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Grandmother of slain teen says she repeatedly called the state child abuse hotline

 

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/12/grandmother_of_slain_teen_says.html

By Michelle Cole, The Oregonian

December 10, 2009, 10:10PM

The step-grandmother of a 16-year-old Eugene girl who police say was abused and tortured before her death on Wednesday says she repeatedly called a state child abuse hotline, trying to get someone to check on the teenager.

According to court documents, Jeanette Maples’ death “came in the course of, or as a result of intentional maiming and torture.” Her mother, Angela McAnulty, 41, and stepfather, Richard McAnulty, 40, appeared in court Thursday to face aggravated murder charges.

Thursday afternoon, Dr. Bruce Goldberg, director of the Oregon Department of Human Services, ordered an internal investigation into caseworkers’ contact with the family.

Lynn McAnulty, Richard’s mother, was technically Maples’ step-grandmother but said “we took her in as if she was our own.”

Several months ago, McAnulty said she became concerned about the teenager. Maples had a split and swollen lip, she said. “And it looked like somebody had taken a fist and yanked her hair.”

She asked about the girl’s swollen lip. ” ‘Fallen down’ is what they told me,” she said.

Urged by a friend, McAnulty said she called the state child abuse hotline. She said she made several calls, each time making anonymous reports. She was uncertain when she started making the calls but it was several months ago.

She didn’t give her name, McAnulty said, “because I didn’t want to lose contact with my grandchildren.”

McAnulty lives in Walterville, on the McKenzie Highway six miles east of Springfield.

In terrible hindsight, McAnulty said she should have called police. But she just wanted someone to check on the girl and she thought child welfare officials would do that.

Gene Evans, a Human Services spokesman, could not provide any details on the child abuse hotline calls.

One of the purposes of the investigation is to find out what happened, he said.

Whenever a child known to state child welfare officials dies or is seriously injured, Oregon law requires the Department of Human Services to convene a critical incident response team to comb through the agency’s files and contacts with the family.

Such reviews are somewhat unusual. The death or injury of a child has triggered 24 similar reviews since Gov. Ted Kulongoski called for more scrutiny and accountability of the child welfare system in 2004.

Detectives worked through the night Wednesday and Thursday afternoon to determine what happened to Maples.

The Lane County district attorney and medical examiner are working on the case. A cause of death has not been released.

Two younger children in the home were taken into protective custody.

A Lane County Sheriff official said the girl was taken by ambulance from her home in the 150 block of Howard Avenue at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

A caller to 9-1-1 told dispatchers that a person there was not breathing. Maples was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

Staff writer Stuart Tomlinson also contributed to this report.

Michelle Cole

DHS says it plans to do more to protect foster kids

 

http://www.katu.com/news/local/57093372.html

By Shellie Bailey-Shah KATU News and KATU.com Staff

PORTLAND, Ore. – In response to a highly critical internal report that said the state left children in foster homes despite claims parents were abusing them, the Department of Human Services admitted to mistakes Thursday and said it was trying to figure out how to better protect foster kids in the future.

This past July, foster father Warren Tripp was convicted of sodomizing and sexually abusing his 15-year-old foster daughter who was one of more than 90 children who, over the years, lived with him and his wife.

A just-released report, from an internal DHS investigation, details 16 complaints about the parents dating back to 1995. In spite of those complaints, the Tripps were recertified as foster parents every single year.

“I think if a child protective services worker investigated those reports, we would have found abuse,” said Gene Evans of the Oregon Department of Human Services.

Nationally, Oregon has an above average abuse rate going back to 1993. Last year, DHS had a record number of abuse reports, but only a third got investigated. The rest were screened out, as in the case of the Tripp family.

Over the next 90 days DHS said it will hire 130 new caseworkers to increase face to face contact with foster kids and parents. It will review all 83 abuse cases from last year, and it will review a sampling of long-time foster parents to see if they’re really fit to be taking care of kids.

 New rules, instituted over the past year, now require caseworkers to look at a foster parent’s complaint history and not just one particular incident.

