This May 21, 2018, it’s family meal at Alain and Marie-Christine’s. Around the table, the couple receives their daughter, their stepson, their granddaughter Léa and her sister, as well as the three children placed with Alain and Marie-Christine, a foster family for many years. They all have lunch happily in the dining room. Then, at the beginning of the afternoon, everyone settles down in the garden under the beautiful spring sun. Alain plants flowers, his daughter repaints her garden furniture and the children play together. Marie-Christine, who stayed inside, ironed the laundry and watched over the toddlers. For a few moments, she loses sight of Léa, her two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter.
Everyone then sets about their search until one of the children confides in Alain: “Florian [a teenager taken in by the foster family, Editor’s note] said to me:” Imagine that Léa was raped, killed and drowned in the stream. ”“ Alain rushes towards the river located 300 m below, and separated from the family home by four protective fences. He discovers the unimaginable there. The naked body of her little daughter lies in the water, stabbed 22 times. “It was horrible. I took her in my arms and I pulled her up”, confides the grandfather, still haunted by these images. In the meantime, Florian has fled. He was arrested the next day in Belgium.
“He would walk around the house naked and masturbate in front of the other boys”
“Since that day, we have been devastated and we have given up on our welcoming mission. It’s too painful”, confide Marie-Christine and Alain. Before the tragedy, the couple had been caring for children, for more than ten years, whose parents were unable to take care. A profession whose flaws they began to perceive when Florian arrived at their home in 2015. Silent, withdrawn, the 12-year-old boy is not very sociable and has difficulty expressing himself. With patience and listening, the foster parents try to reassure him, to integrate him into the family.
But quickly, Florian shows inappropriate behavior that the couple did not expect. “He was walking around the house naked and masturbating in front of the two other little boys aged 7 and 11 we were welcoming. We reported the situation to his referent and asked if he had ever encountered any problems before. His response Stunned us. “He has to discover his sexuality! And then, we have no place elsewhere. Florian does not suffer from any pathology, everything is fine.” We therefore had to fend for ourselves. ”
With each incident, the couple reports it to the ASE and runs into a wall
Despite all the experience and kindness of the couple, Florian’s attitude worsens and worries them. “One night the fire alarm went off. He was setting his room on fire. A few weeks later, he opened the gas bottles in the kitchen. At night, he crawled into our room. on the ground to steal my computer and watch pornographic movies. He stole money, family photos, our credit cards. He also tried to sexually assault our granddaughter and one of her brothers reception. It was becoming difficult to manage. ”
With each incident, Alain and Marie-Christine report it to Social Assistance for Children (ASE) and hit a wall. “We sent them 34 letters and called them as many times. We never got an answer from them”, regrets Lea’s family. Sleeping only with one eye, always on the alert, the couple installs an alarm on the door of Florian’s room in order to monitor his nocturnal wanderings. Unfortunately, these precautions will not be enough to avoid the drama that had been brewing for several weeks in the young boy’s head …
“This child had no place in foster care and it should have been taken away from them”
Florian was tried before the juvenile assize court in 2019 for raping and stabbing Léa. “At the hearing, we learned that he had already been moved from two host families before us for problems of violence. Nobody had ever spoken to us about it,” the grandparents enraged. Sentenced to eight years in prison despite impaired discernment, he is not, in the eyes of Léa’s family, solely responsible for this tragedy. “This child had no place in a foster family and it should have been taken away from them, explains master Hugo Van Cauwenberge, lawyer for Léa’s family. This tragedy could have been avoided if the ASE had listened to my messages. customers. Especially since they had already welcomed 19 children, they had experience, perspective on their profession. They would not have sounded the alarm for nothing. ”
Legal action to recognize the responsibility of ASE is underway. “We hope that a favorable decision will force these authorities to improve the system. It is the only driving force of my clients, who know full well that this will not bring them back their little Léa.”
Marie-Christine and Alain had welcomed 19 children and had experience. After the tragedy, they gave up their mission. © PERSONAL COLLECTION