CPS Investigator From Vallejo Kept Job Despite Abuse Allegations


SACRAMENTO (CBS) – Blancho Brumfield has been responsible for investigating and reporting child abuse in Sacramento County since 2004. But according to state documents, she is accused of abusing some of our most vulnerable children herself.

Blancho and her husband Greg had been foster parents in Vallejo since 1999. But in 2004, allegations were made she used gay slurs on her foster children, encouraged them to fight, and even locked them in her garage without air conditioning or heating.

The Brumfields were never charged and instead settled with the state. The couple surrendered their foster care license in 2007 and Blancho was allowed to keep her job with Child Protective Services.

Ed Howard of the Children’s Advocacy Institute said what makes this even more outrageous is that CPS knew about the abuse allegations. They hired her after the allegations were made and kept her on the job even after the state reported the allegations to CPS.

“State government officials have some real hard questions to answer,” Howard said.

But a spokesperson for Child Protective Services told CBS over the phone that a “low-level” employee took the complaint and the state never followed up with its findings.

“It’s completely pathetic to throw a low-level employee under the bus like that,” Howard said. “Everybody knows the problems of this agency are long-standing, stubborn, procedural and systemic.”

Child Protective Services placed Brumfield on paid administrative leave in February, but the agency refused to comment on the reason. CBS attempted to contact Brumfield’s at her home, but nobody answered.

We also reached out to the Vallejo Police Department to ask why it didn’t press charges against Brumfield for her actions as a foster parent. The department said it found wrongdoing, but not criminal wrongdoing.


Child abuse survivor waives anonymity

Child abuse survivor waives anonymity after years of torment by adoptive father to help other victims

Bethany Loerke

A young woman who suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of her adoptive father has courageously revealed her identity to help other victims.

Bethany Loerke, 20, spent her early childhood in the foster care system before being adopted by a doctor and his wife, a nurse, to be raised with their three biological children.

However behind the facade of a privileged upbringing, Miss Loerke was sexually assaulted by the man who was supposed to protect her from the age of five.

The attacks were only revealed when the girl worked up the courage to tell her mother shortly before her 11th birthday.

Doctor James Loerke pleaded guilty to sexual molestation and was sentenced to 20 years in 2003 - however he is eligible for parole in three years after his sentence was reduced.

For years, Miss Loerke, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was known to the press as 'the girl' as her identity could not be revealed.

However now, with the support of her family, she has taken the brave step of shedding her anonymity to help others suffering abuse who may be afraid to come forward.

She told the Tulsa World: 'This fight isn't for me anymore. I fought my battle, I played my role. Now, I'm fighting for all the victims who didn't get to come forward.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2133943/Bethany-Loerke-Survived-child-abuse-adoptive-father-Doctor-James-Loerke-Oklahoma.html#ixzz1sxun31bJ

'It's for those people who were victimized and didn't have to be. It's for kids who died because no one came forward and no one was there to help.'

Bethany was found living in a filthy trailer with her younger sister when she was two years old with no running water or electricity and overrun by dogs. She was left partially blind due to untreated pink eye and shingles.

The toddler was placed in the foster care system and moved between ten homes in a year. After three years, Bethany and her little sister were adopted by the Loerke family.

Her adoptive father's abuse started almost immediately - but Bethany did not speak up for fear of being returned to foster care.

Bethany finally blurted out the truth to her adoptive mother Beth shortly before a slumber party to celebrate her 11th birthday.

Her adoptive mother believed Bethany from the start and walked out on her husband, taking her five children with her.

Beth Loerke told the paper she had no regrets over her actions to protect all her children.

She said: 'You have to do the right thing in the best interest of your child. That's the only thing that should be important.'

However Bethany struggled to come to terms with the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her adoptive father.

She also missed almost a year of school as she had to take part in court proceeding against Loerke.

She said: 'I had this circle around me that I couldn't feel anything. I felt like an island - like an infectious leper.'

Her mother researched behavioral problems of abuse victims after Bethany began to act out, getting into fights at school and challenging those in authority.

