Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Former Kelowna social worker sued again for allegedly stealing from foster children

Multiple suits have been filed against Robert Riley Saunders in the past year

Another civil claim has been filed against a former Kelowna social worker accused of stealing money from foster children in his care while he worked for the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Numerous claims have been made over the past year accusing Robert Riley Saunders of taking money from Indigenous youth in his care.

The most recent claim, filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Oct. 21 by a permanent ward whose name cannot be published, names Saunders, the Ministry of Children and Family Development and Director of Child Welfare and Interior Savings Credit Union.

READ MORE: Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

READ MORE: More allegations against second social worker accused of abusing the trust of Okanagan youth

The notice of civil claim alleges Saunders stole money from the plaintiff by opening a joint bank account between the two.

“Saunders stole the funds deposited by the ministry into the joint bank accounts by moving them to his own individual account at Interior Savings and by paying his personal expenses by electronic transfer from the joint bank account,” stated the claim.

“The plaintiff was and is vulnerable to abuse given her history of neglect, medical neglect, transiency and exposure to traumatic circumstances.”

According to court documents, Sauders was verbally and emotionally abusive to the plaintiff, undermining her self-confidence and her belief that she may be entitled to financial support from the government.

Saunders is alleged to have lied to and misled the plaintiff, coercing her into opening the joint bank account with him.

The claim states that due to the alleged abuse the plaintiff endured at the hands of Saunders, she experienced homelessness, exposure to illicit drugs (cocaine, methamphetamine, crack) and was sexually exploited.

The documents also accuse Saunders of targeting indigenous youth because he knew that his supervisors and managers and Interior Savings would not look too closely at their affairs or adequately safeguard their interests nor would they listen upon complaints from the individuals.

The allegations in the civil claim have not been proven in court.

Earlier this month, another suit against Saunders won a small victory in court when a judge ruled that Interior Savings must produce bank records of some of Saunders’ alleged victims.

In an Oct. 16 decision on a separate civil suit, the judge noted the plaintiff had tendered a copy of a “Personal Member Application” which was signed by Saunders as the applicant and an Interior Savings employee as a witness. Where the plaintiff would have signed, over the words “applicant signature,” “not a signer,” was written.

The plaintiff contended the document was evidence that Interior Savings allowed Saunders to open an account in her name without her signature.

Interior Savings was ordered to produce any further account opening documents on which one of the alleged victims of Saunders is “not a signer” or the alleged victim’s signature is left blank, as well as statements for those accounts.

That decision mentions 18 victims in total across 10 actions naming Interior Savings as a defendant with respect to Saunders’ alleged misappropriation or mishandling of funds. Three of those actions allege fraud and conspiracy between Saunders and Interior Savings.

The defence has yet to respond to these allegations. None of these claims have been proven in court and no charges have been laid.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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