A foster child under the protection of an Indigenous child welfare agency was placed in the home of a registered sex offender with “pedophilic tendencies” according to court documents in Thunder Bay.
APTN News is unaware of the child’s age, gender or how long the child was placed in the sex offender’s home.
What is known is that the child began displaying “sexualized behaviours inconsistent with that child’s age” during a “routine” visit in the fall of 2016.
This sparked an internal investigation at the agency and less than a month later the manager of family services was fired.
It’s now playing out in a Thunder Bay court after Diane Rusnak filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit in February 2017 against Dilico Anishinabek Family Care.
The case has yet to reach trial, according to documents, but a pre-trial conference was scheduled for May 22.
Dilico’s lawyer, Derek Noyes, wouldn’t comment when contacted by APTN.
Rusnak now works as a program supervisor with the ministry of Children, Community and Social Services based in Thunder Bay according to the Ontario government’s directory of employees and her Linkedin account.
APTN also tried to reach Rusnak through her government-issued work email, which she forwarded to her lawyer, Warren Mouck.
Mouck wrote APTN saying Rusnak wouldn’t be commenting on the case. APTN followed up by calling Mouck who hung up when pressed for answers to the allegations.
In Rusnak’s statement of claim, she alleges her dismissal on Dec. 12, 2016 was because she complained of being bullied and harassed at Dilico where she was worked for 12 years beginning as a social worker and eventually rising to the rank of manager of family services.
Rusnak alleges her bullying complaints were ignored and is entitled to more than $550,000 in damages. She is also seeking a reference letter.
“The Plaintiff is highly qualified and dedicated to the field of child and family welfare. She holds two bachelor degrees in psychology and social work respectively, and is in the process of obtaining her master’s degree in social work,” says the claim.
“The plaintiff submits she was wrongfully dismissed following 12 years of faithful service.”
However, Dilico alleges in its statement of defence her firing was with cause after it learned of the child placed in the home of a sex offender.
Dilico said Rusnak was the supervisor who approved the child’s placement.
“(Rusnak) … ought to have known of the presence of the sex-offender if she had done routine checks required of her,” Dilico wrote.
A meeting was held on Nov. 15, 2016 to discuss her “shortcomings” on the file. Following that meeting Rusnak went on short-term medical leave.
Dilico also said Rusnak had been previously placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into a death of a child in May 2014.
“During a review of the child’s file, significant deficiencies were noted in (Rusnak’s) work,” said Dilico.
Rusnak was suspended, while other employees involved were fired, because Dilico believed her previous work history suggested room for improvement.
“However, following her return to work after her suspension, (Rusnak) would respond to any discipline or criticism of her work, including constructive criticism, with unfounded allegations of harassment, and would later comment that she did nothing wrong in regards to the deceased child’s file,” alleges Dilico.
Rusnak’s statement of claim alleges an October 2015 performance review found she “exceeds expectations” in her position.
The status of the child is unknown to APTN or if police ever investigated.
The allegations made in the documents filed in court have not been proven.
Dilico operates as a child welfare agency under the authority of the Ontario government and has juridiction of all Indigenous children subject to child protection services in Thunder Bay.