He comes with me this time. I go early, so I can meet him there. He does the same thing and we arrive at the exact same time. I give him my work and explain that’s just how I do things. He says he likes how I do things and that I’ve done really good work. We go into the court house and find out which courtroom I am in.
We go to courtroom two. They are finishing up drug treatment court. There are three cases being spoken to. For each case, someone reads out clean urine results. The judge finishes speaking to each case by saying,
“Praise, encouragement and a coffee card. Keep up the good work.” As the court clerk hands out the coffee card, the entire court applauses. Never in my life have I ever heard clapping in the courtroom. Then the court pages someone else. His urine was not clean. He withdraws from the program and is remanded back into custody.
Next is my matter. The Crown begins by requesting an adjournment. He explains that this is not the fault of either party as everything was done to ensure my matter was kept on track. He mentions a statement of agreed facts. We did not agree to his facts, which means he will have to prove his case. He says that because of this, he needs to call more witnesses. He says there are some problems with these witnesses. He says they need their notes, but are no longer in possession of them. He says he contacted the agency where these notes are kept and is unable to get a timeline as to when these notes will be ready for disclosure. He says he called a week later and they still couldn’t give him a timeline as to when these notes could be released. Apparently, they must be given to their lawyer for review, before they can hand them over to the Crown. He also mentions a multi-million-dollar civil suit. This is the reason for the adjournment.
My lawyer begins his submission. It seems intense. For a moment, it is like we’re having another judicial pre-trial right there on the spot. The adjournment is on consent and in a spirit of good faith, we also agree to waive the 18-month timeline for finishing trial in the Ontario Court of Justice. My lawyer also mentions this multi-million-dollar civil suit, which I am now a named defendant in as well.
My matter is put off until Sept. 11, 2017, for another judicial pre-trial. My trial, that was supposed to occur next week, is cancelled. I am facing ten years in jail and a 75 million-dollar class-action lawsuit and the thought of explaining everything to a Judge, civil and criminal, doesn’t even phase me. I am not the one swayed by legal ramifications or another court’s justice. I’ve got nothing to hide and only the truth to tell.
Posted on July 18, 2017 | Kelley Denham | Written on July 18, 2017
Smiths Falls Police
Author's Note:This is part twelve of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
“We get what we deserve,” the beginning line of one of my favorite songs. It’s about the only song I’ve listened to, over and over, since my arrest almost a year ago. It was one of my last online posts before turning myself in and being kept offline by a release condition for months. This song played in my head when they put me in the holding cells, over and over. Certain I was going to be in the cells until at least the next morning, this song kept me calm. It kept me grounded. Most importantly, it kept me quiet. I was released that day, but not before a two-hour interrogation. I remember tuning out Detective/Constable Rodcocker’s demeaning questions, when he explained what he would do to me if I was his wife.
“We get what we deserve.” I just kept singing to myself, over and over.
My commute to work takes about 45 minutes. I put this song on my car stereo for the entire drive. Every time it ends, I hit repeat and turn it up just a little bit louder. By the time I get to work, it’s as loud as it will go. Same for the commute home and any drive that will take over 3 minutes.
When I am waiting at the court house for my matter to come up, I hear this same song. It mesmerizes me. It makes me think of the series of events that led to my current circumstances. I reflect on the good, the bad and what the public doesn’t know yet. The song has a power over me, to reframe just about anything because we really do “get what we deserve.”
Justice is getting what we deserve. We all get justice, though it may not always be in the form of the judicial process. I’ve come to learn that those who engage in negative behaviour, live in a negative world. When your internal dialogue keeps telling you bad things, you are going to have a bad outlook on life. I’ve also come to learn that we can control that inner voice. We can tell ourselves good things and from that, we can feel good. Something as simple as a favorite tune can change your entire perspective.
We get what we deserve because we do it to ourselves. We all get justice because justice is about what is real. It’s not about punishing the guilty. It’s about revealing the truth and repairing the harm that comes from lying to ourselves and others. Justice is the truth and in the end, it always comes out. We do get what we deserve, inclusively.
