Toronto Sun

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Mom, 81, jailed for abuse

Woman gets 4 years for torturing foster kids

By JANE SIMS, SUN MEDIA
TORONTO SUN

LONDON, Ont. -- An 81-year-old woman became the oldest female prisoner in Canada yesterday when she was sentenced to four years for torturing and abusing children who were in her care.

Edith Sanders, who ran a boarding house for kids from the 1950s to the 1980s, is now the oldest woman in federal custody, Corrections Canada officials say.

"The impact upon the lives of the three complainants is irreparable," Superior Court Justice Edward Browne said in passing sentence.

"There was a terrible breach of trust. The evidence I heard was more appalling than any I have experienced in excess of my 40 years since my call to the bar, with more than 20 of those years being judicial years."

Victims testified that while under Sanders' care, they were beaten with hockey sticks, tortured with a cattle prod and forced to eat animal feces.

PRACTISED 'DOMINATION'

Browne said while he took Sanders' age and health into consideration, she practised "domination through fear and control."

Sanders, convicted in October of seven counts of assault -- four of common assault and three of assault causing bodily harm -- stared in open-mouthed shock and lowered her head into her hands when Browne announced the sentence.

She walked slowly and stumbled near the judge's dais, grabbing it for support before she was led to the cells. She had not spent any time in custody during the trial.

Sanders' 58-year-old daughter, Yvonne Overton, who was one of the complainants, said the sentence was "a long time coming" and the scars will always remain.

The other victims were an adopted daughter, Kimberly Campbell, now 45, and Beatrice Feick, now 64, who was kept as a house slave for more than 30 years from the 1950s to 1985.

"She would beat me and I got all bloody," Feick told the court.

She described how she was forced into a tub of boiling water and held down with a plunger by Sanders, then placed into ice-cold water outdoors. Later, Sanders broke Feick's blisters with her fingernails.

"I'm glad," Feick said outside the courtroom. "I'm glad to see her put away ... Now she can't harm anybody else."

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