Saturday, October 15, 2011

Catholic bishop indicted for unreported child abuse

Proof that the Courts don't always know best: Couple charged in child’s death

BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. — A former Robeson County resident and her boyfriend have been charged with homicide by child abuse in the death of the woman’s 3-year-old daughter.

Atelia Hunt, 25, of Bennettsville, was charged on Thursday with unlawful neglect of a child, but a preliminary autopsy on 3-year-old Edna Trinity Mozzel Hunt led investigators to upgrade the charges, Bennettsville police said. Hunt, who used to live in Maxton, is being held at the Marlboro County detention center.

Police said Hunt took Edna to the Marlboro Park Hospital on Thursday after the child’s heart had stopped beating. Officers were sent to the hospital after an examination of the toddler’s body revealed that the child had been abused for some time.

Bennettsville police Lt. Larry Turner said the child had significant bruising around her body, and burns to the vaginal area and buttocks. The girl’s body was taken to the Medical University of South Carolina for an autopsy to determine what killed her.

Hunt’s boyfriend, 29-year-old Alexander “Mike” Huckabee Jr., has also been arrested, and was being held at the Marlboro County detention center. He faces the same charges.

The case remains under investigation by Bennettsville police and the State Law Enforcement Division.

Edna Hunt’s great-aunt, Betty Jane Hunt, of Lumberton, said she learned of the girl’s death Friday morning when a relative called her about relaying the news to Edna’s father, Willie Keith Hunt Jr.

“Another family member was asking me to get up with our nephew, ‘Little Keith’ … and let him know his daughter was dead,” Hunt said. “They said that she had stopped breathing, that she was having a hard time breathing and the mother took her to the bedroom to lay her down, went back to check on her and she had stopped breathing.”

Hunt said Atelia and Willie grew up in Maxton, went to high school together and are married. Atelia recently moved to Bennettsville with Edna and the couple’s other daughter, 6-year-old Shania, she said.

“I think somewhere there had been a report of child abuse. When they did an investigation on the mother, they dismissed the charges against her,” Hunt said. “They found no neglect, no abuse charges against the mother. It went to court for visitation and custody for the father, and the court system failed him and gave the mother custody of the children.”

Hunt said the court system in Robeson County “failed” Edna as well as her father.

“Sometimes what one person might think is best for a child … turns out to be the worst thing possible,” she said. “My nephew pleaded. He pleaded with the court system, he pleaded with the people that had power over giving out custody. All he wanted was his children, and to protect his children. That’s all he wanted.”

Hunt said she’s seen her nephew every day since Edna died, and described him as “standing in mid-air, lost in space.”

“This is his child,” she said. “This is his baby.”


Chambers DA says sheriff failed to act in child sex case against Sheriff's sergeant

Charges against sergeant comes nearly 2 years after initial complaint
Updated 12:18 a.m., Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Chambers County district attorney expressed "shock and dismay" on Friday that she was forced to ask a Texas Ranger to investigate a child's sexual assault complaint against a sheriff's sergeant after the sheriff failed to act when the accusations were first raised in 2009.

District Attorney Cheryl Lieck said the complaint sat in the Sheriff's Department without action for 1½ years until the victim's mother sought help from the DA's office, and she enlisted the assistance of a Texas Ranger.

On Thursday night, a Chambers County grand jury indicted Sgt. Gabriel Davila, who had been a supervisor at the county's jail for eight years. He was charged with six counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and six counts of indecency with a child. His bail was set at $60,000.

Neither Chambers County Sheriff Joe LaRive nor Davila could be reached for comment.

The name of the victim, an elementary school girl, was not released.

"I'm very disappointed when someone sworn to protect the citizens does not do their duty," Lieck said. "When somebody does not do their job, it makes us all look bad."

According to authorities, the assaults occurred in Davila's home in Chambers County.

The girl's mother, who lives in another county, initially filed a complaint with the Sheriff's Office in December 2009. After finding the sheriff to be unresponsive she sought help from the district attorney's office in June, Lieck said.

"I asked to see the sheriff's file and all that was in there was the original complaint from the mother. Nobody had even bothered to take a statement from the jailer who was working at the jail right by them," she said.

