Quebec premier promises action on child abuse following report of abused teenager

Quebec Premier Francois Legault responds to reporters during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday, November 26, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Quebec Premier François Legault said Thursday his government will do everything it can to protect young people after a Quebec woman was recently sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for severe child abuse.

In the Nov. 13 sentencing decision, Quebec court Judge Conrad Chapdelaine described the woman’s actions as showing “extreme cruelty.” The 37-year-old woman, who cannot be named to protect her victim, pleaded guilty to three charges in May.

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Her son, then 17, was found in February 2019 by a bailiff who was serving an eviction order and who called police after seeing the victim malnourished and suffering from open wounds. His mother admitted to beating him with a metal bar.

Chapdelaine wrote that youth protection authorities in the Eastern Townships, east of Montreal, were notified at least 10 times over an 11-year period by people concerned about the victim.

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It’s the second time that youth protection authorities in the region have been accused of ignoring repeated reports of child abuse. In March, the local authority was placed under provincial trusteeship.

Legault told reporters Thursday that a preliminary report on the failings of the region’s child services agency is expected within the next few days.

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“Our government will do everything that’s possible to do to protect children, to protect young people,” Legault told reporters in Quebec City.

He described the situation as “appalling” and “shocking” and said child protection authorities in the Eastern Townships have already been provided with additional staff.