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Category Archives: Washington State Child Protective Services

‘How can we allow this to go on?’

 

http://www.komonews.com/news/problemsolvers/70599312.html

By Tracy Vedder

SEATTLE — The most vulnerable children in our state – children who are supposed to be protected by the state – are dying at an alarming rate. The KOMO 4 Problem Solvers spent two years filing legal requests and analyzing hundreds of documents from the state’s Child Protective Services. What we’ve discovered is both startling and heartbreaking.

Three-year-old Kekoa Ravenell’s future sparkled. He sang. He golfed. He loved his baby sister, Chelsea, and his papa, Michael.

But Kekoa’s future was stolen. He was beaten and choked to death by his mother’s boyfriend.

“I wish he was still with us here,” said his father, Michael Ravenell, sobbing.

Take the anguish of Kekoa’s death and multiply it by dozens. You can’t forget their names. Sirita Sotelo was beaten to death by her stepmother. Justice and Raiden Robinson died of starvation and dehydration while their mother was passed out amidst 300 empty beer cans. Summer Phelps was killed by her father and stepmother. The list seems unending. Each child died while under the watch of the state’s Children’s Administration.

And as in Kekoa’s case, there were warning signs.

“There was no doubt,” said Michael Ravenell. “He (Kekoa) just came out and said, ‘He hit me. Noah hit me.”‘

Ravenell called Child Protective Service, not once but several times.

“Something’s wrong. There’s something wrong. She’s not, the case worker wasn’t doing her job,” he said.

What he didn’t know and what the social workers didn’t check, was that the mother’s boyfriend, Noah Thomas, had a prior conviction for abusing his own children. But Ravenell’s pleas for help fell on deaf ears.

“Bottom line: the system failed me,” he said.

Similar cases lost in the files

It took more than two years, but the Problem Solvers obtained the death reports of 595 children who had some contact with the state’s Children’s Administration and who died some time between 2002 and mid-2009. We wanted to find how many of those deaths might have been prevented.

Crunching the numbers, the state ruled at least 120 children died of abuse or neglect. That’s an average of 16 kids dying a year; more than one child died of abuse or neglect every single month.

And we found another 40 cases in which the state did not find abuse or neglect connected to the death, but the Problem Solvers dug up some horrifying facts. In one case, the social worker falsified documents and claimed treatment, which hadn’t been administered, had been given. The baby girl died.

In the case of a 2-year-old boy, the case worker decided there could be immediate harm and the child should be removed, yet the case was closed and the child died.

In a third case, the parents gave their kids Benadryl so they’d sleep. One died of an overdose. And in spite of the case worker reporting the surviving children lived in filth, with feces on the walls, the agency ruled the kids should stay in the home.

And in yet another case, a medical examiner ruled a 2 month old died of unexplained, natural causes. But the report concluded, “there was concerning CPS history on this family.” Part of that history includes allegations of abuse and neglect in the home. But most startling fact was that the family had had another baby girl die three years earlier.

And then there are another large group of files in which CPS was called five times, eight times, even 13 times. The agency was called to help a child, yet the child remained in the home and later died.

“There’s (sic) resources out there to help you, and I didn’t get any help at all,” said Ravenell.

‘I am the victim of the many years of abuse’

What we can’t even begin to calculate is the number of cases that don’t wind up in death, but still leave children physically and emotionally maimed.

Few will forget this girl’s horror story.

“I am the victim of the many years of abuse Rebecca Long put upon me until just last year,” she said. Because she is the victim of abuse, KOMO News has chosen not to identify her.

Found by law enforcement at age 14, she weighed just 48 pounds. Her stepmother and her father have both been convicted of criminal mistreatment for keeping the girl locked up in their Carnation home, and so severely limiting her food and water to the point that her teeth had nearly all rotted away.

But years earlier, a teacher had reported the family to CPS. She told the judge at her stepmother’s sentencing, “This is where I desperately wished that I could contact a social worker who came to our house that one afternoon.”

But after minimal investigation, CPS closed the case and the girl spent another three years in hell.

“I could not make contact, because that was when Rebecca began keeping me barricaded into a room all day,” she said.

