B.C. social worker accused of punishing Indigenous youth for sexual assault while in foster care

An Indigenous woman who is suing two social workers as a result of treatment she claims she received as a youth in care of the B.C. child welfare system has added a new allegation.

The woman, who we are not identifying to protect her privacy, now alleges social worker Siobhan Stynes punished her for reporting a sexual assault while in foster care.

That claim was made in an amended statement of claim filed in British Columbia Supreme Court in Kelowna on March 5. The documents allege Stynes instructed the youth to write a letter of apology to the foster parents. The documents filed in court allege the social worker withheld extracurricular activities as punishment.

The woman is one of the Indigenous youth who has filed lawsuits against the Ministry of Child and Family Development, social worker Riley Robert Saunders and supervisor Siobhan Stynes. The lawsuits — including one class action — describe an alleged scheme where youth had joint bank accounts with Saunders and their funds were siphoned off, exposing the young people in care to homelessness, drugs and exploitation. The allegations have not been proven in court.

APTN Investigates reporter Cullen Crozier profiled some of the cases in Broken Trust.

Court documents obtained by APTN Investigates say social worker Stynes and the youth’s then-foster parents accused the youth of falsifying the March 2012 incident “for an excuse for using drugs.” It also alleges that “no meaningful investigations were carried out surrounding the circumstances of the sexual assault.”

Stynes is also accused of threatening the youth “with the possibility of reporting her for criminal charges”, which the statement of claim alleges caused the youth to “be re-victimized by not only her attacker but the entire process.”

In addition to the amended statement of claim, the woman’s lawyer, Michael Patterson, also filed a Notice of Application in the case, to be heard Monday.

The order seeks to require the RCMP to disclose all investigation notes and statements taken as part of their investigation into the sexual assault allegation reported by the youth at the time of the complaint.

APTN Investigates has reached out to the RCMP, social worker Siobhan Stynes and Michael Patterson for comment but has not heard back.

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