Birth mother won't face charges for abandoning infant in ditch in 1986

A woman who abandoned her newborn baby girl in a ditch on Triangle Mountain 34 years ago will not face criminal charges.

The Crown has decided not to prosecute the woman, who was 17 when she placed her infant daughter in a pink-striped ­Adidas bag and left her in a cold, watery ditch on April 14, 1986.

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Prosecutor Susan Rupertus said only that the case does not meet the Crown charge-approval standard. In B.C., there must be a strong likelihood of conviction and a prosecution must be deemed to be in the public interest for a charge to be approved.

The decision not to prosecute angered Adriana Jessica Bonner. Bonner was the baby — later known as Baby Jessica — who was rescued from the ditch that day by three 15-year-old boys.

“I was very angry. I believed my life was important enough to lay a charge,” Bonner said Tuesday. “The Crown said it wasn’t because of lack of evidence — it just wasn’t in people’s best interests to move forward with this charge.”

In a Facebook post, Bonner wrote that the justice system failed her.

“I believed the Crown would pave a path to set things right, to teach not only my birth mom, but other mothers, that this is not acceptable, that the lives of their infants are worth protecting. … What kind of world decides that infants’ lives don’t matter?”

In the post, Bonner urged parents to talk to their children if they become pregnant and scared.

“They do not need to believe that their only choice is to throw their baby away. It has an everlasting effect!”

Bonner traced the identity of her birth father and birth mother through an ­AncestryDNA test this year. Her birth father, Rick, had no idea he had conceived a child 35 years ago.

He has welcomed Bonner, her husband and her three children — his grandchildren — into his life.

However, her birth mother has rebuffed Bonner and not allowed her to meet her children.

In September, West Shore RCMP recommended the woman be charged with abandonment under the 1986 Criminal Code.

Rick said he doesn’t understand why his ex-girlfriend has been allowed to walk away.

“I get that she was a minor, but she gets to walk away like nothing ever happened,” he said. “It’s affected my life. It’s affected Adriana’s life, my family. And there are no repercussions for her.”

Ray Wightman, one of the teens who pulled the shivering infant to safety 34 years ago, believes the decision sends the wrong ­message.

“You want people to know there’s accountability for their actions. And just because, by ­complete chance, we came by, she’s no longer accountable,” said ­Wightman. “It’s a horrible ­message to send to people who might be in this situation. There aren’t any repercussions.”

The experience has left Bonner ­determined to get a social-work degree. “I feel I have to be a voice for unwanted children,” she said.

Bonner said her door will always be open to anyone who can’t take care of their infant.

“No judgment, no questions. Just a ­loving, warm and safe place,” she wrote.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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