Then there’s little P.T., whom KOMO News has chosen not to identify beyond her initials.

“I was hoping she would live,” said her godmother, Afua Ndiaye, last December. “She had cigarette burns under her eyes and all over her body.”

P.T. was just 2 years old at the time. The now 3 year old is partially blind and may have a brain injury.

“You could just see blood and scalp,” said Ndiaye as she gulped for air. “It was really bad.”

P.T.’s godmother says she repeatedly warned CPS about the little girl’s mother and her boyfriend, who had a criminal record.

“They did nothing. It was like another case, waiting on the side,” she said. “And while it waited on the side, she almost died.”

Sen. Stevens: ‘Why can’t we get this right?’

All of this has happened since 2005 when the state began adding 465 new workers for child welfare and protection. And last spring, Gov. Christine Gregoire hired a new head for the state Department of Social and Health Services — Susan Dreyfus, who, in turn, has brought in new blood to head up Children’s Administration.

“We have to be accountable. There is no worse day in this state when a child’s not safe in their own home,” Dreyfus said.

But we’ve heard these sentiments from state leaders for years. It appears things have only gotten worse, and some lawmakers are frankly fed up.

“How can we allow this to go on?” said Rep. Mike Armstrong, R-Wenatchee.

“Why can’t we get this right?” said Sen. Val Stevens, R-Arlington.

We went to state lawmakers with some of our research, and asked what’s being done to fix the problems. In fact, they’ve passed laws and given the agency millions to force them to do a better job of protecting kids.

During a 2004 gubernatorial debate, Gregoire talked of the need to overhaul the DSHS, which oversees Children’s Administration.

“And the track record is not stellar, and we have been ravaged here in Eastern Washington by some very tragic deaths,” she said.

Gregoire promised to make that agency a priority. But the instances of deaths and abuse have only gotten worse.

“Children are dying at the hands of people who are not able to take care of them,” said Stevens.

Stevens has worked for years to overhaul the system, in one effort even forcing the agency to seek national accreditation. After several years of working with the National Council on Accreditation, last year the COA set a deadline for Washington to meet its standards. Children’s Administration refused to comply, and dropped out of the accreditation process.

“It was a bill that we passed and they said, ‘We’re not going to do it,”‘ Stevens said. “But too often that’s what’s happening. They are thwarting the very laws that we are passing.”

Falling behind on the national scale

Records indicate Washington’s child welfare agency scores poorly in two different national evaluations. A review by U.S. Health and Human Services found 36 states were better than Washington at meeting children’s needs and keeping them safe.

And a review by the national organization Every Child Matters shows that between 2001 and 2007, the state’s per-capita number of kids who were abused or neglected have gone up, as has the number of deaths.

Washington’s Children’s Administration contends the rise may be partially due to a difference in the way they now determine deaths by abuse.

In 2004, then-candidate Gregoire said she wanted to make Children’s Administration directly answerable to the governor.

When asked why she hadn’t been able to follow through on those promises, Gregoire said, “Well, we’ve made good progress.” Now into her second term, Gregoire still hasn’t made Children’s a separate agency or directly accountable to her.

But last spring she hired Susan Dreyfus, who used to head up Wisconsin’s Division of Children and Families.

“It’s about being accountable, and it’s about being transparent and being very upfront with people (on) where we have weaknesses, what we have to do to change, and that we are changing,” Dreyfus said.

Dreyfus has many supporters across the country. Bt the state she comes from, Wisconsin, did even worse in both those national evaluations than Washington. We asked if that wasn’t a report card on her tenure there.

“I don’t believe so, no. I’m looking at outcomes, I’m looking at how many children are in care, our permanency record,” she said.

Dreyfus has now hired Denise Revels Robinson to head up Children’s. Revels Robinson also gets high marks across the country. But she left her last post – also in Wisconsin – under a cloud after a high-profile case of a child who died under her watch.

When asked if she bears some responsibility in that case, she said, “I think the head of the agency always bears some responsibility, because as we talked about earlier, accountability is key.”

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation of the county’s children’s services with Revels Robinson at its helm showed evidence that 22 children died of abuse or neglect under her watch.

