3 charged with sexual, physical abuse of 17 children at Garden Hill First Nation, may be 150 victims
Police said charges have been laid against two men and a foster parent in the case.
The investigation began in February 2018 when a man, now 21, was arrested and charged with multiple sexual offences, said RCMP.
From there, police found out he had access to a foster home in the community, and a joint investigation was launched with Child and Family Services, said Michael Koppang, who is in charge of major crime services for the Manitoba RCMP.
“These allegations were very serious, and as the investigation continued, we became increasingly concerned that there was a potential for more victims due to the number of children who were in the care of this foster home throughout the years,” he said.
The investigation showed more than 150 children may have had contact with the man.
All the possible victims were either interviewed or medically assessed in Winnipeg.
“Following an extensive, 11-month investigation, a total of 17 children, both male and female, ranging from three to 15 years of age at the time of the incidents, were identified as victims of sexual and/or physical abuse. These offences occurred between 2011 and 2017,” said RCMP.
During the investigation, a 20-year-old man was also identified and arrested. The foster mother has also been charged.
The 20-year-old, who cannot be named as he is being charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, faces multiple counts of sexual assault, sexual interference, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and assault.
Paul Bruce Harper, 21, of Garden Hill First Nation, faces multiple counts of sexual assault, sexual interference, aggravated assault and assault.
Lucy Harper, 66, faces perjury charges and two counts of failure to report a child in need of protection and failure to provide for a child in need of protection under the Child and Family Services Act.
“We recognize the possibility that there may be more children who have been victimized and are urging them to come forward and to speak with our investigators,” said Koppang.
“We recognize that calling the police is an extremely difficult step to take, but I want to assure anyone who is thinking of coming forward that our officers are professional and compassionate and will work with victims to explain every step of the process.”
RCMP investigators can be reached by calling the Island Lake Detachment at 204-456-2290.
WATCH: Charges laid in Manitoba child sexual abuse case. Joe Scarpelli reports
RCMP have partnered with Klinic Community Health to provide support for victims. Anyone who may have been victimized by the individuals charged in this case are encouraged to contact RCMP or Klinic. A list of crisis support contacts is available here.
National services are also available through Crisis Services Canada toll-free at 1-833-456-4566 any time, or text 45645.
Kids can text CONNECT to 686868 and reach a crisis responder at Kids Help Phone.
Talk4Healing is a fully confidential helpline for Indigenous women available in 14 languages. Call 1-855-554-HEAL.
Here’s more information about services for abused men.
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