Man files $5 million lawsuit against Ontario. Government and Children’s Aid Society allege years of child abuse

A Toronto man has filed a lawsuit against the Ontario government and the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, alleging that he was moved between more than 40 residences and subjected to repeated sexual, physical and psychological abuse during the 12 years of his childhood. which passed under provincial control. careful.

A statement of claim filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in December alleges that Johnathan Stavrou was subjected to repeated physical, psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of multiple legal guardians after being removed from the custody of his biological parents when he was six years. He also alleges that, on two separate occasions, he was forcibly placed in juvenile detention centers without sufficient motivation. There he was subjected to “cruel and unusual” punishments, including physical restraint.

In turn, Stavrou is seeking $5 million in damages as a result of the alleged failure by the defendants, which also include several juvenile detention centers and group homes in the area, to ensure that their confinements were free of abuse. , homophobia and isolation.

In an interview with CTV News Toronto, Stavrou said it has been difficult to come to terms with the trauma inflicted on him as a child.

“The trauma I suffered occurred under the care of state agents who are mandated to keep children safe and I was never safe,” she said.

Stavrou’s claims have yet to be proven in court and no statement of defense has been filed. The Children’s Aid Society of Toronto declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by CTV News Toronto. The Ministry of the Attorney General did not respond before publication.

Stavrou, now 30, was placed in the care of the province along with his twin brother after being removed from his biological parents’ custody due to substance abuse issues. He remained a ward of the state from the ages of six to 18.

In June 1999, Stavrou was placed in a foster home in Orangeville, Ontario, where he would spend his “formative years,” the lawsuit states. Over time, the lawsuit claims that the environment in this home became hostile and abusive, and that his adoptive parents physically and psychologically attacked him because of his sexual orientation.

When he was 10, Stavrou claims that one of his adoptive parents punched him in the face and that he responded in self-defense, leading the family to involuntarily place him in a juvenile detention center for several weeks. There, the lawsuit claims he was subject to “solitary confinement, mechanical restraints, and psychotropic drugs intended to pacify and sedate him.”

“He did not require any such treatment, which amounted to cruel and unusual punishment,” the lawsuit reads. He also alleges that staff at the facility determined Stavrou’s claims of abuse were false without proper investigation. “Indeed, Johnny was victim-blamed, illegally detained in a secure treatment center and medicated to defend himself after being beaten by [his foster parent],” Keep going.

Three years later, the lawsuit alleges that Stavrou was beaten again by a foster parent, resulting in a second admission to the detention center.

While living with the Orangeville foster family, Stavrou was subjected to various forms of corporal punishment and solitary confinement, the lawsuit states. The parents prevented Stavrou from using the bathroom as he wanted, locked him in the basement for long periods of time, forced him to exercise outdoors in the middle of the night and mocked him about his sexual orientation, he alleges.

When he was 12, Stavrou was admitted to a group home in Oshawa, Ontario, where he stayed for about eight months. While living in the home, another resident sexually assaulted and raped him, the lawsuit alleges.

Stavrou’s lawyer, Paul Miller, said the claims outlined in the lawsuit would constitute a “complete failure” by the province to protect its most vulnerable. “If the allegations are proven true, the abuse will be horrific and the damage staggering,” he said.

Stavrou, who now works as a paramedic, has had to seek extensive psychotherapy for his mental injuries in the years since he left the system, according to his lawyer.

“He’s done an extraordinary job of trying to build a life for himself, but you can’t just erase the most important years of your life and say okay, that’s not okay,” Miller said.

Stavrou can be seen above. (Distribute)

In his professional and personal life, Stavrou has suffered serious episodes of mental health crises, stemming from the treatment he received while in provincial care, the lawsuit describes. “He has struggled to maintain employment and relationships with colleagues, authority figures, friends and family,” he reads.

In total, the lawsuit claims the Crown contravened Ontario’s Children, Youth and Family Services Act by failing to protect Stavrou from abuse or provide him with stability through sufficient home placements. According to Miller, it’s a first step toward meaningful change.

“It takes more than a lawsuit to make a change,” the lawyer said. “If you’re successful, then you have to go in front of the ministry and say, ‘Look.’ This happened. We have proven it. What are you going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?’”

But if the claim helps a child avoid a similar situation, it will be worth it, Stavrou added.

“The main reason I’m doing this is I don’t want another child to ever have to go through something like this.”

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