DA continues to push for change in
Child Abuse laws
SAN ANTONIO, TX – One day after a woman was arrested and accused of hurting three children, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office announced a woman in a separate child abuse case has taken a plea deal.
Porucha Phillips, 34, entered a plea to two counts of injury to a child-serious bodily injury and received a sentence of 50 years in prison.
Phillips was arrested in April of 2016 after deputies found a three-year-old and a four-year-old tied with a dog chain and leash in the back of a North East side backyard.
Two other suspects still face charges in this case.
“We’re still in that negotiating process. This sets the tone. We’re showing how serious we are about this case,” District Attorney Nico LaHood said.
LaHood said he takes child abuse cases seriously. Last legislative session he pushed to have the law “enhanced.” He said it would give a judge or jury the opportunity to give the appropriate punishment for some of the most horrific abuse cases they see.
“It’s an enhancement, which always makes people feel uncomfortable, but all it’s doing is bringing everything up to status quo,” LaHood said. “We have that in other areas of the law with sexual assaults, with family violence, domestic violence situations.”
LaHood said he would push to have the laws changed again in the next legislative session.
Three members of Congress arrested
at Trump Tower street protest
NEW YORK, NY – Three Democratic members of Congress have been arrested on disorderly conduct charges at a protest outside Trump Tower.
“This is a classic example of idiots listening to liars with a mic in their hand. If anyone believes these three (3) Elected Law Makers care anything for Children, then you probably need a wakeup call….”
“The article led the reader to believe that possibly 10 – 30 Children were “missing”, when the link was fixed that number had grown to 90,000+ Children.”
“NOW, tell me how many Elected Law Makers care anything for the Children of this world.”
U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva, of Arizona; Luis Gutierrez, of Illinois; and Adriano Espaillat, of New York, were among a small group of demonstrators who sat down in the street on New York’s Fifth Avenue on Tuesday and refused to move.
The lawmakers were handcuffed and led away. Police say they were issued desk appearance tickets and released.
“How is this anywhere near EQUAL JUSTICE???? No Protesters in Charlotte, North Dakota DAPL, and surely not Kent State were issued desk appearance tickets and released.”
The protesters were demanding that Congress pass legislation protecting thousands of young immigrants from deportation.
Protest organizers said before the event the lawmakers planned to get arrested.
President Donald Trump delivered an address at the United Nations earlier Tuesday. The Republican was scheduled to stay at Trump Tower afterward but wasn’t present for the protest.
Chesterfield, Henrico police investigating cases of illicit photos of Target shoppers
HENRICO, VA – Shoppers are on alert after two men are accused of taking illicit photos or video at Central Virginia Target stores.
In the latest case, Ian Kendrick Gregory is facing charges because police say he tried to take videos of shoppers in the dressing room. Police say it happened at the Target store at Libbie Place Shopping Center on West Broad Street in Henrico.
Most shoppers we spoke to say they usually aren’t super cautious going into the dressing room.
“I actually don’t think about it, to be honest with you,” said Abby Owens.
“I’ve never had any issues or anything like that, but I mean, I’ve never been cautious,” said Ashleigh Peatross.
That opinion is changing because police say Gregory was just arrested for trying to record two people in the dressing room.
Investigators say one of the victims was underage. Police say a woman was in one of the changing rooms when she looked down and saw a camera underneath the door. She decided to confront the man behind the camera, who police later identified as Gregory.
Police tracked down Gregory and arrested him. They say that a second victim was also identified in the crime.
HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CA – County authorities are admitting to interagency communication breakdowns and negligent reporting in combating rampant child abuse, but say improvements are in the works.
Officials made the admissions late last week in response to two scathing civil grand jury reports about multi-agency failures by schools, law enforcement and county Child Welfare Services to report and combat child abuse effectively.
The grand jury probe concluded that Humboldt’s social services system is so structured that at times it appears “dysfunctional.”
The panel issued a two-pronged warning in the wake of an eight-month investigation:
“The safety net for our children critically needs improvement.”