âAuthor's note: This is part eleven of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
I get there at 9am. Itâs not nearly as busy as it would be if it were a Monday. Maybe Iâll be out of here quick. I see the usual faces, court staff and officers. One court officer now has a handlebar mustache. It looks ridiculous but I canât help staring. Iâm in courtroom two. In front of me, the handlebar mustache officer is talking to the court recorder about metal roofing options. Behind me some people are talking about their charges and how grateful they were that they didnât text someoneâs phone. Itâs two different worlds, behind and in front of the wooden divider that separates the lawyers and judges from the rest of the public.
When the Judge arrives, they begin. They start with a sentencing hearing. Itâs another DUI. The Judge reads out the details of the case and trial. It takes nearly an hour to get through it. Counsel for the defence raises an objection near the end. Something about informing the Crown that he would have to prove the record. Some case law is quoted, then the Judge calls for a recess.
Now itâs 10am. I go for a smoke and stretch my legs. I get back to the courtroom around 10:15am. I spend the next 45 minutes looking aimlessly around. Shortly before 11am, the Crown turns and tells me he will try to speak to my matter as soon as possible. I wonder if he reads my blog. He has that look like, âplease donât write about how well I twerk, again.â I know from my disclosure that the complainant has sent many of my blog posts to the Crown.
Now itâs 11am. The Judge walks in and starts to summarize the previous case again. The matter ends up being stayed till later that day. Now they go on to adjournments and judicial pre-trials.
Itâs just after noon. Iâm still listening to all these cases. They all involve drugs or alcohol. I do find the legal process interesting and am a keen observer. When I was in college, we had an assignment to observe a court proceeding. I did mine in this very same courtroom. I keep thinking back to that, making similar observations in my head. Now itâs 12:15pm. The Crown brings my matter up. He says he has had many meetings with my lawyer over the past week. He says everything is set and ready for the trial. The Judge addresses me. She says my next court appearance will be Aug 8, 2017, for the beginning of my trial. I thank the Judge and go on my way. I finally have my date with justice, and we are going all the way.
Author's Note:This is part ten of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
You got to get there about a half hour early, if you want a parking spot. If you want a comfortable spot to sit and wait, I imagine you must have to be one of the first ones in line when the court house doors unlock. I always stand and wait in front of the windows. I have the same debate every time just a few minutes before it starts. Do I or don’t I have time for one last cigarette? I always seem to find the time. I know I’ll have to wait in the court room at least an hour because my lawyer is not here and I will be speaking on my own behalf again. Small price to pay to save nearly a thousand dollars just for him to do what I’m more than capable of handling myself. We are ready to proceed. It really is that simple.
The trial confirmation report should be faxed in by my lawyer this morning. I go to the criminal court services desk and ask if they’ve received it. They haven’t, but they tell me it may have been faxed to duty counsel in which case it will already be upstairs, in the court room. I thank the court clerk for her time.
The court room door unlocks just before 9:30am. There are only a few people here today. I see the Crown and sit directly behind him, in the front row of seats. I ask him if he has the report yet. He tells me he does not. I tell him it should have been emailed to him and that we are still ready to proceed. He affirmingly nods.
“All rise. Court is now in session.”
A few minutes later the Crown whips out his computer. I notice my lawyer’s office logo on his screen. I can’t make out what it says but I know it’s the report. Relief. I’ve come to learn that just about any excuse can halt the entire legal machine, but I trust my lawyer and it always pays off. A few minutes later the Crown turns around and tells me he has it.
I listen to just about every other matter before my name comes up. First the retained lawyers speak, then duty counsel for the unrepresented. There are a lot of DUI’s today, almost exclusively. Everyone has pleaded guilty and is sentenced. When this occurs, a synopsis of the case is read by the Crown and then the Judge asks the defendants how they plea. It takes about an hour and a half to get through them all. Then the court clerk looks at me. She says the trial of Kelley Denham is set to be confirmed today, but she says it in the form of a question. I stand up immediately. The Crown hands over the report, but the Judge already has a copy.
The Crown says that they are almost ready but that they are still waiting on the report of two expert witnesses. He says they will be done by the end of the month. The matter is stayed until then, June 30th. The trial dates are still being held for now, Aug. 8th to the 18th. I thank the Judge and go on my way. I’m not surprised at all. It’s the same old song dance and that Crown sure knows how to twerk it.
