Advocates of indigenous children gathered at the county courthouse in Kelowna, British Columbia on Thursday to plead for the justice of the victims of a former Kelowna social worker.
Inside, the court heard how Robert Riley Sanders’ actions changed the future of the children he was supposed to care for forever.
Sanders embezzled more than $ 460,000 from the government and raised foster children, mostly indigenous.
White-collar crime: How did British Columbia social workers embezzle $ 460,000 from the government?
Through a statement about the impact on the victim, the court heard a tragic story about the empty promise that Sanders made to the young man taking care of him.
Some ex-young men who took care of him said that Sanders began by treating them with kindness and compassion, but soon turned into negligence and bullying.
The court heard that Sanders himself had lived a luxurious life and robbed the young victims.
Teens were unaware that Sanders had opened a joint bank account, cashed checks in their name, and stole money to lead a better life.
Victims said they would always wonder what their lives would have been if they were given the support they needed and deserved.
“I was bullied by my social worker,” one victim told the court in a written statement.
They also said their confidence in the system that was supposed to protect them was destroyed.
Meanwhile, after the discovery of the Sanders scam, social workers who undertook the teenage case struggle to help a young man they call a wonderful, beautiful soul when trying to correct Sanders’ mistakes. I told the court about it.
They also talked about how the crime of Sanders had a negative impact on the profession of social workers in the community due to the loss of trust.
“We are now painted with the same brush as him,” the social worker told the judge, adding that it affected their relationships with their customers.
As people wiped their tears in the gallery, Sanders sometimes appeared to fall asleep in the prisoner’s box.
Jennifer Lewis, wellness manager at the Okanagan Nation Alliance, said she had previously worked with Saunders.
Former BC social worker accused of deceiving teenagers in care pleads guilty
“I’m very angry about it,” she said. “I remember working with Sanders many years ago when they were doing all this. It’s really very hard to hear some of the statements about the victim’s impact and his own reaction to them. I’m worried. “
“His arrogance and his aggression when those crimes were committed were very realistic and everyone felt,” she added.
She said she believed his attitude was left unchecked. It allowed him to escape fraud.
“It’s the same everywhere in the indigenous peoples. They always dismiss our concerns and cause serious harm.”
“I want people to know that this is not an isolated case. It’s a systemic case. It’s based on hegemony and racism, and it’s allowed,” Lewis said.
Saunders has previously pleaded guilty to over $ 5,000 in fraud, breach of trust, and the use of counterfeit documents.
At a previous hearing, Sanders claimed that the teenager lived primarily in foster parents and was not entitled to money for rent, so he stole it from the government, not the caring one. did.
“I never harmed young people,” testifies BC social work scammers.
Prosecutor Heather Magnin asks Sanders to spend six to eight years in prison. She claimed that the Sanders scam had spread over time, and at some point he said he was bringing three times his ministry’s salary.
“The reality that Mr. Sanders chose to target the indigenous children he cares for cannot be divorced from Mr. Sanders’ crimes,” Magnin said. “This is an important indicator of the overall seriousness of these events.”
Crown argued that Sanders was opportunistic in drawing the most money in each youth’s name.
The defense is expected to have a discussion on Friday.
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“I was bullied by my social worker,” says a young man who was scammed by sentencing.
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