence of this review to the attention of the Chief Crown Prosecutor, as I believed the contents of the report excluded the possibility of a successful prosecution for any allegations involving Ms. Cains. This report brought Ms. Cains’s credibility into such disrepute that the Judge at Mr. Abib’s bail hearing refused to bar him from visitation with the alleged victim as a condition of his release.

Had Mr. Abib taken the route of the standard criminal process, he would have borne the tremendous expense of waiting for the preliminary hearing six months following his arrest, and his family would have had to wait that time, and paid lawyers to prepare for that hearing. Thankfully, the Chief Crown’s office conducted an immediate review of the case, and subsequently quashed the charges as there was no likelihood of conviction.

Though I did not conduct a complete review of Mr. Abib’s file, a number of concerns arose as a result of this case. First of all, how could the Child Abuse Unit have conducted a complete investigation without acquiring knowledge of the Schreiner review document? Did they know about the report, but chose to ignore it? How could they not know about the lengthy history of allegations made by Ms. Cains, and if they did know, why did they choose the dramatic and traumatic action of arresting Mr. Abib in front of his family? It is also apparent that the Child Abuse Unit detectives do not consult with the Crown before laying charges, a common feature of the process in most other jurisdictions which provides a good check on the powers of the police. Conclusions arising from the Abib case suggest that the Child Abuse Unit did not conduct a thorough investigation, did not consult with the crown before making an arrest, and seemed ignorant of the history of the case. Such problems do not inspire confidence in the integrity of the Child Abuse Unit.

The second case which resulted in concerns about the Child Abuse Unit is that of ten year old Christine Carson and her accused father, Harvey Wolfe. I encountered the case in November of 2000, and was immediately alarmed by the poor standards of practice and the inflammatory documentation of findings reported by Dr. Lionel Dibden of the Child and Adolescent Protection Centre (CAP). Though the child had never disclosed any harm, based on this report, she was put into therapy and all access to her father was summarily eliminated. In November, it had been six months since Mr. Wolfe had seen either of his daughters, and the child had been in therapy for six months as well.

This case also highlighted a number of concerns with the EPS Child Abuse Unit. The officer assigned to the case was Detective Mathews, supervised by Staff Sgt. Darren Eastcott. Prior to my involvement, Mr. Wolfe attended at the police station without counsel to co-operate with the police investigation. Mr. Wolfe allowed himself to be interviewed extensively.

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Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 4

 

Following the interview, Detective Mathews contacted Mr. Wolfe’s legal counsel Mr. Pat Dolphin, and during that discussion, Mathews indicated that Mr. Wolfe’s father must have abused him as a child, which explained Mr. Wolfe’s own abuse of his own child. When Mr. Wolfe learned of these comments about his father, he was alarmed that such a claim could be assumed when no one had ever contacted Mr. Wolfe senior, and no allegation had ever been made against him. While the literature on child abuse does indicate that some children who are abused do grow up to be perpetrators themselves, it hardly stands to reason that all perpetrators must have been abused as children, nor is it necessarily true that the perpetrators could automatically be assumed to be the father. The ignorance of this comment coupled with the seemingly absolute police position that Mr. Wolfe was a perpetrator, caused Mr. Wolfe to decide not to co-operate with the police from that time forward.

The only "evidence" in this case was the report of Dr. Lionel Dibden, yet the police approached Mr. Wolfe’s neighbours as part of their "investigation", which alerted them to the fact that Mr. Wolfe was under investigation for child molest. The neighbours in turn notified Mr. Wolfe about these communications. It is alarming, to say the least, that the Child Abuse Unit would view this as an effective or fair method of investigation. The following case will show that this notification of an investigation to parties known to the accused seems to be a rather standard aspect of the "investigations" conducted by the CAU.

It is also a concern that the Unit has no problem with the idea of submitting a child to therapy for abuse, when no finding of abuse has been made in a court of law. Submitting a child to therapy without such a finding is actually the recipe for creating a false disclosure of abuse. Certainly, should a matter like this subsequently go to trial, the therapy process would serve to discredit any disclosure arising from such a process. In other jurisdictions, the police recommend no counselling until the completion of their investigation so that any disclosure obtained from the child is not subject to being discredited.

