A judge is blaming the Batshaw Youth Centre for failing to protect a nine-year-old girl who was repeatedly sexually abused.

The incidents happened two years ago when the girl was housed at the Batshaw Youth Centre in Dorval for her protection. She was described as “severely traumatized” after being the victim of repeated physical abuse and neglect at the hands of her mother and stepfather.

She spent time in foster homes but was eventually placed in the group home intended for children aged 10 to 14.

The girl was abused three times between November 2016 and August 2017 by two boys.

A ten-year-old boy with a history of being abused was placed in the same unit and abused the girl in her bedroom.

Staff and therapists intervened when they found out – a social worker notified management – but they failed to remove the girl. A few months later an 11-year-old boy abused her, this time in the bathroom.

Batshaw failed to supervise children properly

At a Quebec Youth Tribunal, Batshaw admitted it failed to supervise the children properly. The former director of the West Island Youth Protection Department said in court that there had been a lack of supervision and understanding from the staff, although Batshaw operates under the supervision of the CIUSSS West Island.

A lawyer who represented the child's legal rights filed a complaint in court against Batshaw.

Justice Jacques A. Nadeau ruled the child-care agency failed in its mission to protect the young girl, saying the staff was not appropriately trained, worked at the centre on a temporary basis, and that the centre had used the wrong clinical approach.

“The child's rights to evolve in a safe, protective and secure environment and of being treated in a manner that respects her personal needs, dignity, integrity and autonomy have clearly been violated,” said Nadeau

Union representative Josée Asselin said permanent positions not being posted, along with assaults on staff and a lack of respect for their judgment were factors in creating staff turnover.

"Since last October we have more than 100 vacant positions. I would say 45 social workers, five psychologists, 35 educators, so all vacant positions," said Asselin.

She added that the centre is now providing improved training for its staff.

“We needed to have proper training to work there, and that was not being addressed before – for years – and we were asking for that. Recently they started doing proper training before you’re required to work at that unit. It’s a good thing. It’s a first, also, so we’re happy for that,” she said.


New facility supposed to stop such occurrences

Batshaw has been constructing a new facility in Beaconsfield to replace its outdated centre in Dorval, and this new centre will separate boys and girls into different buildings.

As CTV News reported on Monday, three years after the Beaconsfield centre was supposed to open it remains unfinished, in part due to a reorganization within the CIUSSS for the West Island.

Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle said Monday that the West Island health board has the funds to finish the job, but the CIUSSS would not confirm that information.

When finished the Beaconsfield centre will house up to 50 adolescents, many of whom will transfer from Batshaw's Dorval and Laurentians facilities.