After changing school several times, she found a place at a charter school where she went from strength to strength and graduated on time with her class.

As part of the healing process, the 20-year-old wrote a book called Justice Bear - which helps child victims of sexual abuse deal with what has happened to them.

Miss Loerke is now in a steady relationship with boyfriend Clayton Stegner and working in retail. She plans to go to college and follow a career in the medical field.

Fresno man sentenced for molesting foster child



By Pablo Lopez - The Fresno Bee

A Fresno man who was convicted of having sex with one of his foster children and molesting another was sentenced Thursday to 16 years in prison.

A shackled William Green, who also coached basketball and was a substitute teacher in Fresno-area schools, apologized in Fresno County Superior Court for violating a position of trust as a foster parent.

A jury last month found Green, 33, guilty of six felony charges of lewd acts with a 13-year-old girl and three misdemeanor counts of molesting or annoying a 16-year-old girl in his home two years ago.

As part of his sentence, he will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, said prosecutor Gabriel Brickey.

During Thursday's hearing, the 13-year-old, who is now 16, said Green's crimes continue "to play over in her head."

Because of suicidal thoughts, she said, she has missed school, isolated herself from family and friends, and constantly asks herself: "Why did this happen to me?"

Judge James Petrucelli told the victim that he "admired her courage today and throughout the process."

The judge then scolded Green for "engaging in violent conduct -- the sexual assault on a minor" in order to satisfy his sexual urges.

Although Green had no prior criminal record, the judge said the defendant deserved a long prison sentence because the crimes happened over a long period of time and Green had time to reflect on his actions.

A criminal complaint said the lewd acts with the 13-year-old occurred from January to July 2010; the 16-year-old was molested in July 2010.

Green, who is married with four children, did not testify.

Brickey told jurors that Green would wait until his wife left the house before having sex with the 13-year-old. Green also kissed and rubbed the inner thigh of the 16-year-old, Brickey said.

A key piece of evidence, Brickey said, was a telephone call the 13-year-old made to Green. It was recorded by police. In it, Green didn't deny having sex with the 13-year-old. Instead, he told the girl that he loved her and told her not to tell anyone because "his life would be over," Brickey told the jury.

Child Protective Services removed the two victims as well as several other foster children from the Green home in the summer of 2010 after the 16-year-old told her social worker. The 13-year-old initially kept her feelings to herself and began cutting her arm, Brickey said.

She later told a relative, who contacted police.

Before his arrest, Green was a substitute teacher at several schools in the Fresno Unified School District, an instructional aide at Roosevelt High and a basketball coach at San Joaquin Memorial High School.

Police have said the molestations did not happen on a school campus and did not involve any students.

Prosecutors Detain CA Teen to Solidify Rape Case




Prosecutors Detain CA Teen to Solidify Rape Case

 By DON THOMPSON Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. April 10, 2012 (AP)

Prosecutors have taken the unusual step of detaining an alleged teenage rape victim who has a history of running away, saying she is a key witness against a man prosecutors say is a career criminal and serial rapist.

Victims' rights advocates are joining the 17-year-old foster child's attorneys in arguing that her detention, upheld three times by two superior court judges, could discourage other victims from reporting sexual assaults. Moreover, they say the detention conflicts with laws governing the well-being of foster children, and with Marsy's Law, a victims' rights initiative approved by California voters in November 2008.

"This is a very rare step for us. It's really the last thing we want to do, but we do feel that there is a public danger that has to be balanced here," Sacramento County Assistant District Attorney Albert Locher said Monday. "We believe it's important to balance the protection of the community in the process here, and that is done by ensuring a conviction and ensuring that this defendant will not have the opportunity to harm someone else in the future."

The girl has been held in juvenile hall since March 23. Her attorneys are proposing that she be released to a foster or group home with a GPS ankle bracelet. Her next detention hearing is scheduled for April 16, but they hope to move up the hearing to get her released earlier.

