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Pierced belly-button brouhaha prompts provincial probe

Darcy Jeanson and Cheryl Radcliffe did not give permission for the piercing.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Darcy Jeanson and Cheryl Radcliffe did not give permission for the piercing.

It would be unusual for a rule under the city's body modification bylaw to be waived for a specific event such as the Red River Exhibition, a provincial health official says.

Peter Parys, Manitoba's director of environment, health and emergency preparedness, said the results of a Manitoba Health investigation now underway will determine whether that was the case regarding a teenage girl who was given a navel piercing.

The investigation will reveal whether the bylaw was correctly observed last week following a complaint by the parents of the 16-year-old girl who had her belly button pierced at the Ex without parental consent. The piercing was done at the Phase II Tattoo and Body Modification mobile unit.

Darcy Jeanson and Cheryl Radcliffe said their daughter's 18-year-old friend signed the consent form on June 17 which allowed the piercing to take place. The couple was not there and didn't find out about the piercing for several days.

Phase II owner Patrick Culligan said health officials told him he could allow people under 18 years of age to have piercings or tattoos with adult consent rather than parent/guardian consent.

The body modification bylaw states anyone under 18 must be "accompanied by a parent or guardian and also has provided written consent."

"The provisions in the bylaw are quite clear, under Section 10, subsection D, that it's clearly written out what the requirements are," Parys said in a telephone interview.

"Then it gets reinforced even more by saying here is the consent form on Appendix B." Those are the requirements that person has to meet. It would be difficult for me to say that a health inspector can allow something different."

Culligan told the Free Press earlier this week "it was the health inspectors that told us that specifically" as long as there was an adult present who was willing to sign as a legal guardian at the time, that would suffice.

"That person (the 16-year-old) had someone legally sign for them. We did not break any rules. They're not complaining about our service. It is simply a pissed-off parent trying to make my life hard, that is it," Culligan said.

"I went over the scenarios with the health inspectors. The scenario that happened is within those parameters that they gave me."

Parys was asked if he had ever heard of a previous case where a bylaw such as this one was altered for a specific event.

"No," Parys said. "Generally speaking, the bylaw is the bylaw."

The Manitoba Health investigation of the incident is expected to take at least a week.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

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