Articles on reporting abuse and neglect

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Articles on reporting abuse and neglect

Postby Marina » Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:56 am

. ... 7&cxcat=16

Teacher describes dilemma
She feared charter school superintendent would fire her if she reported suspected abuse.

By Scott Elliott

Staff Writer

Saturday, December 01, 2007

DAYTON — Becca Moore, a City Day Community School teacher, did not want to be the one to call authorities about a case of suspected child abuse involving a student at the school.

In the end, her conscience compelled her to do it.

A 13-year-old girl first told Moore's husband, Nate, who is a fellow teacher, that her mother beat her with a belt and extension cord. Nate Moore wanted to call Montgomery County Children Services but he testified in court Friday that then-Superintendent Roseda Goff told him "that's not what we do here" and suggested the girl was a "liar."

Goff was tried in Montgomery County Juvenile Court on Friday for allegedly trying to discourage teachers from reporting child abuse. Judge Tony Capizzi said he will rule within 14 days. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

It was April when the Moores needed a woman to witness the girl's injuries. But Becca Moore testified she was afraid she and her husband could be fired, even with a newborn at home, and "lose everything." Two teachers they asked to help declined.

"At that point I felt a conviction, and I felt it came between choosing a job and a child," she said through tears.

Becca Moore checked the girl's back in a copy room.

"I took a deep breath, hugged her and called Children Services," she told the court.

Goff did not testify. Her attorney, David Turner, called other school employees who said Goff never blocked anyone from reporting abuse. Prosecutor Julie Bruns said Goff created an atmosphere to discourage abuse reports.

The Moores, who quit, and two other ex-teachers testified that Goff ruled as a "dictator" and that teachers feared being fired if they crossed her.

State law requires teachers to report to law enforcement any time they suspect abuse.

Goff, one of the founders of the charter school, was fired in June.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2485 or [email protected].


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Postby Marina » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:22 pm

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Hospital found liable in child abuse suit
Plaintiff awarded $400,000 in case alleging doctors didn't report abuse
By Tim Evans
Posted: March 8, 2008

A jury decided early today that Methodist Hospital must pay a plaintiff $400,000 in connection with a 1998 child abuse case.

The six-member panel returned the verdict in the lawsuit shortly before 1 a.m. today. Jurors began deliberating about 3:30 p.m. Friday after hearing four days of testimony that ranged from the pain of losing a child to standards for medical care.

The suit was brought against Dr. Gary Thompson, Dr. Michael Turner and Methodist by the estate of the late Riley Leon Chilton, the child's father.

The jury found that Clarian Health, which operates Methodist, was liable, but that Turner and Thompson were not.

Chilton, who died in October, filed the suit alleging the doctors and the hospital failed to properly identify and report suspected child abuse when his 11-month-old son, Chance Chilton, was treated for a skull fracture in August 1998.

The suit claims the alleged failures of the doctors and hospital resulted in Chance being returned to his mother and her live-in boyfriend when he was released from Methodist on Aug. 14, 1998. Less than a month later, Chance was fatally beaten by his mother's boyfriend, John Beauchamp.

Beauchamp pleaded guilty to battery in 2003 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison with eight years suspended. With credit for time served before the plea and good behavior in prison, Beauchamp was released in 2005.

In instructions to the jury, Marion Circuit Judge Theodore Sosin instructed the panel to consider two issues: whether the health-care providers failed to meet reasonable medical standards for care and, if so, whether those failures contributed to Chance's death.

Mike Woody, attorney for the Chilton estate, said the vulnerable child depended on the doctors and hospital personnel to protect him. "They treated Chance," Woody told the jury, "but they did not protect him."

Woody said it was clear Chance's skull fracture was the result of abuse. He noted that Thompson had written in his case notes that he was concerned about the possibility of abuse. Woody also stated that Turner was told by several people at Methodist and the Chilton family that abuse was likely.

"Wouldn't it be better to err on the side of reporting and protecting the child?" Woody asked.

Chance's death was "the horrible result of their negligence in this case," he said. "That's what happens when you don't follow the law or hospital policy."