To add more confusion to this case, an officer in the polygraph department subsequently reviewed the videotape of Mr. Wolfe’s police interview, and developed the opinion that Mr. Wolfe was being truthful in denying any sexual impropriety involving his daughter. This officer shared his views with Mr. Wolfe’s legal counsel. Once again, it appears as though one hand of the police department does not know what the other hand is doing, and this is again not conducive to establishing a measure of trust in the EPS Child Abuse Unit. It would also appear that the CAU officers gave little weight to the opinion of the polygraph officer.

As indicated earlier, it was alarming to note the absence of professionalism in the medical report prepared by Dr. Lionel Dibden in this case. Dr. Dibden reported claims made by the mother in the case as though it were established fact, and failed to consider the fact that the parents of Christine had been locked into a highly acrimonious custody and access battle for some six years prior to the allegation.

Parents Helping Parents September 5, 2001

Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 5

 

It also came to light that Dr. Dibden chose to suppress information regarding the reason why the child was being examined, in that he claimed it was because the mother was concerned that the father was sleeping in the same room with Christine, when in fact, both children have their own well appointed bedrooms in the father’s home. When Dibden’s own medical records were subsequently examined, it was learned that the mother asked for the child to be examined because a friend of her daughter’s indicated that a child from Christine’s school had been playing sexual games with Christine, which may have included penetration. This fact did not make it into Dibden’s medical report, a decision that demonstrates malice in addition to negligence, for the failure to include this fact pointed the finger of accusation squarely at Mr. Wolfe. It is notable that the police also did not investigate this lead, and instead focussed their investigation solely on the access parent in this case.

The conduct of Dr. Dibden in this case has long term implications for the quality of investigation of the EPS CAU. To summarize the problem, Dr. Dibden appears to collapse three categories of physical findings into a diagnosis specific of abuse. There are three basic categories of findings. The first is congenital, that is, anomalies which have been recorded to appear naturally in non-abused newborns. The second category is called non-specific, in that an anomaly may be congenital or it may be the result of abuse, the finding contingent on what the child says.

The third and smallest category of anomaly is the specific finding, that is, an anomaly which is only caused by penetration and has not been recorded as appearing congenitally in newborns. For females, the only injuries specific to abuse are notch injuries occurring in the lower left hand quadrant of the hymen (6 to 9 o’clock positions), as well as the presence of venereal diseases. This is why it is frequently the case that up to 90% of all child abuse exams will not yield definitive medical evidence of abuse. It has been noted in the professional literature that the most important evidence is the disclosure made by the child, and the elements of credibility analysis applied to that disclosure. While medical evidence can be important if the examination is conducted in the acute stage, that is, within 48 hours of the alleged incident, it is rare for a child to be examined at the acute stage. It is a concern that the EPS Child Abuse Unit has become overly reliant upon positive medical findings for abuse, which has likely undermined their investigative acumen. Dr. Dibden’s report was subsequently sent, by court order, for a second opinion from Dr. Dirk Huyer, Director of the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Huyer’s report subsequently confirmed that observed anomalies were non specific findings and did not warrant specific findings for abuse.

The Wolfe case has a happy ending, in that Mr. Wolfe subsequently obtained full unsupervised visitation rights for his two daughters, including extended holiday visits, which have largely resumed without incident. He has never been notified by the police as to whether they have closed the investigation in the matter. The cost of his ordeal was upwards of $12,000.00 for legal and expert costs.

Parents Helping Parents September 5, 2001

Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 6

 

After review of these two cases, it was still possible to hope that these represented isolated incidents, especially in light of the fact that both Abib and Wolfe were investigated by the same officer, Detective Mathews, of the EPS Child Abuse Unit. Unfortunately, this hope was all but extinguished following the analysis of the following case involving accused father, Len Anderson.