"She's being treated like a criminal without having done any criminal act. In fact, she's the victim," said attorney Lisa Franco, who is challenging the decision to hold the girl as a material witness to ensure she appears at the trial of Frank William Rackley Sr., 37. "This is just sending a chilling effect out there for people not wanting to report crimes and rapes. In the larger scope of things it's going to give other people more chance to commit crimes because people will be afraid to report."

The Associated Press is not naming the girl because of her age and because she is an alleged sexual assault victim, though her attorneys complained that she has been identified in court papers and in open court.

Prosecutors had to dismiss charges once against Rackley when the girl failed to appear, though they were able to charge him again with the same crimes the next day, according to court documents. The girl ran away twice from her foster home and did not show up for Rackley's preliminary hearing in October or his first scheduled trial date in February, according to an affidavit by Deputy District Attorney Alan Van Stralen.

He now is set for a trial to begin April 23. His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Richard Berson, was not available to comment, and Berson's supervisor, David Klemer, said he couldn't comment.

Franco said her client recognized the swastika tattooed on Rackley's chest. She and prosecutors said his DNA was found on her client after the then 16-year-old girl was abducted from a Sacramento light rail station on July 22.

Sacramento attorney Amina Merritt, who represents the girl's interests as a foster child, said her client is now willing to testify against Rackley.

"She is at risk and that is the reason she did not testify previously. She's afraid, she's afraid for her life," Merritt said. The girl is a different race than Rackley, and fears that others with a racial hatred might harm her even if Rackley is behind bars, Merritt said.

An adult woman who also is an alleged Rackley victim has not been detained, Merritt noted.

Locher said prosecutors are willing to consider any reasonable alternative that gives them assurance the girl will show up in court. Prosecutors contend the girl can be held as a material witness despite protections for foster children or sexual assault victims that also are written into California law.

Sandra Henriquez, executive director of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, known as CalCASA, said this is the first time in her 20 years of working with victims that she has seen one incarcerated.

"We're potentially sending a message that our concern over public safety supersedes our concern over a particular victim," she said. "We could also be jeopardizing public safety if fewer victims come forward."




Ten children died in foster care last year: province


Alberta government releases full number of children who died in care



EDMONTON - For the first time, the Alberta government has released the full number of children who died while in provincial care, and the number is much higher than previously reported.

Ten children died in the year that ended March 31, and 13 children died the year earlier, including those who died from illness.

“That’s unbelievable. I had no idea there were that many,” said Bernadette Iahtail, whose group Creating Hope Society holds a candlelight vigil every time they hear of such a death.

“There’s a lot that don’t even hit the news. That’s just shocking,” she said.

In the past, Alberta Human Services only reported deaths they confirmed happened because of a serious accident or homicide. Under that system, the department would have only confirmed two deaths last year, and six deaths the year before. There are about 8,700 children in care in Alberta at any one time.

The new, fuller reporting system is an effort to increase public accountability and transparency, said department spokeswoman Roxanne Dube Coelho. “Now we’re going to be reporting all the deaths.”

The deaths last year include five children who died for medical reasons, one youth who died from a blow to the head suffered at a house party. One child died from an alleged homicide, but it’s unclear which case the provincial records refer to. The information released contains only a few words about each death.

The medical examiner ruled the cause of one death could not be determined, and the causes of two deaths are still pending.

Jamie Sullivan’s daughter, Delonna, who died in care when she was four-months-old, is included in the 10 deaths last year.

Sullivan went to court to get the publication ban lifted from her daughter’s name, and has been fighting for more transparency. Her daughter died six days after being apprehended without a court order last April.

But Sullivan expected the numbers to be much higher, based on cases she’s heard of in the news or through activist channels. More information needs to come out about how each child died, she said. “It’s unacceptable how many children are dying. I want people to see the numbers so they become as horrified as we are.”

Del Graff, the provincial Child and Youth Advocate, said he will investigate more deaths in the future since his office got increased independence April 1.

More information statistics on deaths and injuries will allow his team to compare Alberta’s performance with other jurisdictions, he said. “Our interest is really to look at the situation so we can learn how to prevent deaths in the future.”


Flagstaff man accused of molesting foster children


FLAGSTAFF, AZ - A Flagstaff man has been arrested after he allegedly molested two foster children in his care.

