Warning: This story includes extremely disturbing descriptions of child abuse that some people will find upsetting.
A woman from the small community of Lake Errock is pleading guilty to manslaughter and aggravated assault after abusing two foster children and contributing to the death of one of them.
The woman was foster parent to two youths aged eight and 11 who she admitted to abusing in provincial court in Chilliwack on Friday morning (Nov. 4).
The 11-year-old died.
There is a publication ban on the names of the victims, which means the woman cannot be named because that could identify the children.
Much of the abuse was captured on video taken between Dec. 1, 2020 to Feb. 26, 2021.
Crown prosecutor Theresa Iandiorio laid out some, but not all, of the facts in the case before the woman entered her pleas. Full details will emerge at a sentencing hearing still to come, but what came out Friday paints a horrible picture.
Iandiorio told the court the accused participated in serious crimes of violence over a period of months.
“It was deliberate and protracted, and at times included weapons and restraints,” she said.
One of the weapons used to hit the children was a two-by-four piece of wood.
The older child died from blunt force trauma to the head, an injury sustained on Feb. 26, 2021. He was declared neurologically dead two days later and was taken off life support on Mar. 1, 2021.
In the months leading up to that moment, both children were frequently restrained with duct tape, including on their faces. They were sprayed with chemicals, made to wear diapers and forced to do physical activity for hours, often while naked or wearing a diaper.
One of the children was compelled to eat dog food and drink their own urine. Iandiorio said the other child was forced to eat the contents of their spoiled diaper.
Iandiorio said the accused directly participated in the abuse. At times she was present when her male partner abused them and at times they abused the children together.
Iandiorio said the woman directed an older foster child to abuse them and encouraged her biological children to do the same.
“At no time did she take any steps to stop the abuse,” Iandiorio noted. “She is a party to those offences.”
Crown and defence arrived at a joint sentencing submission, with both sides agreeing on 10 years in jail.
That recommendation isn’t binding however. The judge will have latitude to go above or below it depending on what is heard at a sentencing hearing that is expected to take two or three days.
A date for the sentencing hearing has not been set.