TWO young Manitoba girls have been rescued after police say they were exposed to horrendous acts of child abuse at the hands of their father and stepmother.
The victims, currently aged six and seven, endured sexual, physical and emotional trauma while living in the Parkland area of western Manitoba. Court documents show incidents allegedly occurred between Sept. 4, 2011 and Aug. 7, 2014, which is when RCMP and Child and Family Services were contacted.
The Free Press is not publishing the name of their small home community to avoid potentially identifying the children, who are now living with a relative after being seized by CFS. The names of the accused are also being withheld for the same reason.
RCMP say the girls were forced to perform sexual acts with the adults, including some that were captured on film. They were often starved and locked in their rooms for "most of the day" while being repeatedly assaulted with weapons.
Court documents show their 37-year-old biological father is facing a total of 18 charges, while his 24-year-old wife has 16 offences. They include making child pornography, making obscene matter, forcible confinement, failing to provide the necessities of life, sexual assault and assault with a weapon.
None of the allegations has been proven, and both are presumed innocent.
The children's birth mother died in 2011. It was just weeks later the alleged abuse began. The father then married the accused in 2013. Photos of the couple, along with the children, are posted on their Facebook sites.
RCMP say they first received information on Aug. 7 that "child abuse was occurring in the home and that two girls were being abused physically and sexually by their custodial parents." No other information was disclosed.
The Free Press has learned it was another family member who initially contacted authorities with concern about the state of the children.
RCMP immediately removed the girls, along with a younger sibling who was not allegedly abused, and placed them in CFS care. Officers with the child-exploitation unit carried out a search warrant at the home on Aug. 14 and seized a number of materials, including computer equipment, which is still being reviewed. Further charges could be laid as the investigation continues.
Both accused made their first court appearances Tuesday in Dauphin.
The father has had his case adjourned until Sept. 2 and remains in custody.
The stepmother made a bail application Tuesday afternoon and was released by provincial court Judge Don Slough under strict conditions.
The Crown was opposed to her release. A court-ordered ban prevents specific details of the hearing, including evidence and submissions presented by lawyers, from being published.
The woman's bail includes a $2,000 surety and an order she reside in Winnipeg with her mother. She is also banned from having any contact with her husband, her stepdaughters or any children under the age of 16. She is also on a nightly curfew of 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.