The Coconino County Sheriff's Office says detectives received information that at least one female living with a foster parent had been molested by the foster father.

After an investigation and interviews, it was found a second foster daughter was also the victim of molestation, authorities say.

The 47-year-old suspect was arrested for multiple counts of child molestation.

Authorities say the identities of the suspect and victims are being withheld to protect the victims and other children living in the home.

The investigation is ongoing as detectives coordinate with other agencies in other jurisdictions where previous incidents may have occurred

Flagstaff man accused of molesting foster children


By: Deborah Stocks

FLAGSTAFF, AZ - A Flagstaff man has been arrested after he allegedly molested two foster children in his care.

The Coconino County Sheriff's Office says detectives received information that at least one female living with a foster parent had been molested by the foster father.

After an investigation and interviews, it was found a second foster daughter was also the victim of molestation, authorities say.

The 47-year-old suspect was arrested for multiple counts of child molestation.

Authorities say the identities of the suspect and victims are being withheld to protect the victims and other children living in the home.

The investigation is ongoing as detectives coordinate with other agencies in other jurisdictions where previous incidents may have occurred.


St. Charles County (Mo) foster parent charged with child abuse


ST. CHARLES COUNTY • A former St. Charles County foster parent under scrutiny after an infant nearly died in her care in 2009 now faces criminal charges.

Terri Lynn Cronin was charged Tuesday with two counts of child abuse and two counts of second-degree assault related to her care of Shakur Casanova Knight from March through May 2009 in her home in an unincorporated area of St. Charles County. The charges carry penalties from five to 15 years in prison.

The charges follow a Post-Dispatch investigation published this month that highlighted Shakur's injuries and how case managers at a private agency failed to follow state laws and protocols to keep the infant safe in foster care.

State, medical and police records show the agency, Urban Behavioral HealthCare Institute, failed to report to the state Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline that the 5-week-old boy suffered a broken arm on April 12, 2009, while in Cronin's care — six weeks before he nearly died from another incident in the home.

The newspaper found the agency failed to follow up with hospital physicians who first treated the broken arm, or report the injury to two other foster care agencies responsible for his safety.

All of those entities could have reported the injury to the state hotline.

Medical records show the broken arm was diagnosed as a spiral fracture — typically a red flag for child abuse in young infants.

The newspaper further found the infant remained in the foster home even though a great-aunt had asked to be the child's foster parent after the first injury. Records show the agency dragged its feet on that placement despite a state law that favors placing foster children with appropriate and willing relatives as quickly as possible.

On May 27, 2009, Shakur was airlifted near death to St. Louis Children's Hospital with multiple fractures and severe head injuries requiring emergency surgery.

State, medical and police records show Cronin said she slipped in both instances at the top of her home's carpeted stairs causing the injuries. With the first injury in April, Cronin said she abruptly pulled the baby into her body when she slipped onto her behind and slid down the stairs. In the second, she said the infant popped out of her arms and fell on his head on a tiled landing.

Although medical records show physicians concluded Shakur was a victim of child abuse, criminal charges were originally refused by the St. Charles County Prosecutor's Office. State records also show Cronin was able to have a finding of child abuse by the state Children's Division overturned through a closed citizen review panel.

But earlier this year, while reviewing the case after a reporter's inquiry, St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas asked the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department to reopen a criminal investigation.

Banas said there were conflicting statements among Cronin's five children about what happened on May 27 in the home, and said it was clear someone had hurt the child. Banas could not be reached for comment on the new charges.

Court records pertaining to the charges filed Tuesday cited the spiral fracture in the arm as being "highly specific" for inflicted injury in infants. The fracture also was not compatible with the explanation given by Cronin of slipping down the steps with the baby in her arms, according to records. Those court files go on to list the extent of the injuries Shakur received on May 27, including a depressed left skull fracture, severe brain swelling, placement on a ventilator, multiple subdural hemorrhages, retinal hemorrhages in both eyes, seizures and a left collarbone fracture.

