New lawsuit alleges sexual abuse in Smithers, B.C. foster home

October 08, 2019

Another lawsuit filed this week against the provincial government is alleging abuse within the B.C. foster system.

In a civil claim filed this week in B.C. Supreme Court, an adult woman is alleging she was sexually assaulted by her foster parent. Castanet News is not naming the plaintiff, because had this been a criminal case, her name would be covered under a routine publication ban.

The now 27-year-old woman alleges she was sexually and physically assaulted while in a foster home as a child in Smithers, B.C.

“The plaintiff suffered penile and digital penetration. The plaintiff was forced to perform oral sex on the foster parent,” the lawsuit claims, adding the plaintiff was just 12 years old at the time and “entirely at the mercy of the foster parent.”

“The plaintiff repeatedly reported the sex assault to social workers,” the lawsuit continues. “The social workers carried out no meaningful investigation into the plaintiff’s complaints, nor took any steps to protect the plaintiff.”

The claim alleges the victim was admitted to BC Children’s Hospital for a psychological assessment, where the foster parent was observed touching the plaintiff inappropriately.

“The plaintiff was shamed and disbelieved by the defendants and delegated social workers,” the claim adds.

The lawsuit seeks damages and a court order requiring the province to pay for healthcare, therapy and educational support.

The alleged victim is being represented by Penticton lawyer Michael Patterson, who has filed at least three previous similar lawsuits in recent weeks on behalf of youth formerly in the B.C. foster system, as well as alleged victims of former Kelowna social worker Robert Saunders.

He tells Castanet News he expects additional lawsuits to be filed in the coming weeks targeting the foster system. The provincial government has declined to comment on anything before the courts.