She may have been just a child when she was killed, but if West Island lawyer Valérie Assouline has her way, the law may provide the little girl with the kind of justice she never had when she was alive.
“The civil suit that the mother is bringing forward is not just to get compensation,” said Assouline, “but rather so we can shine a light on those whose responsibility was to protect this child.”
As the case involves the alleged murder of a seven-year-old girl who died in hospital last May after police found her in critical condition in a Granby residence, Mtre. Assouline represents the girl’s mother who wishes to sue Quebec’s DPJ (Département Protection Jeunesse) and other organizations — including both school boards and hospitals — that allegedly could and should have noticed that the little girl was being subjected to extreme abuse at home. While the child’s step-mother has already been charged with second degree murder, the authorities have also charged her father with “negligence causing death.” While they’re both being kept in custody while awaiting trial, their identities are subject to a publication ban in order to protect the child’s identity. However, MNA Lionel Carmant, Quebec’s minister in charge of youth protection, has already asked local health authorities as well as the province’s Human Rights Commission to look into the little girl’s death. Aside from being clearly “outraged” by the circumstances that defined the little girl’s death, Carmant also mentioned that “there were clearly several cracks in the system.” As the death is considered to be a homicide, the crown will also insist upon a coroner’s inquest, as evidence indicates that the little girl already had an extensive file with the DPJ before her death.
As far as Assouline is concerned, the system needs to be held accountable, as there are layers of people that include everyone from Quebec Youth Protection directors all the way to teachers and assorted educators who did not do anything to signal the abuse or make any effort to help the child. Although both the child’s mother and grand-mother did everything they could to signal their suspicions about the child’s distress, Assouline went on to denounce the fact that the authorities continued to ignore their suspicion about what was happening to the child.
“They all saw, they all were aware of the red flags,” said Assouline. “And nothing was done. No one did anything to protect that child.”