The Texas Ranger had his investigative findings reviewed by a grand jury which chose to indict Davila.

Davila continued working and was not suspended until the end of August when the ranger's investigation was nearing completion, Lieck said.

Children's Protective Services has also investigated the case and attempted to forward its findings to the sheriff to "no avail," Lieck said.

CPS closed its file because the child was no longer living in Chambers County and not believed to be in any further danger, she said.

Lieck said her focus in this case will be on seeing the young girl's case is heard by a jury.


Friday, October 14, 2011

NY parents charged with kidnapping 8 children from foster care; bail set at $75,000 each

Associated Press

NEW YORK — A husband and wife were charged Thursday with kidnapping their eight children from foster care last month and fleeing New York, in part because they believed the children were being abused by their caregivers, prosecutors and their attorney said.

Mother Shanel Nadal and father Nephra Payne were arrested in Harrisburg, Pa., last month, waived extradition and were arraigned in criminal court in Queens, where the charges also included custodial interference and child endangerment. They were being held on $75,000 bail each.

Nadal, 28, slipped out of a supervised visited at a Queens foster care agency with her sevens sons and infant daughter, and then left town with her 34-year-old husband, prosecutors said. The family was found a week later safe in their van in Pennsylvania. The children were unharmed.

“This mother and father sadly risked the relationships they were building with their children during supervised visits when they allegedly kidnaped them,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “This is a serious matter.”

Their attorney, Norman Steiner, said the couple vanished because they could no longer wait for the slow-moving Family Court system to give back the children. Steiner said one boy was molested in foster care and his siblings “suffered horrendous abuse” during two years in foster care.

“They are loving, caring parents, who made a choice — the lesser of two evils — to take their children and make them safe,” Steiner said.

The children — seven boys named Nephra, who have different middle names, and an infant daughter, Nefertiti — range in age from 11 months to 12 years, according to the police complaint in Harrisburg. They were returned to New York City and are again under the care of the Administration for Children’s Services. It’s not clear if they were placed in the same homes.

The couple lost custody of their seven sons in 2009, after allegations of abuse. Steiner said one of the boys had bruising on his eyes and was taken to the doctor by his father. The boy later went to school, and authorities had the father arrested on abuse charges, Steiner said. Steiner said there had possibly been a fight at home with other siblings. The criminal abuse allegations against the father were later dropped, he said. A Family Court hearing was scheduled for Oct. 19 in Manhattan.

The parents were working toward regaining custody, Steiner said: They went to parenting classes, attended supervised visits and kept their home immaculate. They regularly attended Family Court hearings and cooperated with authorities.

But Shanel Nadal had an eighth child, Nefertiti, born last year, and did not mention it to authorities. They also lost custody of her, and the birth led to even more problems with Family Court, Steiner said.

“To me that’s atrocious that the city steps in and tells you how many children to have,” Steiner said.

Child welfare officials do not comment on specific cases. But in order to remove a child from a home, there must be a determination of serious safety or risk concerns for a child to remain there.

The agency said it was aware of the parents’ abuse allegations and takes such allegations very seriously. The agency also is investigating how the children were abducted during a supervised visit, a spokesman said.

Nadal disappeared from the 3-acre campus of Forestdale, a nonprofit, privately run foster care center, on Sept. 19. She went there for a scheduled group visit with the children, who were living with three different foster caregivers. Despite the presence of both Forestdale staff and at least some of the foster parents, she slipped away unnoticed with the children during a trip to a vending machine, police said.

Police thought they may have gone to North Carolina, but they ended up in Pennsylvania where they had relatives. The children showed no signs of physical abuse when discovered, and it looked like the family had planned to spend the night in the vehicle.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Four-year-old suffers injuries from abuse by foster parents - New Mexico

Wicked Video!! Bus aide faces child abuse charges for attacking student

Spring Hill Tenn. woman pleads guilty to imprisoning foster kids

Blog authors note: Why, was this allowed to happen when this person was convited of 5 counts of abusing the same girl in 2003? Why would someone convicted of child abuse be allowed to be a foster person? What is wrong with CPS, DSS or whatever they want to be called?

