Saturday, September 5, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Baker Picking Up Lints at DCF

This story is Hardwick to take:

"In Hardwick case, DCF missed extent of abuse, report says; Starved and beaten boy was monitored by host of workers" by Michael Levenson Globe Staff  September 04, 2015

Despite multiple warning signs that a 7-year-old Hardwick boy was being starved and beaten by his father, the state Department of Children and Families never recognized the full extent of the abuse, even though he was being monitored by 16 DCF workers and eight behavioral health counselors, as well as a neuropsychologist, medical providers, teachers, a guidance counselor, and other school personnel, according to a devastating report released Friday by Governor Charlie Baker.

I'm starting to wonder if they even want to see things. All milling around, collecting their checks. Meanwhile, people I have talked to have complained about them sticking their noses in where nothing is wrong.

And they wonder why we have lost "faith" in government.


The report blamed multiple failures for the Department of Children and Families’s inability to protect the child from harm. Baker said, however, that no one would be disciplined or fired and that the state agency would instead update its policies to ensure similar cases are more carefully reviewed by DCF staff.


“The easy thing to do would be to fire someone over that,” the governor said. “The hard thing to do would be to fix the policy, and then hold people accountable to it.” 

This, I believe, is an actual real event. There is no agenda to be gained here, only embarrassment for authority.

Jack Loiselle’s case is the latest in a string of tragedies that have raised questions about the competency of DCF.

And, truthfully, questions regarding the reign of the Deval Patrick regime.

By month’s end, Baker is planning to release a review of the agency’s handling of a case involving a 2-year-old who died and a 22-month-old who was found in critical condition in a DCF-licensed foster home in August.

In that case, the foster mother and her children were being monitored by 10 DCF supervisors, managers, and front-line case workers, one of whom had visited the home in Auburn just three days before the mother discovered the children were unresponsive and called 911. The 22-month-old remains in dire condition, officials have said. 

More on that below; however, 10 were on that case, huh?

“I’m not going to stand here and say there are no systemic issues here,” Baker said Friday. “I’m going to stand here and say we are in the process of dealing with an agency that has many systemic problems, and we’re going to fix them.”

Okay, Chuck. How you do that I have no idea.

In Jack’s case, the report catalogued in painful detail the boy’s troubled history.

Tough reading ahead.

He had been raised by his grandmother almost since birth, and there were no reports of abuse or neglect until a judge in the state’s Probate and Family Court Department granted the father, Randall Lints, 26, custody of the boy in June 2014.

The report found that DCF staff and the courts were not fully aware Lints himself had been abused as a child and monitored by DCF until he turned 18.

Had the caseworkers looked in DCF’s database, they would have discovered that Lints had threatened his siblings with a knife, been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and, as a boy, had been “locked in his bedroom without any food or furniture” and “forced to sleep on the floor and urinate in his closet.”

That documented history, the report said, would have triggered immediate concerns about his ability to care for Jack, who was also kept in his room and denied food and water to stop him from urinating on the floor. Baker said DCF staff will, in the future, routinely examine the agency’s records for previous histories of abuse or neglect.

The agency first received reports that Lints was abusing the boy late last year, when the department was warned he was forcing his son to wash his urine-soaked clothing with bleach and that Jack’s skin was cracked and bleeding. DCF decided not to intervene, however, because Jack was already working with behavioral health counselors.

It wasn’t until February that DCF began officially monitoring the boy, after it received a warning that Jack had been shivering for two days and his hands were purple because he’d been forced to wash urine off the floor with cold water.

I'm aghast at all this.

The gravest warning about Jack’s safety came from a therapist who contacted DCF on May 18.

The therapist told the agency that Lints was withholding food and water from his son and “noted that Jack looked a lot thinner.”

The therapist told DCF that Lints had gone camping with his girlfriend, her children, and Jack. But Jack had not been allowed to participate in activities and had to sit in a corner. The therapist also reported that Lints had boarded up the windows in Jack’s room “so he could not look outside” and had threatened not to send his son to school, “knowing that Jack loved school.”

The therapist urged DCF to remove Jack from his father’s care and “explained that not once in her entire career had she told DCF that a child should be removed from the home,” the report said.

A DCF social worker relayed the recommendation to a supervisor. But the supervisor opted to keep the boy in the home, pointing out that another counselor had reported the father was “actively working on the concerns,” and others had given “positive reports” about Lints.

Such dramatically conflicting accounts of the boy’s well-being were a hallmark of the case.

School officials, the report said, regarded Jack as pleasant and respectful. But Lints told DCF that he was oppositional and defiant and would bang his head, fight, and play with matches.

On June 29, two weeks before Jack fell into a coma, a DCF social worker reported that the boy “was the happiest she had ever seen him.” The social worker saw Jack eat a bowl of soup and drink water and juice and did not notice any bruises.