When asked whether DHS should have looked at a foster parent’s complaint history over the past 10 years, Evans said that he thinks there were child protective workers doing that “just out of common sense. Now it’s the process,” he said.

 A 19-year-old woman is also suing DHS for $5 million, claiming the agency placed her with her grandfather, a convicted rapist.

Video Link: http://www.katu.com/news/local/57093372.html

City flags lowered to honor slain child

 

http://www.thebeenews.com/news/story.php?story_id=124388076300807700

The Portland Tribune, Jun 1, 2009, Updated Jun 1, 2009

Flags around Portland will be lowered to half-staff in honor of 4-year-old Eldon Jay Rebhan Smith, who drowned during the early morning of May 23 after being forced off the Sellwood Bridge into the Willamette River.

Portland city flags will be lowered to half-staff to honor 4-year-old Eldon Jay Rebhan Smith, who drowned May 23 after he and his sister were forced off the Sellwood Bridge.  Smith Family Picture Given To The Bee

Portland city flags will be lowered to half-staff to honor 4-year-old Eldon Jay Rebhan Smith, who drowned May 23 after he and his sister were forced off the Sellwood Bridge. Smith Family Picture Given To The Bee

The boy’s mother, 31-year-old Amanda Jo Stott-Smith, has been charged with murder and attempted murder in the case. She was accused of forcing her two children — Eldon and his 7-year-old sister — off the bridge at about 1:20 a.m. The girl survived and is home with her father in Eugene after spending nearly a week at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.  (If you remember I did a post on this case in an earlier blog, Oregon Department of Human Services had received previous reports on this mother, you can see the news report at: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/124348111538110.xml&coll=7 )

Stott-Smith is due back in Multnomah County Circuit Court Wednesday morning for a preliminary hearing.

Family and friends said goodbye to Eldon Sunday afternoon during a memorial service at the Eugene Faith Center.

Portland’s City Council approved a resolution in April to lower the city’s flag in honor of children who die from abuse, neglect or homicide. This is the first time a flag has been lowered to honor a victim.

“I am devastated to lower the city flag, but I hope that by honoring Eldon this way, we can bring awareness to the untimely deaths of our community’s children,” said City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who sponsored April’s resolution.

The city flag will be lowered once a month on the day that corresponds to the number of deaths from the previous month.

Survivor of fall from Sellwood Bridge ready to go home

 

The lawyer for the girl’s father says he is buoyed by his 7-year-old daughter’s strength

http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/124348111538110.xml&coll=7

Thursday, May 28, 2009

MAXINE BERNSTEIN

The Oregonian Staff

HILLSBORO — The 7-year-old girl who survived Saturday’s plunge from the Sellwood Bridge into the Willamette River is running around and playing, the lawyer for the girl’s father said Wednesday.

She also said the girl might be released from the hospital anytime.

Laura Schantz, the attorney for Jason F. Smith, the girl’s father, said he and his family also have been telling the girl that she was not to blame for what happened.

“They’re trying to reassure her how much they loved her, how much they loved Eldon,” her 4-year-old brother, said Schantz, who spoke to reporters Wednesday outside her Hillsboro office on Smith’s behalf. He did not attend the gathering.

The mother, Amanda Stott-Smith, 31, is in custody facing allegations of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. She’s accused of pushing or throwing the girl and her brother off the Sellwood Bridge, sending the children about 75 feet into the cold Willamette River about 1:20 a.m. Saturday.

David Haag, who lives in a floating home downstream from the bridge, and a companion rescued the girl after hearing loud moans in the river. They also pulled her brother, Eldon Jay Rebhan Smith, into the boat, but he had died.

Schantz said she didn’t know the extent of the girl’s injuries, but added that the girl does know about her brother’s death. She also said the family is planning a private memorial that will enable out-of-state relatives to attend.

“Yesterday, his daughter and the family cried and grieved over the loss of her brother,” Schantz said.

Jason Smith is mourning the loss of his “beautiful, innocent son,” yet is buoyed by his daughter’s strength, Schantz said.

He’s committed to protecting her as she returns with him to Eugene to resume her life. He intends to work to keep her psychologically healthy and be with her “every step of the way,” Schantz said. Yet he also is afraid of being besieged by the media.

