Articles on MALTREATMENT of children in the System

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Postby Marina » Fri Aug 03, 2007 8:20 pm

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Adoptive mom in abuse case investigated in 1999


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, August 03, 2007

PORT ST. LUCIE — The woman accused of abusing and neglecting her 11 adopted children over nearly two decades while pocketing millions in child welfare was first investigated in 1999 for similar allegations involving the same children.

But the children whom investigators made contact with then - it is unclear how many - spoke of being well-cared for and showed no signs of abuse, records from that 1999 Port St. Lucie Police investigation show.

Judith Leekin, 62, of Port St. Lucie is accused of hiding malnourished, underdeveloped teenagers in her home.

Leekin also denied being a foster parent, saying she only cared for relatives' children. Investigators found no record of Leekin in foster parent records in the states of New York, New Jersey or Florida, the report said.

The 1999 investigation reports were released Friday after a public records request by The Palm Beach Post.

Judith Leekin, 62, now faces aggravated abuse charges in what police allege to be a cruel and elaborate multi-million interstate fraud. The New York City foster care system has since announced that Leekin adopted 11 children between 1988 and 1996 under four aliases, collecting at least $1.26 million in child welfare in the years since. Aggravated abuse and other charges filed against her so far, could net her up to 190 years in prison.

The 1999 investigation documents show that Department and Children and Families investigators dropped their investigation of Leekin, citing four reasons:

- "No prior reports or incidents of abuse"

- "All children in the home are fine and not in foster care"

- "There were no indicators of abuse cuts/punctures/bites, excess corporal punishment, confinement or bizarre punishment"

- "There are no records of Leeken (sic) as a foster parent in the states of NY, NJ or FL"

Investigators apparently visited Leekin's home six times between February and April 1999 and drove by 15 times, the reports show.

Despite these attempts, police never made any further contact with Leekin or saw any children or adults. Recent court documents say she fled the area to avoid further investigation.

The woman who reported Leekin to police in 1999 told them Leekin asked her to care for the 11 children for one week, during which time she saw Leekin strike one in the head with an iron, the report states.

Detectives never encountered 11 children in their investigation, though, and noted inconsistencies in witness statements, including that there were between 11 and 14 adopted children.

"The children that did stay with Leekin are in good health and appear to be taken care of very well," states a police investigation report dated April 16, 1999. "All deny any use of corporal punishment and all stated that they did not know of any other children being taken care of by Leekin."

The children interviewed denied knowing of any other children whom Leekin cared for, the report states.

The report differs sharply from this month's accounts from police investigators, who discovered four adults and four children hiding in Leekin's pink, two-story Port St. Lucie home earlier this month.

Their bodies were undersized and marked with burns. Scars showed on their wrists, where police say she used handcuffs and zip-ties to bind them together while forcing them to sleep on a tile floor and soil themselves.

Although the woman who reported Leekin to authorities said she adopted the kids in New York, DCF investigators incorrectly concluded that was not true.

"This was shown to be false because investigator Sharpe was able to look up all appropriate information pertaining to foster parents or caregivers in the states of NY, NJ, or FL," a report said. "There was no information on Leekin in any of those states."

Although the Department of Children and Families also investigated, that agency's records remain sealed, as required by state law.

The Palm Beach Post filed a petition late Thursday in circuit court asking a judge to unseal them, citing a provision in state law that allows for such in abuse cases in which the public's right to know outweighs privacy rights.


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Postby Marina » Fri Aug 03, 2007 8:26 pm

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Woman used four aliases to adopt kids


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, August 03, 2007

PORT ST. LUCIE — A woman's alleged con of New York City's foster care system began in 1988, when she adopted the first of 11 disabled children whom she would go on to neglect while pocketing as much as $2 million in child welfare, authorities said Thursday.

Judith Leekin, 62, used four aliases to adopt the "special needs" and "exceptional needs" children between 1988 and 1996, they said.

Judith Leekin, 62, of Port St. Lucie is accused of hiding malnourished, underdeveloped teenagers in her home.

The children's disabilities entitled her to larger subsidies - as much as $55 per day, per child. She continued to collect the payments even after moving from the city's Queens borough into a pink, two-story house in Port St. Lucie.

According to New York foster care officials, Leekin used one alias to adopt the first child in July 1988. Under another fake name, she adopted three more in May 1993. A third alias enabled her to take custody of five more: three in June 1994, one in December 1994 and one in June 1995. Leekin took in the last two using a fourth name in April 1996. So far, the New York City foster care agency, the Administration for Children's Services, has accounted for $1.26 million in payments to Leekin.

They continued to comb through records Thursday to determine the extent of Leekin's alleged fraud and ensure that similar abuses are not occurring, a spokeswoman said.

Tipped off in early July, investigators found the children and adults, whose ages now range for 15 to 27, hiding in an upstairs bedroom of her Port St. Lucie home. Investigators say their undersized bodies showed burns and scars from handcuffs and zip-ties she used to bind them.

Police located another child she adopted, now 19, on Monday. One, who would be 18-years-old today, remains missing.

Arrested on July 18, Leekin was charged Wednesday with abuse, witness tampering and possession of false identification - 10 felony counts that carry a maximum sentence of 190 years. She is being held in St. Lucie County jail in lieu of $4.4 million bail. Prosecutors and investigators say they expect to bring additional charges in coming days and, perhaps, identify others involved in the alleged scam.

Leekin's attorney, Mario Garcia of Miami, has said he would not comment on specific allegations but disputed them in a statement released Wednesday.

"The immediate family believes it is important for the public to know that Mrs. Leekin cared for and loved the children and adults under her care," the statement said. "Being an elderly person herself, my client believes no one, child or adult, under her care or the care of others should suffer from abuse."

