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Ont.Girl Fell Through System's Cracks

Katelynn Sampson,7, was living with her mom's 'best friend' since June 2007
Allison Hanes, Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, August 08, 2008

TORONTO - As more details emerge about how a seven-year-old girl came to be legally in the care of a couple now charged with her murder, it increasingly seems that Katelynn Sampson slipped through every crack in the system.

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto said in a statement it had "no involvement in (her) placement in the home of Donna Irving and Warren Johnson" since there was no legal imperative to alert them to the private custody arrangement.

The director of Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, which assisted at two court hearings where Katelynn's care was formalized, said the organization's role is to provide information on family cases not assess the fitness of guardians.
Bernice Sampson, mother of murdered Katelynn Sampson, receives a hug from a friend, outside of her apartment. Friends and family set up a memorial for Katelynn outside of Bernice's apartment.
Bernice Sampson, mother of murdered Katelynn Sampson, receives a hug from a friend, outside of her apartment. Friends and family set up a memorial for Katelynn outside of Bernice's apartment.
Brett Gundlock/National Post

And transcripts show the Ontario Court justice who granted custody to Irving never asked about her criminal record for prostitution and violence once Bernice Sampson, the girl's mother, described the 29-year-old as her "best friend."

On Friday, Ontario New Democratic justice critic Peter Kormos sent a letter to Attorney General Chris Bentley demanding that the judge in the case, Debra Paulseth, be reported to the province's judicial disciplinary body for not using all the tools at her disposal to assess Irving's ability to look after Katelynn.

"Justice Paulseth appears to have dealt with this matter in an overly casual and cavalier manner," the letter states, adding transcripts of hearings demonstrate "an alarming absence of any consideration of the best interests of Katelynn Sampson."

Katelynn's lifeless body was discovered on Sunday in the apartment of Irving and her common-law husband, where police said the girl slept on the floor.

A 911 call was placed about a child choking, but veteran homicide Det.-Sgt Steve Ryan said Katelynn suffered severe and complicated injuries he characterized as among the worst he had seen in 20 years.

Katelynn had been living with Irving since May 2007, but the court granted legal custody with Sampson's blessing in June.

Kenn Richard, executive director of Native and Child Family Services of Toronto, said he can only guess the private custody agreement was struck to avoid child welfare scrutiny.

"I think in this case it might have been deliberate, but please appreciate that that's speculation on my part," he said. "You can go through many doors to get custody."

Richard said he thinks the law should require some oversight role for child services even when parents consent to placing their children with others.

"(The court system) made an assumption that everybody was healthy and that's a dangerous assumption," he said. "Had an agency that had knowledge about the best interests of children and the quality of family life been looking at that family, that custody would not have been smooth."

But Jonathan Rudin, program director of Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, said there is always the risk background checks and agency intervention would steer people away from going to court to legalize custody that is often arranged informally.

"So it won't necessarily mean at the end of the day these children will be better protected," he said.

Bela McPherson, a family court caseworker for the Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, assisted Irving in her legal effort to acquire guardianship of Katelynn with Sampson, attending two court hearings, according to transcripts.

But Rudin said her job was not to determine whether Irving was a good caretaker.

"It's not a judgment for us to make. Everyone's entitled to assistance in court," he said. "The ultimate determination of someone's fitness ultimately rests with the judge."

A spokesman for Bentley, Ontario's attorney general, said in an e-mail Friday night the office does not have the power to complain to the judicial disciplinary body.

"In fact, the attorney general is bound by the Courts of Justice Act to inform anyone complaining to him about the conduct of a judge on how to bring their complaint directly to the Ontario Judicial Council," said Sheamus Murphy. "Accordingly, the attorney general will be providing Kormos with the appropriate information on how he can make a complaint to the Ontario Judicial Council."

Below are Links to other pages of information and stories of some of the Mistakes of our Child Protection System.
Changes are truly Needed!!! Just Click on the Graphics below!!!

Click The Banner Below To Learn About Jeffrey Baldwin.
Jeffrey died of Starvation while being cared for by The Catholic Children's Aid Society!!!

Jeffrey Bladwin, Died while in Care
The Catholic Children's Aid Society

Amanda's Memorial Page For

Richie Van Den KerKoff: Children's Aid Responsable
for His Being On The Streets at 15 Years Old!!!

Brian Prior's Family has been
destroyed by our Authoraties

Tabatha Maybury found LoveCry at: 2am
she was eitght years old and on the streets

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