A bail hearing began Thursday for the father of a seven-year-old Quebec girl whose death in late April has raised questions about the province’s youth protection system.
The hearing, held with a publication ban in place on the evidence, came after two new charges were laid against the 30-year-old man.
He is now accused of failing to provide the necessities of life as well as child abandonment in addition to an initial charge of unlawful confinement filed by the Crown.
The other accused in the case — the girl’s stepmother — was also in court but will only have her bail hearing on June 21.
The accused are forbidden from communicating with each other and had a court constable seated between them to prevent contact.
The woman is facing an unlawful confinement charge and an additional count of aggravated assault.
The pair were charged one day after police found the girl in critical condition in her family home in Granby, about 80 kilometres east of Montreal. In the hours following their initial court appearance on April 30, the young girl died in hospital.
The father was impassive throughout the hearing, lowering his head at times and fixing his stare on the young girl’s mother, who was present in the packed courtroom. The stepmother, 35, was equally stoic, her face hidden behind her thick hair.
Neither the father nor the stepmother can be identified to protect the girl’s identity.
Quebec court Judge Serge Champoux made it clear to those in attendance that the publication ban was not just for journalists but for everyone present to protect the integrity of a future trial.
The judge warned that anyone found publishing information about the evidence on social media or elsewhere “could be prosecuted and should be prosecuted.”
The young victim had been followed by youth protection services from birth, and her death sparked outrage across the province and raised questions about the effectiveness of the system to assist at-risk children.
Her death spurred the Quebec government to launch a wide-ranging independent commission last week to look into youth protection in the province.
Several other investigations have been ordered into the handling of her case, including a coroner’s inquest, an internal probe by the regional health authority that oversees youth protection in the Eastern Townships region, an investigation by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Commission as well as a police probe.
WATCH: Granby girl’s death prompts questions about Quebec’s youth protection system