Kelly Pitcher, representing Methodist, said the doctors and hospital staff considered the possibility of abuse but ruled it out based on the fact that Chance's injuries were consistent with the story that he had fallen from a crib and struck his head on a wooden box.

"Judgment has to be made on the information that was available at the time," she said.

Pitcher said there was no evidence that Riley Leon Chilton made any attempt to report his concerns that Chance had been abused and that Chilton was culpable for not stepping in to protect his son.

Representing Thompson, Chance's family physician, Beth Knotts, told the jury a medical review board had cleared both doctors of wrongdoing.

"You cannot use hindsight," she said. "You have to look at this story without knowing how it ended."

Dave Jensen, who represented Turner, a neurosurgeon who cared for Chance at Methodist, said physicians have to use their judgment, training and skill in determining the cause of an injury.

"Is that perfect? No, it's not," Jensen said. "But it's what he has to work with."

He said that to meet the standard of care the plaintiff wants to apply to the doctors, medical professionals would have to report almost every child injury to Child Protective Services.

"The system the plaintiff wants," he said, "is that everyone is guilty until they are cleared by CPS."


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Postby Marina » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:25 pm

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Jury: Doctors not liable in child abuse suit
Methodist Hospital found negligent, ordered to pay $400,000
By Daniel Lee
Posted: March 9, 2008

Attorneys for two doctors found not liable in a civil trial involving the care of 11-month-old Chance Chilton said their clients were pleased that the jury ruled in their favor and defended the medical care provided to the boy.

A Marion County jury early Saturday decided not to hold Dr. Gary Thompson and Dr. Michael Turner liable in a lawsuit alleging they failed to identify and report suspected child abuse as required by Indiana law, but the six-member panel did find Methodist Hospital negligent and ordered it to pay the plaintiff $400,000.

The verdict, which came after almost 10 hours of deliberations, brings to an end a case that began almost a decade ago when Chance was treated for a skull fracture. The boy died of abuse less than a month later.

Turner, a neurosurgeon, treated Chance at Methodist Hospital after Thompson, a family physician, sent him there for treatment on Aug. 12, 1998.

"He properly evaluated this infant," David Jensen, attorney for Turner, said of his client. "He did so promptly. He did so accurately."

Beth Knotts, attorney for Thompson, said, "Dr. Thompson continues to believe that all of the health care provided in this case was appropriate and provided within the standard of care."

The hospital said it will not appeal the verdict, according to James Wide, a spokesman for Clarian Health, the Indianapolis hospital system that operates Methodist.

"We are all very saddened when a life is lost and believe we provided the very best care possible," Wide said in an e-mailed statement. "We respect the judicial process and the jury's decision in this case."

The suit -- brought by the estate of the late Riley Leon Chilton, Chance's father -- alleged that the doctors and Methodist failed to properly identify and report suspected abuse as required by Indiana law and hospital policy when they treated Chance in August 1998. Less than a month later, the boy was fatally beaten by his mother's live-in boyfriend, John Beauchamp.

According to the death certificate, the blunt-force injuries to the head and neck that caused Chance's death were the result of child abuse.

In 2003, Beauchamp pleaded guilty to battery with serious bodily injury causing death and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with eight years suspended. Beauchamp, with credit for time served before the plea and good behavior, was released in 2005.

During the civil trial, Marion Circuit Judge Theodore Sosin instructed the jury to consider whether the health-care providers had failed to meet reasonable medical standards and, if so, whether those failures contributed to the boy's death.

The jury began deliberating about 3:30 p.m. Friday and returned a verdict about 1 a.m. Saturday. The jury heard testimony over four days.

Mike Woody, attorney for the Chilton family, said the verdict sends a message that health-care organizations are responsible for spotting and acting on suspected cases of abuse.

"The jury held Methodist accountable for failing. They had a duty to put together the different studies, the reports from his doctors, and all the different concerns they were made aware of that would have led to the unmistakable conclusion that Chance had been abused, and for failing to report that abuse," Woody said.

He said Methodist and its staff received information from radiologists, a certified nursing assistant and family members that served as evidence of abuse. Methodist's own policy and state law require that all suspected cases of abuse be reported, he added.

"Chance slipped through the cracks," Woody said.