“He’s going to dedicate his life to make sure his daughter has the most normal, happy childhood she can have,” Schantz said. “He’s drawing strength from his faith in God, his family and mostly from her. She is his strength, his life and his world.”

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the principal of Meadowlark Elementary School in Eugene, where the 7-year-old attends first grade, sent a letter to parents informing them of the tragic event and providing tips on how they can help their children cope.

The school also had teachers talk to students during class about the incident, saying that the two children “somehow fell into the Willamette River” and the girl’s brother died.

“The doctors say she’s going to fully recover, but she will not be back at school for at least a few days,” teachers were instructed to tell students.

The 4-year-old had attended Living Savior Lutheran Church and Preschool in Tualatin from September through February, said Denice Hornberger, the preschool’s director.

“We’re just heartbroken about the whole business,” she said.

Helen Jung and Phillip Swarts of The Oregonian contributed to this story. Maxine Bernstein 503-221-8212; maxinebernstein@news.oregonian.com

 

Human Services had abuse report involving Stott-Smith

 

State workers are looking at files to see whether vital data were overlooked

http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/124348110938110.xml&coll=7

Thursday, May 28, 2009

MICHELLE COLE

The Oregonian Staff

SALEM — The Department of Human Services had received at least one report within the past year of suspected child abuse involving Amanda Jo Stott-Smith and her children.

Citing the ongoing criminal investigation and confidentiality issues, state child welfare officials would not discuss their past involvement with the family. But Human Services Director Bruce Goldberg has ordered an internal review of the agency’s contact with Stott-Smith to determine whether workers missed warning signs and where the department might need to improve.

“What I can tell you is we did not have an open case with the family prior to the incident itself,” Erinn Kelley-Siel, head of the state Children, Adults and Families Division, said Wednesday.

Stott-Smith, 31, is being held by Multnomah County on charges of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. Authorities believe she forced her two young children off Portland’s Sellwood Bridge early Saturday morning.

Her 4-year-old son, Eldon Jay Rebhan Smith, drowned. His 7-year-old sister survived the fall and more than a half hour in the chilly Willamette River. The Oregonian is not naming the girl because she’s a juvenile victim.

The review team, which met for the first time Wednesday and includes top agency management as well as local law enforcement officials, will investigate the agency’s contacts with Stott-Smith and her children.

The goal, Kelley-Siel said, is to “learn what we now wish we had known. Or, is there something about our practice that we need to change?”

Whenever a child known to state child welfare officials dies or is seriously injured, Oregon law requires the Department of Human Services to convene a critical incident response team to comb through the agency’s files and contacts with the family.

Such reviews are somewhat unusual. The death or injury of a child has triggered 21 similar reviews since Gov. Ted Kulongoski called for more scrutiny and accountability of the child welfare system in 2004.

The state receives thousands of suspected abuse reports each year. In 2008, workers fielded 65,460 calls reporting suspected child abuse. Of those, 27,485 were investigated, and officials confirmed 10,421 Oregon children were victims of abuse or neglect.

Michelle Cole: 503-294-5143; michellecole@news.oregonian.com

House bill seeks to protect Oregon kids adopted outside U.S.

 

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/05/house_bill_seeks_to_protect_or.htmlby

Michelle Cole and Susan Goldsmith, The Oregonian

Friday

SALEM — Nobody mentioned Adrianna Cram’s name during Friday’s short House floor debate on a bill requiring more scrutiny when a child from Oregon foster care is sent to live with relatives in another country.

But the legislative sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Tomei, admitted later that she “definitely” had the murdered little girl from Hillsboro on her mind.

“There needs to be more follow-up and much more stringent supervision of each child that goes anywhere,” said Tomei, D-Milwaukie.

 Lawmakers unanimously approved House Bill 3471, which would require specific adoption agreements when a child in Oregon foster care is adopted by relatives outside the United States.

According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, those agreements would include extensive background interviews and training for relatives before a child is sent to live in another country. Once the child is there, the agreements would require regular checks and written reports to Oregon officials until the adoption is final.