“The children of Humboldt County are ill-served by the intake system that is meant to protect them!”
The Union reported in December that the county’s child abuse and neglect rate is nearly 50 percent higher than the California average, according to Mary Ann Hansen, executive director of First 5 Humboldt, the family support and child abuse prevention agency (Union, Dec. 10, 2016).
The weekend edition of the Times-Standard quoted Sheriff William Honsal acknowledging that communications between his office and Child Welfare Services have “absolutely failed over the last couple of years” to react quickly enough to reports of child abuse and neglect. He faulted Child Welfare case workers for lax communications but said the two agencies are at work on shoring them up, the newspaper quoted him stating.
The grand jury report voiced strong skepticism that the promised improvements will materialize.
Times-Standard reporter Will Houston also quoted Chris Hartley, Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools, that school district officials have been meeting monthly for several years with counterparts from the Department of Health and Human Services and that the dual grand jury reports will, belatedly, kick off discussions about coordinating child abuse reporting.
In stinging rebukes, two 2016-2017 civil grand jury reports, “Responding in Time to Help our ‘At Risk’ Children” and “Child Welfare in Humboldt: Getting the Door Open,” fault major problems in how schools, law enforcement and county agencies work to protect highly vulnerable youngsters.
“Lack of timeliness and follow-up can have devastating results,” warns the exposé on slow response times. Among the findings:
School districts struggle with their responsibility as Mandated Reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect. They often describe their contacts with law enforcement and child welfare as “frustrating” and “problematic.”
Of the five school districts investigated, comprising numerous schools, all representatives “expressed high levels of frustration with Child Welfare Services in the initial filing and subsequent handling of Mandated Reports.”
The Arcata School District gave high marks to the cooperation of the Arcata Police Department in child abuse investigations, but other districts registered multiple complaints about sheriff’s stations in their locales. Frequently, deputies “do not answer our calls,” “tell us they do not have sufficient personal to investigate” or they investigate “but do not leave a report” of the investigation.
School employees were “vociferous in their complaints” about Child Welfare Services. The grand jury spelled out the critical remarks:
“They often do not return our calls.”
“The Child Welfare hotline is “totally worthless.”
“We don’t go that far South.”
“That is not within our jurisdiction.”
“You should call the sheriff’s office about this.”
School personnel told the grand jury that often they never receive a reply from Child Welfare about a filed Mandated Report. The most common replies, if any, are “does not meet the state requirements for intervention” or secondly, “referred to other services.”
The latter means Child Welfare made an initial inquiry and then referred a family to voluntary social services or another community agency – but did not follow-up on whether the family followed through.
Turning to law enforcement, virtually all the of officers interviewed stated that drugs and alcohol were involved in the majority of the Mandated Report cases they investigated.
Like the school districts, law enforcement cited numerous problems in dealing with Child Welfare. In multiple instances, the difficulty is a severe lack of timely interagency communication.
Two examples, according to law officers (CWS refers to Child Welfare Services):
CWS tends to send a week’s supply of requests late Friday afternoon, making it difficult for the Sheriff’s Office to begin investigations until the following Monday.
In cases involving possible physical or sexual abuse, law enforcement must be contacted within hours, but the sheriff’s office is sometimes called days or weeks after CWS receives an initial report.
The child abuse report voiced doubts, based on past experience, that law enforcement and Child Welfare will improve their mutual openness and communication.
“While the Grand Jury supports apparent current efforts to create a task force to improve transparency and communication, the history of such past efforts gives us reason to be skeptical at this time.”
All of the social workers interviewed “appeared to be seriously dedicated to the work they were doing” with at-risk children, but said the Department of Health and Human Services has overwhelming caseloads, high turnover and lack of experience in dealing with the caseload.
Child Welfare staff dismissed school district complaints, alleging that many Mandated Reporters do not know how to fill out their reports properly or understand the criteria to be followed.
However, the grand jury found that “of the approximately 250 redacted Mandated Reports that we read, not one was filled out inappropriately or inaccurately.”