Pat Chilton, Chance's grandmother, said Saturday's verdict is a reminder that health-care providers -- and all people -- need to take responsibility to prevent child abuse.

"There was justice for Chance," she said. "That was all my son and I ever had wanted."

Riley Leon Chilton died of lung cancer in October.

"Whenever I took the stand, I was speaking for my son as well as myself," Pat Chilton said. "I know he's looking down and saying, 'Mom, we got justice.' "

She also said her grandson's case should encourage family members, care providers and others to report suspected abuse to Child Protective Services.

"Everybody has to take responsibility, or this is not going to change. There are just too many children dying of child abuse," she said


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Postby Marina » Sun Sep 07, 2008 6:01 pm

Reporting school child abuse: Vague law may cost principal
Accused of failing to report abuse, educator says she obeyed the rules

By Ana Breton
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 08/22/2008 10:23:33 AM MDT

Rosamond Elementary School Principal Shelley A. Nordick may have become a pawn in a feud between the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office and the Jordan School District over the district's child abuse reporting policy.
Nordick, 46, was recently charged with a class B misdemeanor for allegedly failing to report the actions of Rosamond teacher Frank Laine Hall - who was arrested in March 2007 and later convicted of sexually abusing 11 of his first-grade students.
But Lt. Rod Norton told The Salt Lake Tribune the Sheriff's Office has no "personal interest" in prosecuting Nordick. He simply wants to know if the district policy, which does not conform with state law, needs fixing.
The state statute flatly requires anyone who suspects child abuse to report it.
But while the school district's policy says a school employee who "knows or reasonably suspects" child abuse has occurred must report it to police, it also gives teachers leeway to conduct their own investigations.
"To support the suspicion of abuse and neglect, professional school employees may gather information by interviewing the child," the policy states.
Teachers say this caveat allows them to separate actual abuse from numerous false alarms. Cal Evans, the executive director of compliance for the district, explained that the district policy "mirrors"

state law, but allows for some "discretionary authority" so teachers can make the call on a case before reporting it.
Police ''want the policy changed to 'if you hear it, you tell it,' '' said Evon Fielden, a third-grade Rosamond teacher who has worked with the district for 17 years. ''But if it's that way, then you're going to be up all night tracking the cases down.''
Norton said the sheriff's office had not previously contacted the school district to discuss the reporting policy because it was a "non-issue" prior to the Nordick case. Norton and Melinda Colton, spokeswoman with the Jordan School District, said the two organizations have a "good working relationship."
Two other school districts also have what police might consider fuzzy reporting policies.
The Salt Lake City School District policy states that employees have a duty to report abuse by using "good judgment and common sense" in determining whether there are "apparent violations."
In the Granite School District, an "equity officer" reviews reports of abuse and, following an investigation, decides whether authorities should be notified.
Blake Ostler, an attorney retained by the Jordan district to represent Nordick in the criminal case, has emphasized that Nordick, who kept her position as principal when classes began July 28, acted in a "reasonable" manner in regard to Hall.
Ostler said Nordick received reports about Hall's behavior in 2006 and 2007.
An August 2006 report came from a parent who said her son was upset because Hall had touched a female student while scooting in her chair, Ostler said. He said Nordick responded by observing the class without Hall's knowledge and discreetly interviewing students.
"She concluded no abuse had occurred," Ostler said. "She did a reasonable review and acted as a reasonable professional would."
Ostler added that he did his own investigation of the 2006 incident and also concluded there was no duty to report.
The second report came to Nordick in March 2007 from the parents of two different children, who claimed Hall had touched their children inappropriately during class. Ostler said Nordick immediately reported those allegations to authorities and also suspended Hall, who was charged days later with fondling 10 boys and a girl.
Norton, the precinct commander over the Riverton area, claims Nordick broke the law by not telling police about the 2006 incident.
Early notification also might have prevented additional cases of abuse, said Norton, who claims the school district's reporting process broke down regarding Frank Laine Hall.
"I feel bad for [Nordick], but we want to make sure it doesn't break again," Norton said. "We owe it, as far as I'm concerned, to the children, who will be carrying this burden for the rest of their lives."
If convicted of failing to report, Nordick could be jailed for up to six months. A pretrial conference in the Riverton Justice Court is set for Sept. 2.
"I don't know why they are going after Shelley," Fielden said. "She cares deeply about the school and children. I just feel like the sheriff's office has gone about it the wrong way."