 The state had no agreement in place in June 2005, when 4-year-old Adrianna Cram was beaten to death in Omealca, Mexico. Her uncle and aunt, selected by Oregon authorities to adopt the girl, were convicted of aggravated murder.

Adrianna’s teachers would later tell The Oregonian that they tried for months to find help for the bruised and battered girl but couldn’t get local child welfare workers to act. Meanwhile, child welfare workers in Oregon relied on phone calls with the girl’s abusers and sporadic updates from Mexican authorities to find out how Adrianna was faring.

In March, as The Oregonian prepared a two-day series telling Adrianna’s story, child welfare officials announced a 60-day moratorium on international adoptions.

Officials said they needed the time to consult with the U.S. State Department about what Oregon needed to do to comply with The Hague Convention on Protection of Children.

The international treaty, which took effect last year, is intended to protect children from abuse or exploitation.

 On Friday, Erinn Kelley-Siel, head of the state Children, Adults and Families Division, said Oregon is ready to be one of the first states to comply with the treaty.

For example, the state will now require national authorities, not just local offices, to certify that a family is suitable for a specific child, has the appropriate motivation and has received training or counseling.

Oregon had been on track to end its moratorium on international adoptions May 8. But the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and elsewhere has prompted the state to extend its moratorium indefinitely.

“We don’t plan to lift the hold until we have the ability to say we’re not putting a child’s health at risk,” Kelley-Siel said Friday.

If a child taken into foster care cannot be returned to a parent, state law requires authorities to place the child with relatives whenever possible. Increasingly, that includes relatives who live outside the United States.

From 1999 through 2008, Oregon placed 27 children in foster care for adoption in other countries. Eight children from Oregon foster care have been sent to Mexico since Adrianna’s death. Five more children were slated to go to Mexico at the time the 60-day moratorium was announced.

Adrianna’s biological mother, Tausha Cram, who lost custody of the little girl because she neglected her, said the bill didn’t do enough.

“I think it’s outrageous that even with this bill we will be relying 100 percent on authorities in other countries to protect children from Oregon,” she said. “These people failed my child. Why will they protect anyone else’s kid?”

The Legislature is not finished with its work on international adoption. HB3471 now heads to the Senate for its consideration, and a companion bill is pending in the Senate.

– Michelle Cole; michellecole@news.oregonian.com

MY COMMENT ON THE SITE:

Posted by Lawdoll on 05/02/09 at 12:04PM

CPS cannot even protect the children that live a block from their office! Children in America are dying because of CPS’s inability to perform their jobs as required by law…they break the laws that are already in place in this country, they lie, commit perjury, forge and falsify documents, fail to investigate reports of abuse…behave in illegal and unethical manners…so why in God’s name do you believe that this law will protect children place in other countries, when the laws we already have in place for these child do not now protect them??? They will just violate and break this law, the same as they do any other…

Adrianna is dead because Oregon CPS placed her in Mexico and then did not bother to see how she was doing!!!! They washed their hands of her, the same as they do of many other children…they sent her out of the country and then used the excuse that she was out of the country to defend themselves from wrong doing in her death…bunch of BS.

No foster child needs to leave this country…they are legal residents…they should be placed here…period! You want to protect children…start by making laws that hold CPS accountable for their wrong doings…send them to jail when children die because of their negligence.

Oregon to pay $2 million in abuse case

Monday, April 6, 2009 7:50 AM PDT

By The Associated Press

http://www.tdn.com/articles/2009/04/06/breaking_news/doc49d97931060f9375415742.txt

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Human Services has agreed to pay $2 million for the future care of twins allegedly abused by their foster parents to the point that they will need care for the rest of their lives.

According to a 2007 federal lawsuit, Kaylie and Jordan Collins were kept in cribs covered with chicken wire secured by duct tape in a darkened bedroom known as “the dungeon.”

The lawsuit said the brother and sister often were without food, water or human touch. The boy, who had a shunt put into his head at birth to drain fluid, didn’t receive medical attention and hit his head against his crib to relieve the pressure. When police and child welfare workers rescued the twins from the Gresham foster home, he was nearly comatose. (Whoa wait a damn minute…they are the assholes who put them there and left them!!!!!!!!  Therefore the word rescue does not belong here…they placed the children in that home, did they even check on them???  Apparently not!)

