Grieving for Keira Kagen and asking the right questions

TORONTO, Feb. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — “What must we learn from the apparent murder/suicide by Robin Brown and Keira, Mr. Brown’s four-year-old daughter?” asks family lawyer John T. Syrtash, Associate, Garfin Zeidenberg LLP, a Toronto family law lawyer for the past 39 years.
The Judge, in this case, adjourned a recent motion by Keira’s mother, Jennifer Kagen, for an Order to impose supervised access. Why? The Judge said that Ms. Kagen’s motion was “serious.” He noted there was “some confirmation” about one incident in which Mr. Brown became enraged and shoved a dead mouse into Ms. Kagen’s mouth.Mr. Brown later said he had no recollection of the incident. A court-appointed parenting assessor, Dr. Peter Sutton, a psychiatrist with 30 years’ experience, was satisfied the incident occurred. However, the Judge noted that the mother’s motion was not “urgent” because the Jewish Family and Child Services, also known as JF&CS, was investigating and had “eyes and ears on the ground.” JF&CS were to file a report before the next Court hearing, 22 days later.So let us all first grieve for Keira and attempt to console Keira’s mother, her step-father, and Keira’s relatives. But, later, we must also ask: why were the allegations of Mr. Brown’s violence not “sufficient” for an immediate Order of supervised access as a precaution, at least until the next Court date. Why not make such a temporary Order even if the parents’ respective allegations were contradictory? Why was Dr. Sutton’s parenting Assessment report not sufficient evidence? Without knowing all the facts, it would be a grievous mistake to blame anyone or any institution for Keira’s death. But very serious questions need to be answered, and the answers made public. How else do we calm the rage when the appearance of negligence can lead to very wrong conclusions. Sufficient steps may or may not have been taken early enough to protect this child. But at this point, we don’t know. It is not unusual when the Courts or a Children’s Aid Society are alleged to fail or refuse to take such immediate steps. Moreover, we don’t usually hear about it after the Court or an agency has been falsely accused. A child’s murder makes for sensational headlines. Exoneration doesn’t. So we need the answers. Otherwise, we won’t know how better to protect children like Keira. Someone or a group of  people are accountable, even if only Mr. Brown himself.About John Tibor Syrtash B.A. (Hon.) LL.B.: John practises in the areas of family law and civil litigation. He is counsel to the law firm of Garfin Zeidenberg LLP, Toronto, Canada. Mr. Syrtash is a senior trial lawyer and also conducts a family law mediation and arbitration practice at the firm.Contact: John T. Syrtash, Associate, GARFIN ZEIDENBERG LLP, Yonge-Norton Centre, 5255 Yonge Street, Suite 800, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M2N 6P4, Cell: (416) 886-0359, Fax: (416) 512-9992, Email: [email protected], www.freemychild.com www.garfinzeidenberg.comMedia Contact: Howard Oliver, What If What Next – PR, Cell: 416-568-5254, Email: [email protected]
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