July was not the first time that investigators visited Leekin's home. The Florida Department of Children and Families and the Port St. Lucie Police Department both investigated similar allegations involving Leekin and the same children in 1999. The investigations spanned several days but turned up nothing, said DCF spokeswoman Ellen Higinbotham.

DCF would not discuss details of the case, whose records are private under state law.

Late Thursday, The Palm Beach Post filed a petition in circuit court to unseal those records, citing a provision in state law that allows for them to be opened in abuse cases where the public's right to know outweighs privacy rights. A hearing date has not yet been set.


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Postby Marina » Fri Aug 03, 2007 8:28 pm

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Man jailed on rape charges involving girls

BY EILEEN KELLEY | [email protected]

A 40-year-old Lincoln Heights foster father was jailed Wednesday evening after being accused of raping or sexually touching six girls, all ages 13 or younger, over a period of years.

None of the alleged victims were Michael Chinn's foster children, officials said.

Chinn was being held on $850,000 bond after he was charged with 17 counts of rape or gross sexual imposition on Thursday.

A 17-year-old foster child was removed from the home on Wednesday.

Brian Gregg, a representative for the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, said the Chinn family has had eight county foster children in their home since 2001. Gregg said none of the foster children, including the 17-year-old boy who has lived there for 14 months, have made allegations of sexual abuse against Chinn.

Chinn and his wife are foster parents for the private agency Square One for Youth, a division of the Buckeye Ranch. The homes are considered therapeutic. With this agency, the foster families tend to take children who have transitioned out of therapeutic residential centers because of mental and behavioral issues and who are not quite ready to go back to their homes.

Chinn was charged with eight counts of rape of a person under 13 and seven counts of gross sexual imposition, or sexual touching.

Lincoln Heights Police Sgt. Sandra Stevenson told Hamilton County Municipal Judge Fanon Rucker in court Thursday there might be more victims.

Square One for Youth is based in Grove City, Ohio. The private, nonprofit agency has about 170 foster homes throughout the state.

"Obviously we are very concerned about the young ladies that are making these allegations," said Nick Rees, the vice president of development at Buckeye Ranch. "Our prayers and thoughts are going out to those involved because we are in the business of (caring) for children."


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Postby Marina » Sat Aug 04, 2007 7:27 pm



SD Woman Charged With Abusing Foster Child

An Eagle Butte woman has been indicted in Pierre on a federal charge of felony child abuse involving a young foster child.

Thirty-four-year-old Wendy Lynn Edna Veit faces a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine if she's convicted.

The charge relates to a report of abuse against a two-year-old foster child in Eagle Butte between February 1 and June 15.


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Postby Marina » Sat Aug 04, 2007 7:28 pm

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Man Sentenced For Foster Child's Abuse

POSTED: 3:01 pm CDT August 3, 2007
UPDATED: 3:18 pm CDT August 3, 2007

OMAHA, Neb. -- A man was sentenced Friday to one to three years in prison for sexually assaulting a foster child.

John Eckerman pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault in December.

Investigators said Eckerman gave an 18-year-old boy alcohol and took advantage of him.


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Postby Marina » Tue Aug 07, 2007 9:25 am


Charges Mount Against Foster Father

Aug 7, 2007 12:51 PM EDT

Update: 12:45 p.m. Tuesday

Michael Chinn's bond has been raised from $1 million to $1.5 million. The case will go to a grand jury on Aug. 10.

Update: 2:30 p.m. Monday

Michael Chinn now faces even more charges, as 10 more were filed today.

The charges include one count of rape, two counts of compelling prostitution and seven counts of gross sexual imposition.

Chinn will be in court on Tuesday to face these new charges.

Update: 2 p.m. Friday

Another victim has come forward against Michael Chinn.

Police have charged him with three more counts of gross sexual imposition.

His bond was also raised another $150,000. It now stands at $1 million.


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Postby Marina » Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:40 pm

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Ex-foster dad convicted of sex abuse

Dominguez may get life in prison for 1999 incidents

Register Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Renaldo David Dominguez, a former Napa foster parent, is looking at 200 years to life in prison.

Last week a jury convicted Dominguez, 58, of 19 counts of child molestation, including oral copulation and sodomy. The crimes involved three male victims who were foster children in Dominguez’s care. The sexual abuse happened in 1999 in Napa.

In 1999, the Napa County District Attorney’s Office filed 15 counts of child molestation against Dominguez involving one of his foster children, who was 8 at the time.

During the court appearances prior to setting a trial date, the defense attorney asked for several continuances, according to court records. The case dragged on for about four years. Because of the time delay, in 2003, Napa County Superior Judge Stephen Kroyer dismissed the charges against Dominguez, making him a free man.

The district attorney’s office then petitioned the state attorney general’s office to look into Kroyer’s ruling, said Napa County Deputy District Attorney Paul Gero, who prosecuted the case.

Ultimately, prosecutors appealed the ruling and a court of appeals overturned it, allowing prosecutors to reinstate the charges against Dominguez.

Gero and district attorney investigator Mike Frey began working the case once more in 2006.

“We brought in Napa Police detective Don Winegar who was on the first arrest,” Gero said. “We found five other victims. The crimes against three of them were too old to prosecute, but two of those victims testified at the trial.”

“The fascinating thing about this case is that the guy was molesting these foster kids and the county kept handing the kids over to him,” said Gero.

Gero said the defense attorney said the case was a conspiracy against Dominguez because he was gay. “His partner was living with him when the molestations happened,” said Gero.

Dominguez is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 4.


