Sherry Laura Ann Charlie
January 17, 2001 - September 4, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial

At the age of only 19 months old, Sherry Charlie was place in the home of her Uncle, Ryan Dextor George by the USMA, which is a Port Albemi Oboriginal Child Welfare Agency who was working with the Provincial Children And family Development Ministry. Sherry had been placed in that home even though a thorough investigation had yet to be done as far as criminal and family checks of those living in the home.

USMA was involved in the life of Juliana Frank from the year 1999 just after she gave birth to her son Jamie. Several calls came in to say that Julian was abusing alcohol, neglecting the children and was being assaulted by her spouse. In the Summer of 2002, Juliana became aware that the agency was going to take her children from her so she took her daughter Sherry to live with her own mother, but April Lucas said that she could not take care of the child so Juliana then took her children to her sister, Claudette and her husband Ryan.

The children moved into the home and USMA had them both sign papers allowing a for background checks in order for them to become foster parents through the agency Kith And Kin. On September 4, 2002, Ryan, Claudette and the five children in their home were going shopping for a mini van and they decided to spend the night in a hotel close to where the children had a dentist appointment the next day. Claudette was said to have taken the oldest child, their nine year old daughter Brooklyn and gone to store. When she left the children were all playing together, four  year old daughter Joycelyn, three  year old son, Kwasah and three and half year old Jamie were all happy, though Sherry tried to go with her, she was not allowed to go that day. About an hour after leaving the hotel room, Claudette was paged at the grocery store and a Firefighter told her that she needed to get back to the hotel because there had been an accident.

Sherry was crying that day and had been crying almost all day, hard crying, high pitched screams and Ryan would say that no matter what he did, she would not stop. After trying to hold her and calm her down, may hours later, Ryan banged Sherry's head on the floor in what he said was a fit of rage, three times, he kicked her in the stomach twice and then her eyes rolled back into her head, she went quite and he started to do CPR. When he was not able to bring her back, he called 911 and waited for Emergency Personnel to get there. Ryan panicked and then moved Sherry to the bottom of the stairs to make it appear that she had fallen and landed there after an accident, that's where the ambulance crew found her.

Sherry died on September 4, 2002 and Ryan told Police that her three year old brother Jamie had pushed her down the stairs. Two days later, Sherry was laying on a cold, metal table to have an autopsy done by Pathologist Dan Straathof  and it was immediately evident that this child had been suffering from abuse. Sherry had many injuries including broken ribs in various stages of healing, internal abdominal bleeding, scalp contusions and bleeding in her brain cavity,  it was noted that her injuries were NOT consistent with a fall down the stairs.

The Coroner in the case thought that abuse of this child had taken place, however, he and others withheld that information even though he is legally bound to report it, he said he was trying to protect the case if a criminal investigation took place. Two months later he finally shared the truth and Social Workers were understandable confused and upset about what he had done. Social Workers had gone to court to convince a Judge that Sherry's brother should be left with Ryan and that he should also keep custody of his own children, that left all of these children living with Ryan for five months after Sherry died.

A 135 page report from Child And Youth Officer Jane Morely said that a "crisis like" situation took place after Sherry died and that it wasn't clear from the beginning what roles people from Coroner, Social Workers and Senior Managers were supposed to play. With information having been held back about the facts in the death of Sherry, several children were left in a dangerous home and she added that it was little comfort to those involved that none of the other children had died:

"While individuals did and do make a difference, it is my belief that a similar story could
happen tomorrow and with different individuals involved, unless we take steps to change
the system"

Ryan admitted that he had beaten Sherry to death and lied about her brother pushing her down the stairs. Ryan was 30 years old when he plead guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to only ten years in prison.

This case of course caused officials to do a complete overhaul of the system, make promises of change, figure out what went wrong and "hope" that nothing like this would ever happen again. Jane Morely said that each individual agency could read her report and decide what changes they needed to make. Jane recommended that the Provincial Government set up multi agency death teams that would respond immediately if a child dies unexpectedly in a home and she brought up the fact that these teams are used in California and Michigan:

"The results of this investigation bring into stark relief the need for such immediate,
collaborative respond to child deaths of this kind"

Jane said that the Coroner had made mistakes and that they hadn't seemed to understand what they were supposed to do. Jane seems to be making excuses for the Coroner, the law said he was to report suspected child abuse, what's not to understand in that sentence? Jane did say that it was not right for the Ministry Of Children And Family Development, who also knew that the Coroner had withheld evidence, not to intervene. Sherry's grandparents, Harvey and Rose Charlie,  had made repeated calls to try to have Sherry's brother removed from that home and they said it took a very long for the report to come out and tell the truth.

