by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
(June 19, 2008) An Ontario woman was shocked when school officials told her they had evidence her autistic daughter was being sexually abused. But her shock turned to outrage when they said their evidence was based on information given to a teacher’s aide by a local psychic.
For Colleen Leduc of Barrie, Ontario, Canada, who was working full-time and struggling to raise an 11 year old autistic daughter, receiving such horrifying news was only the beginning of her bizarre story. Not only did the school board believe the word of a psychic, they actually reported the alleged abuse to the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), a local children’s advocacy agency.
Leduc’s terrible experience began on the morning of May 30, shortly after she dropped young Victoria off to school at Terry Fox Elementary and headed for work. A few minutes into the drive, she received a frantic call from the school telling her to come back right away.
When she arrived, she found the principal, vice-principal and her daughter’s teacher all waiting in the office, telling her they’d received allegations that Victoria had been the victim of sexual abuse – and that the CAS had been notified.
Leduc told City News what happened next: “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 child is being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.’”
Leduc was deeply shaken. “It’s actually your worst nightmare that your child is being violated,” she said. “So for them to even suggest that, and that be my worst nightmare, it was horrific.”
She was even more horrified to learn that the only “evidence” the school had for reporting her to the CAS was the word of a psychic.
Although divorced with a new fiancé who adamantly denied the charges, Leduc knew her daughter was not being sexually abused – and she had proof. She had long been dissatisfied with the treatment her daughter was receiving at the school after they allegedly lost the child on several occasions. As a result, she spent a considerable sum of money to not only have her child equipped with a GPS unit, but one that provided audio recordings of everything that was going on around her. Thus, Leduc had non-stop taped proof that nothing untoward had ever happened to her daughter.
However, under Canada’s Child and Family Services Act, anyone who works with children and has reasonable grounds to suspect a youngster is being harmed, must report it immediately – and the CAS had an obligation to follow up.
After visiting the Leduc home, caseworkers admitted they found not a shred of evidence of any kind of abuse. Instead, they found Leduc to be a “diligent” mother who was doing the best she could for her child under difficult circumstances. They closed the file and left, calling the report “ridiculous.”
The school board admits to being red-faced about the whole incident and says they over-reacted, but Leduc is now fully convinced that her daughter is in the wrong school. Returning her to class with the same teacher’s aide who consulted the psychic was simply not an option.
Until she can find another school for her daughter, Leduc has been forced to quit work to care for her daughter. Understandably, she is seeking legal advice.
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