OUS Updates and news.
A group of registered doulas in Ontario believe they are victims of a Brantford woman who is facing dozens of charges for fraudulently seeking their services.
Kaitlyn Braun, 24, was arrested by Brantford police on Monday and faces more than 30 charges ranging from criminal mischief and fraud to sexual assault. Investigators said she allegedly sought the help of registered doulas in all regions for false pregnancies and false deaths from June 2022 to February 2023.
CBC spoke with three women who are part of a group of about 50 doulas in Ontario who believe they are all victims. They say the ordeal with Braun has caused them great harm, including the loss of valuable time, and in some cases, no financial compensation.
“I’ve been in a lot of births, so I know what labor is like, what it feels like,” said Amy Silva, a London, Ont., doula who has been practicing for five years. “Nothing seemed off about this person, either to me or the other doulas. And we all talked about it.”
A doula is a a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to clients before, during and immediately after childbirth. They also help with grief and trauma around pregnancy loss, but they are not health professionals who adopt children and do not have access to medical records or equipment.
Our woman supports pregnancy loss
CBC News doulas spoke to all shared similar stories about how Braun contacted them.
They said Braun would reach out on social media to find their services, including pregnancy loss support, birthing services and employment. One said Braun told her doctors couldn’t find a heartbeat for her pregnancy.
The doulas also said that Braun would tell them that her pregnancy was the result of sexual assault and that she had no support from her friends or family. They said she gave them all different accounts of how far along she was in her pregnancy. Many doulas reach out to say they sympathize with your situation and agree to work with you free of charge.
Silva said Braun contacted her in mid-June and said she was 24 weeks pregnant and needed help delivering the stillborn baby.
“Our business is based on building trust and relationships with people, so when someone comes to us and says ‘I’ve experienced loss’ we don’t ask that,” he said.
The doula grew suspicious
Braun reached out to London doula Seanna Tesse in August 2022 and told her she was 41 weeks pregnant and needed support for a live birth at her home in Brantford. Tesse said Braun made countless excuses to avoid going to a hospital.
“He was crying and screaming, he said he was attacked outside a hospital and it was hurting him a lot,” said Tesse.
“I labored at her home for three days, after that we went to Cambridge hospital and her labor stopped dramatically and she would pretend she made phone calls to the hospital telling me the doctors told her that you can stay home.”
Tesse grew suspicious and called the hospital herself. He said officials there refused to tell the pregnant patient to stay home. Tesse then convinces Braun that they should go back to the hospital and check it out. Once there, Tesse said she heard a doctor tell Braun that she was not pregnant and that there was nothing in her except an IUD – a form of birth control.
Tesse said at the time Braun was very confused and emotional, saying he didn’t know what happened.
There are no red flags
Silva said Braun told him he was a fourth-year student in King’s University College’s social work program and lived in a residence in London.
She said Braun said she didn’t feel comfortable working in her home with roommates, so she rented an Airbnb for privacy.
According to Silva, everything about Braun’s workflow seems to be normal and there are no red flags.
“Your contractions are separated, which is normal when you’re nervous,” Silva said.
“He would cry and say ‘I’m really scared and I can’t do this,’ and when he’s safe, they’ll pick it up again, so it doesn’t show as fake work. He’s very good at acting. “
Doula Abigail Dienesch from Durham, Ont., said she helped Braun with the birth as recently as last week, and they were together when Braun got a call from police telling her he was being investigated for fraud.
“It’s really amazing, it really feels like a movie,” Dienesch said.
“It’s hard to process that the person I’m with is the same person everyone is talking about.”
‘It’s really hurtful’
The three doulas CBC spoke with all said they have no idea what drove Braun to do this. They all said their encounters with the woman had taken a toll on their lives.
Dienesch said Braun signed a contract agreeing to be paid $800 for his services, a fee he said he never received.
“My children spent two days at their grandmother’s house because I could not be at home with them,” she said. “If it had gone further I would have had to cancel another job.”
Tesse says she has been seeing her own therapist because her experience with Braun has made her question any potential client she comes in contact with.
“It’s really sad for me and it’s hard for me to even have consultations with people, which is really unhealthy and not conducive to a trusting relationship with my clients, which is important in this line of work,” he tell.
According to Silva, many doulas like herself who do not charge for services such as pregnancy loss support are now planning to.
“I took time out of my busy life to support this person, no questions asked, without asking for anything in return,” Silva said.
More victims are possible
Brantford police investigators say they are releasing Braun’s name because they believe there may be more victims. They are asking anyone who believes they may be a victim to contact them at 519-756-7050 ext. 2262 or through Crime Stoppers at 519-750-8477.
Braun is facing the following charges:
- 10 most violent criminals
- 12 counts of lying tricks
- 4 counts of fraud
- 3 most sexually assaulted
- 3 counts of misconduct
He will remain in police custody until his next court appearance on March 15.