June 14th, 2024

Parents of abused infant focus of courthouse protest

By Lethbridge Herald on January 26, 2023.

Herald photo by Al Beeber - A group of protesters carrying placards and demanding justice for the parents accused of various charges involving an infant girl gather Wednesday at the Lethbridge courthouse.

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman & Delon Shurtz – LETHBRIDGE HERALD

Tensions were running high outside the Lethbridge Provincial Courthouse on Wednesday, while the parents of a six-week old child who had been assaulted and sexually assaulted were before the court. 

Between 40 to 50 people attended a rally in support of the baby outside of the courthouse, while some went inside to hear what the judge had to say Wednesday morning. 

Last week Lethbridge police charged a father and mother in connection with the assault and sexual assault of their six-week-old daughter.

Officers were called to a northside home on Jan. 18, to check on the welfare of the infant after receiving information she was being abused. Upon arrival officers located the baby in medical distress, EMS transported her to hospital where her injuries were found to be extensive.

Police say a 52-year-old man is charged with one count of failure to provide the necessaries of life, one count of aggravated assault, one count of sexual assault, and one count of sexual contact with a child. 

A 31-year-old woman is charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life.

On Monday, police released an update on the child’s status, saying she remains in critical condition at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. No further updates have been issued.

Wednesday’s courthouse rally was organized by Dads On Guard, a group from Edmonton that travelled to give the child a voice and ask the judge to deny bail to those accused. 

Zak Gladue with Dads On Guard said they traveled overnight to come be a voice for the child. 

“We need to be the voice today, if we weren’t here nobody would be out here,” said Gladue. 

He said as a survivor himself he is motivated to help others who need a voice. 

“I grew up in child and family care with Alberta Child and Family Services because some of the people that were supposed to be there taking care of me, protecting me, protecting my vulnerability, they failed to do so,” said Gladue. 

He said things happened to him where some trauma was incurred and talking about what happened and being a voice for others, is what helps him feel better and keep moving forward. 

“It helps me talk about my trauma, I also find that it encourages others to speak about theirs and speaking about your trauma is honestly the best way to deal with it,” said Gladue. 

A southern Alberta woman who was also a survivor of childhood trauma said she was there to support the baby and hoped their voices were heard and bail was denied to her parents, as she said there is not enough of a punishment for people who abuse children. 

Lynne Hammond said she had seen the system fail another child in the past, a child of someone she knows from the Crowsnest Pass, who was molested from age seven to age 12. 

“He went to jail for three years and he was out in 18 months. That’s not enough. It ruined her life, and all he got was a slap on the wrist? It has to change,” said Hammond. 

Carla Sardoff, a local resident who said she knew both accused and the baby herself, was there to support the baby in hopes that her parents were denied bail. 

“I knew the mom personally, I have met the dad as well, I used to be friends on Facebook with her. I’ve seen the little baby and I’m here to support her, because I don’t agree with what’s going on. You do not do this to a child, I don’t care who you are, you do not ever hurt a child in this way,” said Sardoff. 

She said she was showing her support because she wants them locked up for good. 

“If he gets out who’s to say he’s not going do it again? He’s not going to commit another crime, he’s already got crimes underneath his belt,” said Sardoff. 

The two parents could seek their release when they return to court Friday.

The mother was represented by Calgary lawyer John Oman.

Oman told court he had only been retained late Tuesday and needs time to receive disclosure from the Crown’s office. He requested the matter be adjourned until Friday, ostensibly for a bail hearing.

The Crown, however, is opposed to the release of both parents.

The father did not have a lawyer attend court for him but was represented by duty counsel during Tuesday’s hearing. Nothing was said about a bail hearing for the father, and duty counsel simply requested the matter also be adjourned to Friday.

Many stated they would be back in front of the courthouse on Friday to continue showing their support for the baby. 

“I am happy, extremely happy, and I hope that the bail keeps getting revoked. I hope that this does not get (dragged) out and the baby gets justice,” said Sardoff. 

She said she is hoping an attempted murder charge gets added for both parents. 

“Not just to him but her, too, because as a mother how do you sit and turn a blind eye to all this? How do you not grab your child, ran out the door screaming to your neighbours, banging on their door asking them to call 911? Whatever it took,” said Sardoff. 

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