Wednesday, October 20, 2010

003 - Paul and Zabeth Baynes three year ordeal

n October 22nd, 2007, Paul and Zabeth Bayne's three children were removed from their care by the Ministry of Children and Family Services (MCFD) when they were living in Hope BC. The youngest child Bethany, shown in the photo at the right in the blue shirt, is a suspected of being shaken by the parents about six weeks after birth. (see more details at

The Bayne's ordeal began in the month of September of 2007. Bethany was brought to the local hospital because she would not stop vomiting. This was a few days after a head to head collision between one toddler who fell on top of Bethany a few days earlier. At that time there was no injuries noted on either child.

Paul, Kent, Baden, Zabeth, Bethany during a home visit. Thanksgiving 2010. 
A few days later saw the start of several frantic back and forth visits by the Baynes to various doctors and hospitals, who were at a loss to explain Bethany's constant vomiting and steadily deteriorating condition.

After a month of this, the Baynes were shocked by a pronouncement of a Doctor Margaret Colbourne of the BC Children's hospital, who diagnosed "Shaken Baby Syndrome" or SBS. A quick, successful operation relieved the pressure of accumulating fluids, and Bethany recovered.

First, note that SBS is a diagnosis that states the child in question was injured deliberately (not accidentally), and by inference, the guilty parties of such abuse are both parents. SBS is a diagnosis that incorporates a clear irrefutable accusation of deliberate abuse arrived at without any due process, which generally results in an automatic removal of the child and siblings from their parents or other caregivers by child protection authorities, and often results in criminal abuse charges and imprisonment for those caring for the child at the time.

MCFD social workers from the small town of Chilliwack and Hope have consistently refused to accept the Bayne's explanation that injuries sustained were as a result of Bethany's sibling falling on her and a resulting head-to-head impact, and have also ignored ten doctors opinions who agree. Instead these workers and their supervisors stubbornly cling to one doctor's diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome (SBS), made a month after Bethany's injury.

The ten doctors the Baynes located each firmly dispute BC Children's Hospital's Dr. Colbourne's unwavering shaken baby diagnosis. Note that the doctors were not paid for their diagnosis by the Baynes, they offered their opinions for free and thus, have put their reputations on the line. They had access to all the same medical files that were available at the BC Children's hospital for Bethany. These doctors, experts in their various fields who questioned the validity of the SBS diagnosis also wondered why it took the many doctors and hospitals involved in the Bayne's case, an entire month to conduct the appropriate investigative scans and not make ANY diagnosis while Bethany's condition worsened and the family was repeatedly sent back home.

That's it. That is MCFD's case. A bump on the head that resulted in internal bleeding was labeled shaken baby syndrome by doctor Margaret Colbourne, and subsequently eagerly persecuted on a no-holds-barred and no-expense spared basis by MCFD.

Oh, and by the way, the local RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) declined to press charges. After the three children were removed, the RCMP thoroughly investigated MCFD's request to file criminal abuse charges. They reviewed the evidence and MCFD-supplied adversarial witnesses, and they saw no basis for doing pressing charges. At this result, MCFD had egg on their face, so one prevailing theory was that they had to figure out how to return the children and make it look like they were just taking precautions.

Why now, you ask is MCFD so intent on taking the Bayne's children away with a continuing custody order application filed two years after the removal? Well, it may well be because the Baynes went public with their story in May of 2008, and embarrassed MCFD in the process. In case you are wondering, MCFD as an organization, really, really, REALLY does not like negative publicity. Later, several protests were organized outside Premier Campbell's constituency office to urge action on the slow progress of the case. (See )

A Global TV News report aired May 19th and 20th, 2008 (see the video The Baynes were interviewed for this story on May 15th. On May 16th, the Baynes family including Zabeth, Paul, and Idar and children's grandparents, and social worker Loren Humeny and team leader Berhe Gulbot signed a mediation agreement that served to adjourn a May 23, 2008 trial date. MCFD allowed the parents to move into the home of the children's maternal grandparents in Surrey BC, where the children were originally placed approximately seven months prior. 

The wording of the mediation filed with the court includes term 2. "The parties agree that Kent and Baden should be returned to Zabeth and Paul under a Supervision Order with the following terms: a) The Paul and Zabeth: i) will allow direct and private access to Kent and Baden...[by the social worker], ii) will inform the Social Worker ... of any non-emergency professional appointments concerning Kent and Baden...,  iii) agree to inform the Social Worker ... of any change in their residence,  iv) failure to comply with any of these conditions may involve more intrusive measures including removal of the children.

Now, looking at wording of this agreement, I personally fail to see on what basis the two boys were removed from the home of the grandparents. MCFD stated something to the effect of privacy violations of the children. Huh? I see a short video of Zabeth holding and playing with Bethany in the Global story, and the parents talking with reporters. Is this what MCFD believes is a child protection issue worthy of removal and three years of supervised-only access?