Terri Cronin could not be reached for comment, and though court records list her family as living in St. Charles County, real estate documents indicate their house was sold. State records show Terri Cronin and her husband Jeffery Cronin were licensed foster parents starting in 2006 until they voluntarily relinquished the license in September 2009.

Shakur, now 3, has been adopted and renamed Cristofer by Lennie Bell, the great-aunt who came forward to be his foster mother when he was in the Cronin's foster home.

Bell said Tuesday all foster and adoption agencies need to "be more careful on who they place babies with." She said she was pleased criminal charges had been filed.

"He deserved to have his day," she said of Shakur. "Somebody is responsible for what happened to him and needs to be accountable. Maybe he'll help some other babies so that they won't have to go through such abuse."

Foster child disappears, found drowned in pond


HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - A 9-year-old autistic girl went missing Saturday afternoon, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

According to officials, Ariyanna Pivachek was a foster child. She was visiting a possible adoptive family. The family had picked her up to attend a party with other children.

Authorities say there were several adults monitoring the children. Somehow, the little girl managed to wander away from the party. She went into the backyard of the home.

Just after 3:30 p.m. the family reported the girl missing. Deputies began an immediate search for the little girl.

Close to 50 deputies, several K-9 units, air support and divers searched for the missing child.

Several ponds made up the backyard containing murky water. Divers searched for an hour before she was found at the bottom of one of the ponds.

Officials say the girl was found in six- eight feet deep of water.

During the search, several uniformed deputies took off their gun belts and dove into the ponds trying to find her. Authorities said many civilians volunteered in the search.

Preliminary cause of death is accidental drowning. The sheriff's office is conducting a death investigation.

Final ruling on cause of death is expected from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office.


Foster death rally planned

(Stop and think about that for a second....2012 in America we must hold a Foster Death Rally to stop kids from being murdered in Foster care...I mean..what the F)


One year after her four-month-old baby died in foster care, an Alberta mother is calling on the province to re-examine its Child and Family Services' laws.

On Wednesday, Jamie Sullivan, along with dozens of supporters, will march on the Alberta Legislature in a bid to raise awareness about what she calls a 'lack of accountability' within the province's foster-care system.

"The message is social services needs to be looked at very closely," said Sullivan's mother, Marilyn Koren, who's been making signs and printing posters for the event.

"We need our government to wake up and pay attention to our children who are under their protection in foster care."

Sullivan's infant daughter Delonna died April 11, just six days after she was taken from her home by two social workers and an RCMP officer.

The trio of officials were executing an apprehension order for children of an unrelated person staying at the house and seized Delonna as well, eventually placing her in an Edmonton foster home.

"I was begging them to just let me take her home with me," said Koren. "They took her without an apprehension order, and 100% if she was left at home, she'd still be alive today."

Sullivan has been telling her story every since, and last year she successfully won a court order to lift a publication ban on her daughter's identity.

Edmonton Justice M.D. Gates ruled that the baby girl's name was "a matter of public interest".

"The community and citizens of Edmonton and Alberta have substantial interest in the welfare of all children in this province," he said in a statement at the time.

 According to Koren, Delonna was seized because social workers at the home believed Sullivan may have had an alcohol problem -- a problem her mother says does not exist.

 "They just started accusing Jamie, there was no proof," she said. "Delonna was happy and beautiful and healthy and they just took her away."

 Koren says she, and her daughter still don't know what led to her child's mysterious death.

 "The autopsy was 'inconclusive' and they called it an 'unexplained death'," said Koren through tears Saturday. "We could never know, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to stop it from repeating."

 The two women have organized Wednesday's rally in Delonna's memory and Koren is hoping the peaceful march, slated for 11 a.m. will urge officials to start making changes to certain policies."We're encouraging everyone to come out and support our children in the foster system," urged Koren. "And especially anyone who has faced issues with the system or been through a similar situation."

 Friends of Delonna Sullivan -- a Facebook tribute page in honour of the infant -- has already amassed 350 'likes' and drawn supporters from all over Canada.