We asked Dreyfus why she would you bring someone into our already-troubled state who has a history of running an agency that’s troubled.

“You know, it’s so funny, you’re responding to media,” Dreyfus said. “I’m not looking for media sensationalism in making my selection of who’s the right person on my team, but I am looking for someone that’s proven, passionate and has outcomes to prove it.”

But several legislators insist the only way to fix the system is to break it apart, making Children’s Administration more accountable to both the governor and, more importantly, to the citizens

“I think a lot of folks are to-the-point. They just want to get this thing fixed and start taking care of kids,” said Armstrong.

The Problem Solvers are not going to let this go. We’re taking the results of our investigation to key legislators. And we will be there when the legislative session begins next year to see if action is taken and CPS is held accountable.

DSHS death investigation reports:

- Michael-Kekoa Ravenell

- Bryce Meining

- Tiffany Marie Granquist

- Louise Hope Cowan

- Aliyah Hickson

Report from Every Child Matters:

- Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in America

DSHS, corrections pay $1.5M to settle abuse case

 

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/6420ap_wa_abuse_settlement.html?source=mypi

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Department of Social and Health Services and the Washington Department of Corrections are paying $1.5 million together to settle a child abuse claim.

DSHS spokesman Steve Williams says the two departments decided to settle the claim to spare the family and the girl from having to relive the trauma.

Attorneys for the girl released information about the settlement on Friday.

The now 14-year-old girl was emotionally, physically and sexually abused while in her grandparents’ home in Okanagon County despite warnings to Child Protective Services. The girl’s grandfather had twice been convicted on child-molestation charges and his parole officer told CPS he might pose a danger to the child but she remained in the home.

According to the claim filed against the state, the girl was sexually abused by her grandfather and physically abused by her grandmother. The attorneys say she is now living with her mother in Pierce County and is doing well.

DSHS to pay $525,001 to settle records lawsuit

 

Abused children: Agency admits to errors

 

http://www.theolympian.com/southsound/story/1027189.html?mi_pluck_action=comment_submitted&qwxq=4762396#Comments_Container

BRAD SHANNON; The Olympian

The state Department of Social and Health Services is paying $525,001 to settle a public-records lawsuit brought by former foster children abused by their state-licensed foster parents.

Lawyers David Moody and Marty McLean had sued to obtain state records in connection with a claim for $45 million in damages that they filed, alleging the state was liable for harm to the girls, two of whom are now adults. Their ex-foster father Enrique Fabregas was convicted two years ago of sex charges related to abuse of the children, according to The Seattle Times.

“Seeking answers as to why DSHS licensed a career criminal to be a foster parent and continually ignored numerous warnings of abuse, these young women each made a formal request for their public records,” Moody’s law firm stated in a news release Thursday. “DSHS illegally refused to provide a complete response.”

DSHS spokesman Steve Williams said the dispute was over 203 records that were disclosed late. He said the agency turned over more than 5,300 records that included more than 10,000 pages of information and that a court found the disclosures were complete by July 1, 2008.

But a King County judge ruled in June and October that the agency violated the Public Records Act, and a trial was scheduled to decide penalties, according to Moody’s office.

Williams acknowledged that the agency committed errors but could not say what the mistakes were or who made them.

“DSHS did not intentionally withhold any records,” he said. Quoting from agency talking points, he said: “Mistakes were made due to technical errors, confusion created in part by the staggered way in which the requester presented authorizations allowing release of his clients’ confidential information, and some delays in finding a few of the thousands of requested records.’’

DSHS is changing how it handles public-records requests. It plans to train staff members in records retention and management and is developing tools to aid in the search for and production of electronic records, Williams said. The agency also plans to have a centralized public-records staff, but it has not decided whether to have central offices for each division in the 18,700-employee agency or one for the entire agency.

The agency will pay its penalty out of operating funds, giving $175,000 each to Estera Tamas and Ruth Tamas and $175,001 to guardians for a disabled child named Monica, the settlement agreement says.

CPS reviewing case of starved 14-year-old in Carnation

 

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008267686_cpsabuse15m.html

A 14-year-old girl who was found starved to 48 pounds in August had told a teacher three years ago that her stepmother was locking her in her room and starving her. Child Protective Services investigated the 2005 complaint and is now reviewing its actions, but officials said the agency would have been hard-pressed to do anything differently.

