Jun. 5, 2002. 01:00 AM
Child in spanking case talks of parents' love
Court sees video of 12-year-old boy taken from home
ST. THOMAS — The voice of one of the children at the centre of a controversy over the use of corporal punishment was heard in a courtroom yesterday.
The 12-year-old boy was interviewed last July 7, three days after he and his six siblings were dragged kicking and screaming from their home.
The 24-minute tape shows the boy answering questions readily. He talks unaffectedly of his religious beliefs and his parents' affection for him, challenging the assumptions of those questioning him.
Aylmer's deputy police chief, who as a witness scheduled to take the stand tomorrow cannot be named until he has finished testifying, conducts most of the interview.
An unusual publication ban imposed by Madam Justice Eleanor Schnall allows the news media to report on the proceedings in general terms, but not to convey details of the evidence, which the children's parents are seeking to have ruled inadmissible.
Schnall is hearing the evidence within a voir dire, or trial within a trial, and intends to rule on what is admissible and what can be reported at the end of the trial.
The ban is being appealed by several news media outlets, including The Star.
The trial is being held to determine whether the children, now aged 7 to 15, are in need of continued protection.
The children's aid society removed them in response to information that they were being disciplined with belts and sticks. They were returned to their parents three weeks later under a court-sanctioned agreement. The society is now seeking a 12-month supervision order with conditions, including that the children not be physically disciplined.
Lawyers for the parents and the government-appointed children's lawyer take the position the children are not in need of protection.
In the interview with the boy, the police officer is assisted by a manager with Family and Children's Services of St. Thomas and Elgin, and an interpreter whose help is generally not needed because the boy speaks English well. He resorts to low German twice to provide explanations.
His parents, members of the Aylmer Church of God who emigrated from Mexico two years ago, speak low German. Two court reporters are translating proceedings for them.
Court also heard yesterday from Brian Flint, a child services worker who was sent to the Aylmer home last July 4 when Church of God members gathered to try and impede the apprehension of the children.
The main caseworker on the file gave her final testimony yesterday after four days on the stand, but she cannot be identified until the end of the trial.
The remaining six videotapes are to be played today. Because of occasional poor sound quality, Schnall agreed to a media request to allow reporters written transcripts of the interviews.
Despite the ban, reporters from seven print, radio or television outlets were in the courtroom yesterday.