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Postby Marina » Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:44 pm


Aug 6, 2007 10:15 pm US/Eastern

DCF Official Outraged At Alleged Foster Home Rape
Politician Wants To Reform DCF's Foster Care

Gary Nelson


Florida's Department of Children and Families is going on record now, acknowledging a terrible failure to protect the kids in a North Dade foster home. The failure led to the alleged rape of an eight-year-old girl.

Miami-Dade's DCF administrator conceded Monday that the allegations surrounding Ian Garrick, are as bad is gets when it comes to the agency's failures.

In a North Miami-Dade foster home, as CBS4 News was first to reveal, Garrick is accused of molesting two little girls. Garrick was the boyfriend of the foster mother at the home, and he was allowed to move into the home in March, even though DCF knew he had been accused of molesting a 10-year-old girl at the home the year before. Police say he went on to rape an eight-year-old this year.

"How was this man, who we knew we had suspicions on before, allowed to move back into the home and reside in the home, because it was reported?" said Ferradaz. "We knew about it; it was reported. Definitely something went wrong. We had policies in place to catch this sort of thing and prevent it from happening, but apparently they weren't followed," said Gilda Ferradaz, with DCF.

But even before this accused rapist slipped through the bureaucratic cracks and through this foster home door, there were questions about the home and Cynthia Matthias, the woman who ran it.

Reams of records acquired by CBS4 News revealed serious questions were raised about the mother several years ago.

One caseworker's notes refer to "several abuse reports against the (foster parent), including one of concern."

But it apparently wasn't enough concern to keep Matthias's license from being renewed.

An arrest for battery didn't keep the state from licensing Matthias either.

On one occasion, a caseworker found the foster kids in this home alone, being watched by a teenager.

This is what we found written in a report: "She was informed that the children cannot be left with a 16-year-old."

And so it went in this foster home, until Matthias—with the state's consent—allowed Garrick to watch and allegedly abuse children.


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Postby Marina » Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:13 am

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August 9, 2007

Court reverses $750K award

DHS found to have breached duty to youth in custody

By Jimmie E. Gates
[email protected]

The state Court of Appeals has upheld a Hinds County judge's ruling that the Mississippi Department of Human Services breached its duty to a youth who said he was sexually abused while in its custody.

But the Court of Appeals reversed Circuit Judge Winston Kidd's $750,000 damage award and ordered a new trial on damages only. The Court of Appeals said Kidd failed to disclose how he arrived at the $750,000 damage award.

Kidd found in a 2004 opinion that DHS breached its duty to protect and care for the youth, identified in court papers only as S.W., in three respects:

It failed to make required face-to-face contacts with the youth.

It failed to sufficiently investigate the report of sexual abuse.

It failed to provide much needed counseling for the boy upon his return home.

"We affirm the findings of the trial judge that DHS breached each of the three duties identified in the order," the 10-member Court of Appeals said in a unanimous decision.

In one part of its decision, the Court of Appeals said DHS' investigation to determine whether the youth had been sexually abused was "grossly inadequate."

"We are quite pleased with the court's unanimous opinion which found that DHS can be held accountable in a court of law for neglecting those over whom they have custody and particularly vulnerable children in the foster care system," the youth's attorney, Carlton Reeves, said Wednesday in a statement.

Reeves said he hopes the decision will signal to DHS that it needs to change the way it does business.

"It appears from this case that DHS has completely abdicated its responsibility to these precious children including our client who faces a very difficult life, in part, because of DHS' utter neglect," Reeves said.

DHS Executive Director Don Taylor was out of the office Wednesday and couldn't be reached for comment.

DHS attorney, David Lee Gladden Jr., told a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals during arguments that there was no proof of actual sexual contact and that the youth's statements have been inconsistent.

But there were court statements that one of the staffers sent the boy cards expressing his love for him after the boy had been returned to his home.

The 14-year-old was removed from his home in Jackson and sent 150 miles away to licensed chemical-dependency treatment centers in Ackerman and Starkville in late 1996, according to court records.

After he was returned to his mother, the youth said he had been sexually assaulted by staffers at the facilities.

DHS officials had two face-to-face visits with the youth during the 14 months he was in the facilities, but they had other contact through letters or telephone calls, according to the arguments before the Court of Appeals.

Kidd had ruled that DHS policy required monthly face-to-face visits with a youth in such centers. The Court of Appeals said the actual requirement was quarterly face-to-face visits, but DHS didn't fulfill that requirement.


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Postby Marina » Mon Aug 20, 2007 5:13 am

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Molesting Redmond foster father sentenced

12:59 PM PDT on Monday, August 13, 2007


SEATTLE - A Redmond foster father will spend four years in prison for molesting his foster children.

"Enrique Fabregas took away my innocence, destroyed my dreams for what would have happened in my life and destroyed my ability to love myself and trust other people," Estera Tamas said in court Monday about Enrique Fabregas. Beginning at age 13, Tamas says Fabregas bribed her with cocaine and clothes in exchange for sex.

"I have flashbacks of Enrique looking at me in the shower, yelling at me an throwing me down the stairs, of him introducing me to alcohol and drugs for the first time," said Tamas.

He's accused of not only sexually abusing Estera, but also abusing her two younger sisters.

"Being placed with Enrique was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. For three years I was tortured. He hated me and made that clear to me on a daily basis," said Ruth Tamas.

Others in court stood in defense of Fabregas.

"What these girls have said, most of it, I don't know where it came from," said Angelique Moore.

The judge sentenced Fabregas to the maximum sentence of 48 months in prison.

"Children and everyone that entrusts them to someone should know and should be able to know that our legal system will do everything possible to protect them," said Judge Richard Eadie.