Jordan, now 6 1/2, has brain damage, still wears a diaper and can’t talk. Kaylie can say 25 to 50 words. Both are in the bottom 1 percent developmentally of children their age.

The Oregonian said the twins are among about 100 Oregon foster children who are abused or neglected each year while under the supervision of the state, according to DHS. But few suits are filed because the children’s injured or dead children’s parents are often out of the picture.

“I don’t think many of these kids have a champion,” said Greg Kafoury, a prominent civil attorney in Portland. Kafoury said that without the threat of legal action, the state agency has little incentive to change.

Attorney David Paul sued on behalf of the twins’ adoptive mother in Michigan, seeking $12.8 million.

Paul said the twins, who were born prematurely in August 2002, arrived at the foster home of Gail and Marvin Thompson and stayed about three years.

The Thompsons, both in their 60s, had successfully fostered scores of children, the state says. Since March 2004, state policy has required caseworkers to have face-to-face contact with children at least once a month, but Paul said they often skipped visits, sometimes phoning instead.

Paul said that, according to police reports, the floor of the children’s room was covered in garbage and their sheets were saturated in dried excrement and urine. The windows of the room were blacked out.

One caseworker noted that while visiting the home, the children were brought into a common room where they squinted at the daylight. State workers also didn’t make sure the Thompsons were regularly taking Jordan to the neurologist, according to Paul.

Paul said the Thompsons were getting up to $90,000 a year tax-free for caring for up to six children at a time.

In 2004, Gov. Ted Kulongoski ordered DHS to explain what went wrong whenever a child dies or is seriously injured under state supervision or after abuse was reported. DHS has issued 16 such reports, but not one for Kaylie and Jordan Collins.

The child welfare division of DHS is understaffed by 19 percent and faces more cuts. The state would need to add 407 employees to adequately take care of the current caseload, according to a state analysis. ( Hey I have a wonderful idea…take care of the kids as you should, so you can stop being sued and have to pay out all of that money for your wrong doings…then you can have more money…..When these children die, you use it as an excuse to ask for more money….you don’t need more money, this is not a funding problem…the CPS workers in this case just didn’t care, they were there and didn’t look around, “the children were brought into a sunlight room.”, they called instead of visited.  Those are not funding issues, that is laziness and neglegence per se…)

The neglect came to light after three 2005 Thanksgiving dinner guests including at least two relatives reported the Thompsons to authorities.

The Multnomah County district attorney’s office, citing privacy laws, declined to say why they didn’t prosecute. (Because they would have had to prosecute CPS too….this is what they do, when foster parents abuse the children that they place in the home…CPS still has custody of those children, they are responsible for their care and well-being…CPS are horrible, neglectful, abusive parents and all the children in their custody should be removed.)

Marvin Thompson, reached by phone, said the allegations are almost entirely false.

He said he and his wife didn’t keep the children in a darkened room, but covered the cribs with a mesh, not chicken wire, for the children’s safety.

But DHS said the Thompsons deceived child welfare workers. “The family went to elaborate lengths to hide the abuse, including having a fake nursery on display to deceive visitors and DHS caseworkers,” said Patty Wentz, a department spokeswoman.

The state is not admitting any wrongdoing. The caseworkers for the twins, Elisa Deserano and Tammy Stanfill, still work for the agency.

Wentz said caseworkers saw the children 39 times over three years but that it was not clear how many of those visits were in the home and not at a state office.

Wentz said her office has created new policies and clarified existing ones to require case workers to visit homes every two months and see children face to face at least once a month.

If the settlement is approved by a judge, Paul’s law firm will collect 33 percent of the $2 million for its two years of work and $500,000 will be immediately available for Kaylie and Jordan’s benefit.

The rest will go into a fund that is expected to grow to $4 million over the children’s lifetimes.

Paul said the twins are thriving in their new lives, on a farmhouse and land in Michigan.

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