Author's Note:This is part nine of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
It feels like a movie sometimes, but it’s happening in real life. My life. I’m facing ten years in jail and a $75-million dollar lawsuit and I’m not even allowed to write about it, on the internet anyways. I’ve been pretty clear to all these lawyers that I intend to tell the entire truth. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the only option. But everything legal is a process and it could take months or years before I get to do that. I was supposed to confirm my criminal trial date last Monday, but the Crown isn’t ready so it’s been adjourned for a week. If the Crown isn’t ready then, the Judge won’t hold the date. I’m cautiously optimistic that won’t be the case. They’ve already subpoenaed the witnesses after all. I can’t imagine they’d be too thrilled if the date changes. I am prepared, I am ready and I am eager.
While that alone is enough for one person’s plate, I also have four beautiful children to take care of. I have school events, soccer practices and appointments that keep me very visible in the community. Sometimes I get “the look.” I had no idea there was even a look like this to be given until my arrest last August. Some people just stare and the reframing part of me just has to laugh it off. Some will greet me while I’m out and about and I just pretend like I didn’t read all the nasty stuff they wrote about me.
But, for the most part, the community has been decent. On the days that I’m not in court or getting served legal documents, life goes on as usual, minus the occasional acquaintances that seem to be trying to incriminate me in literally anything. I still go to work, I still volunteer and I am still very open to anyone who wants to ask me about the case. I’m not the one with anything to hide.
So, as I finish writing this blog, I am getting ready to pick my kids up from school and we are having a birthday party for two of them tonight. I spent the day preparing for it, making sure everything will be perfect for them. My name should also be on the online docket when I get back, so I will be able to check out which court room I’m in on Monday and how busy it will be. This is my life for the next little while, but I’ve gotten pretty good at just rolling with it.
Author's Note:This is part eight of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
The witnesses have been subpoenaed. I know this because my husband is served one. Some have even posted theirs on social media, along with my home address. I knew this was coming. I guess I’m not surprised. People are hurt and angry, as they should be. The date is getting closer and people are getting eager for answers. Well most are anyways. I am eager for more answers. In just a couple of short weeks I will attend my trial confirmation hearing and then a couple of short months later, my trial will begin. Meanwhile, I try to move my life forward best I can. I’m trying to find work out of the city, closer to home. I’m so sick of commuting. Does a pending criminal charge show up on a criminal reference check? I would hope so. But I would also hope not.
To keep costs down, my lawyer has me come to his office to help organize the case. I’m the best person for this job anyways. He throws me a banker’s box and leaves me alone with it in his conference room. It’s the disclosure. The box is packed. Not entirely how I pictured having my top floor office space on Laurier Avenue one day, but at least I’m here.
I read the information, crown brief synopsis and so forth. I know most of this information already, or could have reasonably guessed it based on what Detective Rodcocker said during my interrogation. In two hours, I finish reading everything. I never knew you could fit a person’s life in a box quite like that. This will all be public when the trial begins so I won’t spoil the ending. There are only a few pages that matter anyways.
They say innocent until proven guilty. That’s how it goes but that’s not really how it goes. The time in between being arrested and awaiting trial is awkward. Everyday is unique. Every day situations are ironic. It’s a feeling like nothing has changed but at the same time everything has changed. I figure I stand out now, so I’m going to try to make a go at my dream job, writing. If not for current circumstances, I never would have attempted such an unrealistic goal. But my life is at a stand still right now. Not much else to do. Maybe a case of fake it till you make it. I know I can make it.
This is part seven of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
It’s been one year since my whole world changed. One year since my seemingly ordinary life became, well, less ordinary. It was this day a year ago that the clients of a child protection agency in Eastern Ontario learned that their personal information was publicly posted on the internet. I would be blamed for this, accused of being a hacker who stole and posted the information online. I was later arrested and charged. These charges are still pending and so are my release conditions that say I cannot post any information to the internet about the agency in question.