Three of Fabregas' former foster children are suing the state for $45 million, contending the Department of Social and Health Services ignored more than two dozen warnings about Fabregas.


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Postby Marina » Mon Aug 20, 2007 5:33 am

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Foster father gets 4-year sentence in abuse of girl

By Maureen O'Hagan

Seattle Times staff reporter


Enrique Fabregas, 53, of Redmond, was sentenced to four years in prison for sexually abusing a foster daughter. He pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. The sentence was at the top of the sentencing-guidelines range.

Enrique Fabregas was known as a character about town who'd tip his fedora to passers-by, a flamboyant waiter whose Spanish accent charmed fine diners.

Shuffling into King County Superior Court in jail clothes Monday, his hair long and unkempt, the charm had faded. Fabregas, 53, a church-choir member, was sentenced to four years in prison for sexually abusing a foster daughter.

"There is a long history of cruel exploitation," Judge Richard Eadie said in imposing the sentence, which was at the top of the sentencing-guidelines range.

In May, about a year after being jailed on child-sex charges, Fabregas pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. He entered an Alford plea, in which the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges he likely would be convicted if the case went to trial.

In a search of his house, Redmond police found sexually explicit photos of his foster daughter, Estera Tamas, now 20, who said Fabregas began abusing her as a young teen. Fabregas admitted taking photos but said Tamas was 18 at the time, which would have meant it wasn't a crime.

Even as he was abusing Estera, he maintained a good reputation in the community, counted police officers among his friends and managed to convince state Child Protective Services (CPS) workers of his innocence, despite dozens of complaints against him.

"I've never run across anybody who was such a master of deceit," recently retired Redmond Police Detective Jennifer Baldwin said after the hearing.

In statements to the court, Tamas and her sisters told Eadie the abuse went on for years.

Estera Tamas maintained a steady voice as she told the judge that she has flashbacks of Fabregas abusing her sexually and physically, and threatening to kill her if she told anyone. Once, she recalled, when Fabregas learned she had confided in some friends, he "let out a loud chuckle" and proclaimed his innocence to them, making her look like a lunatic and a liar. "It made me feel like garbage," she said.

Although The Seattle Times generally does not publish the names of sex-crime victims, Estera Tamas agreed to be named.

Two younger sisters also read statements describing repeated incidents of physical abuse, including beating and choking, as well as emotional abuse. Both described being locked in a room for days.

Ruth Tamas, 19, said one of Fabregas' favorite punishments was making her copy verses out of the Bible for hours, often on topics such as lying and stealing. When she finished, he would rip the paper up and force her to start again, she said. He kept Ruth's handwritten "confessions" to present to CPS investigators when she later made allegations against him.

Jennifer Tamas, 17, recalled that Fabregas forced her and Ruth to kneel for hours on the floor with their arms in the air. Then he would leave the house, telling the girls he had trained a video camera on them; if they flinched, they would be killed. The girls believed him.

"By 10 minutes, your knees ache," Jennifer Tamas said. "By 20 minutes, you lose feeling in your arms. By an hour, you begin to shake and cry." But they didn't dare move.

Earlier this year, a Seattle attorney filed a $45 million lawsuit against the state Department of Social and Health Services on behalf of Estera and Ruth Tamas and a 13-year-old adoptive daughter of Fabregas'. The suit alleges the state failed to recognize the abuse and pull the children from the home, despite numerous complaints. (Jennifer Tamas is not part of the lawsuit. She lived with Fabregas for a time and then moved in with a different foster family.)

On Monday, two people spoke on Fabregas' behalf. One, the mother of the girl Fabregas had adopted, said she didn't believe the Tamas sisters. Another, a church-choir member, said he never saw anything amiss.

But Fabregas didn't speak during the hearing. As he left the courtroom, he turned to the three girls, winked and said a single word.



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Postby Marina » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:00 pm


Judge orders accused molester to stand trial

Prosecutors say man abused foster child

By Michael Manekin, STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 08/23/2007 02:36:57 AM PDT

REDWOOD CITY — An English software designer accused of sexually molesting his 9-year-old American foster child on an almost daily basis while living in San Mateo is heading to jury trial after a San Mateo Superior Court judge found sufficient evidence Wednesday to try the man on multiple counts of child molestation.
Prosecutors say that Tarquin Craig Thomas, 41, arranged foster care for a 9-year-old boy from his vacation home in Oregon and brought the boy back to San Mateo, where he allegedly molested him repeatedly. Thomas also had the boy pose nude with other adults, authorities say.

When the boy reported the abuse, authorities took him back to his home state of Oregon, prosecutors said. However, Thomas allegedly hatched an elaborate plan to smuggle the boy back to England by planting a GPS device in a picture frame that he had given the boy in order to locate him. As part of the alleged plan, prosecutors said, Thomas made contact with the boy's biological mother.

Thomas will be tried on five counts of child molestation, one count of showing pornography to a child and one misdemeanor count of abusing an electronic tracking device.

"We're dealing with a defendant who truly engages in predatory action," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. "This isn't somebody taking advantage of an opportunity. He went out and sought a child. He planned for it.

"If these allegations are proven to be true," he added, "someone who engages in this conduct is an immense danger to the community."

Thomas, who remains in custody in lieu of $1 million, is expected to return to the Hall of Justice on Sept. 6 for his Superior Court Arraignment.


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Postby Marina » Sun Aug 26, 2007 9:32 am

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Posted on Sat, Aug. 25, 2007

Boy locked in cellar deemed 'safe' by DHS

[email protected] 215-854-2860


For two years, the city Department of Human Services paid a social-services agency to check up on Theresa Ortiz's children.
But late last year, agency social workers deemed the kids safe and DHS closed the case, according to DHS sources.

