By Kathleen Gilbert

QUEBEC, April 9, 2009 ( – A Gatineau father lost an appeal Monday after a lower court ruled last June that he had issued a too severe punishment against his 12-year-old daughter.

The case involves a divorced man who says that in 2008 he caught the girl, over whom he had custody, surfing websites he had forbidden and posting “inappropriate pictures of herself” online. The girl’s father told her as a consequence that she would not be allowed to go on her class’ graduation trip to Quebec City, even though her mother had already given permission for her to do so.

The girl then contacted a legal-aid lawyer who was involved in the parents’ custody battle, who convinced the court to order that the girl be allowed to go on the trip with her class.  The father appealed the decision on principle, although his daughter went on the trip in the meantime.

The appeals court reportedly warned in its ruling that the case should not be seen as an open invitation for children to take legal action against their parents when grounded.

The girl now lives with her mother.

Prosecuting attorney Lucie Fortin said that seeking a court order to overturn the father’s discipline was a “last resort.”  “The question was that there was a problem between the father and the mother, and the child asked the court to intervene because it was important to her,” she said.

The defense attorney told media the father was “flabbergasted.”

“We went from a child who wanted to live with her father, and after all this has been done, they’re not speaking anymore,” said defense attorney Kim Beaudoin.  “Either way, he doesn’t have authority over this child anymore.

“She sued him because she doesn’t respect his rules.  It’s very hard to raise a child who is the boss.”

Beaudoin said her client may take the case to Canada’s Supreme Court. 

“I wasn’t proud to be a Quebecer when I read the ruling. I can’t believe we let a child do this,” she told Canwest.

Last June Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the initial court decision against the father “another chilling precedent,” saying that it was so outrageous that it sounded like a parody.

“This judge needs to be grounded and sent to her room,” Mohler said. He pointed out that the rules the girl broke, and which the court has helped her to flout, were put in place for her own protection. Police have identified online dating sites as a common window through which sexual predators gain access to children.

“For years, we have been warned that the courts were poised to usurp parental authority. We have seen chilling judicial precedents and the encroaching reach of bureaucrats and government agents … Parents are supplanted by professionals who are ‘experts’ in raising other people’s children.”

See related coverage:

Quebec Judge Overrules Father’s Decision to Ground His Sixth-Grade Daughter


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