I did not know it a year ago, but a series of life-changing decisions lay ahead of me in a roller-coaster ride of a defence that continues. I’ve only ever wanted to tell the truth and I was completely shocked about the implications of doing that. Lawyers really don’t like when their clients make decisions based on principle. It started with the phone calls. The media, MPP’s, lawyers and a ton of messages on social media and email that persist still a year later. It’s a mix of a lot of angry people and a lot of supportive people. Still, a year later I’m being stopped in the street, or stared at in the store. It happens in waves, correlating to when my court appearances make the news.
To help cope with the situation, I write. I write about what I am allowed to write about anyways. I try to write like you would when documenting on a shift report. I try to write about only what I see, objectively. I don’t pay attention to the rules of writing. I frequently lack context in a single article and catch a lot of flack for that. I even wrote a parody of a Shakespearian sonnet about my upcoming trial.
Over the past year, I have learned a lot. I’ve learned about small town police policies, local lawyers and courts and how intertwined service providers and family and criminal court can be. I’ve learned about politics, legislation and its impacts on social service delivery. I’ve seen unique families reduced to numbers or “quantitative data” used to rationalize a liberal agenda. I’ve learned about exploitation and corruption and if it can be, it will be exploited. I’ve learned to play the game, the invisible rules of the social classes and how to throw the game up in air and say, “no more!” Most importantly I’ve learned to keep writing, to keep bringing the message to new people.
It’s a beautiful day and the weather is finally seasonal. The snow has almost all melted away. Spring is here and the long, snowy winter is over. I’m cautiously optimistic that today I will set my trial date.
Last week, my lawyer called with the crown’s proposition on a potential Judge. The Judge he proposed used to be a lawyer for the complainant child protection agency. My lawyer asks if I would object to this. I almost don’t even have to answer. I half suspect this Judge was proposed as all the other local Judges have also worked for the agency for some time longer, before becoming Judges. I wonder about the implications of this in the local Family Courts. Since my arrest, I have not been allowed near any workers for the agency so I have not been able to attend court on Family Court days to observe and hand out flyers like I used to. I continue to leave flyers in the lobby however and answer a seemingly unending amount of emails from people dealing with the local child protection agency. After trial, I will be able to fully resume my activities as a voice for the oppressed. My lawyer says he will call me back.
When he calls back he advises that the crown has found a different Judge and that they’ve all agreed on a date. He tells me the date and advises me to set it at my next court appearance. I agree and thank him for his time.
Timing has allowed my husband to accompany me to court today. We get there and head straight to the court room. The court asks if there is any other counsel wishing to set a trial date. I don’t see the crown attorney on my case. I stand up a give the instructions I was given. The crown that is there shuffles through his notes and agrees with my dates. Everything is set to be heard by the Judge.
“All rise. Court is now in session. You may be seated.”
The Judge is now in the court. I must wait to officially set the date in front of the Judge. I’m the only one here to speak to the matter. Counsel for both parties are not present so my name gets called last, by the Judge. He asks me if I’ve spoken to duty counsel yet.
Before I can tell him we’ve already set the date, the other crown starts speaking and explaining the dates that we set. The Judge asks on whose consent this was agreed on. He tells them my counsel and the crown have agreed. The trial date is set. A trial confirmation hearing is also set, for June 5th 2017, in Perth.
Pathetic fallacy seems to hold true for the writer at heart. Albeit I won’t be basing my defence on this but I can certainly use such allusions to help muster the strength needed to see this thing through. My trial dates, Aug. 8th to the 18th 2017, will not be a cold, snowy days. It will also start exactly one year, to the day, of my arrest and their judicial fallacies.
It’s a cold, rainy day. The perfect ambience to set a trial date. At this point, any day is a perfect day to set my trial date. I’ve been ready and trying to do this for over three months. I get up early to get the day ready. I’m not nearly as anxious as I’ve been in the past. I know what to do. I know what to expect. It should be over quick. I don’t like waiting. If I were them, I’d want to rip the bandage off quick.
I get to the court house. The docket is long but there aren’t nearly as many people here as there was last time. I’m waiting for the courtroom door to be unlocked. The small talk among friends who meet in this place is interesting. There was a drug raid in my small town and one of the accused is beside me, talking about it. She says they were there for 27 hours. She says that for six hours, her kids were in the house. She talks about telling her kids not to worry. That they were not going to find what they were looking for. She says her kid witnessed one of the cops hold a gun to another adult’s head when he reached for something. She says the adult wasn’t phased, until he saw the kid looking at them. I think I know the guy she was referring to. He was here last month talking about it too. If it’s true, I’m appalled by the local law enforcement. Talk amongst accused criminals in a place like this feels so honest. We all know the procedures and can challenge any inconsistencies. Her story sounds genuine.