Mr. Anderson is the step father of Sarah Fayre, aged five, and the biological father of four year old Reagan Anderson. The mother of both children is Elizabeth Fayre, who has been in a highly conflictual custody and access battle with Mr. Anderson since 1999. There have been a series of allegations made against Mr. Anderson, which include that he smokes around the boy, that his home is not clean, that he abuses drugs and alcohol, but at no time has there ever been an allegation of child abuse, until April 2001. This was approximately one month before a trial for custody of Reagan was to begin in Provincial court. Mr. Anderson has not seen Sarah on a regular basis since his separation from the mother, and has not seen her since the child was approximately three years old. After more than 20 court appearances relating to access to the children, Mr. Anderson was advised by legal counsel that it might be best to concentrate on securing regular access to his biological son, where he has the best claim.

There appears to be limited expertise in the methods required to assess the credibility of children’s disclosures as demonstrated by both Dibden and the EPS. For example, in the Anderson matter, it is alleged by the mother that Reagan was penetrated using "tools", which was described in Dibden’s report, and is also actually being explored as a viable sexual event by the EPS. Investigating Detective Spinks recently inquired about whether any "play tools", of different colours, were owned by the child in the home of his father. Children describing the use of tools in this context is actually a rather common feature of false allegations. Children who have not experienced a real sexual event are unable to provide accurate sexual details, and it is not uncommon for children to confabulate what they consider to be something awful, which is frequently a description of the use of construction tools or knives being used in the commission of an offense. Interestingly, it was thought Reagan received such a play tool kit as a gift for Christmas one year, but in his mother’s home. Ms. Fayre has never allowed Reagan to bring his toys to his father’s home.

It is also notable that pedophiles have learned to exist in a hostile environment, and are well aware of what activities will leave physical findings of abuse. This is especially true if the perpetrator remains part of the child victim’s life, and is not merely a one time stranger attack on the child. For this reason, most pedophiles frequently restrict their activities to non penetrative sexual activities. This is why most children who can describe a progression of sexual activities over time, from the simple voyeuristic to touching to more complex sexual forms, is providing the most credible disclosure that is consistent with a lived sexual event.

 

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Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 7

 

As much as we revile it, pedophiles seek out children for sex and sexual gratification, and the early sexual events attempted will not likely include penetrative acts with foreign objects; they will be sex. Dr. John Yuille, a world renowned credibility expert, recently visited Edmonton to teach the finely tuned skills of credibility analysis. His work notes the common features of confabulation in the evidence of children who have not lived a real sexual event.

There are again, serious problems with the medical reports prepared by Dr. Lionel Dibden with respect to the Anderson case. It is unclear why an important medical exam for sexual abuse would rely upon the second hand disclosure obtained from the mother. One of the systemic disorders in the investigation of child abuse in Edmonton seems to be how each unit does not share information or evidence. A further example of this is how the police have not consulted with Child and Family Services on this case. An effective investigative process would have the doctor examine the video tape or transcript of what the alleged child victim says in the police video. This information should not be coming from the mother in a high conflict custody proceeding. PHP will be providing this report to child welfare to request their involvement in the welfare of these children

While one case does not a trend make, three children have now been the subjects of an inflammatory medical report prepared by Dr. Lionel Dibden. The seriousness of the problems identified in Dr. Dibden’s reports do not suggest an isolated incident. His use of inflammatory language and definitive language to provide medical substantiation for sexual abuse are not consistent with standards found in the medical literature for this type of exam. In addition, Dr. Dibden is very comfortable reporting claims made by mothers in high conflict divorce proceedings as though they were undisputed fact, creating reports that all but convict the accused without benefit of any evidence save Dr. Dibden’s. It is noteworthy that a review of Dr. Dibden’s curriculum vitae yields no specialized training for child sexual abuse exams, and instead, documents his career specialization in adolescent psychology.

In addition, the latest annual report of the CAP centre notes that sexual abuse out number physical abuse allegations by a 2 to 1 margin in this city, and it is concerning that Dr. Dibden may be over substantiating and creating a high margin of false positive findings for sexual abuse in this city. Implications for the police may include an over-reliance on medical findings to substantiate abuse allegations, which would in turn undermine the quality of investigation provided by the police. Certainly, several police officers I have spoken with express supreme confidence in Dr. Dibden’s abilities.

