Crayon gun dad seeks justice 0
Jessie Sansone, 26, holds his four-year-old daughter Nevaeh in this undated photo. (Submitted/Sansone family)
OTTAWA -- The Ontario family that was put through hell because of a child's kindergarten drawing is back on their feet and ready to fight, while the police department involved still hasn't decided if it messed up.
Jessie Sansone, a 26-year-old father of four, is speaking with a new lawyer. He says he's trying to get justice after he was arrested, strip-searched, and held in a cell while his home was searched by police and his children taken away by social workers for interviews.
Their ordeal began after his four-year-old daughter, Nevaeh, drew a picture of him fighting monsters and bad guys in her Kitchener classroom, and it ended with the discovery of a clear plastic toy gun.
"We are going to fight for our rights, everybody's support is very encouraging for us to go forth and do that," Sansone told QMI Agency Tuesday. He says the social workers tried to demand that the toy be out of reach of the children before they would close their case on his family.
"They said the case was going to stay open with them unless we gave them a document stating that we agreed that the 'gun' was out of harm's reach of the children. It was unbelievable. We didn't agree to do that."
Last February, the child doodled on her classroom white board. The teacher thought she saw a gun in the drawing, questioned the tot and called social services who then called police.
The cops were waiting for Sansone at the school when he arrived to pick up his kids.
Sansone says police questioned him, told him he was arrested for the possession of a firearm and walked him to one of the many surrounding squad cars in handcuffs. Meanwhile, police were searching his house for a gun that resembled the little girl's drawing. They took his pregnant wife, Stephanie, downtown and questioned her, too.
Social workers drove three of the Sansone kids from school to the family services centre across town for questioning.
At the police station, Jessie was told to strip, lift his testicles, and bend over. He was then put in a cell to wait for hours. Eventually, police dropped the charges and drove him home. Police say they found a see-through plastic toy gun that is spring loaded and propels tiny plastic beads. The fake guns sell for about $17 at Canadian Tire.
The school board insisted it did the right thing by the family because they 'co-parent' and so did the social workers. The Sansones have since found a new school.
"It was a pretty big shock for them at first, getting used to a whole new crowd, trying to make new friends. We are working with the principal just in case they get questioned in school about the story. So far nothing has popped up," Sansone said.
The Kitchener Waterloo Police had promised to conduct an internal review to see if they erred in the case. After waiting for three months, QMI Agency asked for the result, but the report's release has been postponed since the first query.
The story sparked outrage from Truro, N.S., to Tahsis, B.C., and many have offered to help the family sue.