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Postby Marina » Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:54 am

Mass. pair accused of harassing neighbors

LAWRENCE, Mass. -- A husband and wife are charged with harassing their Andover neighbors with disturbing pranks that went as far as identity theft and a false child abuse report.

A prosecutor said at their arraignment Friday in Lawrence District Court that the actions of Bill and Gail Johnson were part of a land dispute. The Johnsons pleaded not guilty to charges of identity fraud, harassment, conspiracy and making a frivolous child abuse report.

Prosecutors say the alleged victims got e-mails indicating their personal information had been stolen, and someone tried to open a bank account using the information. The alleged pranks included signing the victims up for a nudist group and placing fake online sale ads that led to late-night phone calls at their home.

Bill Johnson's attorney said another man already charged in the case did much of the computer harassment.

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Postby Marina » Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:01 pm ... 513679.txt

, October 31, 2008 12:40 AM CDT
Woman says she wants to appeal case to Iowa Supreme Court

By MARY PIEPER, [email protected]

— A woman who says she was fired from her job at Walgreens in Mason City for reporting to the police suggestive photos of a child processed at the store said she wants to appeal her case to the Iowa Supreme Court.

“The laws in this state aren’t protecting this child,” said Dawn Arispe of Forest City.

Arispe was the executive assistant manager at the store before being fired in September 2005. She told the Globe Gazette she plans to appeal this week’s Iowa Court of Appeals decision in favor of her former employer in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

Arispe said the state should look at what corporate policies consist of before deciding to uphold them.

“No one has ever made any argument for protecting the kids,” she said.

The photos were processed for an adult female customer in May 2005.

Court records state the photos were of a girl 10 to 12 years old. In some of the photos she was nude from the waist up and posed in a suggestive way.

In compliance with the store’s policy on suspected pornography, the photos were confiscated and the negatives returned to the customer.

The store’s policy also states the store’s loss prevention supervisor is the only employee authorized to notify police when suspicious photos are discovered.

Eric Rode, the loss prevention supervisor for the Mason City store, was contacted about the photographs. However, court records state that due to a misunderstanding between Rode and store manager Ron Frank, the photos were ripped up before Rode could look at them.

Arispe gave the ripped-up pieces of the photos and the customer’s name and address to the police, who told her to contact them again if the customer returned to the store.

The customer returned in September 2005 to have the same set of photos developed, and Arispe contacted the police.

Shortly after that, Rode met with Arispe and asked her to sign a copy of the store’s policy regarding photos. She refused.

The legal papers say Rode also asked her about money the store had given her in March 2005 to renew her pharmacy technician registration. The registration had not been renewed.

Arispe was told she was being fired for misappropriating company funds.

She sued Walgreens, Frank and Rode for wrongful discharge, claiming she was fired for reporting the suspicious photos.

Arispe claimed she was mandated by state law to report what she considered to be child abuse.

Cerro Gordo County District Court ruled in favor of Walgreens, Frank and Rode.

The court of appeals upheld the district court ruling, stating the concerns Arispe expressed before her dismissal were about possible child pornography, not child abuse.

Robert Elfinger, a spokesman from Walgreens’ corporate office in Illinois, told the Globe Gazette the store policy states only loss prevention supervisors are to report suspicious photos to the police because those employees are professionally trained to determine if what is in a photo constitutes abuse.

He noted in this case the loss prevention supervisor was an off-duty police officer.

“Our policy is in place to protect customers, the employees and the company itself,” he said.

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Postby Marina » Sun Dec 14, 2008 7:53 pm

DCS won't investigate Planned Parenthood clinic

Updated: Dec 12, 2008 12:55 PM EST

Indianapolis - The Indiana Department of Child Services says it won't investigate a Planned Parenthood site in Bloomington after a worker was fired for violating policies on abuse reporting and intervention.

A conservative anti-abortion group sent a woman to the office who claimed to be a 13-year-old pregnant by a 31-year-old man.

The worker reportedly brushed aside that information when the law calls for any health care professional to report inappropriate relationships to CPS.