In the Anderson case, Dr. Lionel Dibden has generated two medical reports with respect to these children, and once again, both reports utilize inflammatory language to report the mother’s claims, without noting the high conflict custody proceeding, and without questioning the veracity of those claims.

 

Parents Helping Parents September 5, 2001

Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 8

 

At one point, Dr. Dibden reports that "…Reagan has appeared to be much better, without any genital discomfort since he has not visited his father’s". Comments like these are rife in these reports, and highly prejudicial against the accused, whom Dr. Dibden has never seen. This type of comment is highly discouraged in the medical literature, but this is a common feature of Dr. Dibden’s reports.

Even more concerning is the manner in which Dr. Dibden, once again, collapses what are congenital and non-specific findings into declarative statements definitively claiming them to be specific findings for sexual abuse. For example, a bump at the four o’clock position allegedly observed on Sarah’s hymen is described by Dibden as "…a finding concerning for previous penetrating injury that has subsequently repaired. The medical literature, however, notes that bumps along the hymenal rim are observed congenitally in unabused newborns. With both children, Dr. Dibden claims to observe scars or white lines in the anal verge of both children.

For Sarah, Dr. Dibden reports that his examination of the child "shows a small white perianal scar, which must be interpreted as a sign of previous anal trauma." (emphasis added). Similarly, Dibden reports that Reagan "shows anal findings which are very suspicious of past trauma." With both children, Dr. Dibden pointedly eliminates the possibility that the scars might be caused by constipation. In fact, he says they have no history of constipation, though he has never reviewed the medical files of either child. In Reagan’s report, Dibden does note one instance of constipation, thereby contradicting his own statement.

What is most important is that Dr. Dibden’s declarative statements about the meaning of the alleged anal scars, fails to recognize the controversy in the literature surrounding such findings. Indeed, noted medical researchers have recognized that so called anal scars cannot be considered specific findings of abuse. Most children experience constipation, which frequently cause such fissures, that subsequently heal in the appearance of white lines. As well, 25% of all newborns in one noted study were found to have naturally-occurring white lines in the anal verge. Once again, Dr. Dibden’s inflammatory reporting of his findings is not consistent with what is recommended by the medical literature. Dibden’s extensive reporting of the mother’s claims about her past relationship with the father, and the alleged disclosures made to her, should only be reported if the practitioner takes the time to interview the accused and other relevant witnesses, a practice that is not followed at the CAP Centre. As a result of these concerns, the Head of Pediatrics at the U of A Hospital Dr. Terry Klassen, has once again written a letter in support of obtaining yet another second opinion of Dr. Dibden’s report.

The police investigation in this matter has also raised additional concerns about the EPS Child Abuse Unit. Though I was troubled by some of the observations made in the Abib and Wolfe case, I nevertheless advised Mr. Anderson that PHP does not represent individuals who do not wish to co-operate with the police, in keeping with our long term policy.

Parents Helping Parents September 5, 2001

Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 9

 

 

Though communications had become tense with Staff Sgt. Darren Eastcott of the Child Abuse Unit, I nevertheless contacted him to request how we should proceed in that regard. Staff Sgt. Eastcott advised that Mr. Anderson should call the investigating detective, Det. Bill Spinks, to make those arrangements. Mr. Anderson then called Detective Spinks, and was advised that he was not certain whether interviewing him would be necessary, and that he was waiting for reports from CFS and the therapist before making that decision. As an advocate, I did find it odd that the detective would delay interviewing the accused, as police frequently do not have that opportunity. Legal counsel almost invariably advise their clients not to speak with the police, and certainly, the PHP policy of insisting that our clients speak with the police was always met with approval and a speedy interview by the Winnipeg Police CAU.

