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MacNeill Clinic report

The Klassen story: Breaking through to the public

This report from 1987 clearly shows that Michael had problems before he was placed with Dale and Anita Klassen. See also Dueck's interrogation of Anita. And then there is the Carol Middleton Report and the Janet Matkowski Report which were disclosed only in September, 2001. In other words, the Crown had no intention of ever disclosing these reports to the defence. In them we find evidence that another Saskatoon police officer had nixed proceeding on any suspects except for Peter Klassen.

The Crown's new disclosure rules indicate they have learned nothing. They simply set about to try and ensure that in the future, such bad investigations will be thoroughly hidden from the public.

This document was part of the original disclosure but was kept in the defence lawyer's office. Even though this report clearly indicates that Michael had problems long before he went to the home of Dale and Anita Klassen, the Klassens and Kvellos were indicted and Peter Klassen spent four years in prison for a crime that didn't happen.

MacNeill Clinic Child Psychiatry Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Social History

Name: Ross, Michael
Date: September 17, 1987
Social Worker: M. Graham-Woloshyn
Identification
NAME: Michael Ross
ADDRESS: 222 St. Paul's Place Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; S7L 0H1
PHONE: 382-9570
SHSP: 422151 00
DOB: XX.XX.79
SCHOOL: Caroline Robbins

REASONS FOR REFERRAL

Michael was referred May 21, 1987 by Social Services case worker, Anita Grosse, along with his twin sister, with concerns about sexual play between Michael and his five year old sister Kathy. Michael was found by a babysitter in the foster home in February inserting a butter knife and liquid soap into Kathy's vagina. Karen Clarke of the sexual assault centre, and Corporal Marv Hanson, interviewed all three children, but could not determine that they had been sexually abused, only that they knew far more about sexual matters than they should.

Michael and his sisters were assessed at the Alvin Buckwold Centre in June, 1982 for developmental planning, since both parents are deaf. Michael had previously been seen there at ten months of age, at which time he was somewhat developmentally delayed, probably due to lack of auditory stimulation. The parents did not follow through with the developmental program started at that time. Psychological assessment in 1982 showed significant delay in both receptive and expressive language. Michael lacked experience in use of toys suitable for his age, and was unaccustomed to constructive directions (see reports, June 22, 1982). The Alvin Buckwold Centre recommended that all three participate in their Developmental Program with home visits by a therapist, but the parents refused this. They did agree to send Michael to a day care.

Michael was seen by the speech therapist at MacNeill Clinic in November, 1982 in consultation to the Special Needs worker at the Cosmo Day Care, which he was attending. At the time, he presented with a very short attention span and independent, stubborn and non-compliant behavior. He had very little spontaneous oral language and verbal communication is not used in the home. During that winter, Michael made behavioral and language gains in this structured learning situation (see report on file). During an observation period at the Alvin Buckwold Centre in June, 1983, it was noted that Michael's play was still primarily parallel, and that during unstructured free play times, he had difficulty focusing his attention and concentrating on any one toy. He was easily distracted, and tended to act impulsively. He was, however, cheerful and curious (see report June 28, 1982).

Michael had further involvement with MacNeill Clinic in the summer of 1987 when he attended the READY program on referral from school social worker, Dawn Shaak.

FAMILY SITUATION

We have been unable to obtain any written assessments from the Department of Social Services so our information comes mainly from Michael and his foster mother. The family is composed of Mr. Don Ross (56); Mrs. Helen Ross (28); Michael (7), at a structured success class at Caroline Robins School; Kathy (5), in a special class at Wilson School; and Michelle (5), in kindergarten at Caroline Robins School.

(Second page on actual report)

The three children were placed in the foster home of Anita and Dale Klassen in February, 1987. Apparently the mother is an alcoholic and left the home in January or February, 1987. Their father is seen as a rigid man with few parenting skills, and would resort to locking the children in their rooms. Since he could not handle them, although he had the help of a parent aide, the children were placed by the Department of Social Services for a year. The family worker is Geraldine Arcand. The children usually spend a day with their father on the weekend, but he has no toys in the house. According to the foster mother, Mr. Ross has on several occasions told Michael he's going to end up in jail.

Apparently the parents have had prior separations. Mrs. Ross is apparently living with another partner in Laird and visits the children occasionally.

The children are in a foster home which had three other foster children as well, until the end of June. The Klassens are a young couple with two natural children; a five year old daughter, Jackie, in kindergarten, and a nine year old son, Trevor, in grade 4. Anita does not see herself keeping Michael on a long-term basis, and finds him very demanding. It is Anita who takes care of all the children. The Department of Social Services has agreed to provide a contract worker nine hours a week, starting in September, to work with Michael (Rocchina Frassetto). The foster family required a respite weekend in May, on an emergency basis, and had a holiday in August, during which the Ross children were placed in another foster home, apparently without any advance introduction.

DEVELPOMENTAL DATA

As noted, Michael has a history of developmental and language delay, and his isolated family milieu did not provide verbal stimulation or appropriate structure. He commenced kindergarten from the Special Needs Day Care at Cosmo Centre, attending Confederation Park School. The Day Care felt their own environment was too big for him and noted that Michael was particularly unmanageable when his home situation was volatile. Michael missed three months of school in kindergarten, when his parents were having difficulties, and placed him with his grandparents. In school he did not attend to work-orientated tasks, was disruptive and attention-getting in the group, and aggressive towards the teachers. He tended to wander and was described by his kindergarten teacher as a capable, determined and imaginative youngster. In May, 1985, it was decided to place him in a structured success classroom (see report, May 28, 1985). Psychological assessment was attempted in December, 1986 but not completed because of Michael's lack of attention and cooperation (see report, December 8, 1986). Michael has made significant gains in language skills and has benefited from speech therapy at school (see report, June 8, 1987).

