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Mother in racism custody case arrested, charged with fraud
Last Updated: Friday, June 26, 2009 12:33 PM CT
The mother in a controversial Winnipeg custody trial, involving a girl who was sent to school with white supremacist symbols drawn on her skin, has been arrested.
The mother has been in jail since Thursday, charged with a number of fraud-related crimes.
The news came just as the custody hearing was set to resume with lawyers for Child and Family Services wrapping up their case.
According to court documents obtained by CBC News, the mother is accused of stealing her own mother's credit card last fall and racking up charges of more than $20,000. It is also alleged that she impersonated the woman for a few days last October in order to commit the fraud.
The court was working Friday morning to get the mother transferred from the remand centre to the courthouse. The judge in charge of the hearing wants the mother present.
Earlier this week, the mother made her first appearance at the hearing, which began in May and ran a couple of weeks before breaking in early June and resuming this week. She does not have a lawyer and told reporters she hoped she would be able to defend herself and make a case for getting her children back.
Mother emotionally a teenager: psychologist
On Wednesday, a psychologist at the hearing told the court the mother has the emotional age of a 14-year-old. None of the people testifying can be identified in order to protect the identities of the children.
The mother no longer lives in Manitoba and didn't attend the first weeks of the hearing because she said she didn't have the money to travel.
The custody case has garnered international attention and sparked debate over how far parents can go to instill beliefs in their children — and how far the government should go to protect children from those beliefs.
Manitoba Child and Family Services is trying to gain permanent custody of the girl and her younger brother over concerns about alleged racist teachings, drug and alcohol abuse in the home.
The children were taken from their home in March 2008 when the girl, now eight years old, went to school with a swastika drawn on her arm. Her teacher scrubbed it off in the afternoon, but the girl showed up again the next day with another one, along with other white supremacist symbols drawn on her body.
Family services caseworkers were alerted and went to the family's apartment, where they found neo-Nazi symbols and flags, and took custody of the couple's two-year-old son. CFS officials picked up the daughter at her school.
The parents, who are now separated, are also accused of failing to provide adequate care for their children. Lawyers and social workers have told court there were problems related to drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, criminal behaviour and mental health problems.
Parents separated, each seeking custody
The parents — the girl's biological mother and stepfather — are each seeking custody of the children. The stepfather — who is the boy's biological dad — has launched a constitutional complaint, saying social workers violated his freedom of expression, religion and association by apprehending the children.
Social workers told court last month the girl was well versed in racist and hateful propaganda and also provided graphic suggestions of how to kill people. One social worker also testified the girl spoke about people of other races and how they should all be dead because this is a white man's world.
The girl also told social workers that she was missing school because her mom and stepfather didn't wake her up on time. She said they would often be drunk and forgot to change her brother's diaper.
The children have been living in a foster home with their aunt. The girl has shown great progress, is getting along with everyone in school and has a perfect attendance record, court has been told.
The lawyer for the girl’s stepfather was cross-examining social workers on Friday morning in an attempt to expose gaps in how CFS investigated the family and determined the children should be taken. The father is expected to take the stand in his own defense later in the afternoon.