Robert Riley Saunders granted bail by judge in Kelowna, B.C.

The former social worker allegedly stole money from Indigenous youth in government care.

social worker

Robert Riley Saunders was granted bail by B.C. Provincial Court judge Monica McParland in Kelowna on Friday. Bail was set at $50,000.

Saunders faces 13 criminal charges including ten counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of theft over $5,000, one count of breach of trust, and one count of uttering a forged document.

Earlier this year in a separate legal matter, the Ministry of Children and Family Development settled a class action lawsuit, which alleged that “Saunders defrauded many children in the care of the Ministry of their food, clothing and shelter allowances.”


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Social worker accused of stealing thousands from kids in care appears by phone in Kelowna court 

Class action lawsuit against Kelowna social worker prompts calls for better oversight 


According to documents filed as part of the class action settlement process, Saunders’ actions are estimated to have impacted more than 100 youth, who are mostly Indigenous.

As Saunders is currently being held in custody at Calgary Remand Centre, he participated in Friday’s hearing via video conference.

The court issued a publication ban preventing information shared during the hearing, including the judge’s reasoning for her decision to grant bail.

The Crown prosecutor also requested a publication ban on information — including initials and gender — that could identify the alleged victims, who were under 18 at the time of the alleged crimes. Judge McParland granted this request, so the publication ban is in effect.

Saunders’ next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2021 in Kelowna.

Chehala Leonard - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter - The Discourse

Chehala is reporting from the Okanagan for The Discourse as part of the Local Journalism Initiative. She's a journalist and documentary producer from the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation, near Grande Cache, Alberta. Her work is featured on IndigiNews.com, a new platform created by The Discourse and APTN.