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

Third brewery on the way for Port Alberni

Alberni Brewing Company hopes to open in early 2021

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Port Alberni long-term care home gets new bath chair

Westhaven residents say thanks to WCGH Foundation for donation

Port Alberni RCMP searching for missing 43-year-old man

Maxime Ouellet is known to camp in wooded areas around Port Alberni

LOOK BACK: A journey of time in Port Alberni

Take a peek at Port Alberni’s history with the Alberni Valley Museum

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Most Read