The Belleville Ont., woman who was charged with several sex-related crimes involving minors worked at a Children’s Aid Society youth group home at the time of her alleged offences.
On Thursday, Belleville police charged 48-year-old Sandra Forcier of Belleville with two counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual exploitation of a youth under the age of 18 and one count of sexual interference.
The investigation began in June 2018, when a victim reported a historic sexual assault to Belleville police. Police say they found two male victims who described incidents of sexual assault involving Forcier in 2012 and 2013.
Det. Sgt. Pat Kellar, who is leading the investigation, said the male victims were 15 to 17 years old at the time of the alleged sexual assaults, which Kellar added involved a specific power dynamic.
“I can tell you that she was in a position of authority and trust in relation to the victims,” Kellar said. “Many times young persons find it very difficult to come forward, particularly in case of sexual assault, particularly male victims.”
Global Kingston confirmed on Thursday that Forcier worked at Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society at the time of the alleged offences. On Friday, Global Kingston learned that from April 2012 to April 2013, Forcier worked as a supervisor for a male youth residential facility in Thurlough Township, which was then run by the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society.
The branch’s new executive director Tami Callahan confirmed that Forcier was working at the group home on a one-year contract. According to Forcier’s LinkedIn page, she first started working for Children’s Aid in 2002, and Callahan confirmed that Forcier had worked under many roles during her time with Children’s Aid.
Callahan said the group-home, which housed males from 13 to 17 years old, was meant to give young men a leg up to help them transition to new stages.
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“Often youth were there for a period of time to achieve goals so that they could live in a foster home or advance to an independent living situation — and they required some support from the residential treatment program and school program while they transitioned.”
When Forcier’s supervisor contract was up in April 2013, she was moved into a position with the branch’s family services department. Not long after, Callahan said Forcier resigned in December 2013 and the group home was closed in 2014. Callahan claimed the home was closed due to budgetary constraints.
When asked whether any internal investigations had been conducted about Forcier during her time with Children’s Aid, Callahan said she couldn’t comment on specific personnel issues.
“I can certainly let you know if and when we ever received allegations about staff, we have processes that we would follow, but I am certainly not at liberty to discuss any specific personnel situations.”
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Callahan did say that police were not called in to investigate Forcier during her time with Children’s Aid.
For his part, Kellar couldn’t confirm the offences had anything to do with Forcier’s position at Children’s Aid.
According to her LinkedIn page, Forcier has been working for Loyalist College as a professor since 2012. Loyalist College did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
She has also been working for Belleville Quinte West Community Health Centre as a thrive councillor, focusing on helping mothers with addictions issues, for over five years.
Nevertheless, Sheila Braidek, executive director of Belleville Quinte West Community Health Centre, said Forcier has been on leave from her position for an extended period of time.
When asked, Callahan couldn’t comment if Forcier had ever been on leave or ever been suspended.
The Children’s Aid executive director admitted that it was “very troubling” that Forcier’s time at their group home coincided with the time of the alleged sexual assaults.
“When I read the news yesterday, I had a lot of reactions, but my first reaction was, ‘Oh my goodness, was it any of the youths that we were involved with?’ And then even if it wasn’t, you always feel badly when there are these types of allegations against a staff person.”