Need an inquest into Baldwin case
Globe and Mail
Nov. 24, 2005. 01:00 AM
Boy's sister reeked of urine, witness says
Your report states that Jeffrey Baldwin's 7-year-old sister was reeking
of urine at the time she was apprehended. Presumably, she was also
reeking of urine when she went to school. Either the school failed to
report this to the authorities or, if reported, the report was not
acted upon. If the school failed to report this child as needing
protection, the school should be required to answer for its failure.
If a report were made, but not investigated, children's aid failed both
Jeffrey and his sister. There are many questions that need to be
answered. An inquest is essential to answer these and other questions
about this horrific case.
Prosecutors will not be calling any witnesses from the Catholic
Children's Aid Society of Toronto when the Jeffrey Baldwin murder case
resumes next week.
The unexpected decision, made this week during a break in the trial of
the little boy's maternal grandparents, comes on the heels of Crown
attorneys Bev Richards and Lorna Spencer frequently referring in open
court to their plans to question several social workers from the
agency, but particularly Margarita Quintana.
The practical effect of the decision is that the conduct of the agency
and its workers will go unexamined at the trial.
That may in turn ratchet up the pressure for some sort of public
inquiry -- either a coroner's inquest or a full-blown probe headed by a
judge -- into the broader circumstances of the little boy's death.
Though almost six years old, Jeffrey weighed only 21 pounds and stood
only 37 inches tall at the time of his death. His emaciated body was
covered with a layer of fecal bacteria -- consistent with what evidence
at trial has revealed about how he was confined for long periods of
time to a cold, fetid bedroom such that he lived surrounded by his own
waste -- and his lungs were filled with pneumonia.
Astonishingly, the grandparents were able to take over care of the
youngsters despite the fact that each of them is a convicted child
abuser. Ms. Bottineau convicted of assault in the 1970 death of her
first child, and Mr. Kidman convicted eight years later of assaulting
two of her children from a previous relationship. Information about
their criminal records -- as well as psychological reports suggesting
Ms. Bottineau was of marginal intelligence and a potentially dangerous
parent, as well as other complaints about the pair -- were all
contained in the agency's own records, but went undiscovered.
Shortly after Jeffrey died on Nov. 30, 2002, CCAS executive-director
Mary McConville confirmed that the crucial information had been buried
in the agency's files, but had not been checked because of a policy
vacuum in so-called "kinship care" cases -- where relatives come
forward, as happened with Jeffrey and his siblings, when a youngster's
parents are deemed unfit, to take the child in.
But evidence already heard at the trial has revealed that the agency
also ignored its own red flags about the grandparents on another