Long Arm Of CPS Doing Coverup Again

.jpg photo of CPS Coverup Graphic
Long Arm Of CPS Doing Coverup Again

Child Abuse reports ignored by Rockbridge
social services, report finds

Rockbridge County, VA  –  Reports of child abuse and neglect did not just fall through the cracks at the Rockbridge Area Department of Social Services, an internal review has found.  Some of the reports were fed into a paper shredder, never to be investigated by the agency.

VA Department of Social Services May 2016 Review

Of the 41 problems identified in the damning review, “of utmost concern” was evidence that a former department supervisor shredded reports before they could go to the Child Protective Services unit for assessment.

The former supervisor is not named in the report.  Susan Reese, head of the social services’ Piedmont Regional Office, which conducted the review, declined to comment on the reasons for the supervisor’s departure.

But Reese confirmed that the director of the Rockbridge agency, Meredith Downey, announced her retirement during the inquiry.

Other problems cited in the report include slow responses to emergency calls, missed deadlines, altered documents and low staff morale — which many employees attributed to “an atmosphere of bullying, harassment and intimidation” by the unnamed former supervisor.

The report cites one case in which a child later died.

Earlier this year, an infant was assessed by the agency as “high risk” in an unfit home.  “But no services were offered,” the report stated. In April, the 3-month-old girl was rushed to Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police are investigating both the death and the actions taken by the department in that and other cases.

“We’re looking at it from all angles,” said Capt. Tony McFaddin of the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office.

For years, members of the sheriff’s office have been troubled by the social services department, which serves Rockbridge County and the cities of Lexington and Buena Vista.  “We felt that in some cases they weren’t providing the services that we felt they should have been providing,” McFaddin said.

It was the fatality that finally spurred action.

After the sheriff’s office began to investigate the infant’s death, it ran into a stone wall with the former supervisor, who refused to assign a Child Protective Services worker to the case, according to the report.

The sheriff’s office complained to the Piedmont Regional Office, which urged the local department to get involved.  But later, the former supervisor would not share the results of the agency’s investigation with law enforcement, according to the report.

That prompted two more calls by sheriff’s investigators to the regional office.  Those calls — combined with complaints from within the department and other state agencies — prompted the regional office to expedite a review of the entire social services department in Rockbridge.

“It’s very concerning,” Reese said of the three-month review, which was completed in May.

The regional office, located in Roanoke, has sent a specialist to the Rockbridge department to help work through the problems.

“Some of the findings were very severe, and that’s why we’re looking at this very closely,” Reese said.

According to the report, the former supervisor would sometimes direct her staff not to respond to emergency calls, saying that it was “too late in the day” and that law enforcement could handle the reports of children in troubled situations.

“Services workers indicated that they used personal cellphones to keep in touch with community partners (i.e. law enforcement) because the Supervisor discourages communication and working relationships,” the report stated.

“Workers stated that sometimes they are so concerned about some cases, they offer services in secret.”

In addition to surveying the 30-some employees at the Rockbridge office, the regional office also examined its caseload numbers, which raised another red flag.

During a year-long period that ended March 1, the agency received 271 reports of alleged abuse or neglect of children.  A little more than half — 158— were “screened out,” or determined not to be worthy of investigation.

“That was an extremely high number of screen-outs,” Reese said.

Of those 158 cases, investigators took a more detailed look at a sample of 30 case files.  In 12 of those cases, they found that the allegations — such as sexual abuse or physical assault — were of the type that state law requires a closer look at by social services.

While all of the 271 reports examined by investigators were entered into the department’s records, it remains unclear how many other case summaries might have been shredded, Reese said.

No evidence remains of those cases, which were never logged into the department’s computer system.  But investigators determined that the shredding happened based on reports from other employees, who had kept copies of the documents before giving them to the former supervisor, according to the report.

Why the documents were shredded remains a mystery.

“I could not speculate on that, because we have heard no reason for this being done,” Reese said.

