Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Kelowna ex-social worker accused of stealing from foster kids to be tried by judge alone

Robert Riley Saunders is facing 13 criminal charges

A disgraced former Kelowna social worker will stand trial for a variety of fraud and theft charges by judge alone.

After years of investigation and several civil lawsuits, Robert Riley Saunders was arrested in December and charged with 10 counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of theft over $5,000, one count of breach of trust and one count of uttering a forged document.

On Monday, he appeared briefly in a Kelowna courtroom electing to be tried by a Supreme Court Justice sitting without a jury.

Aside from criminal charges, Saunders — as well as the Ministry of Children and Family Development — faced a class-action lawsuit led by former youth in care in B.C.

Statements of claim accuse Saunders of stealing the funds deposited into accounts of those youth, leaving the foster children homeless and subject to physical and sexual abuse, as well as vulnerable to addiction.

In October, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alan Ross approved a settlement for more than 100 people.

The notice of settlement says each member will get a basic $25,000 payment and those who are Indigenous will get an additional $44,000.

Further damages could be paid to those who experienced homelessness, psychological harm, sexual exploitation, injury, or whose education was delayed, the settlement says.

In January, another civil claim was levied against Saunders, alleging he failed to inform children in his care of programs available to them upon their release from provincial custody. That claim also has the potential to become a class action lawsuit.

Saunders was hired by the ministry in 1996 and transferred to Kelowna in 2001. He was fired in 2018.

Saunders is scheduled to next appear in court on March 8. He remains out of custody on bail.

READ MORE: Ex-social worker accused of stealing from foster kids faces COVID Kelowna court delays

READ MORE: Former Kelowna social worker granted bail

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CourtFoster care

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The District of Lake Country saw its number of overdose calls double in 2020 over the previous year. (Black Press file photo)
Overdose calls doubled in Lake Country in 2020: report

The district’s protective services annual report shows there were 47 overdose calls last year

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Vernon husband and wife Jan (top) and Ken Waldon (with B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin), were among 44 provincial recipients of the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for volunteerism. The awards were presented at a special ceremony earlier in September in Victoria. (Government House Victoria photos)
Fintry heritage site champion loses battle with illness

Ken Waldon was the leading proponent behind the creation of Friends of the Fintry Provincial Park Society

An application to construct housing units for temporary farm workers was supported by District of Lake Country council Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The applicant, Gurjinder Sandher, must now get approval from the Agricultural Land Commission. (Google Maps)
Lake Country supports farmer’s bid to build housing for temporary workers

The application to construct 40 permanent units on farmland is now pending ALC approval

Transition house program manager Melrose Tomlinson, from left, Archway Society co-executive director Sherry Demetrick, Men’s Shed club members John Halper, David Friesen, Harry Knopf and Sam Lachman collaborated on building a gazebo structure for the women rising in the home to use during their time outdoors. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star file)
Vernon men’s mental health club gains independence

Before becoming its own society, Men’s Shed was under the wings of the CMHA

About 50 people gathered Friday, March 5, 2021 in Penticton to protest city council’s decision to close a temporary winter shelter. (Jesse Day - Western News)
WATCH: Protest over Penticton shelter draws large crowd

People are gathering in Gyro Park to protest the closure of a winter shelter

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, normally held in August, was denied a grant due to COVID. (File photo)
COVID makes some of the 2021 grant decisions for Princeton council

Municipality doles out funds while striving to meet policy

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

Most Read