During a drug raid Wednesday, cops found Ortiz's 11-year-old son locked in a filthy cage-like space in the basement of the family's Kensington home.

The boy and his two sisters, ages 13 and 14, later told police their mother forced them to spend hours locked in the 8-foot-wide basement cell as punishment.

Police said they were shocked to find the boy locked away with nothing more than a ratty foam mattress, some crayons and a bucket filled with urine and feces. The boy had been shut inside for three hours before cops rescued him, authorities said.

The news of the caged boy comes as DHS leaders work to reform the long-troubled agency in the wake of an Inquirer investigation revealing that kids under DHS' care - or within families previously known to DHS - died from abuse or neglect. In some cases, children died after DHS closed the family case-file.

In May, a child-welfare panel appointed by Mayor Street concluded a review of 52 child fatalities from July 2001 through August 2006. Half of the 52 children were under DHS care when they died; the other half had either previously received DHS services or were born into families formerly in the system, the panel found.

At the time of Wednesday's drug raid, DHS had an open case file on the Ortiz family because one of Theresa Ortiz's children, a 15-year-old boy, was placed in foster care after getting into trouble with the law, according to a DHS source.

For about two years, DHS paid a social-services agency to help the family and protect Ortiz's children from harm. DHS closed the case file last November, said the the sources, who did not reveal the agency's name.

Ortiz, 37, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Her children were taken into DHS custody.

"The Department of Human Services is involved with the children of Theresa Ortiz," DHS spokesman Frank Keel said yesterday. "The children were brought to DHS by members of the Police Department's Special Victims Unit immediately after the discovery of the 11-year-old boy in the basement. The safety of the children is our top priority and they will remain in our care until their long-term safety is assured."

Ortiz lived at the home on Clearfield Street near D with her boyfriend, Salvador Reyes, 33, who was arrested and charged with narcotics violations and endangering the welfare of a child.

The 11-year-old boy was home alone at the time of the raid, which netted $45,000 worth of heroin, $700 worth of cocaine, a .25-caliber handgun and $5,000 in cash, police said.

The children lived in deplorable conditions and were prevented from eating by a lock on the refrigerator, while Ortiz and Reyes shared a posh bedroom and comfortable surroundings, police said.

"Our investigation revealed that the kids were living there and that all three of the kids had spent time in that confined room," said Narcotics Chief Inspector William Blackburn.

"Maybe they'll be placed in a better home," Blackburn added. "Hopefully, we made a difference with this one." *


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Postby Marina » Sat Sep 01, 2007 6:35 pm

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Published August 30, 2007 01:00 pm - A former Jasper County foster parent was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy placed in his care by the state.

11:57 a.m. Former foster parent sentenced

A former Jasper County foster parent was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy placed in his care by the state.

Circuit Judge David Dally sentenced Mark D. Vogl, 48, to two 15-year terms at a hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court, with the sentences to run concurrent. Vogl had pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy in June just prior to his case going to trial.

Vogl was charged with having deviate sexual intercourse with the boy at his home on Central City Road west of Joplin between April 13, 2003, and April 6, 2004.

Investigators believe there were additional male sexual abuse victims in Vogl’s case, including other foster-care boys. The Jasper County prosecutor’s office agreed not to pursue additional charges against the defendant in exchange for his guilty plea on the two counts.


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Postby Marina » Sat Sep 01, 2007 6:38 pm


Abuse Cases Lead to Crack Down on Foster Service

Aug 31, 2007 04:40 PM EDT

Foster Care Service Reprimanded

By Seth Kovar

WACO - Four cases of foster child abuse this year started a state investigation into Lutheran Social Services of the South, a private foster child placement service with a branch in Waco. Based on their findings, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has cut-off the service. TDFPS will no longer use L.S.S. to place children taken from abusive homes.

"The initial concern is, are the children safe?" TDFPS spokesperson Patrick Crimmins asked. "Are the children in all of these Lutheran homes safe?"

L.S.S. spokesperson Katherine Kerr responded to the placement suspension with disappointment.

"We do everything humanly possible to ensure that the children we place in our homes are in safe and nurturing environments," Kerr said.

Starting August 31, L.S.S. has six months to come up with a plan to improve the way it does business. TDFPS noted problems with background checks and training for foster parents to name a few.


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Postby Marina » Sun Sep 02, 2007 2:38 pm

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Woman found guilty of sexually abusing boy

Updated: 09/02/07 6:30 AM

BATAVIA — A Genesee County jury found a Darien Center woman guilty Friday of sexual abuse involving a 13- year-old boy in her foster care.

Deborah L. Knauber, 44, was charged with one count each of second- degree rape, second-degree criminal sexual conduct and second-degree sexual abuse, said Robert R. Zickl, the assistant Genesee County district attorney.

The charges stem from three separate incidents with the boy last year at her home, Zickl added.

At the time, Knauber had other foster children in her care but does not now.

Knauber, who faces up to seven years in prison, is scheduled for sentencing next month.


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Postby Marina » Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:45 pm

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Police Say Foster Parent Left 2 Kids Unattended At Casino

Published on 9/3/2007

Mashantucket — A foster care parent was arrested early Sunday morning after police said she left two children unattended for about 21/2 hours in Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Louise T. Andolina, 78, of Waterbury, was charged with two counts of leaving a child unattended in a place of public accommodation. According to a police, the incident happened at 2:40 a.m.

Andolina is charged with leaving a 9- and an 11-year-old in the concourse near the arcade. She was held on $2,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in New London Superior Court Sept. 13.


