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Testimoney From A Child

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The Globe and Mail
Testimoney from the Child:
Wednesday,
the young girl -- whose name cannot be released -- recounted how the
bedroom that she and her brother were locked into each night became
their bathroom.
She said their grandmother, Elva Bottineau, would make them help her
clean it up. But if they "weren't working fast enough," Bottineau would
hit them with the handle of a mop, she told Det. Kimberley O'Toole.
She said sometimes she and Jeffrey would be in their cribs when they
were hit.
"What would Jeffrey and (his sister) do when that happened?" asked
O'Toole. "They'd cry," Jeffrey's sister said.
Bottineau, 54, and her 53-year-old common-law husband Norman Kidman are
on trial for first-degree murder in relation to their grandson's death
three years ago. Both have pleaded not guilty.


The girl described to investigators how Jeffrey was called a "pig" by
his grandparents and sometimes told to "stand in the pig corner."
She said the young boy spent most of his time locked in his room and
how they both had "bad things" done to them. Those things included
forcing the children to dig through garbage to find food and drinking
from the toilet.


At the time of his death, Jeffrey was too weak to stand up. On the
videotape his sister told what happened.
"The first time he came down the stairs … my grandma placed him at the
table and he fell down. And my grandpa started yelling at my grandma
and … my grandma thought he was just being lazy, but my grandpa said
the kid doesn't get enough exercise," the young girl says on videotape.
According to the sister, they brought him milk, however, it was not
enough. Jeffrey died soon after. He reportedly weighed 21 pounds. A
healthy six-year-old normally weighs twice that much.


Jeffrey had been placed in his grandparents' custody by the Catholic
Children's Aid Society -- despite Bottineau having been convicted in
the death of her infant daughter and Kidman's record as a convicted
child abuser.
In fact, a children's aid assessment of Bottineau conducted in 1970
described her as an "incompetent parent who was a danger to herself and
others."
The agency had seized Jeffrey and his sister while it probed abuse
allegations against their parents in 1998.
The society has since admitted mistakes were made in the case, and has
changed its screening policy for family adoptions.


The photos of Jeffrey's two sisters and little brother were taken by
the wonderful pistol of a woman who was for almost three years the
children's foster mother.
The tiny woman, who can be identified only as Karen to protect the
youngsters' privacy, was briefly back in the witness box at the trial
of Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, the couple who were maternal
grandparents to Jeffrey and the three siblings who survived him.


The pictures were taken by the foster mom and show the three children
in what, for most Canadian families, would be the most ordinary of
settings: gathered round a Bob-the-Builder birthday cake, the birthday
girl about to blow out the candles; a school picture of the same little
girl; a shot of her, outfitted with equipment and holding an enormous
goalie stick, playing in net in a road-hockey game; and, the most
recent, taken just this August, of her and her little brother, each
glowing with health.
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But for these children, this -- even the simple activities themselves,
not to mention the celebration of small victories and achievements that
was inherent in the picture-taking -- was all revolutionary stuff.
When those first two photos were taken, the youngsters had just emerged
from the demented chaos of the same hellish household where Jeffrey
slowly starved to death, where the best even a favoured child could
hope for was a couple of whacks to the head and a muttered curse, and
the worst, such as was the lot of Jeffrey and the sister just a year
older, was exile to a fetid, unheated locked room and hour upon hour
spent among their own feces and urine.


If Jeffrey was alone in dying shortly before his sixth birthday, life
with Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman exacted on his siblings other steep
prices.
The foster mom, who lost custody of the trio when the Catholic
Children's Aid Society of Toronto abruptly removed them last month in a
move that remains cosseted in official secrecy, all but thrummed with
pleasure at the sight of the pictures, and the astonishing progress
they documented.
When the youngsters first arrived, apprehended by the CCAS the day
Jeffrey died, they were very frightened, the foster mom remembered.
"There wasn't a lot of eye contact," she said, "they would glance at
you and then look away."
The sister who had been locked away with Jeffrey was in an appalling
physical state -- her lower torso covered with a thick, red rash (it
turned out to be contact dermatitis) that burst into open sores at
various points, her hair matted and dull and filled with lice, and her
belly swollen and below the swelling, a line of scabs across her
abdomen.
This was not the fat tummy of the toddler, though the foster mom at
first blush thought it might be, but rather the trademark distended
stomach of the malnourished child. "Her belly went away," the foster
mom said, adding with fierce pride, "she grew almost 13 centimetres
that first year."
The little girl was oddly hunched too, and moved with a bit of a gait;
her balance was not what it should have been, the foster mom said, and
both she and her little brother, whose wiry frame was crusted in
eczema, were still doing stairs the way little ones do, one foot up,
then the other.
This description aligns with other evidence

Mr. Justice David Watt of
the Ontario Superior Court has heard that Jeffrey and this little girl
were singled out and kept in the locked bedroom for so long that it was
tantamount to sensory deprivation, while the older girl and the brother
were treated well, if only by comparison.
Indeed, they were much healthier than the little girl when they came to
the foster mom, and even better dressed, as the first foster mother,
who kept the girls for the first few days after their apprehension
and met the boy, testified yesterday. The older girl was in nice jeans,
a stylish black Barbie coat with pink writing on it, and matching
gloves and scarf; the little girl who'd been locked in with Jeffrey
wore a too-short track suit that was stained and filthy, and had a torn
winter jacket.
She also, this woman said, smelled so strongly of urine "it was as
though it were embedded in her skin."
But the three youngsters had something in common, said Karen, the
long-term foster mother: "They were insatiable." She could not fill
them up, and the youngest girl was so hungry she would "scoop the food
to her face with her hands" and eat so fast "it was as though she were
swallowing it whole."


It was after almost three years in Karen's care that the best pictures
of the little girl were taken. By then, she had been to karate lessons
and earned two stripes; had mastered riding both her scooter and her
bike without the training wheels, and had taken dancing classes. As
Karen said, looking at these shots, "Her hair is bright, her eyes are
clear and she smiled all the time."
The implicit message, of course, is that however damaged in the ways
that never show in photographs, the youngsters blossomed. With love and
food and kindness, however late in the game, children can survive
horrors. And so, given half a chance, might Jeffrey have done, had he
lived.
The trial is adjourned, yet again.

This one paragraph can instantly describe the twisted nature of the childrens caregivers, and with it, be a sign of how the world needs to change and not all thought who are trusted ought to be.
Dec. 14: While giving the locked-away sister a bath, she confided that "bad things happened in the tub" at her grandparents' house. . . . She then spread her legs, pointed to her private parts and said that Mr. Kidman had hurt her there. She was telling Karen that he had used the handle of a wooden spoon when the older girl burst into the bathroom and said, "If you're going to tell it, get it right -- it was the metal spoon!"

At the Maple Tree a project headed by Amanda Reed to Honour Jeffrey.

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