The intercom comes on and calls all counsel wishing to set a trial date to courtroom one. I head to courtroom one. There is plenty of seating. My lawyer had called me that morning with his availability and instructions. I have been acting as sort of an agent for my lawyer, on my own behalf. It’s a lot cheaper this way and I am confident in this role. All the lawyers go first. The court asks if there is any other counsel wishing to set a trial date. I stand up and give the instructions I was given. The crown recognizes me and comes to speak with me. He says that because it is a ten-day trial, they want to get a Judge from out of town to preside exclusively over this case. He says they will have to stay the matter over for another week, so they can get his availability too.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this point. At least the time in between adjournments is getting smaller. I want to say that next week, on April 3rd, I will finally be setting my trial date but experience has taught me otherwise. If the crown wanted to proceed quickly, my trial would be over by now. The scales of justice are not in balance. I’m ready and willing, but disappointed again.
The following blog refers to my upcoming criminal trial, with some fun with Shakespeare.
Two parties both alike in dignity,
In fair courtroom one, where we lay our scene.
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal error of incompetence grows,
A single whistle blower risks her life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows,
Do with her verdict expose the opposing party’s strife.
The fearful passage of her testimonial shall prove,
And the continuance of the agency’s rage,
Which, but their career’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the ten-day trial of our stage.
Which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
This is part four of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events. Photo credit: Perth courtroom No. 3. Tony Caldwell / Postmedia Network, http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/egan-disorder-in-the-court-perths-horse-and-buggy-justice-building-in-a-wi-fi-age.
I go alone this time. I see a man on the highway. He’s hitchhiking. I stop to pick him up. We small talk for a bit. I mention where I’m going. He’s going there too. I offer him a smoke once we get there. We chat some more before going in. It’s oddly calming. I feel less alone. Less anxious.
The court house is packed today. Standing room only. I know a lot of these people. I have instructions from my lawyer to set the date. I get in the long line to talk to duty counsel. I figure I might be out of here quicker if I can get someone to speak on my behalf.
The intercom comes on and calls all counsel wishing to set a trial date to court room number two. I will have to speak on my own behalf. I feel oddly confident doing this.
I go to court room number two. There isn’t enough seating for everyone. I’m one of the lucky ones to get a spot, beside the man I picked up earlier. I didn’t know his name until his matter came up on the docket. I guess he knows my name now too. He didn’t seem like the type. I wonder if he thinks I seem like the type. An alleged hacker and a guy who allegedly assaulted a cop, perhaps the beginning of a new friendship? I somehow doubt it. As people come and go, I keep shifting in the pew-like seats to make room. The walls are lined with people. The lawyers sit comfortably before the judge.
My lawyer told me to tell the court that he is available at the first two-week slot open for trials. This is also oddly calming. I made the decision to turn down the deal, a slap on the wrist. Setting the date will make it official. No going back. I don’t want to wait another second.
My name comes up. I tell the judge what my lawyer instructed me to say. The judge and crown do not want to set the date without my lawyer present. I tell them the instructions again, emphasizing my lawyer’s availability. The matter is stood down for another month, to March 27th.
Justice is a waiting game. Waiting for dates to set dates to set even more dates. A tactic to exhaust the parties into potentially unjust resolutions or a justice system that just can’t keep up to demand. I don’t understand why they don’t want to proceed. I’ve made my position very clear. Let’s just do it.
This is part three of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
My Friday starts. My husband already has the coffee on. I read our small town’s local weekly newspaper. I’m in it again.
It’s a school day and the morning is busy. I drop the kids off at school. I can tell who reads the newspaper by the glares I get.
I spend the day volunteering downtown at the drop-in centre.
I go to pick up my kids from school. Also waiting at the front office are various school staff and parents that have said some not-so-nice things about me on social media. I hope if they come to my trial, they brace themselves for the shocking truth, again. We drive home and my kids tell me about their day.