It was also very alarming to hear that the children were allegedly being submitted to therapy without benefit of a court finding of abuse in this matter, and I therefore immediately contacted child welfare to identify the social workers assigned to the case and raise objections to the provision of "therapy" before the conclusion of the investigation. I was stunned to discover that no file had ever been opened with the child welfare system on these two children, and the current allegation had never been reported to CFS. No therapy was being provided under the auspices of CFS. With regret, I concluded that Detective Spinks had not been truthful with Mr. Anderson, and I could not in good conscience recommend to Mr. Anderson that he proceed without caution to co-operate with the police investigation. Upon reporting the deceptions to Staff Sgt Eastcott, I was advised that Detective Spinks denied making the comments to Mr. Anderson. As the accused had never been involved in a child abuse investigation, I did not believe that Mr. Anderson could have manufactured the linguistics used to describe Detecive Spinks’ comments.

Confidence in the police did not improve from this point, as we again became aware of the EPS CAU investigative method of informing persons known to the accused about the fact that he was being investigated for child molest. Ms. Barb Jones enjoyed a past relationship with Mr. Anderson of five years duration, and was asked to come in for an interview. Ms. Jones was the mother of a 2 year old son named Gary from a past relationship, and her son Christopher was 9 years old at the onset of her relationship with Mr. Anderson. She was advised to bring only her youngest son to the interview, but Ms. Jones insisted on bringing her eldest son to be interviewed as well. Her reason, as she advised police, was that they should be looking for both exculpatory as well as prosecutable evidence in the matter. Gary was seven years old when the relationship between Mr. Anderson and Ms. Jones ended, while Christopher was 14. Gary continued to visit with Mr. Anderson following the break up as they had formed a meaningful relationship. No problems with this access ever arose, and it continued on approximately a bi weekly basis even after Mr. Anderson began a new relationship with his current partner, Cathy Drake. Ms. Drake has a son Gary’s age, so the boys looked forward to these visits when they could spend time together. The visits continued even after Ms. Jones married and had another child with her new husband.

Parents Helping Parents September 5, 2001

Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 10

 

 

The visits ended in mid-June, following Detective Spinks’ interview of Ms. Jones. Upon debriefing, Ms. Jones advised that Detective Spinks was adamant that she not speak to Gary about the reason for his attendance at the police station. When Ms. Jones indicated that she wanted to ask her son if anything had ever happened, Detective Spinks advised her that such an action could constitute obstruction of justice. She was further instructed not to allow any contact between Gary and Len Anderson, and also told not to talk to Len about the reasons for the interruption of access. Ms. Jones found this odd given the fact that Len was well aware of the investigation, and had told her as soon as the allegations had been made back in April.

Ms. Jones advised Detective Spinks that she had trouble believing the allegation against Len, to which Detective Spinks replied, "Well, I have enough evidence, believe me; I have lots of information but unfortunately, I can’t tell you." Similar comments were made to Ms. Drake, Mr. Anderson’s current partner, which both women took to mean that there was evidence in support of the allegations. This is in spite of the fact that no charges have been laid after a five month investigation. It is possible that Detective Spinks is unaware that those who have been interviewed have also been interviewed by PHP, and we know that the children that have been involved with Mr. Anderson have indicated that he has never harmed them in any way. In fact, the only interview we are not privy to are those of the children of Elizabeth Fayre.

The interview with Ms. Jones included Detective Spinks’ admonition that she not allow Gary to continue seeing Len, and he suggested that the continued visits could constitute "endangerment". When Ms. Jones argued that the situation was no more dangerous than it was two months ago, Spinks responded, "You can feel that way, however, I am telling you that this is endangerment if you let him go over there." The idea that Detective Spinks feels it is appropriate to imply threats of charges, as a result of his convictions about Mr. Anderson, is a frightening one. No charges have even been laid, and he has already convicted Mr. Anderson in his own mind. This type of tunnel vision, and the allusion to mysterious "other evidence" to witnesses in this matter, is grossly unprofessional, and rather typical of the EPS Child Abuse Detectives. Perhaps the readers of this report can understand how horrified we were to hear this, and further understand why recommending co-operation with the EPS CAU has become fraught with distrust.