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Postby Marina » Wed Sep 05, 2007 8:01 pm

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185 years in prison for abusing foster kids

Napa Valley Register
Wednesday, September 05, 2007

NAPA — Convicted child molester Renaldo Dominguez was sentenced to almost two centuries in state prison Tuesday for sexually molesting three young boys who were in his foster care.

Superior Court Judge Diane Price sentenced Dominguez to 185 years to life behind bars. Last month a jury found Dominguez, 58, guilty of 19 counts of child molestation, including oral copulation and sodomy. The victims were all under 14 when the sexual abuse happened in 1999 in Napa.

In 1999, the Napa County District Attorney”s Office filed 15 counts of child molestation against Dominguez involving one of his foster children, who was 8 at the time.

But the case dragged on without going to trial for about four years. Because of the time delay, in 2003 Napa County Superior Judge Stephen Kroyer dismissed the charges against Dominguez, saying the delays interfered with Dominguez getting a fair trial.

The district attorney”s office then petitioned the state attorney general”s office to look into Kroyer”s ruling, said Napa County Deputy District Attorney Paul Gero, who prosecuted the case.

Ultimately, prosecutors appealed the ruling and a court of appeals overturned it, allowing prosecutors to reinstate the charges against Dominguez.

When Gero and district attorney”s office investigator Mike Frey began working the case last year, they found five other victims. The crimes against three of them were too old to prosecute. But two of the victims testified against Dominguez at his trial.

At Tuesday”s sentencing, defense attorney Jim McEntee argued for a less severe sentence.

As Dominguez, dressed jailhouse blues and wearing dark sunglasses, looked on from behind the glass partition that separates inmates from those in the courtroom, McEntee told the court that his client did not qualify as a pedophile.

“He has had an adult partner for many years, which is not characteristic with being a pedophile,” McEntee said.

He also argued that although convicted sex offenders have a high rate of recidivism, Dominguez could respond to treatment if offered.

“He stopped (sexual abuse) in 1999. When an offender reaches the age of 50, his urges and misbehavior decreases,” McEntee told the judge.

Gero had another take on the defendant.

“Counsel (McEntee) has said the crimes were not that bad. No, they were horrible. He”s a pedophile. I don”t care if he is 50, 60 or 70, I have every confidence that if he was given the chance, he would do it again,” Gero said.

Judge Price said charges were serious and the victims were extremely vulnerable.

“These children were in his foster care because they were taken from a terrible family background. Mr. Dominguez became a father to these children.

“He was the only source of safety in their world. He betrayed that trust they had placed in him,” Price said.

Although one of the three victims attended the sentencing, he declined to give a victim”s impact statement to the court.


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Postby Marina » Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:36 pm


Search For Missing Foster Child to Gain New Momentum

Sep 5, 2007 09:17 PM EDT

The search for a missing three-year-old Las Vegas child may soon gain new momentum. The court-appointed Guardian ad Litem for Everlyse Cabrera plans to hire a private investigator to find the girl.

Everlyse Cabrera went missing from her foster home more than a year ago.

Foster parents Vilma and Manny Carrascal claim the child must have walked out the front door in the middle of the night. Everlyse was two years old at the time of her disappearance.

It's a story police don't believe. But ironically, a settlement reached with the very people accused of losing her will provide the money to hire someone to find her.

Attorneys for Everlyse's biological parents agreed to settle their lawsuit against her foster parents for $300,000.

That's the maximum payout on the insurance policy provided for the foster parents by Clark County, though Everlyse's attorneys asked the court to split the money three ways among Everlyse and her parents.

Everlyse's Guardian ad Litem believes the bulk of the money should go to Everlyse to be used to hire a private investigator.

Dara Goldsmith said, "It's important to locate her. Hopefully she's alive and somewhere living well. And hopefully we can find her. If not, I think it's important to find the truth."

The judge ordered the $300,000 settlement to be placed with the court until arguments can be heard about who gets how much. The judge told the lawyers in no uncertain terms his priority, too, is locating Everlyse not, in his words, getting a new car for her parents.

Attorney David Gibson says using the money to find Everlyse has always been her parents' primary goal.

The settlement releases the foster parents from any future civil liability. Of course, they still refuse to speak with police.


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Postby Marina » Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:38 pm


Gonzales Couple Accused Of Starving Second Child

Wed Sep 5, 1:45 PM ET

A Gonzales County couple charged in the fatal starving of an 8-year-old foster child have been charged with starving another child, law enforcement authorities said.

Steve and Bettie Ramirez now face two counts of injury to a child.

The couple was originally charged last week in the starvation death of 8-year-old Crystal Ramirez.

During the investigation, law enforcement authorities determined that the couple also starved the girl's 10-year-old sister, who is hospitalized at a San Antonio hospital.

The girls' younger brother, who authorities don't suspect was being starved, is in foster care and is attending school, law enforcement authorities said.

Steve Ramirez is being held in lieu of $350,000 bond and Bettie Ramirez is being held on a $300,000 bond.


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Postby Marina » Sat Sep 08, 2007 7:02 pm


Court: Teen parenthood terminated too quickly


By Valarie Honeycutt Spears
[email protected]

The youth and immaturity of a teen parent cannot alone be grounds for taking away parental rights, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled.

A decision last week to reverse the termination of parental rights for a girl who was 14 when her son was born could have implications for the more than 10,000 teens who become pregnant in Kentucky each year and who are at risk of permanently losing custody, said the teen's court-appointed attorney John Helmers.

"It's going to give them a better chance to parent their children," said Helmers of Louisville. "In Jefferson County, we've seen an increase in termination sought for minor mothers."

