Parent of alleged child abuse victim says she was kept in dark by Winnipeg police

A family member of one of two children who was allegedly abused and recorded at a Winnipeg daycare on Aberdeen Avenue says she’s been kept in the dark by police about the investigation. @_MorganModjeski reports.

By Morgan Modjeski

The family member of one of two victims in a recent child assault and pornography case at a Winnipeg daycare says the family has been kept in the dark by police about the investigation.

“Until now, I’m still hoping to wake up and find it was just a nightmare. When it’s your kid it’s a nightmare that never finishes.”

BACKGROUND: Man living at North End at-home daycare charged with sexual assault, possession of child pornography

The parent of the alleged child abuse victim says she only found out that new charges had been laid against the man who allegedly abused her child following a police press conference last week.

“I discovered like everybody else in the press release that he’d been arrested. I didn’t know that it was going out at the moment, I was just surprised like everyone else.”

CityNews is not identifying the family member to protect the child’s anonymity, but she says her emotions are a mix of disappointment and gratitude. While she’s pleased action is being taken against the alleged abuser, she feels the family should have been informed.

“I found out two hours after it was already online,” she said of the official charges and public briefing.

The accused, a 36-year-old man, has been charged with a range of offences, including sexual assault, sexual interference and distributing and making child pornography from an incident that took place at an unlicensed home daycare on Aberdeen Avenue, in the city’s North End.

A recent investigation also resulted in the discovery of child pornography on an electronic device owned by the resulting in further charges. While he was a resident of the home, police say he was not an employee of the daycare.

READ MORE: ‘I had no idea’: Daycare operator speaks out against former partner charged with child sexual assault

The parent says she knew further charges were coming, but had it not been for a friend alerting her of the public press conference, she would have had no idea new charges had actually been laid, saying it’s been a fight to get information from police.

“What I discovered is that it’s a big machine… I need to go from person, to person, to person.”

She wants to know why the man wasn’t arrested sooner, and why the daycare was able to continue operation following allegations, noting she hopes others involved in the daycare are also charged.

“I thought that the same day he would be arrested. I thought that it would be a big deal. That the daycare would close right away until the daycare would clarify what happened. Knowing the daycare stayed open, that it took so much time, I don’t understand this system.”

Donna Prince, the daycare operator, claims she was told she could reopen the daycare after the initial charges were laid, and has been adamant she knew nothing about the alleged abuses.

“I want to reach out to them and say I’m truly sorry this happened, but it’s not my fault, I did not know anything.”

An interview request by CityNews Winnipeg to police was not accommodated. In a statement, police said they were not able to comment on the case.

Police also failed to address questions as to why members of the public were not given more notice about the investigation at the daycare and why the survivor’s family was not given more notice as to when charges would be laid and the public informed.

At a recent press conference about the case, Const. Dani McKinnon noted members of the public need to be cautious about who is watching their kids, saying parents should ask questions of their child-care providers, like whether or not criminal background and child abuse checks are done, how often other people are coming and going from the home and whether or not the parents are allowed to check in on the kids.

“These are crimes of access and opportunity. The offenders in this type of situation, they don’t hide behind the proverbial bushes, they are amongst us,” said McKinnon.

“They are in the places, unfortunately, where some of our children may attend to. We’re not sending this release to scare anyone, we’re just saying please be aware. Do your checks and balances. It’s a good time to educate your children and educate yourself.”

One advocate in Winnipeg says all too often survivor families are kept in the dark due to silos in the system.

“When you hear about things in the media, about people in the positions of trust, particularly that have caused harm to kids potentially, the ripple effect of that is huge,” said Christy Dzikowicz, executive director with Toba Centre for Children and Youth. “So we know we have families out there with lots of questions, and lots of concerns and we want to make sure those questions and concerns are answered.”

The head of the child-abuse survivor support and advocacy organization says while she cannot speak to this specific case, this is the type of scenario the Toba Centre would help avoid, with its case navigators focusing on supporting families, while also acting as a go-between with authorities.

“We know that we have a very fragmented system and we have a lot of good folks doing their best within each of those systems, but we need to create a system that has far better coordination and support for those families all the way through,” she said.

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