Canoe News

Friday, May 24, 2002

Sex case rocks jail

Female staffers charged with abusing 3 boys


TORONTO -- Two female workers at an Uxbridge jail for young offenders have been charged with sexually assaulting three boys in their care.

"I'm very, very surprised and concerned for the welfare of the children involved," said Edward Blazo, executive director of Kennedy House Youth Services, where the assaults are alleged to have occurred last month.

The two longtime employees of the high-security institution have been suspended with pay, Blazo said.

One is a guard who worked closely with the inmates and the other is a finance manager, he said.

Durham Police alleged the employees had an "inappropriate sexual relationship" with three boys.

One boy was sexually assaulted by both women, police alleged.

Although no ages were released by police, Blazo said the facility's inmates are between 12 and 16 years old.

"We are working closely with the police and the Children's Aid Society to investigate this matter," Blazo said.

Linda Harrison, 41, of Pefferlaw, and Erin Murphy-Simpson, 29, of Whitby, are each charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual exploitation.

The 80-bed jail is one of six in the province under the Kennedy House name.

It was formerly known as the St. John's Training School for Boys -- run at one time by the Christian Brothers and later by the province -- until it was taken over by the Kennedy House group in July 2000.

Under its previous name, the institution was part of one of the most notorious child-abuse scandals in Canada's history.

More than 1,200 former residents of St. John's and another reform school in Ottawa, St. Joseph's, suffered neglect and in some cases physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers from the 1940s to the 1970s.

A sweeping OPP investigation resulted in more than 200 charges against more than 30 people.

The Catholic Church and the Christian Brothers later signed a $23-million reconciliation agreement and in 1996 the Ontario government formally apologized to the sexually and physically abused former residents.

Copyright © 2002, Canoe, a division of Netgraphe Inc.