To reiterate, seven months after MCFD had custody of the three children, at the point of signing this mediation agreement, MCFD had no concerns for the two boys safety while in the company of their parents and grandparents. Immdiately after the agreement was signed, the Baynes moved into their parents home in Surrey BC and enjoyed full time unrestricted access to their two boys.

On July 12th, 2008, a month after the TV news report aired, MCFD social workers removed the two boys from the grandparents home at a birthday party for one of the boys. Police presence and a traumatic removal at a child's birthday, that is one terrible life long memory for three children and their parents and grandparents to have to live with. Clearly, MCFD wished to make a statement. Removed a second time from the care of their parents, the two boys were put in a foster home. This was different location from the Sardis foster home their sister Bethany was placed.

The 5-week protection hearing court case began in January of 2010 and concluded October 6, 2010, with the final 3-day closing argument by MCFD lawyer Mr. Finn Jensen, QC, completing the Director's case. Mr. Doug Christie, the Bayne's lawyer who is working for the Bayne's family on a pro bono basis, will have an opportunity to examine the transcripts of the MCFD lawyer's closing argument and follow up with his response.

It should be noted Mr. Christie had already made a oral closing argument, wishing to complete the case as soon as possible, and he took less than an hour to do so. Mr. Finn, in contrast took three days over the span of more than a month to deliver the oratory of his closing argument, having the advantage of having the transcript of Mr. Christie's argument.

As regular trial attendees will attest, the very experienced MCFD lawyer has wasted no opportunity to gain the upper hand over the Baynes, unfettered by time or expense, and as some would say, unfettered by a moral compass.

After the Bayne's lawyer Mr. Christie has submitted his final written closing argument, the Honourable Judge Thomas Crabtree, who was recently appointed as the chief justice in B.C. will take eight to twelve weeks to render a decision on whether or not to grant the Director's application for a continuing custody order (CCO) that would see all three children permanently removed from the care of their parents, and put up for adoption.

In the three years that have elapsed, the parents have not missed any visits with their children except due to court attendance. Paul and Zabeth took night jobs as janitors in order to see their children at the mid-day working hour times established by MCFD. The Baynes are unquestionably dedicated parents, and they know where their priorities lie, and that is to ensure the well being of their children.

During these past three years, this family has paid a heavy price; the loss of their jobs, home, the grand piano used for children's lessons, their dignity, and the ongoing suspicions they are child abusers. This ordeal is common with families involved with MCFD. Hundreds of hours of supervision reports revealed no parenting concerns. In fact, MCFD did not produce any of these reports at trial as evidence against the Baynes. MCFD's own witnesses states the Baynes were entirely appropriate parents before the removal.

During the trial, the judge awarded the Baynes expanded supervised visitation from 6 hours twice weekly to 9 hours three times weekly, one visit to be in the community, rather than at the usual Circle of Friends supervision facility in Surrey BC. A later application initiated by MCFD to reduce the number of visits per week from 3 back to 2, resulted in the judge awarding the parents at-home supervised visitation of 6-hours on the weekend. MCFD got their request of 3-weekly visits reduced to 2, but the Baynes came out ahead in being allowed to have the children visit at their own home. This development is viewed by many observers as a positive sign that the final judgment will be in the Baynes favor, and their children will be returned, possibly be the end of this year.

What makes this case unique amongst the hundreds of other shaken baby syndrome starts with the fact there is no publicity ban on court proceedings as per the order of Judge Crabtree. Usually, the names of the children are suppressed in child protection proceedings, so the public rarely has an opportunity to read about what goes on behind closed doors.

Since the Baynes were already very vocal in the news and in publicizing their plight, a publicity ban would have been pointless anyways. This allows parents and child protection critics around the world the chance to follow this case day by day.

Ron Unruh's daily blog takes full advantage of this permission to report, writing daily on court proceedings and on other issues that arise. Where there is no family news, Ron takes on the broad issue of child protection in general. This blog has slowly gathered a regular following and is actively commented on. New readers are advised to catch up on this case at this site. Use Google's advanced search feature and limit searches within the blog site by entering into "Search within a site or domain."

A finding by Judge Crabtree that there is no need of protection would be a huge blow to MCFD and SBS proponents and the specific doctor made the diagnosis. Other parents around the world wrongly accused of shaken baby syndrome would then be able to use this case to say that a medical diagnosis alone is an insufficient basis on which to declare guilt of assault without any further due process in order to permanently remove children from their parents.

Because the Baynes have not taken any parenting courses or submitted to any parenting capacity assessment, the Ministry cannot claim the original concerns have, or ever will be addressed. The parents simply declare they are innocent of any such abuse allegations, as is their right; they do not NEED parenting courses or assessment. MCFD's argument is that the uncertainty that exists in combination with the doctor's report of SBS gives them the right to "protect" the three children by taking them away from the parents forever. The MCFD lawyer declares their case rests on the possibility the parents might later abuse their own children. Removing one's children permanently, declares the parents unfit to parent even though charges have not been filed.

Removing one's children forever and effectively preventing the parents from having more children is the equivalent of a death penalty.


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