The ruling involved a teen who was in foster care along with her infant, though much of the time they were assigned to different homes. The mother and son were not identified in the ruling. As of Thursday, there were 118 instances in Kentucky in which the state had placed a baby in foster care whose parent was also in foster care, state officials said.

The girl's rights were terminated in 2006 in Jefferson Family Court. On Aug. 31, the court of appeals reversed that decision, saying the court terminated the teen's rights by taking only the word of one state social worker, with no evidence from professionals assessing "her psychological and mental capacity to develop the required abilities to effectively parent a child." The mother is now 19.

"We are convinced that the mother's rights were terminated based solely on her past conduct as a juvenile with no consideration as to her future parenting abilities," the ruling said. "If a parent's negative behavior is attributable to ... immaturity and the parent is reasonably likely to develop the necessary parenting skills within a reasonable time after entering adulthood, we believe termination is a premature severance of the parent-child relationship."

The decision should not be taken to mean that no parent under 18 should have rights terminated, the ruling said. But the ruling said that if the cabinet wants to terminate rights, it should "specifically" present findings that prove the parents won't ever be able to parent the child.

Court of appeals Judge Kelly Thompson and Judge John W. Graves made the ruling, but Judge Joy Moore dissented, saying the girl's "parental rights were not terminated because of her age or immaturity; rather they were terminated because she continuously refused to act as a responsible parent."

Cabinet for Health and Family Services officials say they can't immediately say how many parents under 18 have had their rights terminated in the past 12 months. But the officials say there was no termination of parental rights among teen parents living in foster care from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007.

"We are not making an effort to increase the termination of parental rights of teen parents," said Mark A. Washington, commissioner of the Department for Community Based Services. "We look at each case individually, no matter the age of the parents. We consistently work with our community partners and providers to make reunification and preservation services available. Our overriding goal is to keep families safe and together whenever possible."

In August 2003, the girl voluntarily committed herself and her 3-month-old baby to state foster care. The cabinet started termination proceedings in November 2005.

When she appeared at the termination hearing, the girl was employed, had completed 11th grade and various parenting programs, and was making progress at being a better parent, the ruling said. The family court terminated her rights anyway, saying she had earlier run away from her foster home and failed to cooperate with the cabinet's efforts to help her take on motherhood.

The court of appeals ruling said her past behavior was that of a "troubled teen wanting to escape her situation rather than intending to abandon her child."

The girl never abused the child, the ruling said, and was not guilty of neglect because her son was not in her custody, but that of the foster parents.

"We believe that when the parent is also a child, the courts should terminate parental rights with caution and give consideration to the parent's age," the ruling said.

Federal laws give parents little time to fix their problems before allowing states to initiate adoptions of foster children.

For the past 19 months, the way Kentucky removes children from their parents has been under review by the cabinet and child advocacy groups. The Kentucky General Assembly failed to pass reforms in 2007, but the cabinet's Blue Ribbon Panel on Adoption is drafting a new set of proposals for 2008.

In the teen mother's situation, the cabinet intends to petition the court of appeals for a rehearing of the case and for the case to be heard by the entire court of appeals, rather than just the three-judge panel that heard it, said cabinet spokeswoman Vikki Franklin.

David Richart, executive director of the Louisville-based National Institute for Families, Youth and Children, said the case exemplifies a common problem of the cabinet "not giving parents a chance to solve problems" and going to court without enough evidence to justify termination of parental rights.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, also in Louisville, said teen parents shouldn't be "punished" because of their age but also shouldn't be given special treatment.

The court of appeals ruling also lamented the low fees for court-appointed attorneys and legal representation for teen parents. The Jefferson Family Court had ordered the cabinet to pay the girl's attorneys fees for her appeal of the termination, more than the $500 limit under Kentucky law.

But the court of appeals said the cabinet did not have to pay more than $500, which was exhausted at the family court level. The ruling said that the General Assembly had refused to change laws that would give court-appointed attorneys fighting terminations more than $500, calling that amount "woefully inadequate" to compensate appointed attorneys. The ruling also said the General Assembly should change laws to make sure that the "child parent" has legal representation from the outset instead of just at the termination hearing.

Helmers, the teen's attorney, said he will appeal the portion of the ruling dealing with attorney fees.

The case goes back to the Jefferson Family Court. Helmers said his client has not been able to visit her child in at least a year. He said he will petition the family court next week to resume her visits and otherwise help her reunite with the boy.

"This," Helmers said, "will give our client another chance."


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Postby Marina » Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:13 pm

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Two foster parents and a case worker accused of endangering child welfare are scheduled to appear in court next week. And in 2005, an eight year old was killed by another child in the same foster home.

Southwest Missouri currently has more than 150 foster homes in Jasper County alone. The state's Children's Division says it has checks and balances in place to keep foster children safe in these homes.

"We look at any type of convictions, any type of families, any crimes, physical crimes against individuals, especially any crimes against children,” says Angie Swarnes of the Jasper County Children’s Division.

That means checks were made at Granby home of Wayne and Christel O’Neal. They are now charged with endangering the welfare of a child for smoking marijuana in the presence of foster children. Case worker Nova Propes is also accused of using the illegal drug with the O'Neals.

Last October, Wayne O'Neal pleaded guilty to passing a bad check, and in December, he pleaded guilty for stealing. But these cases fall under a unique time frame.

Swarnes says the state runs background checks on foster parents every two years, but visits to the foster homes are made monthly.

"We also educate them on medical issues or behavioral issues the kids might have,” she says. “The bonding and attachments and the loss they might be experiencing while they're separated from their families."

"The majority of the kids that are placed in foster homes come out of bad homes, out of homes that the state felt weren't suitable homes that needed some help,” says Mike Barnett, a detective for the Newton County sheriff’s office.