Planned Parenthood says it's retraining workers on mandatory reporting procedures.

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Postby Marina » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:55 pm

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Monday, December 29, 2008

Page 1

C.A. Rejects Suit Over Failure to Report Sexual Abuse

By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer

The First District Court of Appeal has rejected a negligence claim against the Bay area city of Livermore by five minors who alleged that a police officer’s failure to report a suspected child molester to the proper agencies left the man free to sexually abuse them.

Affirming the Alameda Superior Court’s grant of summary judgment for the city, Justice James R. Lambden wrote for Div. Two in an unpublished opinion issued Tuesday that the officer’s failure to comply with his statutory duty did not contribute to or cause the children’s subsequent molestation because neither Child Protective Services nor the local district attorney would have taken any action.

The five children brought suit in 2005, claiming they were molested by Brandon Sean Roberts, a coach at the Tri-Valley Gymnastics Center, in the year following Livermore Police Department Detective Gregory Fuller’s failure to report or fully investigate a similar allegation of abuse against Roberts in 2002.

Noting that another child’s mother had reported that Roberts had molested her son in June of that year, the plaintiffs alleged that Roberts would have been arrested, or that their parents would have known to protect them, if Fuller—who had recently been promoted to the department’s sex crimes unit from patrol duty—had properly investigated and reported the allegation to the local district attorney or CPS as required by Penal Code Sec. 11166.

Fuller, who had neither been trained in sex crimes investigation, nor previously conducted any such investigations, interviewed the child and became convinced that a molestation had occurred. However, as the alleged victim had moved from the area, Fuller did not immediately locate Roberts, and did not arrest him until June 2003.

He also did not cross-report the allegation to the other agencies, testifying later that he “inadvertently” failed to do so because he was unaware of the statute’s requirement.

After Roberts pled guilty to sexual molestation and was sentenced to prison, the plaintiffs—all but one of whom were students at the gym—alleged one count of negligence and one count of negligence per se. They claimed that Fuller “inexplicably held the investigation open for many months without any further investigation,” and that they had suffered injuries from Roberts because of Fuller’s conduct.

However, the city moved for summary judgment based on a declaration from the supervisor of the district attorney’s office’s sexual assault unit that no action would have been taken on a Sec. 111.66 report absent a completed police report, and on a declaration by the program manager for emergency response for the county’s CPS that the agency would defer to the police investigation given Roberts’ lack of continued access to the victim.

Finding that the plaintiffs were unable to establish a causal connection between their injury and Fuller’s actions or inaction, the Alameda Superior Court granted the motion.

On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that a declaration by former San Jose Police Department Chief Joseph D. McNamara—who opined that the Livermore Police Department “clearly failed in its obligation” to train Fuller, and that the detective should have recognized the possibility that Roberts would molest other children, as well as the urgency for apprehension—raised a triable issue of fact regarding causation.

But Lambden rejected the contention, agreeing with the lower court that the children failed to rebut the city’s evidence.

“Rather than furnish evidence to contradict the declarations…, the children merely assert that there was a ‘possibility that a reasonable police officer would have followed up the agency’s failure to act with an inquiry—and that inquiry would have led to the arrest of Brandon Roberts,’” he wrote.

“The problem is that the statute does not require any further inquiry by the police officer and therefore the failure to make such an inquiry would not constitute negligence per se. If this record contained any evidence that, once notified, CPS or the district attorney’s office may have made some inquiry, investigation, or recommendation regarding the whereabouts of Robertson, which would have alerted the gym about the allegations against Robertson, our conclusion…may have been different.”

Lambden similarly declined to find causation based on the plaintiffs’ claims of inadequate investigation, noting that the undisputed facts established the detective did “some investigation.”

He explained:

“Although the facts of this particular case are very disturbing…, nothing in this record indicates that Fuller’s failure to comply with his mandated duty under Sec. 11166(k) caused the children’s injury. The fact that there is no evidence of causation in this case does not warrant eviscerating the long-standing policy reasons for providing police officers with immunity when conducting an investigation.”

Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline and Justice James A. Richman joined Lambden in his opinion.

The case is K.S. v. City of Livermore, A117613.

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