Concerns over department discipline…

Cornwall Standard Freeholder

25 January 2008

Posted By Trevor Pritchard

The former head of youth and community services in eastern Ontario signed off on a positive performance review for Emile Robert despite having concerns about the manager’s willingness to discipline his probation officers, the Cornwall Public Inquiry heard Thursday.

Roy Hawkins wrote that Robert, the former area manager for Cornwall Probation and Parole Services, had “managed the Cornwall office quite effectively for a period of greater than six years” in a performance review dated Feb. 26, 1993 and entered into evidence yesterday.

On Monday, Hawkins had painted a very different picture of Robert, whom he began supervising in 1985.

He claimed Robert did not go far enough in disciplining former probation officer Ken Seguin after learning Seguin had served alcohol to a probationer at his home in January 1992.

Seguin has been accused of sexually abusing a number of his former probationers. He committed suicide in 1993 and was never charged.

On the night of Jan. 8, 1992, four teenagers briefly visited Seguin’s home in Summerstown. At the time, Seguin was preparing a pre-sentencing report on one of the four.

At around 4 a.m. the next morning, away from Seguin’s property, one of the four teenagers was fatally shot by another member of the group. A subsequent police report indicated that Seguin had set out four unopened beers for the teens when they showed up at his door.

Hawkins testified Monday he was “surprised and shocked” that the only action Robert took was to advise Seguin in writing he could be disciplined if it happened again.

Yet his signature appeared on Robert’s 1993 performance review – a fact which had inquiry commissioner Normand Glaude scratching his head.

“Would you not think that somewhere in some evaluation . . . you would want to point out, ‘Look, Mr. Robert, I think you could have done this better?'” asked Glaude.

“Yes, I think that’s a fair statement,” Hawkins replied.

Hawkins testified he had discussed the incident with Robert before completing the performance review and felt Robert was aware of his disappointment with the level of discipline meted out.

Under cross-examination by Dallas Lee, lawyer for The Victims Group, Hawkins said that despite his concerns about Robert, he never suggested he wasn’t cut out for management and didn’t believe he would have recommended specific training for Robert.

“Would you agree that you took a rather deferential approach to Mr. Robert’s management?” asked Lee.

“No, I wouldn’t,” said Hawkins.

Two performance reviews Robert wrote for Seguin in 1992 and 1993 were also entered into evidence yesterday.

In both reviews, Robert depicted Seguin as a dedicated probation officer.

The 1992 report, which would have covered the time the four teens visited Seguin’s home, described Seguin as “a very good employee” and said he had “demonstrated a high level of initiative and proficiency in his work.”

Hawkins, who also signed off on the 1992 report, said he hadn’t been informed about the teens’ visit to Seguin’s home by that time.

The signature of another employee of the Ministry of Correctional Services, as it was then known, appeared on the 1993 report.

“If I saw this document, it would have been initialed by me,” explained Hawkins. “I don’t think this is a (performance) appraisal that I did see.”

Hawkins told Lee he “probably” had the authority to overrule Robert’s lack of disciplinary action towards Seguin, but such a step could have led to a lengthy grievance process and made the ministry’s case very difficult to win.

“I just don’t think it (a superior overruling a subordinate) is the way an organization is structured to operate,” said Hawkins.

Michael Neville, lawyer for Seguin’s estate, asked Hawkins how aware he was of the circumstances surrounding the four teens’ visit to Seguin’s home – including that Seguin had no prior knowledge the young man he was writing a pre-sentencing report on was going to show up.

Hawkins said he didn’t know that when he sought disciplinary action against Seguin.

Today’s sitting of the inquiry has been cancelled after Glaude said he had to deal with a “personal matter.”

The inquiry resumes on Feb. 4.