Braxton Wooden, 8, was shot to death by another boy in an Alba foster home in 2005. The state had placed Wooden in the foster care system a year earlier.

But, Detective Barnett says those are the rare cases.

"Most of the foster parents I know,” he says, “their primary goal is to nurture and protect these children that have been taken out of bad situations and put with them."

And one reason Barnett says background checks are so important.

The O'Neal’s lost their foster license due to the charges.

Meanwhile, relatives of Braxton Wooden are trying to regain custody of his siblings. That court battle is still ongoing.


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Postby Marina » Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:53 pm

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Foster dad wins partial victory on appeal

12:45 PM EDT on Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A Newport News man convicted of abusing his three foster children has won a partial victory in the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Kenneth Ferguson is serving 25 years in prison for two counts of malicious wounding, five counts of child neglect, and abduction.

Prosecutors said Ferguson beat the children and sometimes withheld food.

The appeals court overturned one malicious wounding conviction Tuesday because Ferguson was only charged on that count with unlawful wounding. The court ordered a new trial on the lesser charge.

The court reversed Ferguson's conviction for neglecting a 17-year-old who was forced, with two younger siblings, to guard against vandals outside a church on a cold night. The older child was allowed inside; the others weren't.


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Postby Marina » Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:05 pm

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Warrants: Girl in rape case has disability

Ex-Richmond city employee is being held in Goochland

Saturday, Sep 15, 2007 - 12:08 AM


The 15-year-old girl who authorities say was raped Aug. 24 is mentally or physically incapacitated, according to search and arrest warrants obtained from Goochland County courts.

Craig A. Ferguson, 34, a child-protective services employee for the city of Richmond, was arrested Sept. 7 and charged with rape of a minor. He is accused of having sexual intercourse with a girl whom he met while volunteering with the Goochland County Fire-Rescue Association.

The girl claimed Ferguson came to her parents' home in Goochland while they were away and had intercourse with her in the attic playroom, according to a search warrant filed by the Goochland sheriff's office.

The girl is enrolled in special-education classes and "is described by her parents as playing with doll babies like a small child," the court documents said.

Investigators and prosecutors declined to comment on whether the alleged intercourse was consensual or forced.

Authorities searched Ferguson's mobile home in the 3200 block of River Road West the day of his arrest. Among the items they recovered were two computers, three phones, several cameras and boxes of photos, electronic storage devices, videotapes and a Palm Pilot, according to the warrant.

A 2000 Ford Ranger pickup truck registered to Ferguson was impounded by investigators. In it, authorities found an Internet printout of a map of the area in which the girl lives with her parents. The printout was dated Aug. 24, the date he is accused of raping her.

Authorities also recovered a .25-caliber semiautomatic weapon with an ammunition clip holding six rounds.

Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Ken Brown said Ferguson served four years as a volunteer, and his background check came up clean.

Authorities have said they believe Ferguson met the girl at the fire-rescue department's annual summer fire camp, where he worked as an instructor.

Ferguson's page on MySpace -- a popular social-networking Web site -- lists him as a Marion native and graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College who is married with three children.

Ferguson has been employed since 2002 with the Richmond Department of Social Services. The department suspended him without pay pending the outcome of the charge and has declined to comment until that time.

On Monday, Goochland General District Court Judge Edward K. Carpenter appointed a lawyer to represent Ferguson, who did not request bond.

A preliminary hearing in Goochland Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court has been set for October, according to the Goochland commonwealth's attorney's office.
Wesley Hester is editor of The Goochland Gazette.


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Postby Marina » Mon Sep 17, 2007 4:22 pm

. ... abuser.htm




September 16, 2007 -- A manhunt is on for a former city child-welfare counselor who was charged with sodomizing a runaway teen, then released when his alleged victim bolted from child-protection workers.

Bronx prosecutors say they hope to reinstate charges against Ronald Gonya, 34, after red-faced officials from the city's Administration for Children's Services lost custody of a 15-year-old boy he allegedly sexually abused.

But first they have to find the suspect.

"The investigation is ongoing," said Bronx DA spokesman Steven Reed.

Detectives working for the ACS located the teen Thursday night - a week after he leaped from the car of caseworkers.

"We put a lot of effort into it," said Sharman Stein, an ACS spokeswoman. "We found him safely, and he's back in care."

Stein would not say where the boy was found - or if Gonya was with him at the time.

But the teen's disappearance upset cops, who came to the aid of the shaken youth in Chelsea on Sept. 5 after a truancy officer spotted him with Gonya on the street at 9 a.m.

"This poor kid," said one. "It's absolutely ridiculous."

The officer asked the youth why he wasn't in school, and Gonya told him not to answer, police said. The 34-year-old told cops he worked for the ACS.

The officer brought them both to the 10th Precinct stationhouse two blocks away, where the teen told them that Gonya had dressed as a woman and lured him to his apartment in The Bronx, then abused him for a week.

"The kid was obviously frightened and 'out of it,' " said one cop.

It turned out that Gonya had worked for the agency for two weeks in 1999 - until the ACS discovered he'd been arrested in 1993 for endangering the welfare of a child.

The ACS told cops they'd removed the youth from his mother's custody last year and placed him at an agency-supervised foster-care center in Yonkers.

But he ran away from the facility and the ACS never found him, cops said.

After Gonya's arrest, cops called the teen's mother to the precinct, but she walked out, claiming she needed to put money in a parking meter, and never came back.

ACS staffers were returning the youth to the same Yonkers foster-care center from which he had run away, when he jumped from their car and sprinted off, sources said.

The Bronx DA's office dropped the case, saying it couldn't proceed without interviewing the victim.


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