By Maureen O’Hagan

Seattle Times staff reporter

Three years ago, an 11-year-old Carnation girl told her teacher she wanted to run away from home because her stepmother was abusing her. Locking her in her room. Starving her, even.

The girl figured she weighed 60 pounds. All she’d get was two pieces of toast a day, she said at the time.

At first glance, it seems like a clear-cut case of child abuse. Just months earlier, a Spokane-area boy named Tyler DeLeon died after being starved by his mother. But it was not so simple, and for three more years, the girl remained at home.

On Monday, her stepmother, Rebecca Long, and father, Jon Pomeroy, were charged with criminal mistreatment. When investigators responded to a complaint in August — after a neighbor reported hearing screaming from the house — the girl was 14 years old and weighed 48 pounds.

She suffered dehydration so severe that all of her teeth were rotting, court documents state. It was the worst case of abuse the veteran King County detective assigned to the case had ever seen.

“Obviously we wish we’d had the vision to know that something was going to happen to this child,” Children’s Administration head Cheryl Stephani said Tuesday.

The agency is still reviewing its work from 2005 to see if there are any lessons to draw. But for the most part, Stephani defended the agency’s actions, saying that given the totality of the situation, the agency would have been hard-pressed to do anything differently.

“We’re going to thoroughly review the case and see if there were things that were not disclosed at that point [three years ago]” Children’s Administration spokesman Thomas Shapley said.

The 2005 case came to light after the girl disclosed abuse to a teacher, who called law enforcement and Child Protective Services (CPS). The girl was home-schooled, but attended a program once a week at Carnation Elementary School.

She told the CPS investigator that she wanted to go into foster care because she was “tired of eating two pieces of bread,” according to notes from the CPS interview read to a reporter.

But when questioned further, the girl said that she sometimes ate soup and a sandwich for lunch, and that when her father, a software engineer, came home from work, she ate the dinner he prepared.

Her complaints, the investigator concluded, were focused more on disputes with her stepmother than they were on starvation. Given the girl’s report, there wasn’t a lot for the investigator to latch onto, Stephanie Allison-Noone, the regional CPS manager in charge of the case, said Tuesday.

The agency is still reviewing its work from 2005 to see if there are any lessons to draw. But for the most part, Stephani defended the agency’s actions, saying that given the totality of the situation, the agency would have been hard-pressed to do anything differently.

“We’re going to thoroughly review the case and see if there were things that were not disclosed at that point [three years ago]” Children’s Administration spokesman Thomas Shapley said.

The 2005 case came to light after the girl disclosed abuse to a teacher, who called law enforcement and Child Protective Services (CPS). The girl was home-schooled, but attended a program once a week at Carnation Elementary School.

She told the CPS investigator that she wanted to go into foster care because she was “tired of eating two pieces of bread,” according to notes from the CPS interview read to a reporter.

But when questioned further, the girl said that she sometimes ate soup and a sandwich for lunch, and that when her father, a software engineer, came home from work, she ate the dinner he prepared.

Her complaints, the investigator concluded, were focused more on disputes with her stepmother than they were on starvation. Given the girl’s report, there wasn’t a lot for the investigator to latch onto, Stephanie Allison-Noone, the regional CPS manager in charge of the case, said Tuesday.

The agency was able to determine that Long punished the girl by locking her in a room. That complaint was deemed “founded.” The case quickly concluded when the investigator told the mother it was “not OK” to lock the girl in, in case of fire, and Long said she wouldn’t do it again.

From appearances, Long was just a typical stay-at-home mom.

One of Long’s relatives, who lives in another state and did not want to be named, said she had never seen any indications of abuse.

“The times I’ve seen her with the children, she seemed very concerned about them. She was home-schooling then because [the girl] was doing poorly and she always seemed to care about them.”

To outsiders, she seemed like a woman obsessed — with knitting. She accumulated yarn with a manic focus, buying more and more skeins to add to her “stash.” As the stash grew uncontrollably, she vowed on her blog to whittle it down by finishing projects for family and friends at the frantic pace of one a week. But she could not keep up. Last February, she calculated she had enough yarn in her stash for 72 projects.