We play, eat, clean-up, play, do homework, play, then I put my kids to bed. I stretch out on my chair for about an hour, play on my computer before getting ready for work.
There is a heated debate about basic income going on in our town. I’m in a Facebook group about it. Unfortunately, the mayor’s wife is also in this group. I know if I post anything, she will kick me out of the group. I just can’t help myself though. Within ten minutes, I am banned. At least a few people got to read my article.
I throw on my backpack and work clothes. I have a voicemail. He wants me to pick up while I’m in the city. I call my other phone, the one Detective/Constable Rodcocker seized. He left the same message on it. I think I should tell him not to call that number, but I don’t want to tell him that my house was raided. I could make something up, but I can’t lie. No time for an ethics debate. It won’t be a problem for another week and I should leave now.
I drive to the city. I work in a bad neighborhood. I work all night. I have a physically demanding job. In the morning, I am very tired.
I stop to pick up on my way home. I ring the buzzer at a side door. A guy lets me in. He is the same guy that always lets me in. He lets me go to the back now. There are four carts and they are full. I bring them to my van and start loading. I drive back to my small town to drop it off. I am beyond tired at this point. I know this because I have a rush of energy. Usually one of the regulars walks by and helps me unload in exchange for first pick of the treats.
This week, we got a lot of muffins and apple turnovers. I put the baguettes on a chair to prop open the door while we unload my van. They need to be given out today because they’ll be as solid as a rock by tomorrow. The centre has lots of bread to give out this week. While we unload the van, a local business owner stops by and asks if she can bring her leftover knitted mittens and hats. I tell her yes, absolutely!
I finally go home. My husband already has the coffee on. I’m not sure when, but my Saturday has already begun.
Sounds like a typical day in the life of a cyber terrorist, right? Was there an unprecedented hack? Or was there a not-so unprecedented breach of statutory duty? Today, the newspapers only report the allegations made against me. But tomorrow never lies. The truth will come out. It always does.
While I was in college, we were given a question as part of an assignment. If you were to enact one law related to children and families, what would it be called and what would be its purpose? Today, I am going to elaborate on the three sentence answer I gave back then. (shout outs to Algonquin College, Perth, SSW Program 2015 grads!)
With the tabling of the new legislation by CYS minister Michael Coteau to completely replace the Child and Families Services Act, it is time to seriously consider what the real problems in child protection law are and how to resolve them.
I have written before about how the problems in social services are not complicated. Therefore, the legislation I would propose would not be complicated either. Coteau’s new legislation aims to provide high-quality care to children who have been apprehended. The legislation I would propose would aim to provide high-quality care to children. Period. All kids. I would call it the The Wake the Hell Up People Act and its purpose would be to recognize the importance of children as our future and guarantee all resources for them. This would extend to every child, not just children in care. It would not penalize and shame parents for failure to provide these resources, but would instead help with its provision. The number one cause of child apprehension in Ontario is neglect. The number one cause of neglect is poverty. The Wake the Hell Up People Act would try to prevent that.
Let’s take that $1.5 billion used to fund Children Aid Societies in Ontario and use it to eradicate child poverty. Not just for food and snowsuits but also free recreational sports and equipment, less the red tape and stigma of having to be “eligible” for such charity. It should be free and guaranteed for every child.
The real problems with child protection law is that children do not come first. Money, employment law, the tax-payer, policy and procedure - among other things, come first. There is nothing more important than children and legislation should reflect that. The real solution is simple. The needs of the child are paramount. Always. No Exception.
Here are some things to know when making a complaint about child protection services.
A reporter, a filmmaker, a project manager, SEO expert, and an understanding of organizational structure, legislation, governance and the HR run-around – all skills I did not have before making a complaint about child protection services. Unbeknownst to me, these skills would be required to have my concerns – at the very least – acknowledged.
First, you request a complaint procedure pamphlet. Here, it breaks down the complaint procedure into two categories, each with their own legislated steps. The internal process, along with the external process both start with making your complaint in writing. Then a determination is made as to whether your complaint meets their criteria for review. So, if you want your complaint to be heard, you need to know the criteria that would make your complaint eligible for review. Here is where you start to study the legislation. I will be writing about the internal process, as the external process typically comes with a publication ban that does little to afford accountability – the ultimate goal.