 "We're expecting a good turnout," said Koren, adding several members of the group Protecting Canadian Children are traveling to Edmonton from as far as New Brunswick to attend the rally. "We want to make it clear social services should work for the families, not against them."

 Officials with Alberta's minister of Children and Youth Services, could not be reached for comment over the weekend.

Don't be surprised if Oklahoma is No. 1 in the nation next year for abuse and neglect of children in foster care, state officials sa




Don't be surprised if Oklahoma is No. 1 in the nation next year for abuse and neglect of children in foster care, state officials say.

The expected rank won't be due to more assaults on children, officials say. But there will be better data collection by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, a change in the standard confirming allegations and continued uneven national reporting to the federal government.

The child welfare improvement plan submitted for approval March 30 would require DHS to include reports of abuse and neglect occurring at group homes, inpatient facilities and shelters, which are considered higher levels of foster care.

These were left out when DHS would report the safety rating of children in out-of-home care. Oklahoma is one of 11 states omitting this information.

"We were honestly reporting our data every year, and we recognize that we were not giving a true picture of the rate of abuse and neglect by not including group homes or shelters," said DHS spokeswoman Sheree Powell. "We feel like it needs to be reported to get an accurate view of safety in foster care."

Under the current reporting practice, these cases would not have been included:

Two teens living in a Pittsburg County independent living program were sexually assaulted by Rocky Wade Johnson, the coordinator of that DHS program, according to a federal lawsuit filed in September 2010. Johnson pleaded guilty to child abuse a year ago and was given a 10-year suspended sentence. DHS settled for $25,000, paid by its insurance, for each of the victims.

A 5-month-old child suffered a skull fracture after being dropped at a shelter by a worker who was carrying two babies at once, according to a 2008 federal class-action lawsuit against DHS by Children Rights.

A 16-month-old boy received first- and second-degree burns at a shelter due to a lack of supervision, according to the class-action lawsuit.

A 13-year-old developmentally disabled girl in foster care was sexually assaulted at an institutional facility, the lawsuit states.

Children's Rights had argued Oklahoma had one of the highest rates of abuse of foster children in the nation and had poor data collection. The lawsuit led to the settlement agreement pending approval by a three-person monitoring panel.

New data collection

The national standard for keeping children safe while in foster care is 99.68 percent - meaning that less than half a percent of foster children will experience harm.

Oklahoma has not reached that standard since at least 2006, with safety ratings from 98.78 to 99.43 percent. Last year, 22 states including Oklahoma did not reach that threshold. New York had the worst rating at 97.67 percent.

Officials expect the safety rating to get worse by up to a percent with the changes.

Each year, Oklahoma reports its data for the annual Child Maltreatment Report to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System through its statewide automated system, which is one of nine federally approved systems in the nation.

When the system was established, the federal government approved the categories of data to be submitted, Powell said. A note is included in the report stating Oklahoma does not include reports at institutions.

"The federal government has known that from day one," Powell said.

In Oklahoma, there are two units investigating allegations of abuse and neglect.

Investigations at group homes, shelters and institutions are handled by the Office of Client Advocacy, and all other allegations are investigated by the Child Protection Services unit. Both investigatory bodies are within DHS.

The state automated data system tracked only the reports by the Child Protection Services unit for national reporting.

Under the improvement plan, reports from the two units will be merged into the same data-collection system.

The units also have different standards in deciding whether an allegation is true or has merit. The units have different burdens of proof, screening and investigative processes and timelines for completing an investigation.

The child welfare plan would change the burden of proof substantiating an allegation and making a finding to have "some credible evidence," which is the more basic standard of the two units.

"Because this is the lowest burden of proof, there may be more abuse and neglect substantiated," the plan states.

No national standard

A sticking point in comparing states in all child abuse and neglect categories has centered around the varied laws states created to define whether abuse or neglect has occurred.

The 2010 national report lists Oklahoma with a rate of child abuse and neglect at 7.8 per 1,000 children - tied with North Dakota at 28th in the U.S.

The highest rate is Washington, D.C., at 23.4 followed by New York at 17.4 and Massachusetts at 17. The lowest is Pennsylvania at 1.3.