Meanwhile, she was systematically depriving her stepdaughter of sustenance, court documents state. Investigators say the girl told them that Long permitted her half a Dixie cup of water a day and supervised the girl’s showers and toothbrushing so she could not sneak a drink. Once, the girl said she was caught drinking from the toilet, her thirst was so bad. The girl told a detective that her father was “aware of the water restrictions but chooses not to interfere,” according to court documents.

In August, a neighbor called CPS to report screams coming from the home. Sheriff deputies found the child emaciated, dehydrated and starving to death — her body resembling that of a 7- or 8-year-old.

Detectives say Long told them she punished the girl by restricting her water intake. Pomeroy, a software engineer described by a former colleague as “brilliant and hyperintelligent,” told detectives he thought it was odd that his daughter looked like a child in elementary school. He was also aware of the water restriction but thought “they could just handle it themselves,” according to court documents.

Stephani said that this time, the CPS investigator demanded the girl be taken to a doctor. The doctor who saw her the next day referred the child immediately to Seattle Children’s hospital, which has expertise in these kinds of cases. She spent two weeks in the hospital and was placed in foster care.

“I’m not trying to make excuses but it — is complex,” Stephani said.

Long and Pomeroy were each released on $20,000 bail. They are scheduled for arraignment Oct. 27.

Staff reporters Christine Clarridge and Lornet Turnbull contributed to this report. Maureen O’Hagan: 206-464-2562 or mohagan@seattletimes.com

Man tries to take woman’s 3 kids

 

http://www.theolympian.com/southsound/story/953911.html

The Olympian

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office is trying to identify a man who reportedly went to a residence in the 8300 block of 49th Street on Wednesday and claimed he had a court order to take a woman’s three children.

According to a release from the sheriff’s office:

The man came to the home about noon and said the court order was based on allegations made against her by her husband. The woman asked to see the court order, and she refused to give him her children, ages 5, 3 and 6 months.

“She told him that without talking to a deputy or her husband, she would not give up her children,” the release said.

The suspect left in a white minivan. He made no attempt to force entry or take any other action to seize the children. A subsequent check by the sheriff’s office found no court orders involving the woman, her children or her husband. The husband was contacted and he said he had no knowledge of the incident, and that he had not been granted any court orders.

The woman said Friday that she lives with her husband and they are not separated or involved in a custody dispute.

The suspect used the name Michael Jenkins but did not show identification. He was described as white, in his mid- to late-40s, about 5 feet, 6 inches tall, with a thin build, dark-brown hair, a full beard and dark-rimmed glasses. He was wearing a dark charcoal suit jacket and slacks.

There are no Michael Jenkins employed in Thurston County Superior Court, Child Protective Services or the sheriff’s office.

A sketch artist created a drawing of the suspect based on the woman’s description. The sheriff’s office seeks the public’s help in identifying him. Also, the public should not allow anyone attempting this type of scheme into their home, according to the sheriff’s office.

Any victims of similar kidnapping attempts, or anyone with information on the suspect’s identity is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 360-709-3072 or Crime Stoppers at 360-493-2222.

Woman charged for ‘tossing’ son

 

http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/kitsap/nkh/news/54806157.html

Aug 25 2009, 12:40 PM · UPDATED

POULSBO — A Poulsbo woman suspected of breaking her 4-year-old son’s leg by “tossing” him was charged Monday with second-degree assault of a child.

Esther Marie Mullen, 32, is accused of injuring the boy Aug. 21. His father took him to the hospital the next day, where the doctor grew suspicious and the Poulsbo police were called. The boy had told employees at the urgent care clinic at Harrison Medical Center in Silverdale that “he had been pushed too hard by his mother,” court documents said.

The boy’s father told investigators that Mullen has a history of using “lots of physical force” with the boy, but that he was not present when the assault occurred, court documents said.

Mullen “is a good mother but she has an anger problem,” the father told investigators, court documents said.