It does not appear that Child Protective Services staff was overburdened.  With an average of nine cases a month referred for further investigation, “this should not be a difficult standard to meet,” the report stated.

In nearly all of the cases, the former supervisor served as the gateway for a case to get to an investigator.  The high number of cases that didn’t make the cut appears to be just one reason for low morale among rank-and-file workers in the agency.

“It is concerning that a majority of the employees … reported during interviews and/or written survey comments that the … Supervisor fosters and atmosphere of ‘bullying,’ ‘harassment’ and ‘intimidation,’ the report stated.

Some workers said they were so afraid of encountering their boss in the department’s kitchen area that they constructed a makeshift kitchen for themselves in a storage room.

Complaints to the agency’s director fell on deaf ears, the report stated, which only worsened morale.  Efforts to reach the now-retired director, Downey, were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

It was in that kind of environment that a 3-month-old infant received no follow-up care from the social services department, even after it deemed her to be living in a “high risk” home.  Although documents in that case were not shredded, it remains unclear why the case did not receive more attention from social services until after the girl died.

Police were notified after the infant was taken to the emergency room.

After pronouncing the girl dead, doctors found discoloration around her face and mouth that indicated she might have been lying face-down for a prolonged period of time, according to a search warrant filed in Rockbridge County Circuit Court.

A man and woman who were caring for the child gave conflicting accounts of how long the infant had been sleeping and when she was found unresponsive, the warrant stated.

In seeking permission to search the home, an investigator wrote in the warrant that the house was extremely dirty “and also appears to have been a danger to the child’s health.”

No charges have been filed in the case.  McFaddin, of the sheriff’s office, said investigators are waiting for the results of an autopsy.

And while the sheriff’s office is also looking into the operations of the social services department, McFaddin said there’s been a noticeable improvement since the shakeup at the top.

“Now, since the regional office has gotten involved, our relationship with social services is on the mend, and we still have a good relationship with them,” he said.

Reese also believes that the department is turning a corner.

“The staff that are there are really dedicated, and they want to do the right thing,” she said.  “They want to offer their best to the community, and they’re very dedicated to doing that.”

Honoring Courage: To Protect And Serve

.jpg photo  of Candlelight Vigil
Honoring Courage: To Protect and Serve

Dallas Vigil Monday Night, President to Visit

“It is not my tears you see, it is the Sweat of Our Protectors as they labor Thanklessly to keep Our streets safe, it is the Blood of Our Protectors as they shield us from the onslaught of ones that care only for themselves, it is the Tears of Our Protectors as the hateful, evil words from the uncaring cut deeply into their hearts.”
~ Robert StrongBow ~

Hundreds of people gathered Monday evening outside Dallas City Hall for a candlelight vigil in memory of the five police officers killed last Thursday by a gunman.

The vigil included remarks by Dallas Police Chief David Brown, DART Police Chief J.D. Spiller and Dallas Police Association president Ron Pinkston.

Dallas Police Chief: ‘We Are Asking Cops to Do Too Much’

“Today we honor the memory of five heroes,” Pinkston said.

Families and colleagues of the five officers who died — four Dallas Police officers and one DART officer — were in attendance at the vigil.

Dallas Mourns After Five Police Officers Killed

“Families, we love you.  We love you with everything we have.  We are now you surrogate family members.  We’re your brothers and your sisters.  When you need us, you call,” Brown said.

Dallas Police Candlelight Vigil

Five fellow officers offered remembrances of their partners killed in Thursday’s ambush attack – their loss now serving to further strengthen the city of Dallas.

“If someone thought that what they did was going to tear up Dallas and the state of Texas, they were wrong.  What it did, what it did was galvanized us,” Spiller said.

On Tuesday, President Obama will speak at an interfaith ceremony honoring the city’s fallen officers.

The private event will be held at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora Street.  Obama will also meet privately with the families of the fallen police officers and those who were injured.