About a week later, on July 8, a newly assigned caretaker called DCF with a different assessment. That person expressed concerns about “controlling behaviors” by Lints, and worried that Lints was exaggerating his son’s disciplinary problems.

The next day, July 9, another counselor had a more upbeat report and said Jack had been eating and was “alert, personable, and engaging.” This was the last known contact the state had with the boy before he fell into a coma five days later, the report said.

Which he is still in, his mind's way of protecting him from the horrific treatment and torture. 

Baker said DCF policy would be changed so that high-level supervisors will automatically review cases in which there are conflicting reports about a child’s condition.

“There was a lot of debate going on, you can tell that reading the report,” Baker said. “But nobody, clearly, had a 100 percent look at the child.”

With so many professionals monitoring Jack, DCF probably had a “false sense” the boy would be safe, said Marylou Sudders, the state’s health and human services secretary, who joined Baker at the press conference.

That's what gets me. All those cooks and the broth still spoiled.

The report also criticized the court’s decision to hand custody of Jack to Lints, pointing out that the boy did not know his father.

Baker said that in future custody cases in which a parent has had no involvement with a child, the courts should appoint an independent advocate, called a guardian ad litem, to determine whether the new family arrangement is in the child’s best interests.

That is what the Globe wants, too.


And the condition of those foster homes?

"Scores of Mass. children mistreated in foster homes" by Michael Levenson Globe Staff  September 01, 2015

The report also documented 40 children who died last year while receiving services from state health and human services agencies, up from 29 in 2013. Officials said not all of the deaths, however, appeared to point directly to problems with the child welfare system. Many of the deaths, for instance, were the result of car accidents, terminal illnesses, or congenital defects and other common causes of child fatalities....

Nevertheless, it was "an 18 percent increase from 2013 and a 36 percent increase from 2012."

No wonder Patrick isn't running for president.


Related: Put This Post in Your Paquette

Also seeMother of toddler found dead in Auburn dies

It's an apparent heroin overdose:

"Family in mourning again after mother of foster girl dies" by Nestor Ramos Globe Staff  September 03, 2015

WORCESTER — A year ago, heroin cost Jessica Conway her daughter. On Wednesday, police suspect, it cost Conway her life.

Conway, whose 2-year-old daughter died last month in an Auburn foster home, was found unresponsive by emergency workers who were called to a Worcester apartment around 3 p.m. Wednesday. Evidence in the apartment and interviews with family members suggest that her death was drug-related, police said in a news release.


Conway, 27, was a week out of a correctional center on shoplifting convictions and violations of probation, and was completing a drug rehabilitation program when her daughter, Avalena Conway-Coxon, died on Aug. 15. Her aim, she said at the time, was to reunite with Avalena, who had been taken by the state Department of Children and Families a year earlier, but Avalena’s death, the cause of which remains a mystery weeks later, devastated her....

Tragedies all around, and I have no answers. 

Conway had created an online fund-raising campaign that described its mission as finding answers about what happened to Avalena while in DCF custody, “before they have a chance to cover it up.” As of Thursday afternoon, the effort had raised $185 in 18 days.

Not much of a success there, although who wants to give money to a heroin addict?

Related: Online public-records startup MuckRock expands crowdfunding ambitions

MuckRock was founded in 2010 and has a long-running relationship with The Boston Globe.

Other venture obviously not worth it.

Her father, David Coxon, who declined to speak to the Globe on Thursday, told the website MassLive that Conway once again sought treatment for heroin addiction in the days before her death, but was refused by one treatment center and kicked out of another.

He said her addiction was the result of “one stinking mistake that stuck with her the rest of her life. The reason all of her other problems happen was because of heroin.”

We won't talk about where it is all coming from (Afghanistan), who is bringing it into the country (CIA), and where the money is going (banks).

The loss of his daughter and granddaughter in such a short span was unfathomable, he added.

“My daughter was a good girl and she was trying,” Coxon told MassLive. “She’s a very highly emotional girl who just lost her daughter. Under the circumstances, I think I’d have done the same thing.”

Chomsky once said something that always stuck with me: Given a choice between misery and misery on drugs, well.... yeah. So in that way I can understand.

Investigators have not said what caused Avalena’s death and led to the hospitalization of a 22-month-old, who was also in the foster home, in reportedly dire condition. No one has been criminally charged. 

From what I've read it has devastated the foster parents, too.

All five surviving children, including the foster mother’s three children, were placed in DCF custody after the incident.

Not so reassuring anymore, is it?

Sources told the Globe that the investigation was focused on overheating and dehydration as possible causes of death, and a car was towed from outside the Pheasant Court foster home. A report from DCF is expected at the end of the month.

Asked for comment about Conway’s death, a DCF spokesperson relayed a statement from the governor’s office.

“Hearing of the passing compounds the tragedy that occurred in Auburn last month,” said Lizzy Guyton, a spokeswoman for Governor Charlie Baker. “The loss of life is deeply saddening.”

