Thursday, February 5, 1998

Kim Pemberton

p. A1.

Girl faced long walk in dark after release

12-year-old found with an alleged sex offender late in the night claims police didn't drive her home or give her bus fare.

The 12-year-old girl found at the home of an alleged sex offender says she and three other teens were forced to walk from Richmond to Vancouver in the middle of the night after the ministry of children and families refused to help them.

The 12-year-old and her mother, in an interview with The Sun, criticized the Richmond RCMP for not driving the girls to their homes Jan. 2 or giving them money for bus fare -- a charge Richmond RCMP deny.

"I asked if I could get a ride and [the female officer] said you have to walk. They knew I was 12," said the girl, who has a slight build and long brown hair.

Responding to the 12-year-old's allegation that police refused to either give the four girls a lift or bus fare, Inspector Al Macintyre said that although he is not one of the investigating officers on the case it is his understanding the girls were offered a ride and they refused.

"We would have provided transportation but the kids wanted to get set free. The kids just wanted to leave," MacIntyre said Wednesday.

RCMP Superintendent Ernie MacAulay said the female officer was trying her best that evening to help the children.

"She was close to tears feeling sorry for these kids and not being able to help them. It troubled her," he said.

RCMP and the ministry for children and families are now reviewing what went wrong last month when four children, ranging from 12 to 17, were released onto the street at 4 a.m. on Jan. 2.

p. A2.

12-year-old says police abandoned her on the streets

Police found the children at the home of a man they'd arrested for numerous sex offences involving children.

Frank Kim, 24, appeared briefly in Richmond provincial court Wednesday and will return Feb. 16.

Kim had been returned to court after he was arrested for breaching one of his bail conditions: Not to have contact with one of the young persons named on the previous indictment against him.

The 17 criminal charges in the indictment include making child pornography, sexual touching a child under the age of 14, uttering a threat to cause death or bodily harm, and having a prohibited weapon, a Taser Public Defender (a type of stun gun).

The children were found at Kim's Richmond home and were taken to the police detachment at 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 2.

MacIntyre said police repeatedly phoned the ministry's Afterhours emergency services to try to get a social worker to assume responsibility for the children.

He said police also spoke to a supervisor at Afterhours that night and it became clear the ministry wasn't going to take the children even if the police brought them to their office.

MacIntyre said police were never told why the ministry refused to take the children and are planning to meet with ministry officials Monday to find out why.

One of the girls allowed to leave the police detachment that night was 13. She had told police her foster home address but she was never brought there.

MacIntyre said two other children, a boy and a girl, were arrested but he wouldn't say on what charges. He did say charges weren't related to the matter with Kim.

Under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, MacAulay said, police can "take charge" of a child if police believe the child's health or safety is in danger. The act then states, he explained, that the officer must then transport the child to the "director" for the ministry.

When it became clear the ministry wasn't going to assume responsibility for the children, he said there was no more police could do.

When asked why police couldn't have taken the children home to their parents, MacAulay said under the act, the director of the ministry must determine if they should be returned home.

The mother of the 12-year-old girl said she believes someone should have called her that night. She said no one has even offered the child any counselling since all of this has happened.

She said she was told by the girl's school principal her daughter is not welcome to return to her Grade 7 classes at school.

"She's the victim," the woman said, "they're treating her like an outcast.

"When the principal was talking to us outside he was backing away like I was contagious."

The school principal said he can't talk about specific cases but elementary schools don't expel children.

He said schools have found alternative placements for children that need more specialized help.

"It sounds like a misunderstanding," he said. "No one has been expelled."

The principal confirmed he was aware one of the children involved in the Richmond incident last month was a student of his elementary school. He said the child did receive counselling, but he wouldn't confirm whether that child was the 12-year-old interviewed by The Sun.

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Created: March 21, 1998
Last modified: April 5, 1998

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