Next comes the meeting. It could be with a manager, the Director of Service, or both. Here’s where it is important to understand governance. There is not a whole lot the Director of Service can do to change the business practices of the agency. These decisions are made by the executive director along with the board of directors and CYS ministry. So, if your complaints are organizational in nature (ie, understaffing) you can expect the complaint to fall on deaf ears at this stage of the process. If your complaint is about anything else, you can expect the typical HR response that admits no wrong or severely minimizes the impacts of poor service delivery in child protection services.
If you have been recording your interactions with the agency, now is the time for careful review. Posting video/audio publicly can help generate feedback from peers. Using basic movie editing software can help attract more viewers and add pressure to the agency. The agency may even retract their statements that you made public. Using the agency’s name repeatedly in public postings also impacts their SEO (or google-ability) stats. This will help future complainants in knowing what to expect from the complaint process, should they google the agency.
If you have not yet been coerced into thinking your complaint has been addressed, next comes the internal complaint review panel. This is the final step of the internal process. You may be asked to sign an undertaking that says you will not record the meeting.
What is the end-result for making a complaint about child protection services? You may get an apology letter. You may get an apology letter that blames you. Your children will not be apprehended and your file will not be re-opened for making a complaint about service.
You also impact the agency’s performance indicators. Performance indicators are used by the agency to measure quality of service to the CYS ministry. An agency serving 1000 clients, receives about seven complaints a year. Does that mean the agency is doing a good job? Or is the ministry using systemic oppression and structural barriers to its advantage? Because anyone who has been involved with a child protection agency can effectively utilize this process to be heard, right?
The agency thanks you for your interest in making a complaint, however only those selected for review will be contacted.
The following is part two of the Crime Hump Chronicles, a creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
Jan. 27, 2017
It’s kind of like a church, that’s found itself on the wrong side of the tracks. The lighting is dim and the people look grievous. Except it’s a converted office space, in an old, dirty strip mall, above a bowling alley. It resembles a bodega and I doubt the deals made here will be on the up and up, so to speak. The waiting area reminds me of a cheap laundromat. Everything here is old and worn, doesn’t look like it was meant to be here. This is court in small town Ontario.
I’m on a bench in a crowded room, waiting for my justice to arrive. I get a call. It’s my lawyer, the man I knew little about. He says he is in a meeting with the Crown’s inquisitor who I remembered to be a small and shabby man, who looked out of his depth despite his imposing title. My lawyer says he will be with me soon. He tells me to anticipate the show to start around 11:00am. A familiar face walks in. We’ve been in some of the same news papers. I know they’ve been here before. I want to say something but with a docket full of pre-trials and sentencing, sadly I know why they’re here.
There is a door at the end of the room and a strange window in the wall. Inexplicably, I’m drawn. What was once a one-way mirror, is now a foggy window. Disorientating, if you didn’t know where you were. That room is secured and I see court staff coming in and out. I see Detective Constable Rodcocker’s head poke out. It was hard and hot as usual. He was in a suit and tie this time, eagerly looking for the DNA samples that were conditions of sentencing. I assume he is taking the samples.
My lawyer arrives. He tells me that the Crown’s inquisitor agrees that the evidence does not match the charges. He tells me what they may offer. If it is anything but the withdrawal of all charges, I won’t agree. My lawyer tells me that trial will cost between $25-$50,000 and that I don’t have to make any decisions today. At first, the suggestion makes me angry. Now, I kind of think it’s funny. I don’t agree to the suggestion. I tell him about a series of things, that tell a different story.
My matter is called into court. My lawyer has me wait outside the court room. About 20 minutes later, he returns to the waiting room area. He immediately asks me for the series of things I had told him were pertinent to the case. He has a very different tone, erupting in questions. He tells me the matter has been stayed over until Feb. 20.
So, the criminal matter of Denham vs. Stampy the Elephant will resume Feb. 20, 2017. As things stand now, trial seems inevitable and we are at the very beginning of what is sure to be an outrageous and shocking story about complacency, disregard and incompetence.