Adoption fraud suspects want charges thrown out (Imagine, Canada)

Brian Caldwell
Aug 23, 2013
KITCHENER — The case of a former couple accused of ripping off an international adoption agency has been delayed while they try to get the charges against them thrown out.

Rick and Susan Hayhow were scheduled to go on trial early next month in relation to hundreds of thousands of dollars in alleged personal expenses while they ran Imagine Adoption.

But the jury trial is on hold so they can argue their constitutional rights have been violated because prosecution of the case has taken too long.

A hearing into that issue — which could result in dismissal of the eight counts they face — is now slated to be held in Superior Court in Kitchener.

The Hayhows were charged in April 2011 following a fraud investigation by Waterloo Regional Police that lasted more than 18 months.

The probe came after the collapse of the Cambridge-based agency in July 2009, leaving more than 400 adoptive families across Canada in limbo at various stages of the lengthy process.

Susan Hayhow, now 47, was executive director of the agency when it went bankrupt amid scandal involving her affair with Andrew Morrow, a key employee and board member whose wife also worked there.

Hayhow has since married Morrow and runs a business, Stiletto Staging, doing design and real estate stagings in the Toronto condominium market.

Rick Hayhow, now 48, was chief financial officer when suspect expenses were charged to the four-year-old agency — which primarily arranged adoptions from Ethiopia between 2007 and 2009.

Included were family vacations, high-end clothing, home renovations, cosmetic dental surgery, and a horse and saddle.

The couple had a combined income of about $320,000 and drove expensive leased vehicles while running the Christian, non-profit organization.

A year ago, after a preliminary hearing, they were committed to stand trial on eight of 12 fraud-related charges initially laid by police.

The trial is now on indefinite hold pending the outcome of their unreasonable delay application under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.