Quebec orders public coroner's inquest into 7-year-old girl’s death
Jackie Dunham, with files from CTV News Montreal and The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, May 2, 2019 9:08AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 2, 2019 8:58PM EDT
WARNING: Some readers may find the details in this story disturbing.
Quebec officials have ordered a public inquiry into the death of a seven-year-old girl who was allegedly beaten to death in her home, despite youth protection services being aware of the girl’s situation.
During a news conference Thursday, Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault announced the coroner would hold a public inquest into the young girl’s death, including recommendations to avoid similar cases.
The director of the regional Youth Protection Services has also been suspended with pay at the request of Quebec Premier Francois Legault, who called the case “revolting” while speaking to reporters.
"It's troubling, revolting that people knew (about the girl's situation), including the youth protection office," Legault said during the news conference.
"I asked for a public inquiry to be 100 per cent transparent, because all of Quebec wants to know what happened to this little girl and what we could have done to avoid it."
Local police found the child in critical condition on Monday after she had been tied to a bed and allegedly beaten in the home she shared with her father, stepmother, and brother in Granby, Que. She was rushed to hospital in Granby and transferred to a hospital in Sherbrooke where she died on Tuesday.
The girl’s father and stepmother were arrested on Monday. The next day, the father was charged with confinement and the stepmother was charged with confinement and aggravated assault. The charges may be upgraded in light of the child’s death.
The girl’s name is subject to a publication ban because she was a minor.
Quebec’s junior health minister Lionel Carment said youth protection officials had been aware of the girl’s situation in the home for several months and they had last intervened in her case in April.
Liberal MNA Helene David, the official opposition for social services, said authorities knew the child had been recently taken out of school. She said the girl’s grandmother had attempted to gain custody of the child because she didn’t think her son was fit to care for the girl.
The public inquest ordered Thursday is one of several into the girl’s death, including an investigation announced by the regional health authority in Quebec's Eastern Townships, the province's human and youth rights commission and the criminal probe led by Quebec provincial police.
Officials are also considering a wider investigation to explore lengthy wait times for youth protection services in the province.
“I think the problem is all over Quebec,” Carment said Wednesday.
Alain Trudel, the director of youth protection services for the Eastern Townships region, asked people not to jump to conclusions about the case during a press conference on Wednesday.
He said he was unable to disclose whether his office was involved in the case, but he said the law is clear that removing a child from a home is a final step and it has to be based on facts instead of rumours.
The girl’s father and stepmother appeared in court Thursday.
None of the allegations in this case has been proven in court.
The girl’s biological mother, who did not have custody of the child, alleges the child acted out due to her home environment by screaming and defecating on the floor.
“They wouldn’t let her have contact with anyone from my family that she knew since birth. They even tried to prevent me from seeing her,” the mother told CTV News.
“We warned the youth department countless times there were problems. We complained to police, we did everything we could,” said the mother. “I don’t know why no one took her out of there. They told us it was better than jumping around from one foster home to another.”