Written by Jill Cecil Wiersma

SPRING HILL — A woman accused of abusing two foster children in her care pleaded guilty today to some of the 15 original charges against her.

Shelley Blair faces sentencing Dec. 7 on four charges: two counts of aggravated assault, attempted especially aggravated kidnapping and kidnapping.

Blair faces 14-22 years in prison for those charges, said Spring Hill Police Detective Geoff Betts, the lead detective in the case.

On the morning of Oct. 20, 2008, Officer Jesus Lopez noticed the malnourished and poorly groomed children — a 12-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl — walking near Belshire Way on Main Street.

Lopez noticed one child was riding a bicycle without a helmet and wondered why they were not in school.

Both children were in Blair's care and had been imprisoned in her Spring Hill Estates home where she denied them food and drink and access to a bathroom.

The children were treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and turned over to the Department of Children's Services during the investigation.

Blair has been charged before for child abuse. In 2003, she was charged with five counts of abusing the same girl.

Betts said Tuesday’s court proceedings took only about 10 minutes, but that he expected there to be hours of details discussed at the sentencing hearing.


North Carolina DSS worker fired after DWI arrest

October 11, 2011 4:54 PM

By Diane Turbyfill

A social worker arrested twice in one week was fired from her job Tuesday.

Gaston County Social Services Director Keith Moon said the action seemed suitable for the circumstance.

“I just think given the nature of this situation that would be the appropriate action,” said Moon.

Yvette Jadine Smithen, 42, was stopped by Shelby Police in the 2100 block of East Dixon Boulevard Saturday. The officer determined Smithen had been drinking and charged her with DWI.

A 4-year-old boy was in the car when police took her into custody.

Smithen worked with the Child Protective Services division at Gaston DSS. Caseworkers are often called to testify in court, and credibility is essential, Moon said.

The DWI charge came less than a week after Smithen was arrested at a party held in her Bent Branch Street home in Gastonia.

“Those charges certainly are very serious,” said Moon. “Given the nature of duties of social workers here it was pretty much incompatible.”

On Sept. 2 Smithen was charged with resisting arrest in a Gaston County incident. According to the arrest report, Smithen interfered with police when they came to the scene of a party that afternoon.

Moon said Smithen has only been with the department for a month. She made $41,211.

Employees are required to report arrests to their supervisors.

Smithen did so last week, and she sent Moon an email requesting a meeting Monday. She was not penalized at work for her resisting arrest charge.

She did not come into work Tuesday and was terminated by a written document.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Man Jailed For False Report Of Child Abuse

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville man was sentenced to 45 days in jail after being charged with making a false report of child abuse.

Timmy Riley will also have to pay several fines for his false reporting and has been advised not to make any false reports to the Department of Children and Families in violation of a previously entered injunction.

Riley was arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. According to Florida state law, "a person who knowingly and willfully makes a false report, or who advises another to make a false report, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years imprisonment."

"Child safety is the first priority of the Florida Department of Children and Families," said DCF Interim Regional Managing Director Pattie Mallon. "We investigate allegations of abuse and neglect involving children, and we take our investigations very seriously. If we receive a report of serious abuse or neglect, our investigators must see the children within two hours. Our goal is to see all child victims within 24 hours of the first report of abuse. Because our goal is to be highly responsive, any false reports of abuse could prevent us from seeing real abuse victims quickly and giving them the protection they need. We salute the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for their swift action to arrest this person who falsely reported abuse."

A false report is defined as a report of abuse, neglect or abandonment of a child to the central abuse hotline in which the report is maliciously made for the purpose of harassing, embarrassing or harming another person; personal financial gain for the reporting person; acquiring custody of a child; or personal benefit for the reporting person in any other private dispute involving a child.

This does not include a report made in good faith to the central abuse hotline. Florida law allows for an administrative fine for up to $10,000 for each report determined to be false.

False reports of child abuse are rare in the Jacksonville area, according to DCF. In Duval, Nassau and Clay counties, less than 1/10 of 1 percent of all abuse reports received in a 12-month period were verified to be false reports.