COLLATERAL CONTACT

We spoke to Karen Clarke of the Sexual Assault Centre on August 4, 1987. She reports that she and Corporal Marv Hanson visited Michael in the foster home. Michael refused to talk about the incident of sexual play with his sister. He behaved as if he thought he was in a lot of trouble and tried to distract them from the issue. Michael indicated that he had never been sexually assaulted by anyone himself, although in the foster home he had spoken of being taught how to do these things by an old man. In fact, the Ross family have an elderly friend who was recently charged with sexual assault of another child.

We also spoke to the READY staff at MacNeill Clinic during Michael's time in their program. They described him as reluctant to participate, isolating himself from other children, and wanting attention from adults, particularly women. He sucks his thumb and curls up, which causes the other children to pick on him. He can be stubborn and angry in an attention-getting manner.

(Third page on actual report)

INTERVIEWS

We met briefly with Michael's foster mother, Anita Klassen, on August 4, 1987, and then had two sessions with Michael, August 4 and August 11, 1987. We did not meet with the two sisters, as they had medical and psychological assessments at the Alvin Buckwold Centre in July. Anita is a young woman he seems to understand and accept the children's needs for affection and structure. She has found Michael hard to deal with because he refuses to obey, constantly fights with peers, and wanders off, once starting a truck which had the keys in the ignition. Michael can play independently, coloring or with Lego, but has a short attention span. He does play with her son, Trevor. Anita describes Michael as wanting to be a girl, choosing high heels and women's clothes to put on at the playground. According to Anita her husband is disappointed in Michael, because he is more interested in women. Michael sleeps poorly at night. Anita describes aggressive behavior, such as stepping on the cat's head, and pulling others' hair. She does not see herself keeping Michael on a long-term basis.

Anita's principal concern is Michael's behavior of touching girls. After the initial incident with his sister, Kathy, he again initiated sexual touching with her in April, and with another girl in the neighborhood in June. He also took his pants down a couple of times with other children, the last time being in June. Anita has told him this behavior is unacceptable.

Michael is a blonde, gap-toothed boy, who came readily with his worker, taking my hand. He explored the toys and asked me to play with him, building a house together. He soon wandered from this activity to the window. When we asked Michael about being placed, he stated his father can't keep him because he's on holiday. He said his mother does not want to live with his father, but didn't elaborate. When we asked Michael what each of his parents is like, he responded literally, describing what they like to do. Michael described himself "play-fighting" with other boys. His three wishes were: that the "thundercats" would take him home, that superman would take him on his back to the waterslide, and that he could have a spiderman suit. Michael interrupted the session to make a lengthy visit to the washroom. Then he played happily with the puppets, taking the roll of the parents, who frequently spanked the children, especially the boy. Michael stated that he wants to be married and be a father when he grows up. Michael made a drawing of his foster family, and natural family, at our request. He drew heads without bodies, and described himself as closest to the cat in the foster home.

We asked Michael if he ever felt bad or sad, and he reacted as if he were being blamed for something. When we pursued this more concretely, asking if he sometimes cries, Michael spoke with some excitement of his sister pulling down his pants, but denied that he does this. He knows that some things are wrong to do, when you are told not to do them. Michael was anxious about Anita leaving the Clinic during our session. After the session, he asked if he could come in every Tuesday.

In the second session, Michael was highly anxious, possibly related to discussions about where he will live. He played at being this worker and again used the puppets to play at being a family. Michael told us he can't sleep because he has bad dreams but wouldn't elaborate. He said later he has a ghost inside him which tells him to go to bed. We told Michael that sometimes fathers and mothers can't take care of their children, just like his mother and father, because they have troubles, but that is not because the children are bad. In this session, Michael took a plant and placed it inside a cabinet, saying it is dead.

(Fourth page on actual report)

ASSESSMENT

This six year old boy seems to be reacting to an unreliable and neglectful family, and to his recent removal from the family, together with ongoing uncertainty about who is committed to him. It is likely, but not confirmed, that he was sexually abused by a family friend. The lack of appropriate structure, of auditory and play stimulation in the home, have contributed to developmental, particularly language, delay. This delay has responded well to speech therapy. Michael has characteristics of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. His aggression towards peers and disruptive behavior, may be his attempt to evoke the structure he needs. His current high level of anxiety may be related to his continuing uncertainty about who is committed to take care of him. Given this uncertainty, it is difficult to evaluate his functioning. Michael actively seeks to relate, is curious and able to play. His peer relationships are hindered by his aggression and anxiety. Sexual anxiety also seems present and may hinder his capacity to remain involved with others and with tasks. His disruptive behavior may also be depressive equivalents.

The family history seems to indicate ongoing parental difficulties in caring for their children. We would recommend a long-term, stable family placement for Michael, as he seems to have the capacities to benefit from this. He needs mature foster parents who can devote considerable time to Michael, in view of his developmental and emotional difficulties.

Diagnosis: 309.30 - Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct R/O - Attention Deficit Disorder

PLAN

We will consult with Michael's school teacher and MacNeill Clinic psychiatrist, Dr. Prat Reebye, to clarify whether Michael does indeed have an Attention Deficit Disorder or could benefit from medication.

We have met with the foster mother to discuss our assessment, and remain available to her for consultation, as needed.

We have discussed our assessment by phone, August 17, 1987, with Social Services Worker, Anita Grosse.

(Mrs) Margeret Graham-Woloshyn, M.S.W. Social Service Worker

c.c. Anita Grosse, Social Services, Saskatoon