Oklahoma ranks seventh in child deaths due to abuse or neglect, with 27 deaths due to maltreatment for a rate of 2.94 per 100,000 children, according to the report.

"There is no one national standard or definition telling states how to measure child abuse and neglect," Powell said. "All states measure it differently and report it differently."

Oklahoma's standard for confirming whether child abuse or neglect has occurred in foster homes is "credible" evidence. Other states may have more strict or flexible standards.

For example, Pennsylvania's standard is "substantial evidence or clear and convincing/beyond reasonable doubt," according to the national report. Many states require a "preponderance" or "reasonable" types of proof for a confirmation.

"Those are a much higher level of evidence to substantiate abuse or neglect," Powell said.

She said using that standard may exclude Oklahoma's thousands of confirmed cases, especially in neglect because those children may not show signs of physical abuse. Neglect accounts for at least 80 percent of confirmations and often have to do with a lack of proper care and supervision.

"If you just say, 'Oklahoma is No. 1 in child abuse and neglect,' that is misleading if people don't understand that states measure and define child abuse and neglect differently," Powell said.




Foster parent now convicted sex offender



A former foster parent was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexually assaulting a boy he fostered on and off for four years.

George Steen was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against a child Wednesday by a Lincoln County jury. The 41-year-old man admitted in court that he took showers with the boy but denied any inappropriate behavior.

The boy, now 11, said that the showers took place from the time he was 5 to 8 years old. The boy stayed with Steen at different times from 2005 to 2009.

While gripping a stuffed animal the child told jurors that he wanted to scream out for his foster mother but that Steen covered his mouth.

The boy testified that Jennifer Steen, George Steen’s wife, was never in the room when the molestation occurred.

Both Jennifer and George Steen took the witness stand for the defense Wednesday morning. Each of them said that George Steen took showers with the boy when there was a time crunch.

“The only time I took showers with him was when we were in a hurry,” he said.

Steen said that happened once or twice a week.

Jennifer Steen said that she sat on the toilet with a towel waiting to dry the child off each time.

Jurors not only listened to testimony from Steen, his wife and his accuser, they heard from a series of psychologists, social workers and the boy’s other foster parents.

The child’s other foster parents described inappropriate social and sexual behavior he displayed at a young age. One specialist said those instances pointed to a child who had been sexually abused.

Both Jennifer and George Steen said during testimony that they loved the boy and considered him part of their family.

The Steens met the child at New Vision Ministries, a Lincoln County church. Jennifer Steen worked at the church’s day care.

Not yet licensed foster parents, the couple took the child in when a fellow church member couldn’t handle the burden of all the children she was fostering.

The Steens started the process of becoming foster parents and earned their licensing.

They intended to eventually adopt the boy who later accused George Steen of sexual abuse.

Lincoln County Assistant District Attorney Beth Lari asked George Steen about his adoration for the boy during cross-examination.

Steen told her that he had an attachment to the child even when he was placed in other homes and facilities – keeping in contact with him, buying him gifts and attempting to get him back.

Steen was once ordered to take anger management classes after an outburst at the Department of Social Services offices when he couldn’t see the boy.

Lari also asked Steen why he thought the child would display behaviors of a sexually abused child.

Steen said the issue could have stemmed from a time when he left the boy at his mother’s house for a stay. Steen’s brother, Richard Steen, also spent the night.

Richard Steen, who had pending sex charges inTexas, slept in the same bed with the child. They slept in their underwear and the boy later reported inappropriate touching.

Steen’s brother was not convicted of the sex offense of which he was accused.

Like many children who have suffered sex abuse, the boy now expresses sexual predatory behavior.

Social workers told of two instances where the boy was involved in inappropriate sexual encounters with other boys – once in another foster home and once outside behind a shed.

The boy now lives in a facility for children who display such behaviors.

Steen had no prior sex charges.

Jury selection in the trial began Monday. Presentation of evidence kicked off Tuesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon Steen was led out of court by Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies.

You can reach Diane Turbyfill at 704-869-1817 and twitter.com/GazetteDiane.