He told the officer the boy was not obeying his mother when she told him to come inside. When the father returned Mullen allegedly told him she had “tossed” the boy into the house and now he was in pain. The father placed ice on the boy’s leg and took him to the hospital the next day.

Court documents said Mullen has a history of child abuse and involvement with Child Protective Services. She has another child, a 1-year-old.

The charge of assault of a child requires an adult assault and inflict “substantial bodily harm” against a child younger than 13 years old.

Mullen is being held in the Kitsp County jail on $250,000 bail.

Errors in Shayne Abegg’s case were hidden

 

Criticism of caseworkers was blacked out on state reports about the starved boy’s plight

 

http://www.enterprisenewspapers.com/article/20090814/NEWS01/708149873/0/ETPZONELT

DSHS oversight ( PDF)

Case Review Findings

By Diana Hefley

Herald Writer

EVERETT — Adults making decisions for Shayne Abegg told a court commissioner they wanted to protect the boy’s privacy when they asked to alter public records.

The 6-year-old boy who in 2007 nearly starved to death at the hands of his father and the man’s girlfriend deserves to be spared any more pain and embarrassment, the lawyers said.

The adults also were protecting themselves.

Court documents obtained by The Herald show that attorneys for the state Department of Social and Health Services and a contract social worker, along with Shayne’s own lawyer and the boy’s court-appointed guardian ad litem were allowed to redact large portions of a lengthy report once included in a public court file.

Their efforts hid from public view harsh criticisms of the state’s handling of Shayne’s case.

The lawyers argued that the boy’s privacy outweighed public interest and asked that medical and financial information be blacked out of a report filed by the guardian in May.

“Our overriding concern with the original report was it revealed confidential health and mental health information,” said Assistant Attorney General Pamela Anderson, who represented DSHS in the civil lawsuit.

The state was worried the information could be used to stigmatize the boy in the future, she added. They were concerned it could affect his future placement with caregivers.

Shayne is expected to be adopted by a foster family this fall.

The Herald obtained a copy of the guardian’s report during the month it was part of the public file. Lawyers in June asked for portions of the report to be redacted.

A Snohomish County judge said that some of the information never should have been made public, including medical information about Shayne. Court rules allow for some sensitive material, particularly in guardianship cases, to be included in separate reports and steps can be taken to seal those reports.

In this case the lawyers also were allowed to redact portions of the report that were critical of state caseworkers and the contract counselor hired to help Shayne and his family.

Gone from the public record are parts of the report that discuss how caseworkers failed to recognize clear signs of ongoing neglect. The document also has been sanitized of details about how Shayne has been harmed by being moved to four different foster homes since he was rescued on March 7, 2007.

The state and lawyers for the caseworkers viewed some of those statements as prejudicial and immaterial to the settlement, court papers said.

At the same time, the lawyers didn’t raise any concerns about semi-nude photographs of Shayne that remain in the public court file.

Detectives took the photographs at the hospital to document the boy’s condition for the criminal case against his abusers. Seattle attorney David Moody, hired to pursue a claim against DSHS, provided some of those photographs to the media. The boy’s guardian submitted additional photographs in a petition asking a judge to proceed with the civil lawsuit.

The child was embarrassed when the photographs were taken, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Mark Roe said.

Roe prosecuted the criminal case against the boy’s father, Danny Abegg, and the man’s girlfriend, Marilea Mitchell. The deputy prosecutor requested detectives take pictures to document the extent of Shayne’s condition.

Shayne weighed 25 pounds, half the weight of a healthy 4-year-old child, when he was removed from his father’s Lynnwood apartment. A judge likened his physical appearance to that of a Nazi concentration camp survivor.

Danny Abegg and Marilea Mitchell were sentenced to more than eight years in prison for deliberately withholding food from the boy as punishment.

“The fact that those pictures are just out there in a public file, on the Internet and airwaves bothers me,” Roe said. “People don’t choose to be crime victims. Their misfortune should not be for profit, entertainment or a side show attraction. They don’t give up their right to privacy just because someone chose to victimize them.”

Anderson said Thursday that some of the photographs already had been made public by Moody. When The Herald told her that naked pictures of Shayne remain in the court file she agreed to look into the matter.

“Those things may be considered something private,” she said.