For security reasons city officials did not list specific downtown street closures, but drivers are warned to expect significant delays Monday and Tuesday due to the president’s visit.

“For reasons of my own, I will not publicize the last group of pictures, instead I choose to HONOR COURAGE: TO PROTECT AND SERVE”
~ Robert StrongBow ~

Probation For Child Pornography????

.jpg photo of television director found guilty of child Pornography
Jason “Jace” Alexander, 52

Former ‘Law & Order’ Director Gets Probation For Child Pornography

Jason “Jace” Alexander, a television director who worked on “Law & Order,” has been sentenced to 10 years probation on child pornography charges, the Associated Press reports.

Alexander, who was facing up to seven years in prison, received his sentence in New York on Tuesday after pleading guilty to promoting a sexual performance by a child and possessing an obscene performance by a child.

According to a statement from the district attorney’s office obtained by People, prosecutors found incriminating files on the 52-year-old’s computer; the files showed minors engaged in sex acts.

As a result of his sentencing, the director must now register as a sex offender in New York, according to the AP.

Alexander pleaded guilty to both charges earlier this year and was released on $10,000 bail. 

TX Woman Indicted For Endangering Child

.jpg photo of woman arrested due to toddlers malnourishment
Breanna Morris

Indicted:  4th Suspect in Child Abuse Case

ABILENE, TX  –  A fourth suspect has been indicted in connection to a baby who was found malnourished and “in danger of dying” at an Abilene home in January.

Breanna Morris was indicted for Endangering a Child by Omission on Thursday.  Her roommate Justin Heiser was indicted on the same charge in April.

Both charges are connected to a child that lived in their home.  The child’s parents, Evangelia and James Mayhall, were both indicted on a 1st Degree Injury to a Child charge in May.

Court documents say Heiser, a resident inside a home on the 200 block of Chapel Hill Drive, called 9-1-1 on January 4, 2016, to report a baby, 4.5 months, was not breathing.

“Emergency responders stated that when they entered the home, the smell of feces and urine was very strong and they observed feces rubbed into the carpet throughout the house,” the documents read.

All four adults and a six-year-old child also live in the home.

The baby was obviously malnourished and dehydrated, according to the documents.

She weighed only 6 lbs, 5 oz when she was removed from the home and taken to the emergency room.  The physician who assisted in her birth says she weighed 6 lbs, 15 oz when she was born.

The emergency room physician did say the child was “in danger of dying at the time of her admission to the hospital,” according to the documents.

Abilene Police interviewed Morris and Heiser, and the documents say both admitted to noticing the child was losing weight – Morris claims she confronted the child’s mother, and Heiser claims he didn’t think the weight loss was a problem because the child has high metabolism and the mother had just switched to formula from breastfeeding.

The Mayhalls were arrested on February 18, 2016.  Morris and Heiser were taken into custody shortly after when KTAB and KRBC News asked the public for help locating the suspects.

Police say the children were released into CPS custody when the initial incident was reported on January 4, 2016.

Alabama Child Malnourished And Abused

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Charity Nicole Jackson

Vinemont woman charged with felony child abuse

Cullman County Sheriff’s Office investigators have charged a 32-year-old woman with aggravated child abuse.

Charity Nicole Jackson, of Vinemont, was arrested late last week.

The alleged victim, who is under the age of 12, was taken to an out-of-town hospital where signs of child abuse were discovered by the attending physician.  Physicians noticed that the victim was malnourished, had bruises, cuts on her head and ears as well as other wounds.

Due to the graphic nature of the crime and the crime involving a minor child, a statement from the sheriff’s office said only limited details could be released concerning the child’s injuries.

“It breaks my heart to see a child being harmed but it also infuriates me at the same time,” said Sheriff Matt Gentry.  “I would also like to thank our investigators and those who assisted them in this case.”

CCSO investigators worked in cooperation with the Department of Human Resources and the Child Advocacy Center.

Jackson is being held in the Cullman County Detention Center with a $30,000 cash bond.