‘I used to be bullied by my very own social employee,’ says defrauded youth in sentencing | Globalnews.ca

‘I was bullied by my own social worker,’ says defrauded youth in sentencing  | Globalnews.ca

2022-06-24 08:57:31

Advocates for Indigenous kids gathered on the Kelowna, B.C., courthouse steps on Thursday, begging for justice for the victims of a former Kelowna social employee.

Inside, court docket heard how the actions of Robert Riley Saunders without end modified the futures of the kids that he was imagined to look after.

Saunders embezzled greater than $460,000 from the federal government and foster kids, who had been largely Indigenous.

Learn extra:

White Collar Crime: How did a B.C. social employee embezzle $460K from the federal government?

By way of sufferer influence statements, court docket heard heartbreaking tales of the empty guarantees Saunders made to youth in his care.

Some former youth in care mentioned Saunders began out by treating them with kindness and compassion however that it quickly turned to neglect and bullying.

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Courtroom heard that as Saunders himself lived a lavish way of life, he robbed his victims of their youth.

The teenagers didn’t know that Saunders was opening joint financial institution accounts after which cashing cheques of their identify, stealing cash that was meant to assist them reside a greater life.

Victims mentioned they may at all times surprise what their lives might need been like had they been given the help they wanted and deserved.

“I used to be bullied by my very own social employee,” one sufferer advised court docket via a written assertion.

Additionally they mentioned the belief that they had within the system that was supposed to guard them has been destroyed.

In the meantime, social employees who took on the kids’ circumstances after Saunders’ fraud was found advised court docket of their struggles in serving to the youth, whom they name fantastic, lovely souls, as they tried to proper Saunders’ wrongs.

Additionally they talked of how Saunders’ crimes have negatively impacted the social employee career in the neighborhood as belief has been misplaced.

“We now get painted with the identical brush as him,” a social employee advised the choose, including that it has impacted relationships with their shoppers.

As folks wiped away tears within the gallery, Saunders at occasions appeared to fall asleep within the prisoner’s field.

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Jennifer Lewis, wellness supervisor for the Okanagan Nation Alliance, mentioned she used to work with Saunders.

Learn extra:

Former B.C. social employee charged with defrauding teenagers in care pleads responsible

“I’m intensely offended about it,” she mentioned. “I bear in mind working with Saunders years in the past whereas he was doing all of this, and listening to among the sufferer influence statements and his personal reactions to these is admittedly deeply disturbing.”

“His conceitedness and his aggression again when these crimes had been being dedicated had been very actual and felt by everyone,” she added.

She mentioned she believes his angle was left unchecked, which enabled him to get away with the fraud.

“It’s the identical factor in every single place with Indigenous folks. They simply dismiss all of our considerations on a regular basis after which critical hurt occurs.”

“I need folks to know that this isn’t an remoted incident. It’s a systemic incident. It’s primarily based off of supremacy and racism, and it was allowed,” Lewis mentioned.

Saunders beforehand pleaded responsible to fraud over $5,000, breach of belief and utilizing a cast doc.

Throughout a earlier listening to, Saunders took the stand, arguing he stole from the federal government, not youth in care as the kids wouldn’t have been entitled to the funds meant for lease as a result of they had been largely in foster houses.

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Learn extra:

‘At no time did I put any youth in hurt’s approach,” B.C. social-work fraudster testifies

Crown prosecutor Heather Magnin is asking for Saunders to spend six to eight years in jail. She argued that Saunders’ fraud scaled up over time, and famous that at one level he was bringing in triple his ministry wage.

“The truth that Mr. Saunders selected to focus on Indigenous kids in care can’t be divorced from Mr. Saunders crime,” Magnin mentioned. “It is a crucial issue demonstrating the general seriousness of those occasions.”

Saunders was opportunistic in extracting the utmost funds in every youth’s identify, the Crown argued.

The defence is anticipated to make its arguments on Friday.

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