Tag Archives: Physical Abuse

Man Charged With Capital Murder

.jpg photo of man charged with capital murder in death of toddler
Sedrick Deshun Johnson, 27

Murder Charge Filed in Toddler Death

18-month-old nephew of suspect’s girlfriend was found in landfill

DALLAS, TX  –  The man who confessed to police in July that he left a Dallas toddler in a dumpster now faces a murder charge in the boy’s death.

.jpg photo of toddler murdered and thrown in landfill
Cedric “C.J.” Jackson,18-months-old

A grand jury indicted Sedrick Johnson in September on a capital murder charge in the death of Cedrick Jackson, the 18-month-old nephew of Johnson’s girlfriend.

Johnson has been in the Dallas County Jail since he was arrested in July.  His bail is set at $1,003,000.

Cedrick’s disappearance July 10 triggered an Amber Alert before authorities found the boy’s remains the next day at a landfill on the boundary between Garland and Rowlett.

Johnson, the boyfriend of Cedrick’s aunt, confessed to police that he had put the toddler in a dumpster in northeast Dallas.  Cedrick had been in his aunt’s care at that time, police had said previously.

Johnson told police that Cedrick had been swaddled in a blanket on the floor before he died, according to an arrest-warrant affidavit.  He told police Cedrick had once “made a mess” with ketchup packets, so he began swaddling the 18-month-old tightly to prohibit his movement.

He told police he unwrapped Cedrick from the blanket after he heard him making noise around 12:30 a.m.  The child began vomiting and became unresponsive, Johnson told police.

Johnson told police he gave Cedrick CPR for more than 30 minutes and that the child wasn’t moving but still had a heartbeat, according to the affidavit.  After that, he drove to a dumpster and put Cedrick inside, he told police.

The capital murder indictment for Johnson says he intentionally caused the toddler’s death by “an unknown manner and means.”  Johnson also was indicted on the injury to a child charge in September.

Johnson’s girlfriend, Chrystal Jackson, faces a charge of endangering a child in Cedrick’s death and disappearance.

In an arrest-warrant affidavit, police said Jackson lied to police for 19 hours about the amount of time she knew Cedrick was missing.

“Were it not for the actions and omissions by Suspect Jackson, law enforcement has every reason to believe the complainant could have been located, potentially alive, within hours of his removal from Suspect Jackson’s residence,” police wrote in the affidavit.

Jackson had called 911 early the morning of July 10, telling a dispatcher that her nephew had been abducted.  She said only she, another child and Cedrick were home when a man entered the residence and took Cedrick, according to the warrant.

Police said Jackson repeatedly changed her story about when Cedrick went missing, according to the affidavit.

Police said she also sent “valuable witnesses” away from the location from which Cedrick went missing, referring to five other children who had been in the house at the time.

In forensic interviews, children in the home said they heard Cedrick crying in the early morning, and then “he stopped suddenly and disappeared,” police wrote in an affidavit.

Cedrick’s mother could not be reached for comment Monday.  A few days after Johnson’s indictment, she wrote on Facebook that the boy’s aunt deserved the same charge as Johnson.

“You’re telling me this woman lied to y’all for over 19 hours when y’all could have possibly found my baby alive and the highest charge you can give her is child endangerment and her boyfriend gets capital murder,” DiShundra Thomas wrote.

Thomas said she wanted “proper and deserving justice” for her son.

Jackson, the aunt, has not been indicted on the child endangerment charge.

OK Seeing Less Severe Abuse While CA, Neglect Increasing

.jpg photo of children receiving child abuse prevention training
Students at Parkview Elementary in the Mid-Del School District roar during a child prevention lesson put on by The Care Center on Sept. 17.

The Good, the Bad and the Puzzling in
Child Maltreatment Counts

Each year, the Oklahoma agency that tracks and investigates abuse and neglect of children issues a detailed statistical report.

Buried in all of the numbers is what appears to be a hopeful trend.

During the past six years, the number of child abuse cases – the most severe form of child maltreatment – has plummeted by more than 50 percent, to 1,407 last year.

At the same time, another measure of how Oklahoma treats its children has risen to alarming levels.  During the same period, the number of substantiated cases of child neglect has tripled, to 13,394.  That drove an overall 18% increase in the number of cases of abuse, neglect or both since fiscal year 2012, a data analysis by Oklahoma Watch found.

But why would neglect soar and abuse plummet?

Human Services Department officials say they don’t know why, except mainly to suggest that when it comes to child neglect, citizens and professionals who deal with children have become better educated about recognizing the problem, which is defined more broadly than abuse, and are more inclined to report suspected cases.

No one at DHS or among child advocacy groups seems to be celebrating.  Some advocates question whether the statistics are accurate and, as they did at a recent legislative hearing, continue to push for more funding to prevent and respond to both abuse and neglect.

“Why overall it (abuse) keeps going down, I don’t know,” said Debi Knecht, DHS deputy director of child welfare programs.  “I would like to think society just evolves and stops abusing kids, but I don’t know why that is just in one particular area.”

Among the thousands of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect each year, a large majority involve only neglect.  In fiscal 2018, neglect cases made up 86% of the total 15,591 cases, compared with 9% for abuse and 7% for both abuse and neglect.

The most common types of abuse are a threat of harm, such as a child who is in danger of abuse because of their proximity to physical violence; beating or hitting by hand, and beating or hitting with an instrument.

The most common types of neglect are threat of harm, which is when a child faces a direct threat from their environment, such as a home where drug use is present; exposure to domestic violence, and failure to protect a child.

Knecht credits most of the increase in cases of child neglect to statewide efforts to teach law enforcement, teachers and others who work with kids how to recognize and report the problem.  Education drives up the number of reports that come into the agency, which leads to more substantiated reports, she said.

