Original article no longer available
By Sarah Sacheli, Postmedia News
June 13, 2011
An Ontario woman is headed to jail after she was sentenced for having sex with a minor a boy in her foster care.
WINDSOR, Ont. She was his foster mom and was supposed to treat him as she would a child of her own.
Instead, she plied him with marijuana and alcohol to get him to “open up.”
Then she had sex with him.
The woman was sentenced Monday to 12 months in jail, followed by three years’ probation, for having sex with a 14-year-old boy placed in her care. The sexual relationship went on for two months until her husband caught her and the boy in the act and went to police.
“This was a very serious offence,” said Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance in sentencing the woman. The woman, who was 45 at the time of the offence, “grossly abused the trust placed in her.”
Pomerance spoke of the “unique vulnerabilities” of foster children in general, and this boy, specifically. His sister had committed suicide and neither he nor his biological mother were coping well with their grief.
In her victim impact statement in court Monday, the boy’s mother said she turned to the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society for help. Workers there convinced her to voluntarily sign over custody of her son on a temporary basis.
The boy was placed in a foster home in Kingsville, Ont., in 2008 with a couple who had fostered other children in the past. The couple smoked marijuana and drank alcohol with the boy to help him open up to them.
On Dec. 3, the three were drinking and smoking pot. The husband left the room and the boy attempted to kiss his foster mom. Later that night, as the woman slept in a spare bedroom, the boy made sexual advances toward her and she had intercourse with him.
It is irrelevant who initiated the sexual relationship, said deputy Crown attorney Walter Costa.
“She was the adult. She had to say no. She had the obligation, the duty, to raise him as if she were his mother.”
Defence lawyer Laura Joy said the woman married at 16 and had four children of her own by the time she was 20. When the 14-year-old boy was placed in her care, the woman was suffering from depression, in part because her own children had grown and left home.
Joy presented the court with a binder full of letters attesting to the woman’s good character. But one letter, described by Costa as having been written by the woman’s daughter, raised a red flag. The letter appeared to blame the boy, saying he was not a “victim” because he knows “how to get what he wants.”
Costa said the letter expresses an opinion that might be held by society in general that somehow it’s OK for adult women to have sex with teenage boys. “That’s the kind of thinking this court has to denounce . . . that this is a kid who somehow enjoyed this.”
Costa said it’s true that “a 14-year-old boy is naturally curious about sex.” But the woman was supposed to “protect” the boy, Costa said, not indulge him.
At 14, the boy was too young to consent to sex, much less to having sex with someone in a position of trust.
The foster mother, who is not being named to protect the identity of the boy, pleaded guilty to sexual assault. The judge saw the guilty plea as a sign of the woman’s remorse.
The boy’s biological mother took the witness stand to tell the court how the offence has affected her son and herself.
Since his short experience in foster care, the boy has had criminal dealings with the courts. Once an “excellent student in school,” he has since failed every class he’s taken.
The mom said she had concerns about her son’s care while in the foster home. She refinanced her home to fight the Children’s Aid Society in court to undo the custody order she had signed. The foster mother “lied” to the CAS about the boy’s condition to keep him in her care, the woman said.
When the boy went into care, the mom told him to trust her.
“He trusted me as his mother,” she said. “I am tortured every day.”
In addition to jail and probation, the foster mother will be on the national sex offender registry. Police will also take a sample of her blood for their national DNA databank of convicted criminals.
The judge ordered the woman, as a condition of her probation, to abstain from non-medically prescribed drugs and alcohol. Court heard that the woman takes Prozac for depression.