I nevertheless continued to recommend cautious co-operation, and therefore advised Mr. Anderson’s current partner Cathy Drake to attend at the police station upon their request to interview her and her twelve year old son. Ms. Drake attended for this interview in late August. This interview, again, resulted in concerns. Though the interview with Ms. Drake was uneventful for the most part, she was advised that she could not observe the interview of her son as there was no room equipped with a two way mirror available for the interview. We are aware that this information is not truthful, as Ms. Jones was offered the option of observing the interview through a two way mirror.

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Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 11

 

 

While PHP supports the practice of not having a parent in the interview room with the child, it is standard practice to allow the interview to be monitored through a two way mirror by the parent. It is also customary for a police partner to be present behind the two way mirror, to observe the partner and make observations of the interview that may not be apparent to the active interviewer. The interviewer then takes a break and consults with the partner to see if any questions were missed. This standard practice is not followed by the EPS Child Abuse Unit.

In addition, Ms. Drake was assured that her son would not be subjected to sex-specific questions except as a "last resort", but her son did advise Ms. Drake that he was asked whether Len had ever touched him sexually, yet another small deception. Ms. Drake also reported that Detective Spinks went on at some length to berate myself as the family

advocate of their case, and advised Ms. Drake that if I continued to disparage the Edmonton Police, that I could be charged with some undisclosed crime. In my view, Detective Spinks took rather offensive liberties to disparage PHP in this opportunity to interview Ms. Drake.

As a result of this collection of concerns, Mr. Anderson was advised to co-operate with the police, albeit, with the protection of a witness to the interview in place. While I continue to believe that no innocent man has anything to fear from co-operation, confidence in the police of the EPS CAU was at a significantly low point. Since Detective Spinks has advised two other witnesses of his belief in Mr. Anderson’s guilt, as well as alluding to mysterious "other evidence" that no one else is aware of, how can we recommend, in good conscience, that Mr. Anderson continue to trust the police?

To save Mr. Anderson the expense of hiring yet another lawyer with a criminal specialty, I suggested that I attend to monitor the interview. The aim is merely to witness the substance of the interview so that it is not misrepresented, and I had no intention of interfering with the questions or the provision of answers. On August 26, Detective Spinks telephoned Mr. Anderson at work and asked him to come in to be interviewed. Mr. Anderson advised that he would be happy to, but that he would bring his advocate with him. Detective Spinks then advised that this would not be acceptable, and if he didn’t come in, then he "would have to come and see him". Mr. Anderson took this as an implied threat to reveal the investigation to his employer. Detective Spinks then advised that, if Mr. Anderson exercised his right not to attend for a police interview, that he "would be forced to take it to the next level."

Detective Spinks then contacted Ms. Drake at work to relay that, since Len would not agree to come in, that he "may have to take other steps." Ms. Drake reiterated that there was an absence of trust in the Edmonton Police as a result of past deceptions, and she indicated that she felt safe with Len in her life. Detective Spinks then advised, "Well, I have other witnesses – I wish I could tell you what I know but I can’t. I thought you should know because you and your son are living with him."

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Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 12

 

 

It is obvious that Detective Spinks is unaware that any witnesses related to any child in Len’s life have shared the results of their interviews with PHP. It is again troubling to think that Detective Spinks may be attempting to sabotage Mr. Anderson’s relationship with Ms. Drake by alluding to these mysterious other witnesses. At this point, Mr. Anderson continues to be willing to speak with the police so long as a witness is present to safeguard him from any further deceit or investigative improprieties, as is his right.

On September 5, 2001, detective Spinks may have gone too far when he arrived at Mr. Anderson’s place of work and placed him under arrest, in full view of his colleagues and supervisor. Mr. Anderson was taken into custody and forcefully asked to sign a paper waiving his right to legal counsel, which he refused. It is alarming that Mr. Anderson was placed under arrest, but was not charged with any crime. The tactic was initiated for the sole purpose of attempting to force Mr. Anderson into a police interview without benefit of counsel or advocate present to insure the integrity of the process. After being searched, placed in a holding cell, and divested of all personal items on his person, Mr. Anderson was finally released after speaking to his attorney.

