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Man says wait time too long for child protective files

A St. John’s man who claims he was abused at the Whitbourne and former Pleasantville youth facilities says he is upset at delays in accessing his files from Children, Seniors and Social Development.

The man asked that his name not be used, but has contacted a lawyer to try to pursue an abuse case. The lawyer declined comment.

The man claims he was sexually and physically abused decades ago at the facilities, from age seven to 17. He claims to have run away numerous times over that stretch.

He applied for his Children and Youth Care Protection Act files in October and then followed that up with a phone call, and claims he was told it could take up to a year.

“I got a year to wait for the information and then by the time it gets in the courts, I’m looking at two to three years before I settle anything. Honestly, sweetheart, I don’t think I will be alive in two to three years down the road,” he said.

A department spokesman could not give a timeline, but said some people can face long delays.

“The Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development receives a high volume of requests for personal records related to individuals who have been involved or are involved with the department,” a statement from the department said. “Given the sensitive nature of these requests, the department strives to complete each request as quickly as possible. However, often the records being requested are historical in nature, may be held off-site, and contain both electronic and hard-copy formats. Before they can be released to the requestor, these records, which often include a large number of documents, must be reviewed in significant detail as required by the Child and Youth Care and Protection Act, to ensure that only the information to which the individual is entitled is released. As a result, wait times for these types of requests vary and they may require an extended period of time to complete.”

The man said his early troubles began with truancy and spread to other trouble.

“I was a little gangster, too, out shoplifting and stuff. I wouldn’t go home,” he said. “Sleeping under steps on Lemarchant Road afraid to go home because I know I am going to get a licking from my mom or dad for not going to school. I wouldn’t listen to people either.”

He said there wasn’t any help at the facilities for troubled youth.

“There was no reform, nothing but abuse,” he said.

“I remember every a--hole that ever hit me, smacked me, beat me. I remember them all by name. Most of them are dead.”

After finally getting out of Whitbourne at 17, he said, he went to western Canada, where for a while he ran a business, but he fell into cocaine usage, committed robbery and went to prison.

Meanwhile, he is estranged from his five children with two wives and a girlfriend.

He removed a photo from his wallet of two boys from three decades ago, but said he hasn’t seen any of the five kids in 20 years.

“I don’t even know if I am a grandfather,” he said.

The man came back to Newfoundland and Labrador 10 years ago because his health was failing, he said.

He said he’s angry over the delays in accessing his file and just wants closure.

“I am asking Confederation Building, why does it take a year? If you are that busy in there you can’t go down and pull up somebody’s history file, (then) hire up a couple of students and get them to work in there,” he said.

Twitter: @bsweettweets

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