Jul. 13, 2004. 06:15 AM

Peel child agency hit by $8M suit
Father alleges Douglas Moore sexually abused his son, 10
Boy lived in foster home where Moore was frequent guest

Douglas Moore hanged himself after he was charged with sex assaults on three boys. He was also a suspect in three killings.

The father of a young boy allegedly abused by Douglas Moore while in foster care has sued the Peel Children's Aid Society for $8.1 million.

Peel child welfare authorities and the foster parents failed to protect the boy from the convicted pedophile, according to a statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior court.

The claim consists of a series of allegations against both Peel Children's Aid and the former foster parents. The allegations have yet to be tested in court.

Moore hanged himself in jail in April, shortly after police charged him with sexually assaulting three other boys who lived at the Belfountain-area foster home.

Moore was also the prime suspect in the deaths of two young men and a 15-year-old youth he knew from the Meadowvale drug trade, but he died before he could be charged.

The case now before the civil courts involves a 10-year-old boy (who cannot be identified) who was living at the same foster home for two years ending in 2003. The boy's parents had been deemed unfit, but the boy has since been released to his father's care. "I truly believed my son would be safe at that foster home," the father said in an interview yesterday.

Moore was a regular visitor to the home from 2000 until shortly before his death. The 36-year-old ex-con was a friend of the foster parents and was allowed to play with the children, take some on short trips and others on at least one overnight stay.

At the time, the rule was that foster parents were supposed to obtain clear criminal record checks on any adult looking after a foster child overnight.

Peel Children's Aid has since toughened its standards and now requires police checks of all adults living in a foster home or having significant contact with foster children, even during the day.

The foster parents, whose contract has been terminated, did not check Moore's background. Moore told them he had a criminal record for manslaughter, not sexual assault of young children. The foster parents have said they trusted Moore and thought he would be a good influence on the foster children because he had overcome a tough life.

In reality, Moore had numerous convictions for sexually abusing young boys beginning when Moore was 18 years old.

The lawsuit claims Moore, on numerous occasions, lured the boy and other children to an area behind the foster home, forcibly confined and sexually assaulted them.

The lawsuit also alleges Moore threatened the boy that if he ever spoke of the abuse (which allegedly involved fondling and anal intercourse) Moore would kill the foster mother and the boy's biological father.

"My son was protecting me by not speaking up," the father said.

Peel Children's Aid files show that a "Dougie" was known to be hanging around at the foster home, but social workers did not ask about his background. Yesterday, a Peel Children's Aid spokesperson said the agency could not comment on the lawsuit because it is before the courts.

Previously, Peel Children's Aid staff told the Star they were "devastated" to learn that children in their care had been abused.

"Moore was a cunning pedophile who managed to infiltrate the foster family and gain their trust, always working under the radar of the authorities," said Peel Children's Aid executive director Paul Zarnke.

The lawsuit also claims that the foster parents used Moore as a babysitter when they were away, which the foster parents deny. In recent interviews, the foster parents told the Star they had no idea Moore was a pedophile. While they say they had a lapse in judgment in letting two other foster kids stay overnight at his Meadowvale home, the foster parents said they never used Moore as a regular babysitter, although he did take some children on short jaunts to hardware stores and elsewhere.

The foster parents say they were stunned when police told them that Moore had abused children in their care.

The 10-year-old in the lawsuit has suffered extensively, according to the statement of claim.

The boy has anger management problems, mood swings, flashbacks to the abuse, severe sleep disturbances, self-destructive behaviour, loss of self-esteem and had problems in school.

After the police questioned him, he said nothing to his father for a week.

"Then one night, after he went to bed, he got up and said, `Dad, I want to tell you what happened.'" the father recalled. He said his son described the attacks and the effect on him.

"Now, I keep thinking about the horror of what happened to my boy," the father said.

The father's lawyer, Paul Miller, said he also hopes for a public inquiry into the case.