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Former Kelowna, B.C., social worker accused of fraud granted bail

Click to play video: 'Former foster child reacts to arrest of Kelowna social worker' Former foster child reacts to arrest of Kelowna social worker
Dozens of foster children’s trust in the system has been shattered because of a Kelowna social worker who allegedly stole money from those left in his charge. Jules Knox has reaction from one of his alleged victims now that he has been criminally charged. – Dec 9, 2020

Robert Riley Saunders was granted bail by B.C. Provincial Court judge Monica McParland in Kelowna on Friday. Bail was set at $50,000.

Saunders faces 13 criminal charges including ten counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of theft over $5,000, one count of breach of trust, and one count of uttering a forged document.

Read more: Former Kelowna social worker accused of fraud quarantining for COVID-19 exposure

Earlier this year in a separate legal matter, the Ministry of Children and Family Development settled a class-action lawsuit, which alleged that “Saunders defrauded many children in the care of the Ministry of their food, clothing and shelter allowances.”

Click to play video: 'Extended interview with a former foster child after Kelowna social worker arrested' Extended interview with a former foster child after Kelowna social worker arrested
Extended interview with a former foster child after Kelowna social worker arrested – Dec 9, 2020

According to documents filed as part of the class action settlement process, Saunders’ actions are estimated to have impacted more than 100 youth, who are mostly Indigenous.

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Read more: Court approves multi-million dollar settlement against B.C. social worker who defrauded teens in care

As Saunders is currently being held in custody at Calgary Remand Centre, he participated in Friday’s hearing via video conference.

Click to play video: 'Former B.C. social worker facing more allegations' Former B.C. social worker facing more allegations
Former B.C. social worker facing more allegations – Nov 22, 2018

The court issued a publication ban preventing information shared during the hearing, including the judge’s reasoning for her decision to grant bail.

Read more: Proposed settlement worth millions in Kelowna social worker case

The Crown prosecutor also requested a publication ban on information — including initials and gender — that could identify the alleged victims, who were under 18 at the time of the alleged crimes.

Judge McParland granted this request, so the publication ban is in effect.

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Saunders’ next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2021 in Kelowna.

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