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Jeffrey Baldwin: Social worker had no “concerns” with grandparents, inquest told

Jeffrey Baldwin: Social worker had no “concerns” with grandparents, inquest told

Catholic Children’s Aid’s files were never checked on couple later convicted of boy’s murder.

Jeffrey Baldwin and one of his siblings were severely abused by their grandparents. The 5-year-old starved to death in 2002. Bottineau and Kidman are in prison, having been convicted of second-degree murder.

By: Jacques Gallant Staff Reporter, Published on Wed Oct 23 2013

Margarita Quintana was calm and matter-of-fact as she readily admitted that not a single background check was made on Jeffrey Baldwin’s grandparents before he and his siblings were placed in their care, where Jeffrey would ultimately starve to death.

The retired Catholic Children’s Aid Society social worker, who was the worker most involved with the Baldwin family, was this month’s most highly anticipated witness at the coroner’s inquest into Jeffrey’s death.

The 5-year-old weighed only 21 pounds when he died in 2002, after spending his final years in appalling living conditions in his maternal grandparents’ home. Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman are now serving life sentences for second-degree murder.

The room fell completely silent on Wednesday as Quintana’s lawyer Jordan Goldblatt asked her a slew of questions regarding her first involvement with Jeffrey’s parents Richard Baldwin and Yvonne Kidman in 1994, when she decided to temporarily place Jeffrey’s eldest sibling in her grandparents’ home:

Did she know CCAS was involved with the Bottineau-Kidman family when Yvonne was a child, and that the young Yvonne had been the subject of a supervision order? Did she know either grandparent had a criminal record? Did she ever request a CCAS record check of Norman Kidman or Elva Bottineau?

At each question, without hesitation, Quintana responded “no.”


“Because there were no protection concerns regarding the child then,” she said, something she would repeat several times during her first day of testimony. “We would have checked if we had concerns . . . We did checks on the clients, and the grandparents were not the clients.”

It was already well-known that CCAS did not check its own files on Bottineau and Kidman. Had they done so, they would have discovered that the couple had had run-ins with children’s aid in the past, and had separate convictions for assault on their own children.

But never had Quintana herself spoken publicly before on the two cases opened against Jeffrey’s parents. The inquest room was more full than usual Wednesday as she took the stand. Two security guards stood in the hallway outside.

Quintana admitted she recalled very little about her interactions with the family. She said she had reviewed all the documents from the time to refresh her memory.

She also acknowledged her heavy Spanish accent made it difficult for some clients to understand her. Quintana was previously a human-rights worker in Chile before joining CCAS as an intake worker in 1993. Jeffrey’s parents testified that they had trouble comprehending Quintana, but she said on Wednesday they never complained to her.

“I was aware of my accent, and would always encourage clients to ask me to speak more slowly and I would rephrase if they didn’t understand,” said Quintana, who was difficult to understand at times on Wednesday, prompting Goldblatt to ask her to speak more slowly.

Quintana’s reports were also riddled with grammatical errors, including several variations on the names of Jeffrey’s parents and grandparents. “Yvonne,” for example, was spelled “Ivonne,” as it is in Spanish, in at least one instance.

The grandparents would eventually gain custody of the Baldwin children through the courts. Quintana’s positive view of Elva Bottineau would not waver between 1994 and 1998, when the two cases against Jeffrey’s parents were opened.

“She was highly concerned with the well-being of the children,” she said. “She was so helpful to Richard and Yvonne . . . I viewed her involvement as a positive.”

2013 Oct 23