B.C. social worker accused of stealing from kids in Ministry care

A civil lawsuit that has been filed in Kelowna claims a social worker stole money from teens in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The court papers claim that in early 2016, Robert Riley Saunders had a First Nations youth placed in an independent living arrangement under Ministry care.

The teen was then eligible for financial benefits from the Ministry.

The documents allege Saunders opened a joint bank account with the youth and took some of the money for his own purposes.

The financial institution where Saunders did his banking is also being named a defendant in the case for failing to recognize Saunders’ banking irregularities.

The teen eventually found himself in a transient and sometimes homeless living situation.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Director of Child Welfare were also named as defendants in the case for not adequately overseeing Saunders’ actions, and is facing some serious questions.

“My response is there’s a publication ban on this case. I’ve been advised that I can’t speak to it, which, I’m sure, is as frustrating for me as it is for you,” Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development said outside of the B.C. legislature on Wednesday. “As soon as it is lifted, and our lawyers are working on that, I will be able to share as much information as I can.”

The notice of claim also alleges Saunders engaged in the same and similar activities in respect of dozens of other minors in his care, most of whom are Aboriginal children.

A proposed class action lawsuit has also been launched in Vancouver court.

Attempts by Global News to contact Robert Riley Saunders were unsuccessful. His profiles have been removed from social media sites.

Saunders has three weeks to respond to the notice of civil claim.

None of the accusations made against Robert Riley Saunders have been proven in court.

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