I met Taiko Suzuki in 2001. In the summer of 2002 we had a relationship. She returned to Japan in August 2002. She contacted me subsequently, to inform me that she was pregnant. We remained in communication from Late 2002 until February 2004, with the intention of the communication being decisions regarding how/where by who the child would be raised…
I wanted Taiko and baby Rion to come to BC. Ultimately she agreed to, provided I went to Japan and met her family first.
I arranged to do so. I went to Japan in February 2004 and the three of us returned to begin our life as a family in BC.
I married Taiko February 18, 2004. I sponsored her to become a permanent resident. I supported her and Rion and we were blessed with Lauren and Julia.
Suzuki, Rion (born: May 2, 2003), Iwaki, Fukushima, Japan — Has Canadian citizenship card.
Gherbetti, Lauren M (born Jan 2, 2005), New Westminster, BC
Gherbetti, Julia C (born April 20, 2007), New Westminster, BC
After the birth of Julia, our relationship became more difficult. Taiko was struggling with depression, and the separation from her family and culture, even though I was able to send her and the girls to Japan once every summer (2005-2009) for 5 weeks.
In early 2009 I was trying to improve our relationship which was suffering. I asked Taiko what she wanted to do to improve things. I suggested counseling for her, me or both together. I offered to move the entire family to Japan, though unsure of employment possibilities. I offered to move out, temporarily. I was trying everything to help the situation improve. I was frustrated at that time and I did damage some property (drywall).
Taiko went to Japan with the children mid-July 2009 and returned August 20, 2009…Upon their return I consulted with Taiko regarding moving to a larger home. We were 5 people in a 800 sq ft, 2 bedroom apartment. She was comfortable, I needed more space (cultural no doubt). Ultimately, we could not agree.
On September 9, 2009, Taiko and I had an argument. During that argument, rather out of character, she attacked me physically. I did not respond in kind, other than to defend myself from her kicks. We were discussing the situation regarding moving house. I had no idea why she did that. I was really confused.
On September 10, 2009 at 3pm my wife went out with Lauren and Julia. Rion wanted to stay home with dad. At 6pm I was getting worried about them. I fed Rion and gave her an early bath. Just after she put on her pajamas, about 7:15pm, there was a knock at the door. It was the New Westminster Police. They arrested me for assault with no discussion whatsoever. In front of my daughter I was taken from the house.
Taiko had accused me of ongoing abuse and assaulting her the previous evening by “punching her in the face” etc. She had no bruises on her face/neck. It was a lie.
At least she had the consideration not to accuse me of being a child abuser.
I was denied bail. I was in Maximum Security with gangsters, drug dealers, murderers, rapists, bank robbers etc. I am not ashamed to say I was afraid. The trial date was to be Oct 23, 2009. I managed to survive in there until Oct 21. On this day I was unexpectedly woken early and told I was going to the courthouse. Upon arrival, hungry, cold, tired, afraid and unknowingly there, I was presented with an opportunity to plea bargain. I was offered immediate bail if would agree to a pre-sentence report, full psych report and probation w/conditions after sentence. I was told the conditions would include no contact with Taiko or my children. I said no, I was not guilty. I was freezing cold in the sheriff’s concrete bunker preparing to return to possibly the worst place on earth, when I was recalled to my legal aid attorney. The crown had given him some late disclosure, supposedly an audio recording of me that my wife made surreptitiously, of me yelling at her. (And, she claims, hitting her — a lie.)
I was told by the Crown (through my useless and verbally abusive legal aid assigned defense lawyer) that Taiko was here in New Westminster and ready to testify to all her lies in the police report. (This was untrue.) THE CROWN PROSECUTOR DELIBERATELY MISLED ME AND MY ATTORNEY. I repeat, I WAS LIED TO BY THE CROWN.
Knowing my wife was about to perjure herself combined with being 4 blocks from my home and too weak and cowardly to want to return to prison, combined with being underfed, under clothed and under extreme stress, duress, shock and trauma…I pleaded guilty.
Prior to this, I had no regrets in life. I regret that decision however I have received counseling since to deal with all of the emotional trauma I suffered.
When I was released at 16:38:33 on 10/21/2009 I ran home. The home had been cleaned out. There was not a single trace of Taiko & the kids. I found a piece of paper, face down on a kitchen chair. Rion had drawn a picture of many rainbows and in the center was a jail cell. It was entitled “Free the Rainbows”. Taiko had taken our computer (therefore – I do not have a single photo of my children), $3500 cash I had…She was able to close our joint bank account and take over $5000 from there. From memory I had to recall her address and phone # in Japan.
I spoke to Taiko on January 28, 2010. I challenged her lies and she wouldn’t respond. She taunted me with her successful abduction. She said that she wanted to “erase Canada from their (our children’s) memories” and that she would not allow me to talk to them. I RISKED return to prison for this, but I couldn’t take it anymore, I didn’t know where in the world my children were!
I spent $15000 on legal fees between Oct 2009 and August 2010 in order to change the condition of my probation preventing me from contact Taiko. When I called on August 10, 2010 at 8:30am (JAPAN TIME) and asked for Taiko, her parents hung up on me. When I called back at 9:40am Taiko answered “mushi mushi”, I recognized her voice. I said hello to her repeatedly but she did not speak. But she did not disconnect so I said “This is a message for Taiko, it is Bruce, I’m trying to reach you in regards to contact with our children. I understand if you are a little anxious to contact me after so long but it’s simply about what is best for the kids.” then I disconnected.
When I tried the phone number again it was not in service.
From 8.18.09 until 3.11.11 I did my best to improve my emotional health. Part of that was to sublimate the feelings around this terrible trauma. I had to heal.
Since the earthquake and tsunami occurred I have worked non stop to try to make contact, but to no avail. Taiko will not respond to the Canadian Embassy or myself. She remains in Iwaki, as far as I know, exposing the girls to radiation from the leaking reactor just 45kms north.