Robert Riley Saunders. —Image: Facebook

3 more Indigenous youth sue B.C. social worker for exploitation

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of taking money from youths in his care

Three more civil suits have been filed against a Kelowna social worker accused of stealing from Aboriginal children who were in his care when he worked for the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The civil suits, filed against Robert Riley Saunders in Kelowna earlier this week, are in addition to a pair of similar civil suits filed against him earlier this month.

Saunders no longer works for the ministry or as a social worker. He now works under contract at Okanagan College in Kelowna in adult special education.

The three new lawsuits allege Saunders took money from joint bank accounts he set up with the youths, some of whom are now adults, when they were in his care as a ministry employee.

RELATED: Lawsuits allege B.C. government social worker stole from foster children

In addition to Saunders, the Ministry of Children and Family Development and his direct supervisor at the time, Siobhan Stymes, a team leader with the ministry, are also named in the new lawsuits.

The suits state Stymes had “direct knowledge of the theft of monies from the plaintiff and had direct knowledge of the emotional and psychological abuse inflicted on the plaintiff by Robert Riley Saunders.”

In addition to alleging Saunders took money from the joint accounts, the lawsuits claim he was “verbally and emotionally abusive” to the three plaintiffs while he worked with them and “succeeded in undermining their self-confidence and self esteem.”

They also claim he undermined their belief that they might be entitled to any form of financial support from the state for their “subsistence level of material well-being, such as food, clothing and shelter.”

The plaintiffs claim they were exposed to periods without food, street homelessness and illicit drug use, using drugs such as methamphetamine and crack cocaine, as a result of Saunders’ and Stymes’ actions. One plaintiff also claimed she was sexually exploited as a result their actions.

Following news of the first civil suits filed against Saunders, B.C.’s Representative of Children and Youth said 14 files had been opened by her office investigating the allegations.

RELATED: Ministry of Children and Family Development issues comment on Kelowna social worker accused of ripping off youth in care

According to the ministry, financial irregularities were brought to its attention in December 2017 and it sent the issue to the office of the comptroller general. In January 2018, the ministry said steps were taken to ensure “the immediate safety and well-being of the children and youth and their families.”

The same month, B.C.’s comptroller general launched an investigation to determine if fraud had been committed and the ministry hired a financial consultant to review the case and suggest changes financial and internal controls. Changes have now been made, it said.

Ministry staff are no longer able to initiate or print cheques without the involvement of a second staff member and the ministry plans to launch a separate review of its contracting and payment process.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nathan Cullen, right, looks on as Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader Chief Woos, also known as Frank Alec, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relation, Carolyn Bennett and B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser address the media in Smithers, B.C., Sunday, March 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
10 Gitxsan hereditary chiefs call for BC NDP to remove Cullen as Stikine candidate

Ten Gitxsan hereditary chiefs have called for the firing of NDP candidate… Continue reading

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for Stikine candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

Joe Bramsleven and partner Tammy Wilson (centre) await election results with campaign manager Scott Groves, right, and his wife Lori Ann Groves at Boston Pizza Oct. 15. (Deb Meissner photo)
Atrill defeats Bramsleven for mayor in landslide

Mika Meyer replaces Atrill as the sixth councillor

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

Screen capture from vintage 1955 Fall Fair Parade footage showing the Bulkley Hotel float.
VIDEO: Vernon videographer digs up rare footage of Smithers in 1955

The 8mm reel included an incredible two minutes of the 1955 Fall Fair parade on Main Street

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read