June 18, 2008

Child Taken Away Because "Psychic" Said She Was Abused

Colleen Leduc has struggled to maintain a job to support her autistic 11-year-old daughter. The single mother has done everything she can to provide for her daughter, but couldn't afford the intensive behavioral intervention (IBI) she needed, forcing her to send her daughter to a public school.

Things seemed to be going well until May 30, when Colleen received a frantic phone call from the school urging her to come to the school. When the frightened mother went to the school's campus she was shocked to hear the principal, vice-principal and her daughter's teacher had received allegations that Victoria (her daughter) had been the victim of sexual abuse, and the Children's Aid Society (CAS) had been notified.

The real shock though came when the school officials explained how they had received these allegations. Leduc was incredulous as they poured out their story.
"The teacher looked at me and said: 'We have to tell you something. The educational assistant who works with Victoria went to see a psychic last night, and the psychic asked the educational assistant at that particular time if she works with a little girl by the name of "V." And she said, 'yes, I do.' And she said, 'well, you need to know that that child is being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.'"

Victoria, who is non-verbal, had been exhibiting sexualized behavior in class, actions which are known to be typical of autistic behavior. That led authorities to suspect she had a bladder infection that may have somehow been related to the 'attack.'

School officials invoked a parent's worst nightmare, especially that of a child who can't express herself, of being sexually violated. For them to bring it up with the mother must have been a horrific experience for her, imagine the rage and fear that is brought up by a talk like that. For them to do so on the basis of 'psychic' information is completely irresponsible and as we'll see, something that should have been avoided.

CAS came to Colleen's house to investigate the case (they have to with any report) and found the allegations of sexual misconduct were absurd. Leduc was labeled a "diligent" mother doing the best should could for her child under difficult circumstances, they closed the file and left, calling the report "ridiculous." Sue Dale, of the Simcoe County CAS said "it is highly unusual, I will admit, to have a case called in based upon what a psychic might say."

And how was it that CAS dismissed the case so easily when the school officials were convinced of wrongdoing? Well, as the school had previously lost Victoria on multiple occasions Colleen went to the extreme to protect her daughter, outfitting her with a GPS unit, and also a unit that provided audio records of everything that was going on around her. From these tapes it was easy to prove that nothing untoward had happened to Victoria.

And what does the school's Superintendent have to say about all this? "I don't have the information yet, but when we proceed with our own investigation we'll know more about that."

And although this episode is over, Colleen's struggle to provide Victoria with the care she needs pushes on. As a result of needing to stay home with her daughter Leduc is now unable to work, has no place to send her child for the rest of the year, and isn't sure where she'll go when school starts in September.

She is seeking compensation from the school in the form of the IBI therapy that Victoria (and other autistic kids at the school) needs, but the school has refused. When asked whether her entire support system had been yanked away, Colleen answered succintly and simply, "yep."

And you don't need to be a psychic to know what that answer means.


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