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Director turfed at MCFD

A high-ranking employee with the Ministry of Children and Family development has been let go in the wake of bombshell allegations against social workers.

A high-ranking employee with the Ministry of Children and Family development has been let go in the wake of bombshell allegations against social workers. 

Select staff at the Kelowna branch received a formal letter stating executive director Barry Fulton and two others have been terminated. 

Fulton’s Linkedin profile states he’s worked with the ministry since 2003, first as regional manager of child and youth mental health and then as executive director of service. 

Castanet has confirmed with multiple sources that Fulton is no longer employed by the ministry.

The letter sent to staff thanks Fulton and the two staff for their services and states they are no longer with the ministry. 

In recent months, shocking details have been uncovered about two social workers who worked with vulnerable aboriginal youth in the Okanagan. 

Robert Riley Saunders, who worked for the MCFD in Kelowna, is named in several lawsuits alleging he stole money from vulnerable children in his care by setting up joint accounts. One boy was left homeless and on hard drugs.

Another suit claims a teen was kicked out of his rental suite after Saunders lied about paying rent. That teen also ended up homeless. One case also involves sexual exploitation.

Castanet also uncovered documents that show Saunders lied about his education and qualifications. Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy says the allegations of fraud are disturbing. 

“I can’t tell you how disturbed I am by this information,” she said. “To think that anyone who intends to work with vulnerable people might lie about their qualifications is deeply upsetting.”

The suits also name Saunders’ direct supervisor, Siobhan Stynes, alleging Stynes “had direct knowledge” of the theft of money and alleged abuse of kids in Saunders’ care.

Stynes also “directly inflicted emotional and psychological abuse on” the three plaintiffs, the lawsuits allege.

Lawsuits against Stynes have also surfaced in recent months, one in which a young woman claims she was just 15 when she was raped by a 23-year-old man. 

“The rape in itself was traumatizing, but one of the most traumatizing parts was how they reacted,” she said. 

She says Stynes manipulated her into writing an apology letter to the perpetrator of the alleged assault and intimidated her further by claims she would be criminally charged if she didn’t apologize.

Ministry staff would not comment on the situation.

“We are unable to comment on personnel matters,” said Shawn Larabee, a spokesperson with MCFD. 

Back in December, MCFD admitted "vicarious liability" for the actions of a Kelowna social worker accused of stealing money from vulnerable youths in his care.

Fulton did not answer his cellphone, office number or email on Wednesday.  

None of the allegations has been proven in court. 

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