Justice With Dignity - Committee to Remember Kimberly Rogers


Kimberly Rogers Inquest Alerts

Rogers excited about pregnancy, inquest told
I never saw any indication she was suicidal, suicide counsellor says

by Eli Schuster
Osprey Media Group Inc.
Wednesday, November 06, 2002


Local News - A registered suicide counsellor who last saw Kimberly Rogers at the end of July 2001 testified Tuesday at the inquest into Rogers’ death that the 40-year-old showed no signs of being suicidal and was excited about her pregnancy.

“I never saw any indication she was suicidal … I always err on the side of caution,” said Frances Tait of Sudbury’s Pregnancy Care Centre.

Tait said Rogers seemed “concerned” but not depressed on the occasions they talked to each other, adding the woman seemed to want the child because at her age, she wouldn’t have many more chances to give birth.

Rogers died of an overdose of anti-depressants in her Sudbury apartment during a heat wave in August 2001 while serving a six-month conditional sentence for welfare fraud.

Rogers was temporarily barred from collecting welfare and the terms of her sentence included being allowed to leave the apartment three hours per week to shop and attend medical appointments and religious services.

Another witness, Amanda Chodura of the Elizabeth Fry Society, an organization that assists female offenders, testified she was “very impressed with how Sudbury rallied around (Rogers’) cause.”

Chodura came to Sudbury in February 2001 and assisted Rogers later that year by providing her with boxes of food and baby furniture.

Chodura also gave Rogers budgeting information, automobile rides, social assistance information and help with a successful Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge that put Rogers back on welfare.

“We don’t come across situations like this very often,” said Chodura, adding that “Sudbury came through” for Rogers, and “we never would have been able to accomplish (the help that was provided) in a larger city.”

Chodura said house arrest was “a viable sentence if a sentence had to be imposed,” considering Rogers would have very likely wound up homeless if she had been sent to prison.

Chodura also said house arrest is “a different stress” than jail, since Rogers had to be both self-sufficient and segregated from society.

“You are alone” a majority of the time, said Chodura, adding she received numerous telephone calls from people under house arrest after Rogers’ death, many of whom called the sentence a “living hell.”

The province, suggested Chodura, needs to put in place some safeguards to look after house arrest detainees.

Chodura admitted “it’s a tricky one,” when asked if a jail sentence would have been worse than house arrest.

Much of the morning session consisted of Chodura and Tait commenting on Rogers’ state of mind in the last few months of her life, and her understanding of what was happening.

Tait testified Rogers had a “better than average” knowledge of social assistance policies, but neither Tait nor Chodura thought Rogers fully understood the welfare ban would take place immediately.

Chodura said Rogers was frustrated by the slow pace of the Charter challenge, and had to cope with a state of “high anxiety” that was alleviated with support from her doctor and social assistance providers.

Even after her victory in court, Rogers was described as “down” in Chodura’s notes. Rogers thought most of her problems would be over, said Chodura, adding that even after her welfare was restored, Rogers still had to live on a “very, very low budget.”

In May of 2001, Rogers owed $13,000 to Ontario Works, $1,700 to her landlord, and $25,000 in student loans for her studies at Cambrian College.

In spite of her anxiety, and the sweltering heat in her apartment that summer, Rogers actually seemed upbeat in an August telephone call, according to Chodura.

“She was very excited … (Rogers’) mood was totally up,” said Chodura.

Rogers had just done a load of laundry at her mother’s residence, her baby’s father had provided some money for the rent, her Charter challenge had been successful and it looked as though Rogers’ family might be on the verge of reuniting.

“It was a really good phone call,” said Chodura.

 

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