The Manitoba government admits to allowing a convicted child abuser to live with two minors — one of whom was a previous victim — but denies knowing he resumed the abuse for years, court documents say.
A statement of defence was filed Aug. 18 by Manitoba Justice on behalf of Winnipeg Child and Family Services, the director of Child and Family Services and the government of Manitoba in response to the lawsuit launched last year by the two victims.
The girl, represented by the Public Guardian and Trustee because of her young age, and her half-brother are suing their abuser (their father and stepfather respectively), Winnipeg CFS, the province and support workers.
They say authorities were reckless and negligent when they allowed the children to live under same roof as a man who was previously convicted of sexually abusing the boy, who was his stepson.
CBC is not identifying anyone by name or initials to protect the identity of the victims.
The Manitoba government denies any wrongdoing.
"Winnipeg CFS took all reasonable and appropriate steps to minimize the risk of any further sexual assaults," the province says.
Safety planning, therapy provided to family
The process of reuniting the girl and her older half-brother with their respective father and stepfather began in 2002, the same year he was convicted of abusing the boy and began serving a two-year conditional sentence.
The mother, who has a disability related to chronic rheumatoid arthritis, expressed a desire to reunite with him despite his conviction for abusing her son, the government's court documents state.
Winnipeg CFS knew about the man's prior conviction for sexual interference yet began the process of reuniting the family, which included "risk assessment, case planning, counselling, individual and family therapy, safety planning and in-home support services."
The first visits were supervised by CFS staff but progressed to unsupervised visits and overnight stays.
In 2006, Winnipeg Child and Family Services closed the family's file. The father got custody of his daughter in 2011.
"It was determined that there were no longer any child protection concerns," the government's defence documents say.
Details about the abuse the siblings say they experienced are disturbing.
The first instances of sexual abuse involving the boy happened between 1999 and 2000 and then continued from 2002 to 2005. It included fondling, forcing him to perform oral sex and attempting to rape him, court documents say.
After the man gained sole custody of his daughter, he began to sexually assault her in her home from January 2012 to April 2013, the statement of claim states. The assaults included rape and taking photos of the abuse. She was around 10 years old at the time.
Her father was later arrested and pleaded guilty to sexual interference on both children and making child pornography. The man is currently serving a sentence at Stony Mountain.
'Consistent with the standard expected'
The siblings say CFS and all other parties named in the lawsuit "ought to have known" they could be harmed by the man given his record. They say authorities failed carry out sufficient risk assessments and prioritize their interests over the father's.
The government denies the accusations.
"These defendants state that all services provided by the social workers were appropriate and consistent with the standard expected of a reasonable social worker placed in those particular circumstances."
Manitoba also denies CFS had an extensive history with the two children.
The sister and half-brother are suing for punitive and aggravated damages to cover a range of injuries — both physical and mental — that have impacted their education and employment.
A Justice Department spokesperson said there is no court date scheduled at this time.