Toronto Sun

September 7, 2002

Woman beat teen: Witness

By FEDERICO BARAHONA -- Sun Media
Toronto Sun

LONDON, Ont. -- A now elderly woman charged with child abuse in the 1950s and 1960s repeatedly beat and inflicted electric shocks on children for not doing their chores, one of her accusers has testified.

Edith Sanders, 80, faces 14 charges related to the alleged beating and torture of children dating back to 1951.

This week, a 58-year-old witness who lived with Sanders until she was 17 testified about a beating she saw in which a young teen was hit about 100 times with an altered hockey stick.

"I walked into the bedroom and her bum was bleeding," the witness told the court. She said the beatings were known as "getting the belt."

"Her back looked like first-degree burns, it was so blistered," she said.

She said Sanders would also inflict electric shocks on that teen if she fell asleep before finishing her chores.

Sanders has no lawyer and is defending herself. She looked frail in court and had trouble getting up when Superior Court Justice Edward Browne left the courtroom.

At one point, a court technician was asked to turn up the volume of a speaker on Sanders' desk after she complained she was having difficulty hearing testimony.

"Your obligation is to signal that you didn't hear right away," said Browne, who also urged Sanders to take notes while others testified so she could cross-examine them.

'Please wake up'

Later, Sanders' voice was shaky as she cross-examined a witness. She started to cry as she told how much she loved a witness.

Minutes earlier, a friend who was supposed to be taking notes to help Sanders fell asleep during the proceedings.

"Please wake up," Sanders pleaded as she struggled to poke her friend awake.

Yesterday the trial, originally slated to last up to three weeks, was delayed after Sanders said her friend wasn't going to help any more.

The witness told court as many as 10 kids, including children from Children's Aid and foster kids, lived in the house under Sanders' care during the 1960s.

The witness, who lived with Sanders until 1962, said the children feared Sanders because of her random beatings.

"It all depends on the mood she was in," said the London woman. "When she does it, she doesn't stop till she's worn down."

Sanders, who was charged in 1998, is also accused by women ages 44 and 58.

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