In February of 2006, it was reported that a Coroner's Inquest had recommended that a program that was cut after Sherry died, The Children's Commission, be reinstated. After a ten day inquest, the jury took four and half hours to come back with 19 recommendations directed to the Director of the Child Family And Community Services Act, which was the governing force for child protection in British Coulombia, the RCMP, the B.C. Coroner's Service, West Coast General Hospital, Usma, the Aboriginal Child Welfare Agency and the Nuu-Cha-Nulth Tribal Council. At least six reviews were done regarding the death of Sherry Charlie.

Among the Jury recommends was that all Social Workers should be trained in the same way no matter which agency they were employed with, they recommended the Government's Kith and Kin program must have three letters of reference with one being from both sets of grandparents and one from a neutral person with access to the family and people who might care for any child. The Jury recommended that any officer doing an investigation into the death of a child should attend the autopsy to enable discussion and ability to share the findings:

"Nothing can be more devastating than the loss of a child. I hope these
proceedings can contribute in some way to the healing that must begin"
Liana Wright - Coroner

April was in tears while she spoke at the inquest about how she felt guilty for trusting Ryan to care for the children:

"I trust and I was assured the trust by Ryan George. I've had many sleepless
nights for three and half years. I'm sorry for the decision I made"

Sherry's great-grandfather, Simon Lucas had visited Ryan in prison and given his forgiveness to the man who had killed his great-granddaughter in an effort to relieve some of the grief in his family:

"He looked at me and said: the only thing I can say is I'm sorry"

Ryan was brought to the inquest in shackles and that's when he told those present:

"I should have never been allowed to care for anybody's children"

In June 2011 Ryan Dexter George became a free man after he was automatically paroled after he served only two thirds of his ten year sentence. At this point, Julian Frank and her family were mourning the death of her six week old baby boy whose death was under investigation, though not tied to anything having to do with Ryan. The boy was found unresponsive in Juliana's home and the cause of death had not yet been determined.

Archie Frank, Sherry's grandfather was upset because he and the family had yet to get over the death of Sherry and now her killer was walking around free. Of course there were special conditions put on the release of Ryan while he was set to enter a residential treatment center so that he could deal with substance abuse and emotional troubles he was having. Ryan was not allowed to use drugs, though I can't figure out why he would be let of prison with those in charge KNOWING he still had a substance abuse problem. Ryan would also have to stay away from criminals as well as criminal activity and Ryan would have to let the Parole Board know if he entered into a relationship of any kind with any woman:

"These special conditions are reasonable and necessary to protect society and assist
in your reintegration as a law abiding citizen"
Parole Board"

Ryan had been in and completed several rehabilitation programs while he as in prison and the board said that he appeared to be highly motivated to deal with his problems more productively in the future.

Timeline of events in the life of Sherry Charlie:

1999: The USMA Nuu Chah Nulth social agency on Vancouver Island becomes involved with Julianna Frank and Trevor Charlie shortly after the birth of their son, Jamie.

Jan. 16, 2001: Ms. Frank, now 19, gives birth to Sherry.

Summer, 2002: USMA begins preparations to remove Jamie and Sherry after concerns about alcohol abuse, spousal assault and child neglect.

Late August, 2002: Ms. Frank and her mother, April Lucas, arrange for 19-month-old Sherry and three-year-old Jamie to move into the home of Ryan George and Claudette Lucas.Ms. Lucas is April's sister and a family-support worker at USMA.

Sept. 4: Ms. Lucas goes shopping, leaving her husband at home with Sherry and three other children; when she returns, Sherry is dead. Mr. George says Jamie pushed her down the stairs.

Sept. 6: Vancouver forensic pathologist Dan Straathof starts an autopsy, sees signs that the death did not occur from a fall down stairs.

Sept. 9: Autopsy resumes with police present.

Sept. 11: Police tell senior staff at USMA that Sherry's injuries could not be explained by the fall.

Oct. 31: USMA receives a confidential summary of the coroner's preliminary autopsy findings.

Jan. 7, 2003: Mr. George moves out, leaving Ms. Lucas with their three children and Jamie.

Jan. 21: Police receive final autopsy report and begin a homicide probe.

Feb. 3: Jamie is removed from Ms. Lucas's care.

Feb. 24: Mr. George is arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder; Ms. Lucas is arrested on suspicion of criminal negligence causing death.

March, 2003: Ms. Lucas is suspended from her job at USMA.

April 29: She decides to co-operate with police.

June 4: With a wire in her purse and in her car, she extracts a confession from Mr. George. He is arrested later that day.

Oct. 4, 2004: Mr. George pleads guilty to manslaughter.

Oct. 5: He is sentenced to 10 years in prison.

June 2011: Ryan is released early.

This page was created on January 2, 2015
Death occurred in Canada

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