A day after B.C.’s child watchdog released a scathing report on the tragic death of 18-year-old Alex Gervais, Abbotsford Police say his year-and-a-half old suicide case remains open.
Constable Ian MacDonald says he can’t say much about the case because it’s an ongoing matter.
“All I can say is that we have an ongoing investigation, and we will see where that leads.”
On top of that, MacDonald says police are also investigating a respite caregiver who allegedly sexually abused Alex when he was 14-years-old.
“We have information that would support the investigation of an allegation that took place somewhere in 2011, and we began our investigation into that allegation in 2015.”
MacDonald says it’s a complex case and there will be issues that overlap between investigations.
Yesterday’s report by the Representative for Children and Youth stated Gervais had disclosed the alleged sexual assault to a social worker at the time.
The report says Gervais stated he was given cocaine by the woman, who then sex with him.
But Alen Hoolaeff, his primary caregiver during the same period, says the teen never said anything about it to him.
“Never. Alex and I had a good relationship. He knew that he could tell me things. He disclosed the sexual relationship for when he was younger, prior to coming into my care. I followed protocol, I tried to act as his voice.”
The Children’s ministry confirms to CKNW that the respite caregiver under investigation is now longer caring for children.
As for whether that caregiver is facing other consequences, the ministry has yet to answer.
But according to yesterday’s report, in the wake of Gervais’ death, his friends came forward to social workers with the woman’s name – resulting in a police report finally being filed.
Charges may never be laid
But while investigations continue, a B.C. lawyer says charges may never be laid.
Paul Doroshenko says ‘failing to provide the necessities of life’ cases are challenging to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Besides, Doroshenko says, the law only applies to people under 16, and even then, the bar is set pretty low.
The standard is fairly basic: caregivers are required to provide a place to live, food, and timely medical help.
“You’ve got to think about the ability for the Crown to prove the charge. You know, in B.C., we don’t approve charges in criminal cases, unless there’s a substantial likelihood of successful prosecution.”
Doroshenko says Crown will have to consider if it can prove the alleged events happened – beyond a reasonable doubt – and in this kind of case, there are challenges ahead.
“Really, what you have to provide for the child is food, and a home, and not much more than that, and taking them to the doctor and things like that. It’s not particularly onerous on a guardian.”
The report, released Monday, noted that at the age of 13, Gervais had limited clothing – including just three pairs of socks and underwear.
Just before he died, the person who was paid nearly $10,000 a month to care for – and live in the room next to Gervais – was rarely seen.
With files form Emily Lazatin and Liza Yuzda