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Report Rocks Edmonton Child Abuse Police

Hello again, Everyone,

The editorial below suggests that the Edmonton Police have been "rocked" by the allegations in the PHP Annual Report (affectionately known as the Malenfant Report in these parts).  The Police certainly aren't the only one's, for I have been reeling all week from the onslaught of response to this report, and my families are pretty darn happy about it, too.  Even men who I do not represent will be helped by this event; not a bad way to end my first year in this city, and not a bad way to start my second.  The exposure was so quick that I think Edmonton won't need me for much longer than another year before I strike out for my next city.  Any suggestions?

For those who are hearing about this story for the first time, the first PHP Annual Report for the city of Edmonton identifies the Edmonton Police Child Abuse Unit as the greatest cause of false allegations in this city.  It is currently being investigated by the Internal Affairs department under the supervision of superintendent Mark Logar.  For all three Edmonton Sun stories that precede this Editorial, as well as a pseudonymed copy of the report that started this ruckus, go to www.fathersforlife.org/php/toc.htm.  Your feedback is also welcome.

Louise Malenfant

Family Advocate
Parents Helping Parents
E-mail: <malenfant@powersurfr.com>


Edmonton Sun

EDITORIAL / LETTERS

September 30, 2001

Outside investigators needed

An Edmonton woman rocked the local police service this week with a blistering report alleging police misconduct in their investigations of child abuse.

Louise Malenfant, of Parents Helping Parents, spent a year putting together a 12-page report, researched through court documents and interviews.

Her report is now in the hands of the Edmonton police department which it says it is taking it very seriously and will investigate internally.

The contents of Malenfant's report are stunning, chronicling the alleged mistreatment of accused individuals by police officers who seem too eager to declare the accused guilty. Which, of course, is not their job.

In one case, Malenfant claims a man who was accused of abusing his own child was flabbergasted to discover that the detective assigned to the case told his lawyer that the accused's father must have abused him as a child, which is why he was supposedly abusing his own child.

When the accused man learned of the comments, Malenfant claims, he was upset because the police detective had not asked the father about it, nor had there ever been any claims of abuse made against the father.

In relation to the same case, Malenfant also claims that the accused's child had been put in therapy to deal with the abuse, though she notes no legal finding of abuse had been made in a court of law.

In another example, Malenfant alleges that police laid child abuse charges against a man, even though the woman who made the initial claims had previously admitted to police she falsely accused him to get custody of their daughter.

Fortunately for him, the Crown quickly reviewed the case and dropped the charges because there was no likelihood of a conviction.

One of the common threads in Malenfant's examples is that the men are involved in child-custody disputes, and when the woman alleges child abuse, it is often, as Malenfant describes in these cases, game over for the man.

Malenfant's report points to two separate issues which need to be addressed.

First is the way our legal system treats men in child-custody battles. This is an issue that has been written about many times before, but little if anything ever seems to be done about it.

Many men involved in such disputes have complained what they feel is systemic discrimination against them by the courts. But when accusations of child abuse are thrown in, the problem takes on new dimensions.

The presumption of innocence is supposed to be the bedrock of our justice system, but Malenfant's report would suggest that at least in some cases, the presumption of innocence is not only not a right, it's sometimes not even a courtesy.

It is a police officer's job to investigate crimes and not act as a judge and jury over the accused.

Her allegations are disturbing, and we are glad that the Edmonton police department is taking her report seriously.

Child abuse is a horrendous crime that leaves permanent scars on the victims.But the proper legal channels must be followed to ensure that innocent people are not wrongly accused and possibly even convicted.

At the same time, though, this raises the other issue of the police investigating the police.

The Law Enforcement Review Board suggested in July that the province set up an independent watchdog to oversee internal police investigations.

In an unfortunate coincidence, the recommendation came at a time when the police force was under fire for its handling of the terrible Yellowhead crash involving two police officers which claimed the life of seven-year-old Giovanni Aleman.

Chief Bob Wasylyshen didn't react kindly to the suggestion, and came out strongly in defence of his own officers being capable of looking into their own affairs with integrity.

Don't get us wrong: overall we have great faith in our local men and women in uniform, and we admire and respect the police for their dedication and service.

But establishing an independent body available to review allegations of misconduct in police forces would ease the public perception that the cops are caught in a conflict of interest.

The shocking allegations of this week make the case for an independent investigative body that much stronger. Send a letter to the editor.

Edmonton Sun

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Back to Table of Contents

Original article in the Edmonton Sun: Guilt before proof?

Previous follow-up, Sep.26, 2001: Cops will take report seriously

The report that got things rolling

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Posted 2001 10 02


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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