Category Archives: StopChildAbuse

Texas CPS: New Look, Actions Impressive

.jpg photo of men arrested for falsifying drug tests
Shawn William Franklin, 28, and Walter Allen Williams Jr., 29

CPS ‘suspends’ relationship with West Texas
Rehab after 2 arrested for falsifying drug tests

ABILENE, TX  –  Child Protective Services has suspended its relationship with West Texas Rehabilitation Center in Abilene in the wake of two former rehab center workers being arrested for falsifying drug tests in exchange for personal and sexual favors.

CPS has used West Texas Rehab to drug test parents as part of that office’s abuse and neglect investigations.

“As soon as CPS became aware of the allegations against these two West Texas Rehab employees, we immediately suspended our relationship with West Texas Rehab and stopped using their facility for drug-testing,” said Marissa Gonzales, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Gonzales said her agency has taken steps to “ensure that no children were placed in an unsafe situation as a result of incorrectly administered tests.”

“CPS has completed nearly 150 safety checks of children who may have had contact with a family member who took a drug test at this facility,” Gonzales said.  “We are confident no children were harmed.”

Asked if CPS had severed ties with West Texas Rehab, Gonzales said: “At this point, it’s accurate to say that CPS business dealings with West Texas Rehab are ‘suspended.'”

Arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in the case were two Abilene men – Shawn William Franklin, 28, and Walter Allen Williams Jr., 29.

On Wednesday, West Texas Rehab officials told KTXS that they learned of the allegations on Aug. 4 and immediately fired Franklin and Williams.

Gonzales said CPS learned of the investigation during the first week of August.

West Texas Rehab officials said they were “devastated by the news” and “felt betrayed.”  They also said this is the first time anything like this has happened in the center’s 64-year history and that they’re reevaluating hiring practices as a result.

They said they had no additional comments to make Thursday.

In July, CPS expressed concern to Abilene police about how some parents’ drug tests were being handled at West Texas Rehab.

During a police interview, Franklin admitted being friends with a woman who was working with CPS to get her children back.  Text messages between the two revealed the woman would send pictures – “sexual in nature” – to Franklin.  In return, Franklin would allow the woman to bring in someone else’s hair to send off for testing.

“Franklin would even look for ‘clean hair’ himself to be submitted on (the woman’s) behalf,” the documents indicate.

Franklin told police he advised the woman to use shampoo and vinegar on her hair to help with her test results.  When the woman tested, Franklin said he smelled the vinegar in her hair but still accepted the sample knowing it had been altered.

According to the detective, Franklin and Williams admitted allowing friends to bring in clean urine samples rather than urinate on site. Williams also said he knew some of the samples were “synthetic urine.”

In addition, Williams admitted to accepting a hair follicle from a woman who told him she would be bringing in “someone else’s hair,” the documents indicate.  Williams said he knew she needed a clean drug test for CPS, and during May, he accepted false hair from the woman in exchange for oral sex.

California 5 Year Old In Coma

.jpg photo of couple arrested for torture
Benjamin Matthew Whitten, the boy’s biological father and Jeryn Christine Johnson

Murrieta Couple Charged With Torture,
Child Abuse

Murrieta, CA  –  A Murrieta couple have been charged with child abuse and torture after a 5-year-old boy was hospitalized with severe injuries and is now comatose, authorities announced Thursday.

Benjamin Matthew Whitten, the boy’s biological father and a U.S. Navy sailor, and his live-in girlfriend Jeryn Christine Johnson appeared for arraignment in Murrieta on Thursday afternoon, but the hearing was postponed, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

The couple were arrested Tuesday, about 10 hours after Johnson called 911 to report the child being in medical distress, police said Wednesday.

Police officers found the unidentified boy frail and extremely malnourished, a Murrieta Police Department lieutenant said.  He had “severe injuries requiring immediate medical” care, the DA’s office said.

A neighbor said she saw paramedics doing chest compressions on the child.

The boy was taken by ambulance to an area hospital and then airlifted to another hospital in San Diego County.  He remains in grave condition Thursday, according to the DA’s office.

Dozens came out for a vigil outside the family’s home early Wednesday’s evening.  Neighbors said they didn’t see the family outside very often, though the father was sometimes heard yelling at the boy.

