Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DHS Releases Info On Serenity Deal's Child Abuse Death

Tina McGarry Reporting


6:17 p.m. CDT, August 10, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A 5-year-old girl is dead and her father is in jail charged with the killing. Serenity Deal was in the state's custody, but living with her father on a trial basis when she was beaten to death.

Sean Brooks sits in jail charged with first-degree murder.

He has pleaded "not guilty."

Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele (R- Shawnee), says the Oklahoma Department of Human Services failed the little girl by leaving her in a risky environment.

DHS also admits procedures were not followed.

In a report released by DHS Wednesday, we learned DHS was called in to investigate on four different occasions, dating back to June 2009.

The first two investigations centered around Serenity's mom, Samantha Deal, who went to prison last month after being convicted of lewd or indecent acts with a child.

Investigations three and four charged Serenity's father, Sean Brooks, with child abuse.

After months of investigating, DHS found the charges unsubstantiated; a move now being questioned.

"But there's also a checks and balances to our system," DHS spokeswoman Sheree Powell said. "There's the court procedures, there's the child's attorney involved, a D.A. and a judge. Were they given complete and accurate information? Did they ask the appropriate questions that should've been asked in court? That's the checks and balanaces to our system."

Checks and balances that failed a little girl.

May 11, 2011, three weeks before her death, Serenity was placed with her father in a trial reunification.

"Our agency takes any threat of harm to children seriously," Powell said. "We have policies, training and procedures in place to keep children safe. Those were not followed and employees will be held accountable for not following policy."

Following Serenity's death in June, DHS suspended with pay four case workers.

Weeks later, one committed suicide.

After that another resigned.

Two remain on paid suspesion.

Sean Brooks is scheduled to go to court in October for a preliminary hearing.


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