For Conway’s family and friends, her death was painfully familiar.

“God gave me the two most beautiful angels these past few weeks,” wrote Hillary Dumas, Avalena’s godmother, on Facebook....


Related"A 12-year-old Auburn girl is being praised for her quick thinking after she provided police with videos of a man who tried to break into her home and a neighboring residence."

Also see:

Deer Little Girl

Tests suggest ‘Baby Doe’ traveled throughout US

Found Floating Near the Westport Pier

Has anyone checked to see if she had a nanny?

"Nanny says she’s happy to be back in Ireland" by Peter Schworm Globe Staff  September 01, 2015

Aisling Brady McCarthy arrived in her native Ireland Wednesday morning, less than two days after Middlesex prosecutors dropped murder charges in connection with the death of a 1-year-old girl in her care.

Moving with uncharacteristic speed, federal immigration officials arrested the 37-year-old nanny Tuesday to begin deportation procedures, after the criminal charges were dropped. McCarthy had been living in the country illegally since 2002, according to US Immigration and Custom Enforcement, known as ICE.

They need to get this wrong behind them. What a contrast to the release of rapists, robbers, and murderers after six months as ordered by the courts.

“Brady McCarthy entered the United States in 2002 under the Visa Waiver Program and never left,” ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said in a statement. “As a significant violator of the Visa Waiver Program she is an ICE enforcement priority.”

An urgent case!

McCarthy surrendered to federal custody around noon at ICE’s field office in Burlington.

Her attorney, David Meier, said Tuesday night that she left Boston on an evening flight to Ireland.

I'm sure she was happy to be heading home and getting the hell out of Boston. This whole experience had to be a nightmare for her.


Prosecutors formally dropped the charges after meeting with the Sabir family Monday morning. The child’s parents could not be reached for comment.

Saudis with an illegal nanny having their privacy protected by the Globe. What gives?

Rehma was found unresponsive in her crib on Jan. 14, 2013, after having been in McCarthy’s sole care. She died two days later. Specialists said the child’s brain injuries were acute, and that there was no other medical explanation for her death.

But McCarthy had consistently declared her innocence, and her lawyers said she was the victim of a hasty investigation and a “rush to judgment.”

Welcome to the AmeriKan JU$tus $y$tem.

“The system failed her,” her lawyer, Melinda Thompson, said at a news conference Monday.

Thompson described her client’s time behind bars as “a complete nightmare.”

“She was deteriorating in jail, quite literally,” Thompson said. “She spent her days crying.”

“She can’t get those years back,” she added. “It’s just a disgrace what happened to her.”

I see some money in it, though.

In Ireland on Tuesday, news of the dismissal rippled through County Cavan, where McCarthy is from.

“We are all over the moon,” Val Smith, chairman of the Cavan County Council, told The Irish Times. “This is something that we were all supporting for the last 2½ years — her innocence.

“We knew from day one that she was innocent,” Smith said.

But Smith also sounded a note of caution around the idea of celebration. “Aisling has spent two years in jail, so I don’t know how you would celebrate that,” he said.

Right. You celebrate the freedom of flying home.

Luke Waters, a native of Ireland and a former New York Police Department detctive who was advising McCarthy’s relatives on the US justice system, told The Irish Times he had spoken with relatives, who “were very excited, very happy, very relieved. I would just imagine she will just want to move on with her life.”

Dismissal of the charges marks the latest collapse of a shaken-baby prosecution, which has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.

How many parents have been falsely accused by authority and quack doctors?

Deborah Tuerkheimer, a Northwestern University law professor who has written about shaken-baby syndrome, said the publicity around these dismissed cases helps educate law enforcement and medical officials to pause before applying the diagnosis. She said that, too often, any injured baby who shows up in a hospital with a triad of symptoms —- subdural hemorrhage, retinal bleeding, and brain swelling — is immediately considered a victim of shaken-baby syndrome.

“It’s important to maintain humility in the face of these symptoms,” said Tuerkheimer, author of “Flawed Convictions: ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ and the Inertia of Injustice.”


Also seeIn stunning reversal, nanny’s murder case dropped

Related: Nanny Is Innocent 

I told you.

"A Massachusetts man charged with trying to kill his sick 7-year-old daughter by poisoning her with drain cleaner has been held on $100,000 bail. Christopher Conley pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Hampshire Superior Court to charges including attempted murder and assault and battery on a child. Authorities said Conley poured Liquid-Plumr into her cecostomy tube because he wanted to end the chronically ill girl’s pain. She underwent a seven-hour surgery in April to remove two-thirds of her small intestine and part of her bladder. Prosecutors said Conley, 32, may have been abusing his daughter for years because her medical issues improved when she was in foster care. (AP)"

At least things ended on a good note.

Thanks for the memories.... until we meet again, readers.

UPDATE: Nanny’s case could have broad effects on child abuse prosecutions