A B.C. judge has dismissed a petition to have a teenage girl returned to her mother in Connecticut, after concerns about alleged sexual abuse.
The 15-year-old girl, who is only referred to by her initials A.B. in a Supreme Court of British Columbia decision, had been living in the United States since her birth in 2002. In 2009 the mother was granted sole legal custody of the girl and her brother — the parties’ other child, although the parents were never married and the father has never lived in Connecticut.
Each summer the children would spent approximately six weeks in British Columbia, but last summer the girl refused to leave and is now attending school near Victoria.
The mother filed a motion to have the child returned, but the father opposed the application arguing their daughter is old enough to decide which parent to live with.
In Justice Butler’s decision, she noted A.B. had significant stresses in her life, including alleged sexual abuse by a cousin who is four years older. According to the court’s decision, this began when she was nine years old, but the girl did not tell her mother until the end of grade 8 (June 2016) and then told her father later that year.
The abuse was never brought to the attention of Connecticut police or children’s services, with A.B. telling the court her mother and maternal grandparents instructed her not to tell anyone because they didn’t want to get the cousin in trouble, which the mother denies and says police were not told because the daughter did not want to report it.
Justice Butler found this troublesome in his decision stating, “It would be somewhat unusual to allow a 13‑year‑old daughter to decide whether or not sexual abuse should be reported to authorities. However, it appears that the petitioner (mother) and her family did not report the sexual abuse. I conclude that the family dynamics in Connecticut surrounding the disclosure of the sexual abuse by the cousin were very disturbing to A.B.”
Other issues brought up about the girl’s life in Connecticut involved bullying at school due to her sexuality and family abuse at the hands of her mother’s partner.
In his ruling, the court found the daughter to be able to make her own decisions and Justice Butler dismissed the mother’s petition to have her daughter returned to Connecticut.