Whitten, 33, and Johnson, 25, were charged Thursday with one count of torture, and one count of child abuse with an allegation of causing the child to become comatose.

At Thursday afternoon’s appearance, their arraignment was posted until Aug. 24 and the judge kept their bail at $1 million each.  A public defender was appointed for Whitten and a defense attorney will be appointed to represent Johnson because the public defender’s office said it cannot represent two defendants in the same case, a DA’s spokesman said.

After getting a warrant, investigators searched the couple’s home in the 24000 block of Verdun Lane, where police said they found “extremely unsanitary” conditions.  Eleven dogs, four cats and two fish were taken from the home.

Administration code enforcement violations have occurred at the home, but no emergency calls were made after the family moved there in April 2016, police said.

Whitten serves as a machinist’s mate nuclear first class stationed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Detachment in San Diego, the U.S. Navy confirmed.  Whitten enlisted in 2009, with his home state listed as Texas, and he was stationed on the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier from 2011 to February 2016, naval records show.

TX Doctor Believes In This System

.jpg photo of Chaplin for Child Advocate
Melissa Zenteno, a chaplain at One Safe Place.

Texas doctor seeks to stop Child Abuse
before it can happen

FORT WORTH, TX  –  A Texas doctor believes a modeling system that’s successfully identified neighborhoods, streets and even specific businesses where shootings and other crimes are likely to occur can help stop child abuse and neglect before it happens.

Dyann Daley started a nonprofit this summer to help communities create maps that can zero in on areas as small as a few city blocks where such maltreatment is likeliest to happen, helping prevent it and allowing advocacy groups to better target their limited resources.

“This approach is really focused on prevention,” said Daley, a pediatric anesthesiologist.  “Because if you know where something is going to happen, then you can do something to stop it.”

Unlike the common hot spot mapping approach, which identifies high-frequency areas of child abuse and neglect based on cases that have already happened, Daley’s risk terrain modeling approach identifies other factors that indicate an area is fertile ground for abuse so that efforts can be made to head it off.  Such prevention not only can save lives, but also can help at-risk children avoid the often lifelong harmful effects of maltreatment, including a likelihood of alcohol and drug abuse, depression and anxiety, and higher risk of aggressive or criminal behavior.

“Hot spots tell you where past crimes have occurred but don’t explain why,” said Joel Caplan, one of two Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice professors who created risk terrain modeling. Caplan said mapping of hot spots assumes that crimes will continue to occur in the same location.

Risk terrain modeling was initially used to understand why shootings were happening repeatedly at certain locations.  Caplan said that such modeling has since been used in a variety of areas, including traffic planning and suicides, but that Daley’s work is the first he knows of applying it to maltreatment of children.

The modeling has helped police departments across the country identify areas to target and strategies to use to reduce certain crimes.

Caplan said a project in Atlantic City, N.J., found laundromats, convenience stores and vacant properties were high-risk locations for shootings and robberies.  Interventions this year included police regularly checking in at the convenience stores and city officials prioritizing efforts to clean up vacant lots and board up vacant properties near those convenience stores and laundromats.  He said results for the first five months show a 20 percent reduction in violent crimes.

“It gives us an idea of which risk factors we should focus on if we want to make the biggest impact, and that’s something you can’t do with hot spot mapping,” Daley said.

Daley adapted the modeling for Fort Worth as executive director of the Cook Children’s Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment, a post she left in May before starting her nonprofit, Predict-Align-Prevent Inc.

After using the model to analyze 10 known risk factors for child abuse and neglect, she found the most predictive risk factors for child maltreatment in Fort Worth were incidents of domestic violence, runaways, aggravated assaults and sexual assaults.

Perhaps surprisingly, when poverty was removed as a factor, the model’s predictive accuracy improved, said Daley.  She added that the most influential risk factors might change depending on the city, especially for rural versus urban areas.

The next step is determining what prevention strategies work. Daley said success will be measured by reductions in child abuse and highly correlative risk factors including violent crime, domestic violence and teen pregnancy.

Officials at the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment will spend the coming months coordinating a plan for specific interventions in Fort Worth.

“We’ve got the maps, and we think we know where the risks are increased in our specific community.  The big question that has to be answered is: What are you going to do about it?” said Larry Tubb, senior vice president of the unit that oversees the center.  He said strategies could include neighborhood watch groups and early childhood development centers.

