Wednesday, June 30, 1999

Barbara McLintock
Victoria Bureau

Katie died because no one helped

When Katie Kaminski's strangled, naked body was found in New Westminster, her school psychologist reacted: "I told them this would happen, I told them they'd find her dead."

But, according to a children's commission report made public yesterday, no one was listening.

The 17-year-old girl was judged to be at extremely high risk because she was both psychotic and mentally handicapped. But because of that diagnosis, the system did not have a place that would deal with her problems.

"At times there was considerable reluctance on the part of service providers to provide services," wrote acting commissioner John Greschner. "The system seemed unable to organize resources appropriate to this youth and her family."

(Under the commission's policy, Katie was not named in the report, but the fact pattern exactly matches that of Katie's death in August 1997.)

In April 1997, Katie spent two months in hospital for psychiatric treatment. Doctors suggested she should go into the long-term residential program at the government-run Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre in Burnaby.

But the Maples wouldn't take her because she'd been diagnosed as mentally retarded as well as mentally ill. The centre was also worried about her "conduct disorder," which involved running away, and possible drug use and prostitution.

Its management continues to insist she wouldn't have been a good match for the program.

Without the Maples, no other program could be found for the troubled girl.

She ended up returning to her father, although everyone agreed he wasn't able to cope with his daughter's problems.

Three months later, she was killed by a casual acquaintance she had met at a homeless shelter. Ken Carr is now serving a four-year prison sentence for manslaughter.

"This kind of adolescent is very difficult, we all understand that," Greschner told The Province.

"But in these cases, the system may then have to get very creative and develop a program, maybe even on an individualized basis," Greschner said.

[photo: Troubled teen Katie Gower Kaminski, 17, was found strangled and naked beside railroad tracks near Front Street in New Westminster in August 1997.]

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Created: June 30, 1999
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