.jpg photo of children receiving child abuse prevention training
Shelby Lynch, education manager at The Care Center, asks students to raise their hands if they know three adults they can talk to “no matter what.” The question is part of a child abuse prevention training called Roar.

Knecht said the opioid epidemic and popularity of methamphetamine have also contributed to growing reports of neglect that involve substance abuse.

Knecht said the increase in neglect cases also could mean the agency is taking action earlier and thus preventing physical abuse.  Another contributing factor could be a cultural shift that has caused fewer parents to spank their children, she said.

But Knecht acknowledged it is difficult on the surface to reconcile the divergent trends.  An increase in reporting would more likely point to an increase in substantiated abuse, not a decrease, as it did with neglect cases, she said.

Child advocates question the accuracy of the data, saying the number of child abuse cases they see has remained steady or even increased over the past several years.

Dr. Ryan Brown, a child-abuse pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, said he has seen more cases of child abuse in recent years, not fewer.

“No matter what the DHS numbers say, those physical abuse numbers are not going down,” Brown said.

National reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also show an increase in children suffering from abuse and neglect combined.

Mary Abbott Children’s House conducts forensic interviews of children ages 3 to 18 for criminal investigations in Cleveland, Garvin and McClain counties and surrounding areas.  Interviewer Christi Cornett said the organization interviews around 480 children per year, and that number has remained steady since at least 2013.

Joe Dorman, CEO of the the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, and Nellie Kelly, executive director of the Child Protection Coalition, said the reported drop in child abuse cases contradicts what they see every day.

“I want to believe we’re getting better, but I find it hard to believe,” Dorman said.

Reporting Abuse and Neglect:  All Oklahomans 18 or older are required to report child abuse or neglect.  Reports can be made 24 hours a day, any day, to the state Department of Human Services at 1-800-522-3511.

Jury Starts Deliberations In Davis Trial

.jpg photo of man on trial for felony child abuse
Kenneth R. Davis, 31, of Springfield Missouri

Dismissed jurors discuss Kenneth Robert Davis’ felony Child Abuse case

GREENE COUNTY, MO  –  A Greene County jury is deliberating the fate of an accused child abuser.

Robert Davis is charged with 7 felonies for brutally beating and torturing his then, 8 year-old daughter last year.

Attorneys for both sides stated their cases to the jury one last time Thursday morning.

The prosecution declares that Davis severely beat his daughter and that they proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defense argued that the state tried to make Davis look bad.   They insist that he did not abuse her.

We spoke to two alternate jurors after they were dismissed from the case.

“I felt like I’d ran a race and never got to cross the finish line.  I feel glad because I don’t have to be a part of it but I also wish I was able to finish out what we started.  I think he was, can I say, a big fat liar?  I thought he was a big fat liar,” said Julie Kennedy.

Heather Hutson was also dismissed from the case.

She said, “The defense just seemed kind of almost lost.  They weren’t really sure where to go.  This guy was guilty.  The defense didn’t seem to put up too much of a fight.  There was nothing to prove his innocence or to defend his innocence I should say.”

Davis is also charged in the beating death of two year-old Kinzlea Kilgore.

He’ll be in front of a Dallas County, Missouri judge for that case next week.

VA Concerned With Child Abuse And Neglect Numbers

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Child deaths from abuse and neglect are on the rise in VA.

Hampton Roads leads region in Child Abuse and Neglect deaths

HAMPTON ROADS, VA  –  Some of the most vulnerable people in our community are dying at an alarming rate.

Child deaths from abuse and neglect are on the rise, and local groups are working to educate parents and make everyone a partner in prevention.

The Eastern Region Child Fatality Review Team says the rate of kids dying from child abuse and neglect in this area is the second-highest in the state — which is why is they’re working to increase awareness of the issue.

“So many of these deaths are accidental, but some of them are intentional and we have to worry about those, too.  Some people just aren’t safe parents, and we need to protect children from those parents as well,” said committee member Betty Wade Coyle.

The committee says 14 children in Hampton Roads died from abuse or neglect last year.  Five of those children were infants who never reached their first birthday, and five more victims were 3 years old or younger.

The team reviewed 49 cases of abuse or neglect that were investigated by local agencies last year, including the including the death of 5-year-old Levi Robertson in Isle of Wight.

His mother and her boyfriend were found guilty of manslaughter after the child was found unresponsive in January.

“Our number seems high compared to the rest of the state, but that’s because, in some ways, we feel it’s because we’re counting better than other areas,” explained Coyle.

Coyle says the three factors that contribute to the largest number of cases are substance abuse, mental illness and domestic abuse.

The committee says children are also dying in unsafe sleep environments.
Coyle says the safest way for babies to sleep is “alone, on their back, in a crib.”

Poverty is an underlying issue, but more can be done to help parents, like providing safe housing options and home visiting programs for families who are high-risk.

Not Much Of A Deterrent

.jpg photo of school of medicine where professor was charged with possessing child pornography
A professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine was charged with the distribution and possession of child pornography.

UCLA professor of medicine charged with possession and distribution of
Child Porn

A professor at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine was charged with distributing and possessing child pornography, a Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office news release announced Wednesday.

Guido Germano, director of artificial intelligence medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA professor-in-residence, plead not guilty to one felony count of distributing obscene matter and one count of possession of child or youth pornography Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He is accused of using a peer-to-peer software to distribute child pornography videos and downloading them to his personal computer, according to Deputy District Attorney Angela Brunson of the Cyber Crime Division in the news release.

Germano is still listed on the UCLA campus directory as of Aug. 2.  However, he was placed on administrative leave Thursday after the university was made aware of the charges against him, a UCLA spokesperson said.

He was arrested June 19 and released on bond.  His arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 1.

Germano faces a potential maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the news release.  The case is still under investigation.