Kael Austin Svendsen is one of two Penticton residents who have filed a civil lawsuit against the Ministry for Children and Family Development. (RCMP photo)

Ministry neglect claims allegedly led South Okanagan pair to life of crime and addiction

Penticton pair have filed a civil lawsuit against the Ministry for Children and Family Development

A Penticton pair have filed a civil lawsuit against the Ministry for Children and Family Development claiming inadequate care and support put them in a downward spiral and into a life of crime and drugs.

Bre-Anne Buhler and Kael Svendsen filed a notice of civil lawsuit in the Supreme Court on Aug. 22 on the legal basis of negligence, misfeasance of public office, abuse of process, breach of fidicuiry duty and that the province is liable for any harm caused by the ministry director’s alleged negligence.

READ MORE: Sentencing delayed for Penticton woman caught vaginally smuggling drugs

In her claim, Buhler said she was exposed to periods without food, street homelessness, illicit drugs such as methamphetamine, crack and cocaine. She also claims she was sexually exploited and assaulted as a result of negligent parental actions by the director.

READ MORE: Osoyoos RCMP arrest man wanted on province-wide warrants

Buhler said, in the court documents, that she became a child in the continuing care of the province pursuant to a continuing custody order and was vulnerable to abuse given her history of parental neglect, medical neglect, a victim of sexual assault, housing transiency and exposure to traumatic circumstances.

Svendson alleges the failings of the director started when he was placed into a foster home where the adult suffered from alcoholism and provided him, on multiple occasions with booze. The statement also claims that the foster parent had called RCMP while Svendson was intoxicated and admitted to supplying him with alcohol. He said that he was removed from the home was “subsequently homeless, hungry and became addicted to drugs.” Svendson claims he became involved in crime to afford food and began to steal to feed his alcohol addiction.

“Due to his alcohol addiction, (Svendson) migrated to illicit drugs. The director had an obligation to plan for the plaintiff’s welfare. No planning was ever done even when the director was aware that the plaintiff was incarcerated, transient or homeless,” reads the claim notice.

Buhler last served time behind bars in 2017 where the charges took up nearly five pages on the court docket, ranging from break-and-enters and drug charges down to breaking curfew while on bail. She was sentenced in August to two years in jail after taking RCMP on an 18-minute chase where she had a “full pharmacy on board in her vagina” and appeared to be overdosing once police took her under arrest.

READ MORE: Woman gets 245 days in jail for dozens of charges

Svendsen was wanted on eight province-wide warrants and arrested in November in Osoyoos. He is facing 21 charges including careless use of a firearm, theft under $5,000, mischief, break and enter and two counts of assault.

Both plaintiffs are arguing that the director of the ministry had an obligation to consider their safety, physical and emotional needs and level of development, the importance of continuity of care and other best interests. They state the director failed to consider those interest, as well as their safety and well-being. Buhler’s statement said the director failed to apply for benefits or entitlements to which they knew, or ought to have known she was entitled to and failed to put in place any future planning of care to assist Buhler in dealing with living independently as an adult exiting the care of the ministry.

Both of the plaintiffs are suing for unspecified monetary amount as a result of general damages, loss of earnings, loss of future earnings, damages for breach of fiduciary duty among other things.

READ MORE: Province concerned over allegations of Kelowna social worker

Both Buhler and Svendson have hired lawyer Michael Patterson, who is representing several others in a civil lawsuit against a former Kelowna social worker who they allege was stealing money from them while they were in his care.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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Bre-Anne Buhler, shown here in an RCMP mugshot, has filed a civil lawsuit against the Minsitry for Children and Family Development claiming they were negligent of her safety and welfare while she was under their care. (RCMP photo)

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