Warning: this story discusses graphic content that may be triggering or upsetting for some readers
A Kelowna woman claims that the social worker who was supposed to help protect her children from her allegedly abusive ex-husband instead entered into a relationship with him.
Melanie Hatton filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of B.C. on Oct. 16, naming Kirsten Belitzky as the Ministry of Child and Family Development youth mental health social worker who allegedly chose to pursue an unethical relationship rather than providing protection and support to the family.
The lawsuit states that in September 2019, Hatton sought professional help when her child, A (name redacted as he is a minor) began exhibiting behavioural changes as a result of alleged abuse from her ex-husband, Jeffrey Maclean.
At the time, Hatton was still married to Maclean.
In 2019, during the family’s initial intake appointment with Belitzky, Hatton privately told the social worker about issues in her marriage and the alleged abuse that her children had suffered at the hands of their father.
Then, her son, A, met with Belitzky privately and talked about the “physical and emotional abuse he had suffered at the hands of Maclean.”
The lawsuit states that A told the social worker about an instance where he claims to have witnessed his father make sexual advances on a coworker who was at their house. According to the lawsuit, A also told Belitzky about an alleged incident where he was thrown against a wall by Maclean so hard that his body left an outline in the drywall.
The lawsuit says that after A privately spoke with the social worker, Maclean, Hatton and Belitzky all met and spoke without A present.
The lawsuit alleges that Belitzky was flirtatious towards Maclean during this meeting.
The three adults spoke about the instance that A described where he watched his father make sexual advances toward an employee in their home.
According to the lawsuit, Belitzky then said, “I know a cheater when I see one because I am one.”
Belitzky allegedly promised Hatton that she would help the family in securing resources for A.
The lawsuit alleges that over the next month, Belitzky did not respond to Hatton’s emails regarding promised counselling services and would only correspond with Maclean.
The lawsuit claims that Belitzky failed to carry out her duties as a social worker, and instead commenced an affair with Maclean.
According to the lawsuit, Belitzky never arranged counselling or supports for A.
Hatton claims that she pursued private counselling for A after not being able to access any resources from Belitzky.
In 2021, Hatton and Maclean separated after an incident of violence that resulted in criminal charges of assault against Maclean.
The charges ended up being stayed one week before the criminal trial was set to begin, after Maclean applied to have the case dismissed due to excessive pre-trial delays.
Hatton has filed a separate lawsuit against Maclean, and is suing for damages caused by 17 years of alleged abuse.
The Ministry of Family Development (MCFD) became involved with the family immediately after the 2021 incident and a protection order was put in place to ensure the safety of Hatton and the two children.
At this time, employees of MCFD allegedly became aware that Belitzky was having an affair with Maclean.
The lawsuit states that MCFD employees learned that the affair had been going on before the alleged assault and separation.
The lawsuit says that ever since the social work meeting in 2019, Belitzky has had access to the family’s private files.
An employee of MCFD then allegedly informed Belitzky’s supervisor and the executive director about the conflict of interest.
The lawsuit claims that the supervisor and executive director took no steps to address the conflict of interest. The family’s file was allegedly not restricted until April 2022.
During the time that Belitzky had access to the file, she allegedly shared confidential information about the children and Hatton with Maclean.
Hatton claims that when Belitzky shared confidential information with Maclean, it allowed him to bend child protection measures and continue harassing the family, causing trauma and psychological damage to the children.
The lawsuit states that the family’s MCFD file also contained confidential information about allegations of abuse made by Hatton, the children and Maclean’s past spouses.
In January 2023, Belitzky allegedly moved into the family home in Kelowna and has gone on vacations with Maclean, while Hatton was solely paying the mortgage.
Hatton and the children currently live outside of B.C. and are currently protected from Maclean with a no-contact order.
Hatton is now seeking relief for damages incurred by the violation of privacy.
The lawsuit claims that the actions of Belitzky were unlawful and caused emotional and psychological damage to Hatton and the children.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and Belitzky has yet to respond to the claims.