Victim sues former foster care worker

The young man who was sexually assaulted by a former foster care worker has filed a civil lawsuit that names his attacker, the foster home’s supervisor, and the director of child welfare for the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The 19-year-old victim, identified in court documents only by the initials J.D., filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court in May.

At the core of the lawsuit are allegations that the ministry and the foster care home’s supervisor knew of the attacker’s troubled history, and still allowed him to supervise J.D.

The new allegations must still be proven in court.

J.D. is seeking damages for pain and suffering, future care, loss of income and aggravated damages against former foster care worker Kevin Fanning, former foster care supervisor Hugh Freiberg, and the provincial director of child welfare.

According to the court documents obtained by The Richmond Review, J.D. was placed into a foster care facility in Richmond operated by Freiberg in 2009.

While there, J.D. was “repeatedly sexually assaulted and sexually battered by Fanning,” the lawsuit states. Fanning was sentenced in 2010 to 60 days in prison and a three-year term of probation after pleading guilty to sexual assault and sexual exploitation of J.D.

The lawsuit claims that Freiberg “knew or ought to have known of (J.D.’s) pre-sexual assault diagnoses, vulnerabilities and tendencies...”

Freiberg, according to the lawsuit, relied on caregivers for “extensive amounts of relief care” at the foster home, where Freiberg did not live, but worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Freiberg hired Fanning to provide relief caregiver services in 2008.

Meanwhile, the director of child welfare knew of Fanning’s foster care history, when he too was the victim of sexual assault as a young boy.

“Fanning later returned to live with his family but led a troubled and disturbing teenage life which included abusing substances, showing cruelty to animals, developing sexual identity problems, and then, by adulthood, turning to male prostitution,” the lawsuit states. “At all material times, it was a requirement of the director for anyone hired or contracted to work with children in a foster care environment, including relief caregivers, to undergo a background and criminal-record check.”

But the lawsuit claims Freiberg and the child welfare director either didn’t perform a criminal record check of Fanning or didn’t adequately look into Fanning’s background.

The lawsuit details how the relationship evolved between J.D. and Fanning.

It alleges Fanning built a rapport and trust relationship with J.D. in which Fanning introduced drugs, alcohol, pornography, nudity and sexual contact on a regular and increasing basis.

Fanning coerced J.D. during the sexual assaults by promising drugs and/or alcohol, and/or threatening to withhold further drugs and/or alcohol.

Fanning committed sexual assaults on J.D. for a period of months prior to being arrested by the Richmond RCMP in December 2009.

The lawsuit claims the child welfare director and/or its agents were negligent and breached its duty of care to J.D., including failing to properly train and supervise Fanning and/or Freiberg.

“The conduct of the defendants, collectively and/or individually, showed reckless disregard for the well-being of the plaintiff. The defendants’ conduct was callous, reprehensible and arrogant and offends the ordinary community standards of moral and decent conduct,” the lawsuit states in supporting the claim for aggravated damages.

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