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Advocate says system failed 12-year-old sexual abuse victim


Published on August 23, 2017

Jacqueline Lake Kavanagh, Child and Youth Advocate.

©James McLeod/The Telegram

The province’s child and youth advocate says the system failed a 12-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by her stepfather, and then taken by him to get an abortion in the province.

In a report released Wednesday, Jacqueline Lake Kavanagh detailed a situation where a family was in the process of moving to Newfoundland and Labrador, and the stepfather impregnated the 12-year-old, and then took her to Planned Parenthood seeking an abortion.

Ultimately, the child was referred to Eastern Health, and an abortion was performed. Kavanagh said in her report that various players didn’t do enough to intervene.

“Age-appropriate counselling services were not provided nor offered; no screening for potential sexual abuse or potential coercion occurred,” the report says.

Ultimately, after the family’s case was eventually referred to the provincial department of Children, Seniors and Social Development, the RNC were brought in. The family moved to another province, and the child received another abortion. Eventually, the stepfather was criminally charged and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

“Questions were not asked, risk was not assessed, consents were not appropriately obtained, child-centred responses were not provided, investigative responses were incomplete and documentation deficiencies existed,” the report says.

Kavanagh recommended that when children seek abortions, greater counselling and follow-up care should be provided. She also said that health care workers need more education on relevant legislation when it comes to child abuse and consent.


jmcleod@thetelegram.com