Originally, she said, the parties had asked to have the entire file sealed. Court commissioner Tracey Waggoner was unwilling to seal the whole record and required the parties to propose what they wanted removed from the public file.

Anderson said DSHS and the other defendants were concerned with portions of the report that they believed raised unproven allegations. Those same claims already were on record in the civil lawsuit filed against DSHS and others, they said.

Shayne’s guardian needed to provide the judge with all the information she had to support her decision to agree with settling the civil lawsuit, Anderson said. The state, however, didn’t accept those statements as facts, she said.

The lawsuit alleged that caseworkers ignored warning signs that the Shayne was being starved.

An executive review ordered by the Children’s Administration, part of the state Department of Social and Health Services, found that state social workers missed a pattern of abuse and neglect, didn’t follow policy to make sure Shayne was safe and failed to hold his parents more accountable for their son’s well-being.

The state denied the allegations in the lawsuit but agreed to settle and pay $5 million. A contract caseworker, Brad Simkins, and his employer Grayson Associates, agreed to pay Shayne $1 million.

As part of the settlement, the state and contract worker did not admit wrongdoing.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne approved the settlement in May. Concerns about the content of the 120-page report by Shayne’s guardian were raised at the hearing, Wynne said.

The lawyers filed a motion to redact the file on June 22.

Waggoner signed the order on July 6.

The lawyers would have been required to explain each redaction they were requesting, Wynne said. Records related to physical and mental health are private and routinely are sealed from public view, he said. The law allows for a guardian ad litem to file separate reports — one for the public record and another that can be sealed to protect a person’s privacy. That would have been a better option in this case, he said.

The privacy concerns would not apply to statements about the state’s alleged failures in Shayne’s case, the judge said.

“It is a balancing act with providing for personal privacy and allowing the courts to operate publicly,” Wynne said.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com.

Bremerton man held after injury leaves fiancee’s son brain dead

 

A 26-year-old East Bremerton man was arrested Monday on investigation of child assault after his fiancee’s 2-year-old son suffered a head injury so severe the toddler was left brain-dead, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

 

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2009555417_braindead29m.html

By Christine Clarridge

Seattle Times staff reporter

A 26-year-old East Bremerton man was arrested Monday on investigation of child assault after his fiancee’s 2-year-old son suffered a head injury so severe the toddler was left brain dead, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

According to deputies, the man called 911 from the family’s apartment in the 2500 block of Northeast McWilliams Road on Monday to report that the boy had fallen against a night table and was unconscious.

Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilson said physicians at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma told deputies the child’s injuries were inconsistent with the man’s story.

According to Wilson, one doctor said, “Had the child been riding unrestrained in the back seat of a vehicle that was involved in a head-on collision, causing the child to fly through the front windshield headfirst, he would have sustained a less serious injury than he had received.”

Last month, the state’s Child Protective Services (CPS) began an investigation into the family after the boy was taken to the emergency room with a cut on his leg, according to Children’s Administration spokeswoman Sherry Hill.

The boy’s 25-year-old mother told emergency-room personnel and CPS caseworkers that the boy had been injured while playing. CPS determined that there appeared to be a lack of supervision and had begun providing family-therapy services, Hill said.

Wilson said in a news release issued on Tuesday, however, that deputies determined that the child’s previous injury was caused by a fall from a second-story window and not from a playground mishap as reported by his mother.

Charges against the man, who is being held on $500,000 bail, are expected to be filed Thursday.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

Edmonds councilman charged with assault on son

 

An Edmonds city councilman was charged Monday with misdemeanor assault after an altercation with his 13-year-old son in May.

 

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2009548641_orvis28m.html

By Lynn Thompson

Seattle Times Snohomish County reporter

An Edmonds city councilman was charged Monday with misdemeanor assault after an altercation with his 13-year-old son in May.

David Orvis, serving his third term on the council, told police he “flipped out” when he allegedly dragged his son by his hair down a hall at their home for refusing to do his homework, according to court papers.

Charging papers say Orvis, 41, slammed his son’s head onto a table, striking the right side of his face against the surface. Orvis then went outside to “cool myself down,” according to a statement he made to police 10 days later.