CONCLUSION

These matters have been described in some detail in order to clarify the reasons why we hold such a poor opinion regarding the quality and integrity of investigation provided by the Edmonton Police Child Abuse Unit. The use of deceit seems to be a regular investigative technique employed, as is the disturbing practice of informing secondary witnesses that the accused is being investigated for child molest. In addition, the alleged use of threats to frighten a former partner from continuing to allow contact between the accused and a child are indefensible and deserving of contempt. Alluding to alleged witnesses and implying that they confirm abuse is also without merit as an investigative technique. Threatening the accused with exposure of the investigation at his place of employment is unethical. To all of these concerns, Staff Sgt. Eastcott has responded by advising that neither he nor the detectives of the EPS Child Abuse Unit will communicate with PHP, hardly an effective strategy for dealing with this multitude of concerns.

There seem to be no checks and balances on the laying of charges by this Unit, particularly when we consider that Detective Spinks implies he will lay charges if Mr. Anderson does not attend for an interview without counsel or witness present. Perhaps the law is different in Edmonton, but in other jurisdictions, the accused is entitled to refuse to speak with the police. Supervision provided to these detectives seems to solely entail a hard blue line against any criticism, as well as the closing of all communication from any of its critics. While most other jurisdictions require that evidence be presented to the Crown before a determination to lay charges is made, that does not appear to be the case in the City of Edmonton, creating a unit of police force that is unaccountable and can use its powers to threaten people by exposing the very existence of an investigation, and threaten charges when an accused exercises his right to have counsel present during police interview.

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Annual Report 2000-2001 Page 13

 

These sloppy police practices must be examined in conjunction with the concerns raised with respect to the standards of practice demonstrated by Dr. Lionel Dibden of the CAP Centre. A suspected high rate of false positive medical findings goes hand in hand with the poor investigative practices of the Edmonton Police Child Abuse Unit. It is noteworthy that both the EPS and Dr. Dibden of the CAP Centre continue to fail to consider the context of a high conflict custody battle as being in any way relevant to the credibility of child abuse allegations.

The poor quality of investigation and the questionable integrity of the EPS Child Abuse Unit, along with poor standards of practice at the CAP Centre, have served to bring this analysis to the conclusion that the people of Edmonton are at a high risk for experiencing false allegations of child abuse. I therefore request a formal review of the investigative practices of the Edmonton Police Child Abuse Unit in the hope that standards of practice for these important investigations will improve. Parents Helping Parents will also be

requesting case management from the court of Queens Bench to obtain access to the evidence in the Anderson case. In addition, we will be requesting the involvement of the newly instituted consultant at the child welfare office who specializes in allegations in divorce.

PARENTS HELPING PARENTS

 

 

LOUISE MALENFANT

Family Advocate

CC: The Hon. Anne McLellan – MP Edmonton West

The Hon. Dave Hancock – Justice Minister of Alberta

The Hon. Iris Evans – Minister of Children’s Services

Mr. Bob Arseneault – Communications Officer, Children’s Services

The Hon. Gary Mar – Minister of Health

The Hon. Jon Lord – MLA

The Hon. Julius Yankowsky - MLA

Chief Bob Wasylyshen – Edmonton Police

Chief Crown Counsel Bart Rosborough


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Guilt before proof? — an article published in the Edmonton Sun, Sep. 25, 2001, as a result of the PHP report contained on this web page

Cops will take report seriously — a follow-up article published in the Edmonton Sun, Sep. 26, 2001

Response thrills report's author — a follow-up article published in the Edmonton Sun, Sep. 27, 2001

Report Rocks Edmonton Child Abuse Police — Editorial in Edmonton Sun, Sep. 30, 2001

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Posted 2001 09 27
Updates:
2001 09 27 (added links to follow-up articles in the Edmonton Sun)
2001 10 02 (added link to editorial Report Rocks Edmonton Child Abuse Police in Edmonton Sun)


Parents Helping Parents

Louise Malenfant

malenfant.jpg (2818 bytes)

Family Advocate, Parents Helping Parents

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Louise Malenfant passed away in 2006.  She is being missed.

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at the website of Fathers for Life since June 19, 2001