David Sanders, an executive vice president at Casey Family Programs, called Daley’s work “incredibly promising” and said it now needs to be paired with research on what interventions work.

“There are a couple of interventions that seem to impact communities, but we just don’t have enough,” he said.

Daley distributed the mapping information to a variety of Fort Worth groups, noting that the prevalence of churches made them a good starting point for prevention efforts.

At the Tarrant Baptist Association, leadership director Becky Biser inserted pins into a map on the wall to mark churches of all denominations in high risk areas, helping assess what churches are doing and what more can be done.

“For me, a picture says a lot. … It’s in a lot of people’s neighborhoods,” Biser said.

Melissa Zenteno, chaplain at One Safe Place, which helps victims of domestic violence, has been talking to pastors about her organization’s services.

Some experts have concerns about the mapping approach, especially regarding interventions.

Neil Guterman, director of the violence prevention program at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, said he fears that the mapping could lead to disproportionally intervening in marginalized communities in coercive ways.  He said he could see its merits, though, if it’s used the right way.

“If the tool is married with supportive strategies that we know can actually help and make a difference, then that would be very helpful,” he said

Vehicles Are Not Baby Sitters

.jpg photo of mother locked children in hot car
Cynthia Marie Randolph, 24, locked Children in hot car.

Children who were locked in hot car as
punishment died of heat stroke

PARKER COUNTY, TX  –  Two children who were locked in a hot car for two hours as punishment died of heat stroke and their deaths have been ruled homicides, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

The mother of the two children, Cynthia Marie Randolph, was arrested in June and charged with two first-degree felony counts of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury.  In light of the medical examiner’s ruling, she will likely faces additional charges.

The children — Juliet Ramirez, 2, and Cavanaugh Ramirez, 16 months — died May 26, when temperatures reached 96 degrees, which at the time was the hottest day of the year.

When it’s 95 degrees outside, the temperature inside a vehicle can soar to 140 degrees in one hour, according to noheatstroke.org. Heatstroke begins when the body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees.

On the afternoon of May 26, sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence in the 200 block of Rambling Loop, in an unincorporated area of Parker County west of Lake Weatherford, where Randolph told detectives that she found her two children unresponsive after being locked inside a vehicle.  It was the first of several stories that she told about the events of that day, according to investigators.

Ultimately, Randolph, 24, told an investigator that she had been upset with Juliet because the toddler would not get out of the car. She cursed at her daughter and then locked the two children inside the 2010 Honda Crosstour, thinking they would be able to get out on their own, according to an arrest warrant affidavit detailing her interview with Texas Ranger Jim Holland.

As the temperature inside the car rose, Randolph went inside her house and smoked marijuana, then took a nap of two to three hours.

After waking up, Randolph began looking for the children.  When she couldn’t find them, she went to the Honda, where she could see Juliet in the driver’s seat and Cavanaugh on the floorboard, according to the affidavit.

Randolph said neither child was responding and all the doors were locked, so she broke the passenger side window, removed both children and rushed them inside, placing them on the kitchen table.

Randolph plugged her phone into a charger — she had left it in the car with the children — and called 911.  Life Care Medics pronounced both children dead at the scene.

TX AG CEU Rounds Up Woodway Purveyor Of Child Porn

.jpg photo of Child Pornographer
Charles David Baker, 23, of Woodway Texas.

OAG’s Child Exploitation Unit Arrests McLennan County Man for Possession of Child Pornography

AUSTIN, TX  –  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced today that the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) of his office arrested 23-year-old Charles David Baker, of Woodway, on two counts of Possession of Child Pornography, a third-degree felony.  Baker could face up to 10 years in prison per charge if convicted.

Following a CyberTipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children involving the upload of an image of child pornography to an email account, CEU investigators executed a search warrant at Baker’s residence, where child pornography was found on his personal computer.

Investigators seized several additional digital storage devices that will be examined by the attorney general’s Digital Forensics Unit.

During an interview, Baker admitted the email account was his.

He was transported to the McLennan County Jail where he will appear before a magistrate.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.

The CEU proactively seeks out and arrests predators who commit crimes against children using technology and online sources.

Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks our children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety.

If you suspect someone of producing or downloading child pornography you can report it to NCMEC.

For more information on cyber safety, please visit: https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/initiatives/cyber-safety/