Orvis declined to comment on the charges. However, he released a written statement to The Seattle Times earlier this month when the newspaper requested the police report under state public-disclosure law.

In the statement, Orvis said he expects the incident to result in stronger family bonds. He said his son was not injured and continues to live with the family.

Additionally, he said, he and his wife are seeing a counselor and are seeking therapy for their son, who was adopted from foster care as a 6-year-old.

“Out of respect for all parties, especially the privacy of those I love, I will have no further comment on this private family matter,” Orvis wrote.

Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson said he asked Orvis to resign after the incident and that Orvis told him he planned to fight the charges. Haakenson said he was concerned the incident would become a distraction for the council.

Orvis, a software engineer, said Monday he had no plans to resign.

On the City Council, he has been a strong advocate for not raising building heights in downtown Edmonds. He supports the city’s proposal to ban plastic bags and has fought to preserve the council’s right to review city land-use decisions.

According to the police account, Orvis’ son ran away from home a week after the altercation and was missing for 12 hours. When he was located at a friend’s apartment, he told police he was still behind on his homework and was afraid of “being hurt” if he returned home.

When Orvis met police at the apartment and was told what his son had said, he removed his glasses and began to weep, the police report says.

Police also questioned Orvis’ wife, who said their son had been repeatedly disrespectful before the alleged assault and had told Orvis to “shut up” three to five times.

The son called Child Protective Services the next day from school, the charging papers say. The Department of Social and Health Services said that based on the information it received, the case did not meet the legal definition of abuse or neglect.

Because criminal charges have been filed, the state will take another look at the case, said Sherry Hill, spokeswoman for DSHS children’s administration.

If convicted of the charges, Orvis could face up to one year in jail.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com

Father of slain boy sues state

 

Michael Kekoa Ravenell

Michael Kekoa Ravenell

 

Wrongful death claim: Suit alleges DSHS failed to investigate allegations of abuse

 

http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/crime/story/817040.html

STACEY MULICK; The News Tribune

Published: 07/21/09 12:05 am

Updated: 07/21/09 1:36 pm

The father of a slain 3-year-old boy has sued the state, alleging social workers didn’t fully investigate allegations of child abuse before the boy’s death.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by Michael Ravenell last week in Pierce County Superior Court, also contends the state Department of Social and Health Services didn’t protect Michael-Kekoa Ravenell’s younger sister, who also was abused.

The boy died May 28, 2008, after he was hit, choked and thrown onto a bed so hard his head hit an iron rail and he lost consciousness.

Noah Thomas, who was dating Kekoa’s mother at the time, pleaded guilty to homicide by abuse and was sentenced in May to 50 years in prison. Thomas had previously been convicted of assaulting his child.

Sherry Hill, a spokesman for Child Protective Services, said Monday the agency hadn’t seen the lawsuit and doesn’t normally comment on pending litigation.

The children’s mother is also named as a defendant. The suit alleges she knew Thomas was abusing her children and covered for him when social workers investigated. No attorney for the mother could be reached for comment.

In the weeks before his son’s death, Michael Ravenell had alerted Child Protective Services to possible signs of child abuse with his son and daughter. He spotted a bruise near the boy’s left eye and noted a change in his children’s behavior.

“They had become quiet and withdrawn, that they would cry or hide when it was time to go to (their mother’s house),” the lawsuit states.

Two other relatives also reported signs of abuse to the state social workers, according to the suit.

After Kekoa’s death, doctors discovered his sister had a broken jaw that had been healing for some time.

A state review of Kekoa’s death found the social worker assigned to his case had too little experience and missed several steps while investigating the reported bruising. The review also found the worker did not check Thomas’ background.

The social worker was fired shortly after the boy’s death, the agency reported.

The suit was filed on behalf of Kekoa’s estate, his father and his sister. It does not state an amount of compensation for them.

The suit alleges the state had a duty to investigate Michael Ravenell’s child abuse allegations and to take “reasonable cautions” to protect the children. It also alleges the state failed to “exercise reasonable care” in the hiring, training and supervision of the social worker.

Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268

stacey.